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Article updated 2018
I was sitting on the couch of a good girlfriend of mine. Our toddlers were playing together, and the house, a cozy two-bedroom, smelled of the traditional Chinese food she had just made for dinner. Francisca’s older boy was in his room climbing and jumping on things, as 8-year-olds are known to do. Then her husband came home, and with as much love as a human male could muster, swept his younger son up in a big hug. The little boy looked satisfied and safe in daddy’s arms.
As Francisca and her husband shared an affectionate moment, murmuring to each other in their native tongue, I looked around this humble home, filled with the warmth and hopefulness of family. And I thought, How does one get from self-sufficient and single… to this?
While I have my own beautiful family now, I can still feel the jealous longing of my single self for a family that seemed so far away. Coupledom: Where was it? What if every other woman was lucky enough to have a great man in her life, but I was somehow destined to be the one no man wanted to love and be willing to give his life for?
Geez. What a gloomy, gray thought to have… Francisca giggled, bringing me back to the present, and filled me in on their exchange. But long after the play date had ended, I was still wondering, How does one get from single to a committed relationship?
Well, I believe that some couples are “meant to be.” There are a lot of things in love that we can’t explain — you know, certain good stuff just happens, and certain bad stuff just happens. We can’t explain everything, but we can help ourselves to get what we want. We can stop wasting time and find our “one and only.”
Here are two states of mind that will increase your confidence — and skill — in finding a good man faster:
1) The strength to habitually value connection with men — at almost any price. Not separateness, but connection… and not no-strings-attached sex, which isn’t necessarily connection because it’s usually an exchange (it’s short-term, we go into it looking to get what we want, and the man often does the same). We, humans, are capable of doing separateness, and we are capable of doing connection. I believe that one solid reason we stay single is that we “do” separateness more; we, unfortunately, trust it more than we trust connection.
2) The trust and almost-arrogance it takes to offer one’s feminine openness and responsiveness to the men of our choice. (Almost-arrogance means that you actually have to believe that your feelings, thoughts and responses in a given situation matter very much — as much as the other person’s, or in some cases more, depending on the moment.) Doing this is so powerful and palpable that men will be asking you out and willing to love you — even if you haven’t been on a date in years. The problem is that we don’t do it often enough.
Asking some women to offer their openness is like asking them to willingly jump off a cliff. It’s that scary. But unlike jumping off a cliff, this is scary and compelling. Your openness and feminine energy are the secret; Miranda Kerr or Naomi Campbell’s looks are not the answer when it comes to men.
Why don’t we practice openness? There are many reasons why, but the consequence is what concerns us most: We want communion… sacred, passionate sex… and a devoted, trusting relationship — but we don’t do the things that are necessary to have them. Yikes!
Let’s be real: True connection is hard. So when you don’t trust connection, offering feminine openness is hard. And it’s especially hard when the foundation you’ve formed to meet your needs consists of qualities that make you separate and successful. Those ways of meeting your needs can be addictive and hard to give up.
The reason true connection is hard, and lasting relationships aren’t as common as a blue sky, is that we are too lazy to connect consistently. We want our sense of importance and significance, dammit! We want to feel angry, right, important, in control, in power.
But oftentimes, we have far less control than we can possibly imagine. We do have the opportunity to influence things, but we can’t control as much as we lead ourselves to believe. To be clear: This is not a ticket to “go with the flow,” or surrender, sit back and let things work themselves out — because, of course, the opposite is also true: We can sometimes control more than we allow ourselves to think we can.
Becoming a mother brought the reality of this lack of control home to me like a knife to the heart. I will give of myself to my son and I will raise him, but I can’t control whether someone drives his plane into a mountain, who he picks as a wife (if he picks a wife at all), or how he directs his life energies once he is on his own. In a similar vein, we can try to control how we look and the shape of our bodies, and we can do this very well, but we can’t control whether other people still think we’re ugly. So what am I really saying?
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We are naturally sensitive to our own needs. Hence, we want individuality… importance… love for ourselves… attention for ourselves… the better end of the stick… control… the freedom to make decisions without thinking about how our actions affect a man… But at the end of that, we are left with just ourselves. There’s nothing beautiful or bigger than our single selves in it. It’s fun and great while it lasts, and then… just as fast as we gained a sense of individuality and importance, we lose that feeling and have to chase the next hit of control, individuality or self-importance.
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What it really means to value connection
Valuing connection isn’t as simple as “believing in connection.” It’s practicing it. It’s relaxing into and through the feelings of adrenaline that impel you to put up your defences, yell insults, and push men away…
Instead, for example…
- It’s having an argument, but relaxing into the pain and vulnerability of it rather than finding ways to manipulate the situation to get the better end of a compromise…
- It’s saying, “You are hurting me right now. But I still want to trust you,” to the right man…
- It’s standing up and living for something or someone other than yourself…
- It’s zoning in and feeling what it’s like to be the man you’re with, rather than zoning out…
- It’s about living your life — and showing up in relationships — as though being sensitive to the needs of the people you love is just as important as being sensitive to your own.
How can we get to a devoted relationship faster?
1) We surrender to the physical sensations of how connection feels in our bodies — and we choose connection every day, even when it’s uncomfortable; and
2) We choose responsiveness, which helps us respectfully sift through the men who aren’t right for us.
Surrendering to connection
If we are able to choose connection, then we naturally become closer to our high-value selves. And here I mean high value in the eyes of men who want a relationship; women will think you’re high value for all sorts of reasons that men never will. So for the purposes of being good at romantic relationships, we must consider what’s high value from a male perspective.
Often, our environment conditions us to go the anti-relationship route. Society teaches us to do things that make us feel the independence of our existence is all-important. And while being sensitive to our own needs is important, when we do it at the cost of connection and passion with a man our heart truly desires — it can have horrible consequences as we grow older and get set in our ways.
Of course, all of us have a different biology. For example, some women will be more driven toward goal-oriented activities than others, while some are more loving, in general, because they have more oxytocin. What you need to know is that there’s a bell curve, and women’s individual biologies, and the genes that cause them to be more feminine in their sexual energy, for example, or more loving, determine where they place on this curve.
So, you don’t have to pretend to want the things that other women want. You just must not lie about what your heart truly wants. Think about what you’d want if you had all the opportunity in the world… all the love… all the experience… all the attention… and all the men… And don’t pretend you don’t want something because you never thought you could have it anyway. That kind of practice — the practice of lying to yourself — has dire consequences (although it may originally have served a purpose).
We just have to think about the costs of our current ways of acting, the costs of the habitual ways we meet our needs — and whether they are conducive to having a passionate and trusting relationship or not. If we choose to fill our own needs in ways that make us separate, then we’re self-sufficient, which is great. But it’s at the cost of being the kind of women who naturally attract, keep, and seek out loving, close relationships — and thrive on them.
This is why it’s very important to value connection. Even if we’ve been alone for years, we must begin by making choices like these:
- Talking to the check-out person at the supermarket
- Owning a pet
- Connecting with other people’s young children
- Looking men in the eye, and appreciating their existence and what they have to offer
- Holding the gaze of other humans to elicit our own vulnerability and theirs, so that we condition ourselves for intimacy — and, of course, overcome our need for the (cold) comfort of separateness, which, as you already know, is easy to do by avoiding eye contact.
This is, quite simply, a tough gift to give yourself and men. Responsiveness is, in some situations, a dark feminine energy that isn’t valued in our society. To be responsive means we need to value our emotions — real emotions, not only the socially acceptable ones.
If you’re sitting in a restaurant, for example, and he says, “You look ugly,” you do not just look down at your plate of spaghetti and pretend that everything is OK. It means if he says something that hurts you, you respond with the vulnerability and anger that’s called for while maintaining connection with him… and you do this unless or until it becomes clear that he does not deserve it. And if he never deserved it in the first place, you can walk straight out of there. I’m giving you permission.
This is a far cry from our common response, which is to close off to a man (which can really hurt him), then go bitch to our girlfriends (like they can actually do something about it). They might give us some oxytocin by saying “Oh, what a jerk,” but they don’t cure the perpetual disconnection.
You see, by valuing our own emotions, we also value the well-being of men. In giving our responsiveness, (hopefully) we are motivated to keep doing it because we understand that for a man to become a better man in the relationship, he needs — and I do mean needs — your responsiveness.
This means that you do not zone out if you want a devoted and real relationship. With responsiveness, you start valuing being sensitive — to you and to him. Because it’s only when we care enough to connect, when we truly no longer want to be separate and alone, that we solve our own singledom.
So, as always, it’s your life and your choice. But those are my thoughts for you today.
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