Today I explain why “fuck yes” and “fuck no” keep love away. In this episode, I share a cautionary tale of the “hell yes, right now” and explain how a yes can grow into a “hell yes”. Have you ever been advised that the person you are dating needs to be a sure thing for things to work out? I break down the problems with this attitude and also offer some useful information hidden in this antiquated dating advice.
Listen in to find out what we can learn from this advice and how we can use it to find our lasting, healthy forever love.
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- Why is it unattractive for someone to be romantically available
- Does it need to be a hell yes for the relationship to work
- How to change your attraction patterns
- Should you date your friend
- Why are we attracted to people who are bad for us
- Which questions should you ask yourself on the path to love
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We get told that if we’re dating somebody, it better be a “hell yes”, otherwise we should turn it into a no. And there is something helpful about this but something so limited, that it gets us into deep trouble. Stay tuned to this episode to learn how we can use this concept and not have it hurt us.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating, the creator of the Deeper Dating® Intensive, and your host on this podcast. And today I want to talk about this concept of somebody being either a “hell yes” or “hell no”, and the value of that, or a “fuck yes” or “fuck no”, and the value of that, but also the grave problems inherent in that way of thinking. So I’m going to talk about both parts of that.
But first I want to say welcome to the show. And I want to say that everything that you hear here are the best insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of intimacy are the skills of dating. And those are the greatest skills of all for a happy and meaningful life.
In some essential way, an attraction has to be that one-hundred percent yes, but it doesn't have to be that way all the time. It can't be all the time. Click To Tweet
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Okay, let’s jump in. An entrepreneur named Derek Sivers coined this concept of “hell yes” or “hell no”. And he was talking about it in a business perspective, which is that if something isn’t a “hell yes”, and you say yes to it, you’re missing out on what would be a “hell yes”. And that when there’s something that’s not a “hell yes”, you should just say no, to save room for your precious, precious “hell yeses”.
And then Mark Manson took that concept and applied it to dating. And it has real value to it because we don’t want to end up in a relationship where we don’t feel safe, that doesn’t feed our soul, that doesn’t inspire and elevate us in basic and real ways.
So all of that is true and can help keep us on game and self-honoring, but it’s profoundly limiting, and I think that it meshes with old ideas of romance that are very unhealthy and unhelpful. It sounds really compelling, but it easily feeds some unhealthy and undeveloped parts of our intimacy selves. Most importantly, it avoids some entire important dimensions, and those are; love is not simple, fear of intimacy is real for everybody, connections take time to grow, and that as we grow, our attractions grow and change.
“Hell yes” as a warning sign:
So in that it misses these kind of complicated nuances of intimacy, it also lines us up with this very Hollywood version of that love has to be so slam-bang and so consistently so, or we’re cheating ourselves. Somebody’s got to immediately be so hot to us that we can picture having sex with them for the rest of our lives, or we’re cheating ourselves and letting ourselves down. And so yes, it ultimately does need to be a “hell yes”. I’m probably going to say “hell yes” a little bit more than I say “fuck yes”, just because I think it’s a little less triggering. But we’ll see what I end up saying.
So yeah, it has to be that in some essential way, 100% yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. It can’t be that way all the time. It can in the beginning, it can during the honeymoon phase, but in many cases, it’s kind of a different story.
For example, for a lot of us, our “hell yeses”, if we look at our past, the people who were “hell yes” often were the people who were unavailable or cheated on us or weren’t able to meet our deepest Core Gifts, or we somehow kept trying to get them to love us right. For many of us, those Attractions of Deprivation were our “hell yes”. We don’t want to be able to follow that, we want to be able to educate our attractions. To some degree, we can’t force our attractions, that’s for sure, but we can educate them instead of having them lead us around by the nose.
For many of us also, available people make us disinterested. They feel like a no. They’re exciting at first, we’re interested, but when we see that they’re really not going anywhere and that they like us, they’re market value plummets in our head. Now, I relate to every one of these things. These have been part of my life for so long. So that’s the danger of just going along with this very binary thing of, is it “hell yes” or is it “hell no”?
We can't force our attractions, but we can educate them instead of having them lead us around by the nose. Click To Tweet
I’ve been with my husband now for over 14 years, and I’ll just share something about what that’s like. There are long periods of time where, how to say this, it’s a yes. It’s a definite yes, it lives in the land of yes, pretty much all the time. But “hell yes”, that’s special, and that’s sometimes. And then sometimes there’s a rolling crazy jubilant joy of yes, or I just want to roll him and shake him and just yes all over the place. And then there are times when there’s not much going on, and I don’t know, for me, that’s what love looks like.
So when I work with clients in my Intensive a bunch of different things can happen. There are people who their only “hell yeses” have been to Attractions of Deprivation. So somebody is a “hell yes”, and they’re an Attraction of Deprivation. That’s not going to be a good thing, that’s something we need to get away from. This is an amazing and beautiful and gorgeous thing that happens, that I am …
It’s hard to even put words on how grateful I am that I get to be a witness and a part of this, but that as people discover their Core Gifts, their real essential self, the parts of themselves that they’ve been maybe ashamed of or that they thought they had to bury in order to find love, and they start to name these parts, which is a big deal, to put names on them, and to treasure them and champion them and dignify them, as they do that, their attractions change. It’s kind of a miracle.
Turn a “hell no” into a “hell yes”:
Then what happens is you start getting more attracted to people because of their goodness. What an amazing thing that is. You have to be physically attracted to somebody, of course, but all of a sudden their goodness becomes more like a “hell yes”. And when that happens for you, you are growing up in the land of dating and the land of intimacy, and it’s a good, good thing, but it shifts things for us.
So still we end up in these stepping stone relationships where maybe next phase, next iteration, next generation of our attractions, has gone from Attractions of Deprivation, “hell yeses”, to a “hell yes” that actually is somebody who’s sexy and interesting and attractive, but they’re kinder and they have more goodness. It feels like a “hell yes”. And you’re like, “Yes, this is great,” but it ends up being a stepping stone relationship. And they are better, but the old traits are still there. That happens on this journey for us. But we become conscious so much more quickly of the red flags and we learn to say no. So that’s why “hell yeses”, that’s one reason “hell yeses” can’t be trusted.
And then what about those yeses that are not “hell yeses”? Maybe they’re not “hell yeses” yet. And in fact, research shows, and this is an amazing thing, that the majority of lasting intimate partnerships actually began as friends. How amazing is that? And we don’t get taught about that, I believe in part because the research talks about people meeting in dating environments where the attraction is immediate and what happens there and then.
But so you might have somebody who it’s a yes, but it’s not a “hell yes” yet. And you might decide as you grow and mature that their wonderful qualities are so good that you’re going to give them time. And over time, it turns into a jubilant, quiet, peaceful rock solid “hell yes”. That’s an amazing thing and that can happen.
We can't force our attractions, but...we can add fuel to them. Click To Tweet
These are questions that we have to ask ourselves, what have been our “hell yeses”? And also, who have been the yeses that because we didn’t know this, we left them, we turned them into a no, but we didn’t give them time to grow into a “hell yes”. And I’d like you to take a minute and think about that. In your relationship history, were there any people that were yeses or sort of yeses but you didn’t know that given time it could grow?
Given a few different things, and I’ll talk about how we can make those attractions grow if they’re meant to grow. I’ll talk about that in a minute, but just take a minute to think about, maybe there were people that you missed that you could have built a home in this world, a beautiful home with, and had that attraction grow into a “hell yes”, but you weren’t taught that.
And then of course, when we’re younger, most of us just go for the immediate “hell yeses”. And Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, brilliant, brilliant theorists teach us that. Often the “hell yeses”, which are like on the attraction spectrum, the nines and the tens, are often so because consciously they embody some of the best characteristics of our primary caregivers.
But unconsciously, they embody some of the most painful attributes of our caregivers from our childhood. And our ego wants to go back to the scene of the crime to get the perpetrators to finally love us right. And that’s why they are so white-hot.
We need to know and remember these things to become educated in our search for love so that we don’t waste time and energy, and so that we can set the clearest beeline possible to a healthy, happy future, which the greatest determinant of that is the quality of our spousal relationship, even in many cases, more than our health. So these are things that we really need to know.
Some of the questions are, who have been your “hell yeses”, who have been … And how did that turn out? What have been the negative patterns maybe in those “hell yeses”? This is stuff that we need to know. What have been the yeses that we turned into nos because they weren’t “hell yeses”, and in retrospect, we were afraid of their availability, we were afraid of the intimacy, or we didn’t know how to let Eros grow and nudge it along the way.
There’s this great saying, which is you can’t push the river. But I had a teacher, Ilana Rubenfeld, who taught body-mind therapy, and she said, “You can’t push the river, but you could give it a little nudge.” So we can’t force our attractions, but God knows, we can add fuel to them. Did we know how to do that at the time that we turned something into a no?
And then some other really important questions, and these are questions to ask if you’re in that place that so many of us have been in and will be in again, of, is this a relationship that I should pursue? Well, first you need to know, is it an Attraction of Deprivation or is it an Attraction of Inspiration? And you can find loads of episodes where I talk about this. I talk about this in my book. And this was the piece that Oprah excerpted from my book, and in my Intensives, we spend so much time working on this together.
But some other questions that you can ask are, was this ever a “hell yes”, and did that go away? If so, what made that go away? Also, are there moments where it feels like a “hell yes”? What are those moments? What are the things that happen then? These are the rich questions that we do ourselves a profound disservice if we don’t ask ourselves.
Some other really rich questions are, what are the parts of ourselves that feel like a no, or maybe … So that we can really give that room and space, because that’s another obstacle, is thinking, “Oh, this is a good person. If I was more spiritually mature, I would be more attracted to them.” And that never works, and that never helps. And it’s like choking the oxygen out of Eros, that kind of guilting and shaming.
No, it’s got to grow. You have to give it space, you have to give it time, but you can’t shame yourself into being attracted to anybody ever. Yeah, so another question is, are there asks that you could do that might help move the needle more to a “hell yes”? Have you made those asks? Have you been both feet in until both feet out, as Marianne Williamson so wonderfully says. Those are other questions to ask yourself.
“Hell yes” or no can lead us astray:
And I just want to share a story of an incident that I remember of how this “hell yes”, “hell no”, “fuck yes”, “fuck no”, thing can lead us astray. I was in a personal growth workshop and one woman was center stage and the therapist was working with her, and she was thinking about, “Should I uproot myself, move to another state for this relationship, or should I stay where I am and not take that risk and slowly, gradually give it time?”
And the therapist asked this poignant question. He said, “If you were going to give a color to the feeling of moving to this other state, what would that color be? And if you were going to give a color to the feeling of staying where you are and letting things evolve slowly, but staying in your life, what color would you give the two?” And the woman said, “The color of moving is sky, bright blue, and the color of staying is gray. Thank you so much. I have just made my decision.”
So she made her decision based on that “hell yes”. She moved up there. There were warning signs, real warning signs that this would not be a good match, and over time it wasn’t a good match. She was heartbroken. Part of the story was she got really sick, too. I’m not saying that came from the choice that she made at all, but she ended up disconnected from so many of the supports that she had. So that was an example, a cautionary tale of just thinking it’s about what is “hell yes” right now at this moment, without doing the richer, deeper work, understanding our patterns, understanding the magic of how we can actually grow a yes into a “hell yes” at times.
And that’s the last thing I’m going to talk about, I said that I would come back to that. So you’re dating somebody and it’s a yes, but it’s not a “hell yes”. I talk about this a lot in my book and my course and my Intensives. In the book it’s in chapter 12, but some of the basics are you don’t push yourself sexually or romantically ever because that’ll make you feel claustrophobic, in most cases. You give yourself space and room to breathe.
You enjoy the person. You recognize that some attractions grow over time. You do the stuff with this person that is the most fun and the most engaging. It’s like when the wave of desire and attraction come, ride that for all it’s worth. You want to hold hands, hold hands. You want to kiss, kiss. Go with that. Stop when it stops. Don’t push yourself, but ride it when it comes.
Allow yourself the delight to fantasize about things you’d like to do with that person, socially, in the world, sexually as well. Allow yourself to kind of fantasize those things inside yourself to cultivate these feelings. Do exciting things with this person, have some adventures. All of this is research-based proven, to create and enhance Eros. Be honest. Do your asks, ask for what you want. Let yourself play with this person.
If you don’t feel safe with anything, speak up. Honor yourself. Set your boundaries, make your asks, and make those things clear. When we do all of those things, often our “hell yes” becomes a “hell no”. Often our yes becomes a “hell yes”. Sometimes our no becomes a “hell yes”. But we need to do these things to have a richer, wiser understanding of what this journey is really all about.
So three cheers for the passion of “hell yes”. Three cheers as well for the wisdom of knowing ourselves along the way. I would love to hear your stories of what this brings up for you because we are a learning community and we all learn together. So thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.
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