Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dating Advice: Curb Your Sarcasm

First of all, I must admit: I think that’s a pretty crafty title for this article. Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, I’ll get straight to the point. Because I focus a lot on relationships in my practice and book-writing, I spend a lot of time thinking about the art of relationships. In particular, I try hard to understand what gets in the way for men and women as they try to find the right romantic match for them. In doing so, I’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about dating, because that’s the breeding ground – the petri dish, if you will – for romantic relationships. It all starts with dating.

That said, what are you like on a date? How do you come across to the person sitting across from you at the dinner table? Do you seem open or guarded? Sweet or cocky? Shy or aloof? These are good starter questions as you take inventory of how you come across on a date. If you have a hard time being objective when you consider how a date might perceive you, ask a friend his or her opinion on how a new date might perceive you. Friends can give you good – and sometimes, brutally honest – feedback on this issue.

I often find that one of the ways that men and women flirt when they are on their first date or are early in the dating process is to be sarcastic with their date. I’m not talking about being cruel or mean, but rather being playful, delivering teasing little verbal barbs to the man or woman you’re on the date with. For some people, this is simply one of the main ways that they flirt. It’s kind of like a game, meant to incite a little spark in the dialogue. For such men and women, being sarcastic on a date – particularly with someone they really like – gets the juices flowing and makes the interaction more exciting.

My advice: if you are someone who tends to get sarcastic as a means of flirting, be careful in doing so. Early in the dating process, everyone is a little nervous and uncomfortable, and everyone is doing their best to calm their anxieties and feel more comfortable. If you play the sarcastic card too soon or too frequently, it can send your date a mixed message. He or she might wonder, Does he or she even like me? In addition, you playing the sarcastic card can make your date feel more anxious. After all, you hardly even know each other, and it takes a while for people to get to know each others’ senses of humor.

There’s nothing wrong with expressing a little sarcasm when you’re dating. The goal is to remember that, if you like the person you’re dating, you need to focus more on being honest and kind than on being sarcastic. Too much sarcasm too soon might backfire and push the one you like away.

PLUS: Dr. Seth's new book, Dr. Seth's Love Prescription, is about how to stop repeating bad patterns in your romantic relationships. It's at all Borders and Barnes & Noble stores, and online at Amazon.com

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