Ground rules for dating
Over time, you’ll get more involved in one another’s daily activities, depend on each other to meet more and more of your needs, start to intertwine your lives. You were trying to prove yourself to your date, or covering up your embarrassment about something they noticed, or testing to see if they like you enough to come after you.That’s the basic pattern of how most of us move from dating to partnership. You can Deep Date someone over time, but when you treat each date as a self-contained experience, as if your entire relationship is happening here and now in this one date, you move through a different progression. Any time you reveal your motivations, you’re choosing realness over performance. Realness, however, is only half of the intimacy equation.
And you’re never going to squeeze magic out of a checklist. You’re really dating for the magic, but you’ve learned to play games to get yourself a partner, and every bit of game playing shuts the magic tap off a little tighter. You start off by letting yourself be taken by their unique beauty. In turn, you do your best to let the other person see you. You didn’t postpone anything in service of some potential future. Deep Dating is the art of creating intimacy right now, today, on this date.If you can have everything you wish for already, right now, on the date that you’re on, the future becomes less of a fixation. The problem with this approach is that you get to be close to the object of your desire, but they never get to be close to you. You give them your beauty, your weirdness, your insecurity, even your pain. Moment by moment, you keep paying attention and responding appropriately. If you’re not attuned, you risk just expressing yourself all over the other person.You’ll alienate them instead of bringing you closer together.If your boundary is clear, affection won’t be interpreted as a step on the path to sex. So can hugging, cuddling, massaging, dancing, playing, wrestling, acro-yoga, fluffing each other’s auras, brushing each other’s hair, and crying on each other’s shoulders.There’s no need to become disembodied heads just because you’re not getting it on. Withhold your real self unless you think they might be “the one”. If you decide they’re not, come up with a pretext to get out of it. Imagine someone you like has invited you on a first date, or that you’ve invited them. As you feel more and more deeply connected, you come to trust one another. Eventually, the power of your connection changes you, makes you more into the person you’ve always wished you could be. All of this has happened in a single encounter, a few hours together.
You’re likely to take risks, to tell the truth, to go as deep as possible. The point is not to prohibit yourself from having multiple dates with the same person. But think about how rarely anyone acknowledges them out loud.
If you only have one date, the date you’re on right now IS the relationship. For one, you have to actively create the date, moment by moment, rather than waiting for the date to happen to you. Real talk is risky, unpredictable, and sometimes even awkward! Answer these questions, and you give someone a window into your world. It goes without saying that game playing is the opposite of being real.
The relationship happens now, not later, because all you ever have with anyone is the present moment. You could, on your one and only date, get lit up by the excitement of getting to know someone, learn new things about yourself, be seen and felt and understood, play, share affection, or pleasure, grow as a relational being, make a lasting difference in the other person’s life, challenge yourself, take new risks, fall in love. You can’t future trip, because there’s no future to trip about. If you’re reading this, you’ve already had enough small talk for one lifetime. Actually, it doesn’t go without saying, which is why I’m saying it. They’re manipulative and disingenuous and destructive of intimacy.
You can get better and better at creating all different kinds of intimacy, with all different kinds of people. They look far less appealing than they did in their photos. Rejecting your date might be the best course of action. Intimacy, it turns out, does not require sex, or long-term partnership. Chances are high that you’ve had deeply significant, meaningful, fulfilling human interactions that were neither romantic nor sexual. Other times, you were moved or inspired, learned something new, felt deeply connected, helped someone. Some unique form of intimacy is possible between you and this other human being. If you reject the other person, you’ll never find out.
Each Deep Date is another chance to practice becoming more and more yourself. Within seconds, you know you’re not into them, and you never will be. You have to go through the motions with someone you already know you’re going nowhere with. Sometimes rejecting them seems like the only option.
The “only date” rule is the spiritual foundation of Deep Dating. The more you can thwart the normal process of building expectations about the future, the more present you can be. Instead of grasping to reach a goal, you’re surrendering to the process. We are ashamed of our struggles, our limitations, and our imperfections, and we fear that if people knew what we were really like on the inside, they wouldn’t want us. We think we have to stop being our real selves to get people to like us. Do they light up, contract slightly, take a deep breath, turn slightly to the side?