Out of the blue, my on-again/off-again girlfriend dumped me. For years, we had gone back and forth in a sometimes healthy, other times toxic relationship that dominated both of our lives. The challenging part was that we both lived and worked together with no plans to change either of these circumstances.
The extra interesting part was that we lived with about 50 other people in an intentional sexual research community in the SOMA region of San Francisco. Not easy.
I co-founded OneTaste with my business partner Nicole in 2004. We started off with the goal to bring a practice of conscious sexuality into the mainstream market called OMing. We taught workshops and did private coaching and founded a community formed around the work. In 2009, we converted a dilapidated, 42 room SRO hotel into what was to be known as The Residence.
It was an epic adventure to live in the chaotic but very intimate halls with 50 people researching relationship, intimacy, and sexuality. We had the highs of rich experiences and the lows of deafening drama.
I had the corner room on the top floor and was fully engaged in all the activities of the house. There was a constant stream of people coming in and out of my room for talks, practice, and make-outs.
It was an amazing time. So when the breakup occurred, I expected to get back into the flow of dating and fun. There were many women I wanted to date and didn’t expect to be alone for very long.
Unexpectedly, Nicole made a recommendation to me:
Instead of jumping right back into finding another, why don’t you take some time off? Why don’t you try a period of no sex, flirting or being with people? How about 90 days?
I was taken aback and even a little mad.
No dating? Living in the middle of all this? WTF? No way!
Then, I sat with the thought for a few minutes and started to perceive the value. I had been on the crazy rollercoaster of non-monogamous relationships for over ten years. I had thousands of experiences and never once had I considered this option. I felt both flavors of absolute fear and wild curiosity. Three months was a drop in time of my entire life, and the women weren’t going anywhere. Why not try it?
I have always been a man of practice. When I set my eyes on a goal, I pursue it with dogged determination. When I wanted to play piano, I practiced every day. I worked extra hours at my first job to learn my trade. I value the power of integrity and keeping my word in my business. So, when I say I’m going to do something, I fully commit. I thanked Nicole for the suggestion and started that day.
The first month was very difficult. Actually, it was torture. I didn’t do a broad announcement to the community that I was off the market, so I had to have many conversations with interested women about my research project.
My usual flirting and sex partners saw the change immediately, and new women wanting my attention were given my spiel about my choice. I would walk down the halls, head down, hear the sounds of passion coming from other rooms and felt the addictive pull of my habits. I loved flirting, was good at it, and was now turning it off completely.
I masturbated more in that first month than probably in the year prior and felt it’s diminishing returns. I watched porn and felt ugly afterward.
My relationship with porn has varied over my years. When I wasn’t having regular sex, I would turn to it for comfort and to “get off.” While in a sexual relationship, it didn’t seem that interesting. However, in this first month of solitude, I found myself turning to it with a recurring frequency.
Quickly, I felt the relief feel less and less satisfying. I knew that I was replacing one bad habit with another and I was clear that it wasn’t the answer. I felt worse after each viewing experience for the first time in my life.
Loneliness was my new constant companion, and I wanted to break my agreement about a thousand times. I had never experienced this whiny, weak, and desperate for female companionship side of myself. It was humbling, to say the least, to know how hooked I was for external validation.
It also showed me some other bad habits. After I rejected one woman, she asked, “Would I have said ‘Yes’ if I was available?” I responded a simple “of course” when I knew I wasn’t attracted to her. I saw the conniving and untruthful aspects of my psyche.
I was an intrigue addict.
Sex and Love Anonymous (SLAA) talks about this concept.
This is the aspect of ourselves that falls in love with the possibility of sex or romance. Intrigue is the gooey side of romance. It may show up as the drive to get as many numbers as possible, the love of the chase or the furtive glances to that special someone in your office. It is the pull for another hit of the powerful cocktail of dopamine, phenylethylamine, and oxytocin that comes with these actions.
I loved both buying and selling intrigue. I loved rain checks sometimes more than an actual hookup and spent hours on text, Facebook messenger, and Match.com setting up possible connections. With this first month of going cold-turkey, I suddenly had a lot of time to see this part of myself, and it wasn’t pretty.
I started to feel some relief in month two. There are scientific studies that say it takes 28 days to break a habit and I felt the reality of that.
The word had gotten out that I was off the market and I no longer had to have “the talk.” I spent more time at the gym, going to SLAA meetings, sleeping deeper, and had more time to be with myself. I was still getting value and connection through my business and saw that I was undervaluing those areas as well. I read more, watched TV, and enjoyed my own company.
On Saturday nights, I started a new tradition. I would take a bus from the residence in SOMA to a 6 pm meeting across town. Afterward, I would put on my headphones, start up my audiobook, and walk the five miles home through the wondrous Mission district. I would shop at the second-hand stores, drink coffee at Phil’s, watch the people and enjoy the exercise back to my house. I would then order the same items at the local pizza shop, squirrel it up to my room, and watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I would feel relieved in those nights, happy with myself and my diligence, and truly feel well-rested.
The research project ended up going for FIVE months instead of three.
I started to date again but with more awareness of my habits, my intentions and knowing who I wanted to be in a relationship. I started to have more intimate relationships and discovered I was being more authentic as a result of being satisfied with being ok with myself.
The best thing I learned was the power of self-validation. I learned during that alone time how to truly reward myself for who I was. I tore off the leash of constantly looking for external validation and found immense freedom in it.
Before when women would validate me, it felt great. After my research project was underway, validation from women felt more like the fine ice cream on top of my apple crumble warmed to perfection.
This five-month experiment drastically changed my entire life. I had a new deep reservoir of self-love, the skills to self-validate, and a knowing that I had moved from NEEDING women to wanting them. I had learned the skill of seeing ABUNDANCE.
Currently, out of OneTaste, writing my book, working solo, I have found so much strength in myself and attracted a most wonderful woman to be in a relationship with. I sit in gratitude first to Nicole for the recommendation, then to myself for saying yes.
Is it possible for you to create this experience? The answer is an absolute YES. Here are some suggestions on how you can build your own research project.
- Identify one small or large aspect of your life that you wish to up-level.
- Investigate some possible paths to take on how to work with this issue. If it’s too challenging, engage a therapist or coach to help you design your path.
- Commit to a time period. 100%.
- Implement your project. Move through the struggle, continue to feel all the feelings. If it’s too intense or unhealthy, then give yourself permission to modify. Acquire accountability partners.
- Complete your milestone. Celebrate. Debrief.
- If you desire, recommit and go deeper.