Online Dating

I believe no one was more surprised than me when my intuition gave me a nudge to start online dating again after having stepped back from it for years. And what a very different experience it was this time around thanks to the ways I have changed. I was not attached to the outcome and it felt like an eerie experiment or adventure life was sending me out on. My heart surprisingly open, my mind readily contemplating giving up aloneness for couple hood and inquiring into my needs. A beautiful journey into the status quo of my being and that of others from a beginners mind and ‘mature innocence’. A kind of innocence that has a purity and is untainted by external and internal assumptions and memories and is coupled with wisdom inherent and acquired. What a joy to see that I could always find my way back to it, even in midst of intensity of triggers or adversity. I consider this to be a fruit of trust in Life/Source/Self which has me even more committed to cultivating and nourishing trust.

These are some of my reflections at the end of this adventure in humaning.

Men of my age and older

Having been surrounded for more than a decade by very aware, caring and spiritual people has upped all my baselines for communicating and relating. And engaging with mainstream ‘normal’ men gained a surreal retro feel thanks to the evolution and growth shared in various communities. I caught myself over and over in surprised and speechless moments of “People are still doing this and not aware enough to see it for what it is and change or grow?”

Habituated to fellow growth-minded people the slow pace of progression and learning in others, coupled with an unadulterated and unapologetic rigidity in holding on to dysfunction felt not only alien but put me off, even if the man had other good qualities.

A history of immersion in psychology, communication sciences and being part of the polyamory community has taught me early on about communication, consideration and respect for another’s needs and feelings. So much so that it has become second nature and my world is primarily populated with people who are eloquent practitioners of it. Therefore the disjointed communication styles, absence of consideration of my needs and feelings, unabashed egocentricity, unconscious mind games, ego tantrums and other manipulative attempts felt jarring and alienating. And I realized these block communicating and relating so much that even the most basic levels of these are repeatedly or permanently unavailable with these men. Though the reasons for said blockages are amalgamated by individual unaddressed patterning and wounding the general dynamic was quite repetitive.

Overall I observed the immensity of emotional and spiritual poverty rampant in men of my age, the ways they try to compensate or flee it (sex, status, money, etc.) and the suffering, fragility and loneliness underneath all their striving or posturing as they have achieved enough of their goals to be confronted with their fecklessness in the face of the hole within they tried to fill with them.
I am saddened by how few of them are courageous and willing enough to face their shadow and integrate it now. Too many messages and conversations had men acknowledge that they probably should address this or that and then giving me rationalizations and excuses why they won’t just now or ever. Of course change and healing is impossible, shouldn’t I know?

With men who are spiritual and have their own self work journey the fault lines lie along similar lines though in a more tempered and less obvious way. They also strive and posture by displaying their spiritual practices, jobs, achievements – the more integrated have a humorous awareness of it when pointed to it while others will react with the same fragility to be found in other men. I cannot help but see a lack of decisive actions and investment in things of value due to the ease of being distracted or too sluggish to leave the (spiritual) comfort zone. A lack of ability to slay the Buddha on the path and progress beyond on the one hand and the inability or unwillingness to marry spirituality with the mundane on the other.

Conditioning is truly strong and finds ways to operate in new ways along old lines, the spiritualized ego is just one of the more visible ways this shows itself. If we do not keep alert, sharpening our awareness and consciousness our human affinity for comfort and consistency will limit our progress and insert unhealthy stagnation and calcification. A valuable reminder to be honored.

Power differentials

The most fascinating experience I made for the first time in this intensity and across all encounters is a dynamic power differential which put me in the stronger position without any intent or effort on my side.
All the disappointments, heartbreaks, and subsequent ongoing self work that emotional unfulfilment has brought into my experience has blossomed and is bearing a magical fruit. Said fruit is twofold as it manifests as the ability to fill my own cup by having a variety of ways and flexibility to fulfill my needs independent of a singular other. Sitting alone and dropping inside already washes away all burdens, worries, and needs in the luminosity of presence and equanimity. Taking full responsibility for my experience has grown and transcended me beyond the strangling grip of trauma and conditioning into a state of compassionate self love that allows me to navigate life with awareness, trust, playfulness and inner strength.
The second manifestation is the curated life I have been slowly building from the inside out, rich in connections and relationships that can nurture me more than *enough* and which evolve and grow steadily and healthily. When filling my cup internally or from Spirit doesn’t quite hit the point there are cherished friends and acquaintances who will do it. And often it takes only a word or sentence here, a hug, moments of shared laughter or commiseration. Even little things are superfoods to my heart and Soul in this web of love that lights up around and in me.

Having worked on my childhood trauma and with my sexual desires and energy has shifted my relationship with sex in ways I haven’t had a chance of being so acutely aware of in the absence of viable sex partners. I realized that the past years had taught me to transform the dense, sharp, burning imminence of sexual desire into other forms of energy in service of my spiritual practice or into a gentle, encompassing, warm, expansive erotic energy that is more akin to a wide flowing river than the intensity of burning fiery sexual need. My urges no longer hijack or control my being, I can feel, sense and take pleasure in them without having to act on them right here and now, frustration, or loss of the energy. There is no enslavement nor opposition to sexual desires, just an allowing, awareness and loving intentional engagement. Which is very different to the way it dominated and drove the decisions and action of the men I encountered, even the spiritual with a few exceptions (true tantric practitioners). This dominating drive was often the reason why connection was impossible as their system had concept of relating and connecting outside of sex. Not only a mental poverty but also a terrible pattern of starving the emotional body.

I enter every encounter as a whole being open to new experiences, cognizant of the goodness and abundance of life, while these men act from mindsets built on scarcity, competition, domination and neediness. A power differential asserts itself as I am less driven than them, moving at the pace of my awareness and intuition, my desires for the encounter being for it to be respectful, kind, and interesting/expansive. While on the other side they are under pressure to fulfill their burning needs and desires for ‘the one,’ sex, admiration, alleviation of loneliness, filling the emptiness in their life, etc. The exception being that spiritual guys have less of a pressure and more of a desire and the best of them meeting me in a similar openness to mine.

This calls for extra mindfulness and compassion in my words and actions in order not to enter into the dysfunctional patterns this power difference might invite and to be kind and caring towards the tender aspects of the man. Gifts always come with new responsibilities to keep relating balanced and fair.

Take away for me

All the work to disempower and dismantle romantic conditioning and be more spacious about relating and loving has changed how I perceive relationships, my visions and needs in relating with an intimate partner or friend, and lastly me. I can smile at my inner romantic when she starts going off creating Hollywood movies in her future projections, and still stay anchored in awareness and act from my higher senses and mind.
No longer a slave to these narratives by blindly following them nor by rebelling against them, I have learned to allow life to write an authentic and healthier narrative into every encounter with potential while practicing detachment from outcomes and surrender to the way life unfolds.

And so here I am in a state of awe of the wholeness this path has gifted me. Grateful for the expansion of my awareness, the learning of skills that help me navigate challenging feelings and pains of the past with tender compassion and firmness in service of the wellbeing of all. Grateful for the lessoning of the selfishness and self absorption of the ego which used to blind me to the needs, wants, desires, and feelings of others in the pursuit of my emotional fulfillment. Thankful for leaning into interdependence, allowing vulnerability, honesty and tenderness to strip me to my essential nature and truths in the face of worthy beloveds, learning and practicing how to keep filling another’s cup while keeping mine full *enough*.

I bow in gratitude for my teachers in the past months for the insights and learning they co-created with me. Grateful for them helping me realize that companionship and friendship are fundamental to me and my vision of an evolutionary and fulfilling relationship and that many fail to meet the basic skills and awareness needed for that starting point, let alone the evolutionary trajectory I see as intrinsic to my life and loving. Grateful for making me realize how unique and special a man has to be to co-create a relationship and life with me that would be worthwhile to surrender my aloneness for. Laying the foundation for the proper appreciation and gratitude for the one that will take this role in times to come. Grateful for making me more committed to my path and consciousness work to avoid the pitfalls of conditioning, rigidity, and stagnation which render us lifeless.
Hoping from the bottom of my heart that our encounter was in some little way enriching and nourishing to them and that their Soul flourishes and delights along the path she choose.

Last but not least I bow in gratitude and awe to Life/Self/Source for the playfulness, love, creativity, care, and challenges they pepper my life experience with. And for the blessed and indomitable knowing that what is mine will never pass me by!

Photography Karen Williams by Paul Innis
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