No matter whether you’re in early dating or long-term love, there are research-backed tools to deepen sexual desire while creating closeness, affection and romantic thrill. In this episode you’ll learn how to spark deep love, profound bonding and sexual deliciousness in your relationship. These aren’t games or gimmicks–they are the lifelong tools of building attraction and deeper love.
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Episode Introduction: Building Attraction
You meet somebody new, you really like them and you want to make sure that the attraction on both sides grows and deepens. What are some tools to help you do that? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating podcast to learn research-backed tools to help you deepen erotic and romantic connection.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, and a coach, and the author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating. And today we’re going to be talking about how you can build attraction to someone new in your life who maybe you think they’re really a great person, but the excitement is not there enough yet.
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I’m gathering a very small hand-picked group of caring, committed people who want to find lasting love with the best support possible.
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And you can also use these tools if you’re very excited about somebody you’re dating, if you’ve been in a relationship five years, or if you’ve been in a relationship for 50 years. So I’m very excited to share these research-backed tools for deepening intimacy and attraction today.
So this week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your entire life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the deep skills of intimacy. And the deep skills of intimacy are the greatest skills for happy, rich, meaningful life.
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So if you like what you’re learning here, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com, you can get the first two chapters for free of my book, Deeper Dating, which teach you how to discover your core gifts. You can get a free ebook. You can also get a transcript of this entire episode, which I really recommend because these tools are ones you’re going to refer to at any different point in your relationship, future and history.
These tools that you’re going to be learning today are ones that you’re going to want to remember, and refer to, and use at any point in the future of your entire intimacy journey. You’ll also learn a lot more about the work that I’m doing, a lot of the free content that I offer and some of my intensives and upcoming classes as well. And finally, I just want to say that this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice, and if you feel that you have a serious psychological condition, please do seek help. Okay, so let us begin.
So here’s what I want to say first…
I guess these are some kind of foundational caveats and insights for beginning this part of the journey. The first is we all know that we cannot force sexual and romantic attraction no matter how good we think someone is for us. If there’s not a spark, there’s not a spark. Maybe that spark will come, but we can’t really decide that ourselves. We can kind of prime the field to have that be able to happen using these techniques, but we can’t make a spark happen if it’s not there.
But if there is a spark there we can blow wind on that spark to make it turn into a flame, and we can add paper, and we can add twigs and, who knows, maybe even kerosene. There are things that we can do to honor, and cultivate, and grow, and nourish that spark. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about here.
The other caveat is that the techniques we’re going to be talking about are going to open your heart. They’re going to deepen your sense of vulnerability because vulnerability is the soil in which intimacy grows or part of the soil. They will make you more vulnerable. They will open your heart. And so you want to use these techniques to deepen love and deepen attraction with someone who is an attraction of inspiration. And I speak a lot about the two different circuitries we have where we can be attracted to people by their inspiring qualities, by their consistency, by their availability. Or we could be attracted by that sense that we almost have won love from them, but we haven’t quite yet.
Attractions of Deprivation
And we’re going to do everything we can to finally get them to love us right. Those are attractions of deprivation. And I don’t encourage that you use these techniques in those attractions because that could, ultimately, cause great pain.
And finally, as I always say, if either you or your partner has a serious substance abuse addiction or significant psychiatric disorder that is not stabilized these techniques won’t stick, they won’t last, and they could even backfire. So if any of those things are the case, I just deeply encourage you to address those issues.
So the researcher, Eli Finkel wrote a wonderful article in the New York Times, and he talked about some insights about attraction. And just to kind of summarize what he said, he said essentially that,
“The more you get to know someone the more the chemistry between the two of you takes over from your typical standard ways of deciding who’s attractive and who isn’t.”
So many of us have a kind of tyranny of type, like it’s got to be that type. It’s got to be that hair color, it’s got to be that height, it’s got to be that waist size, it’s got to be that whatever, whatever the thing is. And some of us have a really bad tyranny of type and some of us are much more flexible.
I know that I had a really bad one for a long time and these tools and techniques that we’re going to be talking about in this episode, and the next episode are going to help you to learn to get past that if that’s an issue for you.
Tendrils of Connection
Dr. Finkel’s research showed that,
The more you get to know someone the more your typical standards of what attractive is begin to get eclipsed by the quality of the connection.
Now, obviously, there are limits to that. This is not a black and white thing, but it’s an important thing to know how that happens. That’s kind of the whole concept of courting, which is you meet somebody, you meet them in an environment that’s going to be non-sexual in the beginning.
You get to know them. There’s shyness, there’s timidity, there’s a sense of connection, and in time maybe there’s a sense of match. Maybe there’s a sense of chemistry and that grows, but you don’t jump right into sex. You don’t get high, or drunk, and then jump into bed, you don’t do those things.
You let these kind of tendrils of connection cultivate and then it’s a really wonderful thing because everything gets more exciting, it gets more tender, it gets more original, and the feelings of real bonding begin to develop. So it’s good, and we’re going to talk about that at a later point, about waiting a little bit with sex, and why that’s a really good thing. But the concept of courting kind of captures some of this.
I’d like you to take a minute and think, have you ever been in a situation where an attraction for someone grew? Like maybe at first you were a little attracted to them, but then the attraction really grew. Or maybe even you weren’t attracted to them, you didn’t think of them in that way, but you see them in a certain light at a certain time or doing a certain thing and all of a sudden you think, “I am attracted to that person.”
The LOVEratory Experiment
The truth is that sexual and romantic attraction is much more plastic. It is much more changeable than we give it and we give ourselves credit for. And that change happens in the medium of the actual quality of connection with another person, which is going to be the heart and soul of all the tools that we talk about in this, and the next episode.
So the renowned researcher, Arthur Aron, created this process by which he said, and of course, he was being a little bit playful here, but he said we can actually create love in a laboratory. And he created a process that involved 36 questions. And these 36 questions supposedly, and actually, the laboratory study involved the questions plus a few other things, but these 36 questions were questions that, basically in a gradual way, got two people to share in more and more vulnerable, and thoughtful, and personal ways.
In the laboratory experiment there were other components, which involved eye contact, and which involved finding out that the other person was actually interested in you as part of the process. So you had that sense of safety and excitement of knowing that.
So there are a few parts of this that are really important. One part is that the sharing of your vulnerable self matched with the other person’s really receiving it, appreciating it, identifying with it, relating to it, enjoying it creates Eros, creates bond, creates chemistry because when you share something vulnerable like that it’s like being on a trapeze, and kind of flying off. You’re in space, you don’t know how you’ll be received and there’s a vulnerability attached to that.
One of the Greatest Aphrodisiacs
When the other person catches you, ah, there’s an amazing thing that happens, a wonderful feeling. And that’s why folks,
Deep listening is one of the greatest aphrodisiacs there is. If you’re with someone, they’re talking about something and you really, really listen.
You listen with your heart, you listen with your head, you really listen and you show interest in what they’re talking about it’s very powerful.
That kind of attention is even more powerful than compliments in many cases, just listening to somebody. But so when you share ever more vulnerable parts of yourself, appropriately of course, and you’re with someone who gets it, oh my God, it’s just a fabulous thing. And, like I said, that builds connection.
Another related thing that builds connection, interestingly enough, is fear – fear and risk.
So because when you share deeper vulnerability, you’re putting yourself in a kind of risky and scary position, that intensifies Eros.
And I’m not going to go into experiments and research on this in this episode, but there’s fascinating research in about how true that is. But enough to say that that leap of vulnerability, and having the other person meet you is a very exciting thing, and really does build bond.
Another one is touch, and there’s lots of research on this as well. Craig Malkin out of Harvard has written about this quite a bit, that what happens with touch, with warm just non-sexual touch, like resting your hand on somebody’s hand, like putting your arm around them, like touching them in gentle ways creates oxytocin. And he says that multiple lines of research show that,
“The more touch there is, the more this cuddle hormone, oxytocin, is activated the deeper, and the richer the bonds can become.”
What a Touch Can Do
So when your impulse is to touch in a gentle way, assuming that the other person kind of is with that, and gives you permission, and is comfortable with it, when that’s your impulse it’s something to really go with. And yeah, there are rich feelings that ripple out when we do that, even just holding somebody’s hand. There’s research, great research about what holding hands can do to someone’s whole metabolism, but what it does to our heart is it softens our heart.
Let yourself just remember a time when touch softened your heart, or when you touched someone and it softened their heart, and kind of moved things forward.
Now, I want to come back to compliments. Research shows that playing hard to get may make somebody want you more temporarily and not necessarily for the best reasons, but it makes them like you less. In fact, what works better is if someone gets the sense that you are a person of discrimination, that you’re not just kind of needy and just looking for anybody, but there are certain qualities and attributes that are really important to you. And that this person has those attributes, and that’s really special, and a big deal.
That is a powerful aphrodisiac. And research backs that up and proves that. So when there’s something you like about somebody, a quality, an attribute of their personality, of the way they live their life articulate that for them, tell them that. And two things are going to happen. One thing that’s going to happen is your heart will open a little bit because what we appreciate, appreciates, and that’s going to kind of like make your heart swell a little bit as you tell them that even though it might be nervous-making.
And what it replicates, in Arthur Aron’s experiment, is letting somebody know that you’re interested in a little way that just gives that message that you like them and that you’re interested, and that kind of really evokes Eros too.
Now, I know we haven’t talked about sexual attraction and maybe you’re thinking, well, these things are really nice, but most of these I could really do with a friend and yeah, of course, these would spark greater closeness and that’s a wonderful thing, but what about sex? What about sexual attraction? So I’m going to say a couple of things about that now, and we’re going to talk about that more in some more detail in the next episode. But here’s what I want to say about that now.
Once again, you cannot pressure yourself. Eros is like this beautiful kind of exotic bird that can land on your shoulder, your attraction for someone. But one of the things that makes that bird fly away is pressure. And I want to say again,
“Just because someone’s a good person does not mean that you need to be romantically, or sexually attracted to them. It is not your obligation.”
So there needs to be space there. But, let’s say, you’re dating someone and there are parts of them that you’re physically attracted to, there are ways that you’re kind of turned on to them, but maybe there are attributes that you’re just not really turned on to.
Cultivating Attraction to Love
So here’s the deal with that, here is what in my decades and decades of experience as a psychotherapist seeing people in that situation, and in my own experience in that situation, here’s what I think happens. You don’t need to make the decision now because in time the decision will become clearer for you.
The positive end of this is as your connection grows, as the chemistry grows, as you become more kind of dependent on them, more excited by them, more connected to them all these different things, it could well be that those things that you’re not attracted to just become less important.
Your sexual connection might be wonderful and in that sexual connection those particular things might also become less important, the things that are not attractive to you. But you can also cultivate that, and you can cultivate that by picking body parts, attributes, qualities that do turn you on and letting yourself fixate on them a little bit in privacy with yourself. You can kind of even fantasize and eroticize, and even have sexual fantasies about parts of them that you’re attracted to, and things you would like to do with them.
So, maybe sticking with the “would like to do” kind of part of this, maybe you’re with someone and you feel, “You know, I do not want to have full on sex. I have no desire to do that with that person. That’s not what my attraction is. Could we touch lips? Could we kiss? Would I want to cuddle them? Would I maybe want to touch? Would I want to hold hands in the movies? Maybe some of those things I would want to do.”
The Result of Intoxication
So those are all the things you do. And the other person is an adult, and it is their job to be a big enough person to, even if they want more, to honor that you’re only doing what you’re going to do, and you’re going to go at the pace that you need to go at, and you have every right to do that.
So thinking about what you want to do physically, and not doing anything more. And that is a great thing about not getting intoxicated in early dating is because when you do get intoxicated you’re going to cross the lines of your own inner safety. And sex without, pretty much, kind of equal degree of safety and emotional connection is like Miracle-Gro for our fear of intimacy. We either get really attached and clingy after the sex, and needy and insecure. Or we just want to get out of dodge.
We just want to get away and go back to the thrill of the hunt. Or maybe we kind of create a wall inside our hearts and inside our beings, and we think, “Well, this is just hookup material here. So that’s a really key point though, is to honor your boundaries around physical connection, and around the pressure of that. So you meet this person, you like them, there’s some spark, you’re in a very organic way using these techniques.
Over time, feelings are starting to grow, and develop, and the chemistry is increasing, and the Eros is increasing. You can also, I want to say, allow yourself the delight of sexually really fantasizing about what you would like to do with this person. And that’s a great thing to do, to cultivate Eros.
Play With Possibilities
Assuming it’s an attraction of inspiration and assuming that, and this is the question that I tell people to ask themselves all the time, does my soul feel safe with this person? If the answer’s yes, I encourage you to let yourself sexually fantasize, play with possibilities of what you would love to do.
Because all of that creates these kind of invisible tendrils of connection where you’re becoming erotically and romantically specialized in this person. And that’s a wonderful thing. And when there is a sense of sexual heat, and sexual desire, and sexual compassion, and it’s combined with trust, and it’s combined with the feeling of love, and a sense of the goodness of this person that is like a quiet explosion of pure paradise. And that’s what we want, that’s what we want to go for.
So there are many more techniques that I’m going to talk about and there’s more really amazing research that backs all of this up. And I’m going to be talking about some of those things in the next episode. But I just want to address one concern – you might be asking, “Well, is this really fair to the other person? Because I’m not that full on attracted to them and they might be falling in love with me, and I’m going really slow. And meanwhile their feelings are growing. And I still don’t know.”
What I want to say is, in my opinion, it is unfair not to do this because who knows what’s going to happen? You might end up more in love with this person than they are with you.
Or maybe you both agree that this is not going to be a match, but if there’s a possibility that the feelings are going to grow there is a risk that both of you do need to take. And as long as you’re honest with the other person about where you’re at they’re an adult and it’s really their job to take care of themselves as long, again, as you’re honest.
And so, there’s a kind of culture where it’s an anti-courting culture. It’s a swipe right, swipe left culture, and we don’t give the time that’s needed for that inner growing of just like in the body when we build new muscle we have to create new capillaries to feed that muscle. And that’s a process that takes time.
The same thing happens with your erotic and romantic connection. So yeah, you have every right to allow yourself and the other person the possibility of seeing if this grows because it might, in fact, become something wonderful. The other question you might have is, “Hey, is this fair to me? Because I’m kind of attracted to this person but not super attracted to them, and I don’t want to subject myself to a lifetime of being in a relationship where I’m only sort of attracted.”
And what I want to say to that is, “That’s right. You don’t want to be in a relationship like that, but only time will tell.” And remember that how attracted you are in the beginning can grow and change in really deep ways. So yeah, long-term, if your attraction never grows this is probably not at all a good idea, but the chances are great that if this is an attraction of inspiration, and if there is a slow growth, and there is a spark, and the chemistry is increasing I would say stick around because you have the potential of something really wonderful here.
So thank you all. We will continue with this in our next episode, and what I just want to say is, if you like what you’re hearing here it would be fabulous if you could subscribe, and leave me a review. And, again, go to deeperdatingpodcast.com to learn about my upcoming intensives, and classes, and free content. And thank you all so much for listening, and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of The Deeper Dating podcast.