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.

The deepening of the third mind between you and another 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 look each other up and down and shrug: “Hey.”, “Yup.”

Let’s talk blind dates. When you meet your blind date you know roughly 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 in the break room for example.

In an online dating context:

As we approach the date we are informed only with expectations based on research data about this new person, the mental dossier we’ve gleaned from their profile and pictures, and texts. Almost everything we feel toward them is emotional doodling or embroidery around this data cluster. It is a hypothesis based on hearsay, advertising, imagination, and self-image. This first impression is bound to the context of the meeting. Two critical variables come into play: The SET and SETTING. The Set is your expectations. It is the emotional baggage or mental clarity you carry into the meeting. The SET is what we think we are doing here and what it potentially means. The Setting is where you meet, but not the street address. It is this place of meeting, but mainly the aesthetics and atmosphere, the mood, and the feeling.  We bring our data report into the atmosphere of this bar, or waiting room, or street corner and wait for love as if in a duck blind.

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 “Maybe”?  It’s mysterious. Little things that don’t feel right about them may come to mind but I think those are more often like rationalizations than real answers. The closest I can get to explaining this interpersonal “dead air” lack of connection 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 your invisible elephants get along.

The significance of our mental SET (our expectations) on a blind date is almost literally cosmic: “I might have kids with you”, “I’m seeking 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 your date, you can’t unknow the underlying reasons why you are there. Then, 0.7 seconds later you might for example know that something kind of fun and sexual could happen but it wouldn’t be worth the awkwardness of extracting yourself later. Or, that a possible friendship could grow in this soil; OR that we could save ourselves a lot of time and energy by saying goodnight right now.

The issue of 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 pat down your date and gives you the tiniest head shake, no.

Meanwhile, 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 entropically cooling toward an awkward goodnight.