The Meeting Bubble
This is useful for many situations, say for instance, meeting new "friends" from the web in person for the first time can be pretty weird – everyone is different in person.
Look at it this way: If you have spent some time, opened up on line, and put some effort into it, then you have a pretty good understanding with each other; inner person to inner person, in reflective thinking mode. But now, the communication environment is about to change markedly. It can be a little startling.
After getting to know each other’s on-line persona, while negotiating through a keyboard, with the private, quiet time to think between answers, even making a few wording or punctuation changes to clarify meanings as you go. Now, you are suddenly confronted, live, with this seemingly unrelated, autonomous, 3-D, biological shell, within which you must now attempt to find and recognize that same person you came to know on line.
All of this, while dealing with the added distracting intricacies of sharing the exact same space/time, with overlapping thinking/listening intervals, and using lots of audible speech, without the usual support of written text you can look back over for reference.
Real people are complicated. They make noises, they have mannerisms, strange habits, and their voices are so… different. It can be quite distracting.
It can be disorienting and, especially at first, like meeting a totally different person who is only a little similar to the person you knew on line.
And even worse, if they’re very attractive… there they are, all 3D and moving and smiling and… everything… wow… this thing needs a dimmer switch, a half mask, or something to make this more gradual, I mean… wow! “Hey, I’ll be right back!” (I have to go pee).
And then there’s that big fear… one sided chemistry…
[Why are they so quiet? Why are they so nervous? Why are we BOTH talking so fast? I don’t even KNOW what the hell I’m really saying! Holy shit, I can’t DO this.]
“Well, okay it was really nice meeting you… see ya on line… ha-ha! Buh-bye!
[Oh my god, I feel like SUCH an idiot]
Not a good meeting?… or, maybe it was… okay.
Here’s my theory:
Strange as it may sound, online conversations have actually allowed people to relate like people again, while they're on line, the way your great-grand-parents used to do, in person. Read that again. Are you getting this?
Permit me to explain:
See, in real life, we (modern people) live too hard and too fast. If we could bring your great-grand-parents back at the same age you are and have them be with you in all your daily life, they would be horrified at your existence and the ways you relate to people.
Now, naturally we can’t slow down our whole lives – we’d be homeless sooner than you can imagine. But there is something we can do, if we share all this with our current person of interest and agree ahead of time to do this one thing:
We are going to create a “meeting bubble”.
The meeting bubble is imaginary, but so is your self concept, your detailed self-image, and your current thinking approach strategy to life itself… how do you think you’ld do without those in this world?
Okay, so this meeting bubble is for you and that one special person that you are trying to meet. If this particular person doesn’t work out, you keep this meeting bubble for the next one, and the one after that, until you get it right and find the one person who will work with you. That's a keeper. Then, you keep this meeting bubble, protect it, and use it regularly for the rest of your lives. Never let anyone or anything take it away from you.
Okay, here's how it works… You control this meeting bubble, you make it work.
You agree on a time window, a place, everything about it, where you can just turn off the rest of the world, shut off everything else artificial (cell phones, tablets, whatever) and slow down your existence to your great-grand-parents speed of living. Keep that image in mind because it helps.
The two of you come together within this meeting bubble. Say for two hours. Decide that you are going to be bored together for two hours… more, if you both decide to extend it, because that’s when people can just be people… simply, just who they are without any tricks, slips, intimidating defenses, or embarrassing attack plans.
You can be inside, outside, in a park, in a city… in a museum, gallery, flea market it doesn’t matter, the fewer people and the less active distraction the better though, so keep that in mind. Boredom is what you want... so you will interact with each other. So you can get over the nervousness. So you can let go of being cocky and evasive. So you can both gradually quieten down and just be. Just be there. With each other. Slowly. And just be exactly. Who. You. Are.
Now here’s a key:
At the start of it, share and appreciate silence together for 10 to 15 minutes. Time it. Make it 30 minutes if you love a challenge.
During this time, eye contact is okay, facial expressions are okay, just don’t talk about anything. Don't get antsy. Be calm. Be patient. Use relaxation breathing (4 seconds in, 4 seconds out). Relax. Get comfortable with it. This is good.
When you’re done with that, go do something simple together. Build a pile of sticks. Make something with tinker toys. Feed squirrels by hand. Just something simple… quiet… gentle.
Let yourselves kind of be kids together. That’s really what you do when you’re relaxing alone, isn’t it? Really?
Learn to SHARE that attitude, that kind of mood. And not just with web friends… with anyone who is special or who you want/hope to be special. Okay? Do it. Watch what happens.
You have the right idea now, yes? I think you can take it from here.
Okay, so go enjoy the meeting bubble… it’s the one thing… never let it go.
I was with until the initial 15 mins of silence. That seems quite awkward and artificial. And, as @Doraz noted, it could be too intimate or even triggering for some people. I’m fine with avoiding distractions like phones, movies, etc. The concept of a bubble of time is nice because it could help people separate one date from another so that a bad date with one person doesn’t carry over and set up poor expectations for the next date.