The way we search for love usually determines the kind of love that we find. There are three steps anyone can take that not only lead toward real love but also enrich our entire lives! So stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn what they are and how you can use them in your life.
Episode Table of Contents
Episode Introduction: Find Healthy Love
Hello, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I'm Ken Page, and today I'm going to talk about the three most powerful things that you can do to help you find sustainable, beautiful, precious, healthy love. Every week I'll be sharing the greatest tools I know to help you find healthy 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.
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The Three Steps To Find Healthy Love
Very rich stuff today. The thing I want to start out by saying is that the way that we search for love usually determines the kind of love we find, and our popular culture just assails us with this kind of hyper elevated romantic image of love. Then it encourages us to play these really dehumanizing games in order to find love.
First, it creates this elevation that's unrealistic, and then it asks us to just do these things that are below who we're meant to be in order to find it. We're kind of screwed unless find a wiser path. The three steps that I'm going to describe in this podcast, as well as what I describe in my classes and my intensives and my book, not only lead more directly to true love, but they enrich your entire life because they're the real skills of intimacy.
The first one is go where you are likely to find generous giving people of the gender that interests you. Forgive me for starting off with the hardest one of all, because I know very well, personally going to events that are filled with strangers is really awkward. It's so much harder than surfing the web in your comfy tee shirt. I know that because I spent decades trying to avoid this step, and I mean decades. If you really want a good relationship, take my advice on this. Get out of your house, and don't make a bar your first choice.
If you're looking for the person who's going to become home for you, start by looking in the places that could feel like home for you.
What’s At Stake
Here's an example of that. I have a good friend who was actually one of the members of my support group for chronically single psychotherapists, and he's very happily married now. He told me what he had to do to find love. He finally accepted that he had to go to gatherings with people who shared his passions. For him, that was spirituality.
He said to me, he said, "Ken, I come home from work, and I would just want to turn on the TV and change into comfy clothes and just relax at home." He said, "Sometimes it actually made me feel nauseous to think about going out and meeting strangers again and again, but I knew I had to if I was going to find love."
In fact, that's how I found my husband. I just want to back up and say, I am not suggesting that you try stopping meeting people online. Definitely, take advantage of all the possibilities that the online world offers, but use them wisely.
I'm going to be speaking about that in future podcasts, how to do that. Dating sites are programmed to make us think in terms of numbers. They're programmed to make us keep hopping to the next person, the better person, the sexier match. They sculpt jerky, disconnected behavior, and they sculpt fear or both. Watch for the traps that are built into online vehicles, and try to use them to your own advantage.
The Internal Step
For example, look for dating websites that are values based or websites that offer events or meetups or volunteer activities or communities of shared interest. There are a lot of niche dating sites and, yeah, the numbers are so much smaller, but when you go to the places online or offline where you're more likely to meet people who share your values.
And where they're at least some good number of people of the gender you're interested in, then you speed your path and you deepen your path. Next is a kind of more internal step, and it's leading with your truest self. Dating is hard. Actually, the word hard doesn't even begin to capture it.
Most of us have been battered so often that we've just learned to stop trusting, and we tell ourselves it's hopeless, but secretly we long to be proven wrong.
After too many rejections, we often decide that we have to hide our truest self at least until we've sealed the deal with the right person, but that almost never works. I'm not advocating that you share your gravest traumas on date one. I'm just advocating that you share your authentic, vulnerable, real self from the beginning, and it may seem dangerous.
You might feel unprotected, but your real protection, the thing that cracks the spine of your fear of rejection, is having your main intention when you go out be, "I'm going to be me, and I'm only going to look for the people who resonate with that, who make me feel safe, who appreciate that about me." When you do that, you dramatically will reduce your fear of rejection.
Leaving Your Airbrushed Version Behind
It's an amazing thing, because knowing that you won't waste time with anybody who doesn't offer you basic acceptance and delight will just be incredibly helpful to you on your journey.
As long as you lead with a kind of airbrushed version of who you are, you will feel inadequate and insecure.
The reason why that is is because our false self is inadequate. It doesn't have grounding in truth. It doesn't have grounding in this kind of magic that we feel when we're really ourselves. It has no link to our personal power. It has no link to our magic. It has no link to our true warmth. It's like climbing a wobbly ladder.
When we start by presenting this false self, there's this constant feeling of uncertainty, and that is not what we want when we're dating. When we hide our true self, we find ways unconsciously and consciously to sabotage real intimacy, because we're scared of being found out. Because we are telling ourselves somewhere inside that the real us is something to somehow be ashamed of.
When we grasp for finding love by trying to reshape ourselves, we end up disempowered and diminished by a kind of critical ideal that makes us lose sight of our true worth. Ironically, the less we accept who we really are, the more we're going to be sexually and romantically attracted to people who are also ambivalent about who we are. You know, in nature, creatures are endowed with exoskeletons or endoskeletons, forgive me for this tangent. You will get it in a second. It's a really good image. Creatures that have exoskeletons, that's like an external armor. They have to hide their soft parts with a hard armor.
Your True Protection
But creatures that have endoskeletons, they have bodies that have softness surrounding this essential structure inside, their skeleton, their spine, so their soft parts can be exposed because of the integrity of their inner framework. When we embrace who we really are and begin to accept our limitations, our beauties, our passions, our sensitivities, we feel like we have a spine, and then we can meet the world skin to skin instead of armor to skin or armor to armor. When we're ashamed of who we are, there's only one option to protect ourselves: some kind of armor that keeps the world at distance.
Our true protection, your true protection, is found in choosing the one and the friends and the connections who are kind and giving and accepting of who you are. They're your A team. They're your gold. They are the secret to the survival of you in a beautiful way in your world and your life. To someone who doesn't appreciate you, that true self absolutely might be a turnoff, but for the right person it really is the stuff that romance is made of.
The world is built in such a way that there are people who are going to be attracted to you as you. There's kind of someone for everyone or many people for everyone, but we don't find that person when we're kind of stopping emitting our essential self in our everyday life, because we've blocked who we are. We don't radiate out and draw and attract the right people. In fact, when we do that, as I said, we create a strange circuitry where we draw in relationships that end up making us feel like masochists.
Be Fiercely Discriminating
The third one is to become fiercely discriminating but about the things that matter the most. If you make this decision that you're going to be brave enough to show your true self, then you will need to know how to protect yourself, and I do suggest that you become fiercely discriminating about the people with whom you choose to spend your time. Even sometimes extravagantly discriminating. Is the person you're dating consistently kind? Is the person you're dating emotionally generous, even if it's a quiet generosity?
Are you inspired by the way this person lives his or her life, by his or her or their honesty in your relationship with them? By the kindness and acceptance that this person shows you? If so, you have found what I call an attraction of inspiration, and that is to be celebrated because it's a rare and precious thing, and it's X marks the spot for where you want to build your home in the world. Or do you find conversely that your partner just continues to be like almost available, almost honest, almost accepting, almost within reach, almost integrity based?
If so, trust your gut. Talk to this person, share your feelings, and if things don't change, it's probably time to move on. If you really, really want love that can last, it is doubtful that you'll find it in a place like that. In fact, it's profoundly unlikely, and your time in your life and your journey is precious. You have the right and even the obligation to yourself to just move on until you find what feels like the real thing. It will have a quality of goodness and sustainability, and that's what you're looking for.
Healthy Love In Disguise
Obviously it's not easy to leave because these other attractions, these almost attractions, are tricky and confusing. They make us feel like there's something wrong with us. They often feel like more like real love than healthy love feels like real love because healthy love is slower. It's a little less pyrotechnical in the beginning in many cases.
When these kinds of attractions of deprivation let us down, we believe it's because of a lack in us, not because of a fatal flaw that's embedded in those attractions themselves. Most of us are wired to want people we really can't have. People who devalue us make us want to convince them that they're wrong. That's human, but here's the good news. Just as you can be seduced by unavailability, you are also capable of being seduced by goodness, by decency, by originality, by generosity.
You can cultivate your attraction to kindness, and you can cultivate your attraction to availability. As you do this, your dating life will change dramatically for the better. Another thing that I want to briefly mention here that I'll be speaking more about is to understand the importance of understanding your what I call flight patterns. The way you flee the heat of true intimacy. I actually did a series of three episodes in my podcast about fear of intimacy.
The risk of love scares everybody. As I say, if you're breathing, you've got fear of intimacy because intimacy is the greatest treasure. Of course there will be the greatest charge around betrayal and loss. Watch out for the tendency you might have to devalue a new relationship with someone who's consistent, kind, and accepting.
The Battle To Be Won
I call this phenomenon "The Wave" cause like a wave, it could just slam you off balance, but like a wave, it fades away. If you find that you are attracted to somebody who is all of these good qualities, they're attracted to you, and all of a sudden you just find them boring or you want to go back to the thrill of the hunt or their laugh just starts irritating you or whatever, just take time and space to let the wave pass. In time it almost definitely will and your attraction will come back, your interest will come back, and you'll see with clearer eyes if this person is right for you.
Try these three steps in your own life. They will turn your dating life into an intimacy adventure, a journey that leads both to love and to deeper growth. Not that these things are easy. These are work, these are mountains to climb, but they're gold, and they're worlds better than the kind of soul scarring battle of trying to turn yourself into a more marketable commodity on the dating scene.
There is a battle to be won, but it takes place in an in an entirely different stadium than the one we've been herded toward.
It's the battle to embrace and navigate the wounded, wondrous beauty of your own humanity and your partner's humanity.
That's the place to be, and it's the place where you're most likely to find the person you're dreaming of.
Thanks for listening to the Deeper Dating Podcast. Please do subscribe and leave me a positive review if you like what you're hearing, and I look forward to seeing you next week.