When we are attracted to somebody it is usually for one of two principal reasons: either we perceive a similarity between us and the person we are attracted to or we anticipate that they are complimentary for us. The similarity theory suggests that the person we are most attracted to will be very like us in many respects: looks, height, personality, background, taste in music, star sign, religion, you name it. The greater the number of shared understandings courting couples identify the more they imagine sharing their space and building a long-term relationship together. Research into successful long-term relationships supports this view.
The complementary theory suggests that we seek a lover who has the qualities we miss in ourselves. In forming a bond with someone who complements us we become “complete”. From the esoteric point of view the desire of men and women to form a couple originates from the primordial attraction between feminine and masculine, or yin and yang, in order to discover the Unity or in other words the glorious state of androgyny.
The ideal is a combination of these two contrasting positions – an integration of “being alike” and “not being alike”. However, during the early stages of a romantic encounter, we automatically highlight the shared qualities. This fact finds its expression in two forms: the first is with postural echoes and the second is in mirroring behavior.
Posture echo is when one person takes up a particular body posture and the other follows them, moving to adopt a similar or even identical posture in an interval between 5 and 50 seconds later. If you notice that someone has echoed your posture you can be sure that the person in question is comfortable in your company and probably attracted to you too.
You can even test the degree of interest someone takes in you by deliberately changing your body position and noting if they follow the change. The more they follow you the more interested they are.
But in order to find out if somebody is interested in you, you do not have to initiate the postural changes – you can simply follow the other person’s movements. This will have the effect of sending out a strong signal of sexual interest. However, if he/she keeps changing positions as soon as you follow them, then the message sent back to you may be an unconscious “not interested” message, or “You are going too fast, slow it down a bit, please”. In any case you should back off both physically and non-verbally.
The real art is to echo the other person’s posture without copying them exactly. It is possible to suggest the same stance without mimicking it exactly. The effect is to capture the spirit of the other’s position. By doing this you are moving towards mirroring.
As you become attracted to someone you begin to tune into his/her characteristic wavelength and, if the feelings are mutual, he/she tunes into yours. Some couples report that after only a short time together they seem to be able to think and move synchronously. It is as if they have become one person, reaching for their drinks or folding their arms simultaneously, leaning forwards or backwards like choreographed dancers. Research shows that people, who are very much in love, automatically develop this ability to tune in to the smallest movement. We mirror tiny facial twitches; nods and blinks; lip tremors, tone and accent of voice, speed of speech; tiny head nods or shakes; small shoulder shrugs; hand gestures and non-verbal vocal sounds, like “mmmmhh” and “ooooh”.
Mirroring takes two main forms: if your lover has their right elbow on a table at which you are sitting face to face you can either put your left elbow on the table to match your lover’s right elbow (full mirroring) or you can put your right elbow on the table (half mirroring). When sitting opposite each other eating a meal a couple can half mirror each other by lifting forks to mouths in synchrony.
IT’S TIME FOR PRACTICE:
How can you use mirroring to your own advantage early on? The art is to speed up the process by deliberately increasing the degree of echo and mirroring behavior. This has the effect of exaggerating the positive feelings of attraction that may already be developing. Sometimes you may discover yourself mirroring someone without being sure whether you feel attracted to them or not. An increased sense of self-awareness is one of the most valuable skills you can develop when you are learning to enhance your non-verbal communication skills. If you can manage to ignore all the different thoughts that are whirling around in your head and focus your attention instead on what your own body language is telling you, you will find yourself increasingly attracted towards people who are also attracted to you.
Do not forget that the way to become expert in all these different skills is through application and practice. Once you become conscious of your own and other people’s pointing, blocking, context, posture echo and mirroring, new worlds of communication open up for you. With practice anyone can become a far more accurate interpreter of what other people are thinking and feeling.
Look at the world around you: watch the television with the sound turned down. Try studying your favorite actors and analyzing their body language. What is it that you like so much? What are their most sensuous movements? Can you replicate them?
If you have a video camcorder, make films at parties or at public places like railway stations or airports, where there are hundreds of romantic greetings and farewells every day. If you are feeling really brave you can ask a friend to video you at a party. You will be self conscious to start with, but after a while you will forget the camera is on you. Later, analyze your own body language when you are interacting with members of the opposite sex, and theirs too. You will very soon be able to identify various elements of secret non-verbal language about which you have been reading.
The world is your very own private university, full of information for you to learn.
With care, you can establish a romantic, attraction-filled episode from the first moment you meet someone.