In my search for a place to call home here in this new city, I’ve spent a fair amount of time scanning Craigslist for future roommates. Though I’d prefer to live on my own, halving the monthly rent with another person may be worthwhile if it means a nicer place in a more central location. The part of this search that can feel uncomfortable is meeting the potential roommate for the first time. Whether it’s at a coffee shop or at their actual home, something about it feels like a blind date. If you really love the place and want to win them over, an innocent conversation can soon turn into a game of selling yourself.
To make these meet ups less awkward, I do something very simple. From the moment I meet them, I try to identify what I like about them. I start picking up on their mannerisms. I notice what makes them laugh, what makes them smile. It’s pretty easy to find something to like, and in turn I am in tune with them and naturally letting a connection happen. Instead of thinking about how I’m going to prove that I’m a super awesome person to live with, I focus on how cool they are. Every single time I’ve done this, I’ve heard back and been asked if I want to be their roommate. Every single time.
What differentiates this from past experiences when I haven’t heard back? Where my focus lies. Is it on me, or on them? That makes all the difference.
One of my girlfriend’s is beautiful, witty, smart, has a good job and a nice apartment right in the heart of San Francisco. She reached out to me recently for advice about a guy she’s just started seeing. Everything about him sounds promising: He tells her how he feels, he makes plans with her consistently, he treats her well and pays her all kinds of compliments. My friend is surprised by how much she likes him, after only a month or two of dating. What, then, is she worried about?
“I just don’t want to mess this up, K. I’ve had such bad luck with men in the past. Part of me feels jaded and scared that he’s going to drop the ball.”
Scarred by the disappearing acts guys have played for her in the past, my friend feels like this ‘bad luck’ is attached to her. Like it is part of her. We girls tend to do this a lot. Blame ourselves for relationships gone sour, for men behaving like boys, for guys not calling. In reality, sometimes we date guys who just plain aren’t right for us. That’s all it really is. Those guys move on, move away, fall off, and this is a blessing. This clears the path between us and our better match(es).
Unfortunately, when we get burned enough times, our vision can become fogged. We can start seeing people not for who they actually are, but for who we think they are. Who we expect them to be. Where we could hear a genuine compliment, we instead hear an empty promise. Where we could feel affection, we instead feel nothing. It’s as if we are wearing a protective lens, keeping ourselves at a distance that feels safe enough that we won’t get burned again.
“Next time you are with him, try to really see him,” I offered.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, see him for who he is, not for who you are making him out to be. When you talk with him, focus on what you like about him. It could be as simple as appreciating how sexy his voice is, or how he smiles when he talks about his family. Focus on what you really enjoy about him. This will take the focus off you.”
We get so overwhelmed with our own inner conflicts, our insecurities, our assumptions. When all we are tuning into is ourselves, we create a wall between us and whoever we are with. It’s an invisible wall, but make no mistake that other people can feel it. We can tell when the person who we are with is ‘in their head,’ working through something, instead of being there with us.
So, what’s that one secret power we all have, but don’t always know how to use effectively? Our ability to love. To feel love, to hold someone else in a loving view, to express love.
When you talk with someone, focus on what you like about them. What you appreciate about them, no matter who it is. This will make for a more powerful connection and rewarding conversation because people can feel that kind of energy from you.
Even though I was excited by the invitations to share a living space with the people I’ve met, I turned them down based on my own gut instincts and criteria. I’ve moved several times and lived with all kinds of people over the past decade, and with this experience comes an understanding of what I want. Often times the people I’ve met seem perfectly great, but the location, the rent, or the actual layout of the house don’t feel right. I’m at a place in my search where I don’t want to jump onto just any opportunity, and I don’t want to settle. It’s a great feeling to make that decision for myself, instead of having another person decide for me. It all starts with getting over myself, tapping into my secret power, and trusting the process.
With courage, love, and intensity,