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The practice that changed my view of men

“It seems essential, in relationships and all tasks, that we concentrate only on what is most significant and important.” ~Søren Kierkegaard

I’m sitting at my dining room table, looking at the trees that are subtly beginning to turn shades of

Tangled Roots

Tangled Roots

yellow and orange-tinged green.  The wind has picked up tonight and the chime is announcing a shift in the weather.

It’s been almost 6 months since I started my research and adventure, and I sometimes find it difficult to put in words how this deliberate creation of relationship has changed me.  At times it feels like I am trying to describe what the sky looks like with only a rudimentary pile of sticks to show you.  So much has happened and part of writing this story has been with the intention to make sense of it all, to codify it, somehow.

Each serious relationship that I have had in the past, at some point, reached a level of inertia where the spark was gone, where each of us had shifted into cruise control, lived parallel lives in the same home, shared space, became roommates.  The focus, once frisky, fun and light, would shift – and all that was visible was the negative aspects of my man and of our relationship.

I remember having a conversation with my Grandma about 7 years into my marriage.  In that talk she told me that sex wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.  How intimacy of that sort was one of the things that just fell to the wayside in a marriage (as had been my experience.)  And, because I wasn’t connected to a community of women who might tell me otherwise, I believed her.

She wouldn’t steer me wrong. She was wise.  She was an elder.

In that conversation, I anchored into that truth – it was the only explanation to the emptiness I felt.

So I hitched my belief wagon to her star:  this was a woman’s lot in life.

Although the second major relationship of my life had a similar pattern, I just couldn’t be satisfied with the answer.  This couldn’t be all there was to look forward to, when all around me there was evidence to the contrary.  I knew that relationships where mutual love, understanding, intimacy and respect were the norm, were in fact possible – even though (silently) I thought them to be reserved for a select, special few.

I had to find out.

I had to test the validity of this belief that thumbed its nose at me, challenging to be disproved.

So when I chose to open myself to dating this time around, I made sure that, I connected to my community, to my tribe of women, each and every day – in order to have a huge network of support and perspectives.  I ensured to download my process with them.  To have a place to land my doubt, my uncertainty, my charge – all the while asking for and receiving my desires.  Having a safe haven for the internal messiness allowed me to have more clarity on what I wanted, to feel less muddled, less thrown off by the unpredictable emotions that can be part of looking for relationship.

This was a new thing for me – having this community.  I had never had a team of Wayshowers at my disposal.  Never allowed myself this level of deliberate openness and vulnerability as I fumbled in this arena.

This time, I also wanted to take a new approach:  not to date with the purpose of lassoing a relationship.  Rather, to date for the sole and explicit purpose of doing research on the topic.  Putting on a “scientific” cap made dating less threatening, more fun, more comfortable.

I had nothing to lose.

With each date I set the intention of wanting to stay anchored in a deep sense of gratitude – believing it to be the key to holding inertia at bay.  I wanted to keep track of all of the wonderful things these men did.  The beautiful ways in which they showed up.   I wanted to have confirmed for me what I had been told time and time again: men were not out to “get me.”

I wanted to keep my eyes focused on the positive aspect of the date, of them.  I wanted to make this a practice.  And, of course, being a good little researcher, I began to keep track of my data.

Before going on each date, I had three intentions:

  • First, and foremost, it was my intention to take responsibility for my pleasure the entire time.  I came to realize this was not his job, but mine.  I needed to ensure that I arrived feeling good, that I ask for what I wanted, that I take care of myself the entire time.  That I say “yes” when I meant it and “no” when it was true – even when it meant I might hurt his feelings.  It meant I had to be attuned to me.  Do I want this?  Would eating this meal make me feel good?  Would the direction of this conversation uplift or deplete me?
  • Second, I set the intention to approve of the man who was taking me on a date, no matter what.  In the past, I would have left the date cranky because the gentleman did not fit the perfect “some day my prince will come” portfolio.  I would find every fault, every quirk, every part of the date that had not been up to snuff or to my standards and would lay my focus there – pecking and scratching at the negativity like a hen.
  • Finally, it was my intention to leave every man better than I found him.  This meant that if I approved of him, I was to let him know.  I was to share my pleasure about our date openly with him.  To tell him how much I appreciated, for example, opening up the door for me, a joke, the way he took care to order something special off the menu on my behalf. Whether the date was a “success” or not – meaning a match, I knew I had maintained a level of integrity, dignity and appreciation.

And then, I would return home to my journal and reflect on ALL of the positive aspects of the date: from the most seemingly insignificant ones, to the most obvious.  I wanted to keep track of what pleased me, of this data that seemed so elusive before.  I wanted to create awareness, a sense of clarity, of understanding where things had gone wrong in the past.  I knew that if I kept my eye on the positive ball, there was no place to go but up.

And I refused to travel the road of negativity again.

What I began to notice was this practice of staying connected to my community, having these three clear intentions and of journaling/downloading all of the positive aspects, kept me and my dates uplifted.

It forced me to pay attention to detail.  It made me hyper aware of my emotions – which I landed over and over again in my community.  It allowed me to “see” the sweetness in each man I dated.

This was new.

No longer did I find myself looking for an unattainable “ideal.”  I came to realize that every man possessed within him “ideal” aspects.  Some to a higher, some to a lesser degree. This was a revelation.

It gave me hope.

Each man I dated, including card-asking man, held something precious, something exquisite for me to learn – but the truth of the matter, only one was willing to travel the depths I was looking to go… Only one.

In love, service and pleasure,


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