This is a continuation and part of a series. This article, as is the series, is evolving.

To see Part 1, go here.

To see Part 2, go here.

I will acknowledge that quite a few men were thrown off guard by how our dates went. I think most men are accustomed to being in control but vastly unaware of how to put themselves into that position. Most women are looking for leadership. Even the dominant ones are looking to be checked (and I don't mean this like it might read... please don't go thinking I'm a female Andrew Tate. That guy knows how to land a woman, but he knows nothing OF women). The best pick-up artists know this, and they adjust their game accordingly (sometimes in an unethical or unsavoury way). The thing is, the average man isn't aware of things like power dynamics or the cheap tricks of the fly by night ladies' man. When I went on a date, I was almost always the one in control, but not necessarily because I was trying to be; because I know who I am and I was operating from a place of confidence. If a man could take the position of the leader, he was more likely to capture my attention. Could he dance with me. I did not need him; I wanted 'him'... I desired 'him'... but few of the men I went on a date with were the 'him' that I was envisioning. This didn't matter on the date (I could generally tell within 15 minutes if I would go on a second date with a man) and I allowed the date to progress either way in most cases. I saw the opportunity as a way to learn more about the human in front of me, about men in general, and also about myself and my process. Was my certainty in the beginning of the date still accurate in the end? What was this intuition that I seemed to have? Where did it come from? Was there a way to measure it? Does everyone have this?

I was met with disappointment when men would confidently ask me for a second date, only for me to politely and honestly decline. I also did something that I'm fairly certain most women had not done - I asked them if they would like to know why. Often stunned by my rejection, I was surprised (and dare I say, somewhat delighted) when these men chose to take the difficult path and say yes. It seemed I had created such a space of safety for them in our meeting that they trusted that my observations and explanations, knowing the outcome was still a rejection, were valuable enough to hear. These men wanted feedback, and I was honored to be in a position to give it. In my conversations, I noticed a few categories emerge. One group of men wanted to hear my feedback so they could attempt to change my mind. This was a futile attempt but one I received and replied to with great gentility. These men lacked confidence and did not understand that pleading with a woman to give them a second chance immediately placed them in her debts - something I had typically seen on the date already. I wanted a man who was a formidable partner, one who could draw my gaze to him from across a crowded room. Not for his charisma or his looks in particular, but because of his energy. Like attracts like, and I desired resonance. The second group asked for feedback to convince me that what I observed was not so. This was the trickiest group. These men were left wanting, but were not willing to face the reality of their shortcomings. I do not believe anyone to be hopeless; on the contrary, I believe deeply that every person has a unique gift and presence that is ideal above anyone else on the market (once they identify and embody it). The problem is that in addition to our gifted essence, we also have flaws, often hiding in the shadows... or in the open. To these men, I would offer a possibility that there are elements of my character that might not be ideal for them, and that perhaps it is simply my own preferences that are causing me to choose another. I am a believer in radical authenticity and so it was a fine line on how I communicated this message; I positioned my mind in possibility, and agreed with as much of what they said as I honestly could, and then I asked them very open ended but leading questions in the event they might come to some breakthrough in regards to their self awareness. I do not believe in forcing growth and in these scenarios that definitely would have been the case, so I surrendered to their capability or inability of seeing another perspective and left it there. In the third category of men, and these were the ones who really felt we had alignment, there legitimately were situational or character realities that told me that our paths in life simply were not aligned. I explained my logistical or life path related assessment of our mismatch, to which most honestly agreed that furthering a connection would be unnecessarily difficult if not insurmountable in the long run. These men gracefully accepted my judgment and most stayed connected in some way, both wishing the other well in our journeys.

I look back now and see that many of the men I went on dates with truly did not have a chance. I did not know it at the time, but I was putting my own journey and needs ahead of the men I went on dates with and using them to learn and understand what it is that I wanted out of my life and who it was that I desired to be. I was being selfish... but isn't that somehow what we are supposed to do? No one else is going to live your life for you, and no one should be doing that. I needed to figure out my path, and that meant walking it. I was not ready to settle down back then. Somewhere inside of me I wanted to be ready, and since I had already traversed a 10 year commitment, I knew I could enter into a partnership successfully, but I was becoming a whole new human. I was finding my rhythm - a process most women bypass totally, or do early in their dating lives. I imagine this is what men feel in their 20's and 30's as time is passing but their right of passage ceremony hasn't been fulfilled internally. Perhaps this is why I was so magnetic to many men around this time. I was unattainable and free, confident and uninhibited. I was desirable without being able to be tamed. There was a sense of adrenaline is being around me, and unlike most women my age, i lacked any requirement for them to fit into a mold because I was truly and authentically living in the moment. There was only adventure available, and a test to keep up. At that time in my life, I was an unachievable entity and even I did not consciously realize what a pull I was having on the men. It took me a long time to understand why the most successful period of dating in my life came when I was largely unavailable. I set a challenge for men, a feat for them to conquer - but instead of being a bitch they could hate when the ultimate rejection came, I held them with love and compassion and (for many) helped them see how the chase was not about me; rather they were actually chasing their own destiny, walking their path to attain the manhood they sought.

In the three year period, and roughly 250 dates, there were only about 25 men that I went on a second date with, and there were only three men that I even considered dating long term. The first, I fell in love with - or maybe it was lust - probably a mixture of both. I was still healing and had yet to meet a man I wanted to date after my ten year relationship. He appeared in my story in an unexpected and magical way. Everything about our romance was wild and unconventional; deep and interesting. He was my match in every way, charisma that sparkled, dark humor that falls juuuuust on the line of going too far, a tall man not initially dashingly handsome, I needed only to take a second look to be swept away by his effortless pony tail and moody and sad yet somehow hopeful eyes. He was witty and intelligent and even played the saxophone... and he was a womanizer; to be clear - this is not a slight towards him, some might have called me a maneater - it was as if the player inside of me, my sacral masculine energy, felt the call to hunt and slay the ultimate game, as he too was somehow unattainable. Much as I wanted it to, I suppose it never could have worked, and maybe that was part of its allure. I have never felt such visceral desire to be with a man - something that should have cued me in that my own trauma was likely behind the intrigue. I never met a man whom I felt so similar to and simultaneously challeneged by; he was the first person in my life that I truly dreamt of having children with. We had a two week romance with every bit of intensity and intrigue followed by a desperate attempt (maybe mostly on my part) to remain together somehow as I left the city, and then the country. Roughly two months in, with a wish and a hope we might date when I return, in an instant, he ghosted. To tell you the pain I experienced in this encounter will take a whole different post all together, but I learned some beautiful things about myself from this man. It took me ten months to recover from this two month affair, and about another year to fully heal, but every day and to this day, I have wished him all the happiness and fulfilment possible. I think that's another thing I realized later in my journey that makes me unique: once I love, I always love. It's almost like it's automatic but it is a choice. It's where I choose to come from, it's who I am. And feelings aside, this man also planted the seed for me to become a dating coach. Looking back now, I can more clearly see why he had such an impact on my life - aside from being someone I deeply cared for and connected with at the time, he somehow kindled a fire that would burn for years to come, a fire of my potential. I would not have the freedom or career that I love so much had I not met this man. He truly altered my life path.

A year later, I met the second man. Kleanthis (to date, the best named man I've dated) and I had the most amazing first date, hitting all the things you'd want - flowing conversation, mental stimulation, humor, attraction - followed by a desperate attempt to wait another week before our next planned meeting; We made it two days before he drove the hour to come see me again. We dove in fast, getting swept up in a bubble of shared intellectual interests and undeniable chemistry. A psychotherapist by profession, it did not take him long to realize that we were playing a dangerous game. We had gone too far, too fast, and we had totally different paths. He, recently divorced with a child, and me looking for a partner. He needed to walk his healing journey after his marriage, and I was looking for a long term partner. He sent me a text after leaving my apartment telling me that if he didn't send it at that exact moment, he knew he would see me the next days and not have the nerve. I felt so respected by him and the way he honored me by speaking his truth. A letter written in reply, a conversation by phone, and just like that... it was over. I knew I had grown when I asked him, in full authenticity, if we could stay in touch. Three years later, he congratulated me on the birth of my son, and my pure goodwill towards him remains.

The third, well, he is the one who introduced me to this space. Shockingly, with how effectively we were each utilizing our Tinder accounts, we met by chance in person at a digital nomads networking group. He was a local, and I was a permanent resident. At a group coffee meet up, I claimed that I lived in Greece and intended to find a Greek man to marry (only half joking) to which he humorously replied that I didnt know what I was asking for. I snarkily but jokingly responded that he need not worry about my plans, as he wasn't a contender 😜 We met a few times before the spark occurred (the 'spark' being a very public unplanned makeout session after a too many gin and tonics and an after hours techno event one Friday evening). Maybe I'll share the full story another time, but suffice it to say that of all of the dynamics I have had, the tumultuous relationship with this man (lasting almost six months and multiple revolutions) was by far the most toxic and magnetic - and the one that taught me the most about myself, who I can be, and who I choose to be. We were not meant to be lovers in the long run, but we were meant to be friends. He has become a confidant, and is one of my deepest supporters (and I, his). He has changed my life for the better, and his friendship is one of the things in this life I hold most dear.

(...To be continued)

This post is part of an evolving series. Stay tuned for new installments.