The 4-Day Date: A Social Experiment in Dating like a Modern Day Gypsy.

For some time now I've been suffering from some serious writer's block, 1 month ago, after going on one of the craziest adventures of my life, I found my voice again.

Last month, after a year long, self-imposed hiatus from dating, I finally went on a date. This was no normal "date." This was a 4-day date with someone I had never met in real life and who lived in another country.

When you decide to take time off of dating and being physically and romantically involved with anyone, there is no easy way to transition back into it. So I sucked it up, put on my lip gloss and cute lace bra, and went on a date. Well, I grabbed my passport and suitcase and hopped on a flight and lived out a 4-day affair.

I know, that’s not really "dating." Meeting someone in another country that you've only ever talked to via FaceTime seems like something out of a movie or an episode of "Sex and the City." But it’s not every day that you're given the chance to live out a romantic fantasy. I decided to jump at the chance to have a story that perhaps every girl has dreamed of at one point. Just like that, I ripped off the super single band-aide and was back in the dating game.

The reasons why I decided to breakup with dating in the first place don't matter as much, but right around the one-year mark I noticed I had become strangely comfortable in my solitude. I knew living this way was not healthy. I needed to connect with someone and not in the way I connect with my girlfriends or yoga students, but really connect and share myself with a man in an intimate way. I needed a reminder of what it felt like to desire and be desired by someone. Truthfully speaking, I needed an ego boost.

I was ready to start getting messy again.

The last 2 years of my life I had spent most of my time in foreign cities or airport lounges. I would joke with my girlfriends that the man I was going to date was living in a different time zone. And the handful of men I had met during the last 2 years couldn't wrap their heads around me, much less my gypsy lifestyle. I was convinced that the man for me was living a life even bigger than the one I was creating for myself. I was so certain of this outcome that I could afford to wait for him to show up, and I waited without anxiety.

It may sound crazy, but in the middle of the summer I had a gut feeling that I was going to meet someone soon. I didn't know him, but the idea of him was so exciting I had butterflies in my stomach. How on earth it was possible to be excited about a non-existent person is beyond me, but somehow I knew.

It was only a couple of weeks later that I was virtually introduced to the man that would break me out of my dating rut. My first conversation with this beautiful stranger lasted over 2 hours. This stranger was a professional traveler who spent the last few years traveling the world and creating adventures and experiences for others. He was the male version of me. The universe was conspiring in my favor.

I had manifested the exact man I always said I needed to date. He spoke my language. He was the prototype.

He was soulful, adventurous, generous, kind, intelligent, spiritual, silly, inspiring, authentic, raw, honest, and sexy as hell. His easy way of being pulled me in, and that was just the first phone call. I hung up the call feeling completely intrigued.

It was only a few weeks after our first conversation that I was on a flight to meet this stranger. Having my second glass of wine, I thought, "what the hell am I doing? This isn't an episode of ‘Sex and the City!’” This is my life, and in my life I have always been a magnet for madness, which meant that this "date" was headed toward a downward spiral of crazy.

An inner dialogue was playing out in my head on high volume. Why couldn't I just go on a date with someone from my zip code or even my time zone like a normal girl? What if he was a sociopath? What if he wasn't as attractive or charming in person? What if he has some weird sexual fetish? What if he was boring and didn't laugh at any of my jokes?

I have always been a slave to my impulses and then my mind would get in the way and try to talk me out of my gut feelings. This time I was on the flight and there was no turning back. It was show time.

As I walked off the flight and through the airport, I'm pretty sure I was holding my breath the entire time. I scanned the lobby of the international arrivals not really knowing what I was looking for, and then I saw him. I walked right up to him, he gave me a hug, and I exhaled.

He was tall, dark, and handsome, and he smelled like a man. Yes! More than that, I realized the connection I had been drumming up in my head was real. I hadn't imagined it! It was intense, like fire to gasoline. This was the date I've been waiting a year to go on. 

The best part about "dating" someone this way is that there’s no time for awkward exchanges and empty pleasantries. There was no time to act shy or hold back – we were all in.

He effortlessly allowed me to live a few days in his life. He showed me a city I had visited before, but this time through a different set of eyes. We ate together, slept together, sang songs, rock climbed, rode bicycles, got wine-drunk, got into heated discussions, talked about our families, friends, dreams and deepest thoughts, and sometimes did nothing at all but just sit with each other.

This connection had so many layers that at times neither one of us could really articulate how and why we had been brought together. We were strangely familiar and it all seemed too easy.

I selfishly soaked up every moment of him and of the experience. I surrendered and allowed myself to drown in his depth.

Even when my old patterns started showing their ugly face and I panicked and pushed him away, he pulled me closer, held me tighter and refused to let me run away. He embraced the part of me that was broken and fragile. He gently pulled me out of my own self-imposed darkness and into the light.

He willingly became the mirror I needed to see where I still had work to do, all the while reminding me I wasn't as messed up as I thought.

This was clearly more than a “date.” This earthquake of a man shook me far beyond anything my heart and soul had ever felt.

But we both knew from the start that we would have to say goodbye.

When the time came, there was no drawn out, tear-filled farewell. Instead, we both looked at each other and said: "I'll see you soon."

On my flight home I felt mentally, emotionally, and energetically drained. For 2 hours I cried uncontrollably, while my brain and heart attempted to make sense of what happened in those 4 days.

I was frightened and concerned. How had I allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole of emotions when all of this was supposed to be was a fling and good travel story?

Why did my head feel cloudy and my heart feel like it was going to burst out of my chest? This was not the plan. I wasn’t supposed to feel anything real, especially not for someone who was physically and emotionally unavailable to me.

Was I so in need of love and attention that I mistook what was supposed to be a fling for something more? Was I romanticizing the idea of this man and not seeing beyond the smoke and mirrors? I desperately wanted to make it all go away and pretend it never happened.

I was so angry with myself for not sticking to the plan and terrified of giving my feelings any merit. So I told myself I would not allow this man to take up inventory in my life.

I shut down the idolization of this so-called connection and did the only logical thing: I panicked, had a meltdown, and avoided my beautiful stranger for as long as I could.

This was my punishment to myself for being impulsive and over the top. All the meditation, all the yoga, all the introspection this past year, and here I was, back to my old patterns of self-sabotage.

It took me a week to build up the courage to have a Face Time call with my stranger. I was afraid he would look at me and be able to see right through me. I was afraid he would see that I had been struggling to make sense of everything we had experienced. I was afraid that magnetizing connection would be gone. I was afraid I had imagined him and every moment of that date.

But it didn't take long for him to pull me in and break down any walls I had built up in my head about our story.

As soon as we spoke again, I felt the connection again. The same one that got me on a flight, the same one that moved me to tears, the same one that cured my writer's block, the same one that set my soul on fire. It was real, and for the first time it hit me that maybe, just maybe, I had shaken him just as much as he had shaken me.

We ended our call that day by once again saying "I'll see you soon," and I know we will. Until the rivers and roads between us don't exist, I will hold on to our tender moments and the memories.

I wish I knew what the future held for this story, but what I love most is not knowing.

For the first time in all my years of "dating," I didn't have to be the one with the big life trying to convince someone else to come on adventures with me. For the first time someone else, whose life was already big and exciting, reached out his hand and said join me and let's have an adventure together.

So I guess I did end up having a "Sex and City"- inspired romantic affair with a beautiful stranger. But what I really learned from the 4-day date was that fearlessly trusting my gut and really opening my heart brought me back to the only thing that matters, the only thing that's true, the only thing that could save me from myself: love.

Marina De Lima