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Check off enough items and you’ve got a shot at a fulfilling relationship. When you get close enough to someone, everything changes. If you want to fulfill the quest, you’ll need to change the rules. They have the same feeling about you, that you’ve got something just for them. It will be your only opportunity to find out what you’re meant to discover together.You want a companion, a partner, someone to build a future with. The thin shell of your mundane existence cracks, and something magical trickles in. You might even need to start off acting as you would if you were already close, as if you’re already partners. How will you spend the few precious hours you have? Concerns like these are always buzzing around beneath the surface.That means you’re not making a good impression for later. If you’re worried that showing your real self will scare the other person away, go ahead and scare them away. Dating for partnership and Deep Dating follow different trajectories. Luckily, it’s easy to get from small talk to real talk. You’ve only ever played such games because you didn’t know what else to do. Instead of playing games, talk about what’s making you want to.
You’re likely to take risks, to tell the truth, to go as deep as possible. The point is not to prohibit yourself from having multiple dates with the same person. But think about how rarely anyone acknowledges them out loud.Apply this scenario to every date you have with anyone and you’re ready for Deep Dating. The point is to treat each date as a complete, self-contained relationship. Instead, we ask the most boring, low-risk questions we can think of.The most important rule of Deep Dating is that each date you’re on is the only date you’ll ever have. There are great advantages to treating each date as if it’s the only one. No one likes small talk, but we waste our time on it because it’s safe. How does hearing about the other person’s experience change your experience?Imagining yourself from their perspective informs your moment-to-moment choices about what to share, to ask, to offer. They lose themselves in the minutia of their date’s responses. Putting all your attention on the other person keeps you hidden. What does it really mean that you’re “not into” them? There are parts of the map you’ve never investigated. If you were dating for partnership, the goal would be to find a partner.Attunement without realness is just self-sacrificing. Intimacy does not need to be a privilege granted only those in our innermost circle. Dating someone you’re not into would be a waste of time.
How does whatever history you’ve developed from past dates facilitate new possibilities for intimacy on this date? We’ve all learned to be concerned with impression management. If you’ve been trained your whole life to pretend, how do you drop the performance, and bring your real self to a date? Put the two together, and you’re on the road to closeness. When you attune to someone, you do your best to get what their experience is like, regardless of how much they tell you about it. But much of what you attend to when you attune is non-verbal.