Rhodri Marsden: Why mixed romantic messages are vital for love

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

There are books in the library that attempt to teach us how to speak and interpret the language of romance, called things like Hoodwink People into Having Sex with You. But they fail to legislate for unpredictable behaviour. People are erratic. They might be operating by the rules of a book called Don't Let People Hoodwink You into Having Sex. Sequences of unforeseen events can occur. You could follow the rules of any of these books to the letter and then somehow end up working down a mine in war-torn Angola, thinking, "This is awful – I only wanted to go on a date with Sarah."

We live amid a brutal crossfire of misread signals that make the advice offered by so-called relationship experts totally redundant. We're told that Monday is a low-status night of the week and any invitations for that night are a symbol of lukewarm interest – but who knows, maybe that person has set aside Friday and Saturday night to sculpt your face in marble. I read this week on Twitter that telling a woman you like her shoes is a copper-bottomed romantic strategy, but what if you adore her and her shoes are manifestly terrible, or you love her shoes and hate her guts? It's a minefield.

Last week, I met a girl in a bar and after 10 minutes she said, "Let me give you my number," and handed me her business card, which was tremendously flattering, except I had a nagging feeling that it might actually be business-related, and if I arranged to meet up with her she'd arrive with a folder of quarterly figures and an overhead projector. At which point I'd utter that time-honoured phrase associated with sudden recalibration of expectation: "Oh, I thought we were… Ah. Never mind." It's like when you're at a party and you experience a frisson of excitement as someone whispers in your ear, "Do you fancy getting some air?" and then you realise it's because the person standing behind them has farted.

Having said all that, if it weren't for misread signals and the improbable situations they throw up, the mechanics of attraction would be desperately dull. Romance would involve marching up to someone you've never met before, saying, "I consider you marriage material," and producing a pair of airline tickets to Las Vegas. And that doesn't work. Believe me.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon would turn Britain into a 'communist dictatorship, warns Sarah Vine  

Election 2015: much of the concern about the ‘legitimacy’ question is misplaced

John Rentoul
Ukip leader Nigel Farage  

Election 2015: Ukip is a non-sectarian, non-racist party with a forward-thinking plan for Britain

Nigel Farage
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power