Eighteen months ago I moved to a new city.
In that time I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends and become mates with a bunch of people from work.
But I haven’t made any “new” friends.
I meet people all the time at events and at friend’s parties and we seem to connect… but then nothing.
We do the small talk, we share a laugh, we might even follow each other on Instagram.
But I’ve never, you know, taken the one-time acquaintance-ship to the next level.
My biggest fear is that they won’t like me back and were just being polite in talking to me in the first place.
And I’m not alone in feeling this way. New research, which was published in Psychological Science, has found that most people experience a “liking gap” when meeting new people.
There’s a discrepancy between what people really think of us and what we think they think of us.
You see, psychologists at Cornell, Harvard and Yale Universities in the US and the University of Essex in the UK believe said “liking gap” is actually holding us back from making new friends.
While we might walk away from these interactions thinking we didn’t make a good enough first impression, the person we just met generally really enjoyed our company.
They thought we were nice… and funny… and they probably didn’t even mind looking at 948398 photos of our dog.
“Our research suggests that accurately estimating how much a new conversation partner likes us – even though this a fundamental part of social life and something we have ample practice with – is a much more difficult task than we imagine,” explained authors Erica Boothby of Cornell and Gus Cooney of Harvard.
As part of their research, the psychologists asked participants who had never met before to have a five minute chat. They then asked them to fill in a questionnaire about how much they liked their conversation partner and how much they thought their conversation partner liked them.
They found people liked their conversation partner a lot more than they thought their conversation partner liked them – hence the “liking gap”.
“They seem to be too wrapped up in their own worries about what they should say or did say to see signals of others’ liking for them, which observers of the conversations see right away,” co-author Professor Margaret Clark explained.
So, next time you meet someone remember they probably like you a lot more than you think.
Even if you show them 948398 photos of your dog.