Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Two Truths About Your Dating Life

Photo credit: hotblack from

I'm going to make a bold statement. One that you might not believe.

You know much more about relationships than you think you do.

Maybe that sounds ridiculous. Maybe you totally agree.

Let me offer another statement. One that on the surface contradicts the first one.

You don't know anything.

Now you might be thinking, "What's this guy been smoking?!"

Here's the thing. When it comes to matters of the heart, we are far too prone as a species to trusting the wrong things, and not trusting the right things. You might have a feeling deep down that someone is a poor match for you, but oh the sex is so good, and oh they're so hot, and oh they meet most or all the things on my checklist.

On the other hand, there isn't a single relationship around that doesn't involve risk. In the beginning, no one really "knows" for sure if another person is a great match for them or not. I think a lot of the time, people take leaps of faith when committing to another after long periods of dating. They say they knew from the beginning or early on, but that's just a polite lie.

I tend to believe the happiest people are those who are able to trust that deeper voice within, while also being able to be at least somewhat comfortable with not knowing all the answers.

Learning to listen to, locate, and trust that deeper voice allows you to bypass all the superficial noise. It helps to override chemistry, social status markers or lack there of, and good appearances that don't hold up under scrutiny. It also - more importantly - allows you to operate not from a place of blame and victim hood, but from a place a empowerment.

The majority of dating and relationship situations don't involve issues like domestic abuse, rape, or sustained coercion or manipulation of some kind where someone is truly victimized. Sadly, these things are far too common, and I don't want to make light of them. But here, I'm talking about all those relationships where these aren't present. Where the struggles people have together are more benign. Or even if they produce great suffering, aren't about some "evil person" hurting another. (I actually don't believe in the evil person construct at all, but that's a whole other post.)

The point here is that when you are able to hear that inner wisdom about a situation, then you can make the necessary changes (including ending things all together) without blaming and demonizing.

In order to do so, you have to first believe that you actually know something about relationships. And then you have to give yourself the space and quiet to let the truth arise. I usually opt to meditate, but it could be as simple as going for a quiet walk or drive. Regardless of what you do, it's important that you have relative quiet and also give it some time. In my experience, there's almost always a wave of superficial reactive answers and commentary that come up which I have to let go of in order to hear what's underneath.

So, that's one piece of the story. The other is developing your capacity to live with not knowing for sure. Learning to not rush to judgement about someone who maybe isn't quite what you had hoped for, but who's company you enjoy all the same. Or remembering that most of those "I knew from moment our eyes met" stories don't end in happily ever after. Or even more trickier is being ok with the reality that the future is not certain, no matter what.

One of the reasons I distrust experts is that often project an air of certainty that can't possibly be true. Another reason is that they present the truths that they do so in such a way that it tends to dis-empower the rest of us. The stereotypical doctor instantly comes to mind here. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have literally lived in their bodies for decades suddenly act like they know nothing about their bodies, deferring everything to the all knowing doctor who really only knows a certain set of facts (if that sometimes.)

So, please, if you don't already, give yourself more credit. And at the same time, stay humble and nimble.

That's all I've got for today.


  1. " (I actually don't believe in the evil person construct at all, but that's a whole other post.)"

    Neither do I. (with a few obvious exceptions.) I would really like to read this post someday. Really interested in seeing your take on this, since your posts come from a place of more self-awareness and knowledge of human nature than I will probably be able to have in a while.

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