Attraction can get going rather quickly, often in the first contact, and often in a “split second.” Contact is made and then lost and then reestablished. Eyes meet briefly; smiles are exchanged, as are some anxious, non-verbal courting gestures. Animation increases. Approach is made and allowed. Dialogue follows. Body language becomes coordinated. Rapport is established. Touch is ventured and gazes lock.
The signaling of attraction can trigger anxieties. A kind of “performance anxiety” can interrupt the flow of the “dance” with awkward self-consciousness. The contact can be too stimulating and result in unappealing behaviors; the moments of being out-of-sync can be interpreted as “time to give up.” Also, the initial upsurge of sexual urges can be disconcerting.
A critical transition occurs when the contact moves from visual appraisal and flirty gestures to “talking.” So much is revealed by the tone and conversational style of the other person. The sound of a person’s voice, especially its animation and musicality or lack thereof, is important. The sharing of “conversational turn-taking” and the ability to tune in to the other person are early indicators of relationship prospects and limitations. Speech can reveal a great deal about a person’s background, cultural, educational, and family characteristics, which may fuel or upset the emerging connection. Humor, irony, optimism or pessimism, boasting, or dislike of self —each suggests personality trends that will become important as this potential relationship evolves.
The initial connection promises further contact: seeing each other again, long talks on the phone. There is a sense of fitting together: a synchronicity, a matching of taste, and a discovery of corresponding experiences.
This promising connection suggests the possibility of a relationship and this triggers the emergence of fantasies and needs. Larger mental and emotional fantasies evolve, generating a complex landscape of relationship possibilities, both positive and negative. Can a relationship develop?
There is a treacherous gap here. The dance of flirtation may not indicate a “readiness for relationship.” These are two different things.