si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Category: communication

Learning To Love Everything

Unconditional love is a slippery little bugger.

The basic problem is judgement. As soon as our brain screams “This guy doesn’t deserve love” or “Yes he does!” then voila, it’s no longer unconditional.

Yes, even deciding someone does deserve love is not unconditional.

But ok, let’s back up a bit. Why the hell bother with love anyway?

Several reasons:

  1. Being loving is the highest, happiest place we can be
  2. It’s healthiest for us
  3. It’s the best for those around us (i.e., those we care about)

Check it: think of someone you really like. Now imagine them in front of you, while you’re being the nicest you possibly can be. You’re doing something they enjoy, saying something they adore hearing, and they’re happy happy happy. How do you feel? That’s right. Unbelievable.

Now true, there’s definitely an endorphin kick to improving someone else’s life (philanthropists aren’t in it just for the tax breaks), but the real secret is that it feels great to be loving. Even more so than being loved. Now that is a surprise.

Based on modern media, you’d think the happiest you could ever be is when someone (preferably on a horse, wearing armour, maybe holding their lance) loves you.. but it’s quite possible for someone to love the hell out of you while you remain stubbornly miserable. Trust me, I’ve been there (uhh, sorry, ex-girlfriends).

Why do you think limerance, those early stages of a new relationship, feels so great? It’s not just because someone is flattering us (while forgiving our *cough* more human aspects). It’s because we’re being unconditionally loving (ie the same) to them.

Not only that, but as our new lover holds a mirror to the best parts of us, we are unconditionally loving towards ourselves. For a brief moment all the self-criticism pauses and we are truly self-loving.

Being loving is peaceful, happy and it’s zero stress. It enhances our health and makes us a hell of a lot nicer to be around. Perfectly desirable, you might say.

On the flipside, non-loving feelings feel crappy, and who wants that?

Keeping Our Brain Out Of It

Since being loving feels so great, why wouldn’t we want to feel it all the time? So how do you love consistently, without the ol’ lizard brain jumping in the way?

The trick is to make the decision to always love. Then keep reminding yourself as often as possible. This way you never have to make another “Does this person deserve love?” type decision. If your default response is to always love, you never need to think. It keeps your brain out of the picture altogether.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of either-or thinking, but in the case of love it’s useful.

Every thought or feeling can be easily divided into loving or non-loving. If it’s non-loving, we can simply let it go (I’ll explain how in a bit) and replace it with the opposite, loving feeling.

It’s the kind of assessment you can do without going via your brain: Loving is super easy to see; non-loving is everything else.

Keeping our brains out of it is critical. It stops us tying ourselves up in knots. Ye olde Keep It Simple, Sexy.

Getting Started

Best of all, it really doesn’t matter if you suck at being loving – or if you feel you’ve never experienced love. Every time you let go of a non-loving thought & decide to be (more) loving, things get a teensy bit better. It’s just a practice. Every step you take is a step in the right direction. It gets much, much easier the more you do it.

Oh, and you can always try (I did, with great success) “I love that I suck at loving”, “I love that I can’t (feel) love” and so on. Whatever feels right to you; It all helps.

As an end goal, if it was possible to be loving all the time about everything (spoiler: it is), then you’d feel great every second of every day, no matter what happened around you.

To start with, even feeling great for a moment is better than not, so it’s totally worth trying. You find joy on the journey and every step towards that goal gets more joyful, and easier.

Of course, if you consciously want to feel crappy about something, this may not be the approach for you.. but that’s ok too. Everyone chooses their own path.

“I Am Loving” vs “I Love”

Now, what I’m talking about is being in a state of loving. Ideally always, but every second helps.

English is a little tricky here, since when we say “I love cheese” we’re talking about our attitude towards cheese. “I am loving cheese” indicates a state of being. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Unfortunately, “I am loving” is a far more passive sentence, so it’s less useful in practical terms, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The short version is this: it’s quite feasible to say “I am loving about this” while holding onto non-loving feelings. Remember love the sinner, hate the sin (and other hypocrasies)? Yeah, that.

So even though we’re aiming for “I am loving cheese”, it’s most powerful to say “I love cheese.” Uhh, or other, you know, not-cheese stuff.

How To Do It

Right. Enough of the chit-chat, how do you do this?

It’s very simple. You remember how to let things go, right? (hint: just choose to.) You’re the boss. Every voice that pops up “Wahh, I can’t because..” well, they’re wrong. Persistent, convincing, LOUD, yes, but wrong. You’re the boss. Just keep reasserting yourself, and bit-by-bit you will reclaim your inner power.

Now, think of something you hate. Something that bugs the hell out of you, really tickles your monkey. Now say (out loud, preferably.. and tapping your karate chop point, if you feel like an extra boost):

“I love (whatever it is)”

Feel the tension rising up? Getting pissed off? Brain screaming loudly “No, I don’t love it, because….[insert whatever bullshit reasons here].”

Yeah well, guess what, that bullshit coming up is not describing the issue, it is the issue. Letting go of those thoughts & feelings is what matters. That’s the paradox, the crux of it all. You let go of those feelings and voila:

a) it doesn’t matter whether the external situation continues or not, and

b) half the time the damn thing will disappear anyway.

Crap sticks around until we learn what we need to, then it moves on.

Love is the strongest positive emotion, so invoking that is guaranteed to bring up all opposing thoughts & feelings.

Just keep saying it and keep letting go until it’s all gone and you feel loving. That’s it.

You’re The Boss Of You, Always

This whole thing is about re-asserting your authority. You’re the boss, of your thoughts and of your feelings. You’re choosing to love, so that’s the end of it. Keep choosing it, keep letting go, and all that crap will disappear, leaving you peaceful and happy. The more you do it, the happier you’ll be.

You’re the boss, remember. If you choose to love something, even if you’ve hated it your whole life, well, that’s the way it’s gonna be from now.

Also, remember, you’re doing this for you, not for (what or whomever it is).

Say someone’s really hurt you. Ok, well, that sucks, sure. But listen, you feeling crappy about it now is only hurting you. Continuing to feel non-loving about it is only harming who? Yes, you. So, choosing to be loving is choosing to feel better about it. It’s deciding that you are the boss of how you feel.. and whomever it was that hurt you doesn’t have the power to continue making you feel bad now.

You are the boss of you, not them.

When you first do this, it may seem like the toughest thing in the world to say “I love (this terrible thing)” but you’ll get the hang of it. Just stick in there. Keep reminding yourself: You’re the boss.

A lot of times, just setting the intention is all that’s needed, and those non-loving feelings will dissipate in seconds. Yes, seconds. Sometimes with messier stuff you might need to sit with it a bit, or come back to it the next day. Maybe if it’s really overwhelming throw some EFT at it, but the key is to aim for feeling genuinely loving about it.

That’s all there is to it. It’s just a choice. Like choosing to lift your arm. Seriously.

So, for all the screaming our brain does – really it’s all bullshit. It’s our amygdala, our lizard brain trying to frighten us, telling us we have to freak out or we’ll die.

It’s always bullshit. You choose how you feel.

This doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in harm’s way. You can safely cross a road, but it’s not necessary to do it quivering in fear with tears streaming down your face. Get in a loving space first, and no matter how scary the road used to be, you’ll be optimally placed to cross it in a way that is most loving for you and everyone else involved.

Yes, it can take a little practice, but that’s ok. What’s the potential downside? You stay feeling as crappy as you do now about that situation. Not much of a risk.

Loving The Big Stuff

In terms of getting started, you’ll get the biggest bang-for-your-buck by starting with the stuff that pisses you off the most. That’ll shift the most detritus, and having you feeling better the soonest.

Note above what I was saying about the subtle distinction between “I am loving” (the desired end state) and “I love this” (the most effective thing to say).

Now, there are many terrible things people do to each other, so let’s Godwin this discussion right away: What about Hitler?

11 to 17 million people killed. Jews, gypsies, blacks, Poles, Soviets, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled… all slaughtered in cold blood. How could we possibly love that? Wow, in fact, as I write this, even thinking “I love Hitler” is bringing up emotion, and I was born 30 years after he died.

Here’s the point: Even if I was in a position to do something about Hitler, I can do it from a loving place, or a nonloving place. Guess which is better, more powerful, will yield optimal results? Yep, that’s right.

Just ask Gandhi, he kicked the British Empire out of India. They had all the guns but he had all the love.

So, the reason we’re saying (in this ridiculous example) “I love Hitler,” is because what we’re doing is bringing up every single contrary thought and emotion, no matter how deep.

“I love (whatever)” is the single most powerful statement for pulling up this junk and clearing the subconscious.

The intent here is to get to a state of unconditional loving.

  • Does this mean we have to agree with what happened? No, of course not.
  • Are we doing it for their benefit? No, we’re doing it for ourselves, so we feel better.
  • Will it all disappear at once? Not necessarily, but every step closer is better for you.
  • Does this mean we will put ourselves in harm’s way? Of course not.

Becoming loving doesn’t mean that by some magical transference we suddenly lose 50 IQ points.

Quite the opposite. When we’re cleared of muddying emotional reactions, we’re no longer reacting like amoeba – stimulus-response, stimulus-response. Being loving brings clarity.

(Now, since we’re all little energetic sending & receiving stations, ultimately it will affect the other party too, but that’s a whole other conversation)

Additionally, in order to get to that loving place, we will clear out all the pain, anger and emotional trauma we’ve built up around the situation – whether real or imagined (and our imaginations are terrible things when it comes to self-torture after a traumatic event).

Let’s say you have a crappy relationship with someone at work. Do you really believe they don’t know you’re pissed off? We’re a lot more sensitive than we realise, even if we can’t always identify why. Getting into a state of loving about that person helps you. It makes your life better, regardless of their (mis)behaviour. Additionally, how assholish do you think they’re going to be if you do genuinely love them? Ha ha, really not. They’ll pick up on that too.

As surreal as this sounds, I’ve seen this several times in my life. People who’ve absolutely hated me, or even wanted to kill me (yes, I know!) – when I got into a place of pure loving towards them (which really just meant dropping all my antagonism) the situation naturally resolved itself, without me doing anything at all. They called saying they’d missed me, or out of the blue paid for a flight for me to go see them.. or, they just up and disappeared out my life altogether – and I don’t just mean “leave” I mean, “move city” or “move country.”

Never underestimate the power of love.

So, to get a damn good start, just work through all the stuff in your life that brings up non-loving feelings. Take ’em one at a time and just say “I love this”, feeling as loving as you can manage and letting go of all internal tension. If you can’t manage that, start with “I choose to love this.” Persist. You’ll get there.

How will you know what to start with? Easy. Whatever pops in your head. Don’t save it till later, get in the habit of just doing it wherever you are, whenever. That way you’ll be dropping stuff all day every day.

Non Loving Thoughts and Feelings

Now, non-loving thoughts can be a bit harder to identify than giant chunks of things-we-hate.

The subtle thing here is – how often do we think about something? Well, it’s hard to know, isn’t it. We have tens if not hundreds of thousands of thoughts a day but how many of those are we consciously aware of? Very, very few.

Tell you what though, the emotional payload that comes with these thoughts definitely affects us. Maybe only for a fraction of a second, but boy, it adds up.

So how do you get rid of stuff you can’t even see?

Here’s one neat way. Any time you have a non-loving thought, eg, “I suck at this”, respond in four ways:

  1. Let go of the thought (choose to stop thinking it, imagine it floating away, whatever works for you)
  2. Repeat “I love the part of me that sucks at this”, and release all tension
  3. Repeat “I love sucking at this”, and release all tension (ho ho, this is a goodie)
  4. Finally, emphasise “I rock at this!”, releasing all tension.

Do this till you feel great.

Note the subtle variations in two and three. Not just loving the thought, but also any beating yourself up that came with it.

The phrase “I love the part of me that…” is super helpful here. It helps dissociate yourself from whatever-it-is, just enough to help let things go.

The trick, as I said, is the unconditional bit. Leave judgement at the door, ignore the why or why not and do it for everyone and everything. Get out of your head and into your heart.

Additionally, don’t worry too much about trying to figure any of it out. If you have an icky feeling, just say “I love this icky feeling” and let it go, without trying to nut out what it’s about or why. It’s much more effective.

I’m finding that often if I’m be feeling lethargic (say), I can spend a couple of hours trying to get to the bottom of why I’m lethargic and maybe figure it out. Alternatively, I can just say “I love that I’m feeling lethargic” and it floats away relatively effortlessly, without me ever having any idea what it was about. And really, if it’s gone, then who cares why?

I’ve been doing this for the last couple of months now, and every day is getting better than the one before. There’s a ton of related stuff I’ve discovered that ties into this but I’ll cover that later. This is the core. Do this one simple thing (love everything) and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, as you love all those non-loving thoughts & feelings away, and life gets exponentially better.

If you have trouble remembering the details, just do this: Any thought or feeling that arises, simply say “I love the part of me that…(whatever it is)” and let go of all tension that arises. Feelings come up because they want to leave. Repeat until you feel loving.

Give it a shot. See how you feel. Guaranteed you feel better, in exchange for almost no effort at all. How loving is that?


    Are You Using The Internet, Or Is The Internet Using You?

    I’ve been giving my internet use a bit of thought recently.

    I realised (wild generalisation alert!), there are two primary ways I use the internet:

    1. To waste time
    2. To find information

    and, of course, a few secondary ways:

    • To build, create, produce, expand (eg, write a blog post, build a business, send love to people)
    • To communicate
    • To provide services to others

    Sites like Facebook, Twitter etc are built on communication – but even there, most of the time we’re really just doing something because it fills in time. I.e., we’re firmly in category 1.

    The time-wasting sites are easy to spot. We go there when we’re trying to avoid or escape from something else (drudgery, unpleasant tasks, boring work). We look up and the next thing we know, hours have passed. We have slightly more information in our head, sure, but it’s of dubious benefit.

    The question underneath all this is simple: Are we expanding or contracting our life? Are we producing or consuming?

    If all we’re doing is consuming, that’s a contraction. We’re not adding anything to the world and generally, we’re actually disconnecting from the people & things around us. Trite chit-chat is no substitute for a heart felt conversation.

    If we’re producing something, that’s an expansion. We’re adding value to the world.

    If we’re using the internet as a conscious tool, then it’s working for us. If all we’re doing is wasting time? Really, we’re working for it (and the pay rate is lousy)

    Based on this, I’ve switched off access to my primary time waster sites (reddit, slashdot, hacker news, boing boing, kottke). As interesting as they are, it’s time for me to more consciously choose what I put into my mind.

    Minimise the external (and typically trivialising) influence, maximise my internal choice.


      How To Never Feel Rejected Again

      I’m finding that when I get the same thing occurring in many areas of my life within a very short period of time it’s time for me to learn a very specific lesson.

      Recently I found myself feeling rejected, in various ways, in 6 or 7 different situations over the span of a week or so.

      Typically it would go something like this:

      1. I’m looking to make a connection with somebody – to spend time, or go see a movie, say.
      2. I get enthusiastic & excited, looking forward to this situation.
      3. They then deny me that connection.
      4. I feel rejected, & disappointed that it’s not happening.
      5. I then react badly (get grumpy, upset, or act coldly towards them, etc)

      So then we have two people feeling crappy, instead of one.. that can’t be good!

      pic by lady vervaine

      I’ve taken to going for monster 3 hour walks while listening to various soothing podcasts. It’s a wonderful way to get exercise and get things clear in my head.

      On one of these recent long walks, I had the following realisations:

      The key issue with rejection is this – said person is not behaving the way I want them to. I.e., I’m trying to control them.

      If you stop and think about it, wanting to control anyone is the height of arrogance. It’s taking away their own free will, not to mention assuming we know better than they do what’s right for them – and how would we feel if someone else tried to do it to us?

      So, when that control fails (as, of course, it will – we can’t ever really control anyone else), I then disapprove of them – ie, I withdraw my love.

      pic by

      pic by sephorah

      Now, for a start this doesn’t tie in well with my intention of unconditional love always.

      Secondly, my not feeling rejected is entirely predicated on my control of them succeeding (which, of course, it won’t).

      I’d been tying how I loving I feel towards them to whether or not they behaved the way I wanted them to. So, sooner or later I’m going to end up being ‘not loving’ towards them (and as a side issue, feeling crappy myself).

      To shortcut the whole rejection thing, I need to let go of the expectation that they will always behave exactly the way I want, or indeed that I have any control over them at all.

      Once I let go of wanting to control them, I can choose to love them regardless of their behaviour.

      Oh, and voila, since their behaviour makes no difference to this choice I’m never going to feel rejected by anything they do. Sometimes they’ll behave in a way I might enjoy more (which is great), sometimes they won’t (in which case, who cares, it’s their life to do with as they wish).

      Of course, I’m always free to remove them from my life if what they’re doing is particularly deleterious to myself – but that’s a whole other conversation.

      Dogs never try to control, always just love. pic by ingrid0804

      In summary:

      Wanting to control others leads to feeling rejected when this control fails.

      Choosing to love (have positive regard towards) them regardless of their behaviour means never feeling rejected again.

      If there’s one thing I’m learning in spades, life really can be very, very simple.


        Talking By Text Sucks (& How)

        Particularly in recent years, reading & writing have taken over our lives. We communicate primarily by text an increasing amount of the time. Facebook, Twitter, email, IM, SMS, blogs, forums, the list goes on.

        There are some very real problems with communicating by text.

        pic by alex guerra


        Unless both parties are typing an equal amount, any text based conversation is going to seem very one sided very quickly. In fact, not just a roughly equal amount of text, but an equal amount of thought, energy & attention (eg, not just blathering for the sake of word count)

        This isn’t how regular conversations work though. If you’re face-to-face and actively listening, you are communicating back, a lot: with body language, intonation (even if you’re just saying “go on”), energy, presence, being, even touching. There’s a lot going on that isn’t spoken.

        Particularly being an active listener (where you’re really paying attention to the person you’re listening to) you’re communicating a hell of a lot. With zero words.

        Depending on who you ask, as much as 93% of communication is non verbal. Of course, all of that is lost via text.

        If someone doesn’t reply to you at all, you get exactly zero information¬† – unless of course you’re able to deduce something from what they didn’t reply to.

        With so much of how we normally communicate unavailable to us, imbalances occur very easily.

        pic by naunau


        The other thing that text loses completely is context. In person, it’s possible to see if the other person is distracted, tired, stressed or has just spilt coffee on themselves. Via text, you have none of this, unless they explicitly tell you.

        In the days of writing letters this may not have been such a big deal. Writing a letter a week is low volume enough that whatever is immediately happening in your day will have negligible effect on the words that are sent. However, these days so much of communcation is via text – email, im, twitter, facebook, texting, you name it. There’s so much, & it’s all day every day.

        It’s quite possible that something you took to be incredibly serious & upsetting just happened to be right after they got scratched by their cat, or spilt coffee in their lap.

        Now that’s environmental context – there may be tone coming through the message that is actually utterly irrelevant to the conversation.

        The other thing that’s very easy to lose commonly occurs in formats that allow for multiple overlapping conversations at once – twitter, irc, im etc. It’s quite common for conversational context to be lost. A statement may be made, but because of the overlapping, it becomes unclear what it’s in reply to. We need to stop, reconnect the threads again & then continue. Or, worse yet, we don’t realise there’s been the loss of context & instead get completely the wrong message.

        A third difficulty is how hard it can be to both accurately convey and interpret such nuances as sarcasm.  People typically over-estimate their ability to convey sarcasm and their ability to correctly identify it. Online this can be deadly.

        pic by krazy dad/jbum

        Building Relationships

        The combination of the above two – asymmetrical & contextual difficulties, mean that text communication is frightfully prone to misunderstandings. Some studies say that as much as 50% of text communication is misunderstood.

        In terms of building a relationship then, while it is possible to do this over text, you’re making life a lot harder for yourself. Missing out on many subtle sub-cues, making it harder than ever to communicate clearly, and so on.

        Additionally unless you love text, you’re immediately disadvantaged. If you express yourself better verbally, or physically, you’re just plain out of luck.

        The worst situation is if one of you is someone that enjoys & is good at text communication, & the other isn’t (or primarily communicates through another modality).

        I’ve met some people for example who can’t write an email to save themselves, and yet in person are an utter delight, like a sunbeam dancing on a rainbow. Obviously the only solution here is to make sure you always live in the same city, so you get to fully enjoy the wonderfulness that is them.

        pic by abhi

        With all these limitations, difficulties & complications, how many otherwise potentially wonderful friendships are lost to text? Who really knows.

        All I can recommend is this:

        1. Understand, be aware & compensate for the limitations & distortions of communicating via text
        2. Get the hell out of it into a much richer medium as soon as you possibly can


          Making Friends Online

          I’ve been online a very long time. Since the late 80’s. That’s before what we currently know as the net was much more than a twinkling in a small handful of San Francisco computers.

          So, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the intricacies & common pitfalls of meeting someone online.

          The first thing to do is let go of the idea that there’s anything particularly special about “meeting someone on the net.”

          The internet is just a way of communicating. It’s no different from meeting someone face to face, via the telephone (don’t laugh, I ended up dating someone for years that I first talked to over the phone), or even really old school – by writing, aka pen pals. The only difference is the bandwidth of the medium.

          The Importance Of Bandwidth

          What do I mean by bandwidth? Simply put, how much information is transmitted while you’re communicating.

          How do you figure that out? Just think about how much you can tell someone and then how much delay there is during that conversation.

          If I can only type one word at a time and there’s ten minute delay between words, that’s not a lot of bandwidth. Compare that with being face-to-face, being able to see, hear, touch someone. That’s super high bandwith.

          In terms of bandwidth, there’s a definite hierarchy:

          1. Twitter/SMS (140/160 chars at a time, slow back-and-forth)
          2. IRC/IM (short message, but less delay)
          3. Email (can go into much more depth, nested conversations etc)
          4. Voice
          5. Skype (video)
          6. Face-to-face

          & once you’re face-to-face of course, there’s a further hierarchy.

          1. Formal situation (eg work place).
          2. Informal, but physically distant.
          3. Informal, but physically close (within a foot or two)
          4. Naked, close
          5. Naked, touching
          6. Energetically entwined/internal

          The key with physical distance is – the space around us is not empty. There’s information there. This is one reason you can feel if someone is standing “too close” to you, or why you feel uncomfortable. It’s not just about the physical, it’s their energy interacting & interfering with ours.

          So why is this even relevant? Because all human interaction is about communication, & the higher the bandwidth, the better the communication.

          The critical point here: When getting to know someone, more bandwidth is better.

          How We Make Friends

          Making friends is a pretty straight forward process. This is similar regardless of the depth of the relationship we’re building towards (acquaintenances, buddies, friends, emotional support network, intimate partners). The only difference is how far we take the process, & the level of discrimination we apply.

          1. Similar interests? (easy to determine, low invasiveness)
          2. Similar world view? (takes more time, but critical for mutual approval & understanding)
          3. Do we like them? (although it is possible to be friends, eg with people we dislike but respect, it is harder)
          4. Do we trust them? (this’ll determine how much deeper we let the relationship go)

          With low grade friendships (eg guys we hang out & watch football with) we typically only need to go as far as stage 1. With a healthy intimate partner, we’d need to go all the way to level 4.

          Once we’re ok at one level, we can choose to investigate the next.

          Of course, there is a lot more complexity here, I’m simplifying for the sake of clarity.

          How Do We Get To Know Someone?

          Fundamentally, we progress through the above process in direct proportion to how much bandwidth (ie, information) has been shared between us.

          Spend a week in close proximity to someone, you’ll get to know them a lot faster than a week spent texting. This is why you can spend years getting to know someone at a distance, but the relationship really doesn’t start in earnest until you’re both in the same physical space.

          So if you want to get to know someone, become friends with them, the trick is simple: Increase the bandwith as quickly and as much as possible.

          The longer we spend at the low bandwidth end of things (twitter, sms, facebook etc) the more likely we are to fundamentally misunderstand or misjudge someone we might otherwise become excellent friends with.

          If we want to build a quality relationship with someone, we need information before we can make a qualitative judgement. This is the “I thought you were awesome, but you’re actually a complete dick!” problem.

          If we want to know how far or how deep to take the relationship, we need information. This is the “You looked hot with the lights out, but now they’re on.. ARGH!” problem.

          If we want to know whether to trust someone, we need information. This is the “I told you my secret, but you blabbed it to everyone!” problem.

          How do we get the information we need? By communicating, of course – regardless of the medium (telephone, text, email, voice, face-to-face). The more communicating you do, the better you’ll know someone. The higher the bandwidth you’re able to achieve between each other, the more you can communicate.

          Really, getting to know someone on the internet is exactly the same as getting to know someone off – except you have¬† significantly more varieties & amounts of bandwidth to communicate over. It’s still not as great as spending time face-to-face, but it does enable the chance to get to know someone even if you’re not able to regularly spend time in the same physical space.

          Some Advanced Tips

          Communicating over the net has some surprising benefits that face to face doesn’t. Often people will tell you far more by what they don’t say than what they do.

          1. If someone regularly doesn’t respond to certain types of conversation – this is usually a sign they’re avoiding something. This sounds obvious, but it’s very easy for messages to fall through the cracks. It’s worth paying attention to whether the other person is just sloppy replying in general, or whether it’s always the same subject. Is it taboo in their culture/upbringing, are they shy, or is this going to be a point of contention in trying to progress the relationship any further?
          2. Are you both putting in similar amounts of effort? If one of you is initiating contact a lot more, or writing in more detail & only receiving off-the-cuff responses, a reasonable interpretation would be “they’re just not that into you”.
          3. Do you communicate at a similar level? Differences in grammar or spelling are obvious, but if one of you is only interested in talking about football, but the other would prefer to discuss the philosophical motivations that encourage societies to perpetuate acceptable proxies for inter-tribal violence, this difference may be worth paying attention to.
          4. Is communication frequency similar? Some people are happy emailing or texting once a day, or once every few weeks. Some prefer longer missives. Some prefer short bursts but more often. If there’s a mismatch, that can spell difficulties down the line. Communication is difficult enough, without the added frustration of feeling that someone is always down your throat, or never responds when you try to connect with them.
          5. Does the person show as much interest in you, your family, the things you care about, as you do in them?
          6. Are you genuinely excited to hear from them? If not, that may be telling you you’d be better off spending your time and energy on someone who does.

          None of these things are foolproof, of course, any more than body language is an exact science. However, if you look at them together, they will typically tell you far, far faster than you would otherwise know whether someone is worth pursuing any kind of friendship with. This, of course, then frees you up to spend your time & energy on those who are excited to see you, will love you as deeply as you love them, & where you will both enrich each others lives.

          Communicating over the net is no substitute for time spent in each others presence, but it truly is a wonderful way to meet & get to know people faster & more effectively than ever before.