February 28, 2023

What I learned about Love (& Myself) from the Speed Dating Events I Never Attended.

 

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I just couldn’t walk through the door.

I had heard about this thing called a “Tantra speed date” whilst on a hiking trip. Branded as “yoga for your love life,” it caught my interest, and I thought it couldn’t hurt to give it a whirl.

I bought the ticket three months ahead of time at the early bird rate of £35.

I knew it was a long shot. Other than travel, I tend not to book events more than a couple weeks in advance because who knows how I’ll want to spend a Saturday evening in three months’ time? Not one to waste money, I bought it thinking that if I paid upfront, I would definitely show up.

False.

In fact, I had already decided in October I wasn’t going to attend. The seasons had turned, hibernation had began and I had decided that yin season was for nothing more than lying flat in bed spooning my dog.

I gifted the experience to a gorgeous soul who had that same day delivered me a tea ceremony and nurtured my heart in ways I didn’t know it needed. When I saw the light in her eyes upon hearing about the opportunity, I felt a peaceful relief knowing the ticket wouldn’t be wasted. She later attended and had a beautiful heart-opening and connected evening.

I felt good about my choice.

I bought the ticket to the second event days after hearing about my tea friend’s experience. The way she described it sounded beautiful and not “cringe” in the way it had on the description: eye gazing, dancing, and improv were on the menu! I managed to rope in a friend who wasn’t as keen as me but was surprisingly open. We purchased tickets three weeks in advance for the not-so-early bird price of £50 a pop.

Except all the good intentions in the world won’t help you walk through the door if the traffic is bad and the train is 39 minutes delayed.

On this occasion, I wrote it off by claiming I knew deep down my friend really didn’t want to go and the universe was conspiring to make it so that it just didn’t happen. We sacked it off and went to watch the footie at the pub, which was far more soul-nurturing for my friend than the Tantra speed date could have ever been.

The third time, with all single friends now all coupled up, coming out of January blues and feeling the foreboding pressure of Valentine’s Day, I bought my third ticket for the same (yes, the same) event at the last minute and the ever-increasing price of £60.

This time I knew I’d be going alone but I’d already decided it would be better. I planned to meet a friend in the morning, go brunching and dancing before going our separate ways for our individual evening plans. No traffic to contend with, no other people to account for, no over-thinking. All I had to do was show up.

I wake up Saturday morning feeling fresh, jump on the train looking far too dolled up for the time of day, drink far too many double-shot oat lattes at brunch, go to a sober day rave, swing by the store to purchase some new crystals, eat some pizza and manage to make it to the venue 15 minutes ahead of the strict cut-off time.

Here’s where things get weird.

I walk in through the door, a little apprehensive but nothing unmanageable. I see a door to the toilet on the left to which nature’s instincts call me. Then, upon exiting the bathroom rather than turning right to go pick up my “dating materials” for the event, I turn left and walk swiftly out the door without looking back.

The wave of relief that washes over me is quickly replaced by a tsunami of tears that I was not aware were brewing.

As it turns out, no amount of money I’d paid upfront (may I remind you we are now at a grand total of £145), would allow me to do something my body was screaming at me not to do.

Damn body compass. I’ve fine-tuned my body such that I pay attention to the subtleties of what it’s communicating it wants and doesn’t want. Whilst the mind can tell a good porky pie (cockney rhyming slang for “lie”), a properly calibrated body compass just won’t let you.

Here’s the thing, sometimes you do all the things you think you should be doing but your body won’t actually let you step over the threshold.

As I’m crying, I’m not even quite sure why I’m crying. Is it the lost money, the lost opportunity, the shame cycle I’m starting by telling myself I’m just not brave enough? Am I just not ready to be doing this?

And somewhere amongst the flowing tears I can somehow access the core of my pain, so raw but screaming the truth at me through the ripples of grief:

I wasn’t built for forced interactions.

I was built for drenching my body in ice cool rivers and listening to the sound of the swans and geese beating their wings as they fly inches from my head.

I was built for solo adventures turning up in countries I barely know anything about and having to figure out my plan and route intuitively and on the spot, knowing it will all work out.

I was built for swimming across lakes to islands that house churches and exploring them in the early hours of morning sunshine before the rest of the world wakes up.

I was built for meeting strangers on a train and in the course of several hours hearing stories about their lives and hearing them say, “You know? I’ve never told anyone this before.”

I wasn’t built for speed dating events, nor talking to strangers through these weird, cold, mechanical apps on the internet. I wasn’t built for fakeness or for selling myself.

I was built for nurturing real life connections with people who I meet organically when our paths and interests connect us.

And amongst the grief, I can hear the call of my higher self sending sweet messages of love to my inner child:

“This type of human-ing isn’t for you my love. It’s okay. Go back to bed. Go back to bed where you can dream of your upcoming adventures. Ones that set your heart on fire. Ones that feel expansive rather than restricted. Ones that give you ever-so-slight butterflies in your tummy and make your heart beat just that bit faster. It’s not that you ‘can’t step over the threshold,’ it’s just that you’ve been knocking on the wrong door.”

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