Date smart. Sign up for April's
advice in your inbox.

The Difference Between Being Friendly and Creating a Connection

A girlfriend of mine and I recently attended a charity gala. I was her wing-woman, so to speak.

As we mingled among a group enjoying the breeze near the open balcony, my wonderful friend, who is attractive, interesting and usually a little bit shy, was doing a great job of being more outgoing than she’s often comfortable with.

At a certain point, she and I became engaged in a conversation with two very attractive men. It was clear from the outset that I was married, and that she was the eligible female in the group, and that there was the potential here for two people to hit it off. She was truly sparkling, and really feeling at the top of her game.

But by the end of the evening, as the two of us exchanged handshakes and air-kisses with the men who had been our unexpected companions for the evening, one of them asked if he could give me his number. And I’m the married one! It wasn’t even asked in a suggestive way. It felt warm, friendly and, well, like a great connection.

Getting Noticed

I make my living from creating connection, so for me, this is easy and non-threatening. I didn’t take offense when he gave me his card, nor was I surprised. I had spent the evening being invested in these two men. Learning about their lives, asking the deeper and more meaningful questions to learn more about who they were. My single friend, although fun and friendly, did not seem to make the same impression.

Do you have a girlfriend or wing-woman who just can’t help but get the attention from men? It’s strange because it’s so predictable. You go out together, you’re both attractive, confident, friendly, and talkative — but for some reason, in the end, she always gets asked for her number, and you do not. It’s so frustrating, and can happen even in the most casual of situations.

Yet you’ve analyzed and observed her behavior, and you can’t figure out what the difference is. You’re friendly, she’s friendly. You’re attractive, she’s attractive. You’re successful, she’s successful. She must have something special that you lack, right? Otherwise, why would this keep happening.

What Creates Connection?

It’s incredibly, incredibly subtle, but as someone who has worked very closely with men and women, I can tell you the difference is definitely there if you know what to look for.

What is this subtle difference? She is receptive. You are friendly.

Believe it or not, they are different. Friendly isn’t the gateway to connection. Yes, it starts there, but it’s something much more profound.

Looking back at the evening with my friend, I can tell you exactly where she went wrong. For example, after a few minutes of initial conversation, she became teasing and even the tiniest bit sarcastic,  jokingly rolling her eyes at one point and calling one of the men “a player.” Her teasing was meant as a fun way of flirting. To a casual listener, it would have sounded like light and snappy conversation. But to someone like me, who knows every detail of what sparks a connection, it sounded like disaster.

Life is not a romantic movie — at least not when it comes to initial conversations with available men. If you read Sparks! on a regular basis, you already know that it doesn’t work to tease men sarcastically, especially when you’re first getting to know them. It makes them uncomfortable, and they aren’t sure how to respond. Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel off-balance, and that can quickly turn to annoyance.

The other pitfall she encountered was telling stories about her work and the past. It seemed her stories were just that, stories. From her perspective, she wanted to establish “who she is,” letting this man know something about her interests and personality. A fine gesture, right? The problem is, with her telling stories, everyone became an audience member as opposed to being in an intimate conversation.

This is perfectly fine if you’re just being friendly for it’s own sake, or if you’re among people who already know and love your storytelling skills, but it’s no good at all if you’re trying to invite romantic attention from a man. He doesn’t know where he fits into that scenario, so he simply stays out.

In essence, if you want to make a connection, you have to care about the person you’re talking to. Yes, even if you’ve known them for only five minutes. Connection happens when you create a feeling in someone.

You Have Nothing to Prove…

So why did I get the attention that evening? It was clear I was married and I wasn’t flirting with anyone.

What I did do is this: I stayed in the moment and expressed friendly, casual curiosity (I asked the men what their connection was to the charity, and I was genuinely interested in their answers). I also shared a few little bits of information in turn, mostly about my husband and my family, and I kept my conversation in the moment, not the past.

It almost seems like there is no difference between my friend and I, but the reality is that she was trying to establish herself as a good catch, and I was simply trying to learn about the men and enjoy their company. Like I said, it’s subtle but powerful.

The result is that the men perceived my friendly interest as positive, warm and intriguing. While my friend had just been “friendly” and “outgoing.”

Simply a Moment to Enjoy.

That evening illustrates perfectly what I want all women to understand about flirting, chemistry and connection: Men are not looking for women who are outgoing or who can make the conversation “fun.” There is no need to try and “establish who you are” when you first meet a man, regaling him with your experiences or attempting to give him a sense that you’re fun or interesting. That is not flirting. Nor is teasing and bantering with him by making little jokes at his expense.

Next time you’re out, let someone in. Show, don’t tell, who you are. Your stories of travel and work are great but ask yourself WHY you’re telling them. Everything you do should have meaning and purpose. Would your story draw someone closer to you? Or is it just attention-seeking information? This moment is not about being the fun girl, it’s about learning something about the man you are with. This shows you are open and receptive to connecting.

After all, what is the purpose of life if not for the beauty of human connection?

Much love,

Leave Your Comment:

Or Comment Via Facebook: