Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Three – The Combat Zone

The dating site survey was completed along with a rather compelling profile. I mean, I’m a writer after all. And I set the privacy mode to “All members may view.” Game on!

There were lots of hits at first. Men seemed intrigued and sometimes quite forward about their desire to date me! Ego scores!

It was no shock a few hookup whores were lurking. Some wanted a younger woman to bear their children and had not even bothered to read beyond my photos. A few just stopped communication as if they were refugees in a state of war. Ego down.

This is the part where a film montage of dating absurdities rolls with a punk rock 80’s song.

I had no experience setting these boundaries, or how sometimes I had to get messy and mean. Dating was not for the weak. Dating requires a warrior, a champion, a goddamn barracuda in a lovely shade of pink!

Dating had its own culture, its own code, and I was catching on to the rules of engagement:

Rule 1: Never allow a stranger to come to your home. Especially when they say nice things but have pointy ears and sharp teeth.

Going to another person’s home, because you have mutual community ties, is fine. Unless you find out that he is Obsessive-Compulsive and stops to take another shower in the middle of the date.

Rule 2: Police Officers date. The one I dated was a fantastic human. In the end, he just did not have enough time for dating and lived too far away.

Rule 3: Never meet anyone you have not spoken to on the phone at least once. Two or three times is even better. It is amazing what you can learn from phone calls. Texting was not nearly as telling. Let me be clear: I am a strong player in the texting world. I love the flirtation of texts and the witticisms and the naughtiness of texting when you should be acting like a normal human being. But hands down, wordsmiths are outrageous masters of illusion and phone calls are several degrees closer to real.

I figured out one guy was a total stoner after 2 phone calls; he was the most adorable man but smoked weed nonstop. Nope.

Another guy held a job my teenager could have secured, but seemed to do nothing else. I asked him what he did with his time when he was not at work. He paused, then said, “Laundry.” That was it. He was incredibly good looking too, so it was painful to step away from Mr. No Life. He said he was hoping a woman would change all that. Phone calls are a precious opportunity to avoid a future divorce.

Rule 3: The way a man discusses what happened with his ex, or a past love, or how he “got here”, suggests volumes. Is this man a graceful diplomat, a childish tyrant, or a tortured civilian? If he talks too long about her, he isn’t over it. If he doesn’t talk at all, he might take himself too seriously. Does he think his loss is greater than the loss of others? Is he under the impression his pain is the totality of importance? Did he martyr himself for 20 years? I pay attention to what their experience might have been.

Rule 4: Dressing up and going to high end establishments was a mistake because within 5 minutes, I already knew if this was a no. Going fancy meant long hours of what to wear, and the time needed to doll up! Going fancy meant being hostage to a lot of waitstaff conversation and the time it takes to be elegant in public, typically a couple hours. This is all good if you have no friends and you just want company. But I was on a mission and had plenty of other things to do. Fancy was for a second or third date.

Rule 5: Men with a PhD and expansive careers, the type that travels the world and uses words I have to research are out there. They exist and they are glorious examples of how a girl can find her prince later in life. But my limited experience told me these men can also be rather repressed and shine only in certain arenas, not necessarily in my arena. For example, if an honest, rich, handsome man cannot make me laugh, I would prefer to live as simply and humbly as I do, alone. I would rather laugh with a homeless man under the bridge than live with a socialite genius who would be a far better match for another sort of woman. If you think it wasn’t painful to reject the potential of financial security with a man who would likely treat me very very well, you are mistaken. But I know who I am. And I absolutely MUST be laughing, dancing and being a total goof while I live a life of comforts.

By January, I had moved into jeans and a nice shirt for coffee dates only. 40 minutes tops. After 3 months, I had dated a chef, a farmer, a cop, a doctor, an author, a corporate attorney, and a photographer. There were zero second dates.

My spirit had not yet waned but I was beginning to wish women were an option. I had expected the Minnesota winters might be chilly. I had met some passionate, smart, talented men. I had been true to myself thus far. I was practicing the skill of saying no. I was learning that a really good person was not necessarily the right person for me. But a majorly dysfunctional person was a lesson I had mastered long ago. Perhaps I taught them a thing or two, but I doubt it. The cool part was that my intuition was en pointe. I was listening to my gut for the first time in my life. That was an awakening I had not imagined.

I had no idea what was coming next. And not knowing what was up ahead was ironically the impetus for hope.

The Plateau of Summer

The best part of summer for me is that 3-week period right after the 4th of July. A sweet long stretch of open softness. A plateau upon which we may tread naturally and calmly, or pause and bask under the vast skies with nothing but what we individually choose before society requires more.

We come upon a great big beautiful WHAT NOW?

Ralph Blume said, “As I cultivate my own nature, all else follows.” In keeping with such a wondrous philosophy, I encourage you to harken back to this wisdom and ‘cultivate your own nature’ now. What would that look like? Who do you wish to be now?

The essence of living a spiritual life implies synchronizing two acts: First, to do the footwork of manifesting what you really want, the actual completion of logical tasks. This could range from getting yourself some coffee to building schools in the Middle East. Second, to have faith that something divine is supporting you and will provide the momentum and outside variables required.

I do. And I trust.

I keep doing. And I keep trusting.

If I am not doing what is needed, I pay attention to the changes directed by my intuition, the “messengers” around me, my experiences including dreams and unexpected sparks of thought, and I keep going. This is how the divine keeps me between the lines on my path to success. I am always listening, watching and wondering.

Nonetheless, there is also a time to understand that what I do may be nothing. Sometimes I choose to be still or be patient or just mentally prepare. This is not a justification for procrastination, that absurd dysfunction steeped in fear or defiance. I am talking about knowing that timing is important and impulsive, sloppy action is not helpful.

My father used to describe my mother as peripatetic, a constant movement, a nomadic existence, and in her case, it was meant as “unable to stop moving.” He felt she was too nervously erratic.

My mother would likely suggest that his big cushy chair was a bog of muck where he could not be truly living.

I learn from my elders. I find the solid ground of the mesa’s flat top. I move, but I move slowly with intention.

I will spend each day now curiously observing myself as I meditate, meet strangers, walk the city alone, make myself a meal, listen to a friend, write, paint, and share my ideas.

I know my station, my post, my purpose and my plan. This is a result of spiritual living. I don’t have to rush, nor run in circles. I can cultivate my nature, which is to create and to bravely share my creations, and trust that all else will follow.