on dating as a spiritual practice.

image via instagram

Know what’s super weird?

Dating for the first time at age 30.

After getting spit out the other side of a relationship + marriage that consumed the entirety of my 20s, I’ve been on a wild ride of discovery, confusion, excitement, disappointment, bliss, and Who are these people and WTF just happened whiplash.

Like, I had romances and intense connections in my teens. But this is my first time dating as a grown ass woman in the Real World.

What’s up with all these rules?

And apps??

(Side note — fuck those, I spent a month on them and it was cute, but what a giant brain suck of empty dopamine triggers)

I’m kind of embarrassed to be such a beginner at all this, but I’ve decided to embrace it. Because I get to learn everything all at once: a new class in Life School, jumping off cliffs like WELL I WONDER WHERE THIS ONE WILL LAND ME.

It’s a fuckin trip.

I thought it was going to be about meeting new people. And that part has been tremendous. But truly, you don’t need to make out with someone to get to know them. If you just want to meet new people, make some friends.

Only get on the intimate relationship bandwagon if you want to get to know yourself.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned in my short time on Planet Single:

  1. Nothing lasts. And you are not in control.

Intimate relationships are an incredible crucible for experiencing the deepest life-level truths with an unparalleled intensity and immediacy.

Back when we were cave people and survival was a daily thing, we picked up neurological imprints that still run the show today.

  • If we lose our partner / baby daddy or mama, no one will be there to hunt for antelope / take care of the babies and we will die alone on the tundra.
  • If we alienate ourselves by being too different (too much ourselves?) we will get kicked out of the tribe and die alone on the tundra.
  • What we’ve done so far has kept us alive so far. So we should keep doing the things we’ve been doing in the way we’ve been doing them so that we don’t die alone on the tundra.

The ego (which is great at keeping us alive but not much else) still lives on the tundra. So all the unknowns we encounter in dateland trigger the fuck out of our egos, and we experience the raw burn of uncertainty in a super visceral, I might die kind of way.

But this is where the gold is.

Because if you’re reading this, you’re actually pretty safe.

You don’t need him to bring you antelope.

These days, change and unpredictability don’t mean potential death; they mean probable growth and expansion. THIS IS GREAT NEWS. But still —

2. All of your shit will come up.

Relationships are a giant smack in the face from unpredictability + uncertainty, and an opportunity to recognize + let go of any attachments you had to the idea that someone else could give you anything you can’t give yourself.

THIS DOESN’T MEAN THEY DON’T SOMETIMES SUCK ASS.

But spiritual lessons are no joke, my friends.

You can disidentify with your ego but that doesn’t mean it’ll stop freaking out.

So you’ll still feel vulnerable AF, and all of your crazy will come out.

It’s an opportunity to practice. Feel. Witness. Let go.

3. Breakups make you stronger.

One of the greatest myths I carried around for the first 3 decades of my life was that a romantic relationship would solve my problems and make me happy (thanks Disney … and antelopes).

I wanted my primary relationship to give me comfort ALL the time. Someone to lean on in exactly the way I wanted to lean whenever I wanted to lean. This is part of the reason I’m now divorced.

When you’re trying to get a specific result, feeling, or behavior out of another person by being a certain way for them, you’ll probably end up disappointed. And even if it works for a time, you’ll have twisted yourself up so much in the process that you won’t recognize yourself anymore. And that will feel terrible.

So fuck that. Instead of trying to mold yourself around someone else’s outlines, let the way they touch your life teach you about where your own edges live.

In other words — do you. As weird as you might be. Let the pieces fall where they may. No connection is worth sacrificing your wildest ways; if they can’t hang with your humanness, they weren’t for you in the first place.

4. The law of attraction doesn’t work how you think it works.

Just visualize, right?

Wrong. You don’t attract what you want. You attract how you feel. And more specifically, you attract how you feel about yourself.

If I’m spending my morning meditations picturing the sexiest most amazing love relationship on earth with the anxiety that I don’t have it and I might not ever get it, guess how that’s going to play out?

And if by some miracle my soulmate does show up, and I’m still running the beliefs causing that anxiety (I’m not good enough, I have to be hotter/fitter/more successful/sexier than I am now before anyone will really love me … nobody is ever going to love me), Sexy Soulmate will have to battle against that belief system every time they see me, and eventually they will lose.

By the same token: if you stick around with someone, the way you’re being treated is a fantastic reflection of what you deep down think you deserve.

So if you’ve ended up with someone who doesn’t spoon you how you like to be spooned, thank them for illuminating the places you didn’t realize you weren’t valuing yourself quite enough, and go do some inner work.

Cuz you deserve all the best spoons.

Yes, YOU.