It just means you need to put up a couple No Trespassing signs. For instance, sex might be out of bounds, but physical affection still well within your boundaries.If you never set the boundary, you won’t be able to risk affection, because you won’t want to be misread. I don’t care how good you are, how honest, or how noble. The real problem is that you’re postponing, sacrificing the date that’s happening now on the altar of potential future partnership. Everything frustrating, discouraging, and disappointing about dating comes from this future-orientation. You don’t need to organize your dates around a possible future. As a result, they can feel what’s beautiful about you. Creating intimacy is a skill you can get better and better at. Something about the way they move through the world, or something they can see that you can’t. And you’re never going to squeeze magic out of a checklist. You’re really dating for the magic, but you’ve learned to play games to get yourself a partner, and every bit of game playing shuts the magic tap off a little tighter. You start off by letting yourself be taken by their unique beauty. In turn, you do your best to let the other person see you. You didn’t postpone anything in service of some potential future. Deep Dating is the art of creating intimacy right now, today, on this date. 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.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.
Attunement without realness is just self-sacrificing. Intimacy does not need to be a privilege granted only those in our innermost circle. Dating someone you’re not into would be a waste of time.
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.
If your boundary is clear, affection won’t be interpreted as a step on the path to sex. So can hugging, cuddling, massaging, dancing, playing, wrestling, acro-yoga, fluffing each other’s auras, brushing each other’s hair, and crying on each other’s shoulders.
There’s no need to become disembodied heads just because you’re not getting it on.