Today—this moment—is a given. You know it’s real because it is happening. You can understand what it means to you. You can see its value and cherish the feelings it evokes. What will happen tomorrow, or next week, or ten years from now is not so definite. If you don’t learn the lessons of today, or don’t catch the richness that is available to you in this moment, the outcomes will still be uncertain and yet you will have missed so much along the way.
When Travis went on his first several dates post-divorce, they did not go well. He explained to me later what they were like. He felt so lonely and desperate to find someone new that he approached each date nervously and with a laundry list of what he’d say, what she’d say, and what they’d do next. He was so sure the women would not respond to his dry sense of humor and innate shyness that he tried to present a different version of himself. He set an agenda for himself. He must, he thought, end the date with another date already lined up.
The women seemed to visibly pull away from him as the dates progressed. One woman was kind enough to explain what she felt. She said to him as they parted, “Travis, I like you, but I don’t think you have heard anything I’ve said. Whenever I tried to say something, you always seemed ready to make a statement about how you treat women and what you had planned for us down the line. I’d like to be included in any plans made about my future but you seemed to have it all figured out. And this was just a first date!” Travis came across as an anxiety-ridden control freak when really he was just overly invested in the outcome and could not be present in the now.
When you are with someone, whether it is a first date or a blossoming relationship, try to let go of the outcome. Instead, focus on the connection between you now.
So what exactly do I mean? When you are with someone….
Be present. Center yourself in the moment. What are you feeling? What is your body telling you? Leave the concerns of today and tomorrow behind you. Allow no distractions. Silence your phone…and your brain… or at least the part of it that says things like: What will happen? Is he/she the one? Will I get hurt? Will we get married? What about my kids?
Be authentic. No imitations please. If you are being true to who you are, it will be the best version of you—which is the real version. Whoever you are with is there for you—and there is no point in presenting a false version because, in the end, we all want to be loved for who we are, not who we might be in some alternate universe.
Be open. Sometimes that’s tough. First of all, be open with yourself. What do you need to know about your own journey, your own wants and needs? Be open with the other person too. Share your thoughts and feelings, be open to possibilities, be open to learning more about both of you.
Actively listen. This means using all your senses. Hear their words, understand what they mean, and also interpret body language and feelings. This can be subtle stuff. There is no rush. Take your time to respond. This is not a competition. If you are thinking of your response while the other person is talking, you are not actively listening and may miss the most important piece.
Let go of an anticipated outcome. When you are attached to an outcome it means you have mentally written a story that hasn’t happened. If you are the author, that means the other person has not had a chance to chime in. There is no way to know where this connection will take you, so having your eye on some set moment in the future can be quite self-sabotaging. Letting go of that will mean your fears can’t gain a foothold. Let love guide you. By that I mean love who you are in the moment, love the moment that is being shared, and love the process.
Humans, like other animals, can sense fear. And they can feel love. If you are afraid things “might not go as planned” – let go of the plan. If you are scared you “won’t find the one” – be okay with this one not being the one. Then, if he or she IS the one, you’ll be delighted. If not, you had a good time. If you are gripping the imagined “end of the story” so hard your mental and emotional veins are popping, release, relax, and regain your perspective.
Ask yourself: What is happening in this moment between us? That connection deserves your beautiful focus and all your loving intentions.