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blackcoupletalkingAs new couples and those who have been together for years recognize each other this Valentine’s Day, the focus is on things like flowers, chocolates, a romantic dinner and more. But one equally important, yet more commonly overlooked aspect of a relationship is connecting on an emotional level through conversation, intellect and body language. There’s nothing sexier than a mental connection.

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We got some pointers from one of our faves, Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach and she said, “Knowing how to engage in intellectual foreplay can take your relationship to a completely different level.”

And that’s not all. Whitmore also says if you want to seduce and impress your date with your intellect, practice the following tips:

1. Talk less, listen more.

A conversation is like a tennis match. It’s more stimulating if you keep the ball going in both directions. However, if a conversation is one-sided and you focus more on yourself and your accomplishments and less on the other person, you’ll come across as an egotistical snob. True intelligence entails attentive listening and responding in a way that shows understanding.

2. Focus on the positive.

No one likes a Debbie Downer. Resist the urge to talk about gloomy subjects including the ex who got away, your annoying co-workers, your impending layoff and your financial troubles. Optimism is an aphrodisiac. Keep the conversation light and upbeat. Also stay away from controversial topics that might instigate a heated debate. An intellectual discussion is healthy but an argument can leave a nasty taste in everyone’s mouth.

3. Be interested and interesting.

Practice your conversation skills by talking about a variety of subjects. You run the risk of being a bore if you focus only on what you know. Ask engaging questions. Start your sentences with phrases like, “Tell me,” “How do you feel about that,” and “What advice would you give.” Respond thoughtfully to what your partner is saying. Respect the other person’s ideas and opinions, even if you don’t completely agree.

4. Maintain good eye contact.

One of the strongest and most accurate signs of intelligence is looking at someone when you are speaking to them and when they are speaking to you. It shows respect and lets the other person know you are listening. And don’t forget to put away your phone. Act as if there is no one more important in your life than the person in front of you.

5. Smile.

The smile is the most beautiful curve on the human body. A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that smiling makes you more attractive to others. It makes you appear more personable and tells people you are willing to talk and interact with them.

6. Speak clearly and simply.

A positive first impression may be shattered as soon as you try to impress your date with your massive vocabulary. Pretentious language will only interfere with the other person’s ability to understand and communicate with you. Additionally, stay away from annoying filler words including, “like” and “you know,” “umm,” and “ah.” You’re better off being silent than using filler words. They can give the impression that you’re hesitant to express yourself or you’re not sure what you’re talking about.

7. Don’t be a Know-it-All.

If your date asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, admit it and say, “I don’t know.” Someone who is honest and authentic is more appealing than someone who thinks he or she has an answer for everything.

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