Taking the steps we’ve described to create a relationship with yourself and become more erotically embodied will increase your overall life satisfaction and your potential for intimacy and communication with friends, lovers, partners and everyone with whom you interact. For those of you who are single or starting to date someone new, we want to propose an innovative model of dating that will help you create an authentic relationship with a partner in order to share the gift of erotic connection you are developing. There are a million different ways to meet people and we won’t go into a long list here but we have noticed that finding someone through participation in one of your favorite hobbies or activities can be a way to instantly connect around topics, ideas, and shared experiences of substance. Making a list of your favorite activities and interests then finding social places where you can interact with others around those interests may help you meet someone with whom you are compatible. From the moment of your first meeting or date, you can begin a path of self-discovery, knowing as much as you can about yourself in relationship is the surest way to create lasting, communicative and intimate relationships. Oftentimes, however, we spend our time focusing on the other person, imagining (or hoping) that they are the perfect answer to all of our fantasies.
You’re Perfect, I’m Perfect
Most of us, upon meeting someone we are interested in, begin two simultaneous processes: First, we often attempt to present our most perfect self to the other person, trying to figure out what they want us to be and hiding those qualities we think might turn them off, bore them, or even repulse them. The danger in hiding the self in order to impress another is that it may distance us from who we truly are and what we really want. If we run through this cycle over and over again or if we continue to keep up the pretenses instead of slowly allowing our humanness to show, we may become so distanced as to no longer have any idea who we are or what we want. Second, we imagine this other person is the answer to our prayers; we expect them to make us happy, alleviate our feelings of loneliness, and share fully of themselves. If we think that they can do these things for us, we begin the process of “falling in love,” which, more often than not, is more of a projection of our fantasy of perfection on to another person which is GREAT, we say engage in this process, while at the same time witness that that is what you are doing. Within this process of falling in love, we tend to accelerate the relationship into an imagined (and imaginary) future. On the one hand, we may picture them as our life partner or the co-parent of our child. On the other hand, we may fear that they will try to trap us into playing these roles when we are not yet ready. Regardless of what kinds of future we project, whether it is perfection or difficulty, inevitably, at some point in the process the person sitting across from us becomes another human as opposed to our projected perfect other or our projected fear and they begin to discover that we are not perfect either. For many, this is the point when we become disappointed that the fantasy is not panning out or we become afraid that the person we are seeing will discover what is undesirable about us so we leave and begin a new fantasy. However, this is when the opportunity arises to move from being “in love” (the temporary projected fantasy state) to loving someone not for who you think they are or should be, but for who they are now, in all their humanness.
Breaking the Cycle
If projection, disappointment and moving on or sacrificing your sense of self, have been part of your cycle, then we suggest you try the process which we call Embodied Dating. At its root, Embodied Dating is a movement of attention away from the other person, (who they are, who we want them to be in relationship), back to ourselves, (who we are, who we want to be in relationship). This witnessing of the self in relationship gives us the profoundly important ability to take a number of positive steps simultaneously. First, when we are focused on ourselves by being present with our feelings, we are much more empowered. We need not project into a fantasized perfect (or terrible) future in an attempt to convince ourselves of something we cannot know. We no longer have to imagine that anything that our partner does or does not say or do will make or break the relationship because we no longer exist in reaction to them. Second, in place of trying to impress the other person by hiding who we really are, we focus our attention on how we feel in the other person’s presence. We begin to see what triggers our own responses, whether they are joy, insecurity, arousal, rejection, or desires to merge, to distance, or to accelerate. Interacting with someone who we are beginning to care about becomes a mirror for us to learn about ourselves. Finally, by bringing the witness perspective to the relationship, we can watch feelings arise. We no longer need to have knee-jerk responses to interactions being fun or difficult, we can take time to gather information, to contemplate what we want, to figure out how to lovingly communicate our desires and intentions in a way that is congruent with our goals in the relationship, whether those goals are to go slowly, to deepen intimacy, or to end an interaction that is not feeling compatible.
Witnessing Self in Relationship
There are many aspects of yourself that you can pay attention to as you practice Embodied Dating.
- Your Inner Voice. Pay attention to what kinds of messages are you giving yourself about this relationship? Are they similar or different then the messages you have given yourself in other relationships?
- Your Internal and External Reactions. How do you react to what the other person says and does? What are they doing or saying that makes you feel attracted or drawn in? What about them makes you feel repelled or driven away? How do you respond when you have these feelings? What kinds of things to you say or do to convey your responses?
- Your Center. Track your center and see what kinds of interactions with others pull you out of your center (i.e. make you feel imbalanced, confused, needy, over-emotional, angry or crazy). What do you want to do when you have these feelings? How might you deal with them differently than you have in past interactions? What brings you back to your center?
Once we stop living in the future, cease trying to be perfect and expecting perfection, and witness the moment to moment fluctuations of our emotions and actions in relation to others, we can begin the process of generating joy. As we learn about what we like and don’t like, who we are in relationship and who we want to be, we can begin the slow, gentle process of creating those mutual experiences and interactions with others that give us the most pleasure, satisfaction and inspiration. By focusing on ourselves, we no longer have to try to be what we think others want us to be or struggle to make others into our fantasy; instead we can become the most magnetic, exciting, fun, beautiful manifestation of ourselves. Soon enough we will be surrounded with friends, lovers, companions, and life partners who support and cherish our most desirable qualities, while at the same time accepting that each of us has moments of difficulty and need.