I want to tell you four short stories. They are anonymous and true.
I know a woman who had a three-month love affair with a man ten years her junior. When asked her out, he told her that he’d had a crush on her for 2 years and that the years between them didn’t matter. His attention in the first month of dating was plentiful, filled with flirtation, attention, chocolate gifts, surprise visits to her home and follow-up phone calls after nights of love-making. After their last night together, he unexpectedly disappeared and ceased contact. When she phoned him to inquire about his silence, he offered that he’d been ill and would be in touch. He was not in touch. She ran into him a couple of weeks later on a downtown street. Their encounter left her feeling awkward and abandoned. She reached out again. He responded that he’d like to clear things up and she agreed. Months later, she has yet to hear from him.
I have another friend whose long-time lover from another city texted her at 1:30am. He told her that he missed her and acknowledged that he owed her a phone call. She responded that she missed him too and looked forward to catching up. This was in June. She has yet to hear from him. She’s not holding her breath.
I met a man at a night club recently who said he knew me through social media. He expressed that he found me beautiful and proceeded to tell me that he, “couldn’t take his eyes off me.” He then informed me that he masturbated to my photos. I wish I were joking. Needless to say, I walked away. We are not friends and likely never will be.
Another man I’ve known only a short while sent me a text me the other night. He’s a yoga student and was wanting to connect regarding some upcoming events. He asked if he could give me a compliment. I hesitatingly agreed, suspect of what might come. His “compliment” was a shockingly vulgar comment meant, I assume, to flatter me. I expressed that I’m not a fan of texting in order to get to know someone, told him we would talk soon and wished him a good night.
This is not a man-bashing article. I adore good men. I’ve had the most wonderful men in my life, nurturing, caring men who left me feeling cherished and beautiful. Nor is, I’m sure, the behavior I’m referencing specific to men. Although it’s a rare thing to hear a man friend lamenting a lack of communication from his lady lovers.
I write to bring light to a dark subject. This is a call-out to our gentle men and women of the world and a humble asking for your elevated awareness.
The Buddha says that to love someone is to seek to understand them.
This tells me a lot and guides my actions with loved ones. This also applies directly to the game of dating.
We all want to be heard, listened to, asked questions of and understood. In order to do this, we must be willing to actually talk and have conversations that include eye contact, voice inflection and spontaneity. We’ve gotten very far away from this in the modern world.
We have brief soundbites of each other’s worlds through texts, messages and social media.
We construct “relationships” around this limited amount of information, forming ideas, opinions and stories about who each other are and what we want, then we wonder why we feel misunderstood and neglected around each other.
Relationships require time and presence, just like the relationship we cultivate with ourselves every time we step onto a yoga mat.
In our personal practices, we don’t skimp on our attention to our bodies and breath. We show up for ourselves. We maximize every inhale, elongate every exhale, embody every posture and stay until we’ve understood ourselves more completely. Then we do it again, and again and again, taking the time necessary to know what we need on a given day’s practice. We listen and seek to understand our body, mind and spirit.
Thus is the Yoga of Relationship, and I believe, the Yoga of Dating. To get to know someone takes time and patience, inquiry and interest.
The man who approached me in the night club likely thought that his comment would cause me to feel good. I get that. It didn’t. It left me feeling misunderstood and degraded. Had he asked me questions about myself, listened to me and asked if he could be in touch, I may have felt good and safe enough to spend more time with him, which, I can only imagine, was his intent in the first place.
What can we do? What can we all do to begin to heal this confused dynamic of missing each other, misunderstanding each other and the disappointment of misguided behavior?
Just as we nurture the relationship we have with ourselves in our personal practices, we can apply these 10 simple acts in order to get to know and understand those we feel attraction to.
1. Make phone calls. Forget “text-dating!” Dial her/him up, have actual conversations and ask to spend time together.
2. Spend time together. Actually see each other. Walk in the park, sit and chat over coffee or meet up for a yoga class. Have face-to-face time, rather than FaceTime!
3. Ask questions. Listen. Ask more questions and listen to her/his answers without interruption. Get curious about this person you’re attracted to and get to know their dreams, desires and quirkiness.
4. Make direct eye contact. This, of course, requires face-to-face time. See each other.
5. Be honest and direct. If you’re not feeling the chemistry, let him/her know. Ceasing communication without an explanation is the coward’s way out. If you start it, finish it. Say the tough stuff and allow her/him to move on with dignity.
6. Be kind and respectful. We deserve to treat each other (and act like) Queens and Kings. Treat each other as the Divine Beings of the Universe that we are, whether that Divine Being in front of you is acting like one or not.
7. Have patience. Life is not an emergency and getting into bed together needn’t be your greatest goal. It takes 4-6 months to know someone. I’ll say that again. It takes 4-6 months to really get to know someone. Know what and who it is you are getting into bed with. Most of us have had the regret of sleeping with someone only to discover that they are not the person we thought they were. Take your time. If and when you really know and care about someone, it will be all the sweeter to luxuriate in the intimacy.
8. Give compliments. If you find someone attractive, compliment them! Be brave. Tell her she’s beautiful, tell him he’s amazing. This will get you a lot further than vulgarities and/or assuming she knows.
9. Stick in there. There’s a lot to be said for staying, deepening your knowledge of someone and discovering what is beneath the surface, rather than jumping on to the next shiny object. We can only be loved, “warts and all,” if we are willing to offer the same.
10. Operate with integrity. When we aren’t honest with ourselves, we stop trusting ourselves. Acting with integrity builds self-esteem and self trust. Only you know if you are in integrity with yourself, your feelings and your lover’s. Say the tough stuff. Do the right thing. You’ll feel great about yourself in the long-run.
Without attachment, I offer us all a blessing; that we love real, deep and true. That we look into each other’s eyes more often than at a blue screen. That we choose to nurture connection over the need to be right or look good, and that we continuously build strong communities that triumph over small thinking.
Happy connecting, Human Family. Let’s feel good about it!