How To Love Dating

Here are some easy tips (but you gotta do 'em sister, not just read 'em!)...and a really wackadoo one for good measure. After all, it's still me. 🥸

Bear is my version of Big. Journeying with one person can be intense: It kicks up all our “stuff".” But dating can and should be sparkly and fun! Let’s get you there!

Hey!

I love boys. I just fucking love them. I love hanging out with them. I love learning their stories. I love the physical aspect of the relationship. And yes, while I love the person I’m with now beyond measure, I’ve also really enjoyed the men I’ve dated in the past. I loved being single and on the make. I even loved being married and on the make but…that’s a whole other story and luckily I can see that chapter with more compassion for myself now and gratitude for my then-husband’s patience and forgiveness. But the fact remains that I really enjoy dating (maybe a testament to my fun, safe dad!) so when I read KP’s question on the thread, I wanted to get to that one first:

“Teach me how to love dating! It’s so exhausting, even when I’ve stopped getting my hopes up like I used to. A drain on my time, energy and money. I recognize it as a necessary process but I’m really over it. I was with my ex-husband for all of my 20s, so starting at 30 was my first time really dating, ever. Tell me how I can enjoy this! – KP”

You nailed the problem, KP! You said dating is a necessary process. It’s exhausting. Sounds like you’re describing a shitty job…an obligation. Do you remember how fun and non-exhausting it was to have a crush on someone in Middle School? When having a boyfriend was hardly an expectation much the less a necessity? Let’s get you there, my sister!

I know – easier said than done. But if this idea resonates with you, I have a plan.

First, let’s take dating off the table completely for now. You gotta shake it off, girl. You may still be carrying the energy of disappointment and loss from your last relationship or whatever groove you and your ex fell into. (Maybe a less romantic and more task oriented vibe – I’m making it up – but there was some negative groove obviously or else you would still be together!) You need a factory-reset: Back to awe and amazement. 🤩🤩🤩

A lot of people stay in the dating pool even when they’re not feeling good about it. Think about it from this funny perspective. If you’re a kid and you’re having an awful time in a real pool – you’re cold, you’re bored, you feel ignored by the other kids playing in the pool…why force yourself to stay, right? Get the fuck out of the pool and recalibrate. I have the same advice for you – get the fuck off the apps and recalibrate.

I know for a lot of us there’s that sense of tick-tock every day, week, month, and year that goes by and you’re not in a relationship. It’s a whole day, week, month, and year that you’re farther away from your Happily Ever After. But newsflash: There is no Happily Ever After. That’s a bullshit story that Disney marketers have created. The only thing that’s real is Happy Now - like moment by moment. And if you’re not Happy Now inside the dating pool, then let’s get you Happy Now outside it. Stop chasing some fantasy future and instead create an awesome present. Even people in long-term relationships have to focus on Happy Now or else they have shitty marriages or end up divorced. (Yet another tough lesson I’m happy to have learned on your behalf. You’re welcome. 😉)

Here are some ideas (easy and less-easy options) that really work for me:

1-Indulge Your Inner Artist: You may be thinking, Ummm…I’m not an artist. (Although with this bunch, probably not!) Your flowing creativity is an important part of your life force and you need to make sure it’s unobstructed. When I’m generous with my own inner artist, I’m simply a tastier, more lush version of myself. There’s a group of readers of this newsletter (Hey girls! 🥰) that I did Julia Cameron’s 12-week Artist’s Way process with this year. And sure, you can do it with a group of friends, too. But you can also borrow some of the concepts and include them in your routine without the big committment. For starters, write morning pages every day (three pages of long-hand stream of conscience writing the very second you wake up –sleep with the notebook and pen next to your bed and set your alarm 25 minutes earlier). You do this EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. It’s like clearing the clogs of your psyche. Another good one: Go on an Artist’s Date once a week. Do something alone that you love. Something you’ve been craving but have deprived yourself of because of time, scheduling constraints or simply because you’re waiting to do it with someone else. It could be going vintage shopping, to an exhibit, seeing a garden or exploring a new neighborhood. Shut down your phone and open up your senses.

2-Go for a walk – every day: I know this may seem like such a luxury. But that’s the whole point. Surround yourself in luxury…real luxury that matters. My bestie, David, and I go for a walk every morning. We call it Walk Therapy. Some days we hit Riverside Park but most days we go on adventures in Central Park. And each day, at least once, one of us just grabs the other one’s hand because we’ve spotted something just so breathtaking, we lower our heads in reverence. Truly. Even in Manhattan, Mother Nature is just so awe-inspiring. We always take pictures even though we know the pictures will never capture what we experienced in our bodies and souls. And of course, we are always deep in discussion about what each of us is processing in our internal lives. This mix of talking and secular prayer really sustains me. You brush your teeth every morning. You eat multiple meals every day. Walking in nature is just as important but we edit it out as a luxury or a hobby for the weekends. Do it, my sister. Do it. And if you can do it with a beloved friend, all the better. Both of your lives will change. David and I didn’t have time for this either, but when we started to feel the effects, there was no going back. It’s like deodorant. You need it! 🤣

3-Deepen your relationships: Getting comfortable with intimacy is so important. Yes, you can sit there and talk about Squid Game ad nauseum. You can talk about that fucker at work. And yes, those endless political discussions contribute to keeping us from connecting on an intimate level. I like to use the time with my friends to swim in deep waters together. I learn so much about myself. I learn about my friends. I want you to start doing the same if you’re not already doing it. One tool that can make it easier is Esther Perel’s new card game, “Where Should We Begin.” I don’t play it as a board game per say, but I grab a random stack whenever I’m going to meet a friend for dinner. I even brought the game when the Bear and I recently went on a vacation. It’s just so easy to fall into negative or superficial communication traps. This keeps the conversation flowing toward intimacy…and yes, it can be uncomfortable at first but aren’t we all just seeking the road back to connection? The more connected you are with yourself and the people you already love…the more you can show your true self once you’re out there dating. Instead of being superficial with guys you meet, you’ll have the emotional musculature to talk about real things. When we get to know people on this level, no one is a waste of time. And once you’re comfortable in these types of conversational spaces, you’ll be better able to recognize whether a guy is a good match for you before you even take a conversation off the app.

4-Get to know your own body: Masturbate. Masturbate often. Masturbate when you have your period. Learn what gives you pleasure. Vibrate in pleasure. Mic drop.

5-Get Uncomfortable: This is a weird one. I’m sorry. But I think it’s important. Background: So, the parent I have the most healing to do with is my mother. Most specifically, I have always felt unseen. As you know, I don’t consider this bad parenting – it’s best-she-could-do parenting. Basically, my mom was so wrapped up in her own “stuff” that she just didn’t have the bandwidth to really be available to me. And so in the way Earth School always works, I manifest significant others who are similarly emotionally unavailable so it can come up for healing. So right now I’m in that zone and really feeling those feels. And it’s…hard. I don’t need to tell you, you know what it feels like when your old emotional baggage is getting kicked up by life. The bodily sensations it causes are so uncomfortable. (If you even allow yourself to feel them – many people just grab an edible, glass of wine or a donut when they feel the sensations coming on). But anyway, last night, I was really feeling it, so I zipped out to my mother’s place and I did these two exercises Mark Wolynn (author of It Didn’t Start With You) prescribed for me. Buckle your seat belt.

The first one: I put my head in her lap (David and I call this whole series of exercises “Snatchfest”- sorry, I know that’s crude but if you can’t use humor crude with your best friend who can you be crude with??) and she pets my hair and says different versions of the following script: “Atoosa. I’ve got you. I’m going to stroke your hair until you feel safe.” Now to be clear, this is not the level of intimacy I have with my mom. If reading this makes you cringe, it’s times ten for me. So yes, the experience is super uncomfortable because the whole point of doing this exercise is that your mother is not attuned with you. The petting feels like I’m a cat whose fur is being pet in the wrong direction. It feels downright awful. But as uncomfortable as it feels, I stay in it, I stay in it, I stay in it. For me, what happens is I come up with ways of soothing myself through the misattunement. I construct a breathing technique with some visual component to it in the moment. And eventually, (the first time it took me 30 minutes), it gets easier and you start to feel good. I stop when the negative charge is over and the feeling is more pleasant.

Then we move onto the second exercise, which is an energetic simulation of breast feeding. I know. I know. I’m laughing too. Just stay with me. (And btw - I also can’t fucking believe I do this stuff – but I am 100% committed to healing and while there is no magic bullet, what I’m sharing really does work.) Okay so my mother and I sit in chairs across from each other. We grab wrists (I’m grabbing hers from underneath), my shoulders are back, chest open and I’m pulling her wrists from my heart. Her script:

“Take. I have enough. Take. When you were little, I was distracted. When you were little, there were too many people living in our home. You needed me and I couldn’t give you what I wanted to. But I can now. Take. I’ve got enough. Pull in more energy. You don’t have to do this on your own. You don’t have to be independent. I’m here now. We can attach now. We couldn’t then. But we can attach now. I’m not weak.”

I keep pulling and taking in energy until I feel complete. You keep your eyes soft and mouth gently open with your tongue relaxed during both exercises. And yes, this script is specific to my particular woundings, but I have a suggestion for how you can tailor make it to yours. Keep reading.

You might be wondering how the fuuuuuuuuuck do I even approach something like this with my mom?  Honestly? You’re the biggest block – that thing inside of you that’s activated right now that’s like “Hell-to-the-no?” Yeah. It’s just an invisible fence – just blow it open and approach her. Say something like, “I’ve been learning about attachment issues and I think we have one. I heard about this exercise. Will you try it with me?” You may want to learn more about attachment styles in this really easy-to-follow course Attachment 101 that Mark Groves and Sivly Khoucasian put together at Create The Love. You can tweak the script for your parent based on your own attachment style and circumstances that contributed to it.

The big takeaway though is, when I do these two exercises, it shifts things very deeply. I feel really lucky that my mom is alive, and I can do this work with her. We did it last night and it really gave me the attachment I needed from the original source (her!) and left me with so much clarity about my relationship. We project so much of what we needed and didn’t get from our parents onto our significant others. It really complicates things. And, of course, it also taints the dating process which is why I’m sharing this with you.

And I just want to reitterate, these exercises are not remotely easy or pleasant for me. Last night when I went to my mom’s place with all my good intentions (“I’m going to Snatchfest!!” I gleefully told all my friends on the car ride over), I immediately felt triggered by our small talk and I was sitting there thinking how the hell am I going to put my head on this person’s lap and let her pet me? But this is a form of self-love for the girl inside me who desperately needs her Mommy. I had to energetically push through the armor that I’ve created to protect myself emotionally from her. I had to do it for the girl inside me. You can do anything for the girl inside you. She deserves it. You deserve it. We deserve it.

So there you have it: A few different thoughts about how to resource yourself so you’re in a better place to enjoy dating – some easier than others. But all a commitment to yourself. A commitment to loving yourself instead of seeking that love elsewhere. The more you fill up your own love tank, the more fun you can have with dating. You want to be the kid who is excited to play in the pool with the other kids. You know that kid! The one who gets that mischievous look in her eye before she cannonballs right into the center. That’s how I want you to enter the dating apps! Here I am motherfuckers! Let’s play! From that place, dating is a super fun exploration of interesting new people.

My Essentials: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

So please, come at me with more questions! If you’re going through it, chances are, I have too! I will keep answering dating questions, so keep asking them on the dating thread. And remember, I’m here for you 24/7, as always, at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa

The soundtrack of my 🤍🖤❤: