Today we continue the Deeper Dating Q&A series, where listeners share their questions about love, sex, and dating for Ken to offer his advice. In this episode, we explore how to distinguish Attractions of Deprivation from Attractions of Inspiration, how to get past chronic self-blame when a relationship ends, and the questions you should ask about your partner to understand if they are right for you.

If you love the Show, please Subscribe, Rate, Review and Share on Apple Podcasts, or your favorite Podcast Platform!

Deeper Dating on Apple Podcasts


Show Notes:


  • How to tell an unhealthy relationship from a healthy one
  • How to manage the unhealthy parts of ourselves
  • What questions to ask about your partner
  • How to stop repeating bad dating habits


Important Links:



6 month coaching and mentorship intensive with Ken Page


Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice for All Your Questions About Love, Dating and Sex


Welcome to the Deeper Dating® Q&A where I answer your most pressing personal questions about love and sex and intimacy in a way that lets you apply these insights into the particulars of your own love life. My goal is to let you leave this episode with new possibilities and important revelations about your own love life. So stay tuned to the Deeper Dating® podcast.

Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast®. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the best-selling book Deeper Dating, creator of the Deeper Dating® intensive, and your host on this show.

Today will be a Deeper Dating® Q&A episode. And what people do is they go to and they click “Ask Ken” and you can actually leave me a voice recording with your question. I don’t use your name unless you tell me that it’s okay to use your name. And then I do, but otherwise, I don’t. And as often as I can, I will share my responses to you. That’s what we’re going to do in this episode, and it’s a wonderful one.

And a lot of today’s episode is about discrimination, really learning how to tell a healthy relationship from an unhealthy relationship, and how to manage the parts of ourselves that tend to be kind of unhealthy in relationships.

In this episode and every episode, I’m committed to sharing the greatest tools and insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life through that process. Because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy, and those are the greatest life skills.

And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® approach to real intimacy, just go to And if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get some wonderful free gifts and you’ll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.

And you’ll also find complete transcripts of every single episode there. Also, everything that I share in this podcast, especially in these Q&A episodes, is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment for any condition. And if you’re experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please do seek professional help.

And finally, if you like what you’re hearing and learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe on iTunes or elsewhere, and leave me a review. And written reviews are an amazing, amazing thing and mean a great deal to me and to other people who are considering tuning into this show. So thank you so much for that.

And let’s jump in.


If you see qualities that concern you, they are probably consistently there in this person. Share on X


The first question is from someone who had a few different questions that were connected. The first was, I talk a lot about attractions of inspiration and attractions of deprivation, and this is a very, very important concept in my work. And if you’d like to learn more about it because it really is important, Episodes 10 and 118 are two episodes that will teach a lot about this.

And this is the concept that Oprah actually excerpted from my book as well. The basic concept is that we have two general circuitries of attraction. We can be attracted to situations where we need to win somebody’s love or prove ourselves, and that’s very seductive. Or to relationships where there is an innate sense of solidity, stability, integrity, and inspiration. It’s a different circuitry.


Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating and Sex

Make it your goal to notice the things that don’t feel right: it’s a practice of honoring the things that don’t feel safe and speaking about them so that you don’t hold them alone.


This person asked, “How long do you wait until you really know ‘Is this an attraction of inspiration or deprivation?'” And another thing that I say all the time is that the primary question for you in your journey, the first question, and there are many, many other questions, but this is the first and foundational one, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?

Do I inherently feel a sense of rightness and safety with this person, and not a sense of safety that comes and goes, and hence feels so delicious when it’s there, but is devastating when it’s not there?” That’s not what we’re looking for. This woman is asking, “How long does it take to know?” And she said, “Can you give some examples?”


How long do you wait


Here’s what I would have to say. People have said to me, “How long until I know if my soul feels safe with someone? I’ve been in relationships with someone for three, four years and then I was betrayed by them and I thought my soul felt safe. So how on earth do I know?”

And this is someone who was in one of my intensives. And what I said to her and to the community, which proved true to her in the long run was this is a muscle that we build where we start noticing and honoring the things that feel safe and solid, and the things that make us feel wary and uncomfortable, and needy, and clingy, and unsafe, and untrusting.

And the key there is honoring both of those, the joy of presentness and inspiration and also the thing you don’t want to feel, which just feels so jarring and bad, but we find our identity and our wholeness when instead of saying, “No, this can’t be,” we instead learn to say, “I see it, I don’t like it, and that’s not safe for me.”


When we find patterns of deprivation, that's gold because that teaches us what to look out for, and it also teaches us the parts of ourselves that we are ignoring, the feelings we're ignoring, the feelings of off-ness that we're… Share on X


You can see in that how we build character, strength, solidity, and profound self-love through our dating journey as we do that. So how long does it take? One point I’m making here is that as we practice this and build this muscle, it gets quicker. It gets quicker and quicker. I think it really, really does vary.

A Native American teacher of mine said that there was a saying in his community which was, “You don’t know somebody until you have your first real fight with them.” And I think that how somebody is in the presence of conflict really does say a lot.

Paul Robeson is a hero of mine, an absolute genius singer, football player, attorney, activist, African American, American treasure, and he sang a song called “The Purest Kind of a Guy”. And if you could find it on YouTube or elsewhere, it captures what an attraction of inspiration is. It’s really a beautiful song.


Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating and Sex

Inspiration or deprivation: when we find patterns of deprivation, that’s gold because that teaches us what to look out for.


You notice, how is this person when it comes to being truthful when it’s hard? How is this person when it comes to being generous when it’s a little harder to be generous? How is this person? How have they curated their sense of character? How do they get when they get angry? How deeply loyal are they? How much do they care about relationships? How are they with you? Do they show you that they treasure you?

Do they show you that they care about truth? Do they show you that there’s a deep innate safety that you actually feel with them? And does that fluctuate with its exact opposite? If so, that’s not safe. If the person has an active addiction, that is not going to be safe for you. If a person has an unstabilized, serious psychiatric disorder that they’re not working hard on stabilizing at that point in their life, that’s not going to be very safe.

Does the person lie? Does the person have a history of cheating? These are all questions that you can ask that will also teach you more about this. Another powerful way to find this out quicker. This was an insight that another intensive member kind of really clarified and it has been so helpful, and I share it all the time is, “Don’t be afraid to share your asks early on, if something bothers you, if there’s something you need.”

And when you share your asks, you will learn so much about who this person is and how available they are. Does this mean that there can’t be surprises? No, it doesn’t. Does it mean that there can’t be shocking betrayals? No, it doesn’t. But if you see these qualities consistently, they’re probably consistently there in this person.

And if something doesn’t feel safe, don’t worry that, that much about is this just you imagining it? Talk to your partner about it and articulate what would help you feel safer, just because it’s what you’re feeling.

It’s not a matter of blame as much as saying what you feel and asking that that be respected. The things you look for are truth, kindness, generosity of spirit, availability. And as I’ve said, many a time when you make it your goal to look for those qualities, when you also make it your goal to notice the things that don’t feel right and don’t numb yourself to them, honor them.

As you do that, you will know quicker and quicker what is an attraction of inspiration and what is an attraction of deprivation. In short, this is a practice and it’s a practice of honoring the things that don’t feel safe and speaking about them so that you don’t hold them alone.

You see if they could be changed and shifted unless they’re really bad, then you don’t even want to stay or try. And honoring the ways that your soul feels safe because someone is really honest or really caring, really generous at times when it would be easy not to be.


Is it love or love addiction


Someone left a message and it was actually a thank-you message. And I would just like to read it because it’s really beautiful. This person said, “I came across your podcast quite by accident. I was rushing through the internet during a very hard time in my life, and somebody mentioned your podcast.

I gave it a listen and I was blown away. I’ve been interested in Psychology for a long while and have been through therapy, but listening to a few of your episodes clicked in a place, in a way that really shifted my understanding of myself and the world. Your podcast gave me the language to describe things in me, which have always felt like shapeless, painful clumps that are hard to get in touch with. I especially want to thank you for the exercises you’ve shared, like the Inner Mentor process and the “holding both” exercise.

Doing these things has probably been the most cathartic emotional experience in my life so far. I want to thank you for your wisdom, your compassion, and all the work you have put into bringing this into the world.”

The Inner Mentor meditation is one that I adore so much, and I teach in all of my classes, all of my intensives. I do it every day. I love it so much. It’s just so wonderful. And you can read about that and listen to that in Episode 3. The other is the exercise called “holding both”. And I’m so glad that she pointed this out because that’s kind of a secret beauty exercise that I find so moving and wonderful.

And you can find that in Episode 111 where we talk about being able to hold at once your love of freedom and your hunger for intimacy. But it can be used with any parts of you that are kind of conflicting or different or complementary.

But I just want to say thank you so much for writing that, for sharing that. That means the world to me and everybody. I get lots of emails from people telling me how this work has touched their lives, has up-leveled the way that they date, has taught them deeper self-esteem, and then people get into nitty-gritty stories about what that has meant for them. I love that, and I invite that from you. Because as people share their experiences, the body of this material and this curriculum grows and strengthens and develops, which means more help to more people. So thank you for this beautiful, beautiful piece.


Time will tell if it's an attraction of deprivation and inspiration, but that's so much less the issue than the ways in which we dishonor our own intuition. Share on X


And now I’m going to go on to the next question. Someone wrote to me and described, said, “I think I am really in a love addiction or I’m prone to love addiction.” And she described being with this guy who she really, really liked, but he was depressed and ultimately they broke up and he had said that he was depressed because of a previous relationship and just couldn’t be present to give her what she wanted.

A few weeks after the breakup, she contacted him just to see how he was doing, and he said, “I couldn’t be better. I couldn’t be happier.” And this was devastating. And she’s not been able to stop worrying about or thinking about or wondering about what she could have done differently to have made him happy, to have made him stay, to have made him want to stay. And then she finally said that this connects to childhood issues of having a mom who was not kind and was often cruel and couldn’t say, “I love you.”

I just want to say that there’s so much self-awareness in that question itself, and it speaks to the issue of how that grabs us because we’re human beings. We have love taken away from us, and especially if we have a history of that, if that’s a trigger point for us, which God knows for so many of us it is, to be in that situation which is an attraction of deprivation because the person’s not available.

And it leaves you feeling like, “What did I do wrong? What could I do differently?” Now, if this person said to me, “I realized that I expressed anger all the time, or I wasn’t listening to his needs or hearing them,” those would be real concrete things for her to work on. But she didn’t say those things. And what she just said was basically he wasn’t available. And then he described being happy when this was over, and then she was kind of fixated on him.


Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating and Sex

Know yourself: the more you recognize the signs, the less you are likely to override them in your future.


What do you do when that happens? I think the first thing is, and this is a process I guide people through in my curriculum in any of the ways that you could study my curriculum, of really going into your patterns of attractions, of deprivation, becoming a student of them.

It’s a hard, hard thing, but it’s like opening yourself to that very terrible, familiar pain that grabs at your gut and makes you feel like you’re not enough, or you should do something different, or that you lost love because of something you did. And noticing that taste, that taste of pain, noticing the pattern, how often you’ve been attracted to people like that, noticing the pull of those relationships.

When we make that painful, painful stuff conscious, the more we consciously feel the pain of that taste of deprivation, consciously taste it, as horrible as it is, the more we become allergic to it, the more we try to numb ourselves or turn it into, “What could I have done differently?” Repetitively and endlessly.


Managing unhealthy parts of ourselves


Now, that does not mean that we don’t need to take responsibility for ourselves, but when it becomes what they call overdetermined, in other words, you’re stuck in that. When that happens, you need to pull away from that and see what’s the pattern of my desperately feeling, “If I was just more, if I was just better, then I could have saved this love.”

And seeing how that’s been a pattern, recognizing how diminishing that is. And the other pieces, as you do that more and more, and this is the pledge process that I talked about in an earlier podcast, which I encourage all of you to do. It’s amazing. It’s life-changing. So you begin to say, “I am only going to look for attractions of inspiration. I’m only going to commit to attractions of inspiration. I am only going to choose attractions of inspiration.” When you do that, you start noticing those people more.

And I can’t tell you how many emails and stories I get from people who commit to that process and then write to me or speak to me and say, “I’m amazed. I am meeting people who are kinder and better and make me feel happier and more connected. And this has not ever really happened like that before.”

This happens so often, and it happens when we learn the skills of recognizing the taste of deprivation and the taste of inspiration and committing to the latter in our search. And research shows us that we will notice it more when we do that and become more attracted to it. Another person wrote, to talk about the episode where I teach people about this pledge that I’ve talked about, and she had done the pledge and loved it. And you can find that pledge in Episode 154, and I really, really encourage everybody to take that pledge.

But what she said is she said, “I often think that I’m entering into an attraction of inspiration and it turns out to be an attraction of deprivation.” In response to that, I want to ask all of you some questions to think about and as well as this listener who asked that question.

Okay, so first question is this, and it’s based on the concept that when we find patterns of deprivation, that’s gold because that teaches us what to look out for, and it also teaches us the parts of ourselves that we are ignoring, the feelings we’re ignoring, the feelings of offness that we’re ignoring, and also the negative traits that we keep getting attracted to correlate with parts of ourselves we haven’t learned how to honor or work with yet.

So, if you think back on your attractions of deprivation in your past, have there been any negative character traits that have appeared again and again? Don’t worry at this moment about your role in that. Don’t even think about that, even though of course that’s valid and important.

But I want you to externalize responsibility just for this thought exercise. What have been the negative traits that you have been attracted to again and again? Know this so that you can watch out for it. A kind of deeper question that goes with that, where have you not honored your sense of something being wrong and told yourself you could fix it, you could change it, you could be better, it’ll pass, when in fact that wasn’t the case.

Where were the ways that you gave yourself up in order to keep the relationship going? Where were the places where your integrity said, “No, I don’t like this. I don’t like this. This doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t feel safe.”

And how did you ignore that? How did you swallow it? What was the mechanism? What did you tell yourself? What did you do in your body? How did you behave in the relationship to not face the hole inside of that pain when that happened? In other words, not externalize any responsibility, but turn it in on yourself.

The more you recognize those signs, the less you are likely to override them in your future. Time will tell if it’s an attraction of deprivation and inspiration, but that’s so much less the issue than the ways in which we dishonor our own intuition. And in the intensives and in the work that I do, and through any vehicle that you do this honoring of your Core Gifts, the degree to which you honor and treasure those Core Gifts, especially the ones that people have stepped on, but you’re learning to treasure.

To that degree, you are going to lose your taste for those people that step on those parts of you. The more you treasure these parts of you, the more you’re going to find yourself attracted to people who treasure these parts of you.

This is a miraculous, beautiful, awesome, and true formula in the journey to find love. Thank you so much for listening, everyone, and I look forward to connecting on the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.


Watch the episode here:



Love the show?


Subscribe, rate, review, and share the show on Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast platform!


Click here to learn how.