If he desired to know about automobiles, he would, without question, study diligently about automobiles. If his wife desired to be a gourmet cook, she’d certainly study the art of cooking, perhaps even attending a cooking class. Yet, it never seems as obvious to him that if he wants to live in love, he must spend at least as much time as the auto mechanic or the gourmet in studying love. ~ Leo Buscaglia from Love
1. STUDY EXPERTS, RELATIONSHIPS, PEOPLE, AND AUTHORS THAT HAVE MORE EXPERIENCE IN LOVE THAN YOU DO
“Hi, I’m Trevor, nice to meet you,” I say, giving her a butt-out-hug, like I’m trying to pick up my mom’s full grown pine tree at Christmas and singlehandedly pull it to the curb.
“Here’s your Manhattan.”
“Thank you, nice to meet you too — Sorry, I’m late,” she says.
I put my hand behind her chair as she moves up to the table. Her beauty catches me. She is blonde. Tall. She has a green romper that contrasts with her proud light-blue eyes. She carries herself with confidence as she effortlessly takes off her coat and sits down.
Modern romance. Technology. Wow. Thank you for this amazing introduction.
Unfortunately, reading about dating, relationships, and real love makes me a harder person to date. This is reason #1 why dating in your thirties sucks in a good way, because you are more self-aware of what you need and want and less willing to give up on that awareness due to the copious amounts of failure, studying, and relationship books out there.
2. ONLINE DATING IS A JUST WAY TO MEET PEOPLE AND UNDERSTAND WHO THEY ARE IN REAL LIFE — NOT VIRTUAL LIFE
First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down. ~ Ray Bradbury
I read Modern Romance. I know meeting people in real life is the challenge in online dating. So many people stay in the virtual world, judging, swiping, glamorously faking. I have gotten through hoop number #1 with this woman, which is always the first step, but still, this is a sucky thing about dating in your thirties. People play games and ruin it for all of us that want to be authentic from the get-go.
Let’s say her name is Susy. Susy and I start talking. I am nervous but excited. I watch her with light-beam concentration. I lean back. I lean in. The usual ebb and flow of non-verbal communication. What do you do, where do you live, what is your pet’s name, what hobbies do you have, what is your family like, what friends do you have in the city?
I question, listen, and then start to hear that voice in the back of my mind: is she interested in me? Is she attracted to me?
Who cares — attraction is fickle.
3. ATTRACTION CAN BE A CURSE FIRST, A BLESSING SECOND (IF YOU ALLOW IT TO BE)
She draws me in. I listen to her responses and start to analyze whether this attraction is a curse or a blessing.
Let me explain.
An attraction without the symmetry of values is a disaster. My first question is always: do we value the same things?
An attraction without any similar interests, values, commonality, and energy makes for a boring, lackluster friendship. I’d never become friends with my friends if we didn’t laugh until the wee hours of the morning, talk about nothing and everything, challenge and debate philosophical musings, and get along fabulously while doing nothing, or everything.
Most of my relationships have failed because I have gone forward on attraction without knowing if the person on the other side could fulfill the friendship needs I have, (and I’m sure vice versa).
Should I try to filter through these questions on a first date? Why am I filtering at all? Can’t I enjoy this? Why does she have to live up to some unknown set of standards?
I take a swig of tequila and breathe deeply.
Chemistry is chemistry, just go with it.
But as I study her beautifully manicured fingernails, the small lines around her eyes, and the way she seamlessly tucks her blonde bangs behind her ears, I begin to question this date. Our symmetry. Is it because she isn’t interested in me?
Susy glances at her phone twice, then opens and closes an expensive looking black leather purse. She reapplies lipstick or some high-gloss chapstick (who knows what the hell that stuff is) and I feel her attention slipping away.
Is it my hair?
I am going bald.
Is it my poor taste in fashion?
Is my Star Wars t-shirt not showcasing the actual depth of my character and wisdom?
I stop waiting. I grab the reins (pun intended for Pegasus below) and finish the small talk:
“If you could be reincarnated as any animal or mythical creature in the world, what would you choose? Then if you could hang out with any tribe or pack of animals as your friends, what would that pack of animals be? Then give me three reasons or qualities of why you chose those two animals.
For example, I picked myself as Pegasus hanging out with monkeys.”
“Yes. The Pegasus. The wildly athletic horse that flies through sky. You know Pegasus right? The mythical winged divine stallion, and one of the most recognized creatures in Greek mythology?”
“Wow,” she laughs, putting her phone in her purse. “What are your three reasons again?”
“My three reasons for choosing Pegasus are because he represented a free, autonomous being, yet he was an animal that was stoic, fluid, and intuitive.
“And the monkeys?”
“Well, monkeys are funny, goofy animals. I could imagine being around them all day. Playfully spontaneous. Loyal teammates. Scratching my back when needed.”
“Seriously, what kind of question is this,” she asks, dumbfounded.
“It’s a fun kind of question,” I say. “Don’t you think we should know what kind of animal we would be if we were reincarnated?”
“Hmm,” she says. “This is a tough question. I think I’d be a unicorn.”
3. WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION OF WHAT YOU NEED your LOVE TO BE?
Maybe we should start with understanding the definition of love before I enlighten you with my mythical animal questions:
(1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties — i.e. A maternal love for a child
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers — i.e. After all these years, they are still very much in love.
(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
“As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself/herself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” — Brian Johnson
Finding authenticity, benevolence, and true love online is wildly adventurous and tough. Three-quarters of the people that swipe you, you’ll never meet. We all keep swiping, hoping, getting that happiness surge like a gambling addict. We are all swiping left or right on pictures not values, ideas not truths, and hope, not reality. We post these pictures that exaggerate our grandiose lifestyles and then fantasize about an attraction that may not have any foundation of friendship, compatible values, or interests.
Our positive interactions, the small ones, the seemingly meaningless moments made from nothing, must push us further into intimacy, not just the physical attraction of another human’s unicorn body.
When I was 16, my parents divorced and now looking back at their relationship at 38, I wonder, when they married at 22, did they know who they were, what they needed, or did marriage happen because of their infatuation, lust, and crazy-wild mustang love?
Dating online in your thirties is crazy, wild, frustrating, distracting, and fun; much like trying to ride Pegasus without a saddle with spurs on your boots.
I cast this massive net out around a geographic location and hope to rake in a keeper. Should I lower my belief and standards of what my foundation of true love should be?
The scariest part is people, adults, humans, kids, friends, pets, and my consciousness change over time, which makes me need certain friendship qualities to bring intimacy and attraction to the surface within a relationship even more.
4. SAY YES TO EXPERIENCES MORE OFTEN WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE WILLING TO WORK AT LOVE
When you are unaware of the animal question game, our subconscious chooses these animals and the qualities/reasons we most connect within ourselves and what we want in other people.
I am looking for friendship that represents what I love about the monkey. Funny. Humorous. Playful. Spontaneous. Loyal. A good teammate. Monkeys are always running around and communicating, engaging their peers. Not letting the world get them down.
Positive little monkey, talk to me. Let’s laugh until we pee from trees.
“What we think is less than what we know: What we know is less than what we love: What we love is so much less than what there is; and to this precise extent, we are much less than what we are.” ~ R.D. Laing from “The Politics of Experience”
Isn’t it weird we spend 100,000’s of dollars on education, clothes, cars, houses, and things, but we never spend money on learning about what it takes to make a relationship work? We never learn about the growth mindset of how to work inside a loving relationship, or how we can predict our negative patterns with a bit of interpretation and feedback from our closest friends and loved ones?
Granted, I am still single so maybe take my wacky questions and ideas with a bail of hay, but I think about love and compatibility too much. I think about humans, even my friends, relatives, cousins, parents, and friend’s parents that have gotten divorced, or stayed married, and all of the healthy, happy or miserable relationships in between.
5. Finding real love online or offline is about finding a real-life synergy and symmetry of values, friendship, interests, and qualities that you are both aware of to live a balanced, growth-oriented life.
I am not a counselor or a therapist. I do not even understand psychology’s most fundamental tenets, but I do understand the interworkings of one’s internal culture. I observe and listen to the stories and culture of my friend’s friendships and marriages, both inside the ones that work, and the ones that don’t. Many of the unions that didn’t have a great foundation ended.
Many of the ones that did still exist.
Which confirms to me, it always comes back to pursuing a path that you know makes sense for you, and hopefully your eventual partner too.
“Each path is only one of a million paths. Therefore, you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path. If you feel that you must not follow it, you need not stay with it under any circumstances. Any path is only a path. There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you: look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.”