How does terrorism effect our search for romance? Stephen Porges' polyvagal theory helps us understand that our bodies act out of different nervous system response when we sense danger than when we sense safety.
When we are afraid for our lives, we operate out of fight/flight or if there is no clear way to fight or flee, we shut down. If we are dating, we may desperately cling to any potential partner. If clinging is not our thing, we may drift into Romance Trance where we are not present with the real person we are dating but a fantasy version that we are projecting onto whoever is across the table or in our bed.
It is new for scientists like Porges and his wife, Sue Carter, to be able to measure the biological response that occurs when we feel safe. Porges studies ventral vagal nerve activation and Carter studies the presence of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin.
In his polyvagal theory, Porges calls this I am safe biology our social engagement system. When we are using our body's social engagement system, life is more nuanced, more creative, more playful.
Is there a way to date from our social engagement system, even when our world can feel so dangerous? Yes. We can use Naked Online: A DoZen Ways to Grow from Internet Dating, the book/workbook that helps us use online dating to develop healthier nervous system functioning.
Using Naked Online, we can become mindful of our urges to control situations where control is limited. What can we control in our dangerous world? Our mindfulness. We can stay awake to our surroundings, our voting choices, our expression of our opinions. What can we control in our dating?
- We can stay awake and notice our body responses by using the Sensation Chart in chapter nine.
- We can express our feelings in words and drawings throughout the book/workbook.
- We can experiment with intentional breathing patterns using the information in chapter eleven.
- We can use chapter ten to soothe our inner kid selves because our inner kid responses come directly out of our animal biology.
Dating in a dangerous world requires some action toward staying awake. When we are awake to the realities of our changing world, we can soothe our kid selves by sorting out what we have control over and what we do not. We can partner with this workbook, something we can hold onto and from which we can read comforting words and helpful science. As we calm our beating hearts, we can find the spaces where it is possible to enjoy the sensations of our sexual selves with the real people with whom we are sharing those moments.