Ooh, she's pretty. She smiled at me when we came in to the restaurant...but then, that's her job, she's supposed to be nice to customers. But she seemed to linger a little longer than necessary at our table, and she asked me about my tattoo. I wonder if she's a good kisser. I wonder if she likes the same music I do. We could go on a date at the bowling alley, and I'd make her laugh by showing off my powerful between-the-legs granny bowling style. I'll be she'd lean in to me and laugh, and I'd wrap my arm around her waist. I hope she has cool friends.
Narrative bias, i.e. telling stories
At a recent World Domination Summit presentation, author Scott Berkun talked about narrative bias, our tendency to tell stories about, well, everything. He said Hollywood will keep making the same cheesy blockbuster action films with predictable plots simply because we like the story. Hero faces steep odds, struggles through and ultimately triumphs, living to fight another day. Even when we recognize how cliché the story is, we still want to see it told. Berkun's presentation is here—it's long, but worth watching, especially if you're an artist, writer, or entrepreneur.
We just met, but I already have a story about you
In a similar way, we create stories about people we see or meet, whether we know them or not. This is common in the dating world. You see someone you fancy, and you immediately start crafting a story about them.
Perhaps initially it's all about them, as you project assumptions about them based on the little you know, i.e., she's really tall and athletic, I'll bet she plays beach volleyball; she's always got a book with her, I'll bet she's a total library nerd.
And about us...
But then you add yourself to the story. Perhaps you're the valiant hero, the witty intellectual, or the cocky loudmouth who really just wants to be loved. Now the story is all about you and her.
There's nothing wrong with daydreams, but...
Engaging in long flights of fancy in your head can take you out of the present moment, which often isn't helpful. When you create a story (as opposed to a reality) around you and another person, you start to define yourself by these stories. You also become emotionally invested in them, and in the role you've assigned for the woman you fancy. If you just go for it, and ask her out, you may be dissapointed by the reality of the person versus the version you've imagined. If she turns you down, you've spent a lot of time grinding the gears of your brain for nothing.
Listen, we all do this. It's in our nature. You probably won't completely avoid making up these stories. Just remember that time spent daydreaming about what could be (but probably won't) can instead be spent pursuing what might be—you and the cute clerk at the ticket counter on a first date, just seeing where it leads.