There are no “shoulds” along the path of deeper dating. Finding love is a personal and unique process. So what do we do when we like someone but we are not immediately very attracted to them? Today I explain how we can work and play with the language of our attractions. I also share research-backed techniques for building romantic and sexual attraction.
Listen to this episode to learn how to build attraction off the basis of a really good connection.
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- Can you force attraction
- How to build romantic attraction
- What are tips for enhancing sexual attraction
- How to know if you are attracted to someone
- What to do if you are attracted to someone that is not good for you
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Welcome to part two in a two-part series on what do you do when you really like someone, but you’re just not attracted enough? In this series, and particularly in this episode, you will learn research-backed techniques for building sexual and romantic attraction. The tools you’ll learn are universal intimacy tools that will empower and support your capacity for romance and your capacity for Eros. Stay tuned to this episode.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page, I’m a psychotherapist, author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating, and host of this podcast. Today I’m going to be talking about part two in a two-part series around building attraction when there’s a really good connection, research-backed and experience-backed ways that you can build real erotic and sexual and romantic attraction with someone who you think is great, but you’re not really attracted enough.
In this episode and every episode, I’m committed to sharing with you the greatest tools and insights I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are the skills of love and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.
If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® path to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and you’ll get a series of three really wonderful gifts, resources to help you in your intimacy journey and you’ll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. You’ll also find complete transcripts of every episode as well.
By the way, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could leave me a review and subscribe, and thank you so much for that. I’ve gotten such beautiful, beautiful reviews and I’m really grateful for that. Let’s jump in.
Attraction can be built; it cannot be forced. Click To Tweet
I want to start out with a really important concept, and that concept is that attraction can be built. Attraction cannot be forced. If it’s not there, it’s not there, you can’t make yourself like someone just because they’re good for you. But on some level, attraction, if there is a spark there, which we can’t control, we can set up an environment to allow that as a possibility.
One of the things that that environment requires is not pressuring yourself to be attracted to someone, and the other is enjoying them and giving space to the positivity of the connection and allowing your erotic and sensual and romantic fantasies room to grow and develop inside of you. The other one is warm, intimate touch, vulnerable communication, caring appreciation, kindness, and eye gazing are all research-proven to create an environment that can allow attraction to develop if it’s meant to develop and absolutely to increase and build and deepen attraction.
There are no “shoulds” here. Again, I need to keep saying this because I think it’s so important. There’s no should to have to be attracted to someone you’re not attracted to. But these are tools that are rich and valuable and essential so that we can work with and play with and understand the language of our attractions and actually be able to work with them, and these are skills that are really not taught. Now I want to talk about different kinds of situations where you could be wondering, “Well, what do I do here?”
One of those situations is someone who is really, really awesome and wonderful and you feel a deep connection, and maybe it even feels like the slightest bit erotic, but only because you like them so much. In a case like that, it’s really important, I’ve said this so many times already even in this episode, but I want to say it again, not to feel like you need to force yourself or pressure yourself to become more attracted to them. You want to really not do that. What you want to do is enjoy them and maybe at some point attraction will grow and develop and turn on will grow and develop.
Exploring romantic possibilities:
I’m really curious. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience before. I remember sitting in a room of people, it was a Codependents Anonymous meeting that I was in, which by the way was really helpful for me and my growth, and it’s a program I really love.
But anyway, so I was in this meeting and there was this guy that was there, and I had heard him quite a number of times before. But I looked at him and something about the angle of the way that he was sitting and then he spoke and after a good number of meetings, all of a sudden I looked at him and I said, “I am really attracted.” I had never thought that before.
I’m curious if you’ve ever had that situation. I’d love it if people could write in and tell me. I’m really interested in these stories, other stories around this entire arena. But did you ever have the experience of there you were and you were not attracted to somebody and then all of a sudden you were attracted to them?
Research shows that the longer you contemplate an object in an emotional way, the more intense the emotions toward that object will become. Click To Tweet
There’s this wonderful scene in the book Fried Green Tomatoes, which was actually de-gayed to a large degree by the movie, unfortunately as happens. But anyway, so Idgie and Ruth are together, they’re friends, and Idgie does this wild thing where she sticks her hand into a hive of bees, then she’s covered with bees and she gets honey. Ruth sees this, thinks Idgie is going to die, is about to pass out from fear, and then Idgie is fine, comes to her, and at that moment she kind of crashingly realizes that she is in love with her. That’s a dramatic story, but these kind of things happen.
I know somebody who fell in love with someone when this person in high school passed out in front of him. That was it. He fell in love. There’s actually something called the pratfall effect where one of the things that could make you fall in love with somebody is that they do something really stupid or have something really embarrassing or awkward happen to them.
This spectrum of how we can fall in love is richer and deeper than we’re taught, and God knows when it’s pressured by having to make a decision immediately or quickly, and that pressure can come from dating apps, our culture, it could come from our own pressure toward ourselves like, “I really better figure this out right away. I better know because I don’t want to hurt this person or get myself embroiled in some kind of connection where the other person likes me and I’m not as interested in them,” all sorts of reasons.
But the key piece here is that if you’re in a situation with someone who you really like, really let yourself like them. Enjoy it, be grateful for it. It’s a big deal to have someone that you really like and if it’s someone you really like and you really trust and they’re really solid, well, you’ve got gold baby.
Whether this person is your friend or your partner, these are the treasures of life, those relationships with people with whom our soul feels safe, with whom our soul feels expressed, with whom we can really be ourselves and we can feel that the other person is going to have our back. That’s just gold. The biggest thing that I would say is enjoy that.
If this magic of Eros shows up, and sometimes it does show up, I tell stories about this in my book of people for whom this has happened. If it does show up, oh baby, enjoy that. If little tendrils of desires start appearing, enjoy them. Do not pressure yourself. Do not do more than you’re ready to do. Do not force or expect that to happen. But if it does, it’s just a little bit of life magic and it happened. If it doesn’t, you have a friend who is treasured.
Exercising the spark:
Now let’s talk about exploring romantic possibilities when you’re just not sure that there is an attraction there. It’s like you would not say, “Nope, there’s no attraction, there’s no spark.” No, there is some spark, but it’s way not enough to leap headlong into a new dating relationship.
When that happens, again, the first thing is to be really gentle with yourself, to allow nature to be nature, to allow for periods where you might have sparks of more attraction, and then the attraction can kind of ebb and disappear for periods of time. It’s so important that we learn this skill of not feeling desperate or frightened or that we have to make an immediate decision when our attraction is at low tide because things will get clearer in time.
If you find that there’s this back and forth of, “Oh, I’m a little more attracted, now I’m not so attracted. Oh, now I’m pretty attracted, now I’m not attracted at all,” if that happens, you’re in a dance with your own nature, your own attractions. Let that dance happen. Try to enjoy it and just realize that the richness of Eros can be experienced as landscape within ourselves and appreciated without having to kind of act on it in any way.
During a phase like that though, I also want to say that you do have the right to experience a tasting menu of other connections unless your sense is, “Oh, this is really precious, this is really precious. I want to just stick with this and see what grows. I don’t want to squander my Eros. I don’t want to create a leak in the container. I want to see what can build,” I’m 1000% in favor of that, 1000%, and I think that’s a really great thing to do. But if you’re not at that place that that feels organic, instead it feels forced, you have the right to kind of have this tasting menu of other connections just to see what you see.
As people discover and name their Core Gifts, they actually naturally and organically start losing their taste for unhealthy relationships. Click To Tweet
I’m going to read something that I wrote in my book Deeper Dating about this scenario, this space with someone. “You have the right to meet new people and experience new kinds of attractions, and these attractions can come in all shapes and forms without the pressure to commit, the pressure to have sex, or the pressure to give more than you want to give, and when you realize that attraction can grow through connection, you’ll have a lot more options to find healthy love.”
Now let’s say you’re in a situation where you are saying, “I want to see if I can deepen my erotic and romantic interest to this person. I’m going to give this a try. I’m really going to give this a try.” How do you exercise that spark? How do you build that spark? Well, here I do want to read something from my book that I just think really captures it.
“When you build muscle through exercise, your body creates new capillaries to feed that muscle. When you create new love, something similar happens. New neural pathways, emotional pathways, new rituals, new sense memories, new needs actually get created. As you start to care more deeply about someone, invisible tendrils begin to grow in your thinking, in your sexual imaginings, and in your longings, and in your growing sense of dependence on this person. Your psyche, your sexuality, and your heart begin to create attachment to that person to make them your own. You become specialized in them in so many ways. Sharing parts of yourself that are ever closer to the center of your authentic self is one of the most powerful ways to build love. If you can share those tender and passionate parts of yourself and feel heard and appreciated, you may well feel love deepening.”
Ask for more:
What do you do with that? What do you do when that happens? Well, a few things. One simple thing is to enjoy. The brain focuses on negative and frightening possibilities more than on beautiful ones. We can retrain our brain. For example, in a situation like that, the fear might be, “What if this person isn’t right for me? What if I hurt this person? What if they hurt me? What if, what if, what if, what if?”
We have lots and lots of fears when it comes to new love, but we can practice this technique of appreciating and enjoying, and that is the deepest, richest way to build attraction is to let our enjoyments and our appreciations flourish with no force. We can add to that by gradually sharing more and more of our most intimate parts with someone who, when we do that, we feel seen and held. That’s a huge way of building attraction.
Along with that, here’s another way that you can build romantic and sexual attraction. Swing out in terms of what you ask for. Actually ask for more. Ask for the ways of being seen, the ways of being held, the ways of playing together, the ways of being together that are a little awkward and embarrassing to ask for, but you would love them if they happened.
When you do that and those asks, those needs are met, that deepens intimacy pretty unequivocally and often will deepen passion, romance, Eros, et cetera. Swinging out in terms of what you give, being extra generous, giving more, thinking more about the person and doing gestures that show that, that also really, it deepens the joy in the connection, it deepens your investment in the connection and hence, deepens Eros and attraction.
Swing out in terms of what you ask for. It’s a wild thing. Try it, try it, and let me know what happens because it’s a powerful, powerful Eros and romance experiment. Along the lines of letting ourselves appreciate these qualities in someone without pressure, and by the way, these are the beautiful skills of courting that life has largely robbed us of.
Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron are this kind of power couple in the world of human understanding. Art Aron is the researcher who has written about the 36 questions that lead to love, and Elaine Aron, his wife, is the person who created the concept of highly sensitive people. She wrote a book called Highly Sensitive People in Love, and I really recommend it.
I want to quote something fabulous about this very subject that she says. She says, “Research shows that the longer you contemplate an object in an emotional way, the more intense the emotions toward that object will become.” The simple message here is that the more you contemplate someone you feel you could love, the more you will indeed love that person.
This is a fabulous, fabulous thing, and I think it captures the magic of how we can nurture like we nurture and grow a plant, like we nurture and grow friendships, how we can nurture and grow romantic love.
You think what are the parts of this person’s personality, what are the kind of interactions that feed you and gratify you? Whether it ends up being sexual or not, that same question is the question of intimacy. Let yourself name those and engage with them even more. What interests and passions do you have in common?
Because another thing is that research shows that engaging in novel, adventurous behaviors actually stimulates Eros. Again, let yourself do that physically too. What are the parts of this person that are turn-ons to you, are sexy or maybe just kind as sexy or kind of cool or kind of nice? What are some fantasies of things that you would like to do with this person physically? Here again, you give yourself tons of room and you decrease the pressure valve again and again and again. Maybe physically the only thing you want to do with someone is like, “Oh, it would be nice to hug. It would be nice to hold hands.”
There’s a pretty big leap between just hugging and holding hands and that’s fine, but whatever it is, you just allow space for that without pressuring yourself to do more. You do that and you relish it. You just relish it. You just enjoy it and watch what happens. You definitely build intimacy and you may well be building Eros.
Speaking of touching, just gentle touching is actually a very powerful way to build possible Eros and romance. Here’s a wild story that I read in an article in Psychology Today. It was about the writer had gone to some kind of alligator farm and the owner had an alligator on his lap and he was petting it and he said, “If I don’t do this regularly, I would be in danger with this alligator. Maybe it was a crocodile, I’m not sure, but whatever it is, he said that the petting and the touching of this crocodile tamed it, made it more connected, made it more affectionate.
Craig Malkin, who’s a professor of psychology at Harvard University whose work I really love, said this. “Multiple lines of evidence confirm the romantic importance of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, which is released in greater quantities when we touch our loved ones. The more you touch, the more oxytocin is released, which helps create feelings of closeness and trust, which leads to more touch. It’s a positive intimacy loop.”
Here is a gorgeous micro-meditation for you to try and play with. It’s an erotic micro-meditation, and here’s what it is. You’re with somebody and there’s a spark. You don’t want to do this meditation to force yourself to feel a spark. I’ve said that again and again, and I just think it bears saying because people can take these messages and turn them into, “I have to build attraction with someone who’s good for me,” and that’s not true.
I would encourage you greatly to build connection with someone who’s good for you, but attraction, physical attraction, that’s like a magic thing, that’s a nature thing. That bird lands on your shoulder and gets scared away by pressure or doesn’t land on your shoulder and that has to be accepted.
Here’s this micro-meditation. It’s when there is a spark, and you might even want to try this right now if there’s someone you could think of that feels like a healthy relationship and there’s a spark, and if you have patterns of any kind of sexual addiction, this is one to use consciously and use wisely in healthy relationships, not all over the place.
But it’s to really deepen into what attracts you, to really allow that time, to really allow yourself to think maybe there’s a body part or maybe there’s an activity or an action or a way of touching or being touched, and you just give yourself some time to fantasize, to let that grow in your mind.
This is a tool for all of us that we can use where you let yourself picture the beauty of this part of that person, the hotness of this part of that person, the sexiness, the spark, the warmth, whatever it is, you just take time to enjoy it, and I guess that is the deepest and simplest message here, is that when there’s good, romantic good, spiritual good, character good, sexual good, you allow yourself the time and the space to relish that, to express that, to enjoy that, and to share that.
The last thing that I want to talk about briefly is what do you do when there’s someone that you are crazy attracted to but you know is not good for you? Well, in those situations, practice not using these tools. Practice staying away. Talk to your friends who can remind you of why you are leaving this relationship.
In my Deeper Dating® intensives, we spend a lot of time on this, and as people discover and name their Core Gifts, they actually naturally and organically start losing their taste for unhealthy relationships. It’s not immediate, but it happens. The more you dignify and honor the precious parts of your being, your Core Gifts, the more you do that, the more you’ll find yourself naturally and organically steering away from relationships like that, but you might need support, you might need friends, you might need to remember in your head why this is not good, why this is not safe.
You might need to be really direct with this person, speaking about what’s not working and what you need. Because often in these relationships, we don’t exactly ask for what we need. We don’t clearly state what hurts. We don’t state, “This is our bottom line of what’s not okay, or this is our bottom line of what we need.” We don’t do the full ask.
As Maryanne Williamson so beautifully says, “Both feet in until both feed out.” Doing that and then seeing how able that person is to meet these basic and important needs for safety or whatever it is, is really another important thing that we can do to remind ourselves.
But remember too that those relationships that are the hottest and the sexiest and make us the most weak-kneed often are so because this person embodies not just the best but the worst, most painful characteristics of your primary caregivers, and unconsciously, it’s unconscious, your ego wants to go back to the scene of the crime to get them to love you right.
Remember that and protect yourself because there is just almost no greater loss of time and possibility and potential, and the opportunity for deeper self-love and flowering of self than getting entangled and mired and stuck in a relationship that is an attraction of deprivation in an essential way versus in a deep, true essential way being an attraction of inspiration.
It’s a funny thing because a lot of these skills are taught to people that are in a relationship in lots of books and texts and courses that teach people how to create hotness and build hotness and build desire in a romantic relationship, but there’s not enough of that for single folks who are at that earlier early stage of cultivating connection.
These tools are kind of universal tools that will not only help you steer your path to healthy love so much in a better way, but they’ll help you as well when you find beautiful, healthy love to keep that alive and flourishing and precious and amazing.
Thank you so much for listening and just an encouragement again. If you find value in this to please subscribe to please leave me a review and go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and sign up for my mailing lists so that you can hear about lots of different events that I’m doing and also get some very wonderful free gifts that I’ve created. Thank you all and I look forward to connecting on the next episode.
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