Finding the Truth

BY DAN PRADA

I was 30 when I decided that dating was useless. I didn’t mean that I gave up on relationships.  Rather, it became obvious to me that the whole system wasn’t designed to make most people happy. It kept us all chasing this elusive dream, and while we chased it, we had to play all these deceptive games with each other.  I didn’t want that for myself anymore, and I wanted to be around people who didn’t want that toxic dishonesty in their lives, either.

I’d been raised with this idea that women’s sexuality is like a secret garden, walled off from men.  Growing up with only brothers, women had been a bit of a mystery to me, so I gleaned most of what I knew from what other men told me. The goal was to get a woman to unlock the door to her intensely private inner landscape.  Dating was about getting her to give you the key.  The way other men described it, women’s secret gardens were places that existed for men; women didn’t really like sex as much as guys did, so they got their power and energy from being gatekeepers to what we wanted. 

I became convinced that wasn’t true.

I started dating differently. I stopped playing the game where each date was supposed to determine if two people were meant to spend their whole lives together. I don’t think people who date in the hopes of finding everlasting monogamous love are fools.  What works for them is great for them. I resented that the model of “dating towards marriage” was the only one that seemed to be available, and I didn’t want to hurt other people by pretending that I was in that game.  

The good news was that by the time I came to this decision, the Internet was becoming widely available. By the early 2000s, it was at least possible to look for communities and groups that offered an alternative to what wasn’t working.  I had a sense of what I was looking for even before I found it: I didn’t just want random hookups. I wanted deep connection without possession or dishonesty. I wanted sex that was meaningful, but with people who understood that deep meaning didn’t require exclusivity.  In time, I found people who shared that goal.  One of those women ended up bringing me to OM.

We came to OM as a couple, though not an exclusive one.  OM was about intensifying and deepening what we already had.  We were primary OM partners for five years, until the relationship foundered.  We’re still very good friends, even though our breakup was painful.  Sometimes, people think that non-sexually-exclusive relationships end more easily and with less drama, and that’s not always true.  Sometimes, it means that the pain is intensified – but that’s part of the price for choosing a life of freedom and radical truth.

What I experience with OM is that it creates very deep heart connections.  From the beginning of my practice, it always seemed like an expressway, or portal, to a kind of intimacy that is very difficult for most people to achieve.  It’s not about surrendering your individual identity, which has always been something I shy away from – it’s about this extraordinary shared experience that leaves you feeling so much love and acceptance for yourself and those around you.

OM allowed me to be a witness to something incredibly rare for men in our culture to see, unless they’re in a practice like ours.  For men to be present for a woman’s turn-on, and realize that it’s not about them, is a great gift.  The mistrust that exists between men and women is so deep and pervasive, it is difficult to get past that.  The truth is, the “secret garden” is not a trap, or a performance, or a goal – it’s every woman’s birthright and power, and very few men are able to see it in its purest form, without entanglements or obligations.

I think more than anything, we all want to feel connected, and we all want to know things that are true.  OM gave me a foundation of truth and connection to carry out into the world and into my relationships, and I’m grateful.