Over the years, I’ve written several times about dating. For whatever reason as little as I enjoy the activity, I do enjoy discussing it. I’ve come to a realization lately about dating; it’s possibly the very root of what makes me abhor it with such vehemence. Curiously, this revelation stems not from dating, but from a trade show I recently attended as a vendor for my company.
When I say my company, I really do mean my company. I’m one of the co-founders, so when I discuss what we offer and how we’ve come to offer it, I’m divulging very personal details. This has been my life and my world for the past year or so, and selling my life and my world has become a part of my everyday experience.
Unfortunately as a small company with little to no brand recognition, “selling” has much less to do with offering a competitive service at a reasonable price than it does with hunting your target audience. exposing their weakness, and demonstrating how you are the perfect fit, capable of turning their weakness into a strength.
This is fundamentally what I despise about selling or dating - this notion of the hunt. I do not want to capture, I have no desire to catch. It’s not because I’m bad at it, it’s because I don’t value those relationships. They feel like the easy way out.
In any of my relationships, I most treasure freedom and independence - not in myself. In fact, I regularly impose excessive constraints on myself. This site is full of references to my “rules for dating.” But I most treasure freedom and independence in others. I don’t want to trick people into spending time with me.
In high school, I wore a leather coat. It was a fantastic coat. Not only did I love to wear it, but my friends would regularly ask to wear it. In fact, most of the winter, as soon as I got to school, I’d hand it to the first girl who asked and I wouldn’t see it again until it was time to go home. That coat would make my closet smell like women’s perfume well into the spring. I wouldn’t have traded that for the world.
It got to the point where I wouldn’t even worry about who had it or where it was. The girl who asked for it in the morning might hand it off to a friend and that friend might give it to someone else before it made it back to me in the afternoon. I didn’t know the girl in the locker next to mine very well, but she wound up with it one day and when she gave it back, asked me if she could borrow it again some time. Of course she could.
The next day she borrowed it first thing in the morning, but it was a warm day and she put in her locker fairly early in the day. I knew her locker partner, and she gave it back to me before lunch. It hung in my locker for the rest of the day, which almost never happened. But that afternoon the girl who borrowed it that morning came to me and told me she had no idea what happened to my coat.
Now, it would have been nothing to tell her I got it back, but I delight in being slightly mischievous. Why, just this morning I told an old friend who graciously let me stay at his place for the night that I panicked and threw the garage door clicker in the garage when I left. It’s right where we agreed I should leave it, but what fun is that?
So instead of just telling her I had the coat, I kept questioning her until we had both become convinced that someone had broken into her locker and stolen the coat. I told her I wasn’t upset, but I clearly looked upset. I told her it was no big deal as I shivered a bit from imagined cold. I told her that I didn’t need her to replace the coat; buying me dinner would easily cover the loss.
I left my coat in my locker that night, but I had her phone number in my pocket.
We went out once, if I recall correctly. We broke up and made up every other day for a month. Relationships built on manipulation and lies don’t have a fantastic foundation. She’s a wonderful woman, but we never had a chance. There’s a line between playfulness and trickery; I was nowhere near that line.
I don’t want to trick people into liking me or my company. I don’t want to manipulate or chase or hunt. I want to dance.
I love the metaphor of life as a dance. I don’t want my goal to be to catch you. I’m not trying to end the hunt; I’m trying to keep the dance alive. I not trying to come at you or attack you or win you; I’m trying to be near you, to move with you, to act and react for our mutual benefit and enjoyment.
I want you to be free to do whatever you like, choose whatever you want, do whatever you please with whomever pleases you. I want you to see yourself as lovely and beautiful and capable and qualified. And as the delightful, bright, simply wonderful person that you are, if you choose to dance with me, if you choose to be near me, then all of that delight and brightness and wonder is mine. Not because I tricked you, not because I caught you. It’s not a trophy, it’s a gift. And I love gifts. I love free.
This is what I want. I don’t want clients who see me as a necessary evil. I don’t want relationships that feel forced and trapped. I want to play out the relationship I have with my God with the people he has put in my life. I want to dance with you because he dances with me. I want you to have the freedom and independence he has given me. And if that means I get to share in the beauty he has given you… well, that’s just beautiful.
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