Head vs. Heart
In this week’s Ask Mel segment, Mel answers a reader’s question about whether we should trust our emotions or logic when dating. By learning about your own brain dominance, Mel explains how you can train yourself to adopt a more balanced approach to your dating life.
“I think there is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head.”
“Dear Mel … my question is about the first impression. Should we trust our eyes and what we call chemistry or we should be analytical and trust our brain rather than emotions?” Theodore Roosevelt
Our dating life finds endless ways to challenge us.
We are faced with so many decisions, big and small, from which photo to include in our profile to whether or not to call someone after the first date. Because dating is such a personal and emotive topic, we often find ourselves grappling with internal conflict about which way to go.
What do YOU do when faced with a dating dilemma?
Many people talk about the battle between the head and the heart, especially when dealing with dating decisions.
Should you listen to your heart and focus on the feelings and chemistry, the grey areas and the spiritual sense of what just feels right?
Or, should you listen to your head and focus on the facts and evidence, the clear signs and probability of what is likely to work out?
The short answer is BOTH.
What does the science say?
Neuroscientists have studied the brain for decades and have found that most people have brain dominance, that is, a preference for utilising either the right or left hemisphere of their brain.
People with left brain dominance tend to be more analytical, factual, practical and logical in their decisions – you might say they lead with their heads.
Whereas people with right brain dominance tend to be more emotional, creative, conceptual and intuitive – you could say they lead with their hearts.
The scientists agree that the ideal form of decision-making involves Whole Brain Thinking. This requires you to become aware of your natural brain dominance and to train yourself to draw on your less dominant side to create a more balanced approach.
For example, if you are left brain dominant and usually make decisions in an organised fashion, based on facts and figures, your challenge is to listen to your more intuitive side, to tap into your emotions and try a more flexible thinking style.
Or, if you are right brain dominant and generally go with your gut, feel for chemistry and know what just feels right, your challenge is to pay attention to the more tangible, logical data in your environment when making decisions.
Click here for a quick, fun test of your own brain dominance.
Whole brain dating
So, now that you have an idea about your own brain dominance, here are a few tips for better decision making in your dating life.
For left brainers
- You may have a natural tendency to evaluate your dates based on specific criteria, and sometimes this may overshadow your intuition about them (e.g. you are so busy checking your Ideal Partner List that you don’t notice the butterflies in your tummy when he/she looks into your eyes)
- Ask a couple of your close friends to also take the brain dominance test and select a trusted friend who is right brain dominant – recruit them as your dating buddy and give them permission to present the opposite view when you discuss your dates
- Listen to your body – during dates, your brain sends physiological messages around your body and these can often indicate how you feel about a person. Get to know your physical reactions and start to pay attention to your emotional responses
- Ask yourself this question after each dating interaction: How do I feel?
For right brainers
- You may have a natural tendency to go with your gut feelings on dates and could overlook some key criteria (e.g. you have a great time on the date and miss the fact that they are about to move overseas)
- Ask a couple of your close friends to also take the brain dominance test and select a trusted friend who is left brain dominant – recruit them as your dating buddy and give them permission to present the opposite view when you discuss your dates
- Listen to your logical mind – during your dates, try not to get carried away in the moment and stay grounded in reality
- Ask yourself this question about each dating interaction: What do I think?
So, to answer the question about first impressions, it all depends on your brain dominance. A left brainer is likely to initially notice the facts and features of a date, whereas a right brainer is more likely to first pay attention to the chemistry and their intuition about a date. The challenge for everyone is to notice our first impression, then challenge it with our less dominant thinking style. This takes a little practice as you’re grappling with years of habitual thinking styles but if you put in the effort you will start to make better dating decisions (and spend less time on bad dates).
By Melanie Schilling, Psychologist and Dating Coach
Do you tend to date with your head or heart? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.
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