Men thrive on challenge. A man can discover new truths about himself and the world through responding to a well crafted dare. Most of us have seen jackass stunts that can open the most hardened man with laughter through their audaciousness and absurdity. This can be a form of masculine high theater – and the popularity of crazy YouTube stunts confirms that this mix of danger and self effacement is somehow wired into our bodies and psyche. In these videos the object is to shock open the viewer with humor, awe, or sympathetic pain. These tests demonstrate the masculine strengths of courage, guts, bravery, and adventure – albeit in often hilarious and absurd circumstances.
There is however, another use of dare to demonstrate masculine courage and willingness to take risks. Male audacity can be employed in the service of love and intimacy. This past weekend we challenged a group of men to step out of their comfort zone and practice three forms of creating intimacy through connecting to strangers in public. One of these challenges was to offer a compliment to a woman they encountered in public. The challenge was to not offer the compliment like a hit and run car accident. Instead, the men endeavored to genuinely open the heart of the woman receiving it – to make the encounter so memorable that it made her smile through the rest of the day.
It’s commonplace for men to be assertive in seeking to contact women for sex or to feel better about themselves through sexual conquests. This particular challenge inverted the characteristic male sexual modus operandi and required them to feel outward into others and become sensitive to what would delight the other person. The men strived to have no attachment to the outcome – it had to be freely given and without expectation of their gift even being acknowledged. The compliment had to be offered consciously without hope of gain or any quid pro quo. Most men don’t realize that this type of awareness is one of their greatest masculine powers in this world – seeing and boldly appreciating beauty and life – without any attachment. This is the fierce love of a true warrior: giving as if this might be your last act of kindness in this lifetime.
The foundation of approaching any woman, is to tune into her surroundings, and into her body language. How can trust and safety be established? A man’s body language communicates how trustable he is. If his body is open and relaxed this will be more trustable than a man who is tense, uncomfortable, or nervous. Openness is expressed through an exposed chest, shoulders dropped down the back, and with a relaxed face, open eyes and relaxed jaw… and quite often a big, natural smile! Tension is communicated with tightness in muscles, collapsed chest and shoulder, clenched fists, tight jaw, and a tense forehead. A full relaxed breath extending into the belly connotes confidence and safety. Rapid shallow breath in the upper chest signifies fear and uncertainty. How a man stands can communicate trust. There is a reason why standing with a straight spine, chest forward, neck long and chin slightly tucked is taught in the military: it communicates power, presence and trust. When a man walks, the leading part of his body communicates what part of himself he is leading with. Leading with an open chest signals the man is moving from his heart, while a pelvis forward walk conveys his genitals may be propelling him forward.
A skillful man will be aware of his body presence and he will choose to express trust and safety through it. Before even making a choice to approach the woman that he intends to compliment, he needs to pause and take her in with his breath and his eyes. Feel the effect she has upon him, and his body. What sensations or feelings arise as you notice her beauty and light? Do you have a sense of how she feels in this moment? What is her body language conveying? Do her surroundings feel safe to her? Does she feel relaxed, tense, or distracted? Tuning into another person and attempting to appreciate reality from their internal perspective is a form of love. This is consciousness directed outward in search for connection with others. Just this internal shift from being focused upon yourself to directing awareness outward can be felt by people. It takes a big man to consider others and not be caught up in the drama of his thoughts and inner self-talk. Honest consideration of others makes you more trustable.
As a man approaches a woman, he needs to continue feeling outward into her and noticing what effect his presence is having upon her. Does she become more tense or relaxed? Does her breathing change in any way? This will change moment to moment. Bringing his awareness to all that is happening in his own body and her’s can be overwhelming. Life is like that. No one ever does this perfectly like it is shown in the movies. How a man keeps showing up, keeps returning to feeling what is going on in his body and feeling outward into others, is the fluid art of this practice. It will stretch you, awaken you to sensations, and sometimes reveal beauty and sublime meaning.
A simple acknowledgement of social boundaries and stating authentically how you are feeling is often the perfect icebreaker to establish contact: “I don’t go up to strangers in public like this, but I felt compelled to tell you… that you look breathtaking… WOW!… you brightened my day. Thank you.” These words of course are hypothetical and what is actually said should be a reflection of the man’s authentic essence. Then, step back and feel how the gift was received… or not, and like a true warrior, release any attachment and offer thanks for this person letting you into their personal space.
Notice if in letting go to attachment and just accepting what is true for her in that moment, creates intimacy in and of itself. One of the ways men continually thwart intimacy is by rejecting what is… a women’s undesired mood, a situation in life that challenges his freedom, some personal limitation that seems like it should be different. A man’s offerings are quite routinely rejected in life. However, the man who can develop the capacity to let the giving of his gift be the greatest gift is a man of true depth and is highly attractive to the feminine.
Some men had trouble staying open and connected in the midst of this exercise, others were surprised at how energised they felt from doing something that felt daring. In a few cases, everything came together and one woman thanked the man: “I’ve lived here for years and no one has ever noticed me or told me that I am beautiful. Thank you. You made my day!” You never know how your gift will be received by women or the world. If your decision to step out and give of yourself is mainly motivated by how it will be received, then you are setting yourself up for pain and disappointment. However, if your giving of yourself is authentic and communicated through your whole body, you will know you have offered all that any warrior can. Be prepared for women and world to respond in delightful and surprising ways when you show up like this – however don’t expect it or become attached to the outcome. Try to cultivate a texture, whether its with your wife of 20 years, or the next beautiful woman you encounter, of deep gratitude and awe – then find some creative and bold way to express your heartfelt appreciation. This is the boldness of fierce, masculine love! It can be cultivated and more fully expressed like any art. Most men never even realize they have the choice. Now you know. The question is: do you dare?