I recently wrote my first article for Elephant Journal and it got read over 10.000 times in less than a week! Check it out!
I recently wrote my first article for Elephant Journal and it got read over 10.000 times in less than a week! Check it out!
Since I’m in no hurry I take my time to look at people, feel into what they seem to be experiencing within themselves, how they engage with each other and also notice how people are treating me.
When I was here a few years ago someone told me that the problem with dating in NYC is the paradox of simultaneously wanting to be alone and wanting to connect. The city is so loud, crowded and busy that quiet time just for yourself is an extreme luxury.
Most people have roommates, the subway is always full and just walking down the street can seem like an obstacle course. There is people everywhere which creates a yearning for just making everyone get out of your way so you can spend some quality time with yourself.
ALONE IN THE CROWD
In the midst of all the crowded city spaces there is also a big loneliness. A strange, counterintuitive loneliness that comes from being in a crowd but connected to no-one. Not even yourself. There is a lot of small talk and people everywhere, but no real connection.
This is not an optimal foundation for love, dating or even friendship. Feeling overcrowded and starved for connection at the same time is a very confusing experience. It is almos like being obese from eating too much junk food and simultaneously being under nourished because your body is, in fact, starved on proper nutrients.
Eating more junk food won’t help; you stay just as hungry. And more shallow socializing wont help either; you keep feeling lonely.
Your heart and soul need nourishing as much as your body does. And just as the under nourished overeater needs to completely shift their diet to feel better so do you. You might need to shift your social diet and start to prioritize the quality of connection over quantity.
What does that mean, you ask? Let me tell you.
CONNECTING WITH YOURSELF AND WITH OTHERS
And yes, it is something you can learn. It just happens to be more or less the opposite of the way we are taught to show up with people.
In order to really connect you need to slow down enough to become aware of your own experience; your experience of being you, so you can share it with others.
And when you’ve learned that you need to become aware of your experience of being with others. That is connection. Not thinking about how they perceive you or what you think about them, no. Experiencing in the moment what it feels like to be present with another person. That is something completely different.
Polite how do you do‘s, endless social media likes or even conversations about interesting stuff won’t help. What you’re longing for is to be truly seen. By someone who’s not in a rush.
Someone whose phone won’t threaten to go off in any moment. Someone who is comfortable enough to be present with the moment and with their own experience, to also be present with you and your experience. Someone who truly listens, understands and who doesn’t judge.
This is literally what I do when I’m coaching someone but it is also what I teach my clients to do with the people in their lives and on their dates. The initial experience when I meet a coaching client in full presence and acceptance is usually a combination of “this feels very strange” and “this feels like home”.
We are so unfamiliar with true connection that often we don’t even know what it is when someone offers it to us. Instead we feel naked and unprotected in the unfamiliarity of vulnerability.
But if you can learn to feel comfortable there, and even create it on purpose in your life…oh, your tender heart will sing and your relationships will flourish.
WE NEED TO RE-LEARN CONNECTION
We are so used to being judged, posing and trying to be liked that we forgot to learn how to truly connect, see and be seen. Which is why, in a city like New York where success is common but time to be present is not, we might see each other more walking like business cards, colleagues, casual flings and maybe even a temporary buoy that could save us from drowning in the see of loneliness for a moment of two.
But that is not love. It is not friendship. It is not connection. It is the social equivalent of junk food. Your belly gets full but your body stays starved.
So how do we shift this? It starts with you. The absolutely most efficient way of finding people who will be present with you and open to creating an authentic connection (romantic or otherwise) is to become one of those people.
It’s actually like learning a new language. If you want more French speaking friends in your life, it’s a very good idea to learn how to speak French, right?
Well, if you want more love and connection in your life it’s a good idea to learn how to create it. If you want me to teach you I’m right here.
Considering how strongly your idea of the world is shaped by your first years in life, isn’t it a bit strange to think that we all exist in the same physical reality but percieve it in completely different ways?
Some grow up in a loving environment and learned that the world is a safe and wondrous place. That there is always room for trying new things, cause it’s no big deal to fail. That other people are trustworthy and that everything is going to be alright.
Others grow up in a place, family or situation that taught them hold back. Always put other peoples needs before their own to not get abandoned, left out or have bad other things happen to them. Being yourself is unsafe and expressing needs makes others uncomfortable.
And some grew up learning to fight for themselves. Not necessarily in an empowered and confident way but rather because they belive that other people won’t be there for them. If you can’t trust that people will or can help you, you have no choice but to take care of yourself and make sure you get what you need…
Certain people find love, friendship and social situations the easiest things in the world, but might on the other hand doubt their ability to get the dream job, the raise or start a business. Others are the exact opposite and feel very secure in their abilty to create any kind of empire but constantly doubt them selves in social settings and feel unlikeable or unloveable.
We all have our very personal ideas, beliefs and assumptions about how life works, and they can be in stark contrast with each other. However, even though we live in our own unique little worlds, we still have to find some way to connect, relate and coexist with each other. But how?
WHAT DOES YOUR WORLD LOOK LIKE?
If we want to have a chance to meet each other in a true and authentic way I think we first need to understand our underlying views on life and ourselves. Your view on the world will inform your choices, thoughts, actions and decisions, regardless of if you’re aware of it or not.
But it’s only when you became aware of these things that you have the possibility to make your own choices and consciously decide weather or not your old views still hold true. And that’s when really exciting things start to happen! Both in the relationship you have with life and in the relationship you have with other people.
How well you know yourself will, among other things, decide how well other people can get to know you. If you don’t know who you are or how your inner world works, it’s a bit much to ask that someone else should to know you and understand you, isn’t it?
When you’ve familiarized yourself with your unconscious ideas of the world it will get much easier to understand others. You wont have to wonder why they behave the way they do, overanalyze their actions or take it personally when they do something weird. Because you understand that they, too, are driven by their inner assumptions of the world, their fears and their ideas about other people. It usually doesn’t have much to do with you.
BREAK THE NORM AND MAKE MAGIC!
The more you learn about your own inner world, the more curious you will be about the inner worlds of other people. Instead of talking about outer circumstances like where they live or work, you’ll be curious about what is going on inside them.
How are they shaped by their experiences? What are they feeling in this exact moment? What are they dreaming about? Struggling with?
And you’ll most likely start feeling inspired to share what is alive, true and important for you with other people to a bigger extent. Now that you know, doesn’t it make sense to share it?
When this is what your dates, meetings and relationships consist of, something really cool will start to happen! You’ll actually be able to connect with each other for real! Then, and only then, will you have the chance to really see, experience and understand each other. That is when it *clicks*, and when the magic happens.
Unfortunately most people have no idea about this but are stuck in a completely different social norm. One that keeps us in the shallow end of connection and consists mostly of small talk, prestige and superficial stuff. It never gets personal och intimate, but rather creates a distance between people. Still, that’s where we tend to end up, so we miss out on the magic.
The good news is that you get to choose exactly what you talk to people about! Isn’t that just awesome?
In no way are you required to follow the stiff norm and do the polite fact exchange with people you meet! In fact, it will give you social superpowers if you don’t! The very norm of small talks makes a lot of people really long for real things and be truly seen. So be the person that lets them do that!
It will give you work advantages, deepen your friendships, make your life more truthful and last but not least make your dates feel more alive and interesting!
Give it a try!
There are many very very bad reasons for being in a relationshop with someone. Reasons not at all based on love and connection.
- I don’t know who I am without him
- It’s okay most of the time
- What if I never find someone better
- I’m terrified of being alone
- Who else would want to be with me?
- This isn’t great but a breakup would mean I’d have to move and…ugh I can’t even
- You know what you have but not what you get and dating again seems like so much work…
However, no one ever gets asked the question “why are you in a relationship?”.
People just assume that if you have a partner you’re all set and everything is good.
Single people on the other hand can get all kinds of questions about why they’re single, as if that by definition is a problem to be fixed.
Obviously things aren’t this black and white.
There are good and bad reasons to be in a relationship, and there are good and bad reasons to be single. Not all single people are unhappy and far from all relationships are good.
But if you’re struggling with finding someone, it’s very easy to assume that a partner would solve all of your problems, or that everyone who’s in a relationship is happy. This is not the case at all.
I would actually like to go so far as to say that the very fact that you are struggling will transform into a strength, if you let it. The things you need to learn, and the work you need to do with yourself in order to find someone will also be huge benefits for you when you are in a relationship. You will have had to think about and learn very useful things that most people don’t know, do or bring into their relationships.
I for one, would never ever ever have done all the research I have on dating, flirting and attraction had it not been absolutely neccessary. The only reason I know so much about it that I can work and help others with it is that once upon a time I know absolutely nothing. If I had had an “okay” love life or an “okay” relationship, none of this would have happened.
My biggest struggle became my biggest strenght, and today “okay” is not even interesting to me. I only accept amazing soul-shaking love. That is what you deserve too.
And I think the lower you’ve fallen, the higher you’re able to bounce up.
When we’re dating, I know we always try to make things go the very best that they can. Especially when we really start to like someone, it’s easy to get really invested in what happens next and try to make sure it all works out well.
The backside of this is that we tend to blame ourselves a lot for things that we do that we might regret when we see the results. Maybe the message you sent didn’t get the fast response you hoped for, or maybe something you did worked out differently than you thought it would.
In those cases it’s sooo easy to start beating yourself up and regretting you ever did anything at all.
But please don’t.
Dating isn’t a straight highway to just one destination. It’s more like downhill skiing; you twist and turn in different directions all the time, hoping that you’ll stay on your feet all the way down.
You adapt, learn and adjust all the time. In skiing and in dating.
The more you do it the better you will become, but sometimes you might fall on your ass. It’s ok. It’s part of the process. Get up and try again. Maybe you need to rest a little first, then get up and try again.
You will be okay.
Have you ever dated someone who has a completely different dating timeline than you?
Maybe you are someone who like really long dates and if you like each other want to make sure that you stay in touch more or less all the time between dates.
Or maybe you think a two hour date works fine and then want to spend a few days apart to think about how it felt and decide if you want to go on another date.
As you can probably tell these are two completely different approaches to dating. One is not worse or better than the other, they are just different – and that can create some problems if you are not aware.
Someone who wants to have a lot of contact frequently will probably interpret someones silence as lack of interest.
And the one who likes to take their time and date a bit slower might think that a more driven dater seems very intense or maybe even desperate.
But in fact, it might just be that they are dating on different “timetables”.
Keep that in mind when you meet someone who seems to be doing things faster or slower than you, respect their preference – and your own! If the tempo is important to you maybe you need to find someone who will keep your pace?
One thing that keeps fascinating me is that so many of the amazing people that I coach keep dating persons they find boring or under stimulating. They don’t want to lose out from having too high standards or not give people a chance, so they go on dates with people they’re not really interested in.
Afterwards they feel shallow for rejecting people without a valid reason. However, they do have a valid reason; they found the person boring or under stimulating, but they fail to admit that to themselves. It feels way to mean do dismiss someone like that, so often times they blame it on something more concrete, and then blame themselves for being shallow.
But you are not shallow. Not at all, rather the opposite. You want a deep heartfelt connection, and you crave it so much that you are willing to give almost anyone a chance. That is beautiful and admirable, but not very effective. It is ok that you are not into everyone. It is okay that a lot of people make you feel bored. You are not obliged to like everyone, and it is not mandatory for them to like you.
What I find interesting is that when I ask my clients if they knew before the date that the person wasn’t gonna be all that interesting to them, almost everyone says yes. So I say it again: you need to stop dating people that feel boring to you. There is nothing wrong with them, and there is nothing wrong with you, but you are not a good match.
When you do this, two things are bound to happen:
1. You will go on fewer dates. Probably better dates, but fewer. This is a good thing and a sign that your selective skills have improved.
2. You will feel way more challenged. If you date someone you actually like and respect and want to be with, the stakes will feel much much higher and you’ll probably me more nervous, self aware and maybe even afraid. This is also a good thing, since it is the opposite of being bored, and you need to get used to being here. It will get easier with time.