Why do smart people like us sometimes make lousy choices in our love lives? It’s not as complicated as we might think
when we take a good, hard look at Instinct, the primal urges which drive our thoughts and behavior. The way out of Instinct’s grasp is through understanding (an AHA moment), compassion and disciplined practice.
Source: As a PAX Licensee and participant in the 2015 Mastery and Certification program, I’ll be dug in with Alison Armstrong this year, my all-time favorite relationship guru. I invite you to join me on this journey as we focus on eight different topics, one at a time, each related to Intentional Dating and Mating. As a professional matchmaker and dating coach, I’ll have endless real life dating and mating situations to offer up for study.
Today we’re shining light on the difference between Dating By Default (cave woman / cave man style) and Dating By Design (conscious, aware, free choice, human spirit style.)
At the core of Alison Armstrong’s philosophy is the distinction between Human Animal and Human Spirit. Human animal is driven by instinct — those primal, biological urges that compel us to respond to what life throws at us, inciting those knee jerk reactions that so often get us into trouble. There’s an inner cave dweller in us all… which we’re not looking to kill off, by the way, as instinct enables survival. But by inviting the instinctual, unconscious beast (and its fear-based agenda) to take a back seat to the wiser, illuminated Human Spirit, we give ourselves access to peace, satisfaction, partnership, joy and love. And THAT, my friends is what we’re after here. We’re taking a close look at the difference between surviving and thriving.
There’s a young man checking email on his cell phone at Starbucks on his lunch hour. The breeze carries to his nostrils a hint of curiously sweet perfume, he hears the clicking of her heels coming up behind him and his head turns. He can’t help it. And there she is, sunlight bouncing off her long, silky auburn hair. Her curves are everywhere. It’s his job to notice. She’s on her phone, tickled by something said, she giggles as she approaches the door to the coffee shop. Glowing cheeks, perfectly plump lips, freshly painted crimson fingernails, frilly purple skirt, tossed about by the wind. She’s magnificent. It happens to him. He didn’t ask for it, but it … just … happens. He shifts in his chair (he has to) and takes a breath. Her eyes meet his as she opens the door. She notices him. As she holds his gaze, she’s hooked. Her smile gains life. She can’t help it. It’s instinct.
Her name is Samantha and she’s my dating coaching client. She orders her coffee and joins me at the table inside, positioning her chair just so, to maintain visual access to Mr. Caught-My-Eye outside.
She’s 34, a pastry chef by day, working long hours at a hotel, paying off culinary school loans. In her off hours she loves writing short stories and yearns to be published.
Gnawing at her is the pesky question posed yet again by her sister last night – “Is she going to marry Dan, Mr. Looks-Good-On-Paper?” Dan is tall, handsome, has the degree, and wears the right clothes. He has the job, the right car, a solid family, he’s 37, and timing’s just about right for the two of them to nail this thing down.
She wants it. She needs it — to find that safe place to be, to pick her man, to have the wedding, to nestle in together, to breed, indeed…to fulfill her destiny as a woman. Instinct is calling her to say Yes to Dan’s proposal.
So why is she hesitating? Why is she less than thrilled? That’s the question that spurred Samantha to meet with me today. We determined that what’s pulling her, driving her to stick with Dan is her natural instinct to lock down a great provider – this strong, powerful man who will give her beautiful babies, whose Finance position at Bank of America will secure her place in “the herd” and will gain her father’s sanction.
What’s missing? She says she doesn’t feel “gotten” or cherished by him. He doesn’t care to read her short stories, he barely glances at the photos she shows him of her masterful pastry creations, and he finds reasons to be gone when Samantha’s best friend and sister are around.
In a nutshell, we determined that rather than feeling empowered by him, Samantha actually feels squelched, which brings out anything but the best in her. She finds herself feeling resentful, snapping at him, arguing and fighting with him. She’s been trying to justify her natural interests and passions, hoping to get him to love who she really is, as opposed to the IDEA of who she is, a concept of who she is supposed to be for him.
Samantha made a courageous decision today. She will say No to marrying Dan, and in so doing, she is being bigger than her biology, smarter than her instincts. In today’s modern day society, having had the opportunity to become well educated and ever-employable, she has the opportunity to choose partnership from a position of strength and security.
On my way out of the coffee shop, I couldn’t help it – I introduced myself to Mr. Adorable outside. Yes, he’s single, Yes, he’d love to meet her, and I have his card on my desk in front of me. I’m dying to interview him as a potential suitor for Samantha. If he checks out, when the timing is right, we’ll see if the two of them might be a fit for not only an instinctual chemistry match, but also on the level of Human Spirit. Might these two bring out the best in each other? Might they feel fully whole and “gotten” in each other’s presence? Well… maybe we shall see.