Damien Bohler’s search for authentic love is thwarted when he screws up royally with a girl he really likes.
When I began this “Authentic Man Experiment” series of articles I was expecting a quick and easy slide into a natural and comfortable way of being with women. I hoped that within short order I would be resonating with the kind of confidence and comfort I had always dreamed of…
The reality has been taking a little longer than anticipated. The road to being an authentic man in line with his desires, confident and comfortable enough in his own skin to engage, dazzle and attract radiant females does not seem to come super easily. Well, at least to me it doesn’t.
I am finding that this path is in many ways an inner one. It is a path that requires reaching deep down within and looking, really looking, at the multi-faceted nature of my being. What do I want? What don’t I want? What inspires me? What am I afraid of? What do I enjoy? What don’t I enjoy? What makes me uncomfortable and triggers me into reactive patterns? Where am I holding tension? Where am I seeking approval? And so on.
Somehow the life I have wished for so long has been taking shape in ways I didn’t anticipate! I am discovering an ease in making new friends, now have a really fun community interested in many of the same things as me and I am engaging in a lot of the things I have been wanting to for a long time like African Drumming, archery, rock climbing and writing fiction. My own inner personal life seems so much more solid where I am aware of what I am committed to, why I am committed to it and how I can stay on track which feels great.
It is from this place of enjoying my life more fully, weeks down the track, that I wish to revisit a story that was so pivotal in taking me a cut deeper that I still emit a wince of discomfort at its recollection. The following is just one of my many embarrassing tales about the struggles on the journey of exploring intimacy and becoming an embodied Authentic Man.
Several weeks ago I met a radiant woman at a workshop I was attending out of my own interest (tip: the type of women we are truly looking for are most likely going to show when we are going to events that genuinely interest us). She had shimmering golden hair and a smile that made me forget my name. I spoke with her and quickly discovered a depth, intelligence and passion that I find immensely attractive. We chatted for awhile and she invited me to attend a party she was helping to organize later that week. That night I went home smitten.
A few days later at the party I was noticing myself in a heightened state of anxiety during my minimal interactions with the gorgeous golden-haired woman. My imagination had run so far ahead of me that she had already become my princess and I wanted desperately to find a way for her to see that we were destined to be together. I did, despite my brain-freeze, manage to ask her out for that weekend and we made tentative plans to go indoor rock climbing. Two days later I followed up on facebook to which I received a reply that she would be happy to go with me provided I was ok that she wasn’t looking for anything more than a friendship.
My heart sunk.
Never mind, I rallied myself, in time she would understand how our shared values will undoubtedly give rise to a deeply shared mutual attraction… or so I tried to convince myself. In the attempt to show my appreciation and ability to be with anything that came up I wrote back saying I am fine with being friends and that I feel attraction towards her anyway. Her response was positive.
That night I saw her at another smaller party and she greeted me with such warmth that I felt overjoyed. I wanted more. I wanted to be closer to her. I wanted her to know that I understand her, I get her, I share her values… and I wanted her to know that RIGHT NOW so we could get on with the getting close to each other part.
But when I sat down to speak with her a little later I froze. The questions and comments that came out of my mouth were boring, even to me. I was looking at her and noticing her eyes. There were these fine wrinkles around them which fascinated me and spoke of maturity and depth and what I said was “you look tired” to which she visibly recoiled.
I was bombing, hard, and I wanted to recover and somehow still find a way for us to share a moment together… a moment that I secretly wished would convince her to like me. So I followed her around like a lost puppy both energetically and physically. Is it a surprise then that at some point she left without saying goodbye? No, I didn’t think so.
I felt terrible.
The next day I sulked in bed all morning until finally I decided that either I could forget about her completely or call and ask about her experience. I decided to call. I shared with her my discomfort and awkwardness and then asked for what it was like for her. She shared with me that it was like she couldn’t breathe, it felt uncomfortable and the comment about me saying she looked tired really pissed her off.
It hurt to hear this and I allowed myself to receive it anyway, like a punch right in the chest. She expressed appreciation that I called and seemed to light up a little until… I tried to convince her again that it was in her best interest to get to know me and that we could have a worthwhile connection. She agreed that this was possible and then delivered a K.O. by saying that such an arising would require mutual interest by both parties and she wasn’t really that interested.
That was the last I ever heard from her.
Shana, working closely with me, shared perspectives and practices that I have used to help greatly in developing more compassion and insight for myself. Through the use of these I have managed to gain some distance and freedom from the despair and depression that tended to once follow these kinds of experiences. I am more like a scientist exploring myself in what is increasingly becoming an enjoyable pursuit to develop myself, than the poor victim that I once experienced life as.
Thanks Shana, once again I welcome your feedback!
First, I want to acknowledge your courage. Reaching out to ask for feedback, after a night that clearly didn’t go well, is inspiring. Rather than tucking your tail and hiding, you picked yourself up, moved beyond sulking, and took an action that would help you grow and move toward what you want. That is powerful!
A few things stand out. You wrote “I was bombing hard…wanted to recover…I secretly wished I would convince her to like me. So I followed her around.”
In your somewhat desperate attempt to convince her of how great things could be, you were not creating a great experience in the moment. All she has to go on to imagine what the future is like is what’s happening now.
By desperate I mean it had the feeling of “I MUST do this or else it’s my last chance, or else I’m not worthy, or else I’m a failure.” You tried to get her to prove that you are good enough, worthy and desirable, rather than resting in that knowing yourself.
To be honest, my skin crawls remembering men who have done that with me. I want to shake off that feeling of being grasped or pulled at. When that happens I can’t relax. I feel suffocated. I feel irritated. I even feel guilty and sometimes want to make it better for the guy. But then I don’t want to date him.
You mentioned you felt “off” for a while and knew you were pushing her away. But you continued to do the same things. When you couldn’t find your words or noticed yourself making blunt comments you didn’t take any action to help yourself shift.
Next time you’re aware (the first step) that you feel off, step outside, check in with a friend, do some deep breathing… change something! Remember that continuing as you are is not communicating your awesomeness so step away!
Lastly, when said with compassion, appreciation or interest, your comment about her being tired could have created a beautiful connection where she felt seen in a real way, where she didn’t feel like she had to feel pretty or sparkly. But it seems like you threw it out there without feeling connected to her, to fill space so it wouldn’t feel so awkward. This points to how no matter what you say or do, it is how you are being that communicates more than anything.
There are a couple ways to start shifting the dynamic of looking for approval in a woman:
1. Shift your attention from yourself, and what you can get from a woman, to what you can offer or co-create, or to what you’re curious about with her. Be careful that you don’t leave yourself out completely but again, you can use the energy that goes to self-doubt in a much more effective way.
You can offer or co-create things like curiosity, appreciation, adventure and connection. When you have your attention on these your mind has something to focus on, rather than your fears and self-doubts.
2. Make a list of why you are an amazing catch, list everything you can think of. Ask people who know you well. Then keep it close to you – in your wallet or pocket. When you start to doubt yourself you can pull out the list. It is a powerful practice to keep your attention on what is amazing about you, rather than spinning into why a woman wouldn’t want you.
Photo: Flickr/Rob Deutscher