Relating not dating
So I have given up dating for Lent. I feel quite feisty when I say this. I have deleted Tinder off my phone, deleted my account on the one web-based site that I still had a presence on.
I am giving myself a break from the land of “I want to be in a relationship”. Instead I am exploring the terrain of “I enjoy relating”. These are two very different landscapes, althought the latter profoundly benefits the former, more than I realised. Like a river that runs through vastly differing topography, and nourishes all that is passes.
The land of relating is vast, open, without limit. For me, relating is primarily about my relationship with my self in the presence of another. Giving my self a big space to have all my feelings, doubts, fears, anxieties. Being able to hold the more difficult feelings and experiences with compassion and respect. Not worrying about what the other person is thinking of me. Not over editing what I say.
This is a big one in the dating world. How much of who we really are can we show the other? I guess time and space is (again) a prerequisite to really knowing someone. Slowly slowly. Except the whole dating scene has a frenetic quality to it. Even the website where I had my profile alerted me with an almost desperate, exclamation mark ending”You have a new fan!” and “He’s sent you a message!”.
And in the strange land of dating, like the opening credits of a Bond film, smoke, mirrors, veiled faces, nude women dancing in flames … err maybe not. In the strange land where things are not what they seem, people can be what they like. Claim to be younger than they are, chuck their less savoury baggage overboard, make themselves sound like hapless victims of their ex-partner’s madness (I have experienced all three frequently).
So using the analogy of landscape, the land of relating is more open, undulating, softer in its demands of us. It provides a space to turn up, relaxed without expectations. Which in turn means (from my experience) if someone is spouting untruths, these will rise to the surface like oil in a hotpot. If I am thinking less about me, how do I look, come across, “what do they think of me, me, me” and focusing more on the other person, with a genuine curiosity, the whole experience becomes something entirely different.
Rather than an interview that dates can often feel like, relating feels like a chance meeting. Like it was in the old days before the internet, when we still met partners in our daily lives. When we might look across a pub bar and see someone and then move over the say hello. We had to make the effort in real time, with a real person. Scary wasn’t it? But so delightful when it worked. I miss those days.
So dating is over. Relating is where it is at. Let’s see what happens next, shall we?
Update: Still single a year and a half later, and went back on line after after about a month of cold turkey. Relating experiment still on-going.