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Dates can be some of the strangest and most altering experiences.
So much is going on! I tend to have a minimum of two conversations running concurrently: one presumably with my date, plus a loud, distracting dialogue with myself in my clunky attempt to assess whether or not I am actually interested in the person sitting in front of me.
It can be extremely difficult for me to ascertain how I feel about someone in the middle of a date. I am doing the impossible juggling act of talking about my childhood, noticing the flecks in their eyes, taking in the way they smell, monitoring the balance in the conversation, and trying to read their body signals to figure out how they feel about me.
A first date is usually fraught with so many compounded elements that I often find it difficult to carve out sufficient mental and emotional space to focus on the most simple, fundamental question:
How do I actually feel with this person?
I commonly begin with at least some openness and curiosity about my date, until red flags inevitably start popping up and throwing wrenches in my mental database. I put a strange pressure on myself to not only track and compute all of this information, but to also be able (by the end of the date) to evaluate and communicate how I feel about a possible second date.
This amplifies my stress.
I have gotten way better, but as a lifelong accommodator, navigating the end of a date wasn’t easy for me at first. I would feel on the spot, pressured, and I really hated the idea of hurting anyone’s feelings.
I began to notice an important pattern: regardless of how I handled the end of a date, once I left, I was miraculously clear about what I actually wanted. I learned that I really benefit from space away from my dates to get a sense of how I truly feel.
Even a mid-date trip to the bathroom is a clarifying respite: is it a relief to get away, or do I feel excited about returning to the date?
Separation allows the date-induced, altered state to fade and the truth of the magnetism to rise.
From this observation of the efficacious benefit of space, I came up with the the “Walk Away” as a standard dating practice.
The “Walk Away”
Most of my dates don’t result in a second date. I can usually tell right away—even in the first few minutes—if there is sufficient chemistry.
However, unless I am 100 percent positive that I am or am not interested (which is pretty rare due to the altering nature of the date), I propose the “Walk Away.”
At the end of the date, the other person usually asks me how I would feel about getting together again, to which I almost always say, “Let’s walk away and see if we both feel drawn back.”
Let me explain this further.
When we are in another person’s energy field, their presence affects us, influencing our ability to express our thoughts and feelings freely.
In close quarters, magnetism can be difficult to calibrate. Chemistry, however, can be sensed clearly with just a little space and distance. My dates almost always respond with a tickled blend of curiosity and relief in this practice.
It seems like everyone breathes a sigh of relief to discover that there is a benevolent system in place.
The “Walk Away” is truly ecological, respecting both people by creating space and time for each to feel into the truth of their experience. When we separate and return to familiar territory, we have more direct access to the truth of how we feel.
Are we drawn back? Do we want more of that, or less? On my drive home, I usually know the answer.
This goes for the other person too. They are altered by being in our field and become more connected to their own truth once they are away from us.
My ultimate personal goal is to be radically honest with everyone at all times. But I’m not there yet.
When I feel positive that I’m not interested in someone, I am sometimes able to conjure up, “Can I be honest with you? I’m just not feeling enough chemistry between us,” or “Right now, it doesn’t feel like a match to me, but let’s check the chemistry when we separate.”
When I’m not able to access my radical honesty muscles, the “Walk Away” gives me a path back to them.
Interestingly, the results of the “Walk Away” can at times be unpredictable.
There have been many times when I was hopeful that there was chemistry, but upon walking away, I simply didn’t feel drawn back. More surprisingly, there have been a few times when I didn’t think there was chemistry, but the “Walk Away” gave me different information.
It is not uncommon for people to spend hours stressing about an upcoming second date that they never really wanted to go on in the first place, only to desperately cancel with a white lie at the last minute.
The “Walk Away” supports us to be more efficient, direct, balanced, self-connected, and honest with ourselves and each other.
The Walk Away is a reliable tool that paves a path to honest communication while respecting and caring for both people. It invites each person to tune into their perception of the chemistry.
Chemistry versus Rejection
When there is a lack of sufficient chemistry, a little distance can ease pain by shifting the focus away from what is normally experienced as rejection.
The “Walk Away” helps us reframe the connection in terms of the actual chemistry and the matter-of-fact connection between two people, instead of mistaking a lack of chemistry for rejection.
There is a subtle but important tweak from “I’m not interested in dating you” to “There doesn’t seem to be enough chemistry between us” that shifts the approach from emotional to scientific. The result is that we are naming the truth (chemistry) instead of seeing our decision as a preference (rejection).
When I name the lack of sufficient chemistry with my dates after we have walked away, they almost always respond with warmth and gratitude, even if they would have chosen to get together again. It no longer translates as rejection; it is instead received as truth.
I feel that the “Walk Away” could be healing to the wider field of dating. When we have mutually respectful, honest, openhearted partings, we look forward to more dates.
Ultimately, the “Walk Away” is a template for directness and honesty. Using it builds integrity and confidence in one’s ability to navigate difficult relationship territory.
Having a few standard practices can turn your attitude about dating from hesitant and resistant to grounded and confident.
I love discovering and sharing any approach that can help people avert the predictable pitfalls of dating.
If you try the “Walk Away,” let me know how it goes!