Damien Bohler didn’t even really desire the woman sitting across the table, but her lack of desire for him left him lonely and depressed.
“The three great mysteries: a bird unto air, a fish unto water, a man unto himself” – Hindu Proverb
We sat across from one another. She was cute and I was enjoying chatting with her and getting to know her. We had been interacting via messages and emails for a couple of weeks after meeting online. We exchanged long rambling emails discussing personal thoughts and feelings about relationships amongst other things. I knew, from our online interactions, that she was not what I was looking for yet I still felt the desire to meet her and so here we were.
I asked her what she thought about me now that we have met. She expressed enjoying talking with me and at the same time a distinct lack of any spark. Does there need to be a spark? The thought floated through my mind, an inquiry to be investigated another time.
I noticed how fine I felt about hearing this and that I agreed. There was nothing tangible in the air between us that would want me to go out of my way to have more time with this woman.
And yet a part of me wanted her to like me anyway. Even knowing the discomfort and unnecessary sense of responsibility I heap upon myself when confronted with being wanted, I still wanted it. I wanted to have sex with her too, even knowing I would feel nothing and probably be worse for it due to the distinct lack of emotional connection combined with that sense of obligation I so often feel.
We finished up our meal and I walked her to the bus station. We said goodbye, and hugged. It was a real goodbye and I could feel that we would never see one another again.
I walked off to catch my train and something inside me had broken. An intense sadness washed through me and remained for the next few days. When I finally got home two days later I deleted my online dating account. I would rather have no contact with women if this was the way I was going to relate to them. This was definitely NOT in line with the highest vision of myself.
I thought I had gotten to a point where I could do appreciation pretty well. Neediness, sure I had some of that – who didn’t? It was out there though, a big thing that would arise only when it was a woman I really wanted like my last story. I had no idea it was this subtle, this pervasive and that a sense of neediness tinged and flavoured every interaction I had with every woman. Not even women, with everyone. It was the water I was swimming in and for the first time I got a real glimpse of it and it hurt. I could see how this seemingly small nuance was having a devastating impact on the way I showed up in life and in relation to others.
And wrapped around all of this is an overarching elation that I am seeing these things, that my sense of self is expanding enough to encompass and feel more fully what has been beneath the surface for so long. Awareness, I think, leads to the potential for true, deep and meaningful evolution. I am excited to be on this journey, each new insight is a victory and they are coming hard and fast.
I am curious about what you see in this Shana.
As your journey takes you deeper, beyond the cultural mindset of “right and wrong, do and don’t,” we get into real, raw, messy and sometimes esoteric humanness — the essence of what drives our thoughts, choices and actions. This date illuminated your desire to be wanted, not only by a woman you wanted, but by any, even all, women. You stumbled into a human truth many people are never vulnerable enough to admit or feel — that deep desire to be wanted.
There are a few ways you, or anyone, could respond when something painful arises. Outward actions aside, we either choose to feel the pain or cut off from it. From what you described in our discussion, shutting down your dating profile helped you stay connected with the pain, and eventually inspired a thorough and updated look at who you are and what you are looking for.
For someone else, shutting down the dating profile could be a way to avoid the pain. “If it hurts this much then I won’t continue.” It’s sometimes easier to stop the activity that caused pain than to investigate the pain itself.
This part gets a bit esoteric but you’re going there, so I’m responding. The thing about being human is that we can’t escape our humanness. Even if you become a buddhist monk and go meditate in a cave, if you come back into the world you’ll have to face the actual desires that didn’t tempt you when you were alone.
The key to one’s freedom here is in your willingness to feel the pain, rather than push it away as you might be able to do in a cave. In this case, making time to feel the discomfort of wanting to be wanted, while alone and in the face of interactions with others. It is powerful to do this before taking any actions like shutting down a profile or stopping dating, though each person and each situation is different.
Sometimes accepting and feeling the pain, all the way down to that place you’d rather turn away from, is enough to create freedom. It can shift your understanding of yourself and the choices you make in each moment. Sometimes the well worn grooves of habit in our brains make it difficult to respond in new ways. Therapy, coaching, bodywork and other modalities are powerful to loosen the binds you find yourself in, to find freedom and new possibilities.
For the reader: Consider something that has been emotionally painful for you lately. Notice how you may push away the pain. Do you eat, drink, keep yourself busy with t.v., friends, or Facebook? Take five minutes (or longer) to sit silently and actually feel the pain you’ve avoided. Notice the sensations and emotions without needing to do or fix anything.
Then ask yourself what support you’d need (from yourself or others) to continue facing, rather than avoiding this. Do you need to talk through the situation with a neutral party, share a truth you’ve been hiding, forgive yourself, understand someone else’s point of view, find an accountability buddy and start meditating daily, find a coach or therapist…?
Take one step in the direction you discovered. See where that takes you. Continue to take one step at a time rather than overwhelming yourself with thinking you need a complete solution.
Let us know how it goes and if you have questions,
Photo: Flickr/vicki MacLeod