Withhold your real self unless you think they might be “the one”. If you decide they’re not, come up with a pretext to get out of it. Imagine someone you like has invited you on a first date, or that you’ve invited them. As you feel more and more deeply connected, you come to trust one another. Eventually, the power of your connection changes you, makes you more into the person you’ve always wished you could be. All of this has happened in a single encounter, a few hours together.
You’re likely to take risks, to tell the truth, to go as deep as possible. The point is not to prohibit yourself from having multiple dates with the same person. But think about how rarely anyone acknowledges them out loud.
The “only date” rule is the spiritual foundation of Deep Dating. The more you can thwart the normal process of building expectations about the future, the more present you can be. Instead of grasping to reach a goal, you’re surrendering to the process. We are ashamed of our struggles, our limitations, and our imperfections, and we fear that if people knew what we were really like on the inside, they wouldn’t want us. We think we have to stop being our real selves to get people to like us. Do they light up, contract slightly, take a deep breath, turn slightly to the side?
You have to trust that somehow you’ll get what you need, that you won’t be alone, that you’ll be fulfilled. But the future was never under your control anyway. Figure out what they seem to want, and give it to them. Act like the person you think they want to be close with, and keep acting. Sometimes your fears come true, and someone, in fact, doesn’t want you. Sometimes, however, you show someone everything, and they still think you’re groovy. If you’re paying attention, you know whether to warmly embrace them in response, or to jettison the hug in favor of a hand briefly clasping their shoulder. Then you even respond to how they respond to your response.
I don’t care how good you are, how honest, or how noble. The real problem is that you’re postponing, sacrificing the date that’s happening now on the altar of potential future partnership. Everything frustrating, discouraging, and disappointing about dating comes from this future-orientation. You don’t need to organize your dates around a possible future. As a result, they can feel what’s beautiful about you. Creating intimacy is a skill you can get better and better at. Something about the way they move through the world, or something they can see that you can’t.
And you’re never going to squeeze magic out of a checklist. You’re really dating for the magic, but you’ve learned to play games to get yourself a partner, and every bit of game playing shuts the magic tap off a little tighter. You start off by letting yourself be taken by their unique beauty. In turn, you do your best to let the other person see you. You didn’t postpone anything in service of some potential future. Deep Dating is the art of creating intimacy right now, today, on this date.
To attract a potential partner, or pursue one, or hold onto one, you have to play games. Now you remember that dating is really a primordial quest for the magic of intimacy. For some mysterious reason, it will be the only date you’ll ever have. If you can find out what the secret is, it will change you forever.
If you’ve been dating to get a partner, you’ve been lying. When you got fooled into believing that the purpose of dating was to land a partner, you learned to date by a set of implicit rules. Maybe it’s in the way they inhabit their body, or in how they look at you.
You think you’re on the hunt for a suitable partner. Fail to check them off and you’ll waste your time with the wrong person. You’re dating because you’re on a primordial spiritual quest. Following each of the six new rules below helps you to get unusually close, unusually fast. The quality of the encounters determines the quality of the relationship. Unless you can get close enough, unless you can really get in with each other, you won’t have a chance.
You’ve been programmed to believe the person in front of you is a kind of checklist. Worse, you might repeat the same mistakes you made in your last relationship. You just want to find “the one”, and you deserve to. When somebody you like flirts with you, when you have a new crush, when you start to fall for someone, it stirs your soul. Would you want a long-term partnership that consisted of unsatisfying exchanges: small talk, cautiousness, testing, pretending, withholding? So why would you want a short-term partnership that’s made of that stuff? You can’t wait around for the relationship to develop slowly over time.
Once you and your date understand each other’s limits, you can fully enjoy the territory that remains open to you.