Doctor Neha: Hi everybody. Today, I have a special guest, Jacob. Welcome.
Jacob: Thanks for having me, Neha.
Doctor Neha: Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. We’ve got a brave soul here who’s going to pick a topic and we’re going to have a discussion so everybody else can learn with us. So what have you been thinking about? What do you want to talk about?
Jacob: So recently I have gotten back into dating and I had a really cool, interesting experience. I met up with this girl. We went on a date, and it went well. It wasn’t, you know, fantastic. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but I had a good time. It was a good first date after a long time of not dating. I found that over the next couple of days, communication between us was disjointed. I wasn’t super into her, but part of me was getting annoyed that she wasn’t writing back. And I had this realization: this is my ego that really wants this girl to be super into me, no matter what I’m feeling, whether I’m really into her or not into her at all. It’s like that ego wants validation from her. And I thought it’s an interesting situation that can be really relatable. So I wanted to talk about it.
Doctor Neha: Well, listen relationships and dating are always juicy, so thanks for being willing to bring your love life front and center so other people can learn. It’s an interesting dynamic that you’re talking about. You were feeling so-so about this person, like it’s a nice on-ramp to the highway of love. You’re on the on-ramp and checking it out.
Did you start noticing that when she wasn’t writing back, did you start finding yourself more interested in checking your phone more?
Jacob: Hmm. Yes and no. Yes, but it wasn’t a pure intention of wanting to hear back from her to go on another date. That wasn’t it. I wanted to just to hear back from her because I didn’t want to feel that sort of rejection.
Doctor Neha: All right, so this is important, Jacob. What you’re talking about is whom you’re focused on in a relationship. Now if you’re in a relationship with somebody else, but you’re focused on you—I want to feel desired, what’s important to me about this is that this chick thinks I’m hot, that she thinks I am the coolest thing she has met this year, that I’m special, I want somebody else to validate how amazing I am since I haven’t been dating for a while—it’s like “I want to make sure I haven’t lost my Mojo.” So that’s one way.
Another way is to focus on the other person. So you’re in a relationship with somebody and you miss them and find yourself saying or thinking, “Gosh, I really miss her company. Wow. I really miss her smile. I really miss holding her hand. I really miss playing tennis or walking in the park or whatever it is. I miss the way I feel when I’m with this other person. That’s a different focus because even though in the end it comes back to how you feel, it’s really about being with this other person versus longing or wanting them to like you regardless of how you feel toward them. It’s like a one-way train. It doesn’t go the other way.
It’s so natural as you’re getting back into dating to feel a little unsure as you’re taking the first step. It’s like getting back on a bike that when you haven’t ridden the bike in awhile. It feels a little wobbly as soon as you let go of your foot on the ground. Then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh yeah, I’ve been here and this is amazing.” No, it’s not all amazing, but it’s familiar. It’s like you remember it. I would definitely not call dating all amazing.
So with what I’m saying, what resonates about your ego’s role in this and what doesn’t?
Jacob: Well, the longing and the need for the validation. The idea of the one-way train where the only stop is the ego.
Doctor Neha: It’s true because there’s a difference between liking someone/ caring about them and remembering how you feel when you are in their presence. So the question then becomes, what are you looking for? It always comes back to you. Let’s brainstorm all the ways that people can be in relationship—and for what, are you looking? So to get really clear, you want to think about what phase you’re in. So let’s take different phases. Okay? So one phase would be people want to physically be with somebody else. They’re interested in a physical relationship. They want no commitment. Maybe they’re visiting a place for a short period. Maybe they just don’t feel like being committed. They want their freedom and want to be able to have the adventure of meeting whoever they want and leaving things open. Okay. Your turn. What’s another way that someone can engage in a relationship?
Jacob: Another relationship would be like a standard monogamous relationship. It’s a physical relationship and an emotional and spiritual commitment as well between the people.
Doctor Neha: So in that one, you’re talking about meeting somebody on multiple levels. You said it’s a physical relationship where you have attraction. I’m going to add in mental, you can talk about things and you’re curious about one another. You have great discussions. On an emotional level, you feel connected and on a spiritual level you feel committed to the same values. And that’s monogamous.
Another one would be kind of dating. Maybe you’re going out on dates, you’re going to dinner with a couple of people. You’re checking things out and seeing whom you might like or not. So you’re in that dating phase and deciding between one or two people as you’re starting to develop some feelings. You’ve been on several dates, and you get excited because you’re starting to think, I think I might like this person.
What’s another phase that someone could be in, in terms of dating?
Jacob: It could be a friendship,
Doctor Neha: It’s more about the connection, but you don’t have the physical piece. That’s usually long distance; you could have the romantic feelings but you’re not in the same place with somebody else.
Doctor Neha: That’s a big commitment, too, because on that end you know you want to be with this person and you get so much fulfillment from all the other ways when you’re not with them that it’s okay that you only get to be together for a limited amount of time. I find that situation with people who are really busy with work or school or live in different places, but genuinely their souls feel connected, so they love it.
The other reason that people do that as well is because they are comfortable with that kind of distance. They really care about each other. And maybe when they were younger, in their family, their father was a pilot and was always gone. So what they saw was mom and dad not always together.
The other thing you want to notice about this longing to feel desired that you were just talking about is to think about your role models around love. It would be your parents. It would be your aunts and uncles. It would be the adults in your life, older friends of yours who have given you advice on love. Check in right now as you’re entering this on-ramp to see what the rules you’ve got going on are about dating. So give me some rules you’ve got about dating.
Jacob: One that I’ve learned from my parents is that it’s a challenge.
Doctor Neha: You’ve got to work hard for it. You’ve got to work hard for love.
Jacob: Yeah. What I notice with friends is less of a commitment.
Doctor Neha: Is that cooler? Is it cooler to have less commitment?
Jacob: I don’t know whether it’s cool or not, but it’s just something I’ve noticed with friends. Those are probably the two big rules that I’ve been around and really have been able to pick up on.
Doctor Neha: All right, so those are from outside you. So here’s the big one. Have you ever been hurt in love?
Jacob: Yeah. Who hasn’t?
Doctor Neha: Well, there are some rules you made up about love when you got hurt in love. Give me one of those rules.
Jacob: I got hurt.
Doctor Neha: What’d you learn from that?
Jacob: Well, I definitely became more closed off. I’m trying to put in protection mechanisms to defend against that. And now that I’m thinking about it, being around the lack of commitment kind of reinforced that feeling.
Doctor Neha: Nope, no feelings.
Doctor Neha: Yes. So now be aware as you move into love. Now you want to go inward and really get clear about what you think is possible in love. Because if you think love is dangerous, if you think it’s got to be a hard and a challenge—and by the way, it’s cooler to play the field so you don’t have to deal with any of that—you may miss the opportunity to take real risks and find amazing, lasting, powerful love in whatever form feels right to you. Make sure it’s an inside-out experience, not about watching other people’s lives and doing what they’re doing or taking your cues from them. So this is one of those where you want to just spend some time searching what you believe is possible and writing it all down. So your dream woman, whoever she is, what are the top hundred qualities you would want in that person? Just keep writing until you stop—and then it’s about how you would be together. And can you dream again? And can you believe that you can feel however your favorite movie depicts, the favorite book you’ve read about this. Do you have one of those?
Jacob: Uh, I don’t.
Doctor Neha: Maybe we need to get you started by watching some amazing movies, and feeling connected to what’s possible. Cause we’ve got to get a different narrative here than it’s hard, don’t commit, and danger, don’t go here. You have danger signs up, like caution construction signs.
Doctor Neha: You want to see what might be possible if you became aware of that and slightly lowered those danger signs and elevated your own self trust. So what do you think?
Jacob: I think that sounds great. Figuring that out is so important; otherwise, I’d just keep repeating the same patterns over and over again. Obviously, now I know what to look for, but these things can be unconscious.
Doctor Neha: What’s funny is people date the exact same person with a different name. Because the chemistry comes from your soul noticing and recognizing what it thinks love is and wanting to create a different outcome. So someone who’s a big challenge and not paying attention in the beginning and not interested—if you can get that person interested in you, it’s a charge. But the real charge will be if you can like yourself enough and realize the challenge is actually in you to like yourself enough so it feels easy to be with someone else. You can create joy and not pain and struggle. But as long as you still think it’s exciting to have the struggle and feel the pain, I say go for it.
Jacob: Now that I know what I was doing, that’s not exactly what I want. And you bring up a really good point. Realizing these things are so important because you can be going through and doing something over and over and it may seem different in each attempt, but overall it is the same. And then when you really go in where you break it down to see what’s going on inside of you, then you’re able to realize what’s going on. And with that realization, then you can either choose, I like it this way or I want to change this.
Doctor Neha: You bet. So for all of you out there who are in some phase of relationship—whether you’re dating or you’re in a long-term relationship—pay attention to the patterns around you as you grew up that taught you about love. See if you can recognize yourself playing those out in your current relationship or in your dating life. It’s good food for thought, and we wish you incredible luck, Jacob, on finding exactly what you’re looking for.
Awareness Prescription on Your Rules in Love
What are the top three rules you believe about dating and love?
What type of partnership/love did you see modeled in your youth?
What did you like about it?
What did you learn from it?
Whose romantic relationship do you admire the most and why?
What would a day in the life of your ideal partnership be like?
Re-read what you wrote, looking for what you value most.