Today, I interview Dr. Duana Welch, the best-selling author of Love Factually, a how-to book on dating and finding healthy love using science-backed data. Dr. Duana is a former professor, dating coach, and author. In this episode, she shares tips for initiating a phone call, not a text, with someone you are interested in and why the phone call is important. We also talk about whether or not to bring up deal-breakers early on in a new relationship.

Listen in to learn what the real research and data say about how to date effectively to find healthy, lasting love. 

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Show Notes:

  • What does it mean to date the hard way
  • How to re-brand the term ‘high-status’
  • What to do between the first contact and the first date
  • Why are boundaries so helpful in dating
  • What is the difference between hard-to-get and high-status
  • Are there benefits to waiting to have sex
  • What does science say about setting up a dating profile
  • How to ask the hard questions on a date

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6 month coaching and mentorship intensive with Ken Page

 

What Does Research Really Tell Us About How to Find Love? An Interview With Dr. Duana Welch

 

Ken Page:

Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating, your host in this podcast and the creator of the Deeper Dating® Intensive, and I’m so happy to have you here. Today we’re going to talk with Dr. Duana Welch, author of Love Factually, and she’s going to be teaching us what the real data says about how to date and how to find healthy love. So that’s really exciting and I look forward to jumping in with her and I’ll tell you more about her in a moment.

But let me first say that on the Deeper Dating® Podcast, my commitment is to share with you the greatest tools and insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life and the process because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy and those are the greatest skills of all for a happy, meaningful life. So let me jump right in and tell you about Dr. Welch.

 

One of the ways that men know that they want a woman is how much effort they put into it. Click To Tweet

 

Dr. Duana Welch is the dating coach and author known for relying on science rather than opinion to help men and women and everyone find and keep love, beautiful, healthy love in their lives. She’s a former professor in Florida, California, and Texas across 20 years, and she’s contributed to NPR, Psychology Today, and numerous other outlets and podcasts. Her first book, Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do is now out globally in five languages and its revised updated version was just released in 2022.

Love Factually for Single Parents is the second book in the series, and it’s specifically geared for finding the right partner, not only for readers but their families. She’s an expert for Paired the bestselling couples relationship app, and her client practice is global via Zoom and other technologies. And you can learn more about her on lovesciencemedia.com. So I am so delighted.

Duana, it is so wonderful to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us on the Deeper Dating® Podcast, and I have a million questions for you and some of the things that I love about what you do is, as a fellow research nerd, I just adore that you bring science to this, this arena that is so just filled with myths and incorrect information. And I also just want to thank you for including the LGBTQ+ community in your work, that’s a big deal and it’s really rare. But I have so many questions for you and I’m just so excited to have you here. So thanks for joining.

 

What Does Research Really Tell Us About How to Find Love? An Interview With Dr. Duana Welch

Evolution is for a world that in some ways might not exist any longer: our mating psychology is one of the things that evolved.

 

Dr. Duana Welch:

Thank you for having me on the show. I’ve admired your work for a long time and I have wanted to be on this show, so I’m very excited.

Ken Page:

Great, wonderful. There is so much information in your book, in both of your books, and it’s really hard to figure out where to start. So we may need to do another interview, but I would like to start out with this concept that you talk about that I’d love you to break down for us, which is what you call “dating the hard way to have lasting love the easy way”. Could you tell us more about that?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Sure. What a lot of people do now is they have sex and then they fall in love and then they have a lot of fun together and then they hit a rough patch and then they start asking the hard questions about compatibility. And right now, really the message in every community that I know of that’s not really religious is don’t make it so serious at first, just have a good time. That’s the way hearts get broken.

As you know from my book, my best friend was in a relationship that went on for several years and they broke up over something that they knew from the first date. And she thought about it on the first date, but she also thought, “Don’t make it so difficult, just have a good time.” Well, it was a terrible time when she and this man broke up four years later because she was atheist and he was Catholic and they knew that actually before the first date. And he knew it was a deal breaker before the first date, and I think she did too.

Dating the hard way means asking the hard questions upfront. And one of the things that I like to help people do is frame those questions in such a way that they can ask them without seeming like they’re asking to get married to this person when they’re just talking to them on a phone or out on a date.

Ken Page:

Say more about that, yeah.

Dr. Duana Welch:

But for example, if you know have a religious difference, for example, you can say, and notice I’m saying on the phone, that’s not because I’m 55 and I don’t know about texting, it’s because texting is low value communication.

Ken Page:

Beautiful.

Dr. Duana Welch:

It doesn’t encourage deep bonding. You call your show, it’s deeper dating, and that’s what I encourage as well. So I teach people how to get a phone call, not a text, how to initiate a phone call, not a text, even though that is so 1990s.

Ken Page:

I love it.

Dr. Duana Welch:

What you can say on the phone is, “One of the things that’s important to some people is religion, and this is my religion and I’m wondering, and it’s very important to me that I share certain aspects of that, even if somebody wasn’t the same religion, that we had certain values aligned or that if we had children that we would raise them in that faith.

And I know, look, I barely know you, we’re just now starting to talk. I know people normally don’t say this, but I don’t see a lot of sense in getting in deep with someone that it just can’t work out with. So I’m just wondering, would you be willing to talk about that?” And they always are.

 

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How mating psychology is evolving:

 

Ken Page:

That’s really bold. And somebody who is really bad at communication, that would be a warning sign right there and not being open to that kind of dialogue. So I love that. One thing that makes me think of is people who say, “I want to have kids” and are afraid to say that early on, but it’s unequivocally a deal breaker for them. So I love you’re encouraging people to dignify the things that really are deal breakers that really matter hugely and bring them up, bring them up early. I love that.

Dr. Duana Welch:

A lot of people need scripts because as you pointed out, it is bold and it takes a lot of bravery. Courage is not doing what’s easy, it’s doing what’s hard when you’re afraid.

Ken Page:

Beautiful, yeah.

Dr. Duana Welch:

And this is hard, and I understand that. It’s hard for people to change. It’s hard for people to do things a new way. I can’t even change what time I get up in the morning. I understand that and I have compassion for that.

And most people who come to me are just so tired of having their heart broken by doing things the same way and getting the same result every time. So one way to get a different result would be to ask the hard questions right up front. You can also state your boundaries right up front. I know that in my own life I stated my sexual boundaries. It’s one of the things that I teach my clients to do is how do you say what you want?

For example, Ken, excellent point. You can’t kind of have a child. You have children or you do not have children. It’s a deal breaker if you’re not on the same page about this most times if you’re very firm. Some people are like, “For the right person I could have kids,” but most of us we really know. And so in that case we would need to say, “I’m just getting to know you. I’m not asking for your hand here, but I am saying it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for me to get in deep with someone that didn’t want children because I know that I do. So I wonder if we’re on the same page about that, not with each other, just in a general way.”

Ken Page:

Love this. It’s great. It’s great. And what you just brought up, there are two things you just brought up. One is you talked about people needing scripts and in your book you have fabulous scripts for how to ace a date, what to do in your profile. And I’m going to ask you to give us a download on those things.

But first I want to refer to what you just mentioned about boundaries. And in your book you speak about this concept of, am I correct, high status? Is that the phrase that you use? Yeah, and that’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot and troubles me a lot because what it often means is you look spectacular and you’ve got money and you’re successful and you act confident all the time, that kind of stuff.

And then that’s deeply hierarchical and limiting and problematic. And I understand it has some biological roots. But what you do is you take that and turn it into that high status means having boundaries and honoring your boundaries. Can you talk about that a little?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Sure. Having boundaries is helpful in many, many ways. One of them is when you have boundaries, what that means is I can afford to say no to things that are bad for me and I know what’s bad for me. And that automatically conveys a certain amount of respect for yourself and therefore partners who don’t want to respect you and they understand that you have these boundaries, they’re going away before they become your partner, which is helpful.

Also, the people who are inclined towards you usually fall harder and faster, frankly, because first of all, if you have high fences, you’re usually, as it turns out scientifically, not that available for other people unless the two of you agree that this is an open relationship kind of thing. You’re able to say no, that’s what boundaries say.

I’ve just been watching The Crown, and this won’t spoil the plot very much at all, but when Will meets Kate, he says something unfortunate and she doesn’t tolerate it. He’s having women throw themselves at him. But who does he go for? The one who has boundaries. We all want someone who we think, “They have self-respect. They have high regard and worth.” And that’s what I mean by boundaries, not your height or your economic status or how beautiful you are. It’s more about how you carry yourself inwardly.

And the good news is we can fake it till we make it. And one of the areas that helps most people who are dating a man or who want a man in their life is to have some fairly high boundaries around getting sexually involved. And actually it helps most women as well.

 

I am not interested in must-haves that have to do with demographics. Click To Tweet

 

Ken Page:

And you’re talking about men who want men, people of all gender identities that… Excuse me, people of all gender identities that want a man, right, in saying that?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yes. Yes.

Ken Page:

Fabulous. Thank you. Yeah.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yeah, it’s helpful. I try to get my clients who are interested in men to… And of course most of my clients who are interested in men are women. Women absorb semen into their vaginal tissues and 99% of what’s in semen is not sperm, it’s a very powerful chemical cocktail that encourages immediate emotional bonding.

And this is why 75% of women in more than one study, say… Even in a friends-with-benefit situation, they say, “Oh, I’m emotionally bonding even though I know this isn’t my ultimate person, I’m kind of falling for them.” And 75% of men say, “I’m fine. It’s just friends with benefits. I’m not getting attached at all.”

Ken Page:

Wow. I wonder about the passive partner in anal intercourse.

Dr. Duana Welch:

My understanding of this science is that it has not looked at that.

Ken Page:

Interesting, fascinating, wonderful question, yeah. But what you told us is really interesting as well and really deep. Oh. One thing I want to say is that you are talking about not playing hard to get, but having high fences, accurate boundaries. I love that. I love that concept.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Thank you. I ask my reader community for their input when I’m writing a book. And this edition that is out now is the second edition of the book. And I asked, “What do you think is the difference between hard to get and high status?”

And as you know in the book, there’s this wonderful answer from a specific one of my readers, and she says, “In a lot of ways behaviorally they’re similar, but conceptually they’re very different because one of these is about manipulating someone else, and the other one of these is about having respect for yourself, feeling good about yourself, and getting on with your life for anyone who isn’t okay with that.” That’s paraphrasing, but the basic idea.

Ken Page:

I love it. So true. So I’m going to ask you to say some more about not having sex early and the benefits of that and why you think that’s important.

Dr. Duana Welch:

As it happens, men have evolved, and all of us actually have evolved a certain mating psychology. And most of our psychology is regardless of gender, gender fluidity, gender orientation. Most human psychology is human psychology. Everyone has a similar psychology.

For example, it may be the case that in the ancient past there were some people who disliked fat and protein and it’s very unlikely that they survived to carry that preference forward. Those of us alive today, when we come across too many calories, this is our typical behavior. We just go for all we can. And in an ancient environment where sometimes people went hungry, this makes a lot of sense.

Ken Page:

You go for the food when it’s there.

Dr. Duana Welch:

It doesn’t make a lot of sense right now today in the way we live now. And in fact, it’s causing type 2 diabetes and it’s killing people. So one of the things I want to say is evolution is for a world that in some ways might not exist any longer. So some of the things I might say may be very distressing to some people.

I report the science, I don’t necessarily like it, but our mating psychology is one of the things that evolved. Just like we prefer to eat fats and sweets and to gorge rather than to have the same number of calories and for them to be all low calorie items. And that preference used to work and now not so much. There’s some things in mating psychology that work that way as well.

In the ancient past, if women were kind of, “Who cares?” With their sexuality, they usually became very low status in the group. We now know that hunter-gatherer societies, everyone eats. It’s not like you’re going to starve to death and people aren’t going to give you anything. There are shares, they give out shares of food. You will get fed, but you won’t get as much and your children won’t get as much and they will be low status children. And low status children have fewer mating opportunities and they’re treated badly and they’re more likely to get mates who abuse them.

And so unfortunately, one of the ways that our maternal ancestors evolved was to be very selective about whom they had sex with. And how this translates in today’s mating behavior is even though now we have paternity tests and we have condoms and lots of forms of contraception, even though we have all these things, it remains the case that women who are choosy tend to wind up with much better outcomes for themselves and their children.

 

What Does Research Really Tell Us About How to Find Love? An Interview With Dr. Duana Welch

Your sexual type is more plastic than we get taught: when you start to care, when you start to shift values…those things gradually over time become less important.

 

It’s interesting. So there’s a gay matchmaker who has every one of her clients read my book and she has these clients sign an agreement that says, “I won’t have sex until there’s a strong emotional foundation for it and we know one another well enough to know if we’re actually bonded.”

And notice that in this scenario she’s talking with gay men, nobody has a vagina. So what is it about men? Men have inherited a mating psychology that wants to have sex quickly, but also doesn’t really trust the person who will have sex quickly. They have a number of physical mechanisms.

And why this is in a nutshell is something called paternity assurance. When we women have a baby and the baby is coming out of our body, we never look down and say, “Hmm, wonder if that’s mine?” We all know whose baby it is, it’s ours. Men have until very recently never known for sure whose the baby is.

Babies tend to look more like their fathers. Why? In a lot of tribal societies, men had the say of whether a baby was allowed to join the tribe or left to die. And which ones do you suppose got to join the tribe? The one that looked like dad. So today, babies all over the world are much likelier to look like dad, at least at certain points early in life than like mom.

All of this is about paternity assurance, and men even have physical mechanisms, not just inherited psychology that helps them to make sure. Again, now we know who the father is, but our mating psychology comes from then, not now. So men have some certain physical mechanisms to make sure I’m the daddy as well. And one of these is sperm competition.

One of the most interesting studies that I know about this is there was a study done on heterosexual couples where the female partner was going to be gone for a week and other heterosexual couples where the female partner was going to be present for a week. And what the scientists did was they asked the couple to have sex on day one and not again until day eight.

So in other words, the heterosexual couples who were together the whole time had sex the same frequency as the heterosexual couples who were separated. However, the sperm output for… Oh, and they were told no masturbation.

The backflow from intercourse was captured both times. They wore condoms, they sent the backflow to the lab, and what they found was the men didn’t ejaculate the same amount of semen or sperm. The men who’d been separated ejaculated much more sperm. What this indicates is there’s a connection between psychology and biology and that it cooperates in order to create paternity assurance.

Where am I going with all this? I know it’s a long, long answer, but it’s a complex phenomenon. And men tend to emotionally disconnect with partners if they have sex very quickly before the man has established an emotional bond with that partner.

Ken Page:

And once the man has established that emotional bond, that change is connected to what you call the dopamine drop in your book, right?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yes.

Ken Page:

So in other words, when the guy falls in love, that changes?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yes. When the man falls in love, actually the dopamine, the biochemical that gets you high, which of course we do get high. I often say a breakup means your dealer left town. So we go through withdrawal when we break up with someone that we’re in love with, the relationship suddenly ends. So what happens is the dopamine level keeps rising, he keeps falling in love. And this appears to be true regardless of a man’s sexual orientation.

 

What science says about your dating profile:

 

Ken Page:

Fascinating, and it makes tons of sense. There’s so much in this, but I’m going to jump ahead to some of your scripts because… How does all of this apply to – let’s start with your profile. What would you want to tell people that the science says about what they should know in doing their profile?

Dr. Duana Welch:

First of all, the first picture should be you with a smile that shows teeth. No sunshades, no Hoarders episode in the background. Maybe you doing something that you love, but the background needs to be flattering. You need to wear a color of shirt, if colors flatter you. Research shows that red is a particularly good color to wear.

And you need to be looking straight into the camera and doing this. See my eye crinkles? Have the eye crinkles. This may be especially important if you are a person who’s trying to date a man because research in many countries and cultures shows that men have an overperception bias where they tend to think that people who are smiling at them with the eye crinkle are sexually interested. Even if they’re not, men tend to think that they are. So you want to leverage that even in an online dating scenario.

Ken Page:

That’s fabulous. Anything else you want to say about profile? That’s a great piece.

Dr. Duana Welch:

I could say so much, but I will give a couple other pointers. Write your profile, start with your list of what you must have, and I certainly hope you have one. Don’t just keep it up here. I want you to have a list of things. I want you to write down the list of everything you want, and then I want you to go through the list and tick off does that describe me? And if it doesn’t describe you, it might not be a good thing to require.

Ken Page:

I love that.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Then I want you to look down the list and think, “If this person had everything I wanted, everything I wanted except for this one thing, would it be a deal breaker?” And if the answer is yes, that’s a must-have. Must have means if a person lacks it, even if they have everything else, if the person lacks one must-have, you must not. The deal should be broken now. Not like my best friend where the deal was broken four years later and she got her heart broken.

Ken Page:

Right. I’m just going to jump in here and say something as a therapist who’s worked and a coach who’s worked so long with people looking for love. Be a little suspicious of your must-haves because life tweaks us with love, we end up with someone taller than we thought we would ever be with, or shorter than we ever thought we’d be with. Or maybe they live uptown and we had committed to not date anybody who lives further north than midtown.

Your must-haves are real, but think about where they need to be stretched or where they might be, to some degree, fear or anxiety-based. So I just want to add that point in, too.

 

If you make your dating profile about them and your standards, and not about yourself, you will stand out from the crowd...everybody else writes about themselves. Click To Tweet

 

Dr. Duana Welch:

I’m so glad you did because as you know… I know you read my book, so as you know, I’m not excited about must-haves that are about demographics.

Ken Page:

Right. Beautifully stated. Yeah, thank you. That’s great, yeah.

Dr. Duana Welch:

I’m not excited about those. The ones that I encourage people to have, are, are they kind, are they respectful? Do they feel good about who they are as a human being? Have they gotten help if they don’t? Do they make you feel like the best version of yourself? Those are the things.

Ken Page:

You’re right.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Do they feel safe in a love relationship? Because if they don’t, they might do things that really trigger you if you don’t feel safe in a love relationship.

Ken Page:

Wonderful.

Dr. Duana Welch:

So those are the must-haves that I mean. I really dislike, for example, height snobbery. A lot of women who come to me want a guy who’s at least six foot tall and many prefer a man who’s 6’4″. And what happens there is you have a lot of people competing for someone who has this thing that doesn’t make anyone happier. It doesn’t make anyone happier in their long-term relationship. And the percentage of people who are 6’4″ in America is 1%.

Ken Page:

Yeah, it’s so true. And I think that your sexual type is more plastic than we get taught. As you start to fall for somebody, if they don’t fit into your sexual type, and I am someone who was at one point, for a long point, really sexually type bound. But when you start to love someone, when you start to care, when you start to shift values as you’re talking about. Those things like gradually over time just do become less important. I love that too.

Dr. Duana Welch:

They do. What I want to see with my clients is that their sexual type becomes this one person. I want them to say, “My type is you.”

Ken Page:

I love that.

Dr. Duana Welch:

It’s actually another reason to hold off on having sex until you’ve created an emotional bond with someone is it jumps past the need for what I call instant chemistry. Instant chemistry keeps a lot of people alone, and it keeps a lot more people serially with someone that doesn’t actually work out for them.

Ken Page:

It is so true, and the majority of coupled people actually started out as friends, which is an amazing, amazing thing. So okay, I’m going to move on because you are just like an encyclopedia of delicious science-based insights in this process.

Okay, you go from meeting someone online, you haven’t gone on a date yet. What about that interim period? From your first communication to your first date, anything you want to tell us about that?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yeah, from your first communication to your first date, my strong preference is that people are talking on the phone. Here’s why. And I will tell you how to get there by the way, I won’t just leave you with that because it’s terrifying now. It’s really seen as an overstep to talk on the phone.

So talking on the phone is a great way to get to know someone without any sexual pressure. This is a way for you to not have to control your feelings of pressure or your desire to move maybe more quickly than you think is good for you or than has worked in the past.

Another thing is it lets you ask the hard questions when they are low stakes. A lot of people when I give them a question to ask, they say, “Oh, that’s going to be really hard to ask.” And I say, “Imagine asking that after you’re deeply in love and they’re like, ‘Huh?'”

Because now it’s desperate. It’s desperate when you’re in love, whereas it’s actually a power move when you don’t know them yet. It’s a move that says, “I have high esteem for what I need and I’m going to ask about it from the start.” On the phone, it’s low stakes because you know what? If they hang up on you or they never call you back, it’s not that big a deal you didn’t know them anyway. It’s not that big a deal.

One of the things I would suggest is with that list of must-haves, I want you to construct a profile that is about them, not about you. You can make it fun, you can make it lighthearted, but your profile should be the first step in weeding people out.

Dating is actually not a numbers game, it’s not a numbers game. If you do this in this particular way, you might only date a couple people. I told myself that I’m going to do things every way that I teach my clients to do them, I’m not going to deviate from it one bit, and the person I hold hands with will probably be the person that I wind up married to and that happened. I went on four first dates and I only went on one second date.

Ken Page:

Wow.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Because if you make the profile about them and your standards and not about yourself, first of all, you will stand out from the crowd. You will, everybody else writes about themselves.

Ken Page:

And you should write some about yourself, right?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Here’s the thing. The reason I said check off all the things about you is not just so you can know whether it’s a fair standard. It’s also because people routinely look for someone who is like themselves in most ways. And people understand that that’s what’s happening. And your personality should come through in the way that you’re writing about this person.

I wish I’d kept my own profile out so I could read a little bit of it to you, but instead of saying, “Oh, I have a good sense of humor,” just be funny. Instead of saying, “I’m smart,” be smart. Instead of saying what I like, say, “It would be great if you liked.” They’re going to understand that you like that too.

Ken Page:

Beautiful. This is great. This is great.

Dr. Duana Welch:

They’re going to understand that. So I guess what I’m saying is if you’re conveying your standards and getting that phone call, that phone call allows you to take your list and think, “Okay, what are two things on this phone call that I’m going to talk about that are heavier and what are some things that I could talk about that would be more lighthearted?”

I don’t want you to grill them and make them turn on a bright light, have it in their face, but I want you to ask hard questions. Here’s how you ask the hard question for a phone call. First of all, if you’re on a swiping app beyond an app where you’re required to pay and if possible, set your filters so that the only people who can reach out to you or see you are paying, because if you’re serious enough to listen to a podcast called Deeper Dating®, you are not just looking to hit it and quit it, you’re looking for your partner. So guess who doesn’t pay? The people who routinely are looking to have a short-term liaison.

 

What Does Research Really Tell Us About How to Find Love? An Interview With Dr. Duana Welch

A lot of people when I give them a question to ask, they say, ‘Oh, that’s going to be really hard to ask.’ And I say, ‘Imagine asking that after you’re deeply in love.’

 

Ken Page:

So this is really an encouragement to those of you who say, “Online dating, I’m not going to pay.” If it’s the site that you choose, pay. Wonderful point, yeah.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yes. If it’s the site that you choose, yeah, pay for it. And set your filters where other paid members can reach out to you. Make it clear, “I’m looking for…” Most of them give you a list of what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for long-term relationship leading to marriage, and that’s one of the options, check it.

I know it feels terrifying, like everyone will run away, but the fact is the other people who are looking for that want to see that, and really those are your target audience, not the people who don’t know what they want. The people who do know what they want, be clear.

And so I keep tap dancing around this, but how you ask for the phone call. Okay, if they’ve seen your profile, it’s about them, it’s not about you. Or if it’s someplace where they don’t let you write very much, some of the swiping apps really don’t let you say much.

When somebody reaches out to you, say, “I actually wrote something about the right person for me. Would you mind if I send it to you here?” And then they’ll look at the ad and a bunch of them will disappear, which is good. Let the ad do your work for you. Let it. Again, your target market is not all the people who don’t match you, it’s the people who do.

I only talked to 12 people. I only met four. I only met one a second time. I’m blissfully married. I’m madly in love with my husband. This process works. And sometimes people say, “Yeah, it works for younger people. I was 52, which does not in the world of heterosexual dating qualify as youthful. And I’ve recently had three women in their seventies get married to the love of their lives the first time they’ve had a really healthy relationship. This works.

How do you ask for the phone call? Finally, getting there. You say, if they’ve jumped through these hurdles, if they saw that you wanted a long-term relationship and they read your ad and they seem to match your ad, and you look at their profile and they seem to match what you’re looking for, at that point you throw down the gauntlet. This is not chasing someone. If you’re looking for a man, this does not qualify as being low status. It qualifies as being high status because you’re saying what you want and they can do it or not, you will be moving on If they don’t, that’s called high status.

And here’s what it is. “I’m really enjoying getting to know you here. I’d like to move this to a phone call. I understand that it’s so 1990s and so old-fashioned, but I just find that I don’t get to know people well enough on text. So here’s my number, here’s my real name, so we can Google each other ahead of the call. If you’ll provide your real information, then I of course will look you up as well. I’m available at this time and this time. I really hope I hear from you soon.”

Ken Page:

Beautiful, beautiful. This is great, and this is not what anybody gets taught to do, so I love this. Love this.

 

Science-backed first dates:

 

Okay, so that is wonderful and let’s go to first date now. So what’s your advice for people to be able to ace their first date in the science-backed wise conscious way?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Sure. Just like we still prefer fats and sweets, even though that’s maybe not the best thing for us, but it’s from an ancient time, not from now, there are certain courtship behaviors that people still prefer even though they’re from an ancient time and not necessarily from now. So what I’m saying there is some of this will not be incredibly PC. I want to say I’m a very liberal person and I don’t like a bunch of the advice I’m about to give, but you’ve got to shake a tail feather. So if you are heterosexual, gender norms do still apply. Even if you’re young and you think, “Oh, they shouldn’t.” I agree with you, they shouldn’t, but they still do. Even very young women that I work with.

I work with men and women from their twenties to their eighties. I have clients of all those ages right now. And even very young women still would strongly prefer, and the guy’s going to win every time who does this compared to the guy who doesn’t, they strongly prefer the guy who makes a plan ahead of time, who confirms the night before, who doesn’t keep her in doubt of what’s going to happen next.

It’s a very insecure feeling not knowing what’s going to happen next. Doesn’t keep her in doubt of his interest. That doesn’t mean he says I love you on the first date, it means that she knows where she stands with him. “I’m really having a great time. I’d like to see you again” kind of thing.

Given that he asked that at least at the beginning of the courtship that he pays for whatever it is, there’s a book I read years ago that said… It was a humor book, but anyway. My mom kind of knew the author, and so I read it. And it said, “There are two kinds of guys, those who pay for the date and those we just don’t like anymore.”

Although it was meant tongue in cheek, there’s some truth there. If you’re a heterosexual man and you really like this woman, you’ve got to figure you’re not the only one who likes her. If you want to get ahead, you’ll be the one who courts her in the sense that you ask, you plan, you consult with her, of course. You can say, “Would you prefer this or this?” But that you make plans and she knows where she stands and that you pay for what you provide, which is different than saying you need to flash cash.

I like early dates that are not monetized. Maybe you ask her for a hike on the first date. Maybe you ask her for a walk on the first date. Maybe you ask her for coffee on the first date. I actually prefer that dinner dates happen when you know each other better because there’s a lot of sexual pressure with those dates.

So I’m not saying you need to spend a lot of money, I’m saying you need to treat her almost as if you’re in an old-fashioned movie. This works because what it says is, “I will provide and I will protect.” And again, where does women’s mating psychology come from? A long time ago, not now. They’re still looking for a provider and protector.

And sad to say, even in countries with a strong social safety net, much stronger than the US, what you find is that women who secure a good provider and protector, doesn’t mean rich, means somebody who’s willing, who wants to, in an ongoing way, provide and protect to join her in the struggle of life, and help. Those women do better in life and their children do better in life, which means the guy’s children do better in life. So it is still somewhat relevant.

Women, what I would say to you is, it’s still important for you not to try to do the courtship activities for the guy. One of the ways that men know that they want a woman is how much effort they put into it. It’s one of the ways they know that they want a woman. Most men are raised by women. They did not want to disappoint those women.

If you start calling him and asking him on dates and saying, “When are we seeing each other again?” He doesn’t necessarily just hear how interested you are. I do want you to say you’re interested by the way, I don’t want you to hide how you’re feeling. But if you actually do the pursuing, if you do that, a lot of men don’t know, “Am I with her because I want to be or because I’m going to really disappoint her if I don’t?”

Men don’t like disappointing women. I meet with so many women who think, “Men are cads, they don’t want to do what women want.” They actually do, but especially for one specific woman, and they’re more likely to connect with whether that’s you. If instead of jumping into the fray and doing his activities from a courtship perspective, if instead you thank him and say how good it makes you feel and say how excited you are about him without doing those things.

And by the way, a lot of really young people, especially, worry. People aren’t taught this anymore. What if I don’t do the things and he just disappears? I’m going to give you a script for that right now, and then I’d like to talk about same-sex relationships a little bit.

Ken Page:

If I could just add a caveat or two to what you said, or just another fold to it because it’s loaded stuff. And I really get that the science shows this, but we’re in a weird place culturally because the toothpaste is out of the tube, is not going back in, but it’s not all the way out. We’re in what’s called a liminal space. We’re between worlds.

And so I think that there are a lot of women who don’t feel comfortable with that and men who would feel comfortable with more mutuality there, and that’s the way we want the world to go. So I want to acknowledge the reality of these different pieces of it, but I want to say that this thing of showing security, showing somebody that you’re interested in them, that you’re committed, that what you say is what you’re going to do applies for both.

And also that even if the guy does those things, it’s really important to say, like for example, “Would you be okay if I paid for dinner?” And the woman might well say, “Sure, I love that.” Or she might say, “Yeah, but then I get the next one.” So that we leave room for this variation and the fact that there is growth and that there is shift there.

I’m always afraid of women feeling like that they don’t want to be too empowered or express their needs too much because it’ll make the guy not feel like a guy. And that scares me and concerns me, too. I’m just holding this as a very complex thing that after those first stages, you get to know who the other person is, but be loose, be fluid, and see what both people want because different people land in different places. So I just want to add those caveats.

Dr. Duana Welch:

I will tell you that while I understand everything you just said and that’s the world that I’m aiming for, I’ll also tell you that sometimes when people do that, even though it’s what they’re comfortable with, they wind up with the result that they don’t want. I’m not talking about women and men not having the power to say where they’re at and how they feel at all.

I’m going to give you an example in a moment from my own life. When Carrie and I met on the phone initially, Carrie’s my husband, I didn’t know him at all almost, but I knew that to the extent I knew him that I liked him and I wanted to hear from him again. I also didn’t want to leave any loose ends about who was going to be doing what because I know, scientifically, and science means here’s what works for most people most of the time. Your mileage could vary, but what I’m talking about is always going to be about odds.

Ken Page:

A really important point, yes.

Dr. Duana Welch:

So again, just like 75% of women become sexually bonded very quickly even with men they don’t really want to be with when they have sex, that leaves 25% who don’t, right? There is individual variation. I want to acknowledge that. And my advice is always going to be based on here’s what works for the majority of people the majority of the time, because that’s the value of science, is predicting what works for most people most of the time.

Ken Page:

And I think that’s a good way to hold kind of both places. If these ideas don’t feel right to you, don’t do them, don’t do them. Because you are one of those 25% that there’s a good chance that fitting yourself into a shoe that doesn’t fit is really, really not going to work for you.

I think I want to really hold this and have us hold this as a cultural churning point with a lot of complication there. But I also hear that the research is showing this. I just don’t want people to feel limited to that they have to pop into old gender roles that have caused them a lot of pain before, male or female.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yes. So again, I think part of the reason those roles have caused people a lot of pain is assumptions behind the roles that are no longer relevant. For example, the assumption that the man has to spend a lot of money. He can spend virtually no money as we’ve just discussed. Or the assumption that women can’t say what they want.

So limiting to try to tell women that your power is in withholding and you can’t say what you want because that wouldn’t be withholding. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about being manipulative. I’m talking about being very clear and doing what works for most people most of the time. And if you really feel strongly about this, your life is your own experiment. You can always do things a different way and see what happens.

Ken Page:

Right. And you might need a partner who also does those things in a different way. I just want to make room for that too.

Dr. Duana Welch:

That said, here’s the script. And this is what I said to my husband on our first phone call. Now I only said it to him because the other folks that I met, I didn’t get the sense that we were similar enough that it even mattered. I said, “Carrie,” toward the end of the call, because we’d been on the phone, and it’s so cute, he knows exactly how long we were on the phone on the first call, not because it was too long, but because he loved it so much.

I believe it was two hours and 47 minutes. And we covered real ground during that time, as I’ve talked about earlier in the podcast. So I said to him, “To the extent that I know you, I really like you as a person and I would like to keep knowing you.” Notice I’m laying it out there. I’m not being manipulative, I’m not being coy, and I’m not failing to speak my truth. This is not about manipulating someone, at all. And a lot of time gender roles are seen as here’s how we manipulate each other. That is not what I’m discussing here.

So I said that and then I said, “And I have found that when I do the man’s activities in courtship, it works very badly for me. So I’m not going to call you first. I’m not going to ask you out. I’m not going to pursue you, in short, but I am going to be extremely happy to hear from you and to go out with you if you decide to do those things. That’s your choice, of course.” And he said, “You’ll hear from me soon.”

And I thought, “Oh, well, it’ll be a few days.” He called me the next day, we had another wonderful conversation. He texted me the following day and said, “I wonder if you might spoil me with the third call.” Because now he’s wondering if he’s calling too much. He texted me the next day about maybe… I don’t even remember. It was like he didn’t want to overstep. And I said, “Carrie, I would always love to hear from you on the phone.”

Ken Page:

So what I love about that is the mutual sharing of enthusiasm. I have some concerns about the male female role and I think that our differences around that really speak to this cultural complexity. But I love your embodying… Both parties getting to embody their enthusiasm. So that’s super helpful advice for the first date and for those conversations.

Dr. Duana Welch:

Yeah, and it’s a little different. You and I also have different sexual orientations.

Ken Page:

Yes, yes.

Dr. Duana Welch:

That is a compelling and distinct difference. Research shows very clearly that people who are same-sex oriented have a lot of equality and a lot of egalitarianism, and there’s not an… The expectation is that both people do all the things. And that seems to work very, very well. And maybe someday it will for heterosexual men and women in the main, again.

Ken Page:

That’s why John Gottman said that couples queer are… It’s like 50 years ahead of heterosexual couples in that way. It’s complex. Everyone has to find their own ground in that arena.

Do you have any last thoughts that you want to share with all of the folks who are listening and really getting so much out of what you have to share?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Sure. I can say this for sure, for everyone, for all time. If you can find and be someone kind and respectful, your love life is very likely to go well. And if you can’t, it won’t.

Ken Page:

I love the simplicity of that. And I love in what you said… I so deeply agree with that and I think it’s revolutionary and I think it’s not what people get taught. And I personally really agree that everything boils down to that. So that’s wonderful and I think that’s a great note to end even this last piece with, but the entire pieces of what you’ve said. I love this clarity of the high fence. I just love that. I think everyone needs to know that. So much here, and I’m hoping to have you on again so that we can go into more detail about some of these things.

Dr. Duana Welch:

I would love that.

Ken Page:

I would love that too. I would love that too. This is a great conversation and I think that as we evolve culturally, our conversation will keep evolving too as we explore that.

So how do people find out about your wonderful work?

Dr. Duana Welch:

Thank you so much for having me on show. It’s just been a delight. I can’t wait to come back. You can find out more about me and my work by going to lovesciencemedia.com. Lovesciencemedia.com, you’ll see hundreds of hours of free content and you can see links to my books if you’re interested in exploring those further. You can see a link to getting in touch with me. All of that’s right there. And if you reach out to me, I am going to respond.

Ken Page:

Beautiful, beautiful. And is there anything that you’re working on now at this point that is particularly exciting that we’re going to get to be hearing about?

Dr. Duana Welch:

There is something I’ve begun, which is going to be Love Factually at Midlife and Beyond because the fastest group of people who are dating are people who are 50 and over. So for a lot of reasons I will say that the core of my work has been, and likely always will be, this book. I keep updating it in line with new science and new thinking, but it’s Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do. It’s for people obviously who want a lifelong partnership.

And there are 10 steps, all of which are science-based. I update the book. So this will always be the core of my work, but the book I’m writing now will really talk about how dating is different when you’re 50 and over, including some of the sexual aspects, some of the challenging things to bring up. And so that’s where I’m headed next.

Ken Page:

Wonderful. I can’t wait to read that. I really encourage everyone to get Duana’s book, it is fabulous. It will save you so much time. It will simplify things so profoundly. Do you work with people one-on-one or in groups as well for people who are interested in that potentially?

Dr. Duana Welch:

I do. I have a coaching practice that’s international. So I meet with people all over the world one-on-one. Yeah, I absolutely love it. Every year I get cards and letters from people who say things like, “This baby wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t worked with you.” Or, “I finally got the love of my life. It took several decades, but thank you.” Or somebody who sent me a picture of her and her partner and said, “I have the best life.” And that was five years later-

Ken Page:

That’s wonderful.

Dr. Duana Welch:

After meeting that person. So yeah, I love working with individuals. It’s great.

Ken Page:

Great to know, great to know for anyone who is interested in that, that you can reach out to Duana for that too. Duana, thank you so much. This was wonderful. I so appreciate you being here. Thank you to everybody and I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.

 

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