What that strong attraction is really saying

“The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”

~ Monica Drake

When I was little, I was obsessed with Disney movies. Like, obsessed, with a capital “O”. We had every movie on VHS and I would watch the fairy tale Princesses’ meet their Princes’ over and over again. I would imagine I was Cinderella, out doing something sneaky and BAM, I’d run into him, my Prince, The One, and that would be it. My life would be happily ever after and we would be together forever because we were meant for one another.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a little magic and imagination, but the trouble starts when we take on the belief that when we meet the one that’s best for us, our hearts pound, the world disappears and nothing else matters.

I dated for many years during my 20’s and the experience was always quite black and white for me. I’d either feel an instant spark with a guy because I was physically attracted to him, or I would feel completely turned off by someone because I wasn’t attracted to him or he seemed needy. There was no in between, or gray area for a very long time. I agree that you must be ‘attracted’ to someone in order to want to be with them, but I now believe real attraction is based on something much deeper than the physical. Often times I would meet someone who I was attracted to and my body would go into overdrive. The anxiety/excitement would kick in, my thoughts would race and my insecurities would go through the roof. I’d constantly check my phone, plan out what to say, worry about my looks, and talk constantly about the guy I had met to anyone who would listen. I believed that these were all good signs. I mean, no one wants to marry someone they are bored with or turned off by! But there was just one really big problem: these guys kept disappearing! Things might start off well, we’d have a great date, or two, or three. Maybe we’d even hang out for a few months, communicate that we really liked each other, and then somewhere along the way, things would fizzle. I’d get ghosted, or phased out, or given some lame excuse as to why they couldn’t make time to see me anymore. I could not understand why this kept happening. I was going after the right guys, the ones I felt a strong attraction to, but something wasn’t working and I also often wondered why I didn’t feel attracted to any of the seemingly nice guys I met. There was one point when I even tried to outsmart my insecurities and forced myself to date the nice guys that I wasn’t attracted to. This of course did not work either because I wasn’t ready for them. I was still much too scared of an intimate relationship, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Then, one day, after I had an attractive guy that I hadn’t even met yet cancel our first date because he was ‘sick’ I’d had enough. Maybe he was sick, but I’d heard that too many times before to care now. I was furious, devastated, and determined. I was determined to figure out why this kept happening to me. I refused to believe that dating was this hard and that I just had to be patient. Patience is required but so is taking responsibility for something in your life that you want to be different. I wanted to enjoy dating and I wanted to feel confident. I wanted to be able to go on a first date and not almost have a heart attack wondering if I was going to be stood up or if he’d like me. I wanted clarity and I wanted open, commitment-ready men to be attracted to me, and me to them. I decided to be open to whatever I needed to be open to and that I would do whatever it took to turn this thing around. I began doing things I liked, not going to where I thought guys hung out. I got hobbies, I focused on myself, and I got Inner-Child counselling which is the thing that helped me more than anything else.

It took me many years to figure out what was going on, but what all of the attraction, the rejection and the frustration boiled down to was my subconscious fear of abandonment. I was insanely attracted to men who had absolutely no intention deep down of committing to me because my hidden, suppressed beliefs were bringing these guys to me so I could work on healing my wounds. Every time I felt that surge of chemical attraction it was literally my heart saying, “STOP!! Turn around, this dude is trouble!” My childhood wounds of being abandoned were flying to the surface and being hidden by what I thought was attraction. My past hurts and fears were being pulled to someone who was going to keep triggering them again and again until they were healed and it was a vicious cycle.

I remained single for a number of years while I healed my wounds, built a kick-ass relationship with myself, and figured out what I really wanted in a partner. I tried new things, read a ton of books, wrote to myself and nurtured my heart to as whole as I could get it on my own. Eventually I stopped looking for ‘The One’ and focused on finding someone who had the same values as I did and was on their own path of personal growth. I had a very small list of my must-haves and deal breakers and was much more open to the so-called gray areas of the dating pool. What I did focus on was how I wanted to feel in a relationship. I wanted to feel safe, acknowledged and important. I meditated and made vision boards and visualized my ideal partnership which allowed me to know with more certainty when I met someone if I wanted to continue to get to know them or not. I felt in control of my dating experience finally and moved from ‘I wonder if they like me?” to “Do I like them?” It was an amazing shift for me and it allowed me to eventually be introduced to my current partner who is everything I was willing to wait for and more. The point is, I had moved from the instant, in-your-face type of attraction to a more calm and gentle one. This new type allowed me to be more of myself. I could speak up for myself because I wasn’t as anxious and worried that I’d ruin everything and he’d leave if I did. I was no longer worried about losing my soulmate because I had grown to see that I was enough without them. Our soulmates will calm our hearts and offer us safety and a gentleness that we all deserve.

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