Relating Beyond Paradigms #1: New Beginnings

Your eyes find someone you like on Facebook, Tinder or, in an old-fashioned way, in a bar or a birthday from a common friend. A reaction in your body. What would it be like with this person? Would they like me? You start a conversation, ask about each other’s lives, occupations, and favorite music. When the answers feel good, you might talk more. Relax a little, exchange a smile. You might start moving in closer. Touching. Maybe you end up in one of your houses for a night of exploration, or maybe you take it slower. Getting to know each other better before sex happens. You move into a relationship. Gradually you get to know each other’s hopes, dreams, and long-term life ambitions. Maybe they align with yours. Maybe they don’t. You might hide away those differences until at some point, you realize you never lived your dreams – or the relationship ends years after a false start of desires that would never align.

And maybe your dreams align, but your fears and insecurities are tightly held under the table. Resulting in a codependency of protecting the self and the other. When you never show your deepest being, there can never be true intimacy. But escaping can be very easy and things can seem to go well for a long time. Until this feeling creeps up. “Is this it?” Maybe you feel caged or held back inside the relationship, as if your wings are cut short or you never realized you had them, too afraid to jump. What if..?

I have been there. And as I am untangling the practical parts of separating from the father of my kids, a gradual process for which we took several years (and are half-way), I started feeling ready for something new. Something different.

But I didn’t want to fall head over heels in a connection with someone. I didn’t want to take myself out of one cage, just to find myself in another one. I didn’t want a partial match or someone unavailable. And so I started doing research inside myself. With a group of sisters, I followed an online course called ‘Attracting your beloved’, deepening my research more. What are my real desires? What do I want in a man and in a relationship? And more important: what is it that I don’t want, so I know when to let go or not even begin?

And I made an agreement with myself: I’m not settling for anything less than amazing. I deserve someone who consciously chooses and desires to be with me. I want to consciously choose and desire to be with someone.

A week after finishing the online program and feeling super confident about what I wanted to attract in my life I met him when I least expected it to happen.

Boom.

This is part 1 of a series of articles on a different paradigm in relating. I’m writing as we go, as a sort of live-feed of a relationship in progress. A vulnerable experience, as I don’t know where this will lead. A profound experience it already is.

Calling in Kali

I was invited to facilitate Love Lounges and sessions at the Tantra Festival Holland. After an intense week, I felt mainly a bit frustrated and introverted. Jokingly I told the friend I drove with to the festival that it would be fun to have a wild fling with someone after months of unplanned celibacy, but I let go of that idea when I was told the facilitation team wasn’t supposed to have intimate relations with participants. Fair enough, that’s how I roll as an organizer as well. Besides, I would probably be busy anyway and I longed to connect with my friends who were there as facilitators and participants as well.

When I prepared the Love lounge for later that night, a gorgeous small woman covered in tattoos joined me. During the intro round, where all the facilitators told the participants who they were and what they did, she caught my attention already, offering things very similar to me. Cuddles, spanking, listening… whatever would support someone. We found each other in not wanting to join a workshop but a desire to release frustration from our bodies. Seconds later we were naked, screaming to the sound of loud music, both in our own little bubble until our bodies turned soft and open. Our eyes met with a smile. Yes, so much better indeed. Now we could join the next round of workshops, after this emotional cleansing and call in Kali. With a hug, we sealed our newfound friendship and sisterhood bond.

Meditating on Sex

The good thing about working on festivals is that you get to participate in workshops when you’re not busy doing other things. I decided to join a workshop that would be an individual meditation on sex for about two hours. Introvert me-time, tuning in to my own body was what I longed for after the intense emotional release I just had. There were a few yoga mats empty when I entered the room of which one felt like it was calling me. As I laid down I forgot about the people around me, and listened to the voice of the teacher, guiding us deep into the pleasure of a fully clothed, juicy meditation.

When I sat up again after slowly coming out of my dreamy state, feeling soft, open and buzzing, I looked straight into a pair of gorgeous eyes.

“Do you want a hug?” he asked.

Did I want a hug? It’s so easy to say yes from a place of habit. Or because I always hug people. But I had agreed with myself recently to let go of pleasing and really feeling what I wanted. Especially now, after such delicate time with myself. My belly said yes.

“Yes, I do want a hug.”

He moved towards me and invited me into his arms. It felt safe there, grounded and exciting at the same time. As our eyes met again I felt a little surprised. Now here was a very present man. Maybe more present than I met before. I sensed curiosity in his gaze, as I remembered what the organizer told me:

“If you find some beautiful people to help you out in the Love Lounge, or to give you a hug to charge you up to hold space the whole night, you can invite them.”

To my own surprise, I spontaneously asked him if he wanted to come to the Love Lounge that evening, and that if he did, I would love it if he’d come and give me a hug. He nodded with a smile that reached his eyes, and we went our own hungry way towards lunch. I wasn’t expecting to see him again before the evening, and contrary to how my system usually responds to men that I find attractive, I noticed I wasn’t trying to hold on to him or creating expectations or desires at all. I had set my mind to working here and connecting with friends. No flirting whatsoever.

But when I walked towards the garden with a plate full of yummy food, he was standing right in front of me, looking at me with those smiling eyes. What the heck, let’s have a conversation.

What are you looking for in a man, anyway?

“So, if you would want a relationship now, what is it that you look for in a man?”

With my mouth full of food I looked at him surprised. That’s a pretty direct way to start a conversation, even for me, being a Dutch person who’s used to the no-nonsense approach.

“I just spent some months figuring this out, so I think I can give you a pretty detailed description,” I replied. “The most important things for me are that he’s as much willing as I am to commit to the connection. I want him to consciously choose for me. To be present and have the courage not to hide away, but face his challenges, his patterns and old pain. I want him to be passionate about something, to have a purpose in life. If that is somehow aligned with mine, that would be even better. I want him to support me to grow further, to step more into my power. I want someone who wants to explore sexuality with me. To grow together. Maybe create workshops together. Oh, and bonus points for someone tall with long hair and a beard.”

I glanced up at him as if only now I realized how tall he was. And that he had long hair. And a beard.

“So then tell me, what would you be looking for in a woman?”

“Well, just like you I have been spending time thinking about that. I want a woman with femininity oozing out of her. Someone strong who knows what she wants, but who can surrender as well. Someone open about non-monogamy. A powerful presence, a woman that you feel when she walks into the room. I want a woman who supports me, but also someone radically honest, raw and real who will reflect the uncomfortable things to me as much as the great things.”

I smiled at him.

“Sounds like we have a pretty good deal”, I said jokingly, as I walked away to wash my plate and make my way to someone who booked a session with me. But something started opening inside. A curiosity to connect more.

That evening my friend the tattooed sister and I prepared the space for the Love Lounge, wearing long dresses and fierce eyeliner. I started guiding people into some touch exercises. Gradually more and more people came in. As he promised he came over to the Love Lounge and gave me a hug. A little later he was immersed in an interaction with another woman. I felt the interest that had started building slipping away. If there’s one thing I’m not interested in, it’s a man who is searching, looking for approval in affection. No thanks. But he was making eye contact with me every now and then. There was a peaceful, grounded vibe coming from his gaze. An ‘I see you and I’m with you’. It felt nice and a little confusing. Should I let him in or let him go? He stood up and walked towards the bathroom. When he passed me he whispered in my ear.

“My attention is with you.”

A shiver went up in my spine. The part of me that was already letting go of this connection (I so don’t want a butterflying man hunting attention) opened up. He felt safe. I felt seen and met.

A Present Man

Tribe within a TribeWhen all the people left the Love Lounge, he walked over to me with a smile and held me. “What is it that you need, right now, after holding space for so many people?”

I am a big fan of consent. Of not just thinking you know what someone wants or needs. Assuming boundaries, or figuring them out by pushing further to see where a ‘no’ comes in. I love being asked what I want. I love asking what someone wants. And I love stating boundaries clearly.

“Right now I just want to be held. Let go of the evening so far. I would like to feel your arms around me.”

During workshops or sessions with a lot of people and strong emotions present, I also feel them intensely in my own body. Some I can let go right away, but after intense experiences I can need a release in the form of crying, screaming or shaking my body.

He held me for a long time while I could breathe through it all, letting go of what wasn’t mine and be able to feel myself and my own body again in this moment. We allowed the moment to unfold, slowly exploring each other with words, touch and kisses, checking in with the other each step of the way. We didn’t have sex that night, as he was still a participants and I a teacher.

The next day we talked with the team, openly confessing our desire to connect. We received a full green light and their blessings, as we were both teachers. I looked surprised at the man next to me. A teacher? We talked about many things that touched us deeply, but not about the more practical parts of our lives.

When I’m in a facilitator position, I’m there for others. Holding them in all ways I can, supporting their processes. Each time again I forget that I’m having my own processes as well. But they came. As he and I got to know each other through feeling each other deeply, sharing deep desires and fears and participating in workshops (or sneaking out like teenagers to share private time) I felt my body opening and relaxing. Because I felt met fully by this man who didn’t run when I cried. Didn’t get nervous when I encountered fear or raw power inside me.

This is what I asked for.

We made the Love Lounge our little bubble when everyone left, sleeping very little but exploring all the more. Making a little sharing family with the three of us: him, me and my tattooed friend. A magical little tribe-within-the-tribe. That feeling of knowing and trusting each other deeply even though you barely know each other’s name, let alone last name, age or daily occupation, but seeing each other’s tears, despair, hope, and bliss.

Now what?

The curiosity he and I felt for each other changed into a commitment of seeing each other at the solstices, four times a year when the seasons change. It felt beautiful and not quite right.

I offered him a place to stay in my house with my kids as he was looking for a bed. I don’t take lovers home easily. But it felt right. One more night of diving deep. Exploring where we held back on intimacy, where we could show ourselves more and supporting the other getting there. With patience, love, and provocation. Yes, loving provocation can be such a healing tool.

By the time I brought him to the airport there was a deep connection.

And again, now what?

Did I want a relationship? Was I ready for another non-monogamous partnership? I knew I wanted something different from my previous experiences. But attachment patterns are difficult to avoid.

‘Meeting you first, feeling you, fucking you, and then getting to know each other. A very congruent experience.’

His message gave me butterflies.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” Henry Ford once said.

So this time, I wanted to do things differently.

Do you want to explore deeper into your personal process of creativity, intimacy, love, and relationships? Book an (online or offline) individual session with me – also for business inspiration and finding where you feel stuck, and how to move beyond that.

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