Though we don’t like to admit it, humans are largely lonely creatures. Whether wasting time on Facebook, searching for a tryst - or more - on a dating website, or hiring an escort for an event or evening, humans are often looking to fill a void. They long to connect and spend time with others. Most recently, this has been seen in the popularity of website Rentafriend, which gets 100,000 unique views per month.
Modeled after wildly successful sites in Japan and other Asian locales, Rentafriend has about 2,000 members who pay $24.95/month or $69.95/year to login and check out other potential friends. ‘Tis a bit sad on so many levels, especially when you consider the ways people overlook the instant connections they make with other people every day.
Take daily “passive contacts,” e.g., nodding to a person at your bus stop every morning. Social psychological research has shown that the more passive contacts you have with an individual, the more likely you are to gravitate toward that person – the likelier you are to connect.
What social scientists call “mere exposure effects” further influence our attraction for others. The more familiar the person, even on a subconscious level, the greater the appeal that individual has for us. So if you’re interested in meeting someone seemingly special or want to make a friend, start by making sure that this person sees you more often, as this alone makes you more attractive and friendly to others.
Once in a person’s space, use touch to your advantage, while being appropriate. As you may recall from a first romantic dinner, we tend to touch and look at those whom we have an immediate liking for, as this communicates closeness and affection (if even the desire for such). Those who touch during a first encounter have reported feeling more affection, trust, relaxation, similarity, and informality. They also feel more immediacy and receptivity with the other in having had the exchange.
These factors lend themselves to feeling closer to and more attracted to the individual touching us. All of this increases the likelihood of making a connection, in part because we’re automatically drawn to the other in picking up that person’s liking for us. Perhaps if people paid more attention to those cues and the people that they’re subconsciously connecting with, they wouldn’t need services like those on Rentafriend.