Today I talk about the worst examples of common dating advice that are actually toxic to your search for love. Unfortunately, most of us will recognize these popular dating misconceptions, so in this episode, I break them down and explain how we can begin to shift our expectations of the dating world. I share some recent research revelations about dating habits as well as dangerous gender identity myths that we should avoid as we look for love. I also talk about the validity of dating algorithms, personality tests, and other predictors of a successful love match.
Listen to this episode to learn about the three Cs of dating, the harmful Alpha Male Myth, and the glow of potential within the idea that opposites attract.
You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!
- Common myths about finding love
- Dating misconceptions
- Are dating algorithms accurate
- Do personality tests predict compatibility
- Recent dating research
- What are the three Cs of dating
- Defining stealth heterosexism
- Exploring instrumentality versus expressiveness
- The harmful Alpha Male Myth
- Dangerous gender identity myths
- How important is attractiveness
- Recognizing our dating patterns
- Ways to shift your patterns of attraction
- Send a voice message to Ken Page when you push the Ask Ken button
- Get a copy of Deeper Dating by Ken Page
- Join the Coaching and Mentorship Intensive with Ken Page
- Connect with us on Instagram
- Listen to The Deeper Dating Podcast Episode 14: How Gender Role Rigidity Is Crippling Modern Love
What are three incredibly toxic dating myths that almost everyone believes to be true? Stay tuned to this episode to find out.
Hello, everybody. And welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist specializing in the wiser search for love and the author of the best-selling book, Deeper Dating. Today, I’m going to talk about three incredibly prevalent and incredibly toxic myths about how love is found. These are myths that all of us should free ourselves from in a really conscious way. And in this episode, and every episode, I’m going 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 in the process. Because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy and rich life.Part of the amazing-ness of finding love is that you get surprised and you get stretched by love. Click To Tweet
And if you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to deeper intimacy, just go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. You can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, learn about lots of different resources and see transcripts of every episode. And if you like what you hear on this podcast, I would love it if you could leave a review and subscribe as well. So thank you so much for that. And let’s jump in.
So I want to talk about some hugely prevalent myths about how to find love that steer us wrong, that have lost countless people, and countless hours spent in activities that don’t lead to self-love or self-healing.
The first dating myth is that looking carefully for compatibility factors outside of basic mental health and basic shared essential life values is going to help you make a better choice. It seems like it makes sense until we go deeper and until we look at the research. In choosing who’s going to be the right type for you, you are not doing yourself a favor by articulating all the specifics, like they need to be vegan, or they need to live within a 20-mile radius, or they need to be this exact height range.
As much as I love the concept of manifesting, part of the amazingness of finding love is that you get surprised and you get stretched by love. You fall in love with people who are so different than someone you thought you would fall in love with. And as we grow in this path, we find that happening more and more.
There was this wonderful gay couple comedy musical duo, I think back in the eighties or the nineties, their names were Romanovsky and Phillips. And they wrote this song about their surprise in falling in love with each other that said so much. And the song was called, “I thought you’d be taller”. As we do the emotional and spiritual growth work of mindful dating, this amazing thing happens, the rigid boundaries of what we’re looking for start to soften as our hearts begin to soften, as we begin to soften to ourselves, and soften to intimacy.
All of a sudden finding somebody who also lives downtown is just not as important. And all of a sudden someone who’s a little heavier than you used to like, or a little taller, or a little shorter, somehow starts to look more desirable. And you know that because you see it happening at the same time as you’re finding your heart softening. And you’re learning to treasure intimacy, and lead with your vulnerability and your authenticity more and more.
And these shifts are something to celebrate, truly, truly celebrate. They mean that your spiritual journey is preceding. They mean that you’re becoming more yourself. They mean that you are learning the true lessons of intimacy. Research has really shown that algorithms to match don’t work. CNN recently reported about a huge trend among single people in South Korea using the Myers-Briggs personality test to determine compatibility. And it seemed like it made sense, using deep personality traits as a way to determine compatibility. But again, it doesn’t work.
Stop thinking you're serving yourself by narrowing your boundaries. Click To Tweet
And in fact, the Myers-Briggs Company confirmed this. Cameron Nott, who is the firm’s Asia-Pacific Managing Director and a psychologist said, “While dating someone who has similar personality preferences can have its benefits, we’ve all learned of the expression opposites attract. So to rule out a potential partner on account of having a different Myers-Briggs personality type than we think we should be interested in, might see someone miss out on an exciting relationship with a wonderful person.”
Here’s another piece of research, a few years ago, and this was from WIRED and just a fascinating, fascinating article. Samantha Joel, who was a researcher, recruited 85 scientists and she merged already existing studies into one uber study. And she ended up with a data set of 11,196 couples. Sadly, all heterosexual, but that happens a lot. So, they had data on demographics like age, education, income, and race. How attractive people rated each other, sexual tastes, interests and hobbies, values, and mental and physical health. And then they used high-level data analysis and artificial intelligence and machine learning to see what compatibility factors forecasted a good successful happy relationship.
And guess what? None of those compatibility markers could forecast that with any high level of success. Eli Finkel, who’s a brilliant well-respected researcher disproved the myth that algorithms can forecast a good match. And Sam Yagan who’s the founder of OkCupid and I believe the CEO of Match brands worldwide at one point. And OkCupid did tons of research and what Sam found out was there were essentially no compatibility questions that could forecast a good match.
So I encourage you to stop thinking you’re serving yourself by narrowing your boundaries, not around character, not around deep life values, but around pretty much everything else. Widen your boundaries immensely at first. Ask yourself this question, if I found somebody who was truly, truly my soulmate, and I knew that they were my soulmate, would I really say no to being with them because they’re not the religion I thought I should be with, or they’re not rich enough, or they live too far or they’re not a foodie.
That’s the way I encourage you to think of this. If I met someone who was so my type that they were my absolute soulmate, what would be the parameters where I would have to say no? Love expands us and the wiser search for love expands the parameters of what we’re willing to look at when it comes to things like height and weight and all of that.
Now, I am not saying you should be with someone you’re not sexually and romantically attracted to, at all. You must be with someone who you’re sexually and romantically attracted to. But don’t prematurely set compatibility standards that narrow your field in such a way that love can’t surprise you anymore. But also please know that as your heart softens and you learn to lead with your true essential amazing unique self, your attractions will begin to shift. They will begin to become more plastic. And that’s a wave that we truly want to be riding. That’s something to be celebrated.
My good friend, Hara Marano who’s the editor at Large of Psychology Today, who for decades has interviewed the greatest minds in the field of relationship science, whittles dating wisdom down into what you calls the three Cs that determine potential happiness in a relationship. The first is character. The second is character. And the third, yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s character. So stretch your parameters and let love surprise you.
And here’s the second myth. It’s what I call old sexism in a new age bottle or stealth heterosexism. It’s the limited concept of polarity and sexual attraction. It’s the gender role crap. The concept goes like this, the more polarity between masculine and feminine in a couple, the more attraction and the more passionate and hence successful the relationship is going to be. This understanding is so Stone Age and primitive that it’s kind of painful to think about. Polarities are real, as they say, “Eros is a spark that needs to jump a gap, difference is sexy, it’s necessary.” That is completely true. However, this is where we need to evolve and badly. There are two erroneous toxic assumptions in the way that people present this concept of polarities.
The first is that the only significant polarity is masculine and feminine. No, what about a feeler and a doer, an intellectual and someone who works brilliantly with their hands, someone who’s fiercely ambitious, and someone who loves to create a warm loving home, someone who is sexually dominant and someone who’s more sexually submissive. These are all qualities that create polarities, differences in ways of being in the world are polarities. And those polarities are complicated, but they’re sexy.
And the second erroneous conception is to tie all of these traits to your genitalia. Feminine is defined as the female gender, masculine is the male gender. So when we use these terms, we are as much as we might tell ourselves we’re liberated, we are limiting ourselves profoundly to an ancient and oppressive gender role stereotyping.
And then there’s a workaround that people do to be inclusive. That is really a like this doesn’t work around. And it’s that because this limited concept of polarities has to be true in a gay relationship, one person is the masculine one, and one is the feminine one. Or in a kind of liberated relationship, someone heterosexual, we don’t have to assume that the masculine one is going to be the male and the feminine one is going to be the female. But that’s kind of torturous reasoning because you’re using words and you’re using concepts that are directly related to one’s biology and genitalia.
And thank God the queer community teaches us that gender identity is this wide and beautiful spectrum, not a binary thing. So imagine the difference between a simple on-off switch and a beautiful light console with an infinite range of possibilities. That’s kind of how we need to look at these qualities. In some ways, we are fiercer and more dominant than we let ourselves be. In other ways, we are more gentle and more tender than we tell ourselves we should be.
Our job is not to follow along the lines of what society tells us we’re supposed to be in terms of masculinity and femininity. And here is something I’ve discovered in my decades of work as a psychotherapist. The very qualities that you think are either too masculine or too feminine and will get you in trouble or make you less attractive are your hottest qualities. They are your nuclear gifts.
And as you embrace them, your sense of personal power will increase incredibly. Is it scary, is it breaking taboos? Yes, but hey, what else are we here for folks? Our job is to uncover both our deep tenderness and our deep ferocity. Researchers are now beginning to talk about not masculinity and femininity, but instrumentality and expressiveness, which are freed up from genitalia and gender. I speak about this in a lot more detail in episode 14. I’ve spoken with so many people who somehow feel like they’re more spiritually evolved because as women they’re just more naturally feminine. Or men who feel like they’re more spiritually evolved because they’re more masculine and they’re fed these concepts by popular culture.
Women don’t be too masculine because you’ll chase them in away, meaning that rigid gender roles trump authenticity. I’ve heard many women say, “But wait a minute, it’s a really good idea to let go of those fierce intense masculine qualities that maybe I use at work so that I can soften and connect to my feminine self and be present on a date.” A hundred percent true, but who told us it’s not the man’s job to also learn to soften and to leave work at work and to connect to their heart?
Guys, let go of this terrible myth that you have to be an alpha male, it’s tyrannical. You have to be you. And women, please let go of this myth that you’ll scare men away if you’re too empowered. Each of us needs to cultivate this incredible spring of fierceness and power and this incredible spring of tenderness, the instrumental and the expressive to find our own balance.
Recent dating research:
And within a single relationship, there can be multiple polarities. And research shows that couples who live out different aspects of stereotypical gender roles who have that fluidity and that openness are the couples that are the happiest. And the ones who are stuck within the boundaries of typical sex roles are the least successful in their relationships. And this is a way that queer culture and particularly trans culture is leading the way in the world to help us drop and break through these electrified trip wires of gender taboo that are still masquerading as healthy dating advice and hurting powerful men and tender women all around the world.
The third is a profoundly wrong approach to the issue of attraction, meaning that there’s this relentless and tyrannical focus on the importance of making yourself more attractive that eats into people’s self-esteem in powerful ways. The definition of one’s self-worth based on the way one looks has been particularly oppressive to women and maybe to gay men too. That’s the number way that people encourage you to find love, is to just make yourself more attractive. It’s also on an emotional level.
There are countless rules that twist us into knots. Be more feminine, be more masculine, be more confident, flirt better, don’t chase, don’t run after somebody, but don’t play it too cool. Be vulnerable, but please don’t look too needy. And all of these portions served to you on a giant platter of “while you’re at it, you have to be completely authentic”. That’s called crazy-making and that’s called dating hell. And that’s also the heart and soul of most dating advice.
There’s an endless focus on making ourselves more attractive. But here are some interesting things that the research shows -something like 90% of the impact that you have in terms of making yourself attractive comes from basic good grooming and good posture. It is a wonderful thing to look good, but this tyrannical oppressive rule that that’s how you are going to find love is just incredibly not only misleading, but it breaks us down.
Also, that kind of advice ignores the reality that it’s a big world out there, and there are different types for different folks. There are people who like big hips and people who like tiny hips. People who like people who are taller and people who like people who are shorter. And yes, there’s a typical picture of beauty that many or most people subscribe to. But even that changes in subtle ways over time.
But there are people you are looking for who are looking for someone just like you. And that’s a promise. So where should we be focusing when it comes to the issue of attractions? Well, the first thing that we should do is be able to understand what our personal patterns of attraction are because all of us keep getting attracted to people with certain qualities and with certain dynamics, relational dynamics, again and again. And some of those qualities are positive, but often they absolutely are not positive. And the minute we know our patterns, we’ve got gold because we can see what to watch out for.
But there’s something else too. The types of people we’re attracted to who are not good for us reveal the parts of ourselves that we have not yet learned how to treasure. And in all of my work, I spend a great deal of time in all of my teaching and training, and writing, helping people to be able to suss out their patterns. It’s one of the first places to start in the wiser search for love.
The more we treasure and honor our core gifts the more we become sexually and romantically attracted to people who are good for us. Click To Tweet
But in short, those vulnerable and deeply unique qualities of yours, that I call your “Core Gifts”, that are the qualities that we need to learn to treasure and dignify. Those are some of the most important, sacred, essential parts of our being. And there’s a formula. The more I talk about it a lot, because it’s so fundamental, the more we treasure and honor our core gifts, the more we become sexually and romantically attracted to people who are good for us. It’s a miracle and it’s almost a promise and a truth. And it’s where we should be spending the most of our time digging for treasure because that’s where treasure lies.
When we can shift our patterns of attraction, it’s because we know what they are. So definitely, definitely give yourself the gift of looking great. Delight in that, but don’t get all tyrannical with yourself about it.
And the other piece of your attraction patterns are that research seems to indicate that people who choose people again and again who aren’t so good for them are going to naturally reflexively push away or be uncomfortable with people who are good for them. So we need to learn to develop a taste for people who are kind, who accept us, and who don’t carry the drama of unavailability or episodic cruelty. And the miracle is that the more we learn to treasure our Core Gifts, the more we notice these people and become attracted to them.
So I encourage everyone to loosen up on this kind of tyrannical approach to having to look greater and hotter, to be more likely to find love. It’s not the truth. And spend more time working on educating and shifting your patterns of attraction. And learning to develop a taste for people who love you for who you are.
Recognizing our dating patterns:
And these are research-backed learnable skills. And if you want a big bang for your buck in your dating life, that’s exactly where to find it. And as love and your commitment to love soften your heart and rewire you and create new circuits of capacity for connection celebrate that along with the softening of superficial demands. Let yourself expand all your ranges in your dating apps. And then discriminate based on the more important things after you connect with the person.
Don’t limit yourself upfront because when you do this, when you expand your range and soften your heart, that benevolent and amazing force of intimacy, that’s like a giant wave moving through the world is going to be able to catch you and take you for a ride. And that could be a ride that changes your life.
And finally, I encourage you to become braver at playing with your truest expression of self and noticing how the tyranny of stereotypical gender roles holds you back. Who you are on the other side of those fears is very amazing and very powerful. And when we think of our search for love in these ways, it becomes a profound spiritual adventure. It becomes a whitewater journey to exactly where we want to go, which is the place where love lives and where love is found. So thank you so much for listening and I look forward to connecting in the next episode of Deeper Dating.
But meanwhile, if you try these concepts, if you try these adventures, please write in and let me know what happens. Remember when you go to deeperdatingpodcast.com and you click ask Ken, you can leave your stories in a message on a recorded line. You could let me know if you want me to use the recording or paraphrase, but in any case, I will do my best to respond to as many people as I can on the podcast. Thanks for listening and have wonderful adventures on this journey.