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Finding Zen in Online Dating
Let’s face it, technology at its best invigorates. At its worst, it is addictive. Add the possibility of romance and it is hard to stay balanced. “Hmm, I think I’ll check my email and see if NatureNerd responded to my wink” is hardly ever the tone of our thoughts when we are digitally dating—that kind of calm curiosity that exemplifies zen. The more likely response sounds something like, “Oh God, oh God, oh God, I hope…(Hold breath. Check email.) Ahhh! No one ever responds to my emails!”
Then there are salespeople—often well-meaning but salespeople nonetheless—who prey upon our attachment issues by offering to help us find someone they call The One. As a licensed professional counselor and a board-certified dance therapist, I use words like attachment issues. Understanding the science of human bonding is why I have to burst people’s bubbles with the fact that The One is their mother.
The idea of finding The One ignites a primitive biological drive and can operate like an addiction. Addiction is often called a disease and it certainly is a dis-ease, a lack of ease, for which we seek fixes. When we find something that creates ease in the short term but amps up the dis-ease in the long term, we’re hooked. When we believe there are ways to attract a special one and only, we can experience a kind of temporary peacefulness that comes when we feel we have control.
As babies, our very lives depend on attracting adults to care for us. We have incomplete nervous systems and must therefore form a symbiotic bond with a primary caregiver. Our little animal selves are born with the biological imperative to connect to our birth mothers. A baby will crawl to its mother’s breast. http://www.breastcrawl.org/science.shtml In studies, babies who have breast pads of their mother’s milk on one side of their heads and breast pads of another’s milk on the other side, turn toward the side of the breast pad of their mother’s milk. People who were adopted as babies often search for their birth mother way into adulthood. There is only one person in the world that is or ever will be our birth mom.
When we are encouraged to find The One, it can stir a need for bonding that began in infancy. If our bonding was not sufficiently calming to our infant nervous system, we develop what is called an insecure attachment style. We have attachment issues and are tempted to pay for help to find The One.
If The One is our biological mother, what about the idea of spiritual soul mates? The idea of partnering with a soul mate is more of a new age idea than a Buddhist or Hindu idea—the faiths that teach reincarnation. Edgar Cayce, the America mystic who addresses the idea of soul mates as part of his discussion of reincarnation reminds us we have many.
In Hinduism, Shiva and Shakti are perfect partners. These gods teach us about the balance of masculine and feminine. The psychiatrist Carl Jung spoke of the internal marriage in another effort to help us understand the importance of masculine and feminine balance. Each man has an animal and each woman has an animus. This perfect partnership happens within ourselves. The perfect partnership outside ourselves is the symbiotic reconnection with the body we separate from at birth.
To stay zen when we are searching for romantic partners especially when we are experiencing the constant information flow of technology, let’s not add to the addictive potential of digital highs by imagining we have the power to manifest The One. If we fantasize that visualizing specifically what we want will bring us the perfect match, we can fool ourselves into thinking we have more control than we do.
We will find more of an ability to be zen in our digital dating when we do what all Twelve-steppers know to do—seek the serenity to accept what we cannot control. Then, let’s have the courage to change what we can. If we have attachment insecurity, we can help ourselves accept that there is no lover that will complete us. We must find the marriage of Shiva and Shakti within ourselves. We can check our emails using breath to encourage calm curiosity when logging on. We can check in with our bodies periodically—set a timer if we need to—for feedback about how full of information we are at any given moment. When we are full we can turn off our device and do the next real-life thing that brings us joy.
Dee Wagner, a licensed professional counselor and board-certified dance therapist practicing in the US for the last twenty-two years, is co-author ...Read More
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