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Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
What Do You Do When It’s Almost Working…But Almost Is Still Not Enough
Welcome to the Deeper Dating Q&A, where I’m going to answer your most pressing personal questions about love, sex and intimacy, in such a way that you can apply these insights to the particulars of your own love life, so you’re going to leave this episode with new possibilities and hopefully, some important revelations about your own relationships. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.
Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new online experience where people can meet in ways that are inspiring, respectful, and fun. Today, I’m going to be answering your questions about your relationship issues. This week and every week when I have an episode, I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the true skills of dating are the deep skills of intimacy. Those are the greatest building blocks of all for a happy, rich, and meaningful life.
If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You’ll find transcripts of every episode. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get lots of free resources and learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological symptoms, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be an amazing thank you if you subscribed and left me a review. Thank you so much for that and let’s dive in.
I’m going to need to do a few of these Q&As closer together, especially now that I’m doing an episode every two weeks for the time being, because there are many amazing questions that I got that I want to be able to answer. I’m only able to answer some of them at a time. Today, I’m going to talk about four questions that I got that all have a really similar theme. That theme is meeting someone who really feels like an attraction of inspiration, which is someone who you’re attracted to not because of their unavailability, not because of their mixed messages, not because of the chaos and the craziness, but because of their goodness, their decency, their authenticity and their availability, and a feeling of a mutual bond that just has a quality of goodness, solidity and trustability, which is a huge issue. All of these stories, all of these questions come from people who have found relationships like that, and are now struggling with certain issues that have come up.
Moving Past The Regret And Confusion
One person said to me that she really appreciates my work, which I really appreciate hearing, and that after reading my book and doing this work, she met her husband who is a truly wonderful guy. All of the qualities of inspiration that I mentioned and that I write about, she felt like were really, really there. It still feels like those qualities were really there, but she needed time and space, and he pushed it too fast. That left her not feeling safe. He was very uncomfortable and didn’t feel safe with the unknowing space. He really pushed things fast, and she went along with that feeling, kind of horrible, even though he was such a great guy. She said the engagement was horrible for that reason. She felt anxious, she felt pushed, she felt unsafe, but they got married.
The best antidote to old hypnosis is a current relationship with reality.CLICK TO TWEETAlthough he was a wonderful person and they had a relationship that was good in so many ways, in this essential way, it wasn’t. She never felt safe. She never was able to get over the fact that she felt pushed into getting married too soon. They did couples therapy. At a certain point, then he gave up and he said, “I can never be who you want me to be.” He gave up and they separated. They have been kind since that separation. They have been decent, but she is left feeling deeply regretful and wondering. She asked, “Was I too much of a perfectionist? My soul didn’t feel safe, but how do I move past the regret and the confusion that I feel now that I’ve lost him, and the relationship is over? I lost him because he felt like I never really was able to fully love him or accept him or embrace the relationship.”
This is so poignant. I want to say first something that I say to people a lot. I want to congratulate you and acknowledge your shift that you chose someone with such qualities of inspiration. It’s a huge deal. It is a shift. It means everything, even if this relationship didn’t work. That said, if you’re feeling such deep regret and confusion, and I want to say this to anybody who has lost or ended a relationship that felt like an attraction of inspiration. When there was a deep sense of safety and awareness of that person’s goodness, and there was potential, and there was attraction where you left or it didn’t end up working out, or you couldn’t embrace it, and you’re feeling deep regret and confusion, you might want to explore what was going on there. You might want to explore the possibility of trying again.
I think that if we’re not sure, it’s worth it. We tell ourselves we need to move past a relationship, but some people are very good at knowing when they need to move past their relationship. They still feel, in a particular case, this regret and confusion. What I would say is there was a wound spot hit by the two of you, where he could not give you enough space. What that created for you was untenable. You gave yourself up in a way by saying, “Yes.” That resentment when we give ourselves up can be so deep and so profound. I do think if you want, it would be worth it. No matter what, it is worth exploring the giving up of your own pacing because your pacing is precious, and it’s central. Just like with sex and intimacy, we have to honor that pacing, even if it’s hard for the other person. Something to look at is where you gave up your boundaries.
That’s something for you to look at no matter what. I would say if there’s more discussion to be had with him, have it. If there’s another chance that seems reasonable and possible, you might want to try for that. Even if it doesn’t work, you will be clearer after doing that. If someone is not abusive, it’s a good relationship, and you’re still not sure – there’s no addiction, there’s no untreated mental illness, there’s goodness, there’s decency, and you’re not sure, you might want to try again. You might want to explore the possibility of trying again.
I don’t know about you, but I know a number of people who have tried again and had it work. I know a number of people who have tried again and had it not work but got clearer. In the case of an essentially good relationship, if you feel drawn to go back, you might want to consider doing that. I did a whole podcast episode on this. I also do think that at the end of a relationship like that, where there was at least a big amount of inspiration, rightness and trust, it’s worth it to think, “What did I learn? How might there have been my fear of intimacy that played a role in this? What will I know next time? What will I do differently next time?” That’s something you might want to think about even now. Was there an attraction of inspiration that you weren’t able to sustain? What are your reflections and what you would have done differently? You might want to take a minute to think about that right now. You can even pause the recording if you like.
Someone else asked, “Are there people who are just biologically not compatible?” She says, “With my boyfriend, from the very beginning, I had issues with his breath and smell.” She said, “At this point, I hate his smell. Is this the wave of distancing?” For those of you who don’t know, that’s when you meet someone and they’re really available, really decent and really trustable. The excitement feels like it’s not there and you just want to flee. The reason is often a deep fear of availability. I’ve spoken about this and what to do about it a lot in previous podcasts. Anyway, she said, “I am just now completely repulsed by his smell. I don’t want to have sex. He’s a wonderful person and I’m afraid to go deeper. Is this a biological incompatibility? What do I do?”
This is a really rich question. Of course, I’m going to start with the simplest part here. If someone’s breath is bad, that probably means that they have gum decay or tooth decay. That is something that’s addressable that you have every right in the world to ask them to address. It’s hard to do, but you really do deserve this. If they have body odor of any sort, it’s the same thing – you have a right to ask that they take care of that. It’s important to do that, but that might not be this. Although the breath thing does sound like it might be that. I did a little bit of research into this and found out some very fascinating things. One piece of this is that we have a sequence of more than a hundred immune system genes known as MHC, Major Histocompatibility Complex. What science has discovered is that we are most attracted to the smell of people who are immunologically dissimilar. In other words, their MHC profile is different than ours. In cases where the MHC profile is very similar, there’s going to be less attraction to the person’s smell and maybe less attraction to the person as a whole.
Interestingly, there’s also more chance of immunologically healthier offspring between partners whose MHC complex is dissimilar. People whose MHC complex is more similar are more likely to have children who are less disease resistant. Interestingly too, the only time that that awareness is not there fully for women is when they’re on birth control. When they’re on birth control pills, supposedly their ability to get the scent dissatisfaction that they experienced with people whose MHC is different than theirs. They don’t have that ability if they’re on birth control pills. That’s an interesting thing too.
There are also other factors, like for example, trauma. When we have trauma memories, when we have trauma experiences, certain kinds of smells can trigger us, or fears can come up and they can manifest themselves in ways like a repulsion towards someone’s smell. This is a concept of the wave. Often, when we meet someone who is available and we become afraid, we start feeling repulsed by them. This is something that is also worth exploring. This is so multifactorial. Please don’t think that we are just so much victims of biology in our MHC complexes because we have to look, could it be a fear of intimacy?
The last thing that I would say is if you have looked at these issues, if you don’t think it’s the wave, if you have this person address hygiene issues and you know that it’s not necessarily an illness related issue or a hygiene-related issue, or a gum disease-related issue, and you just cannot get past their smell, and this goes on, you do need to not torture yourself and just accept that that’s the way things are. I also want to say something else too, that there may be ways that you can be with the person that are very sexy and very hot that somehow bypass some of the smell issues. There might be parts of their body that you don’t like to smell and other parts that you don’t feel that way. If this is a really special relationship, once again, I say, look into all those possibilities. Ultimately, you can’t be with someone who you just feel repulsed by their smell, and some of the other factors that we mentioned.
Someone else said that she’s done a lot of recovery work around emotional sobriety. She had parents who were abused and addicted. She said she’s proud of the work that she’s done because she’s lost her taste for attractions of deprivation, which I celebrate hearing. She doesn’t have any attractions of deprivation anymore. That doesn’t happen for her in her romantic life. She said she’s two months in with a kind and wonderful guy, and she feels now it’s the next step. It’s not being with someone who was an attraction of deprivation and going through all of the roller coaster of that. This is something different. She’s with a kind and wonderful guy. She feels like she doesn’t have it in her to believe that she is loved. She said that the excitement of chaos also isn’t there. I want to say something about this, and I’m wondering if any of you relate to this. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been with someone who loved you, and was available and was present, and you couldn’t take it in? You couldn’t really believe it. I want to say a few things about that. The biggest thing that I want to say is, on some level, that’s okay. That is human.
For those of us, and I include myself in this, who have had a particular kind of trauma in life, there’s some way that some parts of us believe in the love, and other parts just can’t. It’s like putting two positive ends of a magnet together and they can’t connect. I know that I have parts of me to this day, thirteen years into the relationship with my husband, where I cannot believe in his love for me, even though it’s there and it’s present, so I create bypasses. Those bypasses are all the ways that my body knows I’m loved, that I know that my nervous system knows that I’m safe, and I’m treasured because of his behaviors, because of all the ways that my nervous system senses what my mind can’t always believe. I trust those pathways and I follow them. Also, I talk about it. When I hit these junctures where it’s hard for me to believe in his love for me, I talk about it.
In fact, I’ll share that the night before we got married, I took a walk with him to the beach and I said, “I love you. I know you love me, but some part of me doesn’t believe it. We’re getting married tomorrow and some part of me is still too afraid to believe it.” It was great that I said that and he made space for it. I just want to make space for the parts of all of us, where we don’t believe yet that we’re loved, where we can’t take it in so that we can create pockets, where at those times we don’t ride on our cognition. We ride more maybe on our nervous system where we essentially feel safe, or maybe we just take our partner’s hand and be quiet together.
A therapist said to me something so wise once, and I love it. It’s been so useful to me as a therapist. She said, “The best antidote to an old hypnosis is a current relationship with reality.” If your old hypnosis is in the truth of not being loved, the truth of non-availability, the truth of abuse, by being with your partner in ways that don’t feel suffocating, that don’t push you and don’t pressure you, but let your nervous system and your heart, or maybe your skin, because touch helps so much, register and realize the care that is there for you. That helps us get past those cognitive places where we can’t get it or believe it, or those nervous system places where we can’t believe it, or those deep trauma places where we can’t believe it. We do not have to get rid of those, but what is good to do is to be able to hold them with cupped hands, with non-judgment, and to learn from them the language of how we get past them, how we hold them, how we stay connected, even when parts of us don’t feel connected. That’s just so much of the story of real intimacy that we don’t get taught.
This listener also shared some feedback on a previous episode. The episode of the interview I did with Mike Moran where date rape was mentioned. She said that that was kind of upsetting for her to hear the words date rape, because date rape minimizes the fact that rape is rape, and the fact that it happened on a date doesn’t at all change the reality of rape. That phrase date rape is a very minimizing and disrespectful term. I want to thank you so much for that. I really appreciate that. It makes perfect sense and I learned something. Thanks for your bravery in sharing that. I wanted to share it with my listeners’ community and apologize for that and acknowledge that.
Not That Almost Man
The last question that I’m going to take, and there are so many more, and I will get to them as well as I can in the time that I have. This is a very poignant one. It’s someone who is talking about facing the end of a relationship. “After about three years of being mostly single,” she said in her words, “I met someone who was not that almost man, almost loving, almost available, almost kind, almost respectful. He was not an almost man.” In fact, they had visualized each other, and they shared with each other things that they wrote in their visualization process of qualities they’d want their partner to have that articulated the other person. These are two people who are deeply intuitive, and each had visualized the other. She said that, “It has been beautiful and I celebrate that. That is wonderful.”
She said one month in, after a day of planning their future together, her partner who’s deeply intuitive said he needed to take a pause, and it’s been about a month now, because he somehow felt that there was something that was not right. He wanted time. He wanted to honor that he was certain that it was not fear, a kind of unconscious fear. He wanted to take the time in that month to honor himself and to explore what it was that didn’t feel right to his intuition. What she said is, “For me, I’m very intuitive too, and my intuition is saying, ‘Yes, this is good and this is right.’”
One thing I want to say about intuition, and this is something I’ve also talked about in a previous podcast, is sometimes it’s hard to know what is intuition and what is fear. What is intuition and what is a need that doesn’t want to face reality? Those things that we think are intuition can be blindingly powerful, but when it’s an arena where a lot is at stake, we can’t always trust our intuition. I feel that very strongly. I think that that is true in early relationships. To the person who asked the question, it might be that your intuition is based on a kind of sensing something wrong too that frightens you that you don’t want to face. It may be that his intuition is exactly that. All I’m saying is that this is a point that it’s good to check in with the friends who know us and love us, and hear what they have to say, because they may say or this guy’s friends might say to him, “You have done this before and don’t mess this one up.”
Maybe your friends might say to you something similar, or maybe your friends will say, “No, I get it. This really feels right between the two of you.” All I’m saying is when it comes to big decisions where there’s a heavy charge and especially situations where there’s been trauma, struggling or suffering around something that matters as much as a relationship, get help. Don’t trust that your intuition is your intuition. You might ultimately trust it but get those side-view mirrors going, where you can get focus from other people because you do, WE do have blind spots. Often, those blind spots feel so much like intuition. I am hoping that this guy is not taking a complete break from the relationship for a month. If he is, I think that’s a warning sign because the best antidote to an old hypnosis is through a current relationship with reality.
His being with you is how he’s going to come to understand which pieces of this might be things that don’t feel safe, that might be just historical for him, which are pieces that feel true. If they are true, I want to say that as we progress in a relationship, we reach a point where there are deep flaws or off-nesses that we feel in our relationship. That is what’s supposed to happen. That is when deeper love begins by the way you handle the things that your intuition says are off. That’s the meat and the potatoes of the heart of intimacy. Not fleeing and going into a cave and thinking you’re going to work it out yourself, but working it out with support, with side-view mirrors, and in relationship with the other person. What I would want to say to this guy is, “Yes, your intuition probably is telling you something is off. Explore that, but don’t just explore it in your head, explore it in the relationship.” That’s what I would say to the two of you. I hope that that is something that can happen.
I also want to say that I love these questions, because these questions reflect people who have lost their taste for unhealthy relationships and are now dealing with the challenges that come up in relationships that are basically good, even if those relationships don’t work. I just want to acknowledge that progress. I want to ask each one of you to think about what touched you in this episode. What related to your experience? Think about are there any pieces of wisdom in this, any insights that you feel you want to take and apply to your life that feel true to you? Take a minute and think about that. I want to thank you all. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. For those folks who are single, go to DeeperDating.com. It is a new place that we have created for thoughtful, caring, single people to meet. I look forward to speaking with you again soon. Blessings on your intimacy journey