Are you single and looking for love? And are you willing to do the real work of intimacy? If so, I believe you are lucky to be single. Not a little lucky; but profoundly lucky. There are four hopeful and powerful reasons why that is true; reasons you'll find out in this episode!
Episode Table Of Contents
- What It Means to Be Single
- You're Lucky to Be Single
- Reason #1: You're not in a bad relationship
- Reason #2: You have not given up hope
- Reason #3: You are willing to change your patterns
- Use Your Inner Mentor
- Reason #4: The Way We Date Determines the Kind of Love We Find
Episode Introduction: Lucky to Be Single
Are you single and looking for love, and are you willing to do the work of growth that's asked of you? If so, I believe you are lucky and not a little lucky, but profoundly lucky. There are four very important and powerful reasons why that is true, reasons that you can use to speed and ease your path to finding love. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn more.
Hello, and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I'm Ken Page, and every week I'm going to give you access to the greatest insights, the most powerful practices, and the most essential findings 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.
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What It Means to Be Single
So today I want to present a bit of an alternate view on what it means to be single, and this is from someone who was single for decades and decades, what I called chronically single, so I know how much singlehood can hurt, and how difficult it is. But I want to say that I believe that if you're single, and if you're willing to treat your search for love as a journey of growth, then you are in fact really lucky.
So you might be thinking, how could I say lucky. Going to bed alone is not lucky, lonely weekends are like the opposite of lucky. And I know this really well personally. I know what it's like to go to a wedding and think, "Oh my god, I wish I had somebody to be with." And I know what it's like to stay over friends' houses who are couples, and I go into the bedroom, the guest bedroom alone. I remember one time I was traveling with a couple friend of mine, and they each had little bathroom kits. It was such a tiny little thing, but it just seemed like a dream that was a million miles away to have shared bathroom kits. It was something that almost hurt to imagine.
And I remember the experience of having my best friends find someone really wonderful, and feeling so happy for them, but somewhere inside feeling like a very aching sadness at the same time.
You're Lucky to Be Single
So I get it. I really, really know what all of that is, but in thinking back on all of that, I can identify in retrospect when I began to feel like there was some luckiness here, and it was when I started doing the conscious work of love, and it began in a kind of paradoxical way by my admitting, and you may relate to this, admitting to myself, that underneath all of my busy-ness, all of my running, was this vast aching chasm of loneliness.
That was really hard, but I think I will never forget the feeling of healing as I finally recognize it. Because it wasn't like it wasn't there before, I was just kind of too busy and anxious to notice it. So that felt like a really huge step.
I remember when I decided that I was ready to have cats, and that I could take care of them, and that that felt like a bond that I was ready and willing to have, and what a huge deal that was for me. I was 20-something, kind of lost gay-club kid in New York City, who was completely devoted to finding love in just about every wrong way. These were milestones, and I felt the beauty of my opening up and growing, and that gave me hope, and made me feel lucky.
Ken talks about vulnerability and the parts he's ashamed of
Just sharing a little bit more about my story before kind of explaining about this lucky thing in other ways, going into therapy was a very powerful part of that process because I discovered in therapy that the parts of myself that I was most pissed off about, because of their vulnerability, the parts I was most ashamed of, the parts that I was most angrily trying to hide were actually the truest parts of me. They were parts of me that I had wished I could love, but they had been stepped on so many times, that I had decided that they were shameful and embarrassing.
Learning that they were actually gifts of mine was the beginning of a new happiness in my adult life. Learning that my needs were not shameful and weren't embarrassing, and that I could be generous instead of just angry. Those were milestones. They were MY milestones. And I encourage each one of you listeners to think, when did you have intimacy milestones, break-through moments, and did you not somehow feel lucky at that time, for the insight, even if it hurt, even if it was sad, for the revelation, for the visceral experience of growing?
Reason #1: You're not in a bad relationship
And then, there were the times that I felt myself get out of old patterns. Consciously feel myself get sucked into an old pattern, and with the help of therapists, with the help of friends, with the help of spiritual practice, actually somehow let go of that clutching need to act out of pattern, to breathe, and to try something different that felt so much better. This was when luck really began to mix with hope.
So now, I want to tell you the four huge reasons why I believe you're lucky to be single and you're willing to do the deeper work of growth in your search for love. Here's the first reason, you're not in a bad relationship.
You may have been in one, you may still even be partly in one, but you are at least essentially significantly free now to look for something better, and you know what it's like to be in a bad relationship. Many of us know what it's like to be in a bad relationship, to be in a bad marriage, it's really hard. It's really painful to be in a relationship where you can't be yourself, where you feel put down, where you feel crushed, where you feel unseen, where you don't feel like you're your best self, where you feel like it's not a match.
Whatever has happened to get you out of that situation, you are out of it now, and that's a really big deal. So that's one reason, and it's really significant because it is no fun to be trapped in a bad relationship, and it is not easy to get out for most of us.
Reason #2: You have not given up hope
Here's reason number two, you have not given up hope. If you are listening to this podcast, you have not given up hope, and that is a big deal, because think of all the people you know who have stopped trying, or who are only doing this in a superficial way because they don't want to go deeper. They don't want to learn in deep ways, they don't want to grow in deep ways, or maybe they're just numb and they've been hurt so much that they don't really want to try, or maybe they settled for a kind of comfort-food relationship that's not really wonderful, because it's just too scary to go out there again, or it's too scary to really risk your soul after you've been badly hurt.
Think of all the people who have chosen not to go for their dream of real soulmate love. That's not you, and that really, really is a big deal.
Reason #3: You are willing to change your patterns
Okay, the third reason, this is a really, really big one, is that you are willing to change your patterns. You know, at trigger junctions, when we get triggered, by longing, by need, by trauma, by bad treatment, by things that remind us of really painful, lost times in our lives, we have a deep instinctual response, and it really is instinctual, and it's a pattern that in almost all cases is going to be one that moves us away from love, and causes some kind of damage, or just shuts us down.
And that impulse, to do that feels really strong, and it feels really protective. It feels solid, or it feels like the best you can do, and that might be sticking to a relationship with someone who hurts you again and again. It might be a compulsive behavior. It might be an addictive behavior. It might be getting angry in ways that cause damage. It might be choosing the wrong people. It might be not expressing your needs because of people pleasing. It can be so many different things, and I'd like you to take a minute and just think, what are your patterns?
We all have fear of intimacy
And here's what I want to say about this, we all have fear of intimacy patterns. If you're breathing, you've got fear of intimacy because intimacy is the most…. love is the most precious thing that exists, and there's no way that we're not going to have fear of the rug being pulled out from under us, or betrayal, or abandonment, or loss. All of us have fear of intimacy.
All of us have flight patterns where we flee closeness, and often we do it by choosing the wrong people again and again because they're somehow, in some weird way, safer than someone with whom your very soul is at risk, because you trust them so much that you want to completely lean your weight into the relationship.
The child with a broken glass
So there's so many ways we do that, and for me, as a psychotherapist who's worked with so many people, and a coach who's worked with so many people, an image that I get of that situation, again and again, is of, I picture a child with a beautiful piece of broken colored glass in her hands, and she doesn't want to let go of it because it's beautiful, and it's hers, and it seems like a jewel, but it's cutting her fingers, and she's bleeding a little bit, and she does not want to give it up, and you would have to pry her open to get it out.
That's so often how I have felt with people who I love and respect, and myself included, enacting patterns that cause harm, that don't work, that don't lead to love, but they feel so damn right, like scratching an itch of poison ivy, like an addiction, like anything like that. And you know, in these areas, these trigger areas, we want to rely on our best thinking. We don't want to really ask for help, but our best thinking is skewed, in fact in 12-step programs they say it's you're best thinking that got you here, and that's true when it comes to our patterns.
Coming back to where you started
Another really interesting example of that is that studies have shown that if you're in the forest and you want to move straight ahead, you want to go straight, so you point to a tree, you pick a tree that seems exactly straight ahead, you walk to that tree, then you pick the next tree that is exactly straight ahead, and you walk to that tree. Well, ultimately you're going to end up, unbeknownst to you, coming back to the very place you started.
You'll go in a big circle, and that's what it's like when we just rely on our best thinking again and again in the areas we're stuck. Just like in the woods, you're going to end up in the same place again, unless you have a compass. So the truth is, we need help.
Look for coaches who make you feel safe
David Brooks, who's a wonderful, wonderful New York Times journalist and author, says that if you are in a great marriage, and you have a crappy job, there's a really good chance you're going to be happy. But if you're in a great job, and you have a crappy marriage, you're probably going to be pretty miserable. And he says that is why every kid when they go off to college should have as their main subject of study, how to find and keep a good relationship, and God knows that's not what happens, but that's another reason you're lucky, you are ready to do that now, and that's why I want to encourage all of you, don't try to do this with your best thinking, it ain't possible when it comes to hardened patterns.
Look for teachers and coaches who make you feel safe, and who make you feel inspired, who don't preach games, who don't tell you to become irresistible, who don't tell you what you can do to have people chasing after you, people with whom your insides say, "Oh, this is wisdom. This feels like wisdom. It feels safe. It feels right."
Use Your Inner Mentor
Choose friends like that. Get help. I pretty much promise you, if you do it based on your own best thinking, it's not going to work out well. Or you can use your inner mentor, the practice that I teach in many of my podcasts, where you tune into your own kind of deepest wisdom, the you that you're meant to be, and you imagine that you are that person and you actually call out guidance to yourself. There's fantastic research proving how well that works. So I consider that not getting stuck in your "best thinking" but actually connecting with your wisdom and your intuition.
You know the process of intimacy is like one million crossroads that you have to go through, and at each one of those crossroads there's an old way, and there's a potential new way which has more intimacy wisdom, and at those crossroads, those are the places where we can rewire. And when we rewire, we don't just rewire for that date, we don't just rewire for that one encounter, or this one person, we're rewiring for our lives.
What we learn changes our future
The stuff that we learn at these multitudes of crossroads changes our future. Those skills are the most important skills that there are in life. I think of an example of someone that I work with who came to realize that she got defensive and angry whenever she had vulnerable needs that she was embarrassed to share. Vulnerable needs that we're embarrassed to share, that's a really, really big one. But she realized that she would get defensive and push the people she loved away when she touched those needs.
Over time, she began to realize that they truly, truly were the most precious parts of being, or some of the most precious parts, and as she learned that, that there's kind of an instinctual feeling of self love that happens with that, and her entire family life got deeper and richer and she got deeper and richer.
The moment when we start to feel awesome
So those exact points where we screw up again and again, and get help, and rewire are gold, and if we do them now, before we're in a relationship, every one of those points is going to help us when we're in a relationship. And it's when we reach the point that we feel that we can honor our needs, honor our authenticity, hold our partner with tenderness and care, and hold our truth, and not abandon it either, and find some way to hold both together, and then this synergistic thing can happen if our partner's available to it, that just feels like magic, and goodness, and hope. And that is when we really start to feel like we are awesome, and it's when we start to feel like there may be some kind of benevolent blueprint that exists behind the world.
Harville Hendrix has a wonderful quote, by the way, about that, he says that,
"The task in many cases is learning to turn your anger into an ask."
I know for me that's been a really huge one.
A rubber band attaching you to your Core Gifts
I want to share an image that captures this journey in, I think, a very powerful way. So, all of us or most of us early on in life had parts that were so tender, or so original or so revolutionary or so different, that they felt like curses, they felt like weaknesses or they felt like flaws, but they were really us. But we realized early on that we were going to survive and if we were going to survive, we had to hide those parts, or we had to leave them behind, or we had to put them somewhere safe where they just wouldn't bother us or touch us, so that we could kind of march on in life and be regular people.
So we surrounded those parts of ourselves with shame or embarrassment or anger or defensiveness or we buried those parts or we forgot them like dreams that had been forgotten or ambitions or loves that have been forgotten, and we just kind of put them away. And we marched on so that we could be successful and like everybody else and make it in the world.
But if you imagine that there was a kind of like a long, long rubber band, a long cord attaching you to this self, to these, what I call, your core gifts, and that could never go away because they're you, they're essentially you. And we march on and on and we try to live our lives, and, at a certain point we just keep getting stuck, and often the place we get stuck is not being able to find good love or real love or lasting love. And it's like the cord won't go any further, the things won't change.
The need to follow our cord back
And that's the point where we need to follow that cord back. That's the part where we need to find that part of our inner self, our inner child, that we had orphaned in order to survive in this world. And we need to reclaim that child and see its beauty and its worth and its smartness and its fierceness and its tenderness and realize that this is something good, that this is actually a part of ourselves that we should have been championing all along.
And when we do this and we bring that part of ourselves or those parts of ourselves along for the ride, life works, intimacy can work, profound changes happen. And in some way, that's like the journey of trying to be an adult in the world and then coming back and discovering these parts of ourselves. And when we do, it's like we found the language of our heart so we can finally speak and find other people who speak our language. But until we have that self, we can't.
So that's just a story that I wanted to share that captures what makes you lucky if you're doing that journey, and that's not just dating lucky, that's life lucky.
Reason #4: The Way We Date Determines the Kind of Love We Find
And now, I want to say the four threes, in which, I think, in some ways is the biggest of all. And this is what it is: If you up-level your dating skills, you also up-level the kind of people you meet and the kind of people you're attracted to. If you're doing this work now, you will date differently, and really, really, the way we date to some very significant degree, determines the kind of love that we find.
So when you're doing this work what's going to happen is your attractions will begin to change. Now, I'm not talking about the work of game playing. I'm talking about the work of claiming your authentic self and learning skills of kindness and goodness and honesty, and caring and connection. Those are the kind of skills I'm talking about learning, but as you learn them, you will make better and better choices, knowing and acknowledging the ferocity, the beauty, the tenderness that is you and that is core gifts, that are YOUR core gifts.
When you do that, you up-level the kind of people you're going to meet, you up-level your attractions, and you also hugely, hugely up-level your ability to get away when it's not the right match and to stay and build and grow in wise ways when it is the right match. These are all reasons why, because you're single now and you're doing this work, you are up-leveling, up-leveling, up-leveling the kind of person you meet, and I truly, truly believe that and mean that in deep, deep ways if you're doing the real work.
Things will be different
When I teach intensives, at a certain point in the intensive, when people have done this deep work of acknowledging their core gifts, and done some work on their attractions, understanding the difference between their attractions of deprivation and their attractions of inspiration and made changes in the choices they make, when that happens, I say to them,
"Your field has changed, and now it's time to go out and play and experiment, because it's going to be different."
Yeah, things are going to be the same in many ways, but many things will be different. You'll find you're meeting better people. You will. You really, really will. And you won't want to flee them in the same way you might have before in the past. I'm speaking about me now and my experiences with that, and you'll also find that there's a mutual attraction more often with good and decent people.
Learn to lead with your soul
And you understand that the game has changed, because your field has changed, because you are not repelling intimacy because you are leading with your core gifts, you're leading with your core self, or as Chip Conley, the author of Emotional Equations said after reading my book is that he came to discover that if you are looking for a soul mate, you need to learn to lead with your soul.
So these are the reasons why I believe, if you're single and you're ready to do this deep, rich, powerful work of intimacy, you truly are lucky. You will make better choices in your partner. You will be more skilled at keeping love alive. You'll have more tools to make love flourish. You'll have more tools to enjoy love. You'll have the tools of repair. You'll have the tools of discrimination, and you'll have the tools of self-honoring.
And, get this, you will learn most of them during your actual dating. You will see the differences inside and you'll see them outside, if you're doing this work. And that's why I say to each of you who's willing to commit to this work, for all these reasons, you are lucky. So thank you so much for listening. I hope that's a lot to think about and I hope it gives you hope and a sense of direction. I also want to say that if you like what you've heard in this podcast, please do go to iTunes, subscribe, leave me a positive review, and I look forward to seeing you next week on the Deeper Dating podcast. Thank you.