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 powerful questions include: “How do I manage dating during COVID times?” and, “I’m losing attraction to someone as he becomes more available. What should I do?”
Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
How Do I Date During COVID Times? Can An Unhealthy Relationship Ever Really Become A Healthy One? And More!
Welcome to the Deeper Dating Q&A, where I answer your most pressing questions about love, sex and intimacy. I do it in such a way that you can apply these insights to the particulars of your own love life and your own dating life. You’re going to leave this episode with a sense of new possibilities and hopefully some revelations about your own intimacy journey.
Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book, Deeper Dating, host of this show and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new way for single people to meet in an environment that is respectful, kind and inspiring. Today, I’m going to be answering some of your questions about dating love and relationships. Every week, I’m going to be sharing with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process. The skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love. Those are the greatest skills of all for us to have happy lives. If you want to learn more about this approach, go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, and learn more about the work that I’m doing, and other people, who I respect, are doing as well. You’ll also find complete transcripts of every episode.
I also want to say that every piece of advice or insight that I share in this show is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you feel like you need help around some serious issues, please do yourself the favor of getting that help. If you like what you’re learning here, it would be fabulous if you could subscribe and leave me a review. I so appreciate the reviews that I’ve been getting. Now, we’re going to jump into the first question.
Someone asked me to speak about the wave. She talked about somebody that she’s known over six years. They work together and they’ve always been comfortable together. She used to find him very attractive at the time that he was married – such similarities and connections. When he was going through a divorce, she wondered if there could be more between the two of them. She’s continually dated emotionally unavailable people, and she wants something different and he is interested in her. The question that this person has is that she feels repulsed at the idea of being physical with him. She’s wondering, “why is this?” Is this what I call the wave? That she guesses that if he was more unavailable or less responsive, she would find him hot. The question is, “Is this the wave and how do I navigate it?”
Here are some thoughts that I want to share about this. My guess is that at least a significant part of what’s going on with this for you is the wave. Why? A few different reasons. One, you’ve been attracted to this guy before when he was not available. Two, you have a history of being attracted to unavailable men. Whenever we have a history of being attracted to unavailable or not very kind, decent, or responsive people, when we meet someone who is all those things, the chances are huge that we’re going to experience the wave, the wave of distancing. Which means you start feeling repulsed, you lose interest, you feel suffocated, you ache for freedom again, to go back to the hunt. Maybe certain things about the person start irritating you badly that didn’t irritate you before. These are all the different kinds of things that can happen when we encounter the wave.
Online dating is built to be like a bag of chips. You keep going for the next one and the next. Click To Tweet
I talk about this a lot. When we hit the wave, it’s a place to celebrate because it means we’ve probably found someone available and decent, and we are scared because this could be real or we could get engulfed or all of the different fears that come up for us. I am someone who was single for decades and decades because of the wave. The wave destroyed my romantic life and my possibilities for finding love for so much time. I find it amazing that this incredibly powerful dynamic that stops many of us from healthy love doesn’t get talked about, and we don’t get taught how to deal with it, which is something that I love to do because I’ve been through it so many times myself. I know that many other people have been through it as well. I also want to say that I speak about this in some more detail in episode 39, and certainly in my book and my audio course as well.
The first and most important thing is to understand that, as strange as it seems, it most likely does not mean that your attraction for this person has gone away. What it means is that your psyche is registering the fact that this person could maybe not go away and that’s scary in its own. There’s such a beautiful freedom to somebody who’s sexy and unavailable, and you can’t fully get them to commit. You can’t feel it, but there’s such a freedom with that because they’re not in your face. They’re not remaining present. You don’t have to feel the fears that come about being trapped in a relationship.
Those of us who have been repetitively attracted to people who aren’t good for us or aren’t available will go through the wave almost definitely. It comes and goes and comes back and disappears. I call it a wave because it is a wave. A wave hits you, it slams into you, and then it passes. Now, this wave will not pass if you force yourself to do things you’re not ready to do. If you force yourself to be more sexual than you’re ready to be. For example, with this person, you might ask yourself, “Do I feel repulsed physically? Is this something I would want to do with him? Maybe I would hold his hands. Maybe I would put my hand on his legs. I like his legs. That would feel good. That would feel nice.”
“Maybe I’d like his arm around me. He put his arm around me at one point and that felt nice, but that’s all that I want to do.” You respect that and you honor it and you make space for it because this is only a wave and you don’t push yourself to do stuff you don’t want to do. That’s the first part. The second thing you do is not flee. not tell yourself, “I guess I’m too immature for healthy love,” not tell yourself, “That’s it. If I don’t feel anything now, the attraction wasn’t there, to begin with.” No, you know that it’s a strange, strange defense that your psyche is creating to protect you because it feels in danger of real intimacy. If when the wave hits, like for example, with this guy, you let yourself enjoy him, do the stuff you want to do with him.
Take deep pleasure in all the connection you have with him. When you have little fantasies of wanting to touch him or be next to him or rub up against him or anything like that, you allow those fantasies. If you don’t have those fantasies, that’s fine too. You enjoy him and let the feelings grow. The chances are huge that the desire will come back. I know for me, with my husband, the wave hit and left and hit. I felt like a crazy person. Sometimes I felt like, “I am so in love.” Other times I would feel nothing. “What the hell have I gotten us into? I’m screwed and he’s screwed because I don’t feel anything,” but I knew what to do with the wave. This thing that had plagued me for so long, I gave it space.
I didn’t take it as seriously. I enjoyed Greg and I allowed the little bubbles of interest and connection and sexuality and Eros, all those things to bubble up when they bubbled up and give it space. Sure enough, it was that the feelings had gone subterranean for a while. That’s what I deeply suggest for you. Don’t flee. Don’t make assumptions. Understand this strange phenomenon in dating that we don’t get taught about, which is the wave, and try this technique. My guess is strong that the feelings will begin to come back if you give yourself a break and enjoy him.
Dating In The Time Of COVID
Someone else said, “With COVID, it’s not safe to start dating. How do you connect in a meaningful way if you can’t spend time with somebody? Those of us who were single and didn’t think ahead to get pandemic boyfriends and girlfriends need help not to be so lonely.” Here’s what I have to say to that. This is something very close to my heart. I’ve spent years working on a way for people to intimately meet online, which is DeeperDating.com, which is just being launched in a way that’s inspiring and warm and connected.
The first thing that I would say, use the technologies, use the websites, use the apps that feel most suited to you, and filter for qualities that matter most to you wherever you can. Filter for interests and passions that matter most to you. Understand that there’s a lot of lying and a lot of bad behavior. It is the Wild West out there with online dating. There’s so much disrespect. That is how it is in most dating venues. Know that that’s true. On top of the fact that most of the people you meet won’t be right for you, which is that’s the land of dating, but use those venues anyway to the degree that you can. I talk about this a lot in my different podcast episodes. Honor the connections that you make because, in this land of plenty matches and little intimacy, we tend to swipe or move through people quickly. Take the time to look for real qualities of inspiration and go a little bit slower. Don’t do swipe circuitry. Do slow circuitry in your dating life and get to know the people you meet through this amazing resource of online dating, where you get to meet so many different people. Take the time to look for inspiration, which is the key in all forms of data.
Don’t put up a wall to Eros and don’t put up a wall to intimacy when you’re doing online dating. There’s the tendency to think, “This is online dating. We can’t even meet anyway.” First, interacting through messaging, then actually hearing their voice, talking to them on video, these things can be very sexy, very Eros-filled. If we tell ourselves, “No, I cannot let that Eros come out. I can’t let myself feel those kinds of tendrils of desire hearing this person’s voice. I can’t let myself be too vulnerable, too intimate until I meet the person.” I encourage you not to think that because this is what we got now, folks. We need to start out with a deeper, richer authenticity, and allow Eros to form, allow interest, intimacy, and vulnerability to form even before you meet.
Of course, we all need to be very honoring of people’s feelings about what feels safe and what doesn’t feel safe because we’re all in deep flux about that, depending on so many different issues that we’re facing. Make room for the person who needs the most safety in terms of distance and masks. Let that person be the decider, because safety is everything. Of course, you can encourage the person. There’s no reason not to get together six feet apart. If sexual desire and frustration happen, frustration is never fun, but that builds Eros as well. That longing builds Eros. We need to work with what we’ve got and that’s what I would say there. The thing about online dating is it’s flat. There’s like an agnostic quality to it.
Take the time to look for inspiration, which is the key to all forms of dating. Click To Tweet
It’s not values-based except the value of wanting to meet people. Look for sites, look for organizations, look for activities that are about people’s passions, where you can follow your own passions at the same time as you’re dating. Look for the events, look for the things that are the most values-driven, the most passion-driven, and do those things. Those are also wonderful ways that you can meet people. We need to let our Eros, our sexuality, our romance develop these days in virtual ways and distanced ways. We can honor that. We can honor the sexiness in that, the frustration in that, and we need to honor those things because it’s a different world. What I would say is don’t feel like you need to put any lid on your vulnerability, on your outreach, on your erotic self just because you can’t get close yet. Cultivate those things in a virtual environment and move as quickly as you can from messaging to phone. Move as quickly as you can from phone to video. Move as quickly as you can from video to meeting in person with whatever social distancing you want. Even in this world, romance can continue and continue in different ways.
Next, someone brings up a pretty amazing point. She says that she had listened to the episode on online dating hacks that I did. She said the thing that resonated with her was the concept of moving slowly. This is what she said, which I think is so fabulous because it’s so true for so many people. She said, “I get excited about someone and if they don’t respond, I get over-enthusiastic. I might reach out to them three different times because I’m nervous that they’re not interested enough or that some nice person who responds to me. I take days to respond to them if I respond to them at all.” I love this because this so captures how we flee love at the same time that we seek it.
That’s a very human trait. These tendencies are cultivated by the abundance and the distance that exists in typical online dating. What I want to say is these are two areas for you to train yourself. I think it’s glorious when we can say, “I see I’m doing a behavior that I can’t stop, but I know it’s not good for me. I know it’s pulling me away from intimacy.” That to me is someone on their intimacy journey that they can say that. What do you do? Here’s what the research shows you do. You don’t try to change it on your own because it probably won’t work. You get help and you get support and you, what they call bookend it with somebody, you say, “This is what I’m working on.” Hopefully, this is a learning partner who’s also trying to grow in these ways. In my book and my courses, always, I link people with learning partners so that the learning can come together. All of you, if you know somebody, who’s interested in the deeper work of the intimacy journey, work with them to support each other. I promise you it’ll change your world when you do that. It will move you to love closer than doing and quicker than doing it alone.
Back to these behaviors. With that, you have articulated two behaviors that don’t help. The first behavior is constantly reaching out to someone who’s not available. The quality to cultivate there would be eyes open. You reach out, maybe once more, you give it space. You notice if they don’t respond and you watch because you are learning things about who they are and you call your friends to cool down your jets when you want to reach out to this person again and again, and you don’t. You might want to give them another try. You might want to give them another two tries, but you don’t react based on that urgent feeling of, “I want to get them to see me.” That is hard as hell to do. That’s why we need the support of friends. That’s why we need to make this a conscious journey of growth.
Next, the other one is huge. This is gold. There’s an ancient Hindu saying that says, “Sometimes poison tastes like honey and honey feels like it must be poison.” These people who are nice guys, who you’re finding that reach out to you, they are honey, but they feel like poison, in this case, would be boring. It is more boring to have to do the work. You do have to slog through a bit of boredom here. You do. It’s only a short slog because if the person is lovely, then you get inspired. It’s a little mini desert you have to cross off this stranger you don’t know and having to do the work and know that maybe they’re going to be boring. Maybe they’re not going to be nice. Maybe it’s going to be a waste of time. You’re not too excited, but you slog across that mini desert until you connect with the person and you show your heart, you show who you are, and you show your soul and you watch who they are.
Sometimes it gets very exciting and it’s wonderful. These guys are your gold, the guys who boringly respond to you, and then you don’t answer because it’s more exciting to see the next person and the next person and online dating is built to be like a bag of chips. You keep going for the next and the next. It is built to sculpt that behavior in us. I think I’ve mentioned this before. Tinder gets 18,500 swipes per second every day or something like that. It’s addictive. It’s like gaming. It’s compulsive. The act of valuing the people we meet who don’t wildly thrill us, but seemed like they could be the land of potential, we need to honor those and move ahead with those. We need to get friends to support us and help us in doing that. The other piece is that often if we’re used to the spiciness of unavailable, cocky, arrogant people, kindness and decency and availability seem boring. That’s another mini desert we need to cross because, with the right person, those things are not boring. They’re gorgeous. We can cultivate a sense and a taste for that. Those are two behaviors that you can actually work on. My encouragement is to work on them with friends.
The Real Deal
Next fabulous question, someone asks, “Do I be authentic and tell the person that I’ve started dating? I’m looking for marriage. I’m looking for the real deal here. Does that scare people off? By not doing it and not stating my truth, am I actually encouraging game playing? Might I scare somebody off when I do this? When should I do it?” These are all fabulous questions. What I would say to this listener is three cheers for you because the most important thing is you are claiming the validity of what you want and wanting a committed relationship, and marriage is gorgeous. That is a gorgeous, wonderful thing that is meant to be honored. What I would say is you could say that pretty early on that you’re looking for a real relationship. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re looking for that with this person because you don’t know this person yet, but you could say that those are the longer-range goals. You might not want to do that right away. You want to give it time. I think it’s a good thing to give it a little bit of time to see who the other person is, but I completely agree.
Don’t play games about what you want. I’ve told this story in another episode, but I know someone who read the book, The Rules, and she followed all of these rules about what a woman is supposed to do. God forbid, the woman says, “I want to get married and have kids.” The Rules, she felt, helped her in some ways about not pursuing unavailable people, but she met this guy and she liked him. They were in a group hike together. They sat down on a rock and they were eating lunch together. She’s scared, but she said, “I got to tell you this. I want you to know that I am looking for marriage and kids.” She was so scared because it went again against all of her training about what she was supposed to do. He looked at her and he said, “Where do I sign?” They’re still together to this day. It was so brave of her to do that. He was the guy who wanted to get married and have kids. I say three cheers for you. Thank you also for your words of appreciation about the podcast.
Attraction Of Deprivation Into Attraction Of Inspiration
The last question that I’m going to speak to is from someone who wrote something also sweet, saying that not everybody can afford therapy and that this is an opportunity to learn some of those lessons and that she’s very appreciative. Thank you so much for saying that. The question was, “Can a relationship that has been an attraction of deprivation turn into an attraction of inspiration?” The answer is absolutely yes if both partners are willing to do the work because that’s the big question. Now, if there is an addiction, until the person’s sober, it’s probably not ever going to be able to be an attraction of inspiration. Where they’re serious, unstabilized psychiatric disorders, the same thing is true. The person needs to have those stabilized. If the person is not willing to do the work of their own personal growth, facing their stuff, dealing with the real challenges of intimacy, it’s also not going to change. If those are not the case and the person is willing to do the work and you both are willing to listen to each other and learn from each other, then absolutely yes.
The attraction of deprivation can become an attraction of inspiration, but you do need to watch, is this person going to remain unavailable or are they going to let themselves be available? Even though people put the words on it and make some effort, if they’re not willing to be available, you will know that over a period of time. I want to say that everyone to some degree is an attraction of inspiration and an attraction of deprivation and the brilliant theorist Harville Hendrix says that in any relationship, we reach a point where the thing that we most need from our partner becomes the thing that they’re least able to give us. That’s how intimacy works. All of that is true too, but there does need to be a deep availability, a basic availability, a willingness to do the work and kindness and goodness, and a basic sense of character. With those things there, I’d say it’s worth a try. Marianne Williamson has a great quote. She says, “Both feet in until both feet out.” Give it your all and try. If you feel at a certain point, it can’t work, then give it your all and leave in the best way you can. There is a chance that as you grow, the other person can and will grow too if they’re willing to. Thank you all for listening to this episode. Keep your questions coming. I adore them. Go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and click on Ask Ken and leave your questions there. Have a wonderful week. I’ll see you in the next episode.