Dating is like wanting to get to know your crazy uncle with the gold Trans Am better because you want to have your own experience with him and not believe what others say, until you actually do and you’re like, oh.
I feel your frustations on our swipe culture. Not only because I hear it in my sessions but also as a single male maneuvering in this thick, I get it. But my goal isn’t to fan your dating discouragement flames. Dating has changed. It’s a different experience these days. But there is a sliver lining and it’s in the learning and revelations about life, love, and of course yourself.
So here are a few of mine ← personal insight, not just professsional. Because I write for myself first. Meaning it’s therapy for me.
Stop looking for perfect.
I think because I’ve been on the single train for a while now, people around me think I’m looking for someone perfect. And by people around me, I’m referring to my guy friends who are pretty much all married or hitched in some way. Peter, I am definitely not looking for perfect. (I love calling real people out in my writing. It’s like a sercret message in a bottle). I highly doubt he’ll see this because most likely he’s helping someone build a better body right now but anyway, I’m very well aware that perfect doesn’t exist and that mindset will only put you on an island talking to a volleyball.
I know that. I do. But I value my boys’ observations, for reals, so I did really try to look at it honestly. I played back all the women I have dated in the last year or so and wondered if I was looking for perfect.
I could be wrong, because it’s really tough to see our thoughts and actions through our own lens. It’s nearly impossible to be objective. So I’ll say I’m pretty sure instead of positive that I’m not looking for perfect. I don’t even like that word. There is no such thing. It’s an illusion. An Instagram filter. Something society put on a high shelf somewhere that will always be out of reach so we keep chasing and buy more stuff.
But, and look how big that B is (it may display differently on your phone) I am looking for someone “perfect” for me, as you should as well. Then the question is what does “perfect for you” look like and are you being honest with yourself?
Here are some questions for you and me to ponder while we’re searching for our perfect. Note: if you’re in a relationship, it may be time for an annual review. So read on.
What’s truly important to you at this point in your life, right now? Not yesterday or tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn’t exist and let’s face it, you’re not twenty anymore. Shut up, Pete! What was important to you before may not be today, especially if you’ve gone through some shit which I’m sure you have and you’ve come out the side with some widsom. About you. Love. Relationships.
Strip away everything and let’s talk about the legs of the table. Not the condiments on top.
For me, right now at this point in my life as a 44 year old man living in Los Angeles, legs =
Solid friendship. Recently, I’ve shuffled this card to the top. This includes comfort, banter, common interests, great conversations. Supportive of my journey. Calling me out on my shit. Totally comfortable with each other and truly enjoying each other’s company organically. Silences don’t need to be filled in. I am me. You are you. We are best friends.
Capacity. Emotional intelligence. She has to have gone through some life turluance and come out the other end with some widsom and comfort with self. She doesn’t have to be Yoda but you know what I mean. Self awareness. Communication. Yada yada. But also kindness and an effort not to judge people. Yes, we all have our definitons. But judging others will only stunt your own growth. Which will affect my / our growth. As humans, it’s impossible to live judgment free. I’m just saying making an conscious effort not to. That is an ability and falls under the umbrella of capcity to me.
Chemistry. Yes, attraction and all that. Obviously. But let me expand a bit. The phyiscal stuff will play out. Or it won’t, because I’m forty four and holy shit does a man’s body change overnight, but overall it will play out once you’re in a dance that’s comfortable. I’ve experienced it. It’s true. But the other piece that I file under “chemsitry” that many may not are the common values shared that are greater than ourselves. This can be super glue = super sexy. This doesn’t mean sharing common professions or professional goals. We can do completely different things. I’m talking about mindset. The way one looks at life and the world. For example, sharing a spiritual journey or being on one? Common clouds, shared values and principles.
That’s it. Those are the legs I need to give myself the green light. Not the green light to date and explore. You have to date and explore to see if the legs even exist. The green light to commit, decide to try to build something. Now there’s different levels of each leg. One may be shorter than another but they all have to exist in some form. Legs can grow as we grow.
I’ve learned that without these legs, the table can be wobbly. This means there can be drift. You know that saying, You’re either running toward yourself or away? Well, it’s the same with relationships. You’re either running toward your relationship or away. Every day, even if it’s just a smudge. There’s an ebb and flow, back and forth. But if the relationship has legs, you move toward natually. It’s organic. You don’t have to work as hard to love hard because it’s built in, it comes easy. You don’t give a flying fuck about your neighborhood’s astroturf because your lawn is natural and green as fuck.
Here’s the question to ask yourself as loneliness sets in and you start compromising your legs, whatever they are. Would you rather experience loneliness and happy, assuming you’re happy in your life and if you’re not because you’re not with anyone than you should be alone, than be in something that doesn’t feel right and experience loneliness and be unhappy? Because let’s face it. Relationships effect us that much. They are a huge part of our life pie. And because there’s nothing worse than feeling lonely in a relationship, it’s not worth forcing if it you don’t think you can build anything. There’s a high chance you’ll start to feel lonely. It’s not a how you’re treating thing. It’s a drift inner conflict thing. And it’s also not fair to the other person.
So it’s not about finding perfect. Oh wait, there’s one more. It’s not as substainal as the others. But it’s imperative and I need to have it. I call it -
Magic. It’s a smaller piece but none the less needed. At least for me. So there’s actually four legs. Which just makes the table more sturdy than three. Now I didn’t really believe in it before, especially since I’m a therapist and loving someone is a choice and about tools and all that jazz. But recently, especially since being on a path where I’m using words like energy, souls, spirit, magic is necessary. What is magic? It’s different for everyone. But to me, it’s the unexplainable. There’s just something about that person that produces a strong draw or connection. Maybe it doesn’t even have to do with this lifetime but another. I dunno. I just know I vibe with certain people and don’t know why. Or I don’t when I feel like I should and I don’t know why. Again, unexplainable. I’m also a hopeless romantic by choice so magic is a must.
Moving on to more revelations.
Play things out.
Okay everyone’s going to have a different definition of this. But first, let’s talk about the why. It’s really simple. There’s nothing worse than leaving something wondering if it could have been. I don’t know about you but I don’t don’t need anymore what ifs in my life. So what does that look like in action, to “play things out?” Well, for me playing things out means to put in effort until you know for sure, or pretty damn sure because I don’t know if anyone really knows for sure sure, that it’s not going to work out or be a good fit. This means if you had a descent date but he or she didn’t blow your mind, go on another date. This means if you’re noticing signs (not red flags), keep going with the flow until you actually see flags. Let me think of one more incase you still don’t understand. This means after two weeks of not sure and ambivalence for whatever reason, you don’t know if you should continue, you should. Because it will play itself out. I’m not saying go on a romantic getaway for a week. Or you know what, why not? As long as you don’t go expectations. My point is you will know when you know. And you will so keep going. But you say you don’t want to waste your time? Would you rather leave wondering?
So many people dismiss things too fast. And I’ll be honest, a lot of being dismissive too fast has to do with us and where we’re at in our lives at the time, not in the actual connection. I’ve learned this from personal experience. That means I’m guilty of this. And it’s unfair to the connection. That’s where the be honest with yourself comes in. If you’re not ready or you want something different but you’re not admitting it to you or the other party involved, you should be aware of it.
Which brings me to -
Keep the focus on you.
It’s easy to foget about all the things you’re doing and building when you start dating someone. You’re probably not going to lose yourself. But priorities can get shuffled pretty quickly, especially if you’re excited about this new person. Suddenly, you’re putting your own things aside for someone else. If you don’t want dating to control your life, don’t lose your life. Keep that shit on rails as you stay open and meet new souls. Don’t let you go. Keep one hand on the wheel (you) at all times.
Here’s what one hand on the wheel at all times looks like for me.
My work. Blogs, book, podcasting, doing life coaching sessions, teaching our course, meetings with my team. Always creating some kind of dialogue and going back to the mission statement of our company, changing the way we change.
My friends. Movies, food, coffee, motorcycle riding.
My alone time. Movies, food, motorcycle riding + night walks. + meditation.
My fitness. Daily workout. Stretch. Sauna. Any movement. Connection to body.
As long as these pistons are pumping, I’ll have movement. I won’t lose myself.
What does keeping the focus on you look like? I think it’s important to keep it simple. What areas of your life create mean, and well, a life? Make sure you don’t stop feeding them.
And the final macro revelation and again this is new one for me,
Trust your intuition
My intuition is weak sauce because I rarely use it. I believe it’s a radar that needs to be sharpened. If we ignore it, like I have most of my life, and only listen to logic and or feelings, it’s a faint whisper you really need to pay attention to because you haven’t been for so long. This is the big one that I’ve been working on. That whole gut feeling thing.
I had a conversation with someone from my secret 9 dinner last month and she said women are naturally more intuitive. It’s a biology thing. I wonder if it’s related to being a mother. Men are hunters and gathers. We were designed to bring home the meals for the family to survive. Women feel things and know when something doesn’t feel right as protection from them and their children. I don’t know. Just a quick thought.
I do believe we can strenghten our intutition. Not just for dating. For all of our life choices. I think one way in is through meditation. Which makes perfect sense because we have to quiet the noise, all our mental chatter, to really see or feel something clearly. So yeah, if you’re dating, you should be meditating a fuck ton. Be still. Light candles. Lay down. Listen to music. The anxiety of dating is forcing me to meditate more. And that’s a good thing. Through meditation, I will sharpen my intuition, make better choices and save a lot of time and heartache. All of this is silver lining.
Now let’s pull back with an overall reminder aboug dating (more for me than you).
If you’re single, embrace it. Don’t soak or wallow. Do everything you’ve always wanted to do. And with a fucking smile. Explore all parts of yourself, especially your fears. Know that the more you invest in you now, the more you discover you, the more you will have to bring to the table when you find someone who deserves your love. And remember, loneliness is an experience. You are not lonely. You may be experiencing loneliness but like hunger and joy and anxiety, it is not permant. It is not a constant. It just means you are human.
If you like my words, check out my book, a no BS guide to finding and living your truth.