Saturday, December 26, 2009

Realizations: Comfort-Building

Experience itself is always the best teacher. Talking and reading about certain aspects of life only gets you so far. All the most important and pertinent insights strike you when you're actually living life. Just this week I had a somewhat unexpected realization. A lot of the writing and discussion of Game centers around relationship formation. In his book, The Mystery Method, Mystery calls the three critical phases of relationship formation the attraction phase, the comfort phase and the seduction phase. The attraction phase commences when boy meets girl, or in some cases, when a guy and girl begin to view each other as possible romantic interests. If at least a minimal amount of attraction is established, the comfort phase begins. At this point, both parties are already at least mildly interested in each other and at least somewhat attracted to each other. The comfort phase constitutes of everything that happens after two-way attraction is established and before either a formal relationship is established (LTR) or sexual relations commence.

In many ways, the comfort phase is a multi-dimensional sort of thing. Though an initial attraction has been established, for anything to occur between two people, there has to be more than just attraction. There needs to be connection. When you are first interacting with someone, and even sometimes after a date or two, your date still seems like a stranger. You may be good at reading people and you may know what sort of a person she is, but you still don't quite know her. Similarly, while she may know a little bit about you, she really doesn't know very much about you at all. This is especially true if you maintain a slightly mysterious persona during the attraction phase. In truth, there's nothing especially magical or mysterious about the comfort phase. It's as simple as starting to get to know one another and beginning to interact with each other in different contexts and in different locations. Until this week, I always thought that the main goal of the comfort phase was to make her feel more comfortable around me. And that's true. But that's only half of it.

The other crucial part of the comfort phase is for you to feel more comforable around her. It's a very different thing than just feeling generally comfortable, or socially comfortable. You can feel socially comfortable, and happily mingle in a social group, and yet that still doesn't mean that you feel individually comfortable with each person in the group. Similarly, if you're a confident and well-adapted person, you may feel reasonably comfortable in different situations and settings, even with unusual ones. But that's not the same as feeling comfortable with a person. It's different. And that's what struck me as surprising and unexpected. While anxiety and nervousness around new girls can be squelched with a little effort, being comfortable is something more than just not feeling nervous. Comfort is the antithesis of anxiety. Anxiety is felt because of dealing with the unfamiliar. Comfort is felt when you are with a person who is familiar. The more familiar a person is and the more emotionally safe a person seems, the more comfortable you naturally feel around them. So, while part of the comfort phase is for her to become more comfortable around you, it is an equally vital part of the comfort phase for you to become more comfortable around her. Both halves of it are necessary.

The nice thing about comfort building is that if everything is going well, you become more comfortable more quickly. It's a snowball effect. The first bit of comfort is the most difficult. From there on it gets much easier to become more comfortable with each other. It works that way because the more comfortable you feel, the more positive your emotional state is, the more you feel free to say what's on your mind and the easier it is to relax and enjoy whatever you're doing. Additionally, not only do you being to feel more comfortable, but your emotional state is subconsciously communicated to your date, and she can sense that you feel more comfortable, which causes her to feel more comfortable as well. Comfort is both a self-reinforcing feeling and a socially-reinforcing feeling. The challenge is just to start things off well. From that point, the momentum keeps things going with hardly any effort.

While it's nice to know that a girl I'm with is feeling more comfortable being around me, it's even nicer when I start to feel more comfortable around her. The more comfortable I am, the more fun I have. It's a beautiful self-perpetuating, self-reinforcing, socially-contagious cycle. In any case, I have come to the realization that the comfort phase is as much for me as it is for her. Becoming more comfortable with each other is a necessary and rewarding experience. Being comfortable around each other is an essential prelude to any sort of deeper enjoyment of each other.

1 comment:

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