Science Says You Should Definitely Hit On That Cute Guy Or Girl In Your Commuteby Walker James Loetscher on March 21, 2012
Raise your hand if you’ve ever longed to talk to someone who shares your morning commute …
So that makes all of us.
Now, beyond stealing sideways glances of that person in the reflection of the train window, or perhaps memorizing his/her bus schedule so as to make it coincide with your own, have you ever taken a constructive step toward making your daily fantasies of happy-ever-after with that person a reality? Because according to a recent study, you definitely should.
Two separate experiments carried out by Chinese researchers on the relationship between shared commutes and interpersonal dynamics suggest that people who travel to work together are more compatible. The first study asked pairs of opposite-gendered strangers to complete a task together after walking around a track. The catch: participants were divided into two groups — one in which partners circled the track in a common direction, the second demanding they walk in opposite directions. Sure enough, those who tread a common path before commencing team-building exercises reported that they were 13% more satisfied with their partners than those who traveled in opposition to one another. A separate study carried out by the same team concluded that married couples who commute together are happier than those part ways at the front door.
What gives? The author of the study, Irene Xun Huang, attributes the results to a theory she calls “grounded cognition.” The idea is that analogous patterns of behavior — such as a shared commute — engender in us subconscious notions of “unity or shared goals.” It’s one thing to buy into the claim. The difficult part is tackling our original proposition: just how does one go about engaging a fellow commuter, much less one who has probably caught you staring a time or two before?
If you’re broke for conversation starters of your own, try these strategies:
1. Soften him/her up with a nod or smile. Gauge the reaction. If the reaction strikes you as positive, make your move a few days later.
2. Start out with small-talk. Avoid being too personal. Asking where he or she lives/works right off the bat might come off as too aggressive. The gray area between nice-guy/girl and creep is far more tenuous on a train platform than in a bar.
3. When you do broach the subject of meeting outside of your commute, make it communal. Invite your crush to the bar where you and your friends like to gather for post-work drinks. Suggest he/she bring a friend as well. Again, conveying that you’re not a creep should be a primary concern in this situation.
4. If all else fails, there’s always the Shame stare. Warning: not for the novices among you. This once could lead to your crush rearranging his/her entire commute schedule if unsuccessful. Or getting arrested. In fact, we don’t really recommend this.
[photo credit: carlos.a.martinez on flickr, CC licensed]