The rules book and dating
Check off enough items and you’ve got a shot at a fulfilling relationship. When you get close enough to someone, everything changes. If you want to fulfill the quest, you’ll need to change the rules. They have the same feeling about you, that you’ve got something just for them. It will be your only opportunity to find out what you’re meant to discover together.
You want a companion, a partner, someone to build a future with. The thin shell of your mundane existence cracks, and something magical trickles in. You might even need to start off acting as you would if you were already close, as if you’re already partners. How will you spend the few precious hours you have? Concerns like these are always buzzing around beneath the surface.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll modulate your self-expression to match their energy.
That doesn’t mean you have to be careful, just that you have to care. If you’re not into someone, that just means you know a couple places the journey won’t go. The road to long-term partnership will remain gated and locked. What you don’t yet know is where else it’s possible for you to go.
It just means you need to put up a couple No Trespassing signs. For instance, sex might be out of bounds, but physical affection still well within your boundaries.
If you never set the boundary, you won’t be able to risk affection, because you won’t want to be misread.
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.
There’s no need to become disembodied heads just because you’re not getting it on.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.Imagining yourself from their perspective informs your moment-to-moment choices about what to share, to ask, to offer. They lose themselves in the minutia of their date’s responses. Putting all your attention on the other person keeps you hidden. What does it really mean that you’re “not into” them? There are parts of the map you’ve never investigated. If you were dating for partnership, the goal would be to find a partner.
Attunement without realness is just self-sacrificing. Intimacy does not need to be a privilege granted only those in our innermost circle. Dating someone you’re not into would be a waste of time.Apply this scenario to every date you have with anyone and you’re ready for Deep Dating. The point is to treat each date as a complete, self-contained relationship. Instead, we ask the most boring, low-risk questions we can think of.