‘You would swear that they knew some secret language, and you’d be right’
Think of all the men you’ve ever known. Can you remember any in particular who never seemed to struggle with dating? They always seem to be surrounded by the kinds of women you’d love to be with. They always seem to have women flirting with them wherever they go. These men seem to have the sexual life the rest of us envy. You would swear that they knew some secret language that the rest of us could never hope to learn. And you’d be right — at least about the first part.
If you happened to have known more than one of these sexually optimized individuals in your life, ask yourself what they had in common. The answer is usually not very much. They can be rich or poor, modelesque or “below-average,” charming or brooding, preppy or artistic. The only thing these individuals have in common, unbeknownst to most people, is that they understand the secret language of sexuality.
Human beings have two forms of communication: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary communication is what most human beings consider to be all communication. It’s anything that we choose to say or do in order to communicate with another person. Wishing someone good morning, discussing building plans, looking someone in the eyes, patting someone on the back — they’re the interactions we actively seek out.
Most people aren’t even aware that involuntary communication exists. This is unfortunate since there is nothing more pivotal when it comes to our happiness and fulfillment. Involuntary communication involves the signals our bodies are constantly sending to ourselves and each other from the moment we’re aware of another person’s presence.
‘Any dating advice that begins by giving you ‘lines’ to start a conversation with is ignoring the true beginning of that conversation.’
Ever wonder why you feel more anxious around someone who is anxious? That question was answered in the early 2000s by a number of scientists (Preston & Waal, Decety, Gallese), one of whom (Gallese) helped discover mirror neurons in primates in the 1980s. For those of us not caught up on the hottest behavioral science topics, mirror neurons are the things in our brains that incite us to yawn when we see someone else yawn, or uncross our arms when someone we’re talking to also uncrosses their arms.
In the early 2000s, a large number of experiments have shown that the phenomenon of mirror neurons don’t only apply to physical behavior. As it turns out, the same brain regions that fire when we experience a particular emotion also fire when we see someone else experience the exact same emotion. Our bodies are constantly talking to one another in a universal language. Most of us are completely unaware of it. That universal language, translated through our bodies, is the ancient language of our emotions.
Any dating advice that begins by giving you ‘lines’ to start a conversation with is ignoring the true emotional beginning of that conversation. An emotional conversation begins the moment one human is aware that another human being is looking at them. There is an incredibly specific and primal part of our brain that fires only when we see someone looking directly at us, as opposed to a few inches to the left or right.
The second the look-ee receives that direct look, their brain immediately fires off a specific signal, which their body translates into emotion. The way that they interpret this emotion is based both on their current emotional state and the emotional state of the onlooker. The moment this happens, the onlooker will now experience a shift in their emotional state based on the new electromagnetic waves sent back by the look-ee. This is how every conversation between human beings involuntarily begins.
Let’s say a man looks at a woman. For whatever reason, her emotional response is more ‘closed’ to his gaze. She tightens up emotionally, which sends out electromagnetic waves that create a feeling of tightness in his body. This guy though, like roughly 95% of us on the planet, is unaware of the only conversation that matters. He’s too busy thinking about what to say or working up the courage to approach her and he’s oblivious to the communication she’s sending. He finally approaches her and is baffled when she looks at him like, “wtf is wrong with you.”
Hypothetical situation #2: Let’s say that this gentleman is part of the 5%. Upon looking at her, he recognizes a tightening in his body. He accurately reads her feelings as being more closed off. He immediately respects her feelings and looks away, cutting of his side of the emotional conversation.
Meanwhile, he exclusively listens to the emotional exchange swirling inside of him because he knows it’s the only conversation that matters for human connection. She, for the first time in a month, recognizes a man who received the message she sent in a language that even she forgot about. A moment later, the man feels eyes on him coming from her general direction. This time though, the feeling isn’t as anxious as it is curious. He receives a “good” feeling in his body and smiles. The curiosity intensifies.
“it’s as natural to us as breathing”
The reason why I call this emotional language the “language of women,” beyond being catchy and typically easier for my guys to comprehend, is due to the work of Dr. Louann Brizendine. After studying neuroscience at UC Berkeley, Yale, and Harvard, Dr. Brizendine was appalled that the entire field of neuroscience revolved around the study of the male brain.
She went on to become the preeminent authority on the study of the female brain and wrote a number of books on the differences between their brains and the men who’d been previously studied. The specific difference she found that serves our purpose is that the emotional processing center in women’s brains is significantly larger than that of the average man’s.
Keep in mind, there’s a bell curve — former MMA champion, Ronda Rousey, can still kick most guys’ asses, but she’s at a genetic disadvantage against most similarly trained guys. Guys can get incredible at emotional communication. Women, on average, will always be better.
More importantly, men and women will typically default to their preferred style of communication when they don’t have time to think or are nervous. If something odd happens in a group of men and women, most of the men try to come up with the most clever or interesting thing they can say about the occurrence. Meanwhile, most of the women are busy looking at each other. They’re busy communicating in their default language as well.
“Male,” or voluntary communication is excellent for building and creating. It sucks, however, at the one thing that has been proven to matter most to our ultimate happiness — connecting with others. We can think our way onto the moon, but we can’t think our way into a relationship or into being happy.
The right brain — the side that houses our capacity for emotional communication — is an absolute master at building relationships and knowing our personal path to true happiness. The problem is that those processes are involuntary, and individuals in our society have a difficult time trying to take their hands off the wheel in situations they care most about.
In an ideal society, individuals would be educated equally in both forms of communication. Each person would be working more on the form that he or she happens to be weaker in, so that we could all meet in the middle. Although when productivity is prized above all else, everyone is pushed to overdevelop their left brain. This isn’t inherently an issue, but becomes one when education on emotional communication is nearly nonexistent.
When we disregard emotional education, we still have the most productive societies in the history of the world. At the same time though, we are also suffering from depression and isolation at epidemic proportions. We seek partners to fill that void and end up in a never-ending spiral of toxic relationships. We go into social and dating situations trying to figure it all out, judging and over-analyzing every detail.
Meanwhile, we ignore the thing already doing everything for us. We come away more and more frustrated that things didn’t go the way we wanted them to. We start to give up hope and wonder if there’s something wrong with us.
The good news is that, despite our cognitive education being severely unbalanced for our entire lives, one can always redevelop the ability to communicate in our original tongue. The path is counterintuitive to everything we’ve ever been taught about trying to find a mate. And yet, it’s as natural to us as breathing. All you have to do is let go of everything else…
(Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we explore exactly how to speak the universal language.)