Listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating and relationships to Ken–and get his personal direct advice in Ken’s Q and A podcasts.
Once a month, Ken answers your personal questions about love, dating, sex and more. Today’s powerful questions are all about sexual and romantic attraction.
Q&A With Ken: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
In this episode, I’m going to answer your questions about love, attraction, and romance. For example, “I met someone really great, but I’m just not physically attracted to him. What do I do?” Or, “I met someone really great and he’s not been ready or wanting to have sex yet, and it’s been a few months. How do I handle that?”
Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to hear my advice on these and other questions about love, sex, and romance.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist, a coach, the author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating, and the host of this show.
And in this podcast, I’m going to be bringing you the greatest tools I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.
And today, I’m going to be answering your questions about love and sex. The questions today focus particularly on the subject of attraction, sexual and romantic attraction, so I’m excited to dig into that.
And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating path to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. You’ll find a complete transcript of this episode, and you will also hear about my new downloadable course where I guide you through this journey step by step.
And if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts and learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.
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I also want to say that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. And if you’re experiencing any kind of serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please do seek professional help.
Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, and I hope that you do, it would be a fabulous thank you if you subscribed and left me a review. The reviews that I get are so beautiful, and they really encourage other people as well to listen to the show. So thank you so much for that. Let’s dive in.
So I’ve got four different questions, and I think they’re all really exciting and all hit on really important points. By the way, if you want to leave your question on here so that I can answer it on the podcast, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com, click Ask Ken, and you’ll be able to actually record a message for me.
So the first message is from Patty. Patty says, “I’ve been listening to your podcasts, and I have a situation. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for two months now. I’m 52, and it’s the first time I’ve ever dated anyone like him. He’s romantic. He’s respectful. He’s everything that I’ve been looking for.”
And I just want to interrupt here, folks, and say that this is what I hear again and again, and you’ll be hearing that in these questions.
Because when you tackle your search for love from a place of really dignifying your vulnerabilities, and your humanity, and looking only for someone who does the same, your entire search for love begins to change.
Expert Advice on Emotional and Romantic Needs
So she goes on to say, “We have not yet had sex after two months. We’ve been dating consistently two times a week, and we see each other at a mutual event that we do pretty much every day. And my question is, should I be concerned that there might be a deeper reason that he doesn’t want it to move forward? He made a comment about wanting to develop an emotional relationship first.” So feedback on this, my thoughts about this situation.
So two months and not having sex could be okay. But my question is, is the conversation romantic? Does this person talk about, and do you talk about, your romantic interest in each other? Also, is there physical affection?
Is there some kissing? Is there hand holding? Is that developing, and is that growing? If the answer to those things are all yes, then that’s fabulous. That’s really good. Some people just take a longer time.
However, here’s what I want to say about this also. In the interest of kind of dating in a newer and wiser way, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have needs, emotional needs and romantic needs. And you have a right to ask him these very questions. Is there something to be concerned about? Does he feel like this is growing?
Also, I just want to say that there are ways to cultivate sexual connection that don’t involve direct sex, like holding hands, like talking about your romantic interest in each other, like exchanging eye gazing, like saying romantic things together, like talking about how you would like to be together at some point physically.
A Beach Ball Effect
If none of those things are getting any good response, then I would say there is something to be concerned about here. But the bottom line is this, that the heart and the soul of intimacy is “into-me-see”.
If you are holding back on expressing your concerns and your worries, of course you want to do it in a positive way. You just want to ask him how he’s feeling, what he’s thinking. Does he see this as progressing? But if you’re holding back on expressing those things, then what you’re going to do is create this kind of beach ball effect.
A beach ball won’t stay under water forever if you push it down. And if we take our needs in a relationship and push them down in the interest of being unselfish, in the interest of being patient, we can only do that but so long and it’s going to end up biting us in the butt.
It’ll come out in a way that just isn’t helpful, either in resentment, or in self dislike, or in looking for other people. So I just want to give you space to realize that your needs are important here, too. He sounds like an amazing man, and he sounds like the kind of guy that you can have this conversation with.
The next question is actually from another Patty. “Hi, Ken. My name’s Patty. I’m 42, and I have two kids, a nine-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, and I’m raising them by myself. I also own a business. And it sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t feel like a lot.
Expert Advice on Finding a Date Who Sees Beyond Your Baggages
I’ve got it down, and they have a really great life and great friends, and I make time for myself to meet people, to go out with my friends, and I have interests. The more time I have, I try to go do things where I might meet people who have the same interest.
I’ve been working on the things from your book and your podcast and leading with my books, and I have been meeting more quality people,” and folks, this does happen, and it’s such a joy, “and getting dates with men I actually would like to build relationships with.”
“But the problem is that I’ve been having is that men don’t see our lifestyles meshing in the long run. I dated one person for three months who was pretty great, but he said that he’d be going from five kids to two kids on the days that he doesn’t have his kids, and he wanted a break from having kids basically.
And I went on a few dates with a really nice guy who I thought we’d end up dating. But by the end of the third date he said I’m smart, and attractive, and one of the kindest people he’s ever met, but he doesn’t see it working in the long run because our lifestyles are so different with me having young kids.
So I was just wondering, how do I go about dating and finding somebody who will take my life, my whole life, and with whom I can build a relationship with, with small kids?” So as someone who adopted a child as a single dad at 45 years old and then was dating with a child, I really do relate to this.
Expert Advice on Shifting the Fields
What I want to say to you, Patty, and I want to say this to every one of you who is trying to date in these more conscious ways and beginning to see shifts.
One of the shifts you will notice is that you will lose your taste for people that chip away at your sense of deep self-worth. And you’ll find yourself meeting somehow, almost amazingly, more people who honor you for who you are and where there’s a mutual deep sense of respect. It’s amazing how this works, and it’s true.
What I would say first, Patty, is celebrate that because your field is shifting. What I also want to say is it’s continuing to shift, and it will continue to shift. So you will continue to meet people until you meet someone who celebrates the fact that you have young children.
I just want to say there are a lot of guys out there who would love to have kids, and your kids are pretty young. So that could be a really, really wonderful thing. For the right guy, this will not get in the way. For the right guy for whom you are the right woman, he might have to go through some changes and some processes, but he won’t want to let you go. So keep looking.
I know that it’s a complicated thing. And sometimes, the person we end up meeting is not as tall as we wanted them to be, doesn’t have as much hair as we want them to have, isn’t as whatever as we want them to be. They have a different kind of job than we want. The universe does that to us.
Close But Not Quite
But if the essential stuff is still there, if there’s attraction and an inner sense of celebration, we have to go through some changes. So I do encourage you to, when someone is really clear that they do not want to be with someone who has kids or has kids of your age, honor that. Respect that.
If they change their mind down the road, they can come back to you. But keep looking because they are there. And in your online profiles and when you meet people, you can talk about this pretty much upfront, and you should, so that people kind of can make their own choices and so that you don’t end up getting hurt in the long run.
What you have is precious. You have two awesome kids. That’s a treasure. For the right person, that is going to be a wonderful thing. These guys that you’ve been meeting are closer to the mark, but they’re not at the mark. Don’t give up.
So next, a man who didn’t leave his name brought up a really interesting question, one that I’d really like to address. He said, “My question relates to things you’ve said about the people we sometimes pass over. You said it in the context of online dating, but I’m sure it could apply more generally.
You even used the classic number system, like people who are a 10, which is like the hottest of the hot, versus people who are, let’s say, a zero where there’s absolutely no sexual attraction, and the people in the middle.
Attracted to the Nines and Tens
You discussed those fives, sixes, and sevens that we sometimes tend to pass by too quickly,” and I’d include the fours and even the threes in that, “and not recognize the potential that’s there and instead only go for the eights, and the nines, and the tens that may be flashier or catch our attention.”
Often, those people are so wildly attractive because, couples theory shows, particularly Harville Hendrix and his brilliant work, shows that we are often attracted to these nines and tens because unconsciously they embody some of the worst characteristics of our primary caregivers and we want to go back to the scene of the crime to let this kind of proxy for that person finally love us right, which is often a recipe for disaster.
Not that you shouldn’t go for nines or tens, but just be aware of that. Also, look for the people with whom there is a spark, even if it’s not a crazy pyrotechnical spark at first.
But his question is, and he says, “My question is I’m sure I don’t hear you saying that we should settle. And I’m not talking in terms of looks about nines, tens, and eights.”
He says, “I’m talking about the total person, someone that I might rate at a nine, or an eight, or a 10 for all aspects of who they are. It seems like to some extent in a healthy way a person should want to go for someone like that. So I wonder if you could discuss that a little bit more.”
Expert Advice on How to Shift From Attractions of Deprivation to Attractions of Inspiration
I would say I do have a response to that. Mark Manson talks about people who are a “fuck yes”. That’s what he says. He says, “Why would you not go for someone who is a ‘fuck yes’?” And I absolutely 100% agree. You do want to go for someone who your heart’s bursting with excitement at who they are.
But here’s the thing. Often, this kind of gripping, what I call attraction of deprivation, feels like an 8, or a 9, or a 10 at first and not for the right reasons. Often, these people excite us so wildly because we sense their unavailability, and so then we want them even more.
Many of us who are used to that kind of experience push away the people who are the fives, the sixes, the sevens because they’re just not unavailable enough.
But here’s the thing. If you’re dating someone who is what I call an attraction of inspiration and there is a physical and romantic spark, cultivate that. Keep dating the person. And you may find that that number grows and grows. Now, some people say, “That number does not grow for me. If I’m not attracted to somebody intensely, it is never going to grow.”
And that’s possible. But for most of us, those feelings absolutely can grow, and that’s the process of courting. Research also shows that most people who are in good relationships did not necessarily fall instantly in love. It’s something that develops over time.
So yes, you want someone with whom there’s that full-bodied sense of physical connection, sexual connection, spiritual connection, and emotional connection. And that person may not feel like an 8, or 9, or 10 at first.
Expert Advice on How to Cultivate Attractions of Inspiration
They might feel like a 4, or a 5, or a 6. But in my podcast, and in my book, and in my online course, I talk about ways that you can cultivate and deepen those kinds of attractions and that experience of having someone who you’re turned on to, the sex is wonderful, and their goodness is so fabulous, their generosity is so fabulous, the goodness and the solidity of the love between you feel so good and they’re so kind of generally present and available.
When those things blend together, it feels like your heart is bursting. It’s bursting not with this longy, achy, I can’t have, I want, but it’s bursting with a sense of goodness, and joy, and celebration and desire. That’s what we want.
The last question is from Sophia. Sophia, so good to hear from you. I know you’ve asked a few questions before. I always love your questions. So you said, “Hey, Ken. I have a question for you about attractions of inspiration. I think I’ve met my first one, which is really exciting, after a lifetime of dating attractions of deprivation and I’m really excited.
He’s great. He’s so kind and loving, and it all just feels so easy, and nice, and openhearted, and healthy. But I’m worried because I just don’t feel that physically attracted to him at all. I don’t know if that’s something that’s normal because it’s an attraction of inspiration, so it’s not as hot as an attraction of deprivation, or if it’s something that’s really not going to work for me long term. He’s shorter than me, which is just something that I really like dating men taller than me.”
Expert Advice About the Shifting Journey
“I don’t know. I’m just not that physically attracted. And I’m curious if you have any advice for me. Thank you so much.”
Sophia, thank you so much for that. Such an important question. So the first thing I want to say is you do not have to date anyone because it seems like they’re a good person if you’re not sexually and romantically attracted. That’s like a kind of self-torture. That’s the first broad thing that I want to say.
But I hear you say I don’t feel very physically attracted to him. So I guess the question there is, are you somewhat physically attracted to him? And if so, I’m going to talk about some techniques that can strengthen that attraction. If you’re not attracted at all and you have not been, what I would say to you, Sophia, celebrate, celebrate, celebrate that you are now shifting, but it’s a journey.
We do not go from unhealthy patterns to really fabulous patterns right away. It’s a process. It’s like a giant ship that has to change direction in the ocean. It happens, but it really takes time. These are all signs of your field shifting. So I’m going to say the same thing to you, which is keep trying and keep looking if this person isn’t a match because you are shifting.
It’s fabulous. It’s happening. The circuitry is beginning to shift, and it’s going to continue to shift. So three cheers for you for doing this deeper, richer work and experiencing that.
So now, if there has been a spark, once again, if there hasn’t been a spark, you are not obligated. You are not obligated. Be friends with this person.
Expert Advice on Dealing With Sparks
And conceivably, when the pressure comes off because you’re just friends, you might sexually start fantasizing about him, maybe not. But you do not have to because that kind of pressure just kills Eros. It really does. And I want to say this again to everybody who is interested in this deeper path. Just because someone is good, and decent, and kind, and available, and interested, if there just isn’t a spark, that’s really okay.
You deserve to be with someone with whom there is a spark. So what about when there is some spark, but not really enough? Just a few suggestions. One, whatever that spark wants you to do, let yourself consider doing that, unless it’s kind of at a further level of sex than you have reached with this person. I’ll just give some examples.
Let’s say all you want to do with this person, like “I like him. He’s cute. I’m not attracted to him in a really sexual way. But yet, I could see holding hands. I could see kissing. I could see cuddling. In fact, I would like those things,” then that’s what you do.
And demand nothing more of yourself. You can let him know this is kind of all I want to do now. Let him. He’s an adult. He can deal with that. As long as you’re being honest and you don’t have to say, “I’m not sure if I’m interested in you.”
You could just say, “I move slowly. I let things develop. And is that okay with you?” So let yourself do those things that feel good in those ways, even if they’re little things, and even if they’re sensual and not directly sexual.
Expert Advice on Indulging in Wild, Sexy Fantasies
Or maybe you don’t feel like you really want to commit to being sexual with this person, but you do have a couple of wild, sexy fantasies that you could imagine doing with them, which might be so far beyond where you would be really actually willing to go with him.
But in your fantasy life, you might let yourself dream about that, and imagine that, and pleasure yourself, and think about that, and let those kind of tendrils of sexual interest develop in your fantasy life. So that’s something that you can do as well to develop connection.
You do things with this person that are fun. If you’re pressuring yourself that you need to feel more, that’s going to hurt you, so back off. Give yourself space.
Do things that are fun, even if you need to say to this person something like, “At this point, I’d like to be friends. It could be more in the future, but could we just be friends now?” So you allow yourself some space, but you take the pressure off yourself.
These all different options that you could do. Let your Eros, let your romance, let those parts of you tell you what they want and what they don’t want. And listen and honor that whatever it is. These techniques will help you even if this guy is not the right guy. But once again, celebrate because your circuitry is shifting.
So the last thing I want to say, and I want to say this to everyone who is listening, is that this is a journey of changing our deepest circuitry.
Expert Advice on How to Develop a Deeper Sense of Self-Love
As you learn the steps that I talk about in the online course, my book, these podcasts, you will actually begin to heal your life, your heart. You will develop a deeper sense of self-love, and you will be meeting people who are more appropriate for you, who are people who can treasure who you are.
And you’ll be experiencing the challenges, the dilemmas, the struggles, and the beauties that happen when you meet somebody who can really be available for who you are, and it’s a kind of stepping stone journey.
If you are seeing shifts in the ways that you approach your search for love, celebrate. And if you’re seeing shifts in the kind of people you’re magnetizing, triple and quadruple, celebrate, because that’s hard-won dating wisdom, and it’s real, and it’s going to shift your future.
That’s why I truly do feel like this is a path of hope, of deep hope, and of healing. And the wiser path to love should be healing your life, healing your heart, and changing your circuitry around intimacy. If it’s not, it might be time for a deeper dive.
Thank you all for listening. Write in. Call in. Go to Ask Ken because I want to hear your stories and your dilemmas so that I can share them with this community. So thank you all. And again, please do remember to leave a review if you like what you heard. And I’ll see you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. Thank you.