OK, now that you’ve recovered from that breakup you might feel ready to get back out there and meet that next great woman. Things are going to be a bit different than you’ve been used to. You’re now out of the comfort of a long-term relationship, and when it comes to meeting somebody you are most likely starting from scratch (unless your plan is to go after an old friend and break yourself out of the friend zone). You’re also probably out of practice when it comes to dating, so it’s time to shake off the cobwebs. You’ll have to re-learn what works for you when it comes to approaching women and dating. It’s even possible that you’ll have to learn it outright if before you had the luxury of skipping over the anxiety provoking parts and fast tracking it right into relationships.
Many people want to skip the hard part, understandably. It is anxiety provoking and downright uncomfortable at times. I highly recommend not skipping over the hard part and jumping right into a relationship, for two reasons mainly:
1. This is important, because it is natural that when two people don’t know each other that there will be some tension. If there is not usually one or the other persons, or both, are not being themselves and they play act a role to make the other person feel comfortable. But, it is a false comfort. If this is the foundation upon which a relationship is built, that relationship will break down sooner or later, and is at the root of a good majority of break-ups. It could also be a sign that you are experiencing co-dependency.
2. Even without this complex dynamic, on the most simple level of building attraction that leads to real intimacy, tension is where arousal is built up. Tension can lead to sexual tension. Tension can also lead to a person feeling overwhelmed and leaving the interaction or situation. Tension can go either way, but without tension there is no sexual tension. It depends on how that tension is managed. If you don’t believe me, think about any time in your life you’ve done something exhilarating. Before the exhilaration, there was tension, nervousness, maybe even fear. Let’s use the example of a roller coaster to be very general. First off, it has to at least be interesting in some way to get your attention. The fact that it is huge, blisteringly fast, or has intricate loop de loops is what makes it exciting to think about (let’s equate this to foreplay in the woman’s mind). But we also know that there are safety mechanisms built in and that they work by specific laws of physics that make them very safe (in the woman’s mind, she’s not going to be stalked, killed, or raped). It is the combination of excitement and safety that makes roller coasters a widely sought out experience. Tension can also be too much. If done the wrong way, or not calibrated, tension can lead to the woman you’re trying to vibe with to feel overwhelmed, too uncomfortable, and even creeped out. Think of the Great White that followed close behind a kayaker, Walter Szulc, this past weekend in Cape Cod. Ask him whether that excitement was too much or not, and I’m sure he’ll tell you that it was WAY TOO MUCH! In fact, he said “I had a deep swallow, that ‘Oh my God’ moment, then I just paddled.” Be like the roller coaster, exciting with safety mechanisms built in, not like swimming with the Great White!
This means that you will have to make friends with tension and exposing yourself to some deeply rooted fears: Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of social consequences, fear of being nobody, etc. You will come up against an inner resistance to do things that scare you; use this energy to help propel you into action.
Who wants to embarrass themselves over and over with trying to talk to women they don’t know? Nobody! But if you don’t get out and practice it how are you going to get over that very real pain of anxiety you feel every time you do go up to a woman you are attracted to? The answer is that you aren’t.
Train yourself to become independent of these inner pressures by building a tolerance to this pain so you can keep going and learn from your mistakes rather than withdraw from the situation and kick yourself afterward. The anxiety that comes from taking a risk like this may never completely disappear. It is part of the rush, and part of the fun. What fun would a slow, predictable roller coaster be? You can kick and scream that you want off the roller coaster, hating every moment of it, or you can enjoy the ride. Through repeatedly exposing yourself and your nervous system to these pressures you will begin to habituate to it and develop more ease and comfort in such a high pressure situation.
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Email Dan Bolton, LMHC at: firstname.lastname@example.org