How do you know when you’re truly in love? How can you tell if it’s the kind of love that can last? And how and when do you reveal to someone that you’ve fallen in love with them? Today I talk about the experience of falling in love and sharing that feeling with your partner in both romantic and more universal relationships. I share a passage I adore about the power that love has to take us by surprise and open up about a personal example of a time when I was caught off guard by love.
Listen to this episode to learn how your emotional state can affect your ability to love, if it is possible to rediscover love, and why you shouldn’t wait for your partner to say they love you before you reveal it.
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- How to know if you are in love
- Defining the different types of love
- The relationship between love and emotional state
- How do emotions affect love
- Can you rediscover love
- What do attractions of inspiration look like
- Are you in love or not
- Telling someone you love them
- When is the best time to tell someone you love them
- Why is it important to tell people you love them
- Read 25 Ways To Tell Someone You Love Them, With & Without Words by Sarah Regan
- Get a copy of Deeper Dating® by Ken Page
- Join the Coaching and Mentorship Intensive with Ken Page
- Connect with us on Instagram
How do you know when you’re really in love? And if you feel you’re in love, how do you tell someone for the first time that you love them? And what do those answers teach you about the way that you are built to love and who you really are in love? Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast to learn more.
Hello everybody. I’m 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 am so glad to be with you today.
Today I want to talk about the experience of falling in love and the experience of telling somebody that you love them. And we’re going to talk about this in romantic ways, but also in kind of universal ways as well. And I’m going to share a really very kind of special story from my own life about that, that I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I’m going to share something from a wonderful book, another story, and I’m going to invite you to come up with your own memories as well for both of these things.
So in this episode, and in every episode, my commitment is to share with you the greatest tools and insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life through that process because the skills of dating are the deep skills of intimacy, and the deep skills of intimacy are the skills for a happy rich life.
And if you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating® path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and there you’ll find a transcript of every episode. And if you sign up for my mailing list you’ll receive free gifts, free resources, and a lot of really wonderful tools to help you in your journey to find love.
And if you like what you’re learning here, I would so appreciate it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. There are such beautiful reviews that people have written. Very touching. Very amazing. And so if you like what you’re hearing and you’d like to share a review, I would love that.There are so many different dimensions and aspects and colors and textures of love that we can't really think of it as a binary thing. Click To Tweet
So let’s jump in. So I just want to say that these ideas came out of a time that I was interviewed for an article in Mind Body Green about these very subjects. So you’ll find a link to that wonderful article in the transcript as well. I just also want to say that this is kind of by no means kind of an exhaustive exploration of these two huge questions, but it’s like certain facets and certain reflections that I think are very profound and rich and inviting.
So that question itself of how do you know when you’re in love is a profound, rich question of self-discovery on its own. One aspect of that discovery is what kind of love is this that I have? Is it an infatuation love? Does it have a quality of resilience and health and truth? Is it deprivational love? Is it scratch the itch to try to get this person love? Is it love that can inspire?
Is it love that kind of has legs and feet? Is it based on a mutual compulsion or addiction, a mutual love of substances, or is it a love that’s based mostly on shared sexual interests?
There are so many different dimensions and aspects and colors and textures of love that we can’t really think of it as a binary thing. And that feeling of love is so profound that it’s kind of below the mind. So often we don’t even realize it until it hits us by surprise, like the classic example being somebody leaves us and then we realize how in love with them we were, or we leave them and then it hits us what we’ve lost.
The way that love blossoms inside us is it’s almost a revelation. And sometimes it hits us completely from the side because it originates from a place that is deeper than our mundane experience and so it gets triggered by things that we wouldn’t expect to trigger it.
All of a sudden the memory of a hug, or an unexpected gorgeous sexual fantasy, or the memory of somebody’s sweet smile, or the feeling of hurt when they’re gone, all of a sudden triggers us to realize that maybe we’re actually falling in love or we’ve been in love and maybe didn’t even realize it.
Defining the different types of love:
So I want to share with you a passage from that wonderful book, Fried Green Tomatoes. And it’s the passage where Ruth, who is a young woman living in the south, realizes that she is in love with Idgie, her friend. So Idgie and Ruth are together.
And Idgie says, “Ruth if I show you something, do you swear that you’ll never tell another living soul?” And Ruth says yes. And so Idgie is with her, they’re having a picnic together, and so Idgie reaches into the picnic basket and she gets out this empty glass jar and she says, “Okay, let’s go.”
And so they walk a while down until they see this big, big oak tree. And here I’m going to quote what happens after Idgie says, “Ruth, you stay here no matter what happens, don’t move.” And then she starts walking to the oak tree. She very slowly tiptoed up to it, humming very softly and she stuck her hand with the jar in it right into the hole in the middle of the oak.
All of a sudden Ruth heard this sound like a buzz saw and the sky went black as thousands of angry bees swarmed out of the hole in seconds. Idgie was covered from head to foot with thousands of bees. Idgie just stood there and in a minute carefully pulled her hand out of the tree and started walking back to Ruth, still humming.
The experience of love is connected to the emotional state that we're in. Because if we're in a state of depression or even just overwhelmingly concerned with pressure details of reality, we might not even feel love that's there until the… Click To Tweet
By the time she got back, almost all the bees had flown away. And what had been a completely black figure was now Idgie, standing there grinning from ear to ear with a jar of wild honey. And she held it up, offering the jar to Ruth, “Here you are Madam. This is for you.”
Ruth, who had been scared out of her wits slid down the tree into the ground and burst into tears. “I thought you were dead. Why did you do that? You could have been killed.” And this is where Ruth realized that she was in love with Idgie. Idgie’s really upset that Ruth is upset and she tries to cheer her up.
She says, “Just think Ruth, I never did that for anybody else before now. Nobody in the world knows that I could do that, but you. I just wanted for us to have a secret together. That’s all.”
And Ruth who now realizes that she’s in love says, “Oh, Idgie, I’m not mad at you. It’s just, what would I do if anything ever happened to you? I really don’t know.”
And Idgie’s heart started pounding so hard. It almost knocked her over. And so then they ate together and Ruth leaned back against the tree and Idgie put her head in her lap and they kind of share their feelings for each other. And Ruth kind of captures the magic of what Idgie just did and reflects it back to her.
She says, “You’re an old bee charmer Idgie Threadgoode. That’s what you are.” Idgie smiled back at her and looked up into the clear blue sky that was reflected in her eyes and she was as happy as anyone who is in love in the summertime can be.
I love that passage that captures how love can take us by such surprise and how such kind of strange and scary and existential things can make us realize how in love we are. And I hadn’t thought about that part of the book in years until I was preparing this podcast.
So I would like to ask you to kind of take a minute and remember a time such a beautiful process that you realized that you were in love. Maybe it was romantic love. Maybe it was a deep kind of opening up of love toward a sibling, a family member, a pet, nature, but just remember a time when love and that in lovey feeling opened up for you and what that was like.
There can be such a feeling of aliveness that comes with that love and newness and often in romantic love, but not only in romantic love, there’s an ache. There’s like a peculiar ache and this longing for the presence of the other person.
The relationship between love and emotional state:
But the thing about falling in love is that it’s not binary, like I said, it’s endlessly different. You could be with your spouse of decades and in a particular moment, realize you’re falling in love all over again, but in a richer, deeper, new kind of way.
I’ve heard God described as being the experience of countless tissues of joy, and love can be like that too. Kind of countless different tissues of love experience. And as I’ve said before, when you meet someone and it’s a mutual love and there’s goodness and there’s solidity and there’s deep mutual respect, there is this explosion of quiet, thrilling joy that is life-defining.
And that’s what we’re looking for in finding and choosing our romantic love. It’s doable and it’s findable for so, so, so many of us. So many more of us than ever imagined. And the work of deep authenticity, of deep sharing, the work that I kind of teach and everything I do, and other kinds of really serious teachers teach, that work speeds and eases our path to love.
But I want to say too, that the experience of love is really connected to the emotional state that we’re in. Because when we’re in a state of depression or even just overwhelmingly concerned with pressure details of reality, we might not even feel love that’s there until the pressure releases. I have that so often with my husband.
We experience a connection where there’s a lot of love and then we’re doing stuff and I personally am just not feeling that amazing feeling anymore. I’m cleaning the dishes or whatever it is that I’m doing. It’s not that I’m feeling not in love, but I’m not feeling in love.It's so important to remember that the question of 'Am I in love or not?' is a really important question, but the deeper question, the essential question, the foundational question is -- 'Is this a good and healthy love?' Click To Tweet
Usually, that feeling comes back when there’s more peace or more space. And it’s kind of that experience of holding a gem or a piece of metal up to the light and you catch that light in a certain way and then there’s this sharp ray that flashes from it. And that’s kind of what this beautiful feeling can be like of re-falling in love.
But the opposite is kind of true too. It’s like the experience of holding maybe a half a dollar up to the sun. The sun is huge, it’s vast, and it’s lighting all the stuff around us. It’s letting us be able to see. But when we hold that half dollar up to the sun, it blocks the entire sun.
So sometimes we don’t even feel or sense love that’s there until the person leaves us or passes or something beautiful happens. That’s one of the glorious beauties of sex in a relationship is that it reminds us, or it can remind us of that treasure. And this is part of this inevitable mystery, quality of love.
Another mystery of love is this; is that it’s rediscoverable. That we could think it’s passed or gone, but it’s just gone subterranean and it could be found again. It’s this rich kind of combination of Eros, but also the beauty and the warmth of just simple care.
It could include sex, but it’s so much more than sex and sometimes it could be scary and it could feel like we’re standing in front of a precipice and there’s something so big and deep in front of us that it’s actually scary.
But just reminding us that being in love or falling in love, as glorious as that feel,s doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy love or that it’s good for us. No matter how delicious it might feel at times, because even unhealthy love is often so white hot and addictive and often exquisitely beautiful, which is what makes this so complex.
Is this a good and healthy love:
So this question of it’s love maybe, but is it love that’s fused with goodness and integrity and availability and solidity? Because that’s the kind of foundation of love that we are looking for. Those are what I call attractions of inspiration, where the circuitries of our falling in love and our attraction are based on that glorious stuff. But there are also attractions of deprivation, which feel powerfully like love and letting go of them could feel like amputating a piece of our being. It hurts so profoundly.
So I think it’s so important to remember that the question of whether am I in love or not is a really important question, but the deeper question or the essential question or the foundational question is, is this a good and healthy love? I want to make space for and acknowledge the pain and the scariness of having to discriminate in that kind of way when you feel in love already but maybe the signs are telling you it’s not so good.
The more we learn to treasure what I call our core gifts, the most tender, sensitive feeling, intuiting parts of ourselves, the more we lose our taste for those sexy ass loves that are just bad for us or not essentially nourishing.
So now let’s talk about telling people we love them. Just the experience of love it’s completely unique in each case and it’s more profound than the act of just saying I love you than our conscious mind realizes. It’s almost like an initiation, right? Very scary, very hard, very challenging, maybe not, but very possibly so.
And you may be hesitant to do it, especially if you’re the first one to do it and especially if it feels really vulnerable and especially if there’s been pain and hurt as well. But when you do it, you cross a threshold and you become more the person you’re meant to be, which is kind of what an initiation rite is.
So I think it’s usually best to wait to get to know somebody, to know if that love is based on an attraction of inspiration or an attraction of deprivation. Just getting kind of nitty-gritty here. I think it’s also best to claim your love out loud when you’re sober. It might seem easier to do it when you’re high, but there’s a cheapening of that first declaration of love.
If you’re really not sober, if you’re high, if it happens when you’re intoxicated, your partner’s probably going to be waiting to see what you’re going to say when you’re stone cold sober or maybe they’re high too. So it kind of happens in a way where somewhere deep inside, you both know in your highness you’re bypassing some important stuff. So it registers, but not with the fibers of your being and their being that are the fibers that have to face the light of day, the next day, later that day, and we want those fibers to take this in and to believe it as well.
The other thing about telling somebody for the first time that you’re in love with them is like there’s this weird ring of fire that you have to go through. And I remember telling a former lover for the first time that I was in love with him. And it was so interesting to me because I didn’t feel great when I did it. I felt really small and kind of humiliated.
That was my personal ring of fire that I think was really connected to being very shamed for so many years for being a gay man, being who I was, who I am. But it was so surprising that the act of letting somebody know I loved him, made me feel not good. It made me feel small.
And then of course later it didn’t. But for many of us, there’s this kind of ring of fire where what we feel is the opposite of good and even the opposite of love when we do it, just because it’s so scary. That is okay.
We do not need to wait for that feeling to go away. In fact, having those feelings and still proclaiming our love makes the experience richer for the other person and even that much more moving. And that anxiety and fear often fuels Eros, romance and love. There’s something called the Pratfall effect, which is like that when you’re feeling really goofy or you fuck up or you’re just feeling really vulnerable, that actually can make people like and even fall in love with you even more.
Here’s where I want to share a story that as I said, I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. This is a story that is not about a romantic partner, it’s about my father and the moment when I realized he loved me. So I had a rough growing up relationship with my dad who was a tough guy, Holocaust survivor. And I think I, for so many reasons, triggered stuff in him that just didn’t make me feel loved or seen or safe.
And I was, how old was I? I guess I was 30-something years old and my whole family had taken a trip together into the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming and it was an amazing, spiritual, incredible experience. We were all sharing afterward and he said something cutting to me at a point that all of our hearts were so open.
So I got really angry and for the first time in my life, I told him how I had been afraid of him my entire life and that was his fault and his responsibility. That he had made me afraid of him. And I didn’t let go and I didn’t allow excuses. He was devastated. Devastated.
Anyway, we were getting ready to fly back and my amazing mom, it was me, my sister, my dad and my mom, and my amazing mom said to my sister, Joanie, we’re getting out of the car. Eric stopped the car. And then she kind of said, I am not coming back to this car until the two of you heal. So they left and there was dead silence.
And then all of a sudden my father for the first and only time that I have ever seen this in my life broke down sobbing. And this is what he said, and this was the age of AIDS. It was a really, really scary time for all of us and I didn’t know my status at this point.
So as he was sobbing, which like I said I never saw before, I never saw after, but as he was sobbing, this is what he said. He said, “You better use a fucking condom if you have sex because I could not bear to lose you.” And that was when I realized that my dad loved me and believed it for the first true time and we fell into each other’s arms crying. And from then on, I believed he loved me.
That was how he told me he loved me. So I share that amazing, amazing story. And I ask you now, I invite you, to think about a time that someone told you that they loved you romantic, not romantic, in a way that was kind of a revelation or a surprise or touched your heart and a time that you did that for someone. You could even press the pause button and just think about that as you’re walking or as you’re listening or doing whatever you’re doing.
This is why the experience of falling in love and the experience of telling someone you love them is revelatory and is so important and teaches us so much about ourselves and the other person. So, kind of holding all of this, a gentle touch can say I love you sometimes if the words are not right if the words are right say them.
But if the gentle touch is what you’re calling to do, that touch is the brave act. That eye contact is the brave act. That sharing a song that has a lot of meaning for you or sharing a story about something that really, really mattered to you in your past. All of those things are kind of like, I love you experiences. They’re moving to that deeper level of these tissues of connectedness and love.
So that’s another thing I want to say is that I encourage you not to wait for the other person to go first. Don’t ask them before you tell them, because really it’s neither brave nor vulnerable. Give them the gift of your bravery and your vulnerability. If you’re feeling it, let yourself be the first one to say it.
And of course, love is such a mini stage process so just those kind of sweet givings of showing up when you say you’re going to or doing small acts of kindness or generosity or walking somebody to their car are all ways to build love. There’s an accumulation of kind glances, of deep listening, of extra care, of checking in with somebody when something important is going on, that all of these create layers and layers of tenderness and care and safety that are the foundations of love.
I remember once talking to a therapist and I had fallen in love and I was gushing and I kind of felt stupid. And I said that, I said that I felt kind of stupid and giddy and ridiculous. And she said, something really fabulous. She said, yeah, this is a kind of stage. Not that you’re not going to feel these things at other points too, but this is the stage of this intense infatuation.
But you really need to ride it and drink it in so that you can bottle this beauty inside of you and save it for the colder times, the harder times, the leaner times. So let yourself enjoy this kind of ridiculous kind of magic that very early love has because it’s going to warm your heart and you can store it and save it and come back to it when you need it. I think that that is so true.
And I think that that’s kind of true about the act of growing love. We need to find ways to gather it, and this is kind of a self-knowledge place. It’s something so exquisitely important for us to ask ourselves in our relationships, and in my intensives we spend hours working on this.
What in intimate relationships in friendships fills your heart, touches you, gives you peace? And what does that say about you, what you need and who you are? What does that say about what fuels love for you? What is that rare and special fuel that ignites love for you?
And conversely, what are the things that hurt your heart? The things that maybe seem really silly, but they’re like a paper cut you don’t even feel them and later you go, Ow that stung? The knowledge of these things are like mini recipe pieces that we can store and create so that we know how to heal.
First, notice the ruptures that can happen with love and then heal those ruptures and repair them. And we learn how to build and fuel those gorgeous, gorgeous moments and experiences of love so that we can have them in an ongoing way in our relationship.
This knowledge that we grow over years of what ignites love for us, of what gives us a dose of love of what fuels it, what feeds it. They’re not just questions about how to keep romance alive. They’re questions about us. They’re questions about our core gifts. They’re questions about what feeds us in the deepest way, because love is so core and so central to our experience of anything that really matters in life. So, thank you so much for listening and I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.
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