How to Engage with Compassion with people that think differently to us

We’ve all been there. A colleague. A friend. Maybe even a family member – espouse something different to what we think. It’s a challenge. In the past I’ve been guilty of dismissing them as stupid or ignorant.

The last few years have shown me, it was I that was stupid and ignorant.

Mainly because I’ve been able to correlate what I see with what I do, instead of pretending that what I see is simply an observation of the outside world.

To recognize something in another – is impossible to do without having that trait. Not something I want to admit. Truth is, I have the capacity to be a bigot, a misogynist, a racist in any given moment. We all do. We’re human. Does it define who I am or how I behave every day? Definitely not! But to sit here and pretend I can’t be any of those is disingenuous and defeats the purpose of the title of this article.

A good place to start is embracing that no one is morally superior to anyone. Ever.

It’s a complex world. Even siblings growing up in the same household with similar experiences can turn out drastically different. I’ve softened my approach by asking the question ‘If I was born elsewhere in the world, would I still believe this?’

Religion is the easiest example to use here. A Christian may have views about Hindus, but would they hold that same view if they were born in India – would they still be Christian? Sadly, my subconscious reaction is usually to justify my position is the right one.

Maybe it’s related to the reason most of us avoid change: It’s hard.

Is it solvable?

I love solving problems and to solve one, I must understand it.

While news media and social platforms tell us how divided and polarized we are, a recent Harvard Study showed “80% of Americans are “happy” to engage in conversations with those with opposing views in the future if the conditions are right”

Whew… that’s a huge relief. If that figure were under 50%, I’d be worried.

It’s pretty tough to solve issues if half the population won’t even engage with you. Mercifully, that’s not the barrier – so what is?

Social media provides instant wide-net access to anybody’s opinions – often with no context. Think about racism. How many racists have engaged with the group they despise? To this point I suggest listening to a blues musician Daryl Davis talk about his first experience with the KKK.

No one would falter him for avoiding an overtly racist and anti-Semitic group, yet he chose the opposite. He uncomfortably engaged them using deeper questions with the intention to understand them. Conversation was his weapon, and he’s since assisted about 200 Klan members to leave.

 ‘’I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan. I just set out to get an answer to my question: ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? They come to their own conclusion that this ideology is no longer for them.”

I love that.

‘They come to their own conclusion’

That’s how we create long lasting change. Shaming someone into action creates acting. Inspiring someone into action creates change – Daryl exemplifies this to a T.

If a black man can sit with a Klan member – I can sit with anyone with an opposing view to mine.

How can we implement this?

Some intellectual humility on my part is a good start. Next, instead of allowing knee-jerk reactions to dominate my decision making, I ask questions like ‘how much more information could there be?’ The recent decommissioning of Dr Seuss books is a great example.

My first reaction was disdain for rampant cancel culture and wokeism once again going too far. Thing is – my reaction was based purely off a headline. I had no idea if this decision was an internal one – or external pressure. If it was one book – or all or all of them. I didn’t even know the reason why.


I have a long way to go to override my subconscious rampaging elephant, but one falter isn’t a reason to give up trying.

Writing this helps me see how valuable this test was to recognize how quickly it happens and how to catch myself. I now know it’s only six books that won’t be reprinted and it was Dr Seuss Enterprises decision.

“The company says the decision was made last year, in an effort to support “all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship”

My initial reaction was wrong. Ouch. Owning up to mistakes and being wrong is hard – but it’s a great ally in becoming a better human and growing.

Thankfully, I recently heard Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist based in New York, interviewed about Can a divided America heal. Besides insightful, it introduced me to their free resource OpenMind, helping people overcome bias. It was illuminating to hear why it’s easier to witness bias around me or in others, than it is within myself.

OpenMind’s program, as their website says, is “A scalable, evidence-based approach to constructive dialogue. Our learning tools equip people with the mindset and skillset to communicate constructively across differences.”

The perfect tool to build our skills. This is akin to climbing up a treacherous mountain for the first time. I can do it alone and get lost and frustrated, or use a professional guide to take me and save time – and make every step enjoyable and prevent me from giving up.

I’ve just completed the individuals course which I cannot recommend enough! OpenMind also has courses for Academics, Workplace, and Community & religious organizations. There are eight sections of 30 minutes each as well as four 45-minute interactions to practice discussions with a partner.  

As Daryl says, there’s a difference between being stupid and ignorant – and by understanding my own bias I can certainly change my interactions by bringing curiosity back into subjects I have little knowledge. Let’s be honest, with our access to all information from all over the world all the time, we’re bound to have some disagreements with friends and family.

We have an information surplus, but a lack of wisdom. Experts like Jonathan guide our journey to become more compassionate communicators across differing backgrounds, beliefs, and values.

Here’s the outline of their course:

There’s hope

No matter how polarizing the topic – I believe there is always common ground to understand one another’s position and be more compassionate with a view different to mine. We won’t agree on everything and that’s okay – there are tools available to empower ourselves for these situations.

The important thing is to focus on what is the end result we ultimately want?

For example, can we all agree that every child should be taught to read and be educated? Great! Let’s focus on how we make that possible, instead of getting stuck in disagreements about the cause of the problem. It’s certainly important to recognize mistakes so as not to repeat them – but collaborating on how to achieve this, is the best way forward to maximize efficient use of resources.

If we get stuck, a great question to ask is ‘would the children and parents care about this topic?’ – if the answer is ‘no’ – we’ve strayed off the purpose and objective we’re pursuing. Is this discussion serving the purpose of our shared objective?

And the better I become at this? The better I communicate with others; the more I break the cycle of automatic responses and build a bridge with compassion and understanding.

I hope you’ll take that next step on this continuous journey with me, and share this with someone you think will benefit.

Relationships: An open letter to Women


‘Now that I’m with her I feel like I don’t have enough time left on earth with her’ – this is what women want to hear. So where’s it going wrong?

I find it disheartening when great women make, in my eyes, the same mistakes with guys. This post is an honest recounting of these observations I’ve seen over the last twenty years. Hopefully this and my ten points on what to do will assist you to find and stand in your power.

Firstly, my deepest sympathies go out to women with the drivel they have to deal with on a daily basis from ‘so called men’.

Let’s be honest about them though, these are boys – not men.

Time to be real

This needs to be said.

Stop. Trying. So. Hard.

Half of marriages end in divorce in South Africa. So essentially you are running towards a building that could explode. What is the rush? Perhaps it’s time everyone took a time out to think about what they really want and whether what they are doing is working for them; because clearly the standardised framework of relationships is not working for most.

Being with someone because the idea of them feels great is not the same as being with them because it is great.

It’s a very interesting position to write from because I’m 37 and single. Timing just hasn’t been on my side, this year being an example of that when the crème of the crop moved to France three months after we connected. That being said it’s not as though I’m looking to rush into marriage either with the first woman that seems like she could be ‘the one’; something most people close to me felt I embodied in my twenties.

‘No really! THIS is the woman for me’ – fast forward a couple of months… you get the picture.

I get it. When we want something so badly, we focus on all the amazing aspects of a person instead of taking the time to see if they are compatible. Sound selfish? Just ask one of the divorcees what they would have done differently. That’s why we date. It takes time (for most of us) to really get a feeling of whether this person is going to be supportive during tough times and someone we can laugh with every day. Encapsulate all the qualities of human being we can be 100% vulnerable with. It’s easy to be with someone when times are great and laughs abound. Find someone that can hold a safe space for you.

Hollywood has played a part

The worst thing we can do is live our lives based on what movies show us. It’s not real – just like fairy tales don’t share what happens once the prince saves the princess; so too are movies providing false expectations of what love in the real world exemplifies.

Same goes for magazines.

Stop. Reading them. Please.

Especially the parts that say (and I just googled Cosmopolitan right now to see what their latest cover says)

“The Hot secret to love that lasts!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, they actually had 11 exclamation marks on the cover that you can see and OH BOY how clever of them to unearth the hot secret we never discovered all these years) Next: ‘Boys Toys! How to charm the pants off him” – Why not “How to be authentic to find your gem”

Here’s the thing about both those cover stories. It’s generic. It’s (just as the men’s versions are too by the way) backwards to think that these ‘secrets’ they’re unearthing are actually going to work for you. I’m sure there are exceptions here but for the most part, I highly doubt they do – unless you are looking for a casual hook up, but that’s a separate issue altogether.

As a self-respecting guy who knows his worth here’s a novel idea: why not be exactly who you are and chat to me? Let go of any attachment to the outcome and have fun. I’m sure the rank assholes will turn the conversation to ‘your place or mine’ pretty quickly in which case – hit the eject button. If you ever think ‘but maybe he’ll be different with me’ I can recommend a good island you should probably go live on by yourself.

Why start off playing games and pretending to be something you are not because a magazine said so? Wouldn’t you rather find out in six days that I wasn’t in love with the real you than in six months of the magazine you? Why would you want to waste your time?

I’ve had ten failed relationships. Some ended amicably; some broke my heart; one claimed I ruined her life when I ended it only to meet her, now husband, two weeks later and move in with him two weeks after that. True story. If they were the right ones we’d still be together. I hold no malice for any of them. Just plenty of lessons I learned along the way which helped sculpt me into the man you see today.

A couple years back a close friend gave me some advice “Andrew, your problem is you reveal too much of yourself too soon. You gotta play the game and hold some stuff back bro”

The very fact that the word ‘game’ was in that sentence meant that I ignored everything he told me. I don’t believe that at all or really see how holding stuff back is going to make things better? It’s much easier just playing the role of Andrew Mark Patterson

Where does it go so wrong?

So here are a couple of pointers I’d like to share with women.

This is a very good place to start. Two scenarios with the same outcome you tell me which one you prefer:

  1. You sleep with him and you felt such a deep connection and he said all the right things. You never hear from him again.
  2. You tell him you’re incredibly attracted to him but you want to wait. You never hear from him again.

Yes I can safely say sometimes that initial attraction is insanely strong but trust me – the right guy won’t have a problem waiting. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping with him if you are happy to never hear from him again, but Your self worth does not come from between your legs; it comes from your heart. The right guys know this.

The benefit of just waiting it out and not jumping into bed first chance you get, is that the more time goes on the more you will see the integrity and good qualities are genuine. You can fake that over a weekend but not over a couple of months. If he can’t make plans to see you with his friends he has no intention of dating you. Seeing who someone surrounds themselves with is a big indicator (for men too by the way) of the type of person they are. They say we are the sum total of the five people we spend time with. Perhaps a good start is asking him who those five people are in his life.

A real man will know how to respect you; opening doors, find out how your day was with the genuine intent to hear the answer; arrange a date out at a restaurant (doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it’s not McDonalds), will phone you (not just Whatsapp). They may even ask you subtle questions to understand what your favourite colours are to buy you flowers with that information. See what your favourite food is and perhaps attempt to cook you that meal.

Before you think I’m bashing women go read my post ‘Men – start leading by example’. I genuinely want the best for women and, from a young age I wanted to be an example of what guys could be, somehow I think it will take men longer to change their behaviour than it will women; if I could erase men’s memories and replace them with new ones a la ‘Men in Black’ style I would.

What does your behaviour say?

I often come across woman – friends or otherwise – that find validation from guys by sleeping with them. Or at least that’s how it’s coming across to me. Stop that. It’s never going to make you feel good about yourself. Perhaps the problem is not the guys you are meeting, but the image you project by the way you behave.

You say all the nice guys are married or taken? I say all the nice guys are in places looking for women who know their self-worth. Your looks might attract the right guy – but who you are as a person is what’s going to keep him.

I always get asked the ‘how come you still single’ question as a look of bewilderment comes across their face. I think my wife is playing the world’s most insane game of hide and seek. Seriously though, is it so hard to believe that I haven’t met the right women yet? Or that I have and timing dictates I wait a little longer?

My question is: What makes being involved a case to be happier than being single? Shouldn’t we just enjoy whatever phase we’re in and when you meet that someone won’t it be that much more special? Like being wrapped in caution tape on the dance floor? NOBODY… I feel strongly about this so let me repeat that… NOBODY should complete you. You need to be whole to meet someone.

The worst thing that happened to our society is the age of instant gratification. We’ve lost the art of building meaningful relationships. Take pride in building something over time. Be prepared to put in the work; can you really appreciate anything that just falls in your lap? Maybe if you’ve experienced the bad previously, probably.

For me, the very fact that I am 37 and I haven’t married yet is a blessing, because I know when I feel it, and I did this year, you don’t question anything it’s just ‘there’. One of my best friends lives in the States and he married a wonderful woman from South Dakota and he said to me after waiting about 36 years too – ‘now that I’m with her I feel like I don’t have enough time left on earth with her’

Think about that – how incredibly beautiful the last thirteen words are.

If I perhaps haven’t been clear above let me recap what you should do to find the right guy for you:

  1. Be authentic and don’t play games
  2. Nothing is sexier than a self-assured confident woman (doesn’t mean outgoing – means she knows what she wants)
  3. Your looks might attract in the beginning – but who you are is what will keep us
  4. Forget what beauty magazines tell you. Talk to me and discover what I like and want. I’m not generic.
  5. There is no formula
  6. Know your self worth and don’t settle for less, it comes from your heart.
  7. Be whole before you look for a partner – the whole ‘you complete me’ is rubbish. Complete woman find complete men
  8. Just because you had one bad experience with a guy don’t paint us all with the same brush. Learn from that experience to recognise those behaviours.
  9. Sometimes good people are not good together. If you have to force it walk away.
  10. He should celebrate you and encourage you to be the best you can be – he’s not intimidated by your strength. He’s attracted to it.

If you’d like to discuss this further – I’m more than happy to chat about it in more than 2000 words.

Are most guys assholes? Maybe… Does that mean it’s going to be harder to find the good ones? Probably, but catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and then hike up – see which one gives you a greater sense of accomplishment while admiring the view.

Just don’t be in such a hurry. It’s not always going to work with the good ones either. We are going to mess up but we’ll apologise, learn and try to improve. We’ll be a catalyst for change for you too. I can safely say I’ve never been with anyone with the intention to hurt them – but staying with someone you know is not right for you is a longer more cruel punishment than being honest. After all – don’t we want to end up with someone who wants to be with us? Make mistakes, it means you’re at least doing something to discover what you want and love. Sitting behind a wall expecting it to fall out of the sky isn’t the answer.

Enjoy the journey and find a guy where the fairy-tale starts when you meet.

Write your best story.


Gratitude for another year Lived


Life is so fragile. My original opening line below is now poignant since I heard the news last night. I’d like to dedicate this to a brave soul who fought long and hard – Gabe Thevathasan – your candle may have blown out at age 10, but the rest of the candles you lit still shine bright with your spirit.




Tomorrow I get to experience something Lady Di and Marilyn Monroe never did.

I turn 37.

This is always a special time of year for me, with a birthday rolling around I get to reflect on a year lived and feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the new experiences and people that have come into my life – whether briefly or now embedded into the tapestry of my life.

There’ve been great firsts for me this year.

  1. The Opera
  2. Starting my blog
  3. Going for Coaching
  4. Being wrapped in caution tape with an amazing woman on a dance floor
  5. Supporting my brother at the Cape Epic
  6. Winter Vortex
  7. Yoga
  8. Secret Sunrise
  9. Attending a world first launch – the ageLOC ME personalised skin care system

All of which have been complimented by moments of falling in love; experiencing pain; attending a beautiful love ceremony; having endless laughs with friends and dancing for days in the desert. Collectively  I’m reminded of my three pillars that I live by:

  1. Be grateful for what you have;
  2. Be in the service and give to others;
  3. and form meaningful relationships.


I’ve always believed that being grateful for what you have helps you live in joy and happiness. It’s not about being happy when I get something or somewhere (just ask a number of depressed famous people who appear to have it all) It’s about being happy now. When you can find joy in the smallest things, suddenly life becomes much simpler. Simple pleasures begin to elevate your mood to a place you never knew existed. Just because of a smile. Practising this means you will enjoy more days than not.

I had an issue with my engine last month which essentially cost me more than what I spent on my first car. Needless to say my heart almost kicked out the emergency exit and left me stranded. Granted, there are worse calls to get (and I’ve had a few) but that’s an insane amount of money in anyone’s language.

‘Please come in so we can talk about it Mr Patterson’

The garage is about 3km from the office so I decided to take my time rather and stroll in the glorious spring sunshine. The slight breeze made the heat more bearable as I listened to my music. I decided to be absolutely present and feel each step I took; feel each breath lift my chest, and really admire the majestic mountains of Stellenbosch.

At that exact moment everything was perfect. I could walk. I could see. I could hear. I could feel. I had love in my heart from family and friends. Yes there would be a moment later where it would hurt to pay that amount but it wasn’t then.

I brought myself back to the now. And it was beautiful.

The cost was astronomical – but it’s just money. I can make more.  I still have a car and luckily nothing bad physically happened to me up to that point. For the first time in my life I didn’t allow an external bad ‘thing’ to affect my happiness. It wasn’t fun, and I may not have been singing from the rooftops but I was still smiling.

Lesson: Bad things are always going to happen; cultivate a positive mind set BEFORE bad things happen so you can deal with them. It’s too late to try and become positive in a bad moment

Service to others

This is a big one.

I grew up being surrounded by it. Watching my mom and gran working for meals on wheels; my mom carting me and my mates to cricket games all over Joburg or clearing out old clothes to be able to give to those less fortunate than us. It made me think about giving and I remember being incredibly happy buying my family their favourite chocolate with my pocket money or simply being helpful around the house (this was all on my good days!)

Then at my High School, King Edwards, we had something called KESFAM which was about raising money for various charities. One that really sticks out was seeing us sponsoring blind people with guide dogs. Feeling their appreciation changed me forever.

While living in London I had a thought to get involved with something but didn’t know what.

Another life changing moment.

Harrods, I worked in the golfing department, threw a Christmas lunch for terminally ill and disabled children. They needed helpers and I jumped at the chance. I was dressed in a Panda Bear suit and being so nervous (I know – no one could even see me!) danced to the music. I became known as ‘The Dancing Bear’ and if I took too long a break to get clean air in my lungs was immediately summoned. Just for a moment the world was perfect. The joy on every child’s face was a true gift to behold. That would be the start to my life’s pillar of giving back to those who needed it most.

People equate giving with money and I think people believe it has to be hundreds or thousands of Rands – so giving R50 becomes ‘why bother?’. Firstly, imagine 100 people think that same thing? Suddenly R50 becomes R5000. Secondly, it doesn’t have to be money. Giving your time is far greater than giving money and that will tie into my third pillar I’ll talk about in a bit.

Lesson: the more we give the more we receive, just ensure you do it for people that appreciate it. Don’t waste time on vampires. The best feeling is helping others without any expectation whatsoever of it being reciprocated. Try it

Form meaningful relationships

This requires authenticity and vulnerability on your part. Celebrate who you are and you’ll surround yourself with those that matter. They will care enough about you to help you when you do something untoward, help you become the best version of yourself.

I personally have never understood holding on to resentment or anger about past ‘failed’ relationships. I use inverted commas because I don’t believe any relationship is a failure unless you don’t learn from it. You can always learn something even if it’s what you don’t want in your life or how you don’t want to behave. How to connect with people.

Friends are the family we choose. When you find these family members that behave in a manner which, tying back to my previous section about giving, means you’re always working together to build each other up and not just working on yourself.

You strive to build their happiness which inevitably builds yours too. You find people who are genuine and are able to have difficult conversations with you instead of leaving you in a bubble that everything is great. We all have faults and the quicker we set aside our egos and realise growth is for our own good – flying becomes a reality the caterpillar only dreamed of.

Moving to Cape Town where I knew nobody proved that you should never give up. Stick to being who you are and do what you love, the rest will follow. Great things take time and building relationships with people is no different.

Lesson: The greater your vulnerability, capacity to love and authenticity with people; the deeper and more meaningful your relationships will be. If all people want to do is talk superficially, don’t be surprised when they turn their back when you need them most. Hold close the people that listen after they’ve asked you “How are you?”

These are my three pillars. The glue that holds all of them together is love. Hold love in your heart and treat people with this pure intention and you will be amazed how they treat you. Be this person. Be the example to youngsters to look up to. We need role models for them. Twerking and landing on the front page of a Tabloid is not it. It’s a cheesy saying usually reserved for being in love but I think it’s appropriate to end off:

You might feel like just one person to the world; but to one person you might just mean the world.

Go spread your magic

Celebrate Your Life



Death is a shadow that walks with us even where there is no light.

Many people I know have been affected with loss and heard news of the impending death of a loved one recently. Or even just going through a tough time in general. It never gets easier. It never goes away. It’s a reason we need to surround ourselves with quality people so when these grey days descend – and they will – we have people to shine a light through the clouds to remind us there’s blue sky above the dreariness. And that it’s always there.

Last Saturday I had my afternoon freed up and with all the emotion of the week passed a moment of magic inspired.

Sitting down on the couch I had just worked on, the wall behind me felt like angel wings spread as wide as they could go.

A single moment surrounded by twenty years of living.


I’ve been in my Sea Point flat six years now, never having a clear goal of how long I was going to be here I’ve never decorated and as such the walls remain fairly bare.

Cleaning my flat I noticed two panoramic pictures I printed from my New York trip in 2013. They’d been up on the wall, but for some reason now lay miserably on the wall unit dying a slow death. My hands moved before I even thought to put them up.

I picked the largest barren wall.

Then I noticed another three photos lying around of me, also just fading in the darkness of obscurity. I decided to put those up too.

A tidal wave of emotion and energy flowed through me as thoughts reminded me of all the places in my flat more photos were hidden.

Clearing out

While cleaning up my flat I also decided to start throwing away everything that wasn’t serving me anymore or that I hadn’t used since being in the flat (I think six years is a sufficient gauge of what needed to go)

Eight years back I met a woman who kept photos on her fridge and having purchased fridge magnets from any city I’ve visited, thought it a great idea to liven up my fridge and put the critters to good use as well. Every now and again I print new ones to keep it fresh. The old ones too, now lay in a box tucked in the back corner of my cupboard.


As I found more photos to put up, I became feverish to find the next batch. I remember thinking I needed to cover the entire wall.

I came pretty close.

With each picture a flood of memories enveloped me and at times emotionally so. A Jigsaw of my life unfolded; and though each piece was not chronological, still fitted like a glove.

Starting with the first photo taken at my matric dance all the way to my most recent photo of friends and I; but I didn’t stop at photos.

My name badge from working at Harrods

The cricket scorecard from my first hundred at high school.

A farewell card of positivity from Jonathan as I left London on a voyage of discovery to Cape Town.

Postcards from cities visited

My ticket for Wicked on Broadway

My 2010 World Cup tickets

Coasters from a German pub in Munich

My scribbling’s about life I scribbled  while waiting for my car to be washed in Brackenfell (a broken man that day)

The dummy magazine cover I made for Isaure this year.

Twenty years of my life.

My ‘Life Wall’



I hear lots of people talking about vision boards; or scrolling through photos on their phone they’ve taken on holidays; and what they still want out of life. It seems to happen more than hearing about appreciation for how they arrived at today. The sum total of all their experiences and people met along the way. Guilty as charged here too. We seem to constantly chase the next thing and not really take stock of what we’ve accomplished to date.

I’ve always tried to be as appreciative of what I have, who I am, and where I’ve come from, but standing with a wall of your life looking back at you and not just individual pictures being flipped through is incredible. I think its well worth the effort.

In fact I feel we should have visions walls opposite our life walls – and when we accomplish something on our vision board (like visiting Iceland) then that would move off the vision wall and across the room on to the life wall. A constant flow of working towards what we want all the while being truly grateful for the experiences and people we meet along the way.

Instead of becoming consumed by what we haven’t achieved or what we haven’t done – I think we should remember what we HAVE achieved too.

It’s a cathartic experience to bring you back fully into appreciation.

Celebrate your life.

Celebrate being you.

Dating, Society & why it’s a mess

Let’s be brutally honest.

The divorce rate in South Africa is on the incline. Conversely the instances of marriage are on the decline. People are not happy. Yet all around, I am still hearing the stock standard societal prescriptors as gospel.

Why aren’t you married yet?

As recently as a week ago an old school friend asked me when he was going to see my relationship status change to “engaged”. I’m a 36 year old man who’s never been married. I guess I just haven’t met my wife yet? Perhaps she’s playing the world’s most insane game of ‘Hide & Seek’ anyone’s ever seen.

“Well how did marriage work out for you buddy?”

No need to answer, he’s busy going through a divorce.

The current system is broken. I personally believe people buy into the ideals and the hype. The promise, if you will, of how much better your life will be when you get married. Almost seeing marriage as the end point; instead of the beginning point. How is getting divorced a fun experience of life? It’s painful. God forbid you have kids, that really amplifies the drama for everyone – especially for the kids.

So my simple question is – why is it so surprising to people that I wait to get married? Especially that you and your prior experiences of personal growth (for both parties) put you in a better position to be more aware of what you want, without compromising on the core principles of who you are. Is it better to get married in your twenties when the chance of you both changing so dramatically raises the chance of get divorced? One in two chance. 1 in 2…

Why are we in such a rush? I understand from the female perspective that the biological clock makes things a bit trickier. I’m just not sure rushing into marriage just so you can have kids is the right way of going about it. Not in this day and age of adoption. One of my friends has a step dad that she is closer to than her actual biological dad. Just because you didn’t ‘make them’ doesn’t mean you can’t raise one of the world’s greatest human beings.

I’ve had three serious relationships where the women were all eight years older than me. I think mainly because older women in general have a better sense of who they are and what they want – in my eyes a prerequisite to having a successful relationship. If you don’t know yourself and love yourself then how can you expect another person to? However, to this point I have always felt that age is just a number. I’ve met 28 year olds and I’ve met 28 year olds. In the last six months I’ve met a 44 year old that behaved worse than a teenager and I’ve met a 20 year old that behaved with the maturity, poise and confidence of a self-aware fifty year old.

There are two aspects I’d like to discuss regarding this. Firstly, that as we pass through life we are given opportunities at every turn to learn about ourselves and others. It’s up to us to decide whether we use these lessons to better understand relationship dynamics and ourselves. Secondly, the people around us’ reactions to situations that falls outside of ‘the norm’.

I’ve recently experienced an ‘outside of the norm’ (my own prescribed norm for that matter) but being on a journey of self-discovery and constant improvement I’ve come to understand certain debilitating behaviours – like creating scenarios about the future that may not even come to pass. Trying to neatly box or categorise the scenario. I had to stop myself from letting preconceived ideas destroy the opportunity for love. To just breath. And just be.

It was a position I had promised I would never put myself in. I suppose we should never tempt fate. You should probably also know I have come to have a very strong belief and realisation that no-one and nothing belongs to us for any amount of time. That we should be appreciative of just 5 minutes with someone that stirs emotions in us that creates heaven on earth. That the mark someone leaves on us in life is not dependent on the amount of time spent with them – but rather the quality of the interaction we have with them. Kind of like being exposed to Swiss chocolate once. Just because you haven’t eaten it for years on end, doesn’t mean you won’t always remember that ‘Swiss experience’ and not compare other chocolate to that experience.

We hear so often things like ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but how many of us actually practice that simple credo? Not many. Instead of judging someone based on the tattoos they have or parties they frequent or a job they do – I’d love people to think ‘that person looks interesting – I wonder what stories they have to share’. What a different world this would be; one cultivating a mind-set of understanding.  I doubt any civilisation ever complained about the level of understanding they experienced. Just ask the Native Americans.

The second part becomes a bit trickier, because this deals with other peoples own perceptions and experiences which we can’t control and can vary so much from person to person. It’s why multiple people can look at the exact same thing and all give different interpretations. And that’s okay. The problem comes in where we try and enforce socially these ‘ideals’. In some cases we don’t even know we’re doing it because we have become so entrenched.

It becomes the difference between asking questions to get to know someone versus having preconceived ideas and judgements and acting towards that person as though what we thought, is how they actually are. HUGE MISTAKE. I think about my experience. I have no idea what will transpire out of this or how long it will last; but does that matter? In a world where we have such hatred, ambiguity, game playing and underhanded behaviour, how many people would say ‘NO!” to a genuine opportunity to experiencing love? Seeing someone look at you in a way that feels as pure as the world’s first love? With no expectation. No hidden agenda. No games. Just all the beauty in the world shining through someone’s eyes as though a star had just been born in the galaxy.

You see, at the end of the day, it all boils down to our individual experiences and understanding of who we are and what we want. Taking advice from others about our dating is like making your mind up about a food dish based on what others experienced eating it when you’ve never had a single bite.

How many amazing experiences have we passed up because we based our next action on what society deemed correct? What we thought others would perhaps think of us? Why do we need to label and categorise things immediately, without making decisions based on what we know because we’ve experienced it? My motto (within  reason of course this wouldn’t pertain to murder) is I cannot have an opinion about something unless I’ve experienced it. Online dating. Older women. Younger women. Chocolate on pizzas. Skinny dipping in the Atlantic in June. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t actually put yourself out there to experience things you will never know. Yes you may prevent heartache and pain by being cautious and holding back, but doesn’t that help build our character?

One of the best descriptions about this comes from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

“The most beautiful people we have ever known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen”

We don’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book. It’s only in the actions and doing that we build our experience. It’s just such a pity that we become so scared to trust ourselves and do what we feel is right for us and become inclined to listen to others and let societies perceptions govern our actions.

At what cost? What magic have you missed out in your life because you didn’t trust your own instincts.

The good news is: You can always start today.