Best Dating Advice: Listen Carefully

Here’s the problem: not listening to what you’re being told because ‘what you expect to hear’ drowns out ‘what is being said.’ If you only heard what people are telling you, the first time they tell you, you would avoid a lot of the trouble you can get yourself into in your love-life.

Now you need to understand the way people operate. They automatically tell you what you need to know as soon as the conversation gets a little freer. For example, when you meet someone new, after a little while and you start to ‘talk’ he or she will tell you what you need to know about his or her love-life intentions.

Some people might be a bit more open than others, but everyone communicates this information. People can’t help themselves. Believe it or not, the problem is not in what gets communicated. The problem is whether or not you are really listening to what is being said. And I’m not just talking about being distracted. I’m talking about, what you expect to hear and how those expectations limit what you actually hear.

Now in love-life situations, this problem is very common. Especially when single people meet someone new they are fundamentally unfamiliar with. In the absence of familiarity there is no history to check the information being given. But more than that, what you expect can be what you end up hearing. That’s pretty scary.

You can project you expectations on someone like a veneer that covers what is being said and who is doing the saying. This is how a lot of hearts get broken. You expect that the person you’ve met can and will love you. You need him or her to. You’re lonely and sick of dating. You’ve been waiting awhile for someone special to come along.

You’ve just met this person. He or she looks good. He or she has the requisite job, money, apartment, and car. He or she could be the one, right? Well what is he or she telling you about him or herself? What is he or she looking for in their love-life? Someone to date, relate to, and marry? Someone to sleep with tonight? Sex but no commitment? What? Who is this person and what is he or she looking for?

When your expectations are strong because of your emotional needs, they can overwhelm your ability to perceive what is in front of you. This is not a sickness. It’s called being human. We all do it. It’s the way our minds and hearts cooperate to construct our experiences. In certain life situations, however, projecting expectations will cause problems.

When you are single and meeting prospective partners your ability to listen and accurately hear what is being said to you is a very important skill. It will provide you with the information you need to discriminate between people. You’ll be able to determine who is who. You won’t be wasting time with people who look the part but want something very different from what you are looking for.

The hard part is making the correction to accurate perception when your expectations are so strong. This can be like saying ‘no’ to yourself. You want to believe you found the right one. But you might not have. The disappointment is the problem. Who wants to feel that? Nobody. Remind yourself that the momentary disappointment and intermittent feelings of loneliness are far better than the pain that comes with having misread who you’re in a love relationship with.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.


  1. Kent Thrall on January 10, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Listening is the best way to strengthen or create a relationship. This is so true as thru listening can you know the wants and needs of your partners as well as their problems.

    • Dr. Tom Jordan on January 10, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Thanks Kent for your comment. I agree with your understanding that listening provides information about wants, needs, and ‘problems.’ So many people I see who are in a cycle of choosing the same unhealthy people over and over again are not ‘listening’ to a potential lover when they first meet. I often ask such a person, “was there a sign of trouble when you first met?” Inevitably when people think about it they say “oh yes, there was that…..on our first date.” I think our hopes, desires, or needs make it harder to ‘hear’ what people are telling us, good or bad. It seems as though we all have to express something of ourselves when we first meet. It’s human nature. You pick it up if you can ‘turn off your own inner noise’ and tune in. Thanks for visiting my blog. Dr. J.

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