We're taught that the most important key to finding love is to make ourselves more attractive and reveal our authentic self. As seductive as that message sounds, it's really just self-doubt in a sexy outfit. The path of authenticity strengthens and empowers us–and leads us much more directly to healthy love. Here's why, and here's how to embrace this wiser path.
Episode Table of Contents
- The Wrong Path
- The Concept of a Gift Zone
- How Living In Your Authentic Self Leads to Love
- Wild Moment of Prompting
- The Missing Piece
Episode Introduction: Authentic Self
Again and again, we're told that if we want to find love, we have to fix ourselves, but the truly powerful life-transforming path to finding healthy love is through our authenticity. Learn more in this episode of the Deeper Dating podcast.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I'm Ken Page, psychotherapist and author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating and today I'm going to talk about the power of authenticity in your search for love.
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The Wrong Path
Let's jump in. So much dating advice tells us, in about a million different ways, that we have to fix ourselves or change ourselves in order to find love. The big focus is, if you want to find love, you have to make yourself more attractive. That is this drumbeat, that we hear again and again in a million different ways.
This concept of having to fix ourselves and get a little bit thinner, or act a little bit more feminine or a little more masculine, or get a little more confident or flirt better or whatever. Accessorize better, get better glutes, get better abs, whatever. Whatever that is is very seductive because it kind of makes sense on the face of things. Sure, I'll look better, more people will be interested, I'll find love, but it doesn't work that way because something more profound is at work.
I mean, if you're just looking for a date, if you're looking for sex, if you're looking being noticed, absolutely, all that stuff works great. But if you're looking for real love, you're kind of taking the wrong path.
These thoughts about how we should fix ourselves are very, very seductive. Because who wouldn't want to look thinner, look better, be more confident, be more sexy, whatever the things are? Who wouldn't want that? But really, as seductive as all of these things are, they are really self-loathing in a very sexy outfit, telling you to come hither. And they're ultimately not going to lead you to love.
The Path of Authenticity
In fact, the focus on them is going to lead you away from love. So, what leads to love? It is the path of authenticity, for so many different reasons. That's what we're going to be talking about today. And my sense is that, by the end of this podcast episode, you will be in touch with the magic of your authenticity, and you, will have a richer sense of why that is going to lead you to healthy love about a thousand times quicker than any of that other advice.
I just want to say one thing though, which is, of course it looks good to be in shape. Of course, feeling confident is good, as I said, but the minute those things trump authenticity, you are wounding yourself. Your search for love and your presentation of self is going to feel like you're climbing up a wobbly ladder because there is no center, there is no solidity, there is no foundation when we do that.
So first, there are all of the dating messages that say things like, "You have to be this. You just have to be that. Forget what you feel. This is what you have to act like because it's going to work." Those are kind of the more extreme messages and there's so much of that out there.
The mixed messages are more like, "Be confident but be authentic. Act more feminine, act more masculine, but be authentic." All of these messages are… they're kind of crazy-making because you can't be authentic and something other than what you're feeling and experiencing at the same time.
The Concept of a Gift Zone
Now, I do believe in fake it till you make it for certain situations. Absolutely. So that you can act well and act appropriately. But ultimately, having a fake persona that is supposed to win you love or make you irresistible is just going to kill you. It's just going to make you lose years of precious time.
The beauty of the path of authenticity is it works better. It draws you to people who are healthier. It teaches you the deeper, truer lessons of self-love, and it heals your life at the same time as it leads you to love. Because as I say all the time, and as I said in the intro,
The skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love.
So, let's jump in now and talk about how to get to that place of authenticity. I talk a lot about the concept of a gift zone and I'm going to talk about what that is. I actually speak about that in great detail in episode 28, but here's what I'd like you to do. I'd like you to picture a target, just a typical target shape and it's got three rings in it. The inside ring is the gift zone.
The next ring out is the zone of protection. The third ring out is what I call the zone of disconnection. So here's the concept, the closer you get into the center, the closer you are getting to your authentic self. This is a map of your zones of intimacy and your zones of authenticity. The further away from that center you get, the more defended you are and the more protected you are.
The First Zone
So that first zone is called the gift zone. What does that mean? That's when you're connected to your heart. That's when you are connected to your feelings, to your humanity. I'm going to talk about this in more detail in a moment or two, but this is the state that we want to hold, and this is the state we're going to be focusing on in this episode. I'm going to help you learn how to get there and use the magnificent promptings, resources, and magic that exist in that part of you.
But the thing about that part of us is, it's very human, and human isn't always so easy. We get hurt. The closer we are to the center, the more we can be hurt, the more we can be wounded, the more we can be vulnerable, the more our trust can be betrayed. Especially when we go into the world, taking these precious parts of ourselves and holding them in our hands and saying, "I hope you will accept me." When instead, we say, "These are my treasures," and we own that and treasure that.
There is a way that we have a backbone. There is a way that we are less fragile, less affected by rejection, and we'll talk about that more too. But so, there is an innate capacity within this zone of living in your heart, living in your authenticity, that will enable you to be less hurt and bothered less by rejection. But what that takes, is an intention to say, "Baby, I'm honoring my humanity, and I'm only, only, only looking for people who honor it as well." This is the path of beauty. This is the path to love that I espouse and teach and that this work promotes.
The Zone of Protection
Very vulnerable to be there, for so many different reasons. We protect ourselves from the heat of our core self and we airbrush who we are. We try to be someone who is more acceptable, more desirable, less intense, less sensitive, less different. Or we just kind of want to get away from the intensity of whatever it is we're feeling in our heart. Because our heart is a powerful instrument of experience. So, we protect ourselves. We protect ourselves with watching TV. We protect ourselves by eating. We protect ourselves with workaholism. I raise my hand for all of those except TV.
And we protect ourselves, also, by putting on a false persona, one that we think will be more liked, one that will put us in the limelight maybe a little bit less. We'll stick out less. We'll be less noticeably different. We'll be more socially acceptable.
All of those are zones of protection. But as you go out further, you move away from the heated core of your being. You move away from your soul. You move away from your heart. So, just like as you move away from the sun in the solar system, it gets colder, so too, when you move away from the heat of your soul, your heart, you feel colder, your world becomes colder.
In that third zone, the zone of disconnection, that coldness becomes dangerous, it becomes toxic. It cuts at the core of our being. The emptiness of that is like, on some level, we're deprived of oxygen, and that's a dangerous zone. Most of us have been there at some points in our lives. The task is to, drop by drop, homeopathically, learn to choose to move toward the warmth of the center of that circle.
How Living In Your Authentic Self Leads to Love
There's so much more here that I talk about in my book, and that I guide people through in my intensives. If you want to learn more about that, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. I have an upcoming intensive where people can work very intimately with me over the course of six months, on this very material. But for now, I'm going to talk about why living in our gift zone helps us to find love. Why is this so important for finding love? Once again, to say that in the simplest terms,
Living in your gift zone means living from your heart, living from the truth of what you're feeling and experiencing.
If you would like help in learning how to access that gift zone, go to episode 28 because I teach practices to help you do that.
Well, let me give you some reasons why. You're going to see, for every single one of these, that doing this will heal your life. And I'm going to explain why doing this will lead you to healthy love, which is a goal of such happiness, such importance, such preciousness.
Well, number one is this, when you live from there, you are more magnetic and not this fake, irresistible magnetic. In physics, it's known that what creates gravity is mass. The more mass an object has, the more gravity it has. Gravity is defined as a force that pulls outside objects to the center of the object that has the gravity.
Your mass is your authenticity. When you live from your authenticity, there's a sense of truth there that is palpable, especially when it's hard to do or it kind of puts you outside the range of being typical, airbrush normal, for whatever the reason.
Drawing People Near
It's kind of like bringing you to an edge. People feel it. When you've made the choice to love that part of you, people feel it. This is mass. Mass is self in this case. And the more you live in your authenticity, the more mass there will be, the more presence of self, hence the more gravity. That means that you will draw people to you. They will notice you. They will listen to you because man, you are brave and you are from the heart, and people notice that.
So, as you live from this place of authenticity, that kind of internal intention to say, "I'm going to be who I am. I'm going to radiate who I am," makes people notice and creates a sense of gravitas of presence that is natural and true, and hard-earned because you are deciding to be authentic, which is an act of absolute bravery in this world.
Next, when you're in this space of your gift zone, again, where you're feeling connected to your heart and you could just … Again, I talk about this much more in episode 28. But just take a moment to remember some times in the recent past, when you have lived more from your heart. It may have been a time that you just grabbed someone you loved and hugged them. May have been quiet time alone, where you just kind of felt connected to your core. A recent moment of peace, a moment of revelation, a moment of tears. A time when you felt really inhabiting your own skin, your feet on the ground of your life, just remember that.
Saying What You Mean Without Sounding Mean
A time that you chose to speak the truth of your heart, even though it wasn't easy. And let me just say, when it comes to speaking the truth of your heart to other people, the basic rule is this, say what you mean, but don't say it mean. That's kind of a simple, simple, simple simplification of the rules of healthy feedback.
When you're in a space like that, there's a way that you're kind of lit from within by the light of your own heart. You could kind of feel that there might be a magic in this. There's something in this that radiates out and people feel it.
When you're in this zone, you also get promptings. You're more likely to feel intuitive promptings of the things you want to do, the places you want to go, the people you feel drawn to, the desires that you have, the things that would make you happy, the ways that you want to give, there's just a sense of inner prompting that happens from here that is pure gold because that inner prompting is the path of your meaning. That prompting comes from the little bubbles of meaning or the big bubbles of meaning.
So, that's another gift that comes from there, is that you feel the promptings of intuition infinitely more than you do in the other zones. And that intuition, I know for me, has led me much more directly into loving relationships. This is a story that I share, is that when I was in Provincetown – Gay Family Week, there was someone who I was interested in, who became my husband. But he was not really available because he was very involved in being there for his kids. So, I gave up.
Wild Moment of Prompting
It didn't seem like it was going to happen. I just kind of let it go. At three in the morning, I got woken up bolt upright, and I felt like I got this message. The message was, "Ken, if you want to make this happen, you've got to get down to it. You've got to do something. You got to be inventive." So, I was. I figured out this whole ruse, where me and my son would just happen to be where he was passing, and I made a date.
Thank God for that wild moment of prompting. But if I wasn't in a place where I was living more frequently in my gift zone, I wouldn't have had that prompting and my future would have been different. So, that's another magic thing that happens when we live in our gift zone.
Here's another. This may be an experience that you have had, and I'd like you to remember. Were you ever in a situation where you were in a conflict, or in a dilemma, or in a difficult situation, and somehow you got in touch with your heart in a different way, and you felt a stream of compassion, either for yourself or for the other person, and that shifted how you handled things? Take a moment to remember if that's happened for you and how that felt. Gift zone. That's gift zone.
Here is something I want to say about this. Kindness and understanding are two of the biggest aphrodisiacs that exist in your search for love. In fact, the evolutionary psychologist, David Buss, did a very big study of what the single quality that was most important for people who were looking for love was, in a prospective partner.
The Single Greatest Ingredient for Success
Now, this was a study that went across ages, went across genders, went across locations. The number one thing that people chose, male or female, above attractiveness, above success, above a sense of humor, was kindness and compassion. In fact, the research also shows that this is the single greatest ingredient for success in a long-term relationship, is the ability to access that kindness and compassion.
So, all this dating advice that's telling you to do this and this and this and this, instead of telling you to cultivate kindness and compassion and understanding, or to live from the warmth and the heat and the beauty of your humanity and your authenticity, is steering you mostly wrong.
So in the gift zone, you feel this kind of … you get these moments where compassion or kindness hits you because you're close to your heart and your heart is going to feel those things. This changes our future. Those crossroads, where we choose kindness and compassion, where we might've chosen something else, literally craft a new future for us. So, this is precious stuff folks.
Here's another thing. When we're in our gift zone, we are more porous to inspiration. When we're busy, when we're protected, when we're not connected to our gift zone, we're like a smooth surface. Stuff bounces off of us. We don't notice it. When we enter into our gift zone, we become less of a nonstick surface. We become more porous, and we become more porous to the breezes of inspiration or insight that kind of pass-through our being, as a matter of course, when we're living in our gift zone.
Moments of Inspiration
Those moments of inspiration, take a moment to think about that time you were walking on the beach, time you were … whatever it is you were doing, where you kind of felt a breeze of inspiration, that gave you a new idea or a new direction or a new sense of understanding. Remember how that felt.
You can see why this is such precious stuff. And hopefully you can see why this will not only enrich, deepen, beautify, and heal your life, but it will lead you to love. I guess I do need to say something more about that. When you don't live in this way, you are making a statement about not trusting your soul. It is not just an act of avoidance.
It is an act of quiet violence against your being, and it creates a vacuum where yourself and your heart should be, and nature abhors a vacuum. That vacuum will be filled with masochistic situations and relationships. That's the kind of deeper blueprint of this intimacy journey.
Which brings me to my last point. The more you live in your gift zone, the richer and more filled with meaning your entire life will become. The more fun, the richer, the more filled with, I guess not just meaning, but beauty, significance, connection, all of those good things. The more your whole life will be filled with those things.
Here's the other piece though, and this is what is not taught in dating advice.
The Missing Piece
The more you share your gift zone, not just in that wonderful relationship once you find it, but right now in your dating life. The more you do your dating life from your gift zone, knowing clearly that you're going to be discriminating, you are only, only, only, only, only going to choose those people with whom your soul feels safe as you do this.
So here's the other piece of this that's huge, and this is something we don't get taught. This is also the great and beautiful and most powerful kind of bullet train to finding healthy love. The more you share your gift zone, the more you share these parts of you that we're talking about, in your search for love, the quicker you are going to find and the more powerfully you are going to draw healthy, beautiful love. This is really, really true.
We're taught to do a million exterior things to find love. Try this and watch what happens. The other powerful thing is, that when you decide to do this when you make it your choice to take the risk of living from your heart, your tenderness, your vulnerability, your passion in your dating life, there's an act of dignity in that. Somewhere inside you're saying,
I know this is risky. I know not everybody does this, but I choose to because this is who I am. This is what I love. This is what I believe in.
There is a dignity and that dignity is true confidence. It's a humankind of confidence. It's not unshatterable. It's not made of steel, but it's real.
The Deeper Physics of Wiser Dating
When you have that dignity, your ability to discriminate the people with whom, when you show this part of yourself, step on it, don't appreciate it, ignore it, you will easily lose your taste for people like that. You know this was a hard-earned choice and you're not going to squander it. You will notice, and you will magnetize people who treasure those parts of you and want to be that same kind of person too. This is the truth. This is the deeper physics of wiser dating.
Try these ideas because not only will your life become richer, not only will your whole life begin to shine more but you will move much more quickly to the love you dream of. I know this to be true.
If you want to learn more about this approach, you can go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. Learn about how to work with me, learn about my book, find out about all the different episodes where I speak about these things.
Thank you all for taking this journey with me today. It was a joy to get to share this material with you. If you like what you heard, it would be a wonderful gift if you could subscribe and leave me a review. I value those so much. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of The Deeper Dating Podcast. Take good care.