Sadly, we've all been trained to make the most harmful online dating mistake of all. This almost universal mistake blocks us from finding love while tricking us into thinking that love is right around the corner! Learn just what this mistake is, and what to do about it. If you're doing online dating, do not miss this!

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Episode Introduction: Online Dating Mistake

Online Dating Mistake

There's one powerful mistake that we are sculpted to make in our online dating lives that actually keeps us away from love. When we change that, we dramatically increase our chances of using online dating to actually find love. Stay tuned to this episode of the deeper dating podcast to learn what that is.

Hello everybody and welcome to The Deeper Dating Podcast. I'm Ken Page and I'm a psychotherapist and the author of the best selling book, Deeper Dating. And today I'm going to talk about how you can approach your online dating life so that it can lead you more directly to love, steer you away from pain, and actually bring you wisdom and intimacy insights and heal your life in the process.

Because the skills of real dating are nothing more than the skills of intimacy. And the skills of intimacy are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. So I think you're going to be hearing some really exciting and important ideas in this episode, and in the following episode.

And if you want to learn more about how the deeper dating path can help lead you to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and if you sign up for my mailing list, you'll get free gifts and you'll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your intimacy journey.

And you'll find complete transcripts of every episode as well on that site. I also want to thank everybody who has left me reviews because there have just been the most amazing reviews and I cannot thank you enough for that.

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And if you like what you're hearing today, if you could leave me a review and subscribe that would be just wonderful. Also, everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It's not medical advice, it's not treatment for any condition. And if you're experiencing any kind of serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please seek professional help. So let's jump in.

This is really important and hugely, currently relevant material. So online dating, such a huge subject and some people only do online dating because of its benefits and some people won't touch it because of its flaws. And there really are good reasons for both.

I find as a psychotherapist and a coach that one of the most powerful ways that people avoid finding love is through compulsive, online dating. And paradoxically, one of the most powerful tools that exists in this day and age for finding love is online dating.

So in this episode I'm going to talk about what I consider to be perhaps the biggest problem with online dating. The biggest way in which online dating actually sculpts and creates and generates loneliness. And in the next episode I'm going to talk about what to do about that. I want to talk a little bit about what to do about that in this episode as well. So as not to leave people hanging. But I think this is an incredibly, really rich, rich concept.

Using Your Online Dating Experience in Two Different Ways

Photographer: Maria Teneva | Source: Unsplash

They say what fires together wires together, and online dating actually wires circuitry within us that keeps us away from love in very, very concrete ways. And we need to know what those ways are so we can actively work against them.

And that's what I'm going to be talking about because you can use your online dating experience in two different ways. You can use it to intensify the behaviors that you do that lead you away from the kind of love that you dream of or you can use online dating to actually grow in your ability to have intimacy.

Because this is the bottom line and it's the heart and soul of everything I teach. The way we date needs to be making us more skilled at love. The lessons that we need to be learning are the lessons that are going to help us when we're in a relationship to hold that relationship to its highest possibility to grow and to sustain intimacy.

Identifying the Source and Pruning the Field

If we're not deeply growing in intimacy skills through the way that we're dating, then we're not dating right. And this arena is one where we can do really, really conscious work. So, first of all, I think that online dating is designed, consciously or unconsciously, to keep us engaged in the search without finding love.

It is true that the owners of these sites stop making money when we find a relationship. But it's also true that they make their sites more sexy and more exciting by keeping up the dopamine rush of the next possibility….. the "NEXT" possibility. And it's that “next” syndrome that really plagues so much of our dating lives and is the cause of so much jerky behavior.

Why did that person just disappear? Well, they disappeared because there's 50 "next's" right after you. So that's part of how online dating is built. It's exciting. It's exciting to see who's interested in us. It's exciting to know that there is a giant and vast pool of super sexy, super interesting love potential candidates just waiting there for us.

And who knows what we'd stick our fishing rod in the water, what we're going to pull up next. And we are enticed by the possibility of our "scratch-the-itch" type, the type that we are so interested in.

And that's why we love, love, love to go back to the sites, back to the apps because of that possibility. It's so exciting to find somebody new and sexy and to have a new love interest, that's just so exciting. And that, then, on some level becomes the goal because when you take the next steps, they're boring, they're frustrating, they're scary in at least some ways.

What Fires Together Wires Together

But this is pure deliciousness. So we begin to develop a new circuitry because what fires together wires together, and there's a dopamine rush. There's a rush of excitement in grabbing what we want. Slight detour – some people experience this intensely if they have porn addictions, they will search and search and search.

They will hunt for that just right person, that just right act, that just right moment in a scene, and it will feel real to them. Success will be finding that, and then there's this entire thrill of the hunt, but it's nothing. It gives us nothing.

And so too, with online dating, the excitement of, "Wow, A potential new person." It's just pure delight. There's a sense of hope, a sense of expectation, a sense of sexiness.

And that then actually becomes a reward unto itself, so that unconsciously we get sculpted to seek that joy instead of a relationship because it's so much easier and it's so much prettier and it's so much shinier because someone who's not real is always easier than someone who's real.

And another little segue way here – A few years back, I was interviewed for an article on a new generation of apps where you actually fall in love with the virtual person and have an entire relationship with them.

That becomes your primary relationship and they learn the things you want to hear, the things that you want to be able to say to them and how they should respond. Their responses get sculpted and everything is robotic, but it feels like beautiful, safe, real love. And that captures so much of the essence of how we are sculpted in our online dating life. The thrill of the hunt becomes its own entity.

Malnourished Romance

And there was a Star Trek episode that a friend of mine told me about. I don't know the exact details, but it was something about how there was food, but the food felt like food and it made you full. But there was no real nutrition, there was nothing in it, like no sustenance. So you'd be full all the time, but you would literally be dying of starvation.

And in a sense when we get lost in an online world without taking very specific actions, which further the process to get it out of those loops and into real-time, our loneliness builds and builds in a deep down level underneath.

Even though we're getting sated, we're getting fulfilled by those successes of people being interested in us who we're excited by. But let's just think about this for a minute, and I'm leaving hookups completely out of this. But there you are at any given point online and there's somebody who maybe could interest you.

They may not be your total scratch-the-itch type, but they seem interesting, they seem possible. But there's like countless new people waiting behind that person. Countless potential swipes that you can do.

So you've got somebody right in front of you who's within the realm of possibility, but they may not be your exact type. That's number one, so they're a little less exciting, let's say. Even though this might be your soulmate, what would you have to do?

You would have to interact with them, you would have to read their profile, you would have to slow down the speed of everything. You would have to interact and see what they're like, maybe they're jerks, maybe they ignore you or reject you or hurt your feelings.

How Jumping to the "Next" Can Be an Online Dating Mistake

Photographer: Carmine De Fazio | Source: Unsplash

Then let's say you get to the point where you actually communicate with them on the phone or via texting. And that communication can be creepy, it can be tiring, it's time-consuming. The person might be a jerk, they might be scary, they might fall for you really quickly and then you realize you're not interested and then you have to hurt their feelings.

Then you have to set up a time to meet and you could be wasting your time. They could be not right for you, you could get there and you see that you're totally not attracted to them. And there's always someone a million times more attractive right in the next swipe. right in the next profile.

And so you think maybe, well I'll get back to this person at a later time, but you never really do because you keep searching because it's easier. And there's less chance of risk that way, there's still the potential of a super exciting next. And at this stage, none of these nexts demand, any kind of work whatsoever.

So I just want to talk a little bit now about that "scratch-the-itch" person because that's really our big deal here. So imagine your attractions, the people who turn you on and don't. And imagine there's a spectrum and the people who are at the really, really low end – the zeros, the ones, the twos.

You just know that you are not attracted to them and you pretty much never will be. And then there's the mid-range people where there could be a spark, but those people just they aren't as exciting really. It's going to take a little bit more work to get yourself to take those steps.

Swiping Left And Missing Your Soulmate

Unfortunately, that's where so much of the gold might lie. Somebody I know said to me, he said, it's just the strangest thing you're swiping, swiping, swiping, and you're swiping left, you're swiping left, you're swiping left. And then all of a sudden… And you're doing it so quick, you could have swiped left on your next soulmate.

And he said, it's so poignant to think of that, and I think that that's so true. So getting back to this then there are the people who were the eights and the nines and the tens. Those are the people that you're like, "Oh my God, I really want to get this person to be interested in me." You are unequivocally sexually attracted to them. There is this spark of like, "Yeah, that's who I'm looking for."

There's a few interesting points here, but one of them is this, couple's research shows that the people who turn you on in that fierce way often do so because they embody the worst characteristics of your primary caregivers or the people who have injured you the most or withheld their love from you in the most painful ways, and something inside of you wants to go back to that scene of the crime and get that person to love you right.

Now this is so subtle, it's so subtle you might not even be able to articulate what it is about this person. Some kind of subtle musculature in their lips and around their eyes, a look that they have, something, that somehow unconsciously tells you this person's not going to be available or they're going to be almost available.

When the Scratch-The-Itch Type Takes the Backseat

And there's really very few things more compelling than getting someone who almost really, really loves you. Who does really care about you, but not enough to commit or has good character traits, but then also ones that really, really don't work and you want to fix them, you want to repair that. That's really sexy.

So what we've discovered is a lot of times those eights, nines and tens are those people, but we don't realize it consciously. Now, that's not always true, and it is a wonderful thing to be immediately turned on to somebody.

But the truth is, and research shows this, the more you get to know someone, the more that "scratch-the-itch" type issue diminishes. And the more the actual chemistry of the connection takes on importance.

Now, I'm not saying you're going to be attracted to someone you're not attracted to. What I am saying though, is that you can build a spark when a spark is there. So these sites are designed to have us ignore the fours, the fives and the sixes, or to say, "Oh, maybe I'll be good and respond to them."

But we don't really do it, ever, and I know this from my own many, many years doing online dating, how easy it is to do that. Fool's gold glitters and it glitters really brightly. So I'm articulating just one tiny piece of what doesn’t work in the online dating world and hinting in that as to what can work.

And we're going to be talking more about what can work in what does work in the next episode, just around this specific issue. There's so many other ways that online dating presents both a wonderful, wonderful opportunity and also a quicksand of possible problems.

The “Next” Syndrome: A Universal Online Dating Mistake

The Next Syndrome: A Phenomenal Online Dating Mistake
Photographer: John Schnobrich | Source: Unsplash

And I'm going to be talking through future episodes about many of these. But this is the one I wanted to talk about today, it's the “next” syndrome. It is the being enticed away from people who truly, truly, truly, truly could be potential relationships. Like that person who seemed maybe there was a little spark, maybe they had a nice profile.

If you were at a party and you were talking to two or three people and that person was one of the people. And you talked for maybe half an hour or an hour. Well, you might find that person's not right for you, but you might find chemistry growing.

You might find that this person is really exciting, but the vast, vast numbers of possibilities in online dating combined with that, like you can't just stop at one potato chip. You have to keep swiping and swiping, and searching and searching combined with that way that our behavior gets sculpted together keep us lost in online dating, and we can save so much time by changing our patterns.

So I'm just going to say a little bit about that now, and talk about that in a lot more detail in the next episode about what you can do to change this pattern. And in so doing truly rewire your circuitry so that you'll be the kind of person who's more available to real love when it comes your way and more likely to find that real love.

What I'm going to encourage you to do in the next week is to notice your behaviors. Notice how what I described happens for you, just allow yourself to notice it.

Love Based on Scales

Like where are you swiping too quickly? Where are you just looking for the eights and, the nines and the tens because they're so exciting, and not noticing the fours, and the fives, and the sixes and spending time on those?

Who are your types that excite you the most and what's been your experience with those "scratch-the-itch" types? These are all things to think about. And also where do you drop the ball in the process of exploring a new possibility with a new someone?

Because it's just so much work and it's so much risk and, it's a pain in the neck and there's always a million juicy new possibilities waiting for you on your app, or on the website that you go to.

So I'd like you to just think about these things because you are going to be learning to go against that cultural current and develop true and juicy intimacy wisdom. And that wisdom is going to help you profoundly in your dating life, and also help you profoundly when you do find love.

So this week before our next episode, notice what your patterns are. And I want to encourage you to notice where you drop the ball on people who could be a potential really good match and maybe begin to shift that. Don't drop the ball. And I'll just say one more thing about that.

When we have a goal that really matters to us, we have to commit time, energy, and often money toward that goal. I'd like you in your thinking to budget time for the follow up steps with the people who might be potential yeses.

Till the Next Episode

So a lot to think about. Thank you so much for listening. This is exciting stuff. And in the next episode we're going to be talking about the work-arounds that will help you be able to use online dating to your advantage. So stay tuned to the next episode of The Deeper Dating Podcast in a week, and I'll see you then.

Thanks so much. And also, once again, if you like what you heard here, it would be a fabulous gift to subscribe and leave a review. Thanks so much.

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