The other day, my gorgeous daughter, Rose, was asked out by a boy in her class.
He then texted her to make two specific suggestions - they could go to the movies or out for a meal.
Rose likes this boy: he's a friend and she enjoys his company. But she doesn't want to date him.
She asked for my help in composing a kind response to him that would deliver a "no", yet be respectful of his feelings.
I was really touched by the gallantry of this young man, as well as Rose's intention to honour him.
We spent quite some time together, coming up with the right words that were authentic, clear and honest.
Like most people, at first Rose felt the pull to tell a "white lie". This is certainly not atypical. The social pressure to do so is immense.
But I urged her to really stay in truth. Since any lie - however small - would be felt energetically by this young man and teach him to mistrust women. Plus establish the habit in her to avoid her discomfort (eg. "I don't want to hurt his feelings")
In these early days of dating and exploration, I really want my daughter, son and all those around them to have positive, authentic and respectful experiences.
Because I know how much this lays the groundwork for our future ways of relating.
Last summer, I had the privilege to be on retreat alongside Brad Blanton, whose book "Radical Honesty" made such an impression on me many years ago, when I was trying to figure out how the hell I'd messed up yet another relationship.
Brad's position, as an experienced therapist, is that so much relational dysfunction boils down to the lies we tell ourselves and then everybody around us.
His words were such a compelling revelation... I've been doing my best ever since to honour a radically honest way of being...knowing, of course, that a part of me remains incredibly artful at subtle self-deception !
Last week at the 5 Rhythms, I was so happy to be back on the dance-floor doing my thing. And then I caught sight of a male figure out of the corner of my eye and, just for a minute, my heart skipped a beat, because his physique was SO similar to the divine Somerset Shiva I met last December, I thought it was him!
It wasn’t, but it was a gorgeously handsome, freely dancing younger-looking version of him. Oh my!
And so I watched myself feel a surge of attraction, followed by a surge of negative self-talk.
It’s not that I wanted or expected anything to happen with this man. I don’t go dancing to meet dating prospects. And that wasn’t on my mind that evening.
But a part of me did want to dance with this Shiva and see how that would be.
And yet there I was telling myself that he probably wouldn’t want to, given our obvious age gap, all the hot young women surrounding me and the fact that – in my experience of the 5Rs over the last few years anyhow – men tend to dance more towards attraction and less for pure connection.
Yes, me, the eternal tantric cougar of the dance floor (LOL!) was dismissing herself and cutting herself off from innocent connection because of some head story about my age !
Noticing this, and just as the invitation came to take a partner, I made myself turn towards him and then (gulp) make the clear choice to move into his space with eye contact.
In all my years of dancing, I have probably only ever done this 2 or 3 times in total. Once or twice as a challenge to myself to overcome a fear of moving towards my desire. And once because the guy was such an incredible dancer, I simply HAD to !
As I say, the dance isn’t where I go to meet people. I see it as a practice of meeting life with awareness, so typically simply turn to who is there and watch my response.
But on this night, I dared to face my fear, step in and actively choose a man I not only felt strongly attracted to, but who reminded me of a man I’d felt rejected by a couple of months earlier.
And wow! This lovely man smiled at me openly and entered into the dance without a flicker of doubt or pause. And it was fun, playful and heart-opening.
What a lesson and blessing this was for me in observing the whole rejection story I’d had playing.
Despite which, I couldn’t quite muster up the courage to do the same thing again, when I came across another male dancer, who also sparked attraction and curiosity in me.
Once for one night was, on this occasion, enough!
Imagine, though, how touched I was, when, upon my leaving the church, the lovely young Shiva look-alike came over to thank me for our dance and give me a hug! I really hadn’t expected that.
And so I left, reflecting on where in my life I’ve pre-empted rejection by avoiding potential connection out of fear.
It’s a great one to watch and challenge on the dance floor or, indeed, anywhere in life!