Infatuation is such an important piece of the intimacy journey that we all need to face, so today I talk about how to navigate the pitfalls — while also enjoying the delights — of new love. While infatuation is commonplace, it is also a stepping stone to lasting love where so many get stuck. I have had so many people ask questions about it. So in this episode, I share what happens to us in the infatuation stage and explain how to tell if your infatuation is healthy. I also share the best advice I ever got from my own therapist.
There is nothing quite like the roller coaster of feelings we get in a new romance. Listen in to learn how to handle infatuation in a new relationship and which steps we need to go through to move into healthier love, and how to bring discrimination and wisdom into the wild ride of infatuation — and potential new love.
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- What happens in the infatuation stage
- How to know if your infatuation is healthy
- How are the two circuitries of attraction related to infatuation
- What does the wave of distancing look like
- How to avoid pushing your partner away
- Which steps do we need to go through to move into healthier love
- Get a copy of Deeper Dating by Ken Page
- Join the Coaching and Mentorship Intensive with Ken Page
- Connect with us on Instagram
There is nothing quite like the experience of all the feelings we get in a new potential relationship; infatuation, craziness, fear. Stay tuned to this episode to learn how to bring discrimination and wisdom into the wild and exciting and scary joy of a new potential relationship.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m your host Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating and the founder of The Deeper Dating® Intensive. And I’m so glad to be with you here today when we talk about navigating the rollercoaster of infatuation and the honeymoon period of new love.
So, in this episode and every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, healthy love, and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process. Because the skills of dating are the deep skills of intimacy, and really those are the greatest skills of all for a happy and meaningful life. And if you want to know more about the Deeper Dating® path to deeper intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. You’ll find transcripts of every episode and you’ll get some really wonderful free gifts as well if you sign up for my mailing list.
So, let’s jump in.
Squashing or suppressing your enthusiasm and your Eros is probably not going to work. If you're really good at it, that's a problem because that means that you can tamp down your natural enthusiasm maybe a little too easily. Click To Tweet
Infatuation – this is something that is such an important piece of the intimacy journey that we need to navigate, and it’s a place where so many people get stuck. And it’s a place where I’ve gotten so many questions as a psychotherapist and a coach and where of course I’ve had so many questions myself on the very same subject, but it’s a really exciting and important subject to talk about. And speaking of excitement, that’s kind of so much of what happens in the infatuation stage, is that there’s this incredible excitement. And I would say at that stage, the biggest question, the biggest discrimination point that people talk to me about and ask me about is this one, “How do I know whether I’m getting too excited? How do I know whether this is what’s called limerence, this kind of unbalanced infatuation that’s not really about the other person, it’s about our needs and our desires and our fantasies. How do I know if this excitement is that? And what do I do with this excitement because it could end up feeling really demanding or really needy or overwhelming or a big gust that could scare someone else away?
And also, I feel a little embarrassed about it too because it’s kind of really intense and doesn’t necessarily match the situation. So, what am I supposed to do with it?” That’s I would say one of the biggest questions that I get. And this is a place that is really an art, and the first thing that I would say is squashing your enthusiasm or suppressing your enthusiasm and your Eros is probably not going to work. If you’re really good at it, that’s a problem because that means that you can tamp down your natural enthusiasm maybe a little too easily. You can kind of put up a wall. You really do want to allow yourself the magic of your enthusiasm. And that includes all of the fantasies about, well, what if we get married? What if we do this? What about this? What about that?
There’s a way that if we cut those things off because they’re unrealistic, we’re cutting off our connection to our own heart, our excitement, our Eros, our enthusiasm and our growing sense of attraction to somebody. And I remember a point when I was involved with someone and he was an artist, and he would send me all of these amazing, amazing pieces of art. And this just thrilled me endlessly, having a real connection to art in my own life. And I remember bringing it into my supervisor, just showing her all of this art and saying, “I’m like gaga over this person and I feel stupid being this gaga over this person.”
And she said something to me that was incredibly wise, we were a little bit further down the path of entering into a relationship. But what she said was, she said, “Save it and bottle it, this warmth, this honey, this magic, you’re going to need it in some of the cold nights that are up ahead when things aren’t that wonderful. We need to enjoy that incredible thrust of our initial magic with the new partner because that’s going to sustain us. That’s going to get us out of the gravity zone of our own stuff. We can’t just push that magic down.” I think this is beautiful and true. Also, if we push down our enthusiasm and we’re not as good at really suppressing it, it’s going to come out as neediness. It’s going to come out in unhealthy ways. There will be a way that our shame around our joy, delight, excitement, and fantasy will kind of turn against us because we’re turning it into shadow, as opposed to an embodied integrated part of us.
The Art of Control:
So, the thing about this infatuation state is that it does not have to be a free fall. There’s an art here. There is a control lever that each of us has, a few control levers that we can hold onto that can guide us, allowing us to keep our excitement and our enthusiasm, but actually move with deeper discrimination. And I’m going to talk to you about what those controls are. The first one, the first control is what we feel in our body and our hearts. So, every time we feel a paper cut of pain, of disappointment, every time we feel hurt and not mirrored, or not seen. Every time that we have an ask that we haven’t asked for, an ask that we have asked for and that hasn’t been met, there’s a sadness or a pain that happens inside. And often we then choose to not lose the fantasy. And so we choose the fantasy over the reality, and the reality is felt in our emotions and our body.
Now, that, what it is that we feel in our body and our emotions may not be accurate, it may be projection. We’ll find that out and I’ll talk to you about how we find that out. But the first step is to recognize, do we feel safe in our body? Do we feel seen in our body? Do we feel held? Do we feel understood? And if not, we need to take that seriously and honor it and work with it, which I’ll talk about in a minute. But that’s like our hand on the joystick that’s going to turn this not into a free fall, but into a movement that’s going to lead us toward healthy love, whether in this relationship or in a future one. Our hand needs to remain on that control of “what am I feeling in.”
If we push down our enthusiasm and we're not good at really suppressing it, it's going to come out as neediness. It's going to come out in unhealthy ways. Click To Tweet
The way that I ask people to consider this is with one question that I think is the most important central question in our dating journey. “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” Because you do not want to build your home on a place where there’s not an essential and consistent sense of the other person’s safety, goodness, and integrity. That’s where you want to build your home in this world. And when you set your control mechanisms to say, that’s what I want, and that’s what I’m looking for, you dignify yourself, you honor yourself, and you immediately are listening to the cues that tell you, this felt not so right. This felt wonderful. I felt really seen. I love that generosity in this person. So, we keep kind of a sense of our own intuition of does this feel good, does this feel right?
And when it comes to this really kind of difficult choice of do I choose the magic, magic, magic of this fantasy, or do I go with, “Uh, something doesn’t feel good here.” It’s really important that we think about the thing that doesn’t feel good, and we allow ourselves to think, “Well, what is it that I needed? What is it that I wanted?” And instead of blaming the other person, we actually ask for what we want. One of the most powerful ways to know if your fabulous infatuation is really a fabulous infatuation, meaning it’s going to turn into real love potentially, or not, is by allowing yourself your asks, the things you want, the things you need, the things that matter to you, earlier on than you might have, and noticing the person’s response.
In my intensives, I see this all the time, this is one of the early things that we work on, and it’s so beautiful to see people not suppressing, not swallowing the things that don’t feel right or the longings or the needs that they have, but finding a way to ask in a non-blaming way that allows the other person to consider giving. And when you do this, you learn worlds. And also, you portray and you convey a sense of self-dignity, which goes a really long way both for yourself and in any new relationship. When we make that choice to stay connected to our feelings and to trust them and to honor them, but also let us have the joy of our enthusiasm, we are on so much of a wiser path because really, really, really new romance is one of the most magical, magical things in life. And we don’t want to deprive ourselves of that if this is in fact potentially going to be a really good relationship, we want to revel in it.
Attractions of Deprivation:
And if it’s not the right relationship, we want to use our discrimination. Because this is something I talk about a lot, that we have two circuitries of attraction, Attractions of Deprivation, which is when we’re attracted to somebody because they almost love us right. They sometimes deprive us, and then they often or sometimes don’t. And this brings up the deepest feelings of unworthiness, but also the deepest early childhood feelings of longing and that stuff is profound. So, these Attractions of Deprivation trigger those things and it feels like love, but it’s not really necessarily love. These are Attractions of Deprivation where we don’t get that innate and consistent sense of safety, but it is sexy as hell and compelling as hell, which is why we need this education.
Choose the dream of healthy love over what might be a fantasy love with someone which is not a healthy love for us. Click To Tweet
The other kind of circuitry of attraction is the path to happiness. These are your Attractions of Inspiration where, yeah, the person’s sexy to you and cute and attractive, and there’s desire and there’s Eros, but this person has goodness, this person has kindness, this person has generosity. There’s a stability there. There’s a way that this person has curated a life based on integrity and goodness and some wisdom and a commitment to growth. When you find that along with attraction and infatuation, you are on the right path, you are on a path to such deep and rich happiness. So, we need to be able to distinguish those attractions. And something that happens when we follow this work in a deep way, we learn to honor who we really are and ask ourselves that question, does my soul feel safe, is we start getting allergic to Attractions of Deprivation and that is something to celebrate.
Now, let’s say you’re really infatuated. You find that you kind of notice things that don’t feel good and don’t feel right. You bring them up in the context of the relationship in a good and non-blaming way. “You turn your anger into an ask,” as Harville Hendrick says. And again and again, you’re not met, or you’re gaslighted or you’re disappointed, enough so that you see this is not a place my soul feels safe. Well, then there’s a terribly hard thing that happens because we have to choose between the magic of our fantasy, and it’s magic, the fantasy is magic, and reality. Choosing reality means that somewhere inside we have hoped that there is something better. Somewhere inside, we have made a commitment that we’re not going to choose that fool’s gold. We’re not going to pursue Attractions of Deprivation. And the really important thing that needs to happen here is the recognition that we are not giving up our dream. We’re giving up an illusion.
We’re not giving up the dream of a healthy, sexy, wonderful, loving, beautiful, lasting relationship, God no, we are committing to that in a deeper way by having the lonely, lonely, hard experience of saying, “No, this isn’t a match.” I remember being in a relationship with someone who was so attractive to me, and it ultimately was an Attraction of Deprivation. And it was really hard to leave. So hard, so hard, so hard to leave. But I remember thinking in my head, “You showed me the kingdom, but you don’t get to keep the crown, but I get to keep the kingdom.” And the kingdom was my dream of a beautiful, healthy, sexy, wonderful relationship, which I got to find and I got to keep, but it meant leaving that other relationship.
So, what happens when you go through these steps, you allow yourself your joy, you allow yourself your excitement, you allow yourself your fantasies, but you keep a sense of connection to your discrimination, to what your nervous system is actually feeling with this person to the degree that you do feel safe and nourished and give that back as well? Well, let’s say that someone really is available. There’s another set of whitewater on this river that many of us then will confront, especially if we’re not used to that kind of healthy generative relationship where all of a sudden, we see that the person’s really available and they’re kind of market value plummets in our head. All of a sudden, we notice these things that are just not that attractive, or we think, maybe I could do better, or we become really irritated like it’s a visceral kind of thing at things that didn’t irritate us before. This is what I call the Wave of Distancing. And it is a spasm of fear that if we’re used to unavailable people, we get that spasm of fear. We think it’s reality.
And I spent decades fleeing at that point until I learned that it is actually a wave. And if I can breathe and enjoy the person and not suffocate myself with demands or guilt, but give myself space, that spasm goes away. And I see then when it passes with clearer eyes, who this person is. Oh, I just want to backtrack for a minute, because I forgot one really important point about not noticing that someone’s, maybe qualities of Attraction of Deprivation. And this is something that I have noticed in my work, like over the decades of work that I’ve done. This is something I have seen, sometimes people who have a deep innate sense of goodness and grew up in environments where that goodness was not there, there’re two defenses that end up helping people survive but later become a problem. One defense is, pushing people away and protecting yourself, saying, “My survival comes first. Screw taking a risk. The minute I feel like there’s a risk to be taken, I’m going to protect myself because I’ve been hurt enough.”
How to do the work:
And so, there’s a kind of defensive, proactive push away that can happen anytime we get scared. And that’s something that we need to work on. And we work on that by telling the other person what we feel. And by recognizing these fears that come from ways that we’ve been hurt in the past. The other defensive tactic that people do sometimes is instead of being focused on protecting their vulnerability, they instead protect their sense of the world being a good place. When they were young, they protected their goodness, their innate goodness, by being naïve and not letting themselves believe that this person who hurt them would hurt them again. That naivete is a way that we hold onto a sense of the world’s goodness. But both that protective push away and that naïve allowing in things that aren’t good and right end up hurting us, and our adult task is if we do that push away, to learn not to do that.
To learn to see who the person is, give them space, listen to the other side. Not be as reactive in that way, but still, of course, God knows, honor, and express and champion our needs. Just not do it in such a defensive way. Or, recognizing when things don’t feel right, and our unwillingness to feel that because it would mean we’d have to give up a fantasy of who we think this person is. We’d have to give up a naivete which has saved us, saved goodness for us in the past, even though it has hurt us deeply. So rich, rich, rich pieces of growth here that I just wanted to mention. So, as we learn these steps, learn the difference between Attractions of Deprivation and Inspiration. Learn to cherish and delight in and enjoy our Eros and our enthusiasm and our excitement and the magic, but kind of stay connected to what our feelings are and choose the fantasy and the dream. I’m going to say choose the dream of healthy love over what might be a fantasy with someone which was not a healthy love for us.
And then if the person seems like they could be a healthy love riding the white waters of what I call the Wave of Distancing where we want to pull away because we’re just not used to the deeper risk of an available person. So, these are all some of the steps that we need to go through to move into healthier love. And you could see how every one of those steps is a building block to deeper love as the relationship grows. And if the relationship is not right, how much these steps will help you maintain your dream, even though you have to give up the fantasy and profoundly, profoundly deepen your sense of worth and self-worth, because you are listening to yourself as you recognize what feels right and what doesn’t feel right.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and your reflections, and I just want to celebrate this richer way of understanding your dating life as a true journey of intimacy learning. So, thank you so much for listening. I encourage you to leave a review if you like what you heard, to subscribe, and to keep listening. Thank you, so much and good luck, on your journey.
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