What’s free, fun, and can change your entire romantic future? A dating buddy; that is, a co-coach in your search for love. If you follow no other suggestion than this one from my podcasts, your dating life will change profoundly.
Episode Table Of Contents
Episode Introduction: Dating Buddy
Do you want to speed your search for love? Do you want to make it more fun, and do you want to become a wiser person in all arenas of intimacy in your life? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn the simplest, quickest and most fun way to make that happen.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. Today, you’re going to learn one approach to your search for love that is going to make it more fun, that is going to get you to the love you seek more quickly, and it’s going to make you a wiser and deeper person. Follow this one suggestion, and your world will change.
I’m Ken Page, and every week, I’ll bring you the greatest insights and the most powerful practices I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.
Work Privately with Ken
You can find a transcript of this entire episode at DeeperDatingPodcast.com. By the way, if you like what you’re hearing here, it would be a tremendous gift if you subscribe on iTunes and leave me a good review. Thank you so much for that, including thank you for everyone who’s done it already.
I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast isn’t medical or psychiatric advice or treatment for any physical, emotional or psychological condition. It’s purely educational, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological conditions, please seek professional help.
Last thing before we jump in. If you’re interested in applying these ideas and the Deeper Dating approach to your own search for love, you can learn lots more about working with me by going to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and just clicking on the Work with Ken tab on top.
What Is a Dating Buddy
Okay, let’s jump in. What brings wisdom and pleasure and is completely free and will change your entire romantic future faster than almost anything else? A learning partner or dating buddy. What is that?
A learning partner or a dating buddy is a friend and a co-coach in one of the most defining tasks of your life: your search for beautiful, healthy, lasting love. If you follow no other suggestion from any of my podcasts but you follow this one, your dating life and your life will change.
Why is this so important? Why is a dating buddy or a learning partner, I’ll say learning partner, so important? Well, quantum physics, the greatest sages and practical experience all teach the same lesson. When we touch any important part of our lives with compassion and non-judgmental attention and we really try to gain insight and grow and do the inner work around it, that part of our life begins to blossom, begins to become what it was meant to be.
The strongest tool in our toolbox
When it comes to changing unhelpful behavior patterns and when it comes to really developing mastery in areas that count, willpower actually, especially unhelpful behavior patterns, willpower is actually one of the weakest tools in our toolbox. It’s our go-to tool. We think we’re going to use willpower, but it’s really one of the weakest tools in the toolbox. What is the strongest tool when it comes to a place where we’ve enacted similar patterns again and again that haven’t worked? It’s support. It’s wise, caring support.
In my book, Deeper Dating, the entire book, it’s a course in a book, and it’s built to help people do this deeper, deeper journey of personal transformation that creates a complete transformation in our dating lives. Part of the center of that is to encourage everybody to find a learning partner to go through the book with. Every single chapter has learning partner exercises in it because I believe in this so much. All of my intensives, all of my classes use support because without support, we tend to do the same things again and again.
Form A Support Group
I’ll just share a couple of stories with you. I was at a wedding a few years back. Somebody came up to me, and he said, “This is my dating buddy, Ken, and this is my husband. Thank you dating buddy.” And then another person at that wedding had also found their spouse, and their dating buddy wasn’t there at that time, but their spouse was.
I know for me, that at a certain point, when I was just really, really wanting to gather resources because I felt like such an inept failure at love, but I also felt like maybe I was beginning to get some traction, and I wanted to keep that going. So I picked some friends of mine who were also like me, chronologically single shrinks, and I said, “Let’s form a support group.”
We would get together. We would have wonderful meals, we would meet in each other’s offices, and we would talk about our stuck points in our dating life. This changed all of our lives, and a number of us ended up in wonderful relationships. I know for me, I can attribute huge, huge changes that led to my being able to find love happened in that group.
The Absolute Key
There’s something amazing that happens when you have a learning partner. The biggest part of what that is is we don’t tend to realize how we get stuck in old grooves. I’ll give you a research-based, fascinating, amazing example of this. There’s a great book, a New York Times bestseller called Change or Die by Alan Deutschman.
In that book, he looked at a group of people who were all told by their doctor that they were going to die. They’re were going to die if they didn’t change the way they ate. This was a real thing, and they were going to die if they didn’t change the way they ate.
So that’s pretty darn serious. Everyone, of course, committed to changing and to changing their diet. Every single person did. But after a certain period of time, almost everyone failed and went back to their old ways of eating.
So he did a research study to check in on those people who didn’t fail, who truly were able to succeed in their being able to change the way they ate and change their diet in a healthier way. This is what he found. The key, the absolute key was relationships.
The Three R’s
These people formed new emotional relationships with a person or a community that inspired and sustained their hope.
This new relationship helped them fail and fail and fail again and practice and practice and practice and master new skills and new habits.
Which was learning an entirely new paradigm with those people and then living that new paradigm and dealing with all the mistakes and errors that came up, all the stuck points, all the temptations, all the difficulties, all the reasons not to move ahead with growth, and those were the people who succeed, and it’s the same for all of us. It’s like if you have a gym buddy, you’re going to be much more likely to go to the gym.
We’re like rubber bands
In a way, we’re like rubber bands. A rubber band, always left to its own devices, shrinks back to its least difficult state of being, one where there’s no stretch going on, where it’s at its smallest, comfortable state of being. We are like that. But when our rubber band is held out to a greater size by an external force, that rubber band can expand and expand and expand.
If we try to do this stuff in our head, it doesn’t work as well. We go back to our old ways of thinking. Even if we have the willpower to want to try new behaviors, we tend to kind of click into the same patterns again and again.
I remember once I was in the woods, and I did not know how to get back. I was with a friend of mine, and we just did not know how to get back. But we had a compass, so we knew kind of what we needed to do. But we decided that we would try to get back without a compass. So we did that thing of just kind of looking straight ahead and saying, “Okay. That tree is straight ahead. I’m going to follow it. And then I’m going to follow the next tree that’s straight ahead,” and we ended up in a giant loop coming back to the same place.
Grow together with your dating buddy
So what are you going to do when you’re with your dating buddy or your learning partner? What happens? Well, one possibility is that in my book Deeper Dating, for every single chapter, there’s a learning partner exercise. There’s structured ways to do this, but those structured ways are great, but they’re not necessary.
What you’re going to do with your learning partner is you’re going to grow together. You’re going to share feedback, but always in a kind and supportive way. Always, always, always, or this will not work. It’s not a therapy group.
Clearly, you are going to be seeing things that your learning partner either doesn’t see or doesn’t want to see, so it’s going to be a slow, ongoing process of gentleness where support is the absolute key word. You’ll laugh together. You’ll joke around. If you live near each other and you can get together in person, you’ll eat and drink, and you’ll complain, and you’ll bitch about dating. You’ll do all those different things because this should be fun, but you’re also going to be honest about the patterns you’re replaying.
Be open to advice and growth
You’re going to try new exercises and processes that you learn together, and you’re going to get help. Every time you start falling for somebody who is clearly and unequivocally bad for you, you’re going to get help in stepping away from that person, and then when you find someone who’s wonderful, you’re going to get support in saying basically, “Don’t fuck this up.”
You’ll be open to advice, and you’ll be open to growth. You’ll talk about sex, not in a superficial way, but with a sense of exploration because sex is like an x-ray into our intimacy gifts and our intimacy struggles. And you are going to be a student, and you’re going to be a teacher with the same person. That’s what you’ll have with the right learning partner.
I have seen again and again that, for example, as a therapist, the clients who ask for and listen to the advice of wise, loving friends have more successful lives. Dating can be a really, is really sometimes lonely and hard-as-hell journey, but we don’t have to take it alone. Having a learning partner will definitely make it more fun, will make you grow more, will make you stick to it more. Don’t try to do this alone.
Our mind is not a safe neighborhood to be alone in
When you hit an obstacle, a question, a difficult point in your dating life, and God knows you will again and again and again, or a real challenge or someone who triggers you that you’ve been dating with say for a while, you are going to use your best thinking to try to think of the smartest solution you can to the situation, most likely, but your smartest solution is probably going to be based, because you’re being triggered, it’s going to be based on old patterns, so it’s not going to be the wisest solution.
There’s a saying in 12-steps program that in certain arenas of our mind, and being triggered in dating is definitely one of them, that our thinking, our mind is not a safe neighborhood to be alone in. That is just really, really true. Those are the junctures where our kind of best moves are probably … that we think are our best moves are the moves we’ve tried again and again, but they’ve not led us to where we want to go.
With a dating buddy, with a learning partner, with doing this work, the next time you’re at a trigger crossroad, you will have the option of stopping, deepening, understanding more about what’s going on, and then coming up with a response that isn’t this reactive, that isn’t this triggered, and you’ll know it. You’ll know it because there’ll be a sense of ease or space or newness or healing that happens in how you respond.
What gives us the blind spots
That is gold. That is the gold of this journey is that feeling of, “Oh, I’m doing something different, and I feel it because there’s a sense of space in my chest,” or, “My heart feels softer,” or, “I feel wiser,” or, “I haven’t shut down yet,” or, “I got away from a toxic situation, and I feel cleaner and clearer now in the way that I did it.” Those are like the most fabulous experiences because not only have we approached it differently, but we feel that we’re growing and healing.
Now, let’s look at what makes it so hard to change our behaviors. What makes us, what gives us these blind spots? Why are they there? I want to give you an image that’s going to help you think about this and understand it. Picture a target. That target is a kind of topographical. It’s a map of you. It’s kind of the architecture of your being. If you figure that the closer you get to the center of that target, the closer you’re getting to the very authentic core of your being, your most essential self.
The closer you get to your core, the more you can be hurt
Now, that’s the place where you can be touched the most by life, but it’s also the place you can most be hurt by life. If you picture that every ring going outwards is a more airbrushed, defended, protected version of you.
The further away you get from that center, the further away you get from your molten core of self. The further away you get from your genius, your uniqueness, the way that life can touch you most deeply, the passion of your love, but the safer you are, and the more palatable you feel like you are, or the more protected you feel you are in relation to the world.
As you get closer, you get more alive, you get more amazing, you get more able to love and more able to feel and create. But you also get more triggered because the closer you get to your core, the more you can be hurt, the more the most precious thing you have is at risk, and that most precious thing is your true self.
Where our biggest immaturities emerge from
So the truth is that not only do our greatest wounds surround our deepest gifts of authenticity, but our biggest immaturities emerge from those places. We are the most reactive, the most triggered, the most immature, the more we feel like the very core of our being is being threatened, the more that we are, in effect, triggered.
It’s like if you picture being in a house, and there’s a fire, and you just have to take out the things you need the most. That’s what happens when we get triggered. We get triggered, there’s a sense of risk and danger to our very security, so we respond with the most important protection that we can.
The black and white thinking
Now, for some of us, that might be people pleasing. That might be trying to keep the other person’s anger away or keeping the love going because that matters more than anything to keep us safe.
For others of us, it might be, “Screw you and the horse you rode in on. I’m out of here!” Getting away, distancing ourselves because that sense of independence and protection from violation feels like the most important thing. But both of those are reactive. They’re black and white thinking.
Black and white thinking is a hallmark of trauma. What we want is not a giant wall. What we also don’t want is a place with no wall and no protection. We want a door. We want a door that can open and close. We want a more sophisticated response to complexity.
When you do this process, when you sit down with your dating buddy, your learning partner and you say, “I’m stuck,” and you explain about this guy or this woman who’s really pissing you off or this guy or this woman who you’re really attracted to or this person who just somehow is really moving you, but you’re not sexually attracted enough. Whatever the thing it is that you talk about, when you talk about it with your learning partner, there’ll be a sense of, if it’s the right learning partner, there’ll be a sense of softening, there’ll be a sense of deepening, and you will leave that not as triggered in the old reactive way as you might’ve been in the past.
How to Find a Dating Buddy
How do you find a dating buddy? How do you do that? Oh, but I’m just going to interrupt for a second. Along these lines, I want to give you an exercise. If you want some serious, serious dating medicine, here’s what it is. Ask someone who loves you dearly what they think you could be doing differently in search for love and ask them for honest but caring feedback.
That’s got to be someone who you know is not going to hurt you, who only has your best interest at heart, but ask them because they could probably tell you in a New York minute what it is that you need to refine, shift, or change.
How do you find a dating buddy? It’s a really important relationship, so it’s essential to choose well. Just like with finding a therapist, it makes a huge difference who you choose. It needs to be someone who’s going to keep your secrets secret. It needs to be someone who’s going to bring a sense of hope to your journey. It needs to be someone emotionally safe and insightful.
Start with your connections
How do you find that person? Here’s my suggestion. Start with Facebook or your address book or some kind of listing of your connections and contacts from the past number of years and ask yourself three questions.
First of all, who might want to do this with you? Now, let’s say it’s someone who’s not single, but their wives, they’re wonderful. They feel like they’d be a great partner. You could have a learning partner relationship where they work on something different.
But of course, it’s easier if it could be someone who is single who wants to do this work. You ask yourself who is kind, who has wisdom, who is essentially reliable and really cares about you?
Highlight each one of these peoples names because learning partner or not, they’re your dream team. Wherever they live, whatever they’re doing with their lives, they are the people for you to focus on, and any one of them who’s single and interested in doing this work can be your learning partner or anyone who’s willing to do a kind of mutual learning process. There might a great deep skillset you have that they need, that they’d like your help and support with.
What you need to do after you find your dating buddy
When you find your learning partner and you agree to take this journey together, what do you do?
Well, you can use my book Deeper Dating because it’s an entire course that tells you every step of what you can work on with your learning partner. But you don’t essentially need that or have to have it. You get together with your learning partner on a regular basis.
At your first meeting, each of you just answers these simple questions.
- What’s going on with your search for love?
- Are there problems or challenges you keep hitting up against?
- Are you noticing any areas of growth?
- How do you want to grow and change in your intimacy journey?
- What new behaviors do you think would be helpful or empowering?
And then after that, after you’ve both done that, you give each other feedback on how you want feedback. Some of you might say, “I want really direct feedback. I don’t care. You can be really direct with me.” Another person might say, “I really want support. That’s what I need most.” Each of you will commit to giving the other person what they want.
That is going to be your first meeting. You get together, and you just talk about what’s happening and what’s not happening in your dating lives, and you let this become a journey of wisdom.
Start finding your dating buddy
I can guarantee you that your world and your search for love will change dramatically quicker. I can guarantee you that you will be getting essential help in stepping away from the bad relationships, the attractions of deprivation. You will absolutely get help in not screwing it up and developing your attractions of inspiration, and you’ll get help in learning in newer and wiser patterns of behavior. And hopefully, you’re going to have fun in the process.
So really, if you want the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to change your whole search for love, find a learning partner or a dating buddy. Your adventure is going to begin in a bigger and richer and more fun way.
Thanks so much, and I’ll see you in the next episode of Deeper Dating.