To attract a potential partner, or pursue one, or hold onto one, you have to play games. Now you remember that dating is really a primordial quest for the magic of intimacy. For some mysterious reason, it will be the only date you’ll ever have. If you can find out what the secret is, it will change you forever. If you’ve been dating to get a partner, you’ve been lying. When you got fooled into believing that the purpose of dating was to land a partner, you learned to date by a set of implicit rules. Maybe it’s in the way they inhabit their body, or in how they look at you.They expect the date to go somewhere you don’t want to go, and you don’t want to lead them on.This doesn’t mean you need to preemptively cut short the journey.Over time, you’ll get more involved in one another’s daily activities, depend on each other to meet more and more of your needs, start to intertwine your lives. You were trying to prove yourself to your date, or covering up your embarrassment about something they noticed, or testing to see if they like you enough to come after you.That’s the basic pattern of how most of us move from dating to partnership. You can Deep Date someone over time, but when you treat each date as a self-contained experience, as if your entire relationship is happening here and now in this one date, you move through a different progression. Any time you reveal your motivations, you’re choosing realness over performance. Realness, however, is only half of the intimacy equation.In partnership dating, earlier dates lay the groundwork for commitment, and you hold back the good stuff, or the hard stuff, until later. Talking to someone you’ve known a while isn’t any simpler. If telling the truth is all you’re doing, you risk burying your date in an avalanche of realness.In Deep Dating, each time you meet is a new experiment in intimacy. It’s you actually being you that makes you likable. As a result, there’s a stream of constant activity just below your calm facade. If getting real is about showing your date who you are, attunement is about seeing who they are.
There’s no need to become disembodied heads just because you’re not getting it on.
Withhold your real self unless you think they might be “the one”. If you decide they’re not, come up with a pretext to get out of it. Imagine someone you like has invited you on a first date, or that you’ve invited them. As you feel more and more deeply connected, you come to trust one another. Eventually, the power of your connection changes you, makes you more into the person you’ve always wished you could be. All of this has happened in a single encounter, a few hours together.
You’re likely to take risks, to tell the truth, to go as deep as possible. The point is not to prohibit yourself from having multiple dates with the same person. But think about how rarely anyone acknowledges them out loud.
If you only have one date, the date you’re on right now IS the relationship. For one, you have to actively create the date, moment by moment, rather than waiting for the date to happen to you. Real talk is risky, unpredictable, and sometimes even awkward! Answer these questions, and you give someone a window into your world. It goes without saying that game playing is the opposite of being real.
The relationship happens now, not later, because all you ever have with anyone is the present moment. You could, on your one and only date, get lit up by the excitement of getting to know someone, learn new things about yourself, be seen and felt and understood, play, share affection, or pleasure, grow as a relational being, make a lasting difference in the other person’s life, challenge yourself, take new risks, fall in love. You can’t future trip, because there’s no future to trip about. If you’re reading this, you’ve already had enough small talk for one lifetime. Actually, it doesn’t go without saying, which is why I’m saying it. They’re manipulative and disingenuous and destructive of intimacy.
You can get better and better at creating all different kinds of intimacy, with all different kinds of people. They look far less appealing than they did in their photos. Rejecting your date might be the best course of action. Intimacy, it turns out, does not require sex, or long-term partnership. Chances are high that you’ve had deeply significant, meaningful, fulfilling human interactions that were neither romantic nor sexual. Other times, you were moved or inspired, learned something new, felt deeply connected, helped someone. Some unique form of intimacy is possible between you and this other human being. If you reject the other person, you’ll never find out.