Q & A with Ken is where, once a month, Ken answers your personal questions about love, dating, sex and more. Today’s powerful questions are:
- Is there such a thing as having too much baggage to find a wonderful relationship?
- What can I do to help a new relationship grow stronger and deeper?
- How do I decide if someone is truly right for me if some important needs aren’t being met?
- Why do so many of my new relationships keep breaking down–and what should I do about it?
Listen to podcast here:
Q & A with Ken: Expert advice for all your questions about love, dating and sex
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I’m super excited about what we’re going to do today because this is our Q and A session. We’re going to have one of these every four weeks, and if you go to the Deeper Dating podcast.com website and scroll to the bottom, you will see a microphone there. And if you click the link there, you can actually leave me a message with your question and I will do my very best to answer it on the air. So I have a bunch of really wonderful, powerful, important questions and my hope is that, and my expectation is that at least some of these questions you are going to really relate to and both the questions and my responses are going to touch you.
Is there such a thing as having too much baggage to find a wonderful relationship?
So I’m very excited about this and we’re gonna get started right now with a question that I think is just huge. It’s from Kim and here it is.
Do you believe that soulmate love is possible for everyone or are there some people in this world who have just too much gunk, too much old baggage from childhood, too many limiting beliefs, to be able to overcome, to find that soulmate love and this go around in this lifetime?
So I love this question and I have a lot I want to say about it, but first of all, I just want to acknowledge its universality because how many of us feel like I’m too whatever to find love or I’m not enough, whatever to find love or I’m too old or I’m too overweight or I’m too thin, or I’m too unemployed or I’m too poor, or I’m too challenged, all these different things and it’s a universal pain and I want to say that in a very essential way, I don’t believe that any of those things mean that we can’t find soulmate love.
I think there is a mystery to how love is found.
There’s a deeper physics to the process of finding love than we ever get taught. That said, I think the issue is so much less about the challenges and the baggage that we have, than how we hold that baggage and who we are with it. There used to be this horrible thing that you would see a maybe you still do on dating sites where people say, I want somebody without a lot of baggage, or then there’s like a, kind of slightly more sophisticated version of that which is I just want somebody who’s baggage is small enough to fit in the overhead racks. But really those are very unkind things to say and it’s just not the way it works.
The issue is the humanity with which we hold our wounds, our baggage, our challenges. I have seen people who are paraplegic. I have seen people with polio and legs that don’t work. I’ve seen people in their nineties fall in love and enter into incredible relationships. I’ve seen this. I have interviewed these people. My Dad was a holocaust survivor with the most brutal, horrific childhood. He married and loved my mom and they were together until the day he died, so no, I don’t believe any of those things are enough to stop you from being able to find a soulmate love.
The issue of how we hold our baggage is huge.
If we’ve got shame around our wounds, well, we’re human. If we have shame around their wounds and that makes us push people away or hide, then we’re going to have a really hard time finding that soulmate love. If you feel deeply unworthy of love and you stay home and don’t let yourself go out, don’t take risks or push people away, really good chance you won’t find love.
So now you might think that I’ve got this new age line next which is so you have to work on your feeling unworthy about being lovable enough, and I would say, yeah, that’s a great thing, but what I would also say is if you feel unworthy of love and you still are brave and you still get out there and you make the wise decision to only choose people who value you for who you are, the chances are huge that you will find love.
The issue is not that we have minefields, we all have minefields.
The issue is do we know where those minefields are? Do we know what makes them detonate? Do we know who we become when they detonate? Can we hold ourselves with compassion and try to treat ourselves and the other person with dignity around the presence of our minefields? If we can do that, it’s enough. This takes place. This also, I just want to say, relates to people with deep trauma like the trauma of sexual abuse.
If you can be in a relationship, let’s say that you are a survivor of sexual abuse and you can be in a relationship and you know when you’re going to be deeply triggered, and you can make space for it and talk about it and give room, and if you’ve got a partner who you’ve educated about that who can also hold you and be with you in the way that you need, then when that gets triggered, you can have experiences that are profound and actually even healing.
In fact, if you do have deep baggage, it might actually help you find love in this way. You will need a partner with a vastness of heart to be able to be there for you and baby, those are the best partners in the world. There’s a filtering system that you have, so if you can have a vastness of heart or some kind of spaciousness and patience and find language to make room for the trauma when it hits, the fear, the sense of unworthiness, in your relationship, and you’re with someone who can make space for that. baby, your gold. And I want to tell you that I believe that those are some of the strongest relationships that exist.
So can your baggage be too much?
Can there be too much gunk, too many old childhood limiting beliefs for you to ever be able to find a soulmate? No, but if you hide, if you enact unhealthy patterns again and again, and if you push people away, those are the things that will stop you from finding love and those are things that are in your control to work on. So Kim, keep your hope for all of the reasons I just said.
What can I do to help a new relationship grow stronger and deeper?
Now onto question number two, an anonymous reader, caller, listener said,
“I’ve been dating a really wonderful guy for about 20 months, do you have anything that you want to say about maintenance and growth during these first one to two years? Any advice, any insights?”
Well have a lot to say about this. You can always create changes in a relationship even after it gets kind of very patterned, even after a relationship becomes very patterned. But in the early stages of a relationship, the cast is kind of softer. The boundaries that you set and the behaviors that you create will influence the future of your relationship.
So what you want to do in the beginning of the relationship is you want to kind of create a container wherein it’s assumed that the two of you will be kind to each other, that you’ll listen to each other, that you’ll deeply respect each other. That these are the kind of the rules and the framework that you’re going to kind of go the extra lengths to be generous with each other. That you’re going to have adventures together and kind of eat life together. That that’s going to be a commitment, that you’re going to grow together. The more you make these things, what happened in the first year or two of the relationship, the more trajectory and power you have for a wonderful healthy future.
All of these things also apply in the bedroom.
Are you being kind or you being attentive? Are you listening for the language of what turns your partner on? Are you listening for the language of what touches your partner’s heart during sex? Are you letting those two things happen together? Are you creating an environment of safety? Are you sharing deep love as well as hotness and passion? These are the molds that you’re creating for your future, and there’s something else too.
In this honeymoon phase, you’re kind of bottling sunlight because there are going to be harder periods, there’s going to be winter time, and the more joy you hold, the more you let yourself relish and delight in the magic of these early stages, even if you’re telling yourself, oh my gosh, is this limerence? Is this not real? Is this the hypnosis of crazy love? Yes it is, but we need that. We need to hold it and to bottle those memories for the times that come ahead where we need to uncork them and remind ourselves of them.
So I would say that’s a huge, huge task in this early part of a relationship and of course thereafter, but certainly in the early part and that is in joy. Have Adventures, love, relish, be so grateful because you’ve looked for this for so long.
The wave of distancing
One other thing that I just want to say is that something else can happen a lot for some of us in that first year or two, and that’s what I call in my book, deeper dating, the wave of distancing. So what is that? That’s, you meet somebody. You like them, you’re attracted to them, they’re attracted to you, they’re available, they’re kind, they’re decent, you bond, you start a relationship, and then at a certain point you notice that you’re getting bored or you’ve noticed that they have nose hairs that just make you want to like flee.
You want to go back to the kind of hunt once again, you find yourself repulsed by them a little bit. You find yourself bored, distanced, judgmental, often those things happen because you’re scared, because here’s someone who’s really available, who really likes you, who really wants to be with you, and that triggers an impulse to flee. So you’re probably going to have this wave of distancing come up and I want to tell you how to handle it in the first, from the second date on, into the first, second year. And then for some people it lasts even longer than that.
What not to do
The thing you don’t do, there are two things you don’t do. When the wave hits you, you don’t flee. You do not leave the relationship, and you don’t pressure yourself to be more intimate than you feel like being. You take more space. If you need more sexual space, if you need more emotional space, if you need more kind of distance in sense of space, you can explain to your partner that you’re just feeling a need for whatever, a little bit of alone time or that you like to not sleep, cuddled up all the time or, or whatever it is, just to give yourself space.
You might have an adventure. That’s a great thing to do because that adds a sense of space to go have an adventure together, but you give yourself space. You don’t crowd and suffocate yourself and you don’t flee, and what you will find almost miraculously is that like a wave it will pass and when it passes, you will find yourself more aware of how good the match is, if the match is right, if it isn’t right, and if it is right, you’ll feel even more committed. So that’s a warning about the wave. That’s one thing that can get in the way. Those are the things that I want to say to you. I want to say to you, risk, enjoy, be kind and have adventures, and those are the things that I would suggest for growth and maintenance in the first few years of a relationship.
How do I decide if someone is truly right for me if some important needs aren’t being met?
Here’s a question from Sophia.
Sophia: What should I do in dating when I meet men who are attractions of inspiration in some ways and attractions of deprivations in other ways? I’ll be a little more specific. Since starting this work and honoring my own core gifts, I found men who can honor some of them who are very inspiring and in some ways who are deeply sensitive and emotional, and can honor those things in me. But there’s one core gift of mine that I’m finding still not honored and it’s leading to a deprivey feeling, and that is like a gift for like generosity, I guess, and giving a lot of love and wanting to spend a lot of time together, which I’m finally realizing is a gift but I’m not finding people who can meet me there. They’re often still unavailable, or like workaholics, things like that.
And so my question for you is:
When I meet these people, should I say an immediate no to them because they don’t see all of my core gifts, or should I give them a chance because they’re half of the way there?
Treasuring your own core gifts
Well, Sophia, first of all, it’s wonderful to hear your voice and I’m so glad that my work has been so meaningful to you and has been so helpful and it’s thrilling to hear how you’ve been learning to identify and name and treasure your core gifts and that that’s changing things for you and that you’re meeting people who are more inspiring and less deprivational, and this is a really good question. The question is that in some ways, this new generation of people that you’re meeting, these guys are much more inspiring, but they also have this pull back, this unavailability that hits you in your core gift of generosity and love and affection and effusiveness and enthusiasm and leaves you to feel deprived.
Learning to embrace our authentic self
So here’s what I would say about that. One thing that I have seen again and again is that when we do this work of learning to embrace our authentic self, our vulnerable self and we make this commitment that we’re only going to choose attractions of inspiration as opposed to our attractions of deprivation. When we make that commitment, things change in profound ways, but they don’t change all the way.
It seems like there’s a stepping stone process that happens that can be frustrating for people, but I’ve seen it happen again and again where the next batch of people that you meet in your dating life are so much closer to being there, but not quite there yet, so I just want to kind of frame this out as a transitional process and what I would say is that these qualities in you, as you learned to even further dignify and treasure and honor them, more and more, your attractions will change and even the kind of people you meet will change. I know that sounds very woo woo, but it happens. How it happens? I don’t know, but it does.
Turn your deprivation into a constructive ask
So that said, it sounds like you’re meeting great guys. These guys sound wonderful and inspiring and what I would absolutely, absolutely say is give them a chance. If there are no real red flags, if there’s no abuse, no poor treatment, and they may feel stuck in those ways, absolutely give them a chance and it’s a chance for you to grow by dignifying and honoring your needs and your enthusiasm and these qualities in you of generosity and enthusiasm.
So you express them and you express them in a positive way ,saying how good you feel about the connection, how inspired you feel, and how you’d love to have more time and sometimes it could be a little difficult because it seems like he’s busy a lot, or however it is, you just put words to what’s in your heart, without blaming him. You turn your deprivation into a constructive ask and then see what happens. That’s going to bring you to a next step who you will both be as potential partners will be different after that conversation and very often the most beautiful bonds develop.
It could be a perfect invitation for more
When one party says something’s missing for me. I am loving this, but I want something more, or I need something more. It might be a perfect invitation for this person, and that’ll bring you both closer or maybe the person will gaslight you and blame you. That’s not a good thing, but you want that information.
Or maybe the person will say, I get it and be unable to do it, and then you’ll make a decision about, is this worth it? Does this feel like a worth it relationship, but you can’t get to that step until you share what’s in your heart and when you share what’s in your heart, there’s something else that happens, which is you stand more firmly on the ground of treasuring yourself. That’s intimacy when you do that, because if you don’t do it, you’ll excuse me, you’ll resent yourself or you’ll resent him and you don’t want either of those two things happening.
So what I would say is try sharing in a generative way, your enthusiasm and your desire for more and see what happens and you can call back and let us know. So thank you, Sophia.
Why do so many of my new relationships keep breaking down–and what should I do about it?
The next question is from someone who chooses to stay anonymous–which is absolutely fine–and this person says that she’s dating and she’s grown a lot.
She’s doing things in different ways, but she finds that she keeps breaking things off and she doesn’t know if she’s really seeing red flags or if it’s her and her fear that leads her to keep breaking things off.
About red flags
So that’s a wonderful and rich and important question and it’s one that we can only find the answer to by experimenting. So what I would say to you is if the signs that you think might be red flags are an active substance abuse problem, an untreated serious psychiatric condition, an unstabilized serious psychiatric condition, abusiveness lying, cheating, or any of these kind of very, very real red flags, assume they’re real red flags, disappearing on you and not being forthright about it. Any of those kinds of behaviors, those are real red flags. And, and they’re worthy of taking seriously, of being taken seriously.
On the other hand, in early stages of good, so if your answer is yes to any of those red flags, proceed with caution or do not proceed at all. If your answer is no to those things, then there’s a good chance that there might be an aspect of fear going on for you.
This is the wave
This is what happens. It’s the greatest saboteur of healthy, new love that I know in the world. And when the wave hits, you’re with someone and you find them available and kind and decent, and then you just want to get out of there. And what we do at those times is we blow up minuscule or not so minuscule problems that we see, but we blow them up until they take up the entire field of our vision and then we feel justified in leaving.
We do not want to do that, as I talked about before, the process to do potentially when the wave comes up is you give yourself space but you don’t flee and the wave will pass. You do fun things with this person. You enjoy them. You do not suffocate yourself and you do not flee and the wave will pass and then you will see more.
Often we act in reactive ways and we flee or we feel guilty and so we kind of suffocate ourselves by giving more than we want to give. And then there’s no way to go but out. So you want to not do those things. And after you go through that wave, your eyes will be more open to whether or not this person really is a match for you. You are describing a number of times of this occurring that sounds like a pattern to me.
Patterns of making bad choices
So in my book, Deeper Dating, I talk in chapter four and five, particularly chapter five, about the patterns of making bad choices that we do, or the patterns of fleeing love. Look at what those patterns are. What were the attributes of these people that bothered you and disturbed you? What were the actions that you took to shut the relationship down? Were they made from a place of peace and clarity or were they made from a place of kind of, intense reactivity? Note what the patterns are because that is something that you want to change and you want to work on.
This is a really rich question and the only way for you to find out the answer is to take the next steps.
The other last piece of this is if there are real things that are bothering you and I imagine there are or you wouldn’t even potentially call them red flags.
Have you talked to this person about them?
Have you turned your anger into an ask? Have you turned your sense of deprivation into a request? Have you shared your feelings and your vulnerability and your needs?
If you haven’t, you will not be able to find the answer to these questions, and your relationship, your potential relationship will not have the room to grow, so do that in a positive, constructive way. Make your asks, listen to what the other person has to say as well, and you may find that by doing that, not only do you realize this is a relationship you want to move ahead with, but a certain level of fear and reactivity will dissolve. If this person’s responses are wonderful, so don’t try to figure this all out in your head. We are interdependent beings. Find your answer through interdependence, through communication, through connection. Unless there are serious red flags and then you really need to watch out or get out.
Wrapping up today’s episode
So these are all the questions we have time for today. I’m thrilled to answer your questions. There are many more questions that I didn’t get to and I will get to, but I want to invite every one of you to also reach out and go to Deeper Dating podcast.com. And, ask me any questions that you want to ask me because I’d love to hear them. Everything is fair game about intimacy and relationships. So thank you all. It was a joy to be with you and I’ll see you in the next episode.