What do you do when you really like somebody, but you are just not attracted enough? Today’s episode is Part 1 of a two-part series that will teach research-backed techniques for building romantic and sexual attraction.
Listen in to learn how to know when there is not enough attraction in a relationship, the important stuff that we are not taught about love and attraction, and how important attraction truly is in a relationship.
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- How to know when there is not enough attraction in a relationship
- What we are not taught about love and attraction
- How important is attraction in a relationship
- Can you force sexual attraction
- How to harness the power of intention
- What is the Principle of Instrumentality
- How to build turn-on
- Get a copy of Deeper Dating by Ken Page
- Join the Coaching and Mentorship Intensive with Ken Page
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What do you do when you really like somebody but you’re just not attracted enough? Stay tuned to part one of a two-part series where you’ll learn research-backed techniques for building sexual and romantic attraction and also how to know when it’s just not there enough.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the best-selling book, Deeper Dating, and the host of this show. And today, I’m going to be talking about what to do when you like somebody but there’s just not enough sexual and romantic attraction. How do you build that attraction and how do you know when it’s just not going to be there enough? And this is the first part of a two-part series.
In this and every episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast, my commitment is to share the greatest, best tools and insights that 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 skills of life.
And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® path to real intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. And if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get three wonderful gifts and you’ll learn about how to use these ideas to transform your intimacy journey.
And we also have complete transcripts of every single episode available for you as well. And finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. That is a wonderful way to say thank you. And let’s jump right in.
Tendrils of deep connection develop through the experience of authentic intimacy, not just through someone immediately being your exact type. Click To Tweet
I think that the understanding that we are given about the search for love and about sexual attraction and about who to pick is so incredibly limited and juvenile that we are often led profoundly astray for lots of our lives because we don’t learn about the wisdom of how this stuff really works. There are some people that know from right away, from early on, “I’m going to look for somebody I’m attracted to, but decency, and integrity, and commitment, and availability, and goodness, and goodness of connection are the things that matter most.” And they look for that and they know how to stick with it.
The rest of us have to bang up against a hell of a lot of walls to discover that, to learn that, to re-shift our circuitry, to learn new tastes, and to develop those skills. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today and in the next episode.
We are taught you look for someone you’re attracted to and then you hope they’re attracted to you. And then you get to know them and you see if they’re a good person and if it feels like a match, and that’s how you do it. In other words, attraction is the very first thing you look for and it’s the thing that is the most privileged in this process, and that is going to lead us astray.
Attraction is super important. It is real. But it’s not first. It needs to be closely holding hands with our commitment to good character. That’s why I say all the time the very first question is, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?”
And yes, you do have to be attracted. But when you make your central question about the quality of the connection, the stability of the connection, the safety and the integrity of the connection, you look for love differently and you build a different future for yourself.
And I can’t tell you how many people that I’ve had the blessing to work with who made that subtle but profoundly important shift and found healthy love and learned lots about themselves in the process, for which I’m incredibly grateful.
What they don’t teach you:
The thing that we don’t get taught is that we have different circuitries of attraction. We can build different tastes. We can look for different kind of people. And as I said, we can shape a different and much better future for ourselves as we do that. So hopefully, most of us know that you cannot force sexual attraction. No matter how good and decent the person is, no matter how good they look on paper, if sexual and romantic attraction isn’t there, you can’t force it.
However, what we don’t get taught is that we can educate our attractions. We can’t force them, but we can educate them. And when we learn the skills for cultivating sexual and romantic attraction to healthy relationships, we can start building the kind of love that we’re looking for. And when we learn to educate our attractions, our dating life and our intimacy journey opens up in a whole new way.
And I’m going to quote something here from my book. I talk about in many places the two binary types of circuitries, which are Attractions of Inspiration and Attractions of Deprivation. Attractions of Inspiration grow because of the beauty of the connection, because of the safety of the connection, because of the holding to goodness and truth and honesty and love and caring in the connection.
Attractions of Deprivation are sexy and “scratch that itch” desirable because we’re always trying to get the other person to love us right. So what I wrote was, “In an Attraction of Inspiration, a spark of attraction has the potential to grow into a flame if we know how to nurture it.” And we’re going to talk about that today and in the next episode.
Attraction can grow based on the quality of connection - and that is not something that we are taught. Click To Tweet
And even if you have been, as I have, relentlessly attracted to bad boy or bad girl or bad person or unavailable-type people, you can still develop this capacity. And those are the same skills you’re going to use when you’re in a relationship to keep your passion and your turn on and your romance alive. They’re the lifelong skills of romantic and sexual intimacy.
And I wrote, “By using these skills in a healthy relationship, you can blend intense sexual turn on with the joy of intimate love.” And really, what is more wonderful than that? This is another thing that people used to know but we are trained now and sculpted to step over this truth, which is that attraction grows often as you get to know someone. And there’s solid research out there, which we’re going to be talking about, about how to make that attraction grow.
If you’re like a lot of people, and if you’re like I was for decades, if the indicator to you of a green light is just that you’re immediately and strongly turned on, you’re probably going to have a lot of pain in your life.
Think about the image of a spectrum. Instead of it being just attracted or not attracted, imagine it’s a spectrum of let’s say 0 to 10. People who are only looking for the 8’s and the 9’s and the 10’s are in truth probably going to be pretty unhappy in their love life.
Now, God knows you want to be attracted to somebody, but when you’re only looking for the 8’s and the 9’s and the 10’s, what Couples Theory, particularly the brilliant work of Harville Hendrix, teaches us is that the people we are the most sick, crazy attracted to, we are that way because they embody some of the best characteristics, but also unconsciously we’re attracted to the ways that they embody the worst characteristics of our primary caregivers.
And we want to go back to the scene of the crime to get them to love us right. It’s not conscious and it’s usually a recipe for disaster.
How to grow attraction:
So am I telling you that you should only date people you’re not that attracted to? Absolutely not. Date people you’re very attracted to, but look for character, look for goodness, look for integrity. Those are the things that matter the most.
And if you end up meeting somebody where there’s some spark, there’s some spark, maybe using this very quantitative and objectifying kind of way of thinking about it. Let’s say that on that spectrum, they’re a 4 or a 5 or maybe a 6, and maybe in the past you wouldn’t have dated them. But now, knowing what you know, get to know them, you use some of the tools we’re going to be talking about and you find that your attraction grows.
But this time, it grows in connection with your sense of positive connection with them. Those grow together. And that’s the essence of goodness and sexy mixed together, which is I said, that’s happiness.
So some of the people you date, you’re going to be instantly and intensely attracted to. Some of the people you date, you’re going to be sort of attracted to them. There’ll be some spark. Some of the people you date, it’ll only be friendship.
And you should never ever push yourself because you can’t push Eros. It’s a bird that will fly off of your shoulder through pressure and force and obligation.
At a certain point turn-on actually becomes a choice. When there is a spark we can decide to open to it erotically, romantically and emotionally. Click To Tweet
But so let’s say there’s somebody in that middle range. We’re going to talk about things that you can do to build that attraction. And one of those things is just simply, well, two things. Don’t force yourself, don’t pressure yourself, and let yourself enjoy them. And what’s going to happen in these relationships is along with the growing connection that you have, there will be little tendrils of Eros.
But maybe you will notice that you really like their arms, or their laugh is kind of sexy, or the way that they hold your hand is wonderful, or the way that they kiss you is wonderful, or the way that they are with their grandparents is wonderful. And you notice you’re getting more attracted to them.
Or all of a sudden, you’re starting to have sexual fantasies about them. And maybe they’re light sexual fantasies. That’s okay. Maybe they’re kinky, wild sexual fantasies. That is okay. But you will notice that these tendrils of turn-on that actually arise from the quality of the connection start developing. This is a sacred thing that everybody who’s doing conscious dating should know, that these tendrils of deep connection develop through connection, not just through someone immediately being your exact type.
So people might be thinking now, “Is Ken suggesting that I settle for somebody that I’m not too attracted to because maybe one day I will be or just because they’re good for me?” A hundred percent no.
The point is that attraction grows based on connection, in many cases, and that’s something that we’re not taught. Let’s say you’ve met somebody and you really like them and your attraction isn’t intense yet. I’m suggesting that you create an inner and outer environment where your attraction can grow and then see what happens. If your attraction grows, fabulous. If it doesn’t, it is simply not a match.
I think another thing that kept me from doing that and I think keeps a lot of people from doing that is this feeling of, “I got to get out of here now because I am not an asshole and I don’t want to hurt this person. They seem to really maybe be beginning to like me. And what? I’m going to use them as an experiment to test these concepts. I’m going to break their heart. They’re getting to like me and I’m not even… I’m knowing that I’m not as attracted to them as I’m used to being with someone. So it’s not nice to make someone into an experiment.” So you might be thinking that as well.
And I’ll just share a story that many years ago I was in a situation like that where I dated a guy and he was really attractive to me, but I wasn’t sure that our personalities were going to mesh. It was slightly different in that way, but also similar in that I just didn’t know if it would be a match.
And I talked to a very wise friend of mine and I said, “I don’t want to hurt him. I just don’t want to hurt him. So I think it’s smarter to back out now because I don’t think I’ll be interested.”
And he said two things that were really helpful.
He said, “One, this guy is an adult and he can make his own choices. As long as you’re not lying to him or being dishonest, let him make his own choices. Let him know that you want to go slowly and that things are developing and you’re just getting to know him so that there’s honesty there. But let him have his adult choices himself.”
And then he said, “And think of it this way, it might end up that this guy is not even into you and you get totally into him. So who knows how this is going to turn out?” Well, this was really helpful for me. My intuition was right. It was not a match, but this liberated me from feeling like I had to preemptively cut things off in order to protect this other person. So I really encourage you to do this.
And so what are the different things that you can do in a situation like this? The first is to take the pressure off things and simply set up dates and situations where you get to enjoy this person. Enjoyment and taking the pressure off is REALLY huge – huge, huge, huge. You do you. So you want to do dates that are fun with this person.
Maybe you like hiking together, maybe you like walking together, maybe you like cuddling together, maybe you like music, going to concerts together, or creating music. Whatever the stuff is that you share that you both really like, let yourself enjoy that because enjoyment is an environment that really can grow Eros.
And I’m going to back up here for a moment and talk about the power of intention. There’s a concept called the Principle of Instrumentality. And what that says is that when somebody meets your goals, you’re going to be more likely to notice them and be attracted to them.
And I’ve said this before and I believe there, that as you make your goal only looking for attractions of inspiration, only, only, only, only, you’re going to shut the door on the other kind of attractions. You’re only going to look for that. You will notice those people more, which is glorious, and you’re going to be more attracted to them because on some deep level, they’re meeting a deep need. That really is one way we cultivate Eros.
And I also believe that mutuality, that when we do that, when we make that change, when we make that decision, the kind of people who have that goodness and decency are actually going to be more attracted to us. Why? We are showing our beauty. And what we show is like it’s our mating call.
When we show the magic of our heart, when we show our goodness, when we show our care, the people who are looking for stuff like that are going to be drawn just like you are growing to be drawn to that in other people. And one of the things that helps me sleep great at night is knowing how many people have applied these principles and are in beautiful, wonderful, kind relationships now.
This is an extreme example, but it’s really interesting and really instructive. Robert Epstein of Harvard University, and I wrote about him in my book and I’ve talked about him at different points, studied the phenomenon of arranged marriages pretty extensively. So that in arranged marriages, initially there is less attraction than there is in traditional non-arranged relationships.
But after 18 months, the feelings of that really sparky fierce love fade up to 50% in the non-arranged marriages while the love in arranged healthy, positive arranged marriages actually keeps growing. And by the five-year point, the people in arranged marriages, he found, were more sexually attracted to their partner than the people who were in non-arranged marriages. After 10 years, he found that the love in arranged marriages was on average nearly twice as strong as in non-arranged marriages.
So that’s wild, but it’s indicative. We need to learn the skills of growing turn-on and growing love and the solidity of knowing someone’s really going to be there for us. And also, the feeling of, “I need to do this. I am making the choice to do this,” really, really makes a difference because on some level, there is a way in which turn-on is a choice after a certain point. It becomes a choice.
Am I going to give my all in sex? Am I going to take the time and the energy to find the things that really turn me on and follow them? Am I going to find the things that really turn my partner on and follow those? Am I going to put in the time and the effort to do that? And if the answer is yes, at that point, after those early, early stages, quality of connection and turn-on become much more linked.
It’s a funny thing how to some degree, the choice of attraction, the choice of desire actually is a choice. It is not completely a choice. You cannot force attraction, but it is a choice. There is something sexy as hell about mutual commitment.
And there’s scads of research showing that intimate kind of interactions, like gentle touch or gradually sharing more and more emotional vulnerability or acts of kindness or eye gazing or telling the other person what you like about them actually create a sense of connection that can be suffused with Eros.
Attraction can definitely be cultivated, grown, and developed. Not in all cases, not when it’s not there, but so often. And those are skills that everyone who cares about love needs to develop because when you’re in a relationship, you will be using those skills when things get difficult, when things get stale, when things get boring, when there’s too much familiarity and not enough Eros. These are all the kinds of skills that you’ll be using.
How to build turn-on:
I want to share one of the most powerful ways to build turn-on in addition to the things that I’ve mentioned. And that is fear; fear and risk. Now, I don’t mean the kind of fear of bungee jumping, although actually there is research that says when couples do scary, scary things together, it bonds them more deeply and it develops attraction. But I’m talking about a particular kind of scary thing which is sharing the most vulnerable parts of yourself, your places of need, the places that maybe you feel ashamed because…
And I’m just going to share some of the things that in my years of doing this work, people have described as the awkward part that they feel ashamed to show. It might be a need to feel special and a need to make the other person feel special, which in many cases, if you’re ashamed of that, you’re going to keep finding ways to make the other person feel special but shield yourself by choosing people that don’t know how to make you feel special, or sculpting their behavior not to make you feel awkward about that.
So you get to give, but you don’t have to deal with receiving. Showing your longing, showing your desire and need for commitment, showing your fierce side, your wild side, your kinky side, your super vanilla side, your very untraditional side, your very traditional side. Whatever the things are that you feel timid and awkward about showing, like will they like me?
Will they accept me? Will they understand? Will they honor it? When you’re with the right person and you take the risk of showing it, even though it’s scary as hell and they get it and they receive it and they hold it, expect your connection, and probably your sense of attraction, to grow profoundly. This is a lever that we can put our hands on. And when we share our vulnerability, this is what I’ve talked about in the last few episodes as well, in a different way, we actually grow attraction.
So in the next episode, I’m going to talk about what do you do when you’re with someone and there is a little sexual attraction but not enough. What are specific techniques that you can do? What do you do when you’re with someone and you really, really like them but there’s no sexual attraction? And what do you do when the attraction is really intense, but the other things that make a relationship solid are not there? So we’re going to talk about specific techniques in each of those cases in the next episode.
But here’s the thing I want to say most of all. If you are applying these ideas, your search for love is going to shift and you will grow and mature in really rich ways and you’ll find that doors are opening to you, in your erotic life and your emotional life, that have more of a quality of goodness, rightness, safety, and solidity. And then learning how to blend that with turn-on is just such an exciting and wonderful privilege to be able to do.
Thank you so much for listening, and I look forward to connecting on the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.
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