One of my favorite relationship experts, Alison Armstrong, says: be the person others react to, not the one doing the reacting.
Let’s begin at the end.
Not the one doing the reacting.
Many of us are scared to be ourselves, to let it all hang out during the dating process—out of fear that people will think we’re freaks and run for the hills.
Which is probably why I see a lot of bland profiles online that can be summed up by saying, “I’m a fun-loving person looking for the same.”
Basically, it tells me nothing about you—except that you’re probably basic AF.
But that’s the lie. You’re really not basic at all—well, hopefully—but, you come across as basic because you’re afraid to be different. You’re afraid to be yourself.
The great irony is that we’re all different, yet we pretend to be the same so that others will accept us.
My big secret in dating was that I pretended like I was okay with a monogamous relationship when I really wasn’t. Part of me felt like I was dying inside when I was in a committed relationship with just one person.
But I couldn’t ever put polyamorous, non-monogamous guy on a dating profile because if I did, I would be exiled to dating Siberia—a virtual pariah.
So, I did a lot of pretending. I tried to make myself seem semi-normal on profiles, knowing that if I did, at least I’d have a shot. Then, later, I could explain myself.
But as you can imagine, this didn’t get me too far. At some point, I would get grumpy because my needs weren’t being met, and my partner would be left wondering what the hell was wrong with me.
The reason for the grumpiness was that I wasn’t owning all of who I was. I was hiding! And when we begin a relationship in hiding, can we really expect anything solid to come out of it?
The key is to do what we don’t want to do—what every aspect of our being is essentially screaming at us not to do: to be bold. To be courageous. To risk it all.
At least…it will seem like we’re risking it all!
That is the key to Armstrong’s advice of being the person people react to. And people will react! But that’s okay—because they’re not the folks you want to be attracting, anyway.
I’ll be very honest. It’s hard work. It will bring up a tremendous amount of fear, including the biggest fear: growing old, alone.
And in the beginning, you might have a whole lot of evidence to support that.
This is the part of the story when I’m supposed to tell you how my life has magically become everything I’ve ever wanted; how I’m now in three different relationships—all with women who are in other great relationships; and how I’m living the polyamorous life, and it couldn’t be better.
Well, not yet. But what’s the alternative?
We must risk to have the life of our dreams. We must first, of course, know what we want, and that’s a journey in and of itself. My realization of what I actually want has come directly from being with women in situations in which I didn’t get what I wanted.
But that’s the beauty of dating. Through our myriad of lackluster first dates, taking our phones with us to the bathroom to text our best friends, comes learning.
Through experience, we gradually creep closer and closer to an understanding of what really makes us feel more alive!
Yes, people will react to you—and that’s a good thing. You won’t waste your time on people who aren’t right for you. And when someone does come along, knowing fully well what you’re about (because you have shared it upfront), and they still show interest, well there’s probably going to be a nice base for some kind of radical connection.
Maybe love. Maybe chemistry. Maybe friendship. Maybe someone who sparks you toward a new life path or career.
But no matter the outcome, instead of the regular disappointment, you will have an enriching connection with someone who is genuinely interested in meeting you.
Author: Alex Obed
Image: YouTube screenshot
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron