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In this Deeper Dating Q&A episode, listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships to Ken and get his direct personal advice. In this episode, we’ll talk about how to actually transform your dating patterns–from unavailable and unsatisfying relationships to relationships that are beautiful, sexy, sustainable, and nourishing. This episode has some truly moving questions-which I read aloud!
Table of Contents
- #1: Overcoming Unhealthy Dating Patterns
- #2: Attractions of Inspiration vs Physical Attraction
- #3: The Uncertainty of Not Wanting the Same Things in a Relationship
Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Q&A where I answer your most pressing personal questions about love and sex and intimacy, in a way that lets you apply these insights to the particulars of your own intimacy journey. My goal is to let you leave this episode with new possibilities and revelations about your own relationships. 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. I am the author of the book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, an online environment for people to meet in a way that’s respectful, kind, positive and inspiring. Today is our Q&A episode. I have some very wonderful, moving, poignant questions that I’m really excited to jump into. I just want to say first that what I try to do in this podcast is share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love in your life and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because truly, the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love. Those are the greatest skills of all for a wonderful life.
If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you will get a free eBook and you’ll be able to find transcripts of every single episode. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you feel you need that kind of help, give the gift of that to yourself. You’re worth it. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful thank you if you subscribe and just leave me a review. I really appreciate that. Now, let’s jump into the questions.
#1: Overcoming Unhealthy Dating Patterns
This first question is a little bit long but it is so beautiful that I just want to read the whole thing. I’m not going to say the person’s name because I’m only saying people’s names if they tell me it’s okay to. This person says that he’s 31 years old and he says, “I’ve already learned so much from listening to your podcast, so thank you for that. I consider myself to be a sensitive person, much like yourself, and sometimes your words actually move me to tears. I only recently began to acknowledge and honor this part of myself, and just as you say about Core Gifts, that by neglecting them, I’ve gotten myself into a lot of trouble. I left a long-term relationship about a year ago. My heart was broken.
“After working on healing, I’ve recently noticed a little voice inside of me telling me that I really would like to meet someone that I can build a future with. However, this voice is very quiet most of the time. Sometimes I feel strongly that I have all this love to offer and it just wants to kind of pour out of me, but the idea of that is so scary at the same time. I feel so lonely that I just find myself gravitating toward unavailable women and trying to date them. Once I realize that’s what’s happening, and that it’s what you call an attraction of deprivation, I noticed that I’m squandering my expressions of this love in return for a really lukewarm response, or stuffing my feelings down altogether because it just feels inappropriate and unwanted.
“Eventually, these unavailable women tell me that they don’t want anything serious. They’re not looking for a relationship but they’re really happy to just keep seeing me. They even get frustrated that I hesitate to sleep with them, but I get frustrated too. It’s like I’m torturing myself in this situation, so I choose to stop seeing them because it just doesn’t feel right, and I start to feel really mixed up. Before long, I’ll start the same cycle again once I feel lonely. I feel now like I’m ready to stop making excuses and admit to myself what I really want, but I just don’t know how, and I’m hoping that maybe you have some words of advice. Thanks Ken.”
I just want to start by saying I imagine that so many people are listening to this and thinking, “That’s just the kind of guy that I want, someone who really wants something serious and has so much love to offer.” I just want to acknowledge the beauty of what you wrote and this growing revelation of who you are and what you want. This is the amazing beauty of the deeper intimacy journey. This realization, this point where we realize that the patterns that we’ve been enacting bring us sadness, don’t bring us love, and that somewhere, deep down, we know that we want a deeper love. It’s going to mean changing so many patterns of protection and choosing the wrong people.
It’s just a huge and beautiful thing when we come to that point and make that decision, and it’s not easy. It seems like you are really articulating the kind of pattern that you’ve been enacting again and again, and you’re aware of why you’re enacting it. It’s to protect yourself against being hurt and against revealing this part of yourself, but this part of yourself can’t go away. It can’t be amputated so it keeps coming up, but it comes up in environments, and situations, and relationships where it can’t be fed and filled, and that’s what you want to change, so three cheers.
You ask any tips or any advice on how to do that. Here’s what I would say, and it’s the thing that I say all the time. If you want to change a pattern like this, do not try to do it alone. You will waste precious time and energy. Find a community, find a group, find someone else who appreciates these podcasts or the book, Deeper Dating, who you could actually go through the book, or the audio course, or even the podcast episodes, although it’s better to do it in the book or the course, because it’s a very kind of specific curriculum that I guide you through in those two venues, or maybe there’s another teacher whose work you also love, but find people or a person that you can go through that work with. Don’t try to do it alone.If you want to change a pattern, do not try to do it alone. You will waste precious time and energy. Click To Tweet
What I want to say about that is that time is precious, and you’re trying to change something really deep and really patterned. Don’t do it alone. You can also conceivably get support in one of my intensives, or you can go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and there are lists of mentors who you could also potentially work with, or you could work with a therapist or a coach. It’s got to be someone who’s going to understand that the heart and the soul of this journey is honoring those precious parts of yourself, and finding a woman who honors them as well. This is a beautiful path.
I want to hear from you that you have taken actions to move ahead, and to get support, and to shift your looking. That’s just something else I want to say. The more you honor this part of yourself and the more you shift your dating life in such a way that you only, only look for women who honor, and treasure, and appreciate this part of you, and I promise you they are out there. As you make that change, you will notice those people more. You’ll come up against your own fears, but with someone who is really safe. That’s the environment you want to work through those fears with. I’m so excited for you in this journey of learning to treasure these beautiful parts of yourself, and to now look for someone who you can have that mutual treasuring with. Let us know what happens.
#2: Attractions of Inspiration vs Physical Attraction
Next, this is a very short question, “Hi, Ken. My question involves trying to find a person who is an attraction of inspiration, but who you also feel physically attracted to. It seems like again and again, I either only have one or the other. Any tips?” I think that that question is one of, if not the most, universal questions. I know that for myself I spent literally decades stuck in that conundrum, and really feeling screwed up, and limited, and kind of hopeless because I didn’t have the tools to understand that I could rewire my circuitry over time. You can do that too. Everybody can do it and we need to do it.
I mean, what you’re asking is like so much of the curriculum of my book and my work, so I’m just going to try to just make a few points about it. The first thing is it’s never black and white. It really, really is not black and white. I think that there are probably people who feel like attractions of inspiration, who are kind of sexy to you, or that there are parts of their body that you find hot or attractive, or the way they talk or the way that they laugh or their presence. You might not find somebody who has scratched the itch – drop dead. I know I would want to sleep with them right this minute.
You might find somebody who’s kind of hot, kind of sexy, kind of cute, but it’s not stronger than that, and then given what you’re describing, you might start worrying, “Well, why would I want to be with somebody I’m not that sexually attracted to for the rest of my life?” It doesn’t work that way. What happens is circuitry gets engaged. Tendrils of turn-on and attraction, and trust, and caring, and intimacy begin to intertwine with the parts that you do find sexy with that person over time, and those attractions can grow. When you have an attraction that is filled with goodness and gets sexier and sexier to you, when you have those two things, that is joy. It’s what you want. It’s where you want to build your home in the world, but that kind of turn-on with an attraction of inspiration is often not immediate.
Also, with these attractions of inspiration, in other words, someone available and kind, and decent, and generous who has curated a good life filled with integrity, with whom your soul feels safe, it’s scary when all of a sudden you realize they’re interested, when all of a sudden you realize you don’t have to chase them, that they’re not going anywhere, that there is no drama, and they’re kind of interested and there. It is scary. For those of us who are not used to that, it’s triple scary, and we need to learn to get used to that. That’s what I call the wave of distancing. When you feel it, it’s often something to celebrate because it means that you have found someone who is available, and your heart of hearts, your soul of souls is going, “Oh, shit. Uh-oh.”
It’s what kept me single for decades and decades, is that fear I thought was impermeable and impenetrable, a wall that I could never get over. That was just my immaturity and limitedness, but in fact, I came to discover that as a human being, these are things that get healed over time. That’s the first thing I want to say, is shift your focus to look for those precious people who if you think of an attraction spectrum of 0 to 10, maybe they are not 8s, 9s and 10s who research shows actually are so hot often because they embody not just the best, but the worst characteristics of our primary caregiver. Our ego wants to go back to the scene of the original crime to finally be loved right.
You look at the people who were like 6s, and 7s, and 8s, and maybe 5s. You get to know them, and you cultivate and enjoy the things you enjoy about them, and you let yourself sexually fantasize about the parts of them that you like. If over time, they are right for you, they’re going to get more and more beautiful to you. If over time, that doesn’t happen, you will know. If you find yourself in a roller coaster of attraction and then fear, attraction and then disinterested, welcome to the world of circuitry shifting. You are in the middle of it. Stay with it. Don’t push yourself. Don’t pressure yourself. Don’t do anything sexually, or physically, or romantically that you’re not ready for. Allow space. Allow air. Go on dates that are like less romantic and just allow feelings to grow.If you find yourself on a roller coaster of attraction, and then fear attraction, and then disinterest, welcome to the world of circuitry shifting. You are in the middle of it. Stay with it. Click To Tweet
The other piece of this though is this question, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” When you’re dating people who are really hot and really sexy, and you can’t trust them, and they’re not available, and they let you down, and that keeps happening, and they can’t communicate with integrity, but they are so hot and you feel like you just have to have to have their love, get help. Get the support of friends, a coach, a therapist to help kind of like peel you away from that kind of situation, because until you say no to that compulsive and addictive tendency, you will not be able to develop the circuitry to find someone who is filled with goodness, and sexiness, and availability.
#3: The Uncertainty of Not Wanting the Same Things in a Relationship
Here’s another one that’s a little bit long but I’m going to read it, “Hi, Ken. My name is Mira. Please feel free to use my name. I’m a big fan of your podcast. I discovered it this year when I turned 38 and I really have reached the point that I’m ready to put in the work and find a healthy relationship.” Three cheers, Mira. She says she loves the Q&As specially and would like to submit a question. She said, “I have a history of toxic, unhealthy relationships, codependent relationships arising from attractions of deprivation. My last one ended really badly a year and a half ago. It was the worst one yet. We had talked about having a child and I got pregnant. He changed his mind and he ended the relationship.
“I didn’t keep the baby, which was an extremely devastating choice to make at the age of 37. What followed was a very long period of deep grieving and healing. During that time, I met my next boyfriend who is absolutely an attraction of inspiration. I don’t think I ever would have noticed him before if I had been in my previous state of mind.” Three cheers, Mira, “He’s kind, he’s good, he’s committed. He’s a great communicator. There was no drama, monogamous, committed right away, but he’s ten years younger than me and is not ready for the same things I am. After ten months of a really beautiful relationship, the best one I’ve had, we decided to end things because we weren’t in the same place and didn’t want the same things.
“I really looked forward now to meeting someone who was ready to embrace the same life goals as me, but he’s come back to say he wants to work on the relationship. We still have a very loving, committed friendship. He said he does want to be together, and he wants to work on our relationship and offer me everything that I want except for marriage and kids right now. He does not know if he wants that. He doesn’t know when he wants that. I don’t know at this point what’s the right thing to do. Do I want to focus and prioritize a healthy relationship that I haven’t had until now with someone who really wants these things, or do I take these learnings and move forward, or do I continue growing with him? I would love your advice.”
Mira, first of all, I celebrate your growth no matter what, and oh my God, life gives difficult choices, choices that we have to kind of in the bare truth of our beings, make existential decisions when we’re ready to. First, I want to start by celebrating that you have given up a lifelong pattern of following toxic relationships and you’ve shifted your circuitry in such a way that you can be with someone who’s honest, and wonderful, and caring, and committed. That is just the hugest of the huge, so I celebrate that and I hope you celebrate that too.
For everyone who’s listening, I hope as well that you think about where you are in that process. If you’re beginning to move in that direction, celebrate yourself because it’s a big, big deal. It’s kind of a harbinger of happiness when you see that you’re beginning to do that. Three cheers for you, everyone who is, and three cheers for every one of you that wants to shift old patterns and move in this direction truly. I guess that’s kind of the only thing that I’m certain about that I can answer in terms of that question. This is a really deeply personal question but my feeling is this, and maybe this is something that I can say. You don’t know yet. In a minute, I’m going to read a quote about this from Rilke. I believe I’ve read this before in my podcast but I think it’s really helpful.
What I want to say is you don’t know yet. You have someone who is amazing and precious. He’s also saying he doesn’t know yet, right? He’s not saying, “I don’t want to have a child. I don’t want to get married.” He’s saying, “I’m not ready.” The love between the two of you is growing. I think that this sounds like someone who you could trust to not mislead you, and just because he wants you to not speak his truth, he doesn’t sound like that kind of a guy. I would say, until you know, let yourself dive into the exploration of this connection, but keep checking in with yourself and your loved ones to feel what’s true and what’s true for you.
I’m going to read a quote from the poet Rilke, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them, and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now.” I would say, live the questions now in connection with this man together. Live these questions. Perhaps you will, and I’m adding the word both, one day, gradually without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
That’s my thought there. There is huge and rich growth here, Mira. I think this is going to become clearer to you over time. This has been a kind of long episode. I do have another question but I am going to answer it on Instagram Live. If you just go on Instagram to @Deeper.Dating, you should know about that and hopefully, follow me there. Anyway, I’m going to answer this next question. Thank you all so much for listening. It’s just a joy to get to be here with you, and I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. Thank you all.
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