Dating Without Masks

Transformational work is about growth in consciousness and what she calls "becoming the most you can be, being the best you can be. Rather, this is looking beyond the mask and getting connected to their feeling. That's the basic theory, but what was it like in practice? It all starts with a fun little game where you have to count with a partner, only replacing a number with a sound. Here, "Two", was replaces with "Quack", which made me lose count.

Everyone laughed as it got sillier as this first exercise went on. However, there were more exercises that could be considered new age. One exercise was that we had a "magic sack" and we had to pull what we could about ourselves and what it meant to me. I love photography and exploring London and what I learned from these two, so I talked about how I perfect my craft. The feedback was complimentary and quite sweet, with one girl saying: It was quite telling about some of the people who came to these workshops.

Naturally, being held in a Yoga centre in Belgravia, it felt like I was in an episode of The Modern Parents. A cartoon strip about two new age parents and their long suffering kids, in which the parents bring their kids, Tarquin and Guinevere who's a boy, by the way in the most politically correct and green way as possible. I was hearing buzzwords like "sustainability" and even someone being involved in a community apple press.

Some of the conversation was interesting though, because everyone wanted different things from a relationship. I never gave what I wanted any thought, as I'm already in a relationship with my parents, sister, nephew and my cute little kitty cat, Lily. When asked what we looked for in a relationship, which having never thought of before, I took the opportunity to talk about my relationship with Lily.

It sounds like you have a lovely relationship. When Jan asked us what we admired in the opposite sex, which was something I never even thought of. Where do you begin? The only answer I could come up with was that after all half our species has put up with for twenty thousand years, they can get back up again. Deep inside all of us is a universal desire to be seen, heard, accepted and loved, by someone who remains steadfastly and passionately loyal to us, despite our flaws, and even our worst mistakes.

And this desire sits right alongside a fear of being seen and heard, and then summarily rejected. If we get hurt a few times along the way, particularly by those who made a commitment to love us and stand by our side no matter what, it is often very difficult to put ourselves out there again, particularly in such a vulnerable way. So we wear masks. I had this in mind when I completed my own online dating profile, after my son left for college, and I decided that I wanted to give love another try.

And yet a review of many online profiles of presumably full-time employed middle-aged adults with children would have us believing so. In fact, many of us treat dating like a job interview where we post our best photos, wear our most flattering clothes, and put our best collective feet out there. Wearing a mask or masks may seem like the best method for preventing re-injury, but the problem is that when we wear masks to protect our hearts, we are hiding our authentic selves, which makes it very difficult to find someone who is truly compatible with us.

Not wearing a mask requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Unresolved hurt is often a barrier to vulnerability, and often manifests in anger as we imagine all of the ways that we might be hurt again. In fact most often, what may seem like someone on the verge of hurting us, is really them wearing a mask to protect their own heart. Letting others see our vulnerable sides when the time is right draws people to us, while anger and defensiveness pushes them away.

So how do we achieve this difficult feat — letting go of past hurt and anger so that we can become vulnerable, and ultimately find love again? Letting go of anger requires forgiving, which is very difficult since, often, forgiving feels a little too much like condoning the bad behavior that broke our hearts. But if we want to find love again, we need to take a risk, become vulnerable and face our demons.

The first steps toward letting go of anger is to admit that we have it, owning our feelings, and finding their true home, often in the past.


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