The precarious process of coupling.
When we meet someone we are interested in, when the chemistry of attraction kicks in, we can either start a dance or a game.
The dance is a back and forth of curiosity, of excitement, and revelations. I reveal who I am one step at a time, you reveal who you are one step at a time.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul,” said Martha Graham.
Do we move well together, does it feel good? Great! Together, we create something interesting and beautiful, fun, maybe sensual. We decide, one dance at a time, whether we want to have another dance. There is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.
Maybe we don’t find our rhythm, we’re a little out of synch, stepping on one another’s toes? Great, either we need to practice more, get some lessons, or consider finding a different dance partner. Every partner offers a different dance. Not every partner offers the full scope and range that complements our own. No hard feelings, if we are not a long term fit. There is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.
If we continue dancing together, we stay open, eager. We learn from one another. We refine the dance. It becomes more complex and graceful, more fun. If we stay together, and we are courageous, we may create something dazzling. We may see into one another so clearly, accept one another so wholly, love one another so deeply, that we dance magic moments in every day-to-day. We catch glimmers of bliss in the morning light, find ourselves held when we think we are falling, see ourselves reflected through eyes that recognize our spectacular failings and imperfections, but love us all the more for our vulnerability and our humanity.
“It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.” Xiaolu Guo
Too, there will be moments mundane, and missteps and falls, but if we dance with commitment, we help each other up, come back to harmony, again and again. The dance is founded in trust. There are no winners or losers, there is only creation and evolution. Our dance is unique: together we make it beautiful, precious, and powerful. We are better together.
On the other hand, instead of a dance, many of us start with a game. In the game, the stakes are high from the get go. Games have winners and losers, and nobody wants to be a loser. Whether I want you in my life for an hour or a lifetime, I want to win you over — your body or your heart, your belief in my brilliance, your affirmation of my existence.
You may not even know my name yet, but if I am seriously attracted to you, you suddenly have the power to reject me and it is my mission to make sure that doesn’t happen.
So what do we do, if we are playing the game? Some of us studiously avoid even glancing in the direction of the person we are interested in because the stakes are so high… we don’t want someone we are interested in to think we are interested….
Others of us go right into performance mode. What do I think you want me to be? Let me show you all the ways I am fabulous. I may start to construct a fantasy version of myself that will be hard to maintain in the long run.
Flirtation is sexy, lovely, and fun, but the banter needs to be consistent with who we really are, our values, and our character and not be based on our perception of what the other person wants to see. This is not an audition.
There is truth in the notion that a certain kind of pursuit enhances attraction, but we have misunderstood this concept. We have been taught to play games and keep our cards hidden. How many books and articles offer you “Rules” for dating and connecting, for hunting and capturing? A relationship based on games and rules, on predator and prey, on hiding what you are really thinking and feeling, and trying to second guess what the other person is thinking or doing, is not sustainable.
The pursuit is to know one another, not to capture one another. We are all deeply mysterious in the depth of our beings. We keep mystery and attraction alive by showing up as ourselves, courageously, without worrying about whether or not the other will want us. If the other isn’t charmed by us, the authentic package, that’s critical knowledge. Move on.
We can keep discovery and attention alive in our relationships without playing games. It is when we lose ourselves in the other person that we become less interesting and less precious. Our autonomy is what makes us sexy. The knowledge that we are choosing to be with someone but will not fall apart if that person does not treat us well or does not choose to be with us. That is sexy. A healthy wholehearted partner wants us when we are independently functioning human beings, comfortable in our own skin, and not desperate to “have” them (or “shape” them or “fix” them to be what we want).
If you are thinking about the person non-stop and second-guessing yourself about whether to call or text or to wait a day or three. If you are obsessing over whether or not someone likes you or what they are thinking, you have already lost yourself. You have made that person’s opinion of you more important than your own, you have started wanting and grasping but are too afraid to ask the truth for fear that it might not be what you want. When you play games, sooner or later, it begins to unravel.
“We dance to seduce ourselves. To fall in love with ourselves. When we dance with another, we manifest the very thing we love about ourselves so that they may see it and love us too.” Kamand Kojouri