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Dan Smith on Masculine Feminine Polarity & Biggest Dating Challenges For Men

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In this episode, I’m talking to Daniel Smith. Dan is a conscious masculinity and embodiment coach. Growing up in a challenging home environment led him to live in curiosity, always questioning the reality he found himself facing. Carrying a lot of residual pain from some deeply traumatic childhood experiences, he embarked on a journey of transformation and healing, desiring to evolve in every area of his life. Through his experiences of learning to understand and transform himself, he started to become aware of the pain and challenges that everyone around him was facing, and developed a deep sense of purpose in serving others on their own transformation journeys. 

Topics discussed:

  • His personal development journey and which teachers had the biggest impact on his life.
  • What is masculine feminine polarity and how it effects chemistry and attraction.
  • How women can nurture the masculine energy in their partners.
  • How women can nurture their own feminine energy.
  • The biggest dating challenges for men.
  • How men can learn to be vulnerable in today’s dating culture.
  • Why men should be chivalrous, and why some women fight against it.
  • How he overcame his own dating challenges.
  • How we can use intimate relationships as an opportunity to heal and resolve issues within ourselves.
  • And much more!

Without further ado, my conversation with Dan Smith.

Taylor (00:00:00):

Hi, Dan, how are you?

Dan (00:00:02):

Hey, Taylor. I'm doing fantastic. Thank you. How about you?

Taylor (00:00:05):

I'm doing well. Thanks for coming on the show. I'm super excited to have you here. And so I thought we could start by having you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be a men's coach.

Dan (00:00:25):

Absolutely. So my drive and my desire to be a coach and then specifically to work with men is all born out of my past pain. So traumatic childhood that manifested in many unhealthy ways throughout my life, but I didn't really understand what was going on. Why was I the way I was, while I was having the challenges I was having, and so I guess I went on a journey that led me down a path of personal growth and healing. And when I started to understand myself and become aware that there was a world outside of my mind, and that there were other people in this world, not just me, I'd come out of my bubble. And, and as I started to heal, I realized that everyone around me also has challenges, also has wounds from their childhood, also has challenges in their relationships and in finances and their health. And so as I learned to overcome them myself, I just had a deep sense of purpose in helping other people do the same thing, be free from pain, or at least start to go on that journey.

Taylor (00:01:49):

I love that. Was there a moment when you realized that like, Oh, I'm not the only one who's suffering and going through this, like, was there a moment or was this kind of like a gradual realization?

Dan (00:02:00):

Yeah, there was. I guess there was a series of moments in a short time span. So The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Taylor (00:02:12):

Great book.

Dan (00:02:15):

I studied that book for three years with a group of people, and that was my first entry into personal growth and spirituality. And, I remember, so clearly I got like a third of the way through the book, and I’m like, what is this? It was like I was reading another language. I didn't understand it, but I trusted the guy that told me to read it and he really put some emphasis on it. And I got about a third of the way through, and it was like a brick hit me in the face. I just woke up from a 25 year slumber. And so I guess the first step was awareness, becoming aware of the present moment and disengaging with my thinking mind. 

And then I remember sitting on a bench outside of Gloucester road underground station in London waiting for our group. I used to get there early and grab a sandwich and just chill before so I wouldn't be late. And I remember sitting there and then suddenly I looked around and I saw people walk in. I could see them in their heads thinking and worrying. And I just sat there like, Wow, I wonder what's going on in their life. 

I've now become aware that I was in my head thinking about all of my worries all my life until that point. Not that it stopped there, the work is continuous. But then I started to, it's like I could see it and I got real curious, and I went through this period of just sending all these people just like silent blessings, like a blessing meditation. And, and it was a real impactful moment for me. Little did I know that, like, I'd only just scratch the surface. I thought I'd solved life.

And then I soon realized that it's like, I went into this natural high and then it came back down again and realized, well, there's a lot of work to do. I haven't cracked the code yet. So that was my first glimpse. And then around the same time I was being mentored by one of the guys that ran the group. And as he started to just shift my mindset and help me relieve some pressure that I felt in my life. Feeling the contrast between the way I felt and the way I then felt when I started to understand something in my life a little bit better, I was like, wow, that felt so amazing. And I'm so grateful to him, his name is Sean,  and I want to do that for other people. But, you know, I wasn't ready to start right then, but that’s when it kind of hit me.

Taylor (00:05:11):

Oh, wow. Yeah, it is quite a journey, isn’t it. Like getting the taste of, Oh, wow, this is what expanding consciousness and becoming more aware feels like, and just getting that taste, it just kind of grabs you and pulls you in. Yeah. It's a never ending journey, isn’t it? It's a lifelong journey. So yeah, a little bit more about your personal development journey then, what would you say, or tell us which modalities or tools you've tried and what had the biggest impact or what made the biggest shift in your life out of everything that you've tried up until now?

Dan (00:05:51):

Hmm. Great question. So I think, you know, meditation has become very popular over the last few years. I remember when I first started meditating around that same time, I was 25. So like 12 years ago. It was one of the most powerful tools to become aware of the things that would trigger me, the things that would challenge me. So I could separate myself from the challenge rather than getting lost in it. And so I supported that with readings, like The Power Of Now, Deepak Chopra and took a real spiritual path. But then I got impatient and I started going to Tony Robbins events because I'm like, okay, this is great, all of this stillness and meditation, but like, I want some action. I want to build a business. I want to make money. How does this translate into finding a relationship and all of these things?

And, and I didn't feel like I was going quick enough. So I started going Tony Robbins, goal setting, hashtag hustle harder, on Facebook every day. I wanted to go and crush life. And it's funny because over time that kind of like brought me back down to Earth with a bump and I let go of that spiritual path I was on. So I kept having to return to stillness, to meditation and continued working with people that could help me see my blind spots, help me see the things that I didn't see. So I've always, ever since I hired my first coach and mentor 12 years ago, I've always had coaches and mentors in my life because there's things that I can't see. And then there's also things that deep down I don't want to see. So even though maybe I know what I'm missing or something I need to face, but I'm not ready to face it. So I would go in a different direction. And ultimately you said modalities, there is no formula. For some people, they swear by the emotional freedom technique and they live and die by that, and it's facilitated all of their healing and that's what they preach. For other people, its meditation. I feel like I went through everything. I've been on a psychedelic exploration which has been very powerful for me. I think one of the biggest spiritual practices I've had is being in intimate relationships because that's the time when I could really practice everything that I was learning. You can read a thousand books on learning how to swim, but the first time you jump in the pool, you're going to sink, right? You can’t read on how to swim. And so for me, it was a continuous search of testing. Breath work has been very powerful for me as well.

Taylor (00:09:18):

I love that you say intimate relationships played a role because it's so overlooked because I feel like a lot of people use a combination of a lot of the things you mentioned, like meditation and plant medicine or psychedelics, and working with a coach and all these different things, but people don't mention using dating or an intimate relationship as a way to grow. So I love that you said that. And so my, my last question on this topic; Who would be two or three of your teachers or teachings that have shaped your life or your work?

Dan (00:09:58):

Firstly, you said teachings rather than teachers. Eckhart Tolle. I don't know what I would've done without that book. I'm sure I would've found something else, but you know, that was a game changer for me, but then there's other people in that space like Deepak Chopra was someone I followed early on. And then only two and a half, maybe three years ago I picked up Michael Singer's work The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment. They were very powerful. So I kind of like bracket those. I don't want to bracket them as like one, but I'd say there’s that spiritual piece there about detaching from the ego and finding stillness and operating from out of this moment. Not being lost in ego identification and focusing on the past to recreate our future.

Dan (00:11:00):

Secondly, I love Tony Robbins. I went to all of these events and he's got some fantastic work and some fantastic teachings that I still use today, but I no longer watch his videos. I no longer go to these events. And, the reason is there needs to be a foundation of conscious awareness. You need to learn the Eckhart Tolle stuff first before you can make the changes and do the work. I really like Tony Robbins because there's a lot of tactics and strategies which are very effective, but it depends what level of consciousness you're operating in those from. But I'd say he's definitely had a big impact in my life. Lastly, and I know we're going to get into this, David Deida and Alison Armstrong a lot of work around masculine and feminine and relationships and spirituality through relationships.

Taylor (00:12:12):

Yes, we are going to go there right now. But before we do, which book did you read by Deepak Chopra?

Dan (00:12:19):

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success is the one that I remember. And honestly, I couldn't tell you what those seven laws are. I can tell you the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. It’s a book that I read a long time ago and Deepak just seems to pop up a lot. He’s always been around for a long time. I just started reading a book by Alan Watts a couple of days ago. And Deepak's in the forward. So it's like he pops up every now and then, but I'm not as familiar with his work as I am with you know, The Power Of Now or his books.

Taylor (00:12:59):

I read Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra and I loved it. Recommend it. He has so many good books. So, I want to talk about masculine and feminine polarity. And for those that maybe aren't familiar with this topic, what is masculine and feminine polarity?

Dan (00:13:29):

There's so much depth to this subject. There could be a whole podcast episode just on this subject. So I first learned about it from David Deida. And when I read that book, it just blew my mind and understanding how masculine and feminine energies we all have within us. I have masculine and feminine within me. And so do you, and so does everyone else. It's a polarity it's, like you said, it’s like a positive and a negative charge on a plug like the North and the South pole you know, as the magnetic field and each energy has different characteristics of how they operate in our lives, whether it's in a relationship like an intimate relationship or whether it's at work and it shifts how we interact with each other.

So this stuff through attraction you know, obviously with what you do. I remember Tony Robbins at one of his events said, and I think he was quoting David Deida. He says the only difference between a friendship and an intimate relationship is intimacy and intimacy is created through polarity. And so obviously there's different kinds of intimacy. There’s not strictly sexual attraction, but you know, the attraction between two people. And so what we tend to see is that if you look at a couple very much attracted to each other, one's going to have a more masculine energy and one's going to have a more feminine and it pulls them together. It keeps them in polarity. Now, masculine doesn't mean male, feminine doesn't mean female. So like 90% of men have a more dominant masculine energy. And 90% of females have a more feminine, but everyone has seen a couple where the wife would shut the guy up and speak for him. Right. She's more dominant. And so, you know, that could be a woman that's more in her masculine and a guy that is more in his feminine, but there's still polarity. Right now, if you have a guy and a woman that are both in their feminine, there's no polarity there. So it's unlikely to create attraction and vice versa. And also masculinity, two masculine poles aren't going to create attraction. Then in a rare case, maybe 5% of couples or people are more neutral, right. They're happy to just go on the beach, holding hands and they're best friends, but, you know, there's nothing there, there’s no spark. 

And so for most of the time, I will speak about a masculine man and a feminine woman but, and again, if we start looking at heterosexual relationships and homosexual relationships, there’s more likely to be a masculine and feminine. So all variations of relationship it plays out in traits of the masculine. 

Masculine is all about his mission and his purpose. He’s very focused on why he’s here in the world or what he wants to create. Whereas the feminine is more about the love and flow in a relationship and the nurturing of children. Now, what David Deida says is that we've come into an age where you've got this old masculine archetype, like almost like a caveman, right? He goes out, he hunts, he gets the food, he brings it back and the wife looks after the children. And then that progressed to, she keeps the home, she cooks, she cleans and things like that. And then what happened was we came to this point where people started to challenge these traditional roles. And so women stepped up and were like, we're going into the boardroom. And then men became more in touch with their feminine side. And a lot of cases what this created was a neutralization, because now the woman comes home and she's in a masculine because she's in the boardroom, making deals, and putting people in their place, and the guy's out of polarity because he's like, I'm not attracted to that. It’s not like he sees her as a man, but unconsciously he feels it, it’s like a masculine going up against a masculine, so you can come out polarity there. And the only way that you're going to bring intimacy back is by coming back into polarity. And that's not to say that, Oh, you're a woman, you should be feminine, but we get to this place of how do we recognize that I have masculine and feminine within me, and I can integrate those and use them rather than I'm masculine all the time and my girlfriend's feminine all the time.

Taylor (00:19:54):

It's like a dance, right. It's kind of like finding the balance between each of those energies inside of us. Yeah. I mean, I feel like I have a lot of masculine energy in myself. Like I'm very focused and disciplined and I like to get things done. But I'm also very much a dreamer and I like to imagine different outcomes and possibilities. And so my friends say I'm a lot of air and fire energy or “fiery and bouncing upon the clouds” as like one friend put it. And then my partner, Diego, he's very calm and grounding and kind and compassionate. And I'd say he has more of the earth and water elements, qualities. And so, I mean, him being more earth and water makes his qualities seem more feminine on paper, if you're comparing to the feminine masculine polarity, I think. But his qualities are very masculine too. It's like a nurturing masculine, if that makes sense.

Dan (00:21:10):

That's fantastic because there's different stages to masculinity and femininity.

Taylor (00:21:19):

Okay. Yeah. Because it also feels like it's like very fluid. Like I was saying, it's like a dance. Like it changes many times throughout the week or even in a day I feel like. And so one day maybe I have a lot of masculine energy and I'm, you know, coming on too strong and then I can feel Diego kind of go more into his feminine, like more nurturing and caring. And vice versa. Sometimes he has to become very masculine to overcome my masculine. But when he does that, I can feel myself go more into my feminine. And I find that dynamic very attractive. I feel very attracted to him whenever he takes the reins and takes control and is more in his masculine, I really enjoy that. 

And so I'm trying to learn how to nurture my more feminine side and then also how to allow him to be more in his masculine. And I'm trying to learn how to do that, and I'm also learning the intimacy killers for the masculine. And you can correct me if I'm wrong, but like, for example, if I'm being criticizing or if I'm trying to be controlling or trying to shut him out, like I can see how that kind of just like tears down his masculinity, like immediately.

Dan (00:23:00):

You hit two of the three C’s that come to mind. That is controlling, criticizing and competing. Those are three things that, coming from a female partner, will cause a masculine to shutdown. Men thrive on appreciation. And part of that is because just when you were speaking for the last two or three minutes, there's so many different angles we could have taken. This is such a vast subject, but one of the things that comes up the most, is that we would kill to see our partner smile. We just want to see a smile on your face. So we try super hard to to make you happy and safe and relaxed. And then you turn around and criticize us. It's just like, we've just been stabbed in the heart and it’s so deflating.

And I love what you said about how you'll be more in your masculine and he needs to be more in his masculine to bring you into your feminine. It feels like, Oh, you're doing this and now I need to be this person and show up in a certain way. But it can be many reasons for that. A big one is safety. And often in a particular moment, if a woman feels that her masculinity is stronger and she can be safer in her masculine than what he can provide in that moment, then she's going to stay in her masculine. So let me give you an example. Men are very logical, and the feminine is very much about emotion.It's about fluidity, right? And so if my girlfriend challenges me in something and I get emotional now that's me stepping into my feminine. And so in that moment, unconsciously, even though we don't have kids, there’s a maternal instinct. Right. So if he can't handle me in this situation, how's he going to protect my family in a crisis. And now she's in her masculine and it's so subtle. The energetics are so subtle. It's not about, okay, am I in my feminine now, or my masculine, what do I need to do. At the beginning when you're learning the subject. or at least when I was learning the subject, I was thinking about everything in masculine and feminine. And now I never really think about masculine and feminine outside of the conversation, but it's more subtle and energetic. And like you say, it's a dance and it plays out in so many different ways.

Taylor (00:26:24):

Yeah. I've been researching it a ton, and now I’m becoming aware of everything and thinking of everything in terms of masculine and feminine like what you were doing in the beginning. It is very subtle, but it's so interesting. Like once you become aware of the subtleties, it's really eye-opening to how that works because you know, a lot of people talk about chemistry and physical attraction, but I hadn't heard so much about the masculine feminine polarities as far as creating that attraction and chemistry.

Dan (00:27:09):

I love the way that you describe Diego because you said, Oh, maybe that could be confused for femininity, but I feel his masculinity is a calm masculine. People talk about the divine feminine, the divine masculine, and it's almost like a transcendence into a level where I don't have to overexert. I don't feel I need to overexert my masculine. I am comfortable. And I'm present in who I am and I can show up as a masculine without brute force. Right. In the beginning I learned about it and I’d be like okay, I need to be masculine now. So I'd overexert my masculine. But it’s a calmer and more present and sovereign state of being. Does that make sense?

Taylor (00:28:12):

Yeah, it does. And so, for example, two people like myself and my partner, who both of us have, you know, these masculine energies, what are some takeaways or some advice that you would give to a couple that’s trying to find more of a balance or, for example, I'm trying to find more of a balance and trying to nurture my feminine side and so that he can be in his masculine. So, how can we work on that together? Or is it a job that we can work on together?

Dan (00:28:57):

Absolutely. You can work on it together in a sense of, you know, having this kind of conversation. But I heard something great a couple of weeks ago in the men's group that I'm in. One of the guys said that his wife has to be the inner masculine a lot at work. So when she comes home, she has her own de-robing ceremony, or ritual where she takes off this masculine armor, if you like. Think of things that make you feel feminine. So maybe taking a nice long soak in a warm bath, rose petal bath with your favorite music and just nurturing yourself. Right. Feminine energy is about nurture. So you know, nurture yourself.

Taylor (00:30:01):

It’s kind of like getting into that feeling, right. It's just like recognizing that feeling and being comfortable in it. Right. So doing the things that make me feel feminine and just being in that more will allow me to be more feminine.

Dan (00:30:17):

Yeah. And then connecting with nature. Like, you live near a beach?

Taylor (00:30:24):

Yes. Beach jungle mountains. Yeah. We have it all here.

Dan (00:30:30):

Right. So think of the ocean, very fluid, that’s a very feminine energy. So, you know, just being in water. The clothes you wear, right. Let’s say, going back to the boardroom analogy, if you were actually going to work as a business woman, that can mean many different things, but, you know, to think of going to work in a pinstripe suit, and it's very rigid. Coming home and putting on a silk gown or a flowy dress, right. Everything has masculine and feminine energy in it. Even a place. So New York City is very straight, tall, rigid buildings. And people just go, go, go, go, go. Deadlines are yesterday. You go to Hawaii. There’s probably not many more feminine places than Hawaii. Everyone’s wearing grass skirts. Super chill. I think the first thing is becoming aware of the feminine and the masculine energies in everything, not just in ourselves, and then how do I connect to that? Someone asked me on Instagram recently, how do I make myself more feminine? It's not about making yourself more feminine. It's about connecting with the feminine energy around you. And, couples. Females should spend time with their female friends. Men should spend time with their male friends. Rather than spending all of their time together because that's another way that they can connect with other like energy.

Taylor (00:32:32):

Oh, that's so true. I'm so glad you said that. Especially during this last year, during the pandemic and everything, Diego and I actually went through a very difficult year or two years. We moved from Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta together. So we were uprooting our lives. And we both had our own separate lives in Mexico City. Like he had his friends, I had my friends, I had my tennis, he had his cycling, but we would spend time together obviously, but we had a healthy balance. Then we moved to Puerto Vallarta together, combined with the pandemic, you know, it hit right after we moved here, and so it was just us in this new city by ourselves together 24/7, and we didn't have our own groups of friends. And it was a very challenging time to say the least. And now, like we've been here for a while and I've gotten to meet my girlfriends and he's been able to meet his guy friends. And what a difference, like, you can just tell, in both of us, but I've seen a huge shift just in himself, just being around those male energies and being with his male friends. And it’s definitely made a noticeable change in his energy. It was really cool to see that though. I loved seeing how that community just brought him alive, you know?

Dan (00:33:54):

Yeah. Yeah. It's very important. And something we get to do more, especially when we go back to Miami because, you know, I told you, we're here just outside LA and we're not going to stay here, we don’t really know anyone here, and it's very short term. And Miami is open right now, California, it’s not completely closed, but it's very difficult to get out and meet new people anyway. So we spend a lot more time just in the apartment here. And, you know, we actually got on great through the pandemic. We both worked from home, so we spent a lot of time together and it's been fantastic, but also I want to have some guy time and she needs to have some girl time and I think it’s a healthy dynamic.

Taylor (00:34:48):

Yes, it definitely helps to have balance. So I wanted to ask you. Now we're kind of in this awkward stage, from an evolutionary standpoint, how we've evolved and now maybe women are coming home from the boardroom and men are staying at home with the children. And so, things are changing. How have you seen men adapt? For example, do you see that it's been difficult for men to go into their more feminine side? Is it okay for men to embrace their feminine side and be more vulnerable in our new modern dating culture?

Dan (00:35:44):

Fantastic question. And a very important question. It is essential for us men to learn to connect with our feminine side. But the key word you said there is vulnerability. Men are taught to not be vulnerable. Big boys don't cry. Everyone has experienced traumatic events in their life. And so I focus a lot on trauma in my work. I mean, it's very important for people to achieve what they want in life, the things that they're feeling, feeling blocked, bouncing up against. It’s not usually another strategy or a tactic, right? If you do a Google search on how to lose weight, how to make money, the things that people want in life, there’s a million strategies. It's not a lack of a strategy that stops people. It's some underlying fear, insecurity, limiting belief they have about losing weight, making money, getting that promotion, whatever it is, speaking in public. What's really holding them back is some sort of trauma it's a wound from a traumatic experience in the past. 

And trauma is misunderstood. It doesn't mean sexual abuse (is obviously a big one). It doesn't mean you experienced extreme violence. It could be that you grew up believing that your parents loved your sibling more than you. And therefore you grew up with this unconscious belief that “I'm not lovable.” And you take that into your relationships and you sabotage them because you think, “Oh, they're going to leave me anyway because I'm not lovable.” Right? And so why this is extremely important for men is because we're not emotional. We think it's weakness to tap into our emotions. And therefore this energy gets stuck in the body and we suppressed it and we avoid it. And anytime we feel an uncomfortable feeling come up, like, Hey, you need to feel me and express me. This is something you haven't healed from the past. And we push it down and avoid it with alcohol, sex, drugs, Netflix, iPhones, Instagram, and we never fully heal and access this stuff that's holding us back in every area of our life. And to tap into that, we have to be vulnerable, and we have to go into that place that scares us and face it. And men have a much harder time doing that than women.

Taylor (00:38:38):

Interesting. Why is that?

Dan (00:38:45):

It’s how we were brought up. And men grew up again, big boys don't cry. Like some of the most powerful work I've done has been me crying,  releasing. I grew up around toxic masculinity as just everywhere around me. And, so I actually grew up very masculine and I realized as I started learning about this subject of masculine and feminine, and I looked back and I was like, Oh, I see why all of the women in my life were attracted to me, because I knew what I wanted it. I was confident. And I could see all those masculine qualities, but what I didn't realize is, I was a wounded masculine. I was very insecure underneath the mask that I wore was fear and a lack of self belief. And it was really, to be honest, I did 10 years of spiritual work and Tony Robbins and learning about David Deida. 

And it was when I met my girlfriend, Claudia, that she had the emotional maturity to hold space for my healing. And I felt safe. Because a lot of the time, people don't feel safe. Men don't feel safe that if they reveal themselves in that vulnerability, in their relationship, that their girlfriend, their wife, is going to criticize them, is going to make them wrong, is going to judge them, is going to tell them to man up. We're afraid to open ourselves up, we’ve got this as a protective layer, so if we open it up, we can be under attack. And our brain doesn't know the difference between that and a saber tooth tiger coming around the corner, ready to eat us. It's the same thing. It's the fear of death.

Taylor (00:40:56):

Right. Okay. So, the wounded masculine, can you tell us a little bit about that? Like, what does a healthy masculine look like versus a wounded or unhealthy masculine and the same for the feminine?

Dan (00:41:15):

Yeah. So I'd say on both sides, an inability to set boundaries is huge because we don't want to be rejected. That's less masculine than feminine, but it plays out in different ways. You know, a wounded masculine will try to use force, ridicule. So amongst guys, I grew up with guy friends, that we used to make fun of each other all the time, but not in a healthy way. In a way that kept us from being vulnerable, asking questions. Hey, I've got this thing, this problem, can I talk to you about it? Because he's going to go and tell everyone else, and then they’re going to make fun of me. Right. So we could grow up with this armor and the wounded masculinity is loud, abrasive, putting people down, trying to control situations through perceived power, but really his power is weakness disguised as power.

He'll try and control everyone and everything around him because if it’s not under his control, when he was wounded in the past… So for me, there was a lot of anger and violence in my household. And it was just a very unhealthy environment to grow up. And therefore, as I grew up, I would try and control everything because in that situation I wasn't in control and I was hurt. And so therefore I need to be in control so I can't be hurt again. Not just my life events, but my relationships as well. 

Taylor (00:43:19):

Oh, interesting. So part of your work is that you work with men in finding their ideal relationship or partnership. Two questions. What are the most common qualities that you see men are looking for in a partnership? And also, what are some of the biggest challenges that you see them run up against in dating?

Dan (00:43:57):

Mm that's a great question. I'm seeing a big shift, you know, I'm seeing a big shift in dating and relationships and what men are looking for. And I attract into my space, a lot of men that are on their journey. They’re me 5, 7, 10 years ago, not me 20 years ago. Right. And so I think a lot of the men that I work with are looking for someone that they can build something with it. They're looking for a healthy relationship. They're looking for someone that could be a good mother to their children. If we're going to look at the wounded masculine, they're looking to conquer, but not in a healthy way, not conquer her heart, but conquer her, like they want to go out and they want to sleep with as many women as possible. It's their way of, it’s an identity of like, I'm in control, I call the shots and I'm more of a man. If I sleep with women, I'm not going to let them in and I'm not going to open. I tend to work with men who are on that journey, where they're like, Okay, I want to open and I want to have a healthy relationship, I’m just not sure how, and I'm afraid that the next one is going to be like the last one and that wasn't healthy.

And then that feeds into the second question in that I think the biggest challenge men have is… two things. One is emotional regulation, which is the ability for me to allow my emotions to flow through me, rather than me being a dam where everything just gets blocked and congested, because that's how it manifests in unhealthy ways and causes conflict in relationships. And, a lot of people don't understand this masculine, feminine dynamic. And, and I'm always very careful to speak about it because it's very easy to start thinking everything in terms of masculine, feminine, and I want it to be more fluid than that. But if you don't have an understanding of some simple things like women want men to lead in the relationship, that doesn't mean that the woman can't lead, is incapable, but she wants him to. Something as simple as picking a restaurant. Hey, where do you want to go for dinner tonight? Oh, I don't mind. Where do you want to go? No, no, honestly, I don't care. She wants you to step up, make a decision and pick a restaurant. It doesn't matter if you get the wrong answer. She wants you to make a decision. The masculine is decisive and the masculine leads. But again, it's very subtle. If he can't pick a restaurant, how is he going to lead. If I have kids with this guy, how's he going to lead my family?

Taylor (00:47:30):

Yeah. You brought up a great point because we have a lot of male clients and they come to us and they're like, I don't know what to do anymore, because they were brought up in a way where they were taught to be chivalrous and to be a gentleman and to open the door for women and to pick up the bill and to take the lead. And, they were coming up against women on their dates where they were, you know, very feminist. And they were very much like, Oh, I can take care of myself. Like you don't have to open the door from me. You don't have to pick up the check. And if you ask me, I'm like, I really like it when a guy does those things. It’s just a way of them showing that, you know, they like you. It’s just a very nice, simple gesture. And, I agree with you. It does show that they know how to make decisions and take the lead when they need to. But it's interesting. It goes back to the whole, like we’re in this awkward stage evolutionary wise with men and women and it's interesting, but I agree with you

Dan (00:48:54):

You brought up some great points there. And again, life is a dance. There’s no formula. Having said that, I will always open the car door for my girlfriend. I will stand on the road side when we're walking on the sidewalk, and I want to provide, not because she needs me to, but that's something as a man, as a masculine, we want to provide for our family. And I don't think that’s old fashioned. And that doesn't mean that she can't contribute. Right. But especially in the beginning, when you’re dating, I think it's something that's important. Although when you get married, still keep opening the door. 

If you're biting up against someone who's like super feminist, or like, I can look after myself, a lot of the time it’s because she's protecting herself from past relationships where she got hurt. I don't want to rely on a guy so he can screw me over again, or he can leave me, or he can cheat on me. Right. And so, every woman has had some kind of experience themselves, or they've seen it in a family or with their friends where a wounded guy has treated a woman badly, and then there’s Hollywood and it's all around us. Right. And so as men, we get to provide a safe space where a woman can relax into, Okay, I don't need to protect myself anymore. It's okay if he wants to take me out for dinner and pick up the check. It’s okay if he wants to open the door for me. 

There’s a phenomenal book that is so underrated that I think everyone should read is The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. And he talks about a maturity continuum where we go from dependent to independent, to interdependent. And that's the maturity continuum. And it's the same in relationships. You know, we leave home. We think, well, we're dependent on our parents and we think we're independent because we can pay rent and put food on the table, but we're physically independent, but a lot of the time we're not mentally, emotionally, and spiritually independent. We're quite dependent on our partners saying, or we say, Oh, I love you, hoping that we're going to hear that back, and if we don’t, we’re like, I’m dependent on you showing up the way that I want you to show up for me. So that's not independence. But then the next step from independence, this is so critical in relationships, is moving into interdependence, where I don’t need Claudia (my girlfriend) but I want her. And there's always going to be some level of attachment in a relationship. Like, yeah, I do need you. Right. But ultimately, we're going to be fine regardless of what happens. But the idea is that I come into her life and compliment her life. She comes into my life and compliments my life, but we're okay by ourselves. We're happy ourselves. There is a big misconception of love that the other person's going to complete me. No, I complete myself. I love myself. And she makes my life better.

Taylor (00:52:53):

I love that. Yeah. At the 10 day silent retreat we did, we did a whole day on relationships and love. And that was the main topic point of that whole day. It’s something I think we misunderstand. We feel like we're getting love and that love is coming from our partner, but really, the love is coming from inside of you. And so, that's a very important point to make. We are loving beings and we are full of love. And just to recognize that, and to think of the relationship as the joining of the two of you contributing that love to the relationship. And they say, there’s three people in the relationship, right, there's you, there's your partner, and there's the relationship. The relationship being what you both are feeding into, pouring into. 

I know we don't have that much time left, but I did want to touch a little bit about… because in the beginning of the interview, you had said this very important part about using intimate relationships as a way for self-growth and for healing. How instrumental was your self-work in meeting your partner? Were you doing the work on yourself while you were dating and how instrumental was it? How did it benefit each other? Because a lot of our clients say that, or before they become a client, they're like, I need to work on myself, whatever it is, like they want to work on themselves before they date. And so I'd love to hear your thoughts on how self-growth specifically can be mutually beneficial with dating.

Dan (00:54:47):

Yeah. Yeah. So ultimately the answer to your first question is yes, absolutely instrumental. I made a post, I think yesterday on Instagram. How we show up and how we think, feel, and act in any given moment is based on the level of consciousness that we're at in that evolution, in our own personal evolution. And so whatever shows up in our space, whether it be a job, a situation of any kind, or a relationship, it's there to help us grow and evolve. And we're going to meet life at the level of our own consciousness. And therefore the Daniel of 10 years ago could not have attracted Claudia (my girlfriend) that I have in my life now. At the same time, me today would not entertain a relationship with maybe someone I dated 10 years ago at the level they're at then, because we met each other where we were, and so you've got to be doing, everyone should be on a personal journey somehow if they want to have a beautiful life. 

It's important to do self-work on your own, when you're single, yes. But that shouldn't stop you from being in a relationship because what you can do by yourself is very limited to what will trigger you. So relationship is a mirror, right? And, I had a period of being single before I met Claudia. And that was intentional in that, I don't want to distract myself with going on a bunch of dates that aren’t aligned with who I'm looking for. And so I spent time alone, but generally you don't get triggered the way you do when you're in a relationship.

When you're in a relationship, that situation when she said something or did something, or in some way she was showing up made you feel insecure, made you feel fearful, or maybe don't even know what it's making you feel, but it's making you feel something that's uncomfortable. That's when you really do the work. Because you can, again, you can read all about it. People post about books they’re reading. I just posted, I just received the holistic psychologist's new book which I'm really excited about. And he says how to do the work, but reading a book is not doing the work, doing the work is when you're in a situation where shit hits the fan and you feel very uncomfortable. And it's like, okay, now I've got something. There's something there that I get to face.

Harville Hendrix, a very famous relationship therapist, said that a relationship is a place for two people to come together and heal their childhood wounds. 

There's many healing modalities, but being in a relationship, and facing the parts of yourself in another that get reflected back to you and trigger the shit out of you. That is when you do the work. Avoiding relationships because you need to work on yourself can easily mean, I don't want to deal with the pain or I'm afraid of the pain, or I just don't want to go there right now. So I'm going to just tell you, No, no, I'm just want to work on myself. People are always getting ready to get ready, whether it's a relationship or a business right. Sitting at home planning their gym workout rather than just going to the gym. You just need to go over there and lift something or run. Right. And at the same time, like if your life is completely upside down and it's just utter chaos and you actually really need help, that's a different story. But I'm guessing that's not most of the people that, you know, you're talking about.

Taylor (00:59:32):

I love what you said. Well, there's two things that I love. The first one was that productivity can kind of be like a distraction in a way, right? Like, like you said, people can jump down this productivity rabbit hole and download all these books and look at all these YouTube videos. And they're thinking that they're being productive or working on themselves, when in reality, it's just kind of like a distraction from actually doing the work, which I actually noticed I was doing for awhile. Definitely guilty of doing that. 

And then the second thing, your partner being a mirror. I love that. It's so true. I also realized that with Diego, whenever we first started dating I was getting triggered by, I was feeling like, I found myself getting mad at him for not being expressive enough, or not being open enough. I found myself like repeatedly criticizing him and getting upset and getting triggered over that. And then after I started doing some more work on myself and sitting with myself and being more introspective, I realized those were the two biggest things that I didn't like about myself. I was frustrated that I couldn't be more expressive and be open with people and I didn't feel like I had a voice, you know? And so, I realized that I was projecting all of that onto him. And as soon as I realized that, I was like, Oh, wow. I really have to do some more work on myself and fix this because it was becoming an issue. And so, just having that realization shifted everything. I took responsibility for myself and for the way I was feeling rather than just projecting all of that onto him. It was really powerful. I love that people can use dating and entering into relationships as a way to grow and to do more of the work on themselves. I think that's also very powerful.

Taylor (01:01:58):

How did you meet your girlfriend?

Dan (01:02:02):

So we met at a salsa class in Miami.

Taylor (01:02:10):

I like it.

Dan (01:02:12):

Yeah. Yeah. I was living in Miami, so everyone I dated in Miami was Latin. I mean, in Miami 80% of people are Latin. So I figured, there’s a good chance that the next person I meet will be from South America. And there's a good chance that she will dance Salsa. So, I want to go and learn the basics so that at least I can get through a dance. And so I was going there for two or three months, and then she just showed up one day for one class and we hit it off. We went straight for lunch, like right after the class, and here we are two and a half years later. 

Taylor (01:03:11):

Where is she from?

Dan (01:03:02):

Peru.

Taylor (01:03:03):

Okay. My partner is from Argentina. Yeah. I also had to learn salsa or tango, I should say. I had to learn to like Yerba Mate also.

Dan (01:03:28):

I had that once in London. It’s like the tea with the funky straw, right?

Taylor (01:03:35):

Yeah. The tea with the funky straw. It's really, really bitter. But I like it better than coffee. I feel like with coffee, I get a big jump and then I have a drop-off and with mate I can sip on it all day it’s a nice, even caffeine buzz. Yep. Okay. Sorry. I got off track.

Dan (01:04:04):

Yeah.

Taylor (01:04:04):

What advice would you give your younger self while you were dating?

Dan (01:04:10):

Oh, so many things. Wow. I would say the first piece of advice I give to anyone, and definitely to my younger self is, number one, commit to personal growth for your sake, for the relationships sake and for everyone around you, because we're in relationship with everyone and everything. And you're not going to nail it right away. You know, like it's a journey and maybe you go through a number of relationships, but personal growth is a foundation. And for me, it's very important in the person that I'm looking to attract that they're on their own journey, which brings me to the second piece. 

Get very clear on who you're looking for. I remember there was a guy visiting. I actually did my transformational coaching certificate back in London many years ago before I moved to the States and one of the guys that was on the course, Carl, he was in Florida. And so he asked to meet up and he's like, Yeah, I don't know what to do because I don’t really go to clubs anymore, and I just don't know where else to meet someone. And the first answer I used, was like, I'm 50, I don't want to go to clubs anymore. Not that you can't go to a club at 50 but my first question was, Do you really want to meet someone at a club? You could, but I don't know, a lot of clubs I go to, everyone's drunk, right. Is that the best environment to meet someone? And if you don't go to clubs, then you probably, definitely don't want to meet someone that goes to clubs because you know, you haven't got similar interests there.

So firstly, who are you looking for? It's like a goal.You can't hit a target you can't see. And so, have a relationship vision. Like everyone start by writing down, and most people haven't done this, just writing down, who is this person? What are their beliefs? What are their values? What are their interests? Do they want kids? Like some people are two years into a relationship and they’re like, Well, I'm gonna have to break up because she wants kids, I don’t, or vice versa. And I'm like, Well, you probably wanted to work that out before you started. Right. Things can change, but you know, get clear on who is this person. And then, where might I find them? And then you can ask that question. Well, for me, it wasn't at the club. I probably wasn't thinking it was at the salsa studio either. That was just kind of, honestly, I was just going there and that wasn't a dating strategy. But thinking about it, that could have been a place because, well, one, it does how it worked out.

And you know, I do a lot of spiritual work, so maybe it's in ceremonial places, or a drum circle, or full moon, or a yoga scene, or a breathwork class. They’re the sort of places where the person I'm looking for might hangout. So who am I looking for? Where do they hang out? That’s the key because that sets the trajectory. Otherwise we can just bump into people and we feel a connection, and then when we feel that connection, especially at the beginning where they can't do no wrong, and everything is just like sunshine and rainbows, and we get kind of blinded, and now we start going down this path with someone and we don't know if there's an alignment between who we are and what we want.

Taylor (01:08:25):

Right. Until it's too late, right, and you already have all these feelings and emotions involved. And attachments. And then you figure out, Oh shit, we're not in alignment. Or we aren't compatible in these ways. That's so good. So important.

Dan (01:08:40):

How many times have you heard someone say, or maybe you said it yourself, like one to five years into a relationship, they look back and they're like, I didn't even know this person. Like, how did I get here?

Taylor (01:08:55):

We have a lot of clients, or we’ve had a couple, and they’ve done that. We had one client that dated someone for five years and broke up because then they had a conversation about how they want to raise their children. He wanted to raise the children Jewish. Then she was like, there's no way I'm raising my children Jewish. And they ended up breaking up. That's why it's so important to have, not only to know, but also to have those conversations in the beginning of the relationship.

Dan (01:09:25):

And continuing on the journey having those conversations.

Taylor (01:09:31):

Yeah, because we change a lot. Right.

Dan (01:09:35):

And, you know, other stuff comes into our awareness.

Taylor (01:09:38):

Yes, yes. That too, that as well. I, myself, have changed a ton in the last, just two years and sometimes Diego is like, wait what? You like that? You didn't like that a year ago! I'm 35 and he’s going on 40 now, and we're still changing. People think, you change a lot in your twenties and by your thirties, you know who you are, but at least not us, like at least not myself. I'm still changing all the time. I'm surprising myself all the time.

Dan (01:10:11):

I think that's a good sign, right? Questioning yourself. Questioning life. I'm always asking myself, someone asked me the other day, what's a question that you ask yourself often. And the first thing that came to mind was, what am I not seeing clearly here in a situation, in a way I am thinking or feeling about a situation, in a way that anything is showing up in my life, what am I not seeing clearly here? Because it's easy. We like to blame and point fingers and what am I missing? What is this? Is there something I need to discover here. And so it’s a constant journey of questioning and discovery. Asking powerful questions leads to powerful answers.

Taylor (01:11:02):

That's why it's so important to have a coach, or a mentor, or someone to help you see your blind spots.

Dan (01:11:08):

Yeah. I don't know where I would have been if I, you know, my coach is constantly calling me out. Everyone I've worked with it. They're constantly calling me out and challenging, not just how I'm showing up or not showing up, am I doing the work that I need to do to meet my goals, but challenging my thoughts, my beliefs. Is it true? Do you really believe that? And it causes going inwards like, Hmm, I don't know. Let me, let me, let me explore. Let me examine that. 

Eckhart Tolle says we have an estimated 60,000 thoughts a day and 95% of them are repetitive and there the same thoughts we had yesterday. And if we keep telling ourselves these thoughts, thousands of times, we start to believe them. Stop, reflect, ask yourself questions and work with someone that can ask you the right questions. Because we get blinded when we're in our own game. We need someone from the outside, and with new questions comes new answers. Otherwise, we keep recreating our future from our past. And that's why I think it was Benjamin Franklin maybe, that said, most men die at 25, but they're buried at 75. They lived the same life over and over and over.

Taylor (01:12:36):

Oh god! Wow.

Dan (01:12:38):

Someone else said, don't keep living the same year over and over again and call it a life. And that comes because people don't question their thoughts, their beliefs, their actions, their life situation.

Taylor (01:12:54):

That quote is going to stay with me. That was powerful. Yeah. Wow. That's a good one to end on. Tell us, where can people find you on the socials?

Dan (01:13:11):

So right now I'm just directing everyone to my Instagram. It's @meetdansmith. And if anyone's wondering why it's Meet Dan Smith, try being called Dan Smith and finding an email address, a website or a social handle with your name.

Taylor (01:13:37):

Yeah. Yeah. That'd be a tough one. It's almost like John Smith. All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time. That was very insightful. I loved it. 

Dan (01:13:43):

Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.

Taylor Wade

Taylor is one of the founders of Ambiance Matchmaking. She now dedicates her time to curating content for our community through her podcast and blog. Writing and podcasting is the art of great story-telling. As a relationship writer and editor, she has always sought to capture the reality of the dating experience, full of drama, friction, and joy. The best mind is an open mind, so she specializes in asking questions and approaching a story without preconceptions.

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