This is Part 3 of my online dating "docu-blog"... So, the reader may want to start here... Going to Pick Some Greens: An Online Dating Profile. Then navigate to here... Going to Juice Some Weeds: An Online Dating Profile, Part 2... And now you're all caught up.
My Vehicle: The Conscious Dating Network
After my first submission of this docu-blog was published, I thought I'd send the link to Jill Crosby... Here, I'll let the site introduce her for me...
"Jill Crosby is the owner/founder of the Conscious Dating Network, a conglomerate of conscious/spiritual/green dating sites that make up the largest exclusively "conscious'' dating network on the Internet. Having been a consultant in the bricks and mortar dating industry for 9 years Jill has a unique skill set and background for the online dating industry. She is an inspirational public speaker, hypnotherapist, metaphysician, workshop/retreat leader and facilitates Wild Dolphin and Whale Swim Retreats for Singles. She has a strong connection with the dolphins and whales and enjoys leading groups through transformational meditations and guided imagery."
After a couple of e-mail exchanges with Jill, it seemed to me that we are pretty much on the same page concerning the journey of self-exploration via relationships. Whether online or in person, dating - as in any relationship that involves interaction - can be a journey of self-discovery, self-realization and / or self-enrichment...unless we choose to be stuck on a hamster's wheel, doing and saying the same things that have kept us in a dating and relationship rut, always attracting the same type of energy we tend to put out.
Through online articles and interviews Jill shares her thoughts, visions and sage perspectives taken from hers and others' experiential lessons. I've enjoyed everything of hers that I've read and listened to so far, probably because they validate my own reflections and lessons learned over the years.
However, this docu-blog is from my reflections of my own experiences. It is intended to inspire the reader to take full responsibility for their own journey. This is how I've perceived the universal aspects of this relationship journey.
We launch out in search of a love we think we'll recognize as soon as we see it... that long lost love our souls have been yearning for ever since hormones first ruled the planet... that love which fairy tales, daydreams and fantasies are made of... only to discover that when in a relationship with any significant other, we really only experience one aspect of that brand of "love"... the chemical particles that bounce around between sight, sound, smell and touch... Oh yeah, the touch...!
Needless to say, to truly define true, unconditional love requires experiencing it. And even then, there are no words to do it justice. So, we often settle for sub-standard brands and definitions that leave out the experience of truth. The truth is that love is not a feeling, an emotion, an act, a state of being or even an experience. Love simply is... I am love...You are love... We are love... and as we are expressing ourselves through feelings, emotions, actions, states of being, and experiences, love is expressing itself. In circular reasoning, therefore, to define true unconditional love requires defining one's own nature, and to define one's own nature requires experiencing and embracing one's own sense of self, in all its singularity, duality, plurality, finality and immortality.
So, why then does the search of some for the one seem to never end? The answer is both simple and complex. How can we experience our own true nature when we've only experienced a portion of ourselves through the limited perceptions of those around us? As we move along on this journey, we can experience more of ourselves by interfacing and interacting with life itself. And life is all inclusive: other beings, nature and the forces within, the plant world, the animal kingdom, the spirit world, and the cosmos working in unison to bring us opportunities for more experience and expression. Okay... shaking my head now as I break out of my philosopher's reverie and back to this reality...
The Adventure Begins...
Exactly how does what I just said relate to what I'm going to say next? What about this online dating adventure? What about this journey to the center of me? How have I experienced myself since I first began this particular journey? Well, when I first started online dating years ago, I would read profiles of those who first contacted me. Hmmm, I'd think... this guy really thinks I'm funny, he likes my profile, my hair, my photos or something in particular about what I wrote that captured his attention. He doesn't have the best photo, but heck, maybe I should return the favor and check him out. After all, if I got his attention just by being me, there must be something I will like about him.
Wow...! Little did I realize that by simply viewing another's profile, I'd be opening the door for dialogue and an interfacing / interacting which would ultimately reveal more about me to me. And much less did I realize that I was also setting myself up for a socio-emotional challenge that would require a little discipline on my part and the ability to shut down my feelings for others' feelings.
Fast forward to years later... Having operated mainly from this stance - from the head and not the heart - I found myself partially stepping back into my former mindset of worrying about offending someone if I didn't return a particular favor, or worse yet, thinking it was somehow my job to make them feel worthy of attention. After all, doesn't everyone deserve to find love and to be loved? And I certainly don't want to come off as a snob.
I had to push "replay" on that one in my head. Did I hear myself that time...? I didn't want to come off as a snob. So, this really was never about them... it was about me and my "image". I had to snap out of that old pattern of thinking long enough to realize that I am not the sole provider of every man's need to love and to be loved. Who was I in some past incarnation...? A Courtesan who had many lovers to attend to and no one to call her own.
Music Man, My Romantic Mirror
Nevertheless, I did step out of my comfort zone of what I'd normally find safe, long enough to peel back layers of external profiles, away from their photos and profiles and beyond their words, in order to find something of more intrinsic value. I gave myself permission to imagine what it would be like to step into the world of that man and to love him within the context of his life. So, my first introduction to someone beyond the "free hello" was to a world-traveling Australian Music Man who is quite the poet, lyricist, romanticist and dreamer, so ripe and ready to find someone new to be the object of his affections. As a singer-songwriter myself, I am naturally attracted to other musicians, albeit, not necessarily always in a romantic way.
From the start Music Man was showering me with his poems, song lyrics and literally, files and files of his professionally recorded songs. There was a bit of deja-vu, though, as I recalled a former long-distance lover, who only two years ago had written at least ten songs for me over a period of the two years we had communicated, ever since our first flirtations within our YouTube channels.
Until then, no one had ever written me a love song, not even my former husband of 19 years, an exceptionally talented musician and singer-songwriter. And although several of my own poems and songs had been inspired by past loves, I was moved by the gesture of someone doing this for me for a change, even though when we finally met in person, it became clear to me that this relationship had been an illusion slowly melting into delusion.
I realized then how much more important the character of a man is to me than his talents. It seemed to me that he was expressing his temporal thoughts, feelings and emotions via the best language he knew... his music. It was not about me, but about him and his expression all along. And that was verified by his reaction to my choice to end the relationship after we finally met in person and spent enough time together for me to realize that I had been more in love with the idea of him, rather than him.
Now on this dating site two years later, here is an accomplished singer-songwriter who has a fairly high level of notoriety in Paris and Australia. I am flattered beyond words, yet not so sure I know why he chose to bestow these personal gifts and talents upon me. So, I caught myself raising my guards a bit, so as not to do a repeat performance of the last love affair with my last musician lover. Nevertheless, as I tuned in more to my own gut reactions and less to the person on the other side, the thought had occurred to me, what if we are only attracted to the idea of each other? I soon realized that these thoughts and concerns were born from all of my previous experiences with men who had captivated me with their gifts and talents.
And it finally dawned on me... All at once, I saw myself in my reflection of Music Man - who just so happens to have the same astrological sun, moon and ascendant signs as I do... Mirrored traits are wonderful reflectors. I realized that I was somehow looking through my rearview mirror at a reflection of my former self, when I had done the same thing with others for whom I had a strong attraction. Was I trying too hard because I wanted to show that person my level of commitment or because I thought I'd be loved back for what I can do, rather than for who I am...? Did I even know who I was at that point in time and that my talents and skills do not define me?
These were some tough questions for me to face off with myself, yet I knew I could now understand Music Man through this reflection of myself and without judgment, because I had journeyed closer to that part of me who had done the same thing. I now know that this is not the space I currently occupy, and this is not the match I am seeking. Just as I knew that having a chat on Skype would help "weed" out many of the potential matches, I knew that I'd know for sure after just one meeting. Although I did, in fact, enjoy our chat, I checked in with my gut, and it was sending me clear signals that Music Man and I could interact as friends, but friendship is the boundary I must set up around this relationship.
I graciously thanked him for sharing so much of himself and his talents, yet I did not feel this was a love match for me. And although his immediate response was not quite what I had expected in terms of appreciation for the times we had chatted via e-mails, Facebook and Skype, he exposed a bit of a jaded attitude towards online dating, as he expressed his disappointment in the superficiality of the members he had interactions with.
Was he referring to me...? I didn't ask, because I wasn't willing to engage in what could have been perceived as a defensive comeback. However, I did respond that I was sorry that his online experience did not meet his expectations and that I wished him the best in his search and wouldn't mind following him on Facebook and knowing that his life is progressing towards realizing his dreams. This interaction with Music Man was more cause for reflection, that until I learned to embrace my own intrinsic value for who I am and not for what I could do, only then would I set a vibration in motion to attract another who could support my sense of self-worth with his own sense of conscious awareness.
Mountain Man, Polyamorous Lover
Another man lives "off the grid" in Utah, which made me think of how wonderful it would be to escape the mad rush of people trying to keep up with the status quo. My Mountain Man and I would snuggle up by a warm hearth in a cabin built by his own two hands. We'd grow all of our own produce and spend our nights in our own secluded world of lush green contentment and lovemaking... Wait a minute now... Push pause... Rewind and replay that profile. This particular Mountain Man states that he's seeking a polyamorous relationship. Well now, exactly what does that mean? This just may be the deal breaker for me, before there is even a deal to speak of. Does this mean I'd have to share? Perish that thought! Considering it is Utah, are we talking Big Love as in communal living with other wives? Alright, Joanne... play this hand out and find out what cards he's holding before you make a snap judgment here.
So, after a couple of entertaining e-mails of friendly banter and verbal sparring, the opportunity presented itself for my curiosity to be relieved. Because of a particular comment he had made about me desiring to be the center of attention with my collection of a "harem of men" following me, I knew I'd have to defend my own honor. This coming from the man who was open to a polyamorous lifestyle? Was my B.S. detector sounding the double-standards alarm, or should I offer him an opportunity to define polyamorous? I was so relieved to finally have a phone conversation that put things in perspective in more ways than one.
By his own admission, Mountain Man's adoption of a polyamorous lifestyle was born from his desire to subdue his tendency towards jealousy and possessiveness when in a relationship. Upon further investigation, we seemed to see eye to eye on the point that when in a committed relationship with a woman like me or any woman, for that matter, a sexually polyamorous man wouldn't be able to afford the time or the energy to attend to the needs of an indefinite number of women. I humorously imagined how many times the poor guy would have to drive off his mountain every time one of his women craved something special from the nearest restaurant or food store.
I've often thought that it's not what someone says or does that defines them, but what's more important is the motive or intention behind their words and their actions. Through interfacing with Mountain Man, I was able to peer beyond my own shallow definition of polyamorous and come to the revelation that I, too, am polyamorous... in a sexually monogamous way. I understood Mountain Man's intention is to be open to love and giving love to more than one person, and more importantly to allowing the one he loves above all others to have the freedom to love others, as well.
I understand now that the term doesn't have to be of a sexual nature. And even if it were, it would mean having forged a prior agreement with one's significant other, that they would allow each other polygamous sexual encounters. Putting it into a pistachio nutshell, perhaps this type of arrangement would work for me in another time and on another planet, but in this incarnation, I have chosen to be a monogamous, heterosexual woman desirous of finding mutual attraction and intense chemistry in a monogamous, heterosexual man.
I am a natural born lover... I love people. I love sharing love. I love the feeling of walking through life with the freedom to express this love in a non-possessive way. That's not typical for a Scorpio woman, however, when in a committed monogamous relationship, I have discovered that the ability to transcend the feelings of jealousy and possessiveness is a blissful space to occupy. And thanks to Mountain Man on my path, my journey led me to the part of me that makes no apologies for my desire to keep the flow of love with humanity, while still being open to that one special someone with whom I wish to share my bed.
Caveman, Tasmanian Rebel Devil
Then there's Caveman, nicknamed by me (probably not so original) for his profession of being a cave tour guide... Like Mountain Man, that long-haired, hippy look takes me back to my teen years when I was attracted to the societal rebel who took a stand against status quo. Caveman lives even more off the grid than Mountain Man... and in Tasmania, no less... a rebel devil...? He represents the adventurer and the alpha male whom many independently strong women secretly desire to provide them with protection and security. He's the one who strives to save the planet from the cruelty which has ravaged and raped Mother Earth. He wants to lead a coup d'etat to overthrow the elite who hold the gold and return us to a life of harmony, peace and respect for nature. Of course, whether or not this is actually what's going on inside of Caveman's head is beside the point. This is what was happening in my world. Oh, and top that with his talent for music, as well as that Australian accent I enjoyed in Music Man... Did I have a winner here or what...?
Nevertheless, there were several failed attempts to Skype, more or less because of time constraints and variables. In the space of the time it took to receive and reply to each other's e-mails, I was carrying on communications with an inbox full of new arrivals. I thought this was the Universe's way of telling me that Caveman was not my "Destiny" card... for whatever the reason. So, I "friended" Caveman instead, as he is still an interesting human being with a unique take on life and the planet. And as time would soon make it clear, there was a reason we never got to that Skype meeting "on time". I often ask the Universe to bring me exactly what will serve my highest purpose and not what I think I want at the moment I'm faced with options. I've learned how to "opt out" of my immediate desires in favor of personal development.
The 39-Year-Young Age Factor
Of course, that could only happen right after my encounter with the age factor. I met 39-year-young Professor PhD of English, also a seasoned writer, who was attracted by my profile. He initiated the conversation after I had curiously peeked at his profile after he had viewed mine... What a curious web of curiosity this can become. I coyly played off the flirtation with "I'm flattered, but I'm afraid you'd have to ask my adult kids' permission to date me." Cougar hunting or not, this young man was not about to give up that easily. He reasonably argued, "But love is ageless", while I arguably reasoned, "Love may be ageless, but the skin isn't... I'm more concerned that once reality sets in and gravity does its thing, I'd have to deal with your mid-life crisis and perhaps a wandering eye, or worse yet, your unhappy feelings of entrapment."
After those initial e-mail exchanges, we had several hours of phone conversations over the span of two days. Maybe it was the fact that I talked incessantly that first night, but I literally put him to sleep in the middle of telling him a story. Maybe I was talking incessantly out of a little discomfort, but this exchange was obviously over and reminiscent of telling bedtime stories to put my kids to sleep when they were little. I hung up as soon as I realized that his breathing had gotten heavier... not in any kinky way, mind you. However, the short-lived relationship wasn't over until he texted me an apology the next morning.
Slightly embarrassed by myself, but not at all offended by him, I flashed back to a few times in the past when I had fallen asleep on the phone with men I had been dating who were doing much of the talking. However, I played off the apology with who knows... maybe my voice hypnotized you... So, if you have a strange urge to quack like a duck the next time you hear me, you'll know why.
Although I secretly entertained thoughts of his coming to visit and exchanging more than words with me, I knew deep down that in the long run and for the purpose of a LTR, the age factor would always be an issue for me. I realized that once again, I'd have to edit my targeted age range in my dating profile. It may be true that love is ageless, but here we go again... talking about the "L" word. Enough said about ageless love, as I venture closer to the center of me, I realize that with age comes experiential learning and spiritual maturity. After having had more than one experience with younger lovers, I found that for me, the real turn on comes from a spiritually developed man who has matured through life experiences, yet can be as youthful and vibrant as I am. Because we are spiritual beings having a human experience, I want my physical life to encompass every aspect of compatibility.
While it may be true that some souls may be "older" than others, for this incarnation, I must have pre-programmed myself to accept only a love match that can share an appreciation for all of the same social "programming", TV shows, classic rock, pop culture and political climate that we both grew up within. After all, who else could get my sense of humor or laugh at my jokes that allude to all of the above? Who else might even entertain the thought of growing old (or growing young) with me? The next time I got a profile view and "interest" from a younger man, I was more shocked than flattered... 23 years old...! Are you kidding me...? I wonder what his mother would think... unless, of course, he's looking for another mother...?
Dating and Match-Making Entertainment
Now, as I wrap up this docu-blog, I'd like to mention that this whole online dating experience has reminded me of The Dating Game. I grew up watching that show during my teen years. I suppose from the beginning of recorded history, matchmaking and arranged marriages have had some sort of ceremonial, game-like twist to it. In all cultural societies, whether parents are looking for matches for their offspring or as in our modern culture, we search for our own mates (with a little guidance from chemistry and the stars or compatibility tests), we all do so in faith that one fine day we'll find someone who can match and support our own expression as beings of Love.
In one of her talk show interviews, Jill mentions The Bachelor TV reality show. When we finally met in person last weekend, I mentioned to her that my daughter Naomi was on Episode 13 of the show which aired back in January of 2010. As a matter of fact, because Naomi made it to the final four, she had a hometown date in which we were featured as the "quirkiest family" in Bachelor history. Because entertaining inherently runs through my veins, I experienced the show as sur-reality entertainment, with a twist of real relationship issues. Well, it has been more than five years since then, and the two-year "gag order" was lifted three years ago. So, I can write about it now. More on that in my next feature, which may or may not conclude this series.
Until next time... may your journey turn away from the Trail of Tears to a blissful and blessed end...
Joanne of Frank