By Jeff Davidson
It was the fall of my senior year at the University of Connecticut, and I was out one evening on campus with my new buddy John. We had met in a marketing class and became friends almost instantly. John had a laid-back sense of confidence, was a good listener, and appreciated a good joke. He and I were nearly the same height, had the same propensity for girl-watching, and shared a variety of interests.
We headed to Swan Lake where a band had set up for some kind of celebration. It was a free concert, one of many that occurred month after month across the campus for all four years of my undergraduate tenure.
Capturing the Sound
As dusk turned to dark, somebody started a small fire with twigs and broken tree branches. October evenings in Connecticut can be quite chilly. I remember the band began to play "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young. It's a melodic, methodic, compelling song that you can't forget after you've heard it two or three times. The song begins with: "I wanna live with a cinnamon girl. I can be happy the rest of my life with a cinnamon girl."
That evening, John met Vanessa. She was two years younger, British in origin, and had distinctive manner about her, unlike any other college coed. John felt instantly attracted to her, but in his reserved and calculated way, never overplayed his cards. He knew how to drum up interest while not coming on too strong.
Vanessa was clearly attracted to John and appeared to appreciate his approach. They talked and joked for quite awhile. You could tell this could be the start of a significant relationship. Then, each turned their own way.
I asked John about her, and he said that she was definitely "girlfriend material." I then asked why he hadn't lingered longer, perhaps gotten her phone number and made a date. He told me that it was more important at the outset to build interest. He knew her name and her dorm, and he felt confident he would see her again around campus.
I marveled at his approach. Whenever I met someone I thought was hot, my modus operandi was to go in with blazing six guns, like nearly every guy I knew. This approach often failed, but gung ho, eager types didn't proceed in any other way.
In the weeks that followed, John did encounter Vanessa around campus and continued to let the interest heighten. I thought he was nuts. What if some other guy swoops in? What if she forgets about him?
John knew something, however, that took me decades to learn: When the sparks are flying and you let the interest build, the other party can't wait to hear from you.
I don't remember whether it was a month, two months, or more, but John and Vanessa began dating and became very close. She stayed over with him many a night. John went to her home in southern Connecticut and met her parents. Her family was ultrarich, whereas John was middle class, but it didn't matter – he became a family favorite. John and Vanessa's relationship went on for years, and I'm not sure how or why it ended.
Later, in our twenties, as housemates in a four bedroom house, John and I had a falling out when a fifth and then a sixth "housemate" moved in without my having any say. Nevertheless, to this day, I marvel at John's approach to building interest, establishing a relationship, and getting the girl.
I can't help but think that John's approach to relationships can be applied on so many levels. How often do we come on too strong? Oversell? Crowd the prospect? Sometimes dropping back, just a bit, works best for the long term.
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About the author:
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written fifty-nine mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and USA Today. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "consummate speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website www.BreathingSpace.com.