In every Third Mind post, I talk about people becoming social molecules. Two people meet and a sort of third, hybrid self pops into existence. I call it the third mind. It’s generally a wispy, nebulous self at the MOMENT that people meet, as in, introduce themselves. If you think about it there is almost a sort of taste to a first meeting but it’s usually all but drowned out in the psychic noise of social posturing, self-consciousness, and the jumble of talk from all around. Still, it’s there.

That deepening of the third mind between you is rather like the creating of a molecule. You are an element and they are an element, and you both have chemical properties. There will be a chemical reaction when you meet. In most meetings, these reactions are Ho-Hum, almost neutral. With most people your two elements just sort of look at each other and shrug: “Hey.”, “Yup.”

This first impression is bound to the context of the meeting. The SET and SETTING. Set is your expectations. The Setting is where you meet, but not the abstract address. It’s this place, but also the aesthetics and atmosphere, the mood, the feeling. We start with data expectations about this new person, the mental dossier we’ve gleaned so far. Then we steep those data points in the sensory atmosphere of this bar, or waiting room, or street corner, and our expectations gell.

Let’s talk blind dates. When you meet your blind date you know 0.7 seconds in whether this is anything or not. Within half an hour of talk, you know for certain if you ever want to see them again for any reason. Meeting the same person in a different context isn’t the same thing at all. You don’t sprint to such large conclusions when meeting Bob from accounting for example.

I’m intrigued by this instant knowing. What the hell is it exactly that we instantly know? In that specific moment where you know: “Absolutely not!” as opposed to “Meh.” or “Maybe”?.  It’s odd, I really don’t know what it is. Little labels identifying things that don’t feel right may float through your mind but I think those are more like questions than answers. The closest I can get is like this: Sorry, you are experiencing network connectivity problems, try resetting your modem.

No Connection. True, but no connection to what? Do we have a molecular binding site for romance? A lock and the wrong key? Honestly, it feels to me like everyone has an invisible elephant loyally plodding after them. When you meet, chemistry is how well the invisible elephants get along.

The significance of our SET on a blind date is almost literally cosmic: “I might have kids with you”, “I’m meeting my true love”. The overwrought significance of dating gets in the way of dating. You can be completely sensible and have all your ridiculous big expectations, pseudo-expectations, and even ghostly shadow expectations locked away in a big trunk that says “Oh, shut up” on the outside but when you see them, you can’t unknow why you are there. Then 0.7 seconds later you know something kind of fun and sexual could happen but it wouldn’t be worth the awkwardness of extracting yourself later. The rightness is so important to everyone that’s it’s as if an inner representative of your DESTINY steps forward like a humorless secret service agent to check out your date and gives you the tiniest head shake, no.

From across the table, your date’s secret service agent looks hard at you before giving the same little shake. OK, we’re done here…except for two hours of polite talk and an awkward goodnight.