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.How does whatever history you’ve developed from past dates facilitate new possibilities for intimacy on this date? We’ve all learned to be concerned with impression management. If you’ve been trained your whole life to pretend, how do you drop the performance, and bring your real self to a date? Put the two together, and you’re on the road to closeness. When you attune to someone, you do your best to get what their experience is like, regardless of how much they tell you about it. But much of what you attend to when you attune is non-verbal.What new forms of support can you offer each other? Instead of progressing toward interdependency, commitment, and marriage, you are progressing toward mutual understanding, greater risk-taking, and more complete contact. If you want intimacy, you need the second approach. We’ve been taught to act cool, to look composed when we feel like a mess, to perform in order to be liked, to partition out the parts of ourselves we show from those we hide. You open your arms and move toward someone for a hug.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?
You have to trust that somehow you’ll get what you need, that you won’t be alone, that you’ll be fulfilled. But the future was never under your control anyway. Figure out what they seem to want, and give it to them. Act like the person you think they want to be close with, and keep acting. Sometimes your fears come true, and someone, in fact, doesn’t want you. Sometimes, however, you show someone everything, and they still think you’re groovy. If you’re paying attention, you know whether to warmly embrace them in response, or to jettison the hug in favor of a hand briefly clasping their shoulder. Then you even respond to how they respond to your response.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. You think you’re on the hunt for a suitable partner. Fail to check them off and you’ll waste your time with the wrong person. You’re dating because you’re on a primordial spiritual quest. Following each of the six new rules below helps you to get unusually close, unusually fast. The quality of the encounters determines the quality of the relationship. Unless you can get close enough, unless you can really get in with each other, you won’t have a chance.You’ve been programmed to believe the person in front of you is a kind of checklist. Worse, you might repeat the same mistakes you made in your last relationship. You just want to find “the one”, and you deserve to. When somebody you like flirts with you, when you have a new crush, when you start to fall for someone, it stirs your soul. Would you want a long-term partnership that consisted of unsatisfying exchanges: small talk, cautiousness, testing, pretending, withholding? So why would you want a short-term partnership that’s made of that stuff? You can’t wait around for the relationship to develop slowly over time.In partnership dating, earlier dates lay the groundwork for commitment, and you hold back the good stuff, or the hard stuff, until later. Talking to someone you’ve known a while isn’t any simpler. If telling the truth is all you’re doing, you risk burying your date in an avalanche of realness.