Drawing the line

In an article published last year by Kristine Keller in Psychology Today, this NYU master’s student walks us through the benefits – and pitfalls – of spilling our guts, so to speak, to prospective partners.

 

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‘Personal disclosure’, as this practice is technically called, is the divulging of personal information, such as secrets, strong opinions, judgments, etc., to a second party.  Keller was particularly interested in how personal disclosure operates in a romantic context, and the impact this disclosure can have on relationships.  She noted that, based on various studies, mutual personal disclosure in a couple, or even between two strangers, actually increases the feeling of intimacy and of liking.  This observation dovetails perfectly with Florence Escaravage’s Love Intelligence method, which encourages participants to identify and reveal the essential facets of their personality and to develop intimacy through mutual exchange.  

How to build intimacy in your relationship

Of course, some restrictions do apply.  Keller noted that the practice of disclosure is most effective when it is balanced; that is to say, when each person is disclosing at the same level.  People often share information about themselves in a ‘funnel pattern’; they will first start off swapping superficial, low-risk information, (where you were born, do you have a pet, etc.) - small talk, in effect.  If this exchange goes well, the topics may get more and more personal and the subjects more broad.  The exchanges become more intimate meaningful, and a feeling of closeness and of liking is engendered.  However, if one partner makes a light remark and the other follows it with a personal disclosure that is ‘too deep’, the conversation gets out of sync, with the result that one person may feel uncomfortable with the level of intimacy of the chatter.  

The idea that you may be liked through the simple act of exchanging meaningful information about one another flies in the face much conventional wisdom amassed in various and sundry women’s magazines.  “Don’t scare him off”, they warn, “by ‘over-sharing’”.  “Keep it light – wait until things are serious before you go there!”  There certainly seems to be an unwritten rule that women, (so often portrayed as ‘overly emotional’, clingy and annoyingly talkative), should tone down their efforts to ‘emotionally bond’.  How often have we seen the caricature of a girl nuzzling her boyfriend, wanting those deep, intimate conversations, while the man in question remains stubbornly unwilling to reciprocate? 

These kinds of messages are often limited and unproductive, and likewise go against the advice of Love Intelligence, especially regarding steps 3 and 5 of its method. 

It would seem in the end that balance is the key.  ‘Being on the same page’ as your partner is always important, put likewise, censoring your every word for fear of getting too personal might actually be shooting yourself in the foot.  After all, love is indeed about sharing and bonding, about feeling close and knowing the other person inside and out.  Is it really that surprising that the act of sharing and the validation it brings is one of the steps towards fostering such a strong connection?

 

Inspired by the article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-young-and-the-restless/201108/disclose-yourself-how-intimate-disclosure-fosters-attraction

Preconceived notions

"Don't give too much away too soon or they'll lose interest"

What you probably think

"I shouldn't talk about personal things the on the first few dates"

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An Efficient Method by Florence Escaravage, the Queen of Love Coaching, February 2007
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How to Create Emotional and Intellectual Intimacy by Love Intelligence®

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