For this episode of True Love No Shame, I spoke with Christina Weber, creator of Underground Unattached, a curated dating experience. I wanted to bring her insight on this podcast was because based on her work she has a lot to share about how to do relationships and how to do them well.
Dani: Tell us about Underground Unattached. How did it come to be and what’s your vision for it?
Christina: Leading up to the summer of 2014, I was living in New York City, and I had produced three concerts and a crowd funding campaign for a woman-centric brand called Feminine Weapon. And at the end of that stretch, my mother asked me if I was dating anybody. At the time, I was 33 and I responded with a blank stare.
Like, dating anybody? Did you not see what I just did? I was surrounded by a ton of amazing women and that’s where I was spending all of my time building relationships. However, there was no man in sight. And I realized within that question that we have to inject energy in our desires. And I was showing up nowhere in the universe saying that I was open, willing, interested, ready for a relationship. So why would I be given that person?
I realized in that moment, I have to focus on this too. I need to show up in this area of my life. So summer of 2014, I downloaded Tinder. I had never tried online dating. Within three weeks, I was drained. I was an entrepreneur, I was living in New York City, time is very valuable to me, and I didn’t have a lot of it to waste. I didn’t feel as though I was meeting anybody who would positively impact my life. I thought, there’s got to be a better way.
I had many friends who were feeling the same way too. So I thought why can we just get everybody into a room? Why not put everyone into a room, they can see the energy exchange and who are they interested in, and they can start their own conversations.
I consulted with a social psychologist and engagement expert and we developed a series of activities designed to foster connection and accelerate closeness. Now we’ve had over a thousand people have come through. We’ve hosted them in New York City, we’ve expanded out to Los Angeles, and it’s been a really really interesting journey, not only for myself, of the people that I’ve met, but the energy that I’ve taken in and learning other people’s struggles and what they were trying to figure out in love and relationships.
And then also of this entrepreneur journey for me of what is this business? What is Underground Unattached? And most recently we went through a starter accelerator program, two and a half, nearly three years after that first Underground Unattached experience. And we are now building the platform for user- and member-generated dating experiences.
Dani: Dating apps were sort of built to create efficiency in terms of you can filter people, but then you spend hours on them and hours talking to people and then you meet them and there’s no spark.
Christina: I see a lot of wasted energy. You then somewhat if you realize this isn’t the person for me, then you coach yourself for the next 45 minutes to three hours to be present. There’s a lot of wasted energy and a lot of people going out on 10 dates a week.
Dani: I like also that you mentioned the social psychology. It reminds me of the New York Times article and now book about the 36 questions to fall in love with anyone. What conversation topics open people up to find that connection?
Christina: What’s on their mind?
I work one on one as an inner guide with clients as well, and I was talking to one of the guys I work with. He’s like “When I meet somebody, there’s the questions of where do you live? What do you do for work? And so how do you get past that?” And I said “You say what’s on your mind.” So often we’re striving for connection with another person, but we’re all trying to figure out what to say. And if we start really revealing what’s going on in our world and in ourself, like what our struggles are, what our challenges are.
Getting past those surface conversations for this specific client, he was telling me about one of his best friends at work had just got a new job and he was waiting and he was feeling a little bit bummed that his best guy friend at work is taking a new job. And at the time we were talking about conversation points. And I said “There you go. That’s a conversation point.”
You know, sharing what is happening, what we’re experiencing from an emotional level with another human being and then talking through that with them.
Dani: I think what kind of goes through our minds is is this thing gonna make me sound good or bad. We’re like ah, this is not okay to say on a date. But it’s stuff that we would say to a friend.
Christina: And that’s what we have to start relating to everybody as though they’re all friends. And also, with your story of having trying to abide by all of these rules. That’s a hard place. We live in a world, our society that begins to domesticate pretty much as we’re born, but we really start to pick up on it at age three.
And we’re first domesticated by our parents and then we go to school and we’re taught about to all be the same. And so this phase to go through of the study of self, of actually really sharing who you are as a human being. I hate right now that, unfortunately, a lot of people are turning to Google, Dr. Google, to help answer relationship challenges. But really, the answers are we’re all different.
Dani: What childhood was like and what did your parents teach you about dating?
Christina: Do you know, I can say that I kind of grew up in a feeling that there was this sense of wrongness in how the world worked. My parents, when I was a senior in high school, they had a rocky relationship probably from when I started to realize from like 11 onward. My father struggled with addiction, or had an intimate relationship with Jack Daniels. And so I never necessarily saw this healthy relationship between the two of them. I do hear, though, from my memory, I hear from family members that they had a beautiful relationship up until I was like 10, so I’m sure I absorbed that as a child.
I was introduced to Kabbalah around age 30, and that was kind of my first door open into spirituality and as a child I was raised Catholic. And when I was confirmed at 13, my parents were like “Okay great. We’re done church now. You’ve got confirmed.” And so I think they were always figuring out their relationship and I remember sneaking into my mom’s room at times and opening her journal and reading about the challenges that she was having with my father and their addiction. And I look back on their relationship and they were just married really young. They were both raised in super Catholic families. My father, one of nine. My mother, one of five. They were each other’s first. So you have sex and then you get married. None of them had experience dating anybody else. And they didn’t even know who they were as individuals.
So I can say that I’ve learned from that. I’m now 36 and I can say I’ve made so many changes just within the past year that would change who my partner will ultimately be. I stopped drinking alcohol. I started a meditation practice. I’ve come more into myself. And that took me to get to 36.
Dani: Are people in Underground Attached looking for that permanent relationship, or are they just looking for something meaningful?
Christina: Kind of back to that I’ve never met two people that are the same. However, we just wrapped up a pre beta experience where we have switched our experiences to hosted by our members. So for example, we did an improv workshop. We did a meditation meets the Beatles. And we did a comedy show in Los Angeles recently. And at the end of it, and even prior to us even asking the question, on a scale from one to seven, how important is it for you to find someone to have a healthy relationship with? And I would say 90% of the people answered that question with a five, six, or seven. They’re ready.
I find that from an age perspective, that I’m seeing that with women, it seems like in their 30s that they’re ready, and from men, it’s like above 35. Like 35 to 44 is when they’re ready. So if you look at that data, while again no two people are ever the same and there’s always outliers from a statistical standpoint, there are some people in their 20s and granted I have to say a lot of my work is done in the big cities, New York City and Los Angeles. However, I don’t think that the mentalities have changed.
Dani: I read a lot of books from the Christian bookstore about relationships, and I remember one of them had this idea that I think is also in our culture that two half people can’t come together and make a whole. That you have to be a whole person in order to have that healthy relationship with another person.
Christina: I think that the learning process never ends. You’re always in this journey to grow and evolve and become better. And two is when you’re not clinical a whole person. It’s not that you have this realization “Wait, I’m not whole yet.” It’s always on this journey to become more whole. But from a spiritual perspective, I’ve heard and this resonates with me that if you believe that we’re here for self correction, to become better versions of ourselves, and you have become the best version of yourself as that you can as an individual, so on your own, that universe creator, God, whatever you believe is a higher power, if you believe, that you’ll be sent this other human being, your soulmate to take you to the next level. And then you guys can grow and evolve together.
Now with that said, that means probably most people won’t meet their soulmate within this lifetime because you have to be willing to do the work without that other person. However, at the same time, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have relationships because relationships are the greatest classroom and how we grow and evolve and learn about ourselves. So yeah, I think that there is this, you kind of know when you’re entering that next relationship. And I’ve heard the stories and from a healthy relationship perspective, you kind of look at one as three circles. You as an individual, them as an individual, and that the relationship that you create together as its own separate entity. So all three separate entities. But it’s a journey.