What keeps conversations smooth and enjoyable on a date?
Interestingly, though, what mattered most beyond these obvious tools was not how prospective Romeos and Juliets acted but how they reacted. How does Romeo respond when Juliet quips and vice versa? The best responses (in addition to being warm and other-focused) walked a tightrope between too passive and too active. On the too passive side, Romeo might accept and agree with whatever Juliet says, exerting as much direction on the conversation as the proverbial limp-wristed wet towel. On the too active side, Juliet might drop Romeo’s ball (as it were) and restart the conversation in an entirely new direction of her own choosing. (Of course, the worst thing a conversant could do is drop the ball entirely— withdrawing or failing to respond.)
The trick, according to Finkel, Eastwick, and Saigal, is to avoid extremes in autonomy. Accept your date’s pass, redirect it slightly, and then return the ball— all with warmth and genuine interest in his or her responses.
This acceptance and redirection is the push and pull that creates smoothness.
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