The scientific analysis of a romantic scene

image source: ohad*The Fourth of July is a big day here in America. Above all, the annual celebration serves as a symbol of independence.

And what better way to celebrate that symbolism of independence by having 2 people on a date make independent analyses of a fireworks show?

I was resting my head on Dave’s shoulder and looking up towards the night sky, ooo-ing and aww-ing at the colorful display, when out of the blue, Dave proceeded to inform me how these particular fireworks were composed of barium and strontium salts (along with other salt compounds). It’s interesting how he chose that moment to scientifically analyze a common romantic atmosphere.  However, I’m not surprised.

Once in a while, my boyfriend will choose these particular moments to enlighten me with his scientific knowledge.  During a walk on the beach, I may hear about the different types of tides and the possible ebb and flow peaks.  While watching a sunset, I may hear about the different gases in the sky that affects the color of the sun on that particular given evening. While visiting a lake, I may hear estimates on the water depths and how they are made based on the color. While watching the stars, I will hear about which constellations are older and which ones are younger, and how clear nights always produce lower temperatures than overcast nights.  I think you get the idea.

For the typical woman who demands storybook-based romance, this would be a turn-off.   And even though I crave the occasional storybook-based romantic moment, I get why Dave doesn’t quite pick up on that.

Actually, there are a few possibilities why some of us may replace those “romantic moments” with special interest discussions:

Possibility #1:  Romantic small-talk & non-verbal queues = foreign language.

So what does that mean, exactly?  Here are a few examples of verbal romantic small-talk:

  • “Don’t you just love the view? The trees are so green, and I love how the lake reflects against the sunset.”
  • “What a beautiful night! I love looking at the stars.”
  • “Isn’t this absolutely romantic?”

*These things will usually be said in a soft, slow voice, which indicate an interest in moving on to physical intimacy.

For those of us who find the nuances of small talk uncomfortable, we often replace it with discussion which does not require exposing emotions which exposes our vulnerability. Topics of discussion may include historical events, new stories, politics, scientific theories, and special interests.  In a potentially romantic situation, we may talk about these things in order to make the “atmosphere” more comfortable — so when comes the time for the moment of intimacy, we enter into it with a better ability to handle the intense emotions which often accompany meaningful intimacy.

And to make this language more complicated, it also comes with a series of subtle non-verbal queues. Here are a list of indicators:

  • Deep breathing and sighs.
  • Playing with their own hair or playing with yours.
  • Open body posture (arms not crossed, legs not crossed, etc.).
  • Head leaning on your shoulder or lap.
  • Nose pressed against your cheek.
  • Gentle stoking up and down your arm.
  • Staring dreamily into your eyes for a long period of time.
  • Leaning forward towards you and not really concentrating on what you’re talking about.
  • Lips parted.

When presented as a foreign language, these non-verbal queues can either be intimidating, or dismissed all together.  Effective and consensual physical intimacy requires giving up some level of our own control, and we may get picky on which occasions to give in to that.

Possibility #2:  One common goal, two separate radio signals of arousal.

Special interest conversations with our date may be the key to our own emotional closeness and intimacy.

Also, for those of us who struggle to recognize the “scripts” of traditional romantic advances, we may have no idea what we are supposed to do when we run into a typical romantic scenario… like a walk on the beach, a look-out on the lake, or standing on a mountain top and watching the stars.  We may initiate factual, historical, or scientific discussions because that’s what turns us on and induces our sexual arousal.  In other words, special interest conversations with our date may be the key to our own emotional closeness and intimacy.

The challenge in this case is to make sure there are points where you cross paths with your date’s “radio signal”.  When you start your discussions, try to include a subject that would be interesting or relevant to your date.  Also, if you are having trouble reading your date, ask him or her to tell you what their interests are and try to incorporate an interest of theirs into your conversation.  Once you become more comfortable with each other, ask your date to describe what affection he or she enjoys recieving.  Chances are when asked, they will not hesitate to tell you (at least the innocent kind of affection). You may learn that your date loves his/her hair being caressed, neck gently massaged, and earlobes nibbled.  And when you make an effort to be affectionate, your date won’t mind conversing with you about your special interests, even if the topics are not as interesting to them.

Voila! Now you and your date have produced a crossed-path “radio signal”.

Possibility #3: There simply is no radio signal.

Simply stated: there’s no interest in romantic advances whatsoever.  We break into special interest conversations because we simply want to talk about our special interests.  There’s no affection, romance or sex desired.

* Keep in mind — if you have just begun dating someone and you have not developed a trust with them yet, you have the absolute right to refuse any unwelcomed physical advances they try to make towards you.

Of course there are additional possibilities, but it would take a good while to go through them all.

In Closing…

I’ve never cared to join the “Small Talk Club”, so I actually find it less nerve-racking when Dave pulls out his scientific spiels during a moment like that one on the Fourth of July.   Even though I don’t personally find it necessary to have to analyze a typical romantic scene, I reacted as I normally do with Dave, and added to the conversation, responding with:  “Really? I didn’t realize that there were different salt compounds that produced the various colors of fireworks. Very cool! Will you explain more on what colors each salt produces?”

As our little discussion continued, it was accompanied by occasional moments of pause,  in which Dave pressed his cheek against mine, with a spur-of-the-moment butterfly kiss, as our eyes looked up to the firework-lighted sky. Our treasured moments of romance, triggered by an unconventional scientific analysis.

image sources: ohad*, Dia

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