Experiments in Black Dating: Origins
Why is this series entitled "Experiments in Black Dating"?
In August 2010, I met the woman I thought I would marry. I have never wanted to be a father, but I wanted this woman to carry my children. I wanted to live the rest of my life in service to her.
On Saturday, 23 April 2011, over a late lunch at P.F. Chang's in White Flint Mall, she told me she no longer wanted to be my girlfriend. This was the third time she'd made such a proclamation. I figured it would stick this time, having gone through this twice previously. I can't even say that I was surprised. I'd had too much practice preparing myself for this by virtue of having been dumped twice in the preceding 2 months. It was also not a surprise because this woman, who'd previously been disappointed and even upset when I didn't want sex as much as she did, had been refusing to engage in flagrante' dilecto with me for the past month.
At first, it was hard. About this, I cannot lie. I spent most of my non-working time depressed. In fact, when I get so depressed, I usually do 2 things in great quantities -- work and train. I was barely in the mood to train, but I did it. I worked even harder. We always go back to those things which bring us comfort, which we know how to do well and where we feel like we belong. For me, that's my professional life…which brings me to dying…
The funny thing about dying is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. I've become quite experienced, if not expert, at dying.
For me, this represented the third time I had "died" -- figuratively speaking, in a relationship context -- since December 2005. Maybe I've died more times than that, but those are the instances that are most vivid in my memory. I've honestly lost count of the number of times my world has been pulled down, lying in waste at my feet.
Each time I die, I come back stronger, faster, definitely smarter, and overall, better. However, it means I'm still without the one thing I most desire -- a delicious, loving, playful, fun, adventurous, romantic relationship with the best friend I can't keep my hands off of. (Thanks to Andrea Lee for that awesome description!)
After dying this time, I went through a process of clearing. I had to get anything and everything which reminded me of my ex-girlfriend out of my presence. Otherwise, I would continue being haunted by her memory. I threw away the apple green sheets which were the same shade as one of the colors of her sorority. I deleted her phone number, e-mail address and all e-mail correspondence we'd shared. I deleted all of the digital photos I had of her, save for the photos from Trinidad Carnival 2011. (Two words: Bliss inaugural.) Anything I could think of to get her presence, her energy, out of my space, I undertook.
After clearing comes clarity. I refocused and became clear that that I did want a relationship. While this might be a setback, and a non-trivial one as far as I was concerned, I had to look at it as creating the space in my life for a woman to come in and love me. While that space was occupied by my ex, no other woman could occupy it. Yes, quantum mechanics also applies to relationships! So now that I had the space, a huge source of stress was removed from my life.
For example, my ex-girlfriend had been uninterested in and even dismayed by my participation in Landmark Education. At the time, I was participating in the Landmark Wisdom Unlimited course. I believe she thought of it as a replacement for religion to even a cult, which just points to how little she knew about me. I am too independent a thinker to replace a religion with…a religion. Cults are just as absurd to me as organized religion, except cults don't have societal acceptance factors pushing them down people's throats. The first weekend of the Wisdom Course was miserable for me because I knew the person I loved the most was the least supportive of my being there. The second weekend, as a newly single man, I felt free, alive and engaged with the material unconcerned about how my partner would respond to it or me.
As my Wisdom Course ground toward an end in late 2011, I took on a whirlwind of personal development activities. I began training with ferocity again, spending my formerly typical 4 - 5 hours at L.A. Fitness whenever I had the opportunity. I also started career coaching with Ramit Sethi, author of the book "I Will Teach You To Be Rich". On top of that, I engaged a relationship coach named Tony Gaskins to help me tackle those areas of my relationships which have been troublesome. Admittedly, I was doing so much coaching that I had little time for anything else. Note to self: there IS such a thing as too much coaching.
One thing I've learned from both working with Ramit as well as through my training is that you have to test every assumption, theory or idea. There is a lot of information out there, not all of it useful. However, there are also what might be termed "Black Swans" in personal development just as there are in other areas of life. (Thanks to Nassim Nicholas Taleb for the term and the associated context.) It is unpredictable which of the various ideas, information or suggestions you come across will be useful to *you*. In order to determine that, you have to test. You have to run experiments. These experiments can be as simple as trying a new exercise protocol for a month or they can be as complex as what I am doing with my love life.
Since December 2011, I have been engaged in an experiment in dating. As I previously mentioned, I've never dated in any real sense in my 37 years on planet Earth. Dating has never been an activity which "fit" me. In high school, the girls I was interested in were never interested in me, a theme which continues until today. I can't say that there were any women who were interested in me at that time in my life. College continued the pattern, with the exception that I began learning my craft, a craft which continues to compensate me quite well for a man, Black or white, in the modern day United States. After college, I threw myself into a frenzy of masterwork in my chosen craft and the few deviations into relationships were ill-fated and ill-timed.
The timing for conducting this "dating experiment" seemed perfect. Here I was, newly single, emotionally devastated, and with a burning desire to be in a relationship. I had never dated in my life. As we all know, if you want something you've never had before, you have to do something you've never done before. Now I had an opening, a window of opportunity, to do something I've never done before.
Of course my experiment immediately hit a roadblock, in the forms of a potential new relationship as well as the possibility of re-entering a relationship with the ex-girlfriend who dumped me in April 2011. Who knew? So I found myself confronting a question about whether to continue the experiment or to consider a new relationship with either of these 2 women. I chose to continue the experiment, in the process cutting short the budding relationship with a young woman who quickly grew from despising me into wanting to be my girlfriend.
And that brings us to right now, August 2012. I'm writing most of this from a hotel room at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island, Hawaii. I've got about 4.5 months left in this experiment. Anything is possible but its hard to not think that anything is highly improbable. I keep looking for opportunities to invite serendipity into my life, as Ramit says. Yet, right now, I remain alone and will continue documenting the exploration and experiments in this series.
Until next time...