How to Build an Emotional Connection
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
An emotional connection is one of those fleeting, powerful things that can seem all too rare and all too outside one's control. It can seem like it's just chance when you happen upon one -- as if but by the grace of God it came into being.
But it doesn't have to be. Just like succeeding with women in general -- just like figuring out how to launch businesses and succeed financially -- just like anything in life -- the ability to build an emotional connection is something that can be learned.
Most people don't like to hear that. Most people want to think that all in life is pure happenstance and nothing other than fate determines the outcome of their lives. But those of us actively in pursuit of bettering ourselves and of mastering the skills to control our own destinies know better -- that a lot less in life is chance than most folks think.
A lot of it is skill.
And learning to connect with people on an emotional level is one of the most powerful, practical, wide-reaching skills you can possibly learn. If you haven't given much thought to this one before, it's high time you started.
In the mid-20th century, French psychoanalyst Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan developed the concept of "the other," originally introduced by German philosopher Georg Hegel in the early 1800s and now a pillar of modern day psychological models. What the idea of "the other" holds is that every person sees everything else in the world -- including every other human being -- as being either the same as him or herself -- or other.
It's easy to gather how othering -- as the verb form is called in psychological parlance -- would serve to keep our ancestors living and thriving. Those who aren't with us may be against us and need to be watched carefully and be subject to suspicion, unless and until they can prove they're on the same wavelength as us.
Even today, in our far safer world with a far lower mortality rate than at any other point in history, othering helps keep us safe; it protects us from people who might potentially be a threat to us and helps us stick to those who understand us best and ally with us and are most likely to help us succeed and go to bat for us in times of need.
For the seducer though, and for anyone else who seeks to achieve mastery at building emotional connections with others, the question of the other presents a unique problem -- and an unparalleled opportunity.
That's because most people are very good at positioning themselves as the other, and not so good at showing how they are the same.
And emotional connection, at its very core, is all about helping others see you as the same as them: as someone who gets them, is bonded to them, and understands them to the quick of them.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First things first: you need to realize the things you're doing that position you as "other" in the mind of girls you like.
And before you can do that, I want to call your attention to how you view some women as "other" right now. First, think of a certain kind of woman you dislike. Maybe it's those Barbie dolls who dress themselves up and think so highly of themselves -- all you want is to get a real girl. Maybe it's fat women if you're skinny, or skinny women if you're fat -- who wants a woman that disgusting (fat) or that much a bag of bones (skinny)? Or maybe it's the hardcore feminists and the women's libbers -- if anyone falls into the "other" category for most men, it's got to be them -- they hate men!
And now that I've got you all riled up thinking of your most hated enemies in the opposite sex, stop and think.
Are they really all bad, horrible, good-for-nothing people? Do they really have nothing to offer to humanity?
Or are you just broad-handedly, ham-fistedly, categorically tossing them into a stereotyped category of "other" and deciding they're stone-hearted individuals who simply can't be related to as people?
If you stop and you're really, truly honest with yourself, you'll realize they're people just like you are and just like the people you don't consider "other" are, and there really isn't anything wrong with them. They're just living a different life you don't fully relate to, and they have different reactions to you and feelings about you too.
Personally, girls who dress über flashy I used to not like all that much because they used to be colder toward me; and heftier girls I didn't like a whole lot because (aside from my own personal preferences for women with thin waists) they tended to snap at me even when I was just being friendly and social a lot of the time.
So, for a while, those kinds of women got tossed into the "other" category for me.
Who's in your other category?
But tackling your own list of others isn't the object of this post. For doing some internal work in that regard, check out "Reference Points and Changing Worldviews."
I just wanted to point out that "the other" is very real and a psychological mechanism we're all subject to. And that includes the women you meet.
You see, most men, while trying to build an emotional connection with women, inadvertently tend to flip girls' "other" switches. They do some knuckleheaded things that get them booted out of contention for the same and quickly slotted into the other.
And once you're an "other," good luck trying to get a girl to do... well... ANYTHING with you.
Where Most Guys Go Wrong in Emotional Connection-Building
So how do you avoid being an "other;" any idea?
Let's define what most guys are doing wrong... the things that kill their chances at building a connection and being viewed as "the same."
- Throwing out contentious opinions. Men are a lot more susceptible to this than women are for some reason. Okay, not "some reason"... women are a lot more socially attuned than the average man and just don't do this.
What's a contentious opinion? Let's say you're talking to a girl, and the two of you talk about exercise. "You know what I hate?" you say. "Yoga. What a silly waste of time that is."
Then she tells you she runs a yoga studio.
By way of another example, say she makes the off-hand remark that she absolutely loathes men who spend hours watching sports every week... but unbeknownst to her, you spend hours watching sports every week. The instant she states that opinion, you feel less connected to her. That's the kind of thing you want to avoid doing to women -- but so many men do it, and keep doing it, more or less obliviously.
- Failing to build consensus. Women are very good at building consensus. Men often aren't. The men who fail to build consensus regularly tend to leave women feeling ignored or marginalized when they make unilateral decisions; women can end up feeling their needs haven't been attended to, and they lose a lot of connectedness to the man making the unilateral decision.
This, you might say, is bad form. You can still be the leader and still direct things your way; in fact, women typically will be looking for you to make the decisions and lead the charge. But they still want to feel included.
When men fail to include women in the decision making process and instead make those unilateral decisions, women end up feeling left out -- not just of the decision itself, but of the man's consideration altogether too.
- Never going beyond the superficial. Deep diving is an effective tool for a reason: it gets women telling you about themselves, beyond the ordinary, and bonding to you on who they really are. You aren't "other" if you know them and get them to an intimate degree. Most men never do this though, and instead let their conversation remain in the realm of the common and the surface-level.
- Forgetting to actively listen and provide good feedback. As discussed in the post on becoming an exceptional conversationalist, one of the things that makes a woman begin bonding to and relating to a man is his ability to show her that he's listening to, relating to, and understanding what she's saying. Most men don't do this, either because they aren't really listening, or because they're too caught up in trying to be impressive to really be there in the moment and feed back to a woman what she's saying. When a man fails to feed back a woman's conversation to her, she feels like her words are falling on deaf ears -- on ears that don't really care. Thus, the man she's talking to must not relate -- he must be "other."
These are the mistakes most guys end up making that poison their ability to really connect and bond with a woman.
And if you want to do better than most guys, you're going to need to do a little better than this.
How to Build an Emotional Connection
You want to get out of ending up considered "other" and into being thought of as "the same." How you do that is by building an emotional connection.
The man who knows how to build an emotional connection is the man who's able to control his own fate, so to speak, when it comes to connecting with others. He's no longer at the mercy of destiny, hoping for that spark to manifest; instead, he controls its manifestation. "Chemistry" is at his beck and call.
To build an emotional connection though, you're going to need to do the opposite of what most men do -- the opposite of those places we just laid out above, where most men go wrong.
You'll need to be focused on bonding instead of whatever it is regular guys are focused on (proving how amazing they are, I guess?).
Some of this is going to be similar to what we talked about in "The Conversationalist;" if anything sounds familiar, just view it as a refresher. Some of it's going to be different. All of it's going to be focused, first and foremost, on building that emotional connection and avoiding the label of "other" that so many men put themselves into.
Here are the tools you'll need to build an emotional connection:
- Avoid arguments and contention, and hold your tongue on divisive opinions. At least until you're fairly certain she shares those divisive opinions of yours, anyway. You're very nationalistic, and she's from another country? Probably not a great idea to get into singing your home country's praises too loudly. Instead, talk about stuff you can both agree on -- interests, hobbies. Maybe both of you like art, or played sports in high school, or hate office desk jobs. Doesn't matter what it is -- so long as it's something you relate to each other on.
- Build consensus. You don't have to hold a vote, exactly, but you should ask for buy in. Like so: "I'm thinking we should hit the pizza parlor. Do you like pizza?" That way she feels included in the decision. You get the added bonus of once she's bought in, she'll support the decision -- rather than attack it or resist it, as women may do with decisions they haven't bought into.
Skip this one in obvious time-to-lead situations, such as when you're moving her somewhere quiet or secluded, or when you're taking her home. But when it's not as much of a do-or-die situation, yeah -- get buy-in. It helps. Quite a lot, sometimes.
- Get to the nitty gritty ASAP. Quick, how connected do you feel to someone you've spoken with for ten minutes who still knows nothing about you other than where you went to college, where you're originally from, and what you do for work right now? Not a whole lot, right?
By focusing on getting under a girl's hood fast -- by getting to her deeper self -- you allow her to connect to you deeply and rapidly and get out of the "other" zone. This is where deep diving comes in, and why going beyond the superficial is so crucial in everything other than fast pulls.
- Listen actively and provide feedback. This can be as simple as repeating back to a girl what she's said to you but with different words. e.g., she tells you about how her father taught her to sail, and you respond with, "That's so very cool you had a dad who taught you to sail. How good did you end up getting?" By actively listening / providing feedback, you show that you listen, and you show that you get it.
Most important about all of these is that they're signature markers of "sameness" and identify you as in-group, rather than out-group. They let you skirt the stigma of "other" that so many men seem so good at getting slapped onto their foreheads, and aid you in building a real, genuine emotional connection with women.
Futher, once you're good at knowing how to build an emotional connection, you become that rare individual others can connect to well -- distinguishing yourself from everyone else.
The ability to build an emotional connection allows you to build friends and allies with on a highly consistent basis. And, it makes you a heck of a closer -- you know that, given the opportunity to talk to a girl, the two of you are probably going to end up connecting very well.
All you really need to start is a focus on connecting, instead of obliviously blundering into "other" territory like most guys do. Knowing is half the battle... and the techniques above are the other half.
Hope you enjoy using them.
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