That means you’re not making a good impression for later. If you’re worried that showing your real self will scare the other person away, go ahead and scare them away. Dating for partnership and Deep Dating follow different trajectories. Luckily, it’s easy to get from small talk to real talk. You’ve only ever played such games because you didn’t know what else to do. Instead of playing games, talk about what’s making you want to.If you’re doing normal dating, to find a partner, you’ll probably start to date with increasing frequency. All you need to do is talk about your experience, in the moment, of what it’s like to be with the other person. Expose the game you were about to play, and reveal your motivation for playing it. 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.You can get better and better at creating all different kinds of intimacy, with all different kinds of people. They look far less appealing than they did in their photos. Rejecting your date might be the best course of action. Intimacy, it turns out, does not require sex, or long-term partnership. Chances are high that you’ve had deeply significant, meaningful, fulfilling human interactions that were neither romantic nor sexual. Other times, you were moved or inspired, learned something new, felt deeply connected, helped someone. Some unique form of intimacy is possible between you and this other human being. If you reject the other person, you’ll never find out.
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.How does whatever history you’ve developed from past dates facilitate new possibilities for intimacy on this date? We’ve all learned to be concerned with impression management. If you’ve been trained your whole life to pretend, how do you drop the performance, and bring your real self to a date? Put the two together, and you’re on the road to closeness. When you attune to someone, you do your best to get what their experience is like, regardless of how much they tell you about it. But much of what you attend to when you attune is non-verbal.What new forms of support can you offer each other? Instead of progressing toward interdependency, commitment, and marriage, you are progressing toward mutual understanding, greater risk-taking, and more complete contact. If you want intimacy, you need the second approach. We’ve been taught to act cool, to look composed when we feel like a mess, to perform in order to be liked, to partition out the parts of ourselves we show from those we hide. You open your arms and move toward someone for a hug.It just means you need to put up a couple No Trespassing signs. For instance, sex might be out of bounds, but physical affection still well within your boundaries.If you never set the boundary, you won’t be able to risk affection, because you won’t want to be misread.