In this episode, you’ll learn one question that’s just about guaranteed to open up your world, your heart, and your romantic future so you can change your search for love. You’ll also hear the story of the extraordinary couple who taught it to me. This is one not to be missed.
A Simple Question That Will Change Your Search for Love
There’s one question we can ask ourselves that will change our intimacy lives in powerful and wonderful ways. Stay tuned to the deeper dating podcast, and I’ll teach you what that question is.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I’m Ken Page, and today I’m going to share with you a single question that will transform your whole intimacy journey, and in many ways your future life. Every week I’ll share the greatest tools 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.
You can also find the whole transcript of this episode on deeperdatingpodcast.com and you can learn lots more about my approach, my work by going to deeperdatingpodcast.com.
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The Skills of Seeking vs the Skills of Loving
Okay, today we’re going to talk about a simple question that will change your search for love. I want to say first that most dating advice focuses on the skills of seeking, not the skills of loving. There are millions of apps and events and websites with gazillions of opportunities for meeting. But really, until we learn how to choose healthy intimacy and until we learn how to nurture it’s tender new shoots, it’s really unlikely that we’re going to find the kind of love we’re seeking.
When we approach our search for love in this way as an intimacy journey, not a race against time, not a search for a needle in a haystack, not an attempt to make ourselves better and more irresistible, but as an intimacy journey, everything changes. As I talk about in my book, Deeper Dating, I know I did not know that, and I spent decades in search of a relationship. I clocked countless hours looking for love in places that lacked love, using methods that had nothing to do, really, with love. Play cool, act witty, conceal any traits, God forbid, of any kind of unseemly need. As much as I tried, and God knows I tried, nothing worked. I was endlessly compulsively engrossed in my seeking, but it turns out that was not where the gold lay.
As much as we’re led to believe that finding love is about upping your numbers and improving your looks and acting more seductive or attractive, it’s really ultimately, and this is big, this is really important.
It is really ultimately our humanity that lets us find love and keep love.
When we learn to bring our humanity into the ways we search for love, the real changes begin to happen.
Breaking Free from Obstacles
A number of years ago, many, many years ago, two friends and I who all called ourselves “chronically single psychotherapists”, started a support group together. I’ve talked about that a little bit in past podcasts, but every week we would get together and we would support each other and we would come in with our stories of the same kind of obstacles that we hit again and again, the same kind of frustrations and left to our own smart devices, we would have still taken the same turns and ended up with the same old disappointments.
But with each other’s kind of exquisitely careful help, we found escape routes out of those patterns and as a result, the new choices that we made with each other’s support had this lovely taste of earned wisdom and that group changed my life, changed my dating life, helped profoundly to lead me to love and changed all of our lives.
More than anything else, it is through finding our own deeper insights that transforms our search for love. Every time you find new, wiser ways to approach your old dating dilemmas, every time you develop a new clarity or a new sense of warmth in your interactions, you’ll feel a kind of new sense of hope and self-worth. Every one of those experiences is a signpost of growth. I really have come to believe that those moments move us to finding love more quickly than anything else.
A Love Story Like No Other
When I was researching my book, “Deeper Dating”, I interviewed lots and lots of people who I thought were in great relationships about how they found love.
I had a friend who I’m going to call Manuel whose wife was, I’m going to say Suzanne. This is a true story, they just asked me to use different names. But I would meet Manuel at a conference every year. One year I asked him for the story of how he and Suzanne fell in love. The story that he told me was very powerful and I’m excited to share not just the story with you, but the insights that came out of it for him.
Okay, Manuel met Suzanne in the Peace Corps. She was 30 and he was, get this, 18. He was a virgin and at first it was just sex. But after a bit of time he found himself bonding with her as they kept doing things together and he never dreamed that they would get serious and she didn’t either. It just seemed preposterous.
They were the total scandal of the community, and of course nobody thought they were going to last, including them. But they stayed together. They just stayed together, and after the Peace Corps they kept seeing each other. At a certain point they just had to kind of face reality. They were in love and they weren’t going to give it up. They didn’t even consider marriage or anything like that. But they knew that they weren’t going to give it up.
Love Is What You Make It
Seven years into the relationship, Suzanne got this great offer for a new job and Manuel was applying to graduate school. It came to be a time that they just had to make a decision about their future and they decided to stay together. That was about 20 something years ago. They have four kids and they still feel like they’re really good together and later I got to meet Suzanne and I totally agree. Manuel told me something sweet. He said,
“I’m the more romantic one and Suzanne is the more practical one, but she lets me be romantic because she loves me.”
A few years into their marriage, Suzanne got a ruptured aneurysm in her aorta and she was six months pregnant with their baby. Suzanne almost died on the operating table. Her blood pressure went down to zero. Manuel couldn’t even put words on the fear that he felt that night. Suzanne survived, but they lost their baby. He said they spent the next few months, mostly just crying on the couch together. Manuel told me about his defining moment.
He said, I read somewhere that half the couples who lost a child ended up divorcing, and that’s when something clicked inside of me. I knew which 50% we’d have to be. He said,
“Marriages are not promises, they’re for forever. After what we went through, Suzanne and I were one and I couldn’t let that change no matter what.”
Love Is A Choice
Then he said after that, he said, “Lots of people talk about soulmates,” and I think this is so powerful. He said, “Lots of people talk about soulmates and that maybe is some people’s experience of love, but I don’t really buy it.” He said, “I think you could search forever and just suffer if you’re only looking for that 1,000% meant to be match.” He said, “You need love, you need attraction for love to work, but,” and I love this,
“Ultimately, love is a choice.”
He said, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t decided to choose love many, many times over.” He went on. He said, “Relationships take a lot of work, a lot. It is not about finding the absolute perfect match.” He said,
“It’s about becoming someone who chooses love at the crossroads.”
Those words haunted me, becoming someone who chooses love at the crossroads. When I look back on my own kind of circuitous, painful decades of searching, I realized that it was when I started making new choices at my own countless crossroads that my search for love underwent a sea change.
Surpassing the Crossroads
In the land of dating and intimacy, all of us have countless micro crossroads and major crossroads and in-between crossroads, like do I approach her? Do I share a really vulnerable secret? Do I stop and really try to listen even though I don’t want to? Do I say no to something that goes against my values? Do I leave or do I keep trying? Do I let the other person know the depth of my feelings? Or when do we start having sex and what kind of sex will it be? Do I admit how I like being touched or how I don’t like being touched? Do I ask my partner the same?
So many questions and really, really our future in love is determined by our choices at these countless crossroads. Do our choices leave us feeling enriched? Do they strengthen our good identity as someone who chooses love, even when that means something as hard as saying no to unhealthy relationships?
If so, if we can say yes to that, then we’re probably on a path that’s going to lead us closer to real love. In my years of dating, and I would not have admitted this to anyone, but somewhere deep down, I really, really believed that the true key to finding love was just to lose those damn pounds and to finally get more confident. I cannot have been more mistaken. Losing weight is a great thing. Being authentically confident is a great thing, but it was something completely different that led me to love. It was learning to become someone who chose intimacy at the crossroads again and again. That’s what did it.
The Ultimate Question
Whether you’re seeking a relationship or you’re in one already, I invite you to befriend this single question.
In the countless crossroads that you encounter in your relationships with yourself, with the world, in your romantic relationships, to ask yourself this question, what would it mean to choose intimacy at this crossroads right now? More than anything else, I think that is the question that leads us to love and helps us keep that love alive and shining and growing.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Deeper Dating podcast. Again, if you enjoyed what I talked about, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave me a review. Thank you everyone who has, and thank you everyone who listened to this episode and good luck as you learn to choose love at all of your personal crossroads. Have a wonderful weekend. I’ll see you at the next episode.