If you want to combine, risk, skills, insight and dating adventures, don't miss these three practices. Your dating skills will grow–a lot. You'll also learn more about yourself, take some fabulous risks, and have fun in the process. Enjoy these lovely mindfulness challenges. They're simple, deep, and yes, exciting!
Table of Contents
- Exercise One: Notice Your Patterns
- Exercise Two: Plan a Second Trip
- Exercise Three: Approach One Person Who Is Attractive to You
Episode Introduction: Dating Adventures
Mindfulness is not just for meditating, it's for dating too. And in this episode you will learn three mindfulness practices that will open your eyes, open your mind, and open up your dating adventures to new possibilities. So stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn more.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I'm Ken Page and today I'm going to share with you a few mindfulness practices that can have a profound impact on your entire dating adventures. This week and every week I'll share the greatest tools I know with you to help you find beautiful, sustainable love and to 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.
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Dating as an Adventure of Self-Discovery
The search for a loving partner is one of our greatest life tasks. But so much dating advice, as we know, is just gratingly superficial and it focuses endlessly on the power of seduction and tight glutes and abs and fake confidence.
So I'm going to offer you today in this podcast, three exercises that will approach dating as an adventure of self-discovery. And every one of them is going to be eyeopening and they can be kind of fun and they're going to help you grow in self-respect while opening up new possibilities in your dating life. I'll just share a little bit of my story and how I learned these exercises. At a certain point in my life I had gotten particularly sick of my failure-ridden dating life. I started asking friends and therapists for help. I knew I needed it. I had kind of hit bottom with my incredible lack of success in finding love and I really wanted to find love.
I just felt that whatever it was, you needed to be able to seduce people and be attractive enough, I lacked. There was some "it" that I lacked and that was a very, very depressing thought. At a certain point though, I realized I needed help, like what I was thinking couldn't have been totally true. I had a really good friend and he was really skilled at bringing humanity into his dating life, all the ups and downs and craziness of it. And I really respected him for that.
Mindfulness, Compassion and Kindness
I asked him to start taking me on dating field trips and the tools that I learned from him and from a wonderful therapist that I went to see had a huge impact on me. Mindfulness, compassion and kindness, who knew that those were the things that were going to help you with successful dating? Those were certainly not any of the things I learned. But I was really happy to hear that, in fact, they have everything to do with successful dating.
So for these exercises, and I describe these in greater detail in my book, Deeper Dating, I really, really encourage you to enlist the help of a friend. Best of all would be a learning partner, a dating buddy, somebody who is also doing this process, is also single and who will kind of support you in taking these mindfulness dating field trips, maybe go with you and afterwards you could have coffee. Even if you're not in the same city, you can meet together and just discuss what worked, what didn't work, and laugh about it and complain about it and just have that wonderful kind of camaraderie that we really need around dating.
But if you don't have someone to do that with or you just prefer to do it alone and you can't be convinced, and I understand that. I did a lot of these alone, then just do this and bring a journal or some paper or pen with you so that afterwards you could sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere and just reflect a little bit.
Exercise One: Notice Your Patterns
Okay, so the first exercise is just simply to notice your patterns. So the next time you go to a party, a bar, a club, a gathering, wherever there are single people, just try this exercise.
So this is part one. Part one is change nothing in what you do. Just notice your behavior and notice your feelings. Notice your patterns. Who do you talk to? Who do you avoid? Do you approach people you're interested in or do you wait for them to approach you? Do you only approach people you're super attracted to or do you stay away from those people? Do you avoid the whole dating thing completely? What do you do? It's such a fascinating thing to look at the kind of pockets of semi-safety we create for our self.
Do you drink a lot? And here's another rich question. How are you different when you're with someone you're attracted to? What parts of your enthusiasm and your heart and your authenticity do you tend to suppress in the presence of those people? That's a huge question. There are no wrong answers. This is just a process of noticing your behaviors and noticing kind of the flow of your feelings. That's it. That's all you need to do for part one.
Afterwards, just do a postmortem with your learning partner or with yourself and just kind of notice what you saw in terms of your patterns. And if you're sharing it with someone, you can each share with each other and not critique each other, not evaluate, but just understand, identify. We're not fixing anything yet. We are just looking. And let me tell you,
"Looking and seeing our patterns is a WAY brave act."
Pick One Small Change
Okay, so here's part B of this process. Now pick one small change that you would like to experiment with in your next outing, but make it small. Don't make it huge or vast. Make it small but worthy. Maybe you chose that you are going to drink less or maybe if you're always the aggressor, you might practice being less action-oriented.
There are countless possibilities for small shifts in behavior. Just choose one that interests you and make sure that the change you're trying for is one that you pretty much think you could stretch toward. And even a slight change, even a slight change, which is why we're going to go for something small here, is going to open up new insights and it'll give you a kind of liberating sense of possibility.
Here's an example. Jill decided to try this exercise at a birthday party where she'd be the guest of a friend. That friend happened to be her learning partner and she knew she would only know a few people there. So here are some of the things that she noticed when she did step one. She said she felt really shy when she arrived. Her learning partner was coordinating the event, so she was really on her own. She said she went straight to the food and the drink table. She felt kind of embarrassed to be alone and kind of like she was standing out like a sore thumb. She knew that wasn't true, but that is how she felt. I think all of us can really relate to that.
Set a New Goal for Yourself
Then she found another woman who was standing alone, so she smiled at her and they started to talk and they had some interesting professional connections. She noticed too that there were a few guys that she wanted to meet, but she did not know how. She kept kind of thinking ways to meet them but didn't go through with any of them. Then she left the party, feeling pleased that she made a new friend, and kind of mildly depressed or disappointed that she hadn't met any guys.
She realized, upon reflection, that this was a pattern. She avoided the risk of interacting with guys who might be single and available. She knew she was super social and she could have a good time, but she realized that she was actually really avoiding her growing edge and she was kind of disappointed in that.
So she set a new goal for herself and she shared it with her learning partner. The next time she was going to make a plan to meet her learning partner in the middle of the party, whenever that next party was. They were just going to connect together somehow during the middle of the party. And she would be obligated to point out one or two guys that she was interested in. And if she knew them, if her friend knew them, she'd help make an introduction.
Exercise Two: Plan a Second Trip
Her friend is a real estate agent, so she knows lots and lots of people. And if she didn't know them, the two of them would talk together about how to get Jill to actually talk to that person. Jill was really happy with this because it was hard. It was scary, but she knew that there would be a sense of aliveness, adventure and growth and she had the support of a friend.
Okay. So that is exercise number one. So now exercise two is to do this. It's to plan a second trip, hopefully with the support or even the company of your learning partner, or if not someone that you tell in advance, this is called book ending, someone you tell in advance, "This is my goal. I'm going to do my best to do it and when this is over, I'm going to report to you on how we did, on how I did." Because we need this kind of help. We really, really all do.
So that's what you do. You plan a second trip, you make … and it's a trip to make the shift you described. You notice how that feels and how it leaves you feeling. And then you bookend it. After you do it, you describe what it was like.
Do Something New
So Jill did it. She went to the party and she happily avoided any of the guys that she was interested in. In the middle of the party she met her learning partner, and her learning partner and her talked about who she was interested in. There was one person she was particularly interested in and her learning partner did not know that guy. So they strategized about what they were going to do to have Jill meet this person. They came up with a plan, which was that the two of them were going to approach this guy together.
But it turns out, and this happens so often once we kind of activate our intentions, someone else came into the picture who was very interested in this and knew that guy. So she was able to introduce Jill to this guy. So it wasn't a match. Jill found the guy kind of really self-absorbed and she was not really interested in him, although they had an okay conversation. But that was it. Jill was psyched because she did something new. She did something brave. She felt kind of exhilarated and she had learned something.
So when we keep doing these practices, we build a muscle of bravery. We build a muscle of courage. We feel more alive, we feel more invigorated, and we experience this grueling dating process as somewhat more of an adventure. So now we've done the step. We've done the first exercise, which is noticing our patterns. We've done the second exercise, which was setting an intention for something new, following through and then doing a postmortem and sharing about it.
Exercise Three: Approach One Person Who Is Attractive to You
Now, exercise three, this is bravery. This is a scary one, but I really encourage you not to skip it. This time, you're going to go somewhere and commit to approaching one person who is attractive to you. You're going to do it sober, and you're going to approach that person with warmth and authenticity. If you want to up the ante, do it with two or three people.
I did this process once and I did it with six people. I was rejected by six people, serially, at a club. But I didn't feel bad. I actually felt incredibly proud because I had achieved my goal.
Rejection was not so much a factor here as bravery and courage.
So try one, maybe two or three if you want. See if you can make eye contact and smile before walking up to the person. And then if they don't notice you and you don't think you're going to have another opportunity to get eye contact, you could simply go up to them anyway. That might be deliciously scary or it might be terrifying. So if you don't feel ready for that part of the exercise, modify it to something easier, like even just finding out if any of your friends know this person and might introduce you at a later time.
But if you can do this exercise, you're going to feel pumped when you're done, even if your interest wasn't reciprocated. And remember, your goal in this exercise is not to get an expression of interest, although that's nice. It is to build your all-important muscle of dating bravery and bringing consciousness and mindfulness and skill to this process.
Developing Your Muscle of Bravery
And really, really it does get easier. When I used to run Deeper Dating events, there was a section where people had to do this. They had to go up to people they didn't know. The rule was always the same. They would give their phone number, this was a long time ago. They would just give their phone number on a piece of paper and the other person had to accept it. They didn't have to contact the person, but they couldn't say no. They had to say, "Thank you," and they had to take a moment and just kind of inwardly appreciate this person's interest in them.
They didn't have to contact the person, once again. But this is how people develop this muscle of bravery. They would come back to future Deeper Dating events and say, "I did it. I was in a bus, I was in a subway, I was on the street, and I actually smiled at somebody and then we talked. I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't practiced this kind of muscle building bravery practice."
Another thing that you can do is go with your learning partner and do it together, and just connect throughout the night or afternoon to catch each other up and share war stories and afterwards maybe go celebrate.
Connect with People Who Share The Same Values
Now, I want to say, in terms of venue, the more it is a venue for people who share your values, the better you will do. So I just want to say that you will have more success, more fun, and much more chance of finding and building something if you do it at an event for people who share your values, whatever those are; volunteer work or hiking or meditation or music, anything, dance, whatever it is.
And so, as with any area of our lives, bringing more mindfulness and compassion to the way that you date will almost always open new doors. And as you deepen your insights about your dating life, you will find that the kind of people you meet and date actually begins to change in surprising, hopeful ways. So please try these exercises and share them with us by going to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and then clicking on Ask Ken. You can actually record your experiences with these exercises.
So enjoy tackling your dating life as a journey of growth and discovery. Again, if you like what you heard here, please do subscribe and give me a positive review because that is much appreciated. I look so forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. Thank you.