What are the deepest lessons we can learn in the search for love? In this episode, I share the things that I’ve learned that have brought me the most hope and clarity on the hunt to find love. I have developed a skill for pattern recognition in my decades of work helping others find love and because of that, I have noticed some foundational formulas of wisdom and intimacy that appear over time that I want to share with you today. I talk about the four stages of dating and how to define these for yourself. I also talk about the potential fallout that comes from ignoring our core needs and explain why you should team up on your hunt for love.

Listen to this episode to learn about the four stages of dating, why we fear availability in relationships, and how our needs can devolve into neediness.

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

Deeper Dating® on Apple Podcasts


Show Notes:


  • Defining the four stages of dating
  • Learning to identify your core gifts
  • The two circuitries of attraction
  • What are attractions of inspiration
  • Why we fear availability in relationships
  • The fallout from ignoring our core needs
  • How do needs evolve into neediness
  • Turning a need into a loving ask
  • Why we should team up in the hunt for love


The Four Stages of Dating:


  1. Learning to treasure your core gifts
  2. Working with your attractions
  3. Getting out there
  4. Rewiring in a healthy relationship


Important Links:



6 month coaching and mentorship intensive with Ken Page


The Most Important Things I Know About Finding Love


What are the deepest lessons that each of us can learn in our intimacy journey and our search for love that change things profoundly? In this episode, I’m going to share the things that have given me the most hope and clarity in my decades of work focusing on the wiser search for love. So, stay tuned.


These lessons heal our search for love, but also heal our lives. Click To Tweet


Hello everyone, and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist and the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating®, and the creator of the upcoming Deeper Dating® intensive, which you’ll get to hear more about later in this episode. Today, I’m going to talk about the biggest and most important lessons of hope that I’ve learned in my decades of focusing on the wiser search for love. These lessons heal our search for love, but they also heal our lives because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and those are the greatest skills of all for a meaningful, happy life.

If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® path to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com, and you can sign up for my mailing list, receive free gifts and resources, and just learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. And by the way, if you like what you’re learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe on iTunes or elsewhere and leave me a review. I’ve gotten such beautiful moving reviews and I so appreciate it. So, thank you so much for that.


The Most Important Things I Know About Finding Love

Your Core Gifts: Core gifts are the raw material of our life genius.


So, let’s jump in. I’ve been a student of my own and many other people’s intimacy journeys and search for love for a good number of decades now. And one of the most beautiful things about having done something like this for so many years, decades, is that I see these long arcs of patterns and I develop pattern recognition after doing this work for such a long time. And from that, I have seen some very foundational kinds of formulas that appear over a long period of time. And Martin Luther King famously stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And God knows the arc of the wiser search for love can be long, but it bends toward these formulas of wisdom and intimacy that I want to share in this episode.

So, I’m going to do this by talking about the four stages that I teach in my book, Deeper Dating®, as well as in my course, my intensives, and all of my work. There are four basic stages. The first being the discovery and the learning to treasure your core gifts and to protect them. The second being learning to educate and heal your attractions and make different choices that lead to happiness. The third is getting out there in a brave and more authentic way. And the fourth is this rewiring that has to happen when we search for love in wiser ways. And I would have to say that ultimately, the things I’m going to talk about are deep messages of hope for me because they say to me that somehow the way that we are constructed around love and romance has a benevolence as a basic foundation that decency and goodness and self-honoring and freedom and passion get rewarded in the long run when they’re joined together.


Your Core Gifts


When we know how to honor ourselves and other people, healthy love can be born and can flourish. The search for love is built that way. And I think that’s an amazing and beautiful thing and it gives me a sense of hope and kind of a blueprint that has benevolence in it. And that of course does not mean it’s easy, but I think these formulas that we’ll be talking about are real messages of hope. And so I’m excited to share them with you. So, the first stage of this journey that I teach is the stage of learning to treasure your core gifts, learning to name and identify and treasure them. So your core gifts, especially for those who are new to this work are the places where you’re the most alive. They’re the places where life hurts you most deeply and inspires you most profoundly.

If you picture a target image and the closer you get to the center of the target, the target’s you, and the closer you get to the center, the closer you get to the beating heart of your humanity, to your brilliance, to your uniqueness, to the deepest language of self within you, and that’s where your core gifts live. And what I’ve discovered is that the world teaches us that those parts of us are too embarrassing, too intense, too tender, too vulnerable, too achy, too longy, too needy, too angry, too quiet, too weak, too humble, too unself-confident, we get taught all of these things about the places of our deepest humanity. But these core gifts are the raw material of our life genius and that means our intimacy genius as well. And genius is really challenging, and raw material takes a lot of skill to work with.

So the raw material of our passions and our sensitivity needs to be cultivated, but first it needs to be honored in order for it to develop. So the stuff that we’re the most afraid to show in our being is often the very stuff that leads us to love most directly when we finally can name it and dignify it and honor it. So this is an amazing thing, and I’ve absolutely found it to be true in decades of my own journey and my work with a lot of other people. So how do you discover your core gifts? Well, amazingly, the parts of ourselves that we’re the most insecure about often reveal our greatest core gifts. The parts we’re ashamed to lead with, the parts where we’ve kind of gotten this very sad and painful life message around, which makes us come to believe, when I show that part of myself, I get rejected. When I show that part of myself, I get walked all over. And I’d like each one of you to be thinking, where is this true for you? You can follow along in this process to name your core gifts.


When we know how to honor ourselves and other people, healthy love can be born and can flourish. Click To Tweet


When I show this part of myself, I get taken advantage of by other people or shamed. Those things are X marks the spot for where your gifts lie. But amazingly, when we don’t know how to dignify them, we are attracted to, and we somehow attract people, who ultimately step on those parts of ourselves. And we try this endless process of getting them to love us right and that is in so many ways the deeper story of what happens in the search for love. The way that we hold our deepest gifts is reflected in the kind of people that we’re attracted to and that we attract.

So how do we figure out what our core gifts are? The simple way that we learn our core gifts is that we notice the things that hurt our hearts. And whenever we find things that hurt our hearts, instead of saying, what’s wrong with me? I’m over sensitive, I have to get over this, we stop and we say, how does it make sense that I feel this way? How does this come from a deep and important part of me? How could I honor that part of me and dignify it? And then of course the next steps are, how can I express it and with whom can I express it in a way that is safe? That’s the next level, that’s the interactive level. But the first stage is the recognizing our profound sensitivities and our deep passions. So we notice the things that hurt our heart, because those are the times where these deep places of the language of our being are not being seen or honored.

So of course, this doesn’t mean that we get to be overreactive, that we have to act on every hurt, because especially around our core gifts, those end up being the places of our deepest immaturity, because they’re where we get the most reflexively protective because we know our soul lives there.


The Most Important Things I Know About Finding Love

Get Out There and Work With Your Attractions: The way that we hold our deepest gifts is reflected in the kind of people that we’re attracted to and that we attract.


But that first stage of knowing what the gift is, knowing what hurt you and honoring that and dignifying it and making space for it does have to happen. How you react then is kind of part two of that. So, the other way that we discover our core gifts is by noticing what fills our heart. What are the things that just make your heart feel quickened in your life? And think about this as I ask these questions and totally feel free to pause because you’re going on an adventure of discovering and naming your most precious parts of yourself. So what are the things that give you a sense of real peace in your life, or expansion, or deep comfort in your own skin, or joy, or quiet joy, or boisterous joy, that gives you just a kind of juicy sense of connection with other people and the world, or nourishment, or aliveness?

What are those things? Because this is another way, this is the other way that we kind of discover the coding of who we really are and what our deepest gifts are. What’s really interesting to me is how, as a matter of course, we take the things that hurt our hearts and we minimize them and tell ourselves we need to be tougher. And we take the things that fill our heart, and we notice them, but move past them kind of quickly. And yet those are kind of keys to our makeup and keys to our success in love and in life. And not enough time is spent honoring the things that bring us joy and the things that hurt us. So these are some of the things that I’ve really noticed in this first stage of work of discovering your core gifts. And actually, I’m going to say one more thing about that first stage, and this is an amazing thing. It’s that when you’re in a romantic relationship, the parts of you that you feel most embarrassed to share, and most timid to reveal in sex, in communication, in disclosing who you are, those things are nuclear.

They’re where your core gifts lie. And these are gifts that you haven’t yet learned to embrace or work with their power and their differentness and their originality and their depth. So take a minute to think if you can see what those parts of you are, because they are the real players. Those are the power levers in this entire journey. So those things, the things we’re most timid to share in our intimate relationships, including in sex and in conflict and in need, those things are nuclear. And when we learn to embrace them, we have a profound change in our romantic lives.


Get Out There and Work With Your Attractions


So I’m going to move on to stage two, which is the working with your attractions. And this is of course a great oversimplification, but in some way, we all have two circuitries of attraction. One is where we’re attracted, because we can almost get what we want, but not quite. And we attribute that to some kind of deficiency in us because if we were, fill in the blank, more X, less Y, we could get this person to love us. And that is an endless loop. And boy does that feel like love and often feels like white, hot love, but it’s also the kind of love that you just can’t believe that you are so compelled while you know it’s not good for you. Those are attractions of deprivation and they’re really easy to have. And those of us who have qualities and attributes that are core gifts that we’ve been shamed for or neglected around or unappreciated around, we internalize that devaluing of those parts of ourselves and then we’re more likely to end up in these attractions of deprivation and have them feel sexy and home and just unbelievably compelling.

But there’s another circuitry of attraction, which is what I call attractions of inspiration. And those are attractions where there’s a goodness, a safety, a willingness on each person’s part to return back to the love and the connection. There’s an availability, there’s a kindness, there’s a willingness to listen and there’s a presentness and a safety that is so important, and those are attractions of inspiration and they’re the path to happiness, and they’re a path to a future of happiness. And if we’re not used to them, they could seem kind of boring often after a certain period of time because that drama of wanting love and losing it and trying to gain it back and pull it off the edge of a cliff or pull ourselves off the edge of the cliff, that kind of drama is just not there. And also in an attraction of inspiration, we experience something that for many of us is both deeply desired and also deeply terrifying. And that’s availability. Availability is a really scary thing, true availability, because it makes us want to hide our most protected parts because now they’re truly at risk in a way that they’re not with someone who doesn’t really want you.

And here’s another amazing thing, really amazing. Is that as we shift our relationship to our core gifts, to our deepest truest, most alive, authentic parts, as that relationship heals, our attractions heal. We actually start to become more attracted to attractions of inspiration. And in the intensives that I lead, they’re six months long and the first stage, this discovery of your core gifts takes almost half of the six months. But when we’ve gone through that process, people find again and again and again in a very profound way that they have lost their taste for attractions that chip away at their sense of self-worth. They actually truly lose their taste for those relationships, which once maybe seemed so compelling and so sexy. And that’s an amazing thing.

When we do this work of self-honoring and then decide to only look for people who honor us and who we organically feel like we honor, and relationships that feel in an essential way, truthful, healthy, and safe, when we make those choices, when we do this thing of saying, no more attractions of deprivation. I’m going to put my back to this bustling door of attractions of deprivation that are calling out to me. I’m going to put my back to the door, I’m going to press backwards, and I’m going to lock it behind me. I’m not available for attractions of deprivation anymore. I’m not doing that anymore. When we make that decision and then say, “I’m going to be open for and look for and intend to find attractions of inspiration”, when those two things happen, our field shifts, our magnetic field shifts. And this is another amazing thing that we find ourselves, not immediately, usually, but over time, choosing people and being attracted to and meeting people who are more attractions of inspiration.

Sometimes these are steppingstone relationships and that’s something I talked about in the last episode, but we’re moving closer, we’re moving closer. Our field is shifting and that is a fabulous thing. And I’ve seen it again and again and again in this work, so that when I see people taking these steps, I say to them, “Your field is shifting. You may not know it, but it is.” So go out and experiment because you will notice that your kind of personal magnetism, your magnetic field has shifted, and you will notice changes. So that’s an amazing thing that happens in this deeper journeying toward healthy love.


Core gifts are the raw material of our life genius. Click To Tweet


And here’s another one that I’ve talked about. One that I think is really amazing, and this is a little bit of a detour from the stages, but this is what it is. When we are ashamed of our need, our need for love, our need for connection, our need for quiet communication, our need for quiet holding, our need for boisterous joy, our need for intellectual stimulation, whatever those deep hungers are because of the way that you’re built and what your core gifts are, when you can’t honor those parts of yourselves, those needs, then those needs turn into neediness, and neediness is a shame-based state that makes us get passive-aggressive, depressed, we bury our true selves, we get irritated, and we do all of these unwonderful things because when we shame our need, it turns into neediness, which turns into acting out against ourselves and/or other people.

But when we can honor our needs, no matter how kind of interesting and original and quirky and intense or quiet they are, and make room for them and validate them and normalize them within ourselves, and then find the way to turn that need into a loving ask, it makes all the difference in the world and it is not easy to do, but it is a joy to be able to claim those parts of ourselves and the understanding that your need is one of your greatest gifts and that shaming that need leads to neediness. These are really important insights that I don’t think we get taught very often.

So the third stage that I want to talk about is the stage of getting out there. Getting out there as your authentic self, which means that those very parts of yourself that you’ve been taught to be ashamed of, that you’ve been taught are not sexy, are not stereotypically desirable, do not fit the gender identity and gender expression that you are supposed to have, that there are qualities that will make men run from you or women run from you, I just hate hearing these things, or people of any gender identity run from you because they’re not sexy enough or confident enough, or they’re not feminine enough or masculine enough, all these different things. And when we decide that we’re going to date in a different way, when you decide that you’re going to honor those parts of yourself, your profound originality. You’re actually going to date leading with that stuff and looking for the people who get it and appreciate it and with whom it feels safe. You have totally shifted your intention around your dating journey. One of the gifts that you’ll experience is your fear of rejection will almost definitely lessen.


The Most Important Things I Know About Finding Love

Rewire in a Healthy Relationship: When we know how to honor ourselves and other people, healthy love can be born and can flourish.


So when we say, “I’m going to be me and I’m only going to look for people who get it and treasure it”, you can see that it’s just the most existentially brave act that you can do. And we get rewarded because when we do that brave act, this arc shows itself. We get rewarded because our search for love transforms, which is an absolutely amazing thing. We get rewarded from acting in these brave self-loving ways. So that is an experiment for you to take into your dating life. The bravery of leading with who you are, and let me say, there’s another bravery too, which is the bravery of leading with who you are in an environment where you’re likely to find people who share your values, being brave enough to go to those places. That’s a really brave thing to do. It’s so easy to just swipe and stay home and just get into the mode of looking. And I’m all in favor of using the internet and online dating, but I’m also deeply in favor of having you go to environments with people who share your values, because you will save huge amounts of time by doing that.

And there really is a place for bravery in this work. This is an adventure. This is an initiation. This is a hero’s journey. It’s the shifting from what will make me more attractive to, what is the true me? How can I lead with the beauty of that? And how can I then only choose people that get the beauty of that and where that’s mutual? That’s a hero’s journey and it’s brave as hell, but we are really ultimately rewarded for that. And bravery is not easy. Getting out there is not easy. It’s really hard. And I don’t want to pretend it’s not, because it’s hard and it’s hard again and again and again, and this is something that I talk about a lot in my work and I really stress, get a learning partner, get help, join a group because this is just way too hard to do alone. It’s too much shape shifting. It’s too much characterological transformation to do alone.

We need friends who push us to get out there. I wouldn’t have met my husband if I didn’t have friends. I talk about this story a lot. If I didn’t have two people who loved me and pushed the hell out of me to go to an event that I completely did not want to go to, I wouldn’t have found my husband and I wouldn’t have the life that I have now. So learning partner, pushing you, encouraging you, but also there are all these places where we make these micro choices that we don’t even realize and they lead us down the same old path and we don’t even realize that it’s what the Buddhist call, the seeds of suffering in our behavior that we don’t even see. But the people who know us and love us, they see it clear as a bell, and they’ve probably seen it a lot of times before when we’ve done it. And in our relationships and our behaviors, they can help us because they can tell us just as we can do that for them.

And then those strange points in the intimacy journey that we have, these odd things that happen inside us or in relationships, and just being able to share them with someone and having air and space and light and attention placed on them, begins to transform them. It’s almost similar to that quantum physics concept that when something’s observed or examined, it changes. It’s so true that when we share something complicated and it’s just seen, it begins to kind of unknot inside and we get a little glimpse of a way out or a way ahead. So if your search for love really means a lot to you, do not do it alone, because you’ll waste a lot of time and you’ll lose the potential for a lot of extra wisdom.


Rewire in a Healthy Relationship


And now I want to talk a little bit about the last stage, which is the stage of the rewiring we need to do when we’re in an essentially healthy relationship. And I guess a couple things that I want to say here are this concept that I talk about a lot, but Harville Hendrix, the brilliant theoretician around intimacy and relationships says this, “Turn your anger into an ask.” I think that is so fabulous. And I know so many times turn your anger into an ask, turn your need into an ask, and swinging out both in terms of how much you ask for and how much you give is probably the most direct way to add fuel to the fire of your love life. And even though there’s so much more, this is the last thought that I want to share around this fourth stage. And that is, no matter how broken we can feel, or how much we’ve experienced trauma and the reverberations of trauma in our being, which is a very profound thing and stops us from being who we envision ourselves to be.

And trauma just has this very powerful effect on our being. Or maybe just not having had the experience of having had healthy relationships, all of these profound things that get in the way of our intimacy journey. Things that are real and really difficult and really do affect us. But just like a spider can somehow walk on a spider web without getting stuck in it because it knows the strands that are not sticky. All of us have strands, especially around our deep gifts that are not really sticky places where we’re capable of deep love, no matter how traumatized we’ve been, places where we’re capable of giving love and receiving love. And we all have those. And when we live from our gifts and we only choose people with whom we feel safe, we are so much more likely to find those strands that are not sticky so that we can navigate our lives and our dates and our relationships.

So one last thing I want to say about this fourth stage, this stage of rewiring in a pretty healthy relationship is every stage is humbling, Every stage is challenging, but for me, there’s a way that seeing how in a healthy, good relationship, which I have, I stumble, I fall, I miss cues, I get too angry, I miss being there for my partner. It’s very humbling to see our kind of clay feet when it comes to being in an intimate relationship. And as wonderful as that relationship might be, it still happens, and at least for me, I’m humbled all the time by these things.

It’s humbling to see how we close our eyes, the eyes of our heart, to love, how we miss cues, how we put ourselves center stage and miss the storyline of what’s really going on because we’re so center stage. All these different things are just … they’re just deeply humbling, but there’s a grace to letting ourselves be humbled by seeing what we need to learn. And that act of being humbled by what we need to learn, seeing what we need to learn, caring about it and wanting it to be different and trying to make it different is I think like a big part of the essence of greatness and intimacy. So for all of us who are tackling this journey, congratulations, and to each one of you who’s tackling this journey of bringing your heart and your soul and your authenticity to your search for love, I honor you for your bravery and your courage. Thank you all for listening and I look forward to speaking and connecting again 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.