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Everyone stands and starts moving around the room, wearing I-can’t-believe-we’re-all-sober smiles. I’m always horrible on the first couple of dates.” She’s taken two of Eastman’s classes with a Living Social coupon, and she believes they’ve made her more aware. I meet another man who has taken a few of Eastman’s classes and seems similarly enamored. After living in New York City for six years, I’ve met (sometimes as a seeker, more often as a journalist) my share of self-help gurus: diet experts, sex coaches, life coaches, career coaches, a man who believes he can make anyone a millionaire, an older woman who wants to fill up Madison Square Garden with young women and preach against premarital sex, an angry meditation teacher who demands ,500 for meditation classes. We have the best relationship I’ve ever seen.” He talked about how great his friends are, how supportive his parents are.
I talk with one woman, an actress in her early 30s who grew up in Virginia and feels mystified by New York men. She feels more comfortable and less compelled than she used to be to fill every moment of silence on a date. ) who is here for the first time and says he’s benefiting from the class. But he’s good.” I talk with another woman who says that meeting Eastman and his girlfriend has changed her whole life. And all of them, even the angry meditation teacher, have disciples—people who think this guru must be the path to happiness; on the guru’s website, they’ll write testimonials: But Eastman seems far more sweet than parasitic: While we were waiting for his students to arrive, he gushed about his girlfriend, whom he met in one of his classes. When I asked him what learning nonverbal communication has done for him, he answered, “I don’t know where I’d be without it.” Eastman doesn’t give the impression that he aims to gather admirers but rather that he yearns to help people feel as comfortable as he’s learned to feel.
Some of his lab settings are cocktail parties; he sets them up, films them, and then studies the footage.
In the summertime, he stands between two mailboxes across from the outdoor tables of Blue Water Grill, a seafood restaurant in Manhattan’s Union Square, observes people on dates, and collects data.
He explains that many people do poorly on dates because they’re “emotionally incongruent”: What comes out of their mouths doesn’t match what shows on their faces. ’ ” Eastman says, changing his expression to an angry one.
In that case, he explains, Obama came off as weaker than he meant to.
He insists that people orient toward us all the time, and we should learn to notice it.
In his rental space, he maintains an office—a desk and computer, shelves full of body language and pop-psychology texts including Eastman tells me that The Dating Workshop usually draws more women than men.Eastman, however, didn’t come to the study of body language to get laid.He says he developed his proficiency in nonverbal communication during childhood as an adaptive response to his anxiety. It’s hard to meet a master of body language (or, to quote Eastman, “nonverbal communication”) and not worry about what you’re doing with your hands, how solid your eye contact is, and whether he’s reading your mind. For eight months, Eastman has been teaching singles on the dating scene to read minds, too, and to use their bodies to send clear signals. ” by playing with the buttons on his shirt, looking at his lips, or softening the tone of your voice just so.For example, you can send the message, “If you touch me, I will gag,” by slowly moving away each time your date invades your personal space. Those moves might sound primitive, but on a first or second date, it’s difficult to say exactly what you’re thinking. Eastman’s theory is that if you’re not fluent in body language, you’re likely to give your date the wrong idea, to inadvertently act uninterested when you’re interested or vice versa, to be left mystified by someone’s vanishing act, even though he was telling you the whole time—wordlessly, of course—that he couldn’t wait to get away.