Listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships to host Ken Page and get his personal direct advice in Ken’s Q and A podcasts. Today’s subjects include institutionalized racism in online dating, feeling gun-shy about dating after bad experiences, a new boyfriend who sometimes doesn’t text back, and more.
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Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
Your Questions Answered By Ken
Today’s episode is the Deeper Dating Q&A, where I answer your most pressing personal questions about love, sex, and intimacy. You’ll leave this episode with new possibilities and hopefully, some important revelations about your own love life. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.
Hi, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the book, Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com. I’m excited to be with you here today when I answer your questions about love, romance, and intimacy. This week, and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it alive and if you want to learn more about this approach, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can get some free gifts there and you can join my mailing list as well. Today, I have gotten some really wonderful questions, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions too.
I’m thrilled about this. A ton of people wrote questions or recorded questions, and any of you can do that as well by just going to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and then you click on Ask Ken, and you can leave me any question that you want. I’m thrilled about all the different questions, and I think they have some basic themes around communicating about difficult things, but I’m super excited to dive in, in one moment. I just need to tell you one thing, a little bit of news about the podcast, which is, I am, unfortunately, or fortunately going to need to move the podcast to be every two weeks for a period of time instead of every week.
I’m devoting myself, kind of heart and soul, to this new platform called DeeperDating.com, which is a way to help single people meet in a way that’s respectful, thoughtful, fun, reflective, and kind of follows the values that I really try to teach here of kindness, connection and authenticity. I’m super excited about that. Please visit DeeperDating.com. Join our mailing list. We are starting to have events now, in all different parts of the country we are just beginning to grow, but I’m devoting myself to that. I’m kind of trying to, as they say, “To write is human to edit is divine.”
I think to do is human and to edit one’s doing is divine and very hard for me as a workaholic, but I am going to be still doing the podcast, but just once every two weeks now, at least for a period of time, as I help DeeperDating.com come into life in the world. Thank you for understanding that. Let me jump right now into the questions. I’m going to answer these a little bit more quickly than I usually do because there are so many questions that I’ve gotten. The first one is from my friend, Maria Elena from Mexico, and Maria Elena asked it’s a wonderful question. She said, “I have a really strong personality and I have been attracted to, and I attract men who also have really strong personalities and characters. These relationships have ended quickly and have not done well. Should I instead be looking for somebody with a gentler nature because I have a really strong personality has an easier lighter personality who can accommodate me so that we’re not kind of butting heads together?”
That was her question. I’m going to answer this question, but I also just want to encourage, I’d love there to be a kind of crowdsourcing thing, because I think that I can kind of come up with little chunks of wisdom or insight that might be really important and sometimes a really central, and sometimes they’re not as central. In my groups, in my intensives, I’ll share things and then, other people will share things that hit at the heart of things better than I could have. If anything you hear in terms of my answers or anybody else’s question inspires you to give a different response or a different angle, I’d always appreciate that and you can just go to, again, DeeperDatingPodcast.com, click Ask Ken, and share your perspectives. I can try to pass those on where it’s possible to do that. My thought about this is that, if two people with a really strong personality come together, there definitely is room for a particular kind of greater conflict, but I think that if a stronger person and a more passive person come together, there’s also room for more of that difficulty.If two people with really strong personalities come together, there definitely is room for a particular kind of greater conflict. Click To Tweet
I personally think, ultimately, it’s about the skills of intimacy, more than anything else, because sometimes, really different even conflicting styles can be exciting and can add a sense of life and variety if both partners are willing to learn the other person’s language of being, and style of being. I think It’s more about communication skills. You’ve got a strong opinion, your partner has a strong opinion, how can you both hold that together as the couple that you are and talk about it, work it through and express what’s going on? I think it’s more about communication than particular kind of character styles.
Although obviously, different character styles are going to create a different recipe for a relationship, but I really do think ultimately, if a person is not abusive, if you are not abusive, that it’s just so much more about learning the kind of like deeper, basic communication skills. Thank you, Maria Elena, for asking that question. Next, Jordan asks a question. Jordan is working on the Deeper Dating book and is in chapter two and that’s fabulous. Those are really rich chapters and has met somebody wonderful. The connection is great, the physical sexual connection is great. She feels comfortable in her own skin with this person more than she ever has since she’s been eighteen years old.
These are all wonderful things and I just love hearing that. I’m thrilled that you are leading with who you are and you found somebody with whom you can be who you are and she says, the communication is great. Recently though, she has left some texts and not gotten responses to them and that’s really scary because her experience in the past has also been with guys who are cheating on her and who she believes that are in a monogamous relationship with her but in fact, they’re cheating on her. These kinds of like dropped texts are a real sign of that.
It’s very scary and Jordan feels like she’s going to talk to him about this whole issue of monogamy because that’s what she wants and she just asked for some advice on how to do that. First of all, I just want to say you if are with someone with whom you can communicate and whom you feel so good with those are signs in all probability of deep growth on your part. What I would say in the simplest terms is that you do need to talk to him and you can share that there has been trauma and wounding for you. It’s a funny point that you’re at because Jordan says they’d been on a handful of dates, I figured maybe like 4 maybe 5 dates, something like that.
Feelings can really be growing deeply at that point, but it’s kind of early to say we are going to absolutely move to monogamy in some cases because some people who might and will be ultimately available, aren’t ready to say that yet, after just that many dates. I think one question there is, is this a shared commitment? Is this something that he believes in, is looking for, and aspires to? Does he feel like that is a direction that he sees this possibly going in so that there’s space for him as well? You can share, and there needs to be room for the fact that this is scary and difficult for you and then continue the conversation from there.
The Color Of Love
I think that you might actually become closer as you have that conversation, but I also want to really encourage you because you have trauma there, and kind of a hallmark of trauma is black and white thinking. It’s easy to go to the biggest fears and that’s not something he necessarily needs to be responsible for in the communication. I say, if you have dear friends who honor your commitment to monogamy and are spacious and nonjudgmental, talk to them and get support to help you be able to really talk to him from an open space. I’m excited for you and let us know what happens. Next question or request, Lou left a message and thanked me for the podcast and the work that I’m doing and asked if I would reflect on kind of some of the issues of what it is like for people of color, to face the institutionalized racism that they experienced so often in online dating?
Thank you so much for this question, Lou. I have a number of thoughts that I want to share. As a white person who has not directly experienced this, but has certainly experienced a lot of other kinds of oppression and prejudice, I’m just going to speak from my heart about some of the things that I’ve seen and I’ve been touched by and I’m aware of. Somehow the impersonality of online dating and the objectification that happens so much in online dating allows people to be more cruel than they would normally be and allows for blatant racism under the guise of, “This is just who I’m sexually attracted to.” Microaggressions direct ugliness. Even though the research shows that there’s more, there are more interracial couples now as a result of how online dating mixes things up and mixes people up and blends worlds in different ways there is also just a huge amount of institutionalized racism.
There’s very poignant research that shows directly how facing this kind of racism in online dating leads to feelings of low self-worth, depression, and anxiety, which makes perfect sense because the desire for a loving partner and wanting to be included in the world and connected in that way and connected with someone goes so deep. It’s so profound that a shut door in our face an institutionalized shut door in our face, it causes pain on so many different levels. There was a New York Times modern love column called Trying to Feel Love-Worthy (While Working for a Dating App), by Loré Yessuff in July 2020, that was so poignant to me and it speaks to this and I just would love to read just some of the things that she wrote. She describes herself as having this job opportunity of getting to work in customer service for an online dating site.
She says, “I was a recent college graduate, recovering from a breakup, longing to be with someone who didn’t want to commit to me. It was my first breakup but as a black woman, I was not new to heartache. This pain felt familiar. The symptoms are easy to decipher. It always starts in the throat, hums in the chest, and drops to the lowest point of the belly, sharp, thick burning. The first time I felt it was in second grade on the school bus when two white boys screeched at me saying I was ugly while tugging on my newly plaited braids. I was so shocked that I froze waiting for the mockery to end. Far too many black women are taught that romantic fantasies do not belong to us, that we are never someone’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice and that we should feel lucky if we are wanted, which really means that we should feel suspicious.”
This is a beautiful piece and it continued and it talked about some research that showed that black women are among the least likely the ones, who were going to among those who received the least attention of any category on dating apps. Another group is Asian men. This led me to kind of look into the research on this, and it’s been fascinating and painful to see how institutionalized racism like, for example, race filtering, searching and filtering under race is so prevalent. How some algorithms of dating sites actually assume without being told that people are more interested in people of the same race? Online dating, I believe can be used as a vehicle for healing and communication in some ways, some powerful ways and it can also be used as a tool to harden and further the toxicity of racism.
Same Sex Relationships
As someone who’s creating an online dating site, this is something that feels deeply, deeply important for me to be a part of the healing process in that. Please, look forward to an upcoming panel where I’m going to bring together participants, researchers, people of color who use the sites, and just a kind of group of people to really talk about this. I used to do a lot of workshops for a group of a wonderful group called Men of All Colors Together, where people of all different races would get together and it was a place where people could meet romantically, but also could converse and heal. It was just a beautiful, beautiful group and I wish that online dating could actually allow for that kind of healing. I believe that there are ways that it can. Lou, I’m so appreciative of your question and I just want to honor kind of the pain and the ruefor so many people who experience those closed doors in a place that is so tender and matters so much. The next question was a beautiful question from a woman who is doing the deeper dating process. She says, she’s on stage two in the four stages of this journey, the first stage is a discovery of your core gifts, your kind of deepest sensitivities and passions.
You’re inner-most self and learning to honor that. The second stage is understanding attraction patterns more deeply, and getting a deeper sense of making choices to only pursue what I call attractions of inspiration versus attractions of deprivation. The third stage is the getting out there in a way where you lead with your authenticity and only choose people who resonate with that and make you feel safe inside. The fourth stage is the rewiring that has to happen when we meet somebody where it’s a healthier relationship. Anyway, this woman says that she’s in stage two and doesn’t feel like so ready to meet people because she’s been in bad relationships before, she’s gay.A hallmark of trauma is black and white thinking. Click To Tweet
She met a woman recently who seemed like her type, and she’s noticing that a part of her is feeling like, “I don’t want to lose this opportunity.” Another part is saying, “I don’t want to jump in again. I don’t want to get hurt again. I also don’t know if this woman is a lesbian or if she’s straight. That’s kind of scary too. How do I know what to do? I want to honor this part of me that wants to protect myself and let my growth happen and don’t get lost in relationships again but I also don’t want to lose an opportunity?” This is a fabulous, fabulous question, just some thoughts that I have here are big question, I think are the signs of the person’s actual character.
One thing is you are going to have to find out like pretty soon, if this person is attracted to women, also. You will need to do that, it’s scary, but you’ll need to do that and that will be a good thing because then you’ll know. You shouldn’t wait too long – so many people wait so long with that, just because of internalized homophobia, shyness, and timidity. I want to encourage you not to do that. The other thing is, I think that you should get to know who this person is and make the decision not based on any abstractions, but based on who she is and how she acts – her character. Is there decency? Is there goodness? Is there kindness? Is there authenticity? Are those things consistent or pretty consistent?
If the answers to those things are yes, then at least this person could be a friend, but I think that it’s like kind of being in a dark room and not knowing where the furniture is and you don’t want to walk into the room and bang yourself up. I think it’s important to go in carefully and ask yourself the question again and again, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” Notice the feelings of safety or unsafety that resonate for you and you’ll often know the difference between what’s fear and what’s actually a sense of what doesn’t feel safe. The more you practice this, the more you will know that. Good luck, be brave, and this growing desire to honor yourself, that’s almost coming before anything else. I hear that loud and clear and it’s wonderful.
A fabulous question from Miriam who said, “I’m an activist and that’s really important to me. That’s very central to my value system and I really feel like I want to be with someone else who is also an activist, is that fear-based or is that just a kind of honoring of who I am? What my values are and what matters to me?” I love this question and it’s actually a question that I’ve heard other times as well and here’s what I would say. You totally have to start out by treasuring this and realizing that being with someone who is an activist would be wonderful and celebrate that, absolutely. I’m going to make a jump to this, how do you find that online? Because that was another thing she said is, how do you find that? You use filters with sophistication, you figure out the keywords, activism, ecology, Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, homophobia, whatever keywords, like get a whole bunch of them and look for, do searches for people who have those words in their profile. You can also go to Facebook groups and find groups that have lots of members that also share those same values. I say, go for that, treasure it, it’s wonderful and it’s fabulous. I would also say though, that there are different kinds of activism. There are people who are quiet activists, people who you see them be honest, and be kind when it’s really hard, to be honest, and kind, and that’s a kind of activism.
An Anxious Couple
I am not saying that to steer you away from knowing that you’d love to be with someone who’s an activist, but I am saying that the world surprises us with who we meet. The basic values of bravery, expression, protection of other people, etc, are really the deepest values of activism. I would say in that way, allow yourself to be surprised. Next, Dinah is 67 and has met a really wonderful guy. She is thrilled. She is very appreciative of this work and she’s so excited because this guy is wonderful and they can really communicate. She’s just so happy about the relationship, but she had a few concerns. One concern is that she has an anxious attachment style, so does he. When he gets kind of anxious, she experiences him as clingy, and then she pulls away, that was one piece, but she said, “We talk about it and that’s what really matters. We kind of like work it through and address it.” That’s what I would say is that’s the key, the question, outside of situations of abuse or unstabilized, serious psychiatric disorders. I think that the ability for a couple to hold differences, difficulties, ambivalence, and talk about it with openness, kindness, and care is the heart and the soul of a great relationship. It sounds like you have that heart and soul of a great relationship.
What I think is, what I would say is that when you feel the clinginess and you feel that desire to avoid, questions are, how can you take care of yourself? When we feel suffocated or when we feel another person is not kind of able to hold up their own weight and we have a kind of primal fear reaction, or we just want to pull away, it’s often easy to beat ourselves up for that, “I can’t love, I’m not capable of loving. Why am I not more steady in my attraction or connection?” We need first to make space, “I feel kind of like this person is being clingy, what kind of space do I need? How much space do I need so that I could still say close, but feel like I could breathe? What kind of connection do we need now so that I don’t get lost in this? What do I need? What do I think he needs?” The minute we can take the time to ask ourselves those questions, and then you will get answers. You will get ideas and you will get insights if you can hold that dilemma with that kind of respect and gentleness. When you get those insights, then you find a way to share them and you do it in a way that’s kind, in a way that honors you and honors the other person. These are going to be the issues that the two of you if you stay together are going to have forever. What you’re doing is building language bridges between your different styles of being, or in this case, your similar styles of being. That’s my thought there.
The other thing that she asked is she said, “He has some real health concerns. We’re both kind of a little bit older and that’s a risk because I’m really active and I want to live a really rich, good life and that concerns me too.” What I would say about that is, that is such a deeply personal existential question, let the bond keep growing and let it grow, let it grow. As it grows, you will come closer to knowing what your decision is and what’s going to be right for you. That’s so dependent on so many factors, but you just want to know that if it’s not going to work, you didn’t leave out of fear. It sounds like there’s so much good here, it sounds like the preponderance of good is huge in this case. Mostly I would say have fun, including learning to have fun with some of the difficult communication stuff. The next question is from Joanne, and Joanne, thank you for your kind words about my book. Joanne was saying that, that she has been meeting some people and they haven’t been ready to speak on the phone or on video. They’re happy to message. They do do video with their family, but they’re not ready to do video or phone with her.
She says, “I don’t mind waiting a few weeks. I don’t even mind necessarily waiting a month, but longer than that, I begin to wonder if they’re being honest with me about who they are.” I would say to you, I agree. I think that’s, you know, over a month of refusing to speak on the phone or on video, using reasons like, “I’ve got difficult things going on, or I’m not feeling well.” Those do sound like excuses to me if we’re talking about over a month. I say, trust your intuition, but speak to the person and be really direct and ask them for greater clarity and tell them that this is uncomfortable for you. You could ask them when they will be ready to do this, or you could say to them, “This is something that at this point I need to be able to do.”
I think you have a right to, because that’s a really, really long time not to be doing that. Especially, for people who do that regularly with their family. I’d say probably your sense of concern is valid but once again, I guess that’s kind of the message of this episode, speak to them, tell them really what you’re feeling, and then take it from there. Thank you. I still have a number of questions that people have asked that I didn’t get to, and I won’t be able to get to in this episode. I’m not going to wait for my normal four-plus weeks to do my next Q&A. It’s going to be much sooner than that. Those of you who didn’t get your questions answered, I’m going to do my best to do that in the next Q&A episode.
What I would like to ask you to do now, is to think for a moment since this kind of a theme of talking about the hard stuff has been such a rich theme of this episode, where for you in a relationship, might there be a place where something’s difficult to talk about but could be talked about with the person who is good and decent and listens to you and where there’s that kind of safe relationship. Just take a minute. I think we all have a place where we could say, “I could say something more here. There’s something I haven’t talked about that I feel that’s sitting in my heart.” Of course, those things overall, really do bring us closer, although they may be difficult and they may not just be one single conversation. Take a moment to think about that and I encourage you to give that a shot, do a field trip, an honesty, authenticity field trip, where you get to share that. Again, my apologies to all the people that I didn’t get to yet, I will hopefully get to you pretty soon. Thank you all for listening and I look forward to speaking with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.