Awakening to Relationships
Thomas decides to go beyond reading and talking about relationships. He longs to try online dating and meet someone special. Although the dating scene is not new territory, his motivation for a lasting relationship has grown stronger.
With the support of his wellness coach, Thomas navigates the dating scene by asking two important questions:
What parts of me are showing up to heal?
Regardless of his internal and external efforts, Thomas will encounter undiscovered terrain as he exchanges conversations, feelings and energies with potential partners. The new frontier will likely stir up old heartaches, twisted thoughts, brokenness and fear. Thomas wisely enlists his coach - along with friends and family - to provide support and space to heal old wounds and stay encouraged. He also makes a promise to focus on staying present and resisting urges to indulge in sharing past/old hurts.
What beliefs belong in my intimate relationships?
Beliefs contribute to every phase of a relationship. They indicate where Thomas is willing to put his time, effort and money. Thomas’ coach offers a three-stage framework:
Stage 1. Re-entry
Thomas' coach asks him to draw a “Heart-Map.” This is a map with two big hearts drawn down the center of a piece of paper. One heart spells out the gifts Thomas wants to offer. The other heart contains gifts Thomas hopes for in his mate. The size of words inside the hearts clarifies which qualities matter most to him.
Here is Thomas' list for himself on the Heart-Map:
I offer eagerness not desperation. I offer appreciation not disappointment. I offer stability not uncertainty. I offer humor not rigidity.
Here is what Thomas seeks in another:
She offers openness not self-protection. She offers presence not hiding. She offers honesty not deception.
Saying hello to someone new online requires Thomas to prepare a written version of himself. The Heart-Map provides as a guide to help him fill in the blanks. He uses the roadmap to highlight his gifts and interests. The process helps him honor his unique qualities, and paints a clear picture of who he is.
Thomas recognizes dating includes a vital personal chemistry component. He calls this "spark radar.” If his inner radar rings positive while looking at a profile picture, Thomas’ curiosity and emotions will be piqued. He will then scroll for more background info (activities, beliefs, interests) to ascertain compatibility. Once Thomas meets with his new interest, he revisits the Heart-Map to look for additional clues.
When Thomas receives a “ping” in his online inbox from a potential dating interest, he internally checks in with his spark radar for clues to respond with either yes or no thank you.
Thomas’ dating re-entry means a daily commitment to practicing self-care. He imagines himself to be courageous. He bolsters himself against rejection by positive internal acknowledgment that he will find connection with a receptive heart when the time is right.
Stage 2. Progression
Progression is inherent in dating. If there is barely any movement, it is hard to gauge interest level and establish genuine intention. As mind and heart come together to share mutual purpose, the body syncs to the possibility of physical contact.
Coach and Thomas sort out a 4-step plan for physical connection.
Look in the mirror and smile at self every day. This is a smile of appreciation for life, and acknowledging excitement for the possibility of partnership.
Head to the gym three times a week to build body confidence and to work through dating's emotional and mental shifts. Weight-lifting and cardiac classes provide all-round release.
Say kind words to the body. Do not criticize or judge it. If we do not think lovingly about our body, our partner will also see flaws rather than beauty.
Get regular massages. Massage helps us get comfortable with being touched by another person in healthy and safe ways. Apply what massage provides to our relationship.
Stage 3. Boundaries
While Thomas is willing to invest in the “we,” he needs to be mindful about the needs and sensitivities of the “me.” For example, he spent three hours looking at online profiles which cut into his gym time. The faces and profiles soon morphed from being real living people into a blurry see of nothingness.
Thomas’ thoughts soon unravel. He is visited by an old internal story which tells him he is a dating failure and no one is going to love him. With his coach’s help, Thomas views his old story as illusion. He takes time to remind himself he is worthy to give and receive love. He deliberately schedules online viewing for only 30 minutes a day. He approaches viewing others' profiles with an open heart and appreciation.
Awakening to new relationships is not a hurried process. It is a path of healing and growth and celebrates the precious gift of connection.