Alone in the the crowd – connecting in New York
I’m spending the fall in New York and got here just a week ago. It’s very interesting to experience the pulse of the city for a longer period of time and not just be a tourist for a week or two.
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
The only thing that will make you feel socially “full” and satisfied from meeting new people is to learn the art of real authentic emotional connection.
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.