Listen to the podcast here:
In this Deeper Dating Q& A episode, listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships to Ken and get his direct personal advice. Today, we’ll help you get past the pain of breakups, recognize attractions of deprivation more quickly, deal with painful aspects of healthy relationships, and more!
Table of Contents
- Healing From Attractions Of Deprivations
- Feeling Disappointments In Our Relationships
- Unworthy Of Love
- Unhealthy Relationships
- On Again Off Again Relationships
Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex
Welcome to the Deeper Dating Q&A, where I answer your most pressing questions about love, sex and intimacy. I do this in a way that lets listeners apply these insights to the particulars of their own life. You’ll leave this episode with new possibilities and hopefully, some important revelations about your own love life. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, where single people can meet online in an environment that is fun, inspiring, warm and kind. Today, in this podcast, I’ll be answering your questions, and the questions this time seem to revolve a lot around the issue of attractions of deprivation and attractions of inspiration.
In this and every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and discover a map to deeper love that you can keep flourishing while healing your life in the process. Because the skills of dating are the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy and rich life. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can sign up for my mailing list and get free gifts and learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey, and you’ll also find transcripts of this entire episode.
If you’re single, you can go to DeeperDating.com and explore there as well. Also, everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you’re experiencing any serious symptoms, please seek professional help. Finally, I’m so touched by the things people say about this podcast and the reviews people leave. I would really appreciate it if you like what you’re hearing here to leave a review and subscribe on iTunes or elsewhere. Thank you so much for that and let’s jump in.
Healing From Attractions Of Deprivations
The first question, “Hi, Ken. My name is Jace and thank you for all your hard work. I’ve gotten a lot of value out of your book and your podcasts. A subject that I don’t think you’ve addressed yet that I’m curious about is how to heal from attractions of deprivation. Assuming we’re doing the things that you recommend doing, dating with your Core Gifts, identifying attractions of deprivation early on, etc. What I’m curious about is when an attraction of deprivation still happens, what’s your recommendation on healing from that kind of breakup? Because attaching from attraction of deprivation feels worse and more difficult than others, even while knowing it was the right decision. Do you have any insights on this?”
Thank you, Jace. I think that most of us, if not all of us, who are listening now know the pain of separating from or being separated from an attraction of deprivation. It does hurt and it is really, really difficult. I just want to talk about that a little bit. I guess the first thing that I want to say is that that pain is part of the pain of loving. Somehow, I think that if we use that pain and work with it, if we grow around that pain in whatever ways that we do, it will ultimately be a foundation. It’ll be a source of wisdom. It’ll be a turning point for us in our lives. If we don’t let ourselves feel that pain and that hurt and try to grow around that, it won’t be as useful.
How do you do that? How do you honor the pain and try to grow? One piece, I think, is not to do it alone, but to do it with help and support. Thích Nhất Hạnh, the brilliant Vietnamese monk who was nominated by Martin Luther King for a Nobel Peace Prize. He said, “If you take a vial of ink and you pour it into a glass, it’s going to darken the entire glass. If you pour it into a river, not very nice to the river, but if you do that, it just gets absorbed.” That is an example. That explains how it’s just too bitter and hard to hold the pain ourselves. Look for wise friends. Look for friends with whom you can talk about this not once, not twice, but as much as you need to.
You might want to do some trauma-based therapies. EMDR and brain spotting, those are two very powerful ones. AEDP is another one. Somatic Experiencing is another one. I’ve used EMDR with clients a lot and found it tremendously helpful. I also think that the simple technique called EFT or tapping, which you can find, I would suggest looking at Dawson Church’s work or Nick Ortner’s work or Jessica Ortner’s work. There are lots of people on YouTube where you can learn about EFT, which is a self-soothing technique that’s very powerful and very healing around trauma.
I would say use perhaps one of these trauma techniques, talk about it in therapy. I know for me that going to Co-Dependents Anonymous helped me be able to breathe again when I went through a terribly, terribly painful breakup, and so did talking to the friends I care about who know me and love me. Another thing is to remember why you did it again and again to remember the reasons why you did it. Because you did it for a better future. The more you remind yourself of that, the more that that will help. Let this pain and let this decision be conscious so that it can become a milestone in your healing. Those are just some thoughts that I hope are helpful.
Feeling Disappointments In Our Relationships
The next question, this person says, “I find that women, a lot of times, process through things very quickly and with men, it takes a bit more time the way that our brains are wired. If a woman is asking a question on something, it’s a bigger, heavier question of how long to give the man space. I don’t want to insult the man. I want to trust him, but I know myself, I can forget things and get to multitasking, and then not give it the attention it needs to get back to the person. Also, how not to nag like if somebody says he’s going to take out the garbage on a Tuesday and it’s Monday night. Do you wait until like 8:00 at night before you say, ‘Hey, did you take out the garbage?’ or is it better just to let the garbage be forgotten and let that person, in a manner of speaking, have that consequence? What is the best route?”
She says, “In my past, I was around more immature men, and those duties would fall to me when they didn’t pick up or they didn’t do what they said they were going to do. I want to not enable somebody to treat me that way. How do you respect them and call them up higher, in a sense? I really appreciate the knowledge and wisdom you bring. You’ve helped me learn so much and I’m really grateful to you.” Thank you so much for saying that. Just a couple of thoughts on this. On one level, I think it’s a universal issue the way that we so often feel disappointment in our relationship with things that matter to us, that maybe our partner doesn’t do as well as they need to.
That’s a really, really universal thing, and it is better to not nag but to share your feelings. It’s better to say what you want, why it’s important to you, if you feel let down to share that as well. I think that’s a better way to do it. I just want to back up here for a second though and say that you’ve articulated a shift that’s happened for you, which is now you are somehow with men who are more mature. I’m imagining that this guy that you’re talking about is more mature than men that you have been with before. I want to acknowledge that and congratulations on that. That is growth and progress.
We get prickly around the places where there are deep wounds.CLICK TO TWEETI know for me, with my husband, when I get annoyed or impatient around things that I want him to do or think he should do or he said he would do, etc., often I am humbled by the fact that just the remembering of all the things that he does that I don’t do that well and that I forget. I think it’s always good to take a step back and think of that, too. Might this be hitting a trigger for you that’s an early old trigger, just take the time to think about this in a rational way. What are the things that he does for you? What are the things that you do? If it ends up being pretty balanced, that’s going to make you feel better right there.
Think broad scale the things that he does because he just picks them up, and the things that you do that you just pick them up, but if it’s bothering you, definitely speak about it. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. I think that these kinds of sticking points are ones that we all experience and they’re like very much about a building up of wisdom. If something’s bothering you and if it has historic roots, find a way to talk about it that is not “blamey”, but is more like an “I” statement. That’s really a key here. Let us know what happens. Thank you.
Unworthy Of Love
Okay, the next one. “Hey, there. I’d like to keep this question anonymous but my question to you is when you have a deep-rooted feeling of being unworthy of love, how do you make your wants and needs known without feeling like you’re going to make yourself appear less worthy because you expressed your wants and needs?” This is a beautiful, beautiful question. I think for those of us who have deep-rooted or have had deep-rooted feelings of being unworthy of love, which is actually a lot of us. When it comes time to make our wants and needs known, we don’t do it.
So, three cheers for you, person who called in, because you are considering and planning to make those wants and needs known. That’s huge. That’s big. That’s really big. It’s like a breakthrough to be able to do that when you feel unworthy of love. When we do this, and it’s scary for us and it’s hard, we might feel really uncomfortable reverberations of shame or embarrassment. We might feel defenses or a kind of intense prickliness or making the assumption that your needs and wants are not going to be met. Maybe you get like a tiny indication of that that’s just not really fair to assume it, but it feels like it is and you assume you won’t get your wants and needs met.
You let annoyance out or irritation or you punish the person. These are all the things that happen because we get prickly around the places where there are deep wounds, and our wants and needs are some of those. What I would say is I wouldn’t worry so much about making your wants and needs known without feeling that you’ll make yourself appear less worthy because you expressed your wants and needs. I would say no that there will be pangs of those feelings, but the biggest thing, the most important thing here, to heal that, is to choose to be in the presence of people with whom when you do share your wants and your needs, they don’t shame you. They don’t gaslight you. They treat you with honor and value and they listen.
If you find people like that, over time, this unworthiness of love feeling will diminish, but even with those people, you’re still probably going to have to go through this weird ring of fire where you feel less than, or you feel ashamed, or you just feel really frightened. When you’re with the right person, it’s like being a trapeze artist and leaping off into unknown, hoping that the other person is going to catch you and then they catch you. That is such a good feeling. To do this work of healing, you need to be around people who are capable of catching you, who know what it means that when someone expresses their needs and their wants in a non-blaming way, that that’s very, very precious and needs to be held with care. Those are the people who are gold. Those are the people who you want to be with. Those are my thoughts about that.
Okay, this is a long one, but I think it’s a very poignant and important one. “Hey, Ken. I’m very thankful for your work and I went to trauma therapy, thanks to you. I became a much healthier person and realized my own strength. I approached a man online because I admired his morals from his post, and I thought he was a really generous person because he was taking care of his toxic and suicidal ex-girlfriend for six years. I wanted to love him the way he deserved to be love, and we had what I thought was a wonderful online relationship and attraction of inspiration. We grew together for two months and made each other better people. We were completely ourselves and could communicate about anything.
We lived in different countries. We couldn’t meet because of COVID, but we both said we were willing to wait. Then he went to his ex’s house to pick up a few things, and it was obvious from his behavior afterwards that he cheated on me with her, but he didn’t tell me. He started to behave in a really odd way from his guilt, pulling away from me, and without telling me why. Seeing what he did wrong and crying, wanting to believe in my love at times, wanting to get away from it until he broke up with me. He mentioned his reasons, the distance and difference in cultures, which before the infidelity, it didn’t seem like either of us had a problem with.
Be with someone who is going to do their very best to tell the truth, be kind, caring, and respectful even when it’s hard.CLICK TO TWEETOur attraction of inspiration made us both into better people, but it turned into an attraction of deprivation from his infidelity. I’m not sure if we lived together if he would have been faithful or truthful after all. I think his character was tested and we both realized that he was not as good a person as he thought he was. Is there any way I could have known he would betray me like this for those two months? Because in that time, he made me feel safe and he was the best relationship that I’ve had so far. I really didn’t see the end coming. I’m wondering if the fact that he was taking care of a toxic person for so long was in fact a red flag instead of a sign of generosity. This was a shock and I don’t want it to happen to me again. Thank you.”
This is very poignant and moving. Congratulations on the work that you’ve done and the growth that you’ve had. What happens when we do that work is we begin to up-level the people we met, and this guy had some real problems. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but you experienced a deep up-leveling. So often, it works that way that as we learn these lessons, we go through kind of stepping stone relationships that are signs of our growth. They’re markers of our healing and our journey. They’re better and they feel closer to being attractions of inspirations, but they’re not enough. This was certainly one of those cases.
It sounds heartbreaking. I am acknowledging you for the progress, and you’re right, you do want to be more aware of red flags. I think that, and as you’re beginning to see, I just want to point some of these out. He was taking some care of someone who was toxic, which I assume means abusive, in some ways, as well as suicidal for six years. This is not someone who he went through this for a brief little time. He was deeply, deeply engaged. I would say in a situation like that, there is a red flag and there is a risk. If somebody is with someone like that for six years, there is a discussion to be had about that.
I don’t know if you would have been able to know this, but there was definitely a romantic obsession, a relationship with her that had a compulsive quality to it. It was not good in those ways. I also have to say that he wasn’t that honest about it. Yeah, there were some character issues there, and I would encourage you to go back and think, “Was this a guy who, like, when he could have told the truth without too much difficulty, he fudged it a little bit? He wasn’t as honest as he could be. Might he have been in touch with this person?” Just in retrospect, do you see that there were ways that you actually didn’t feel full trust because of some of his actions, but couldn’t really put your finger on what it was? I would say those things are really important to look at.
Sometimes, we end up in really unhealthy relationships and we stay for really long times, but that does mean that there’s something to look out for there. That does mean that there’s something that needs healing or at least needs addressing in the relationship. My heart goes out to you. I support you for the beautiful work you’ve done so far with him, and I encourage you in your next relationship, and this is for everyone, be with someone who in your gut you know that even when it’s hard, this person is going to do their very best to tell the truth, to be kind, to be caring and to be respectful. Thank you so much for sharing this.
On Again Off Again Relationships
Here’s the last question. “Hi, Ken. My name is Tiffany and I just want to say thank you so much for creating such great content on your podcast and your amazing book.” Thank you, Tiffany. “I want to learn more about your opinion regarding on again and off again relationships. I’ve been with my ex on and off, and this is our second time being on and off. It seems like the biggest issue is our vision of the future. I eventually want to get married and I obviously don’t know who it’s going to be with yet, but I want to date someone who has the same vision as me. For him, he doesn’t know if he wants to get married, and he does not think we should base our relationship on a means to an end.
I see marriage as a way for me to receive security and stability. In some ways, I had a pretty unstable childhood, so it was my way of getting stability in childhood and recreating the family I didn’t have. For him, he’s not at that stage of life where he’s thinking about marriage. He started a company and he thinks I’ve been pushing a lot for intimacy that mimics a marriage, and it causes a lot of unhappiness on my end or I’m pushing for more intimacy, and he’s pushing for more space for work. I wanted to learn more about your opinion on this. Is there a way to repair this or a way to move forward? We both mentioned we don’t want to end the relationship again, but we really don’t see a path.”
Tiffany, I want to make some assumptions here that may be accurate or inaccurate, but here they are. Something that I noticed in the way that you presented this was that you kind of pathologized your need for commitment. You explained it as coming from a dysfunctional family, and then you explained his, very clearly, what he didn’t like about you pushing for intimacy that mimics a marriage. To me, there was a lot of explaining why this really could be an issue on your part, and not really even looking if that might be the case for him because he just wants to work more. He’s starting a company.
Underneath your desire lies really important pieces of your Core Gifts.CLICK TO TWEETI noticed an imbalance there. There was kind of more self-critique, it felt like, and I just want to say this, your desire for marriage and stability may be linked in different ways to an unstable childhood and the desire to create a family in a sense of stability that you didn’t have. Fine. It’s still your desire, and it’s a fair desire, and it’s a good desire. There are men out there who want the same thing. It is okay to want to feel the safety of stability, monogamy and marriage. It is not for everybody, but you have every right to not have to pathologize it.
I just noticed, and I wondered if he’s giving you a little bit of a message that you were desire for that kind of thing maybe isn’t quite as healthy or free or liberated as his, and that maybe you should shift a little bit to just be looser and freer and all of those kinds of things. I would say that I don’t really like that. I don’t think that’s so great in all honesty, if that is happening. Maybe he’s not doing that and you’re just doing it to yourself. Even if that’s the case, I want to really encourage you to know that you have a right to want marriage and stability and a family. Those are good and great things. He has a right not to want that yet, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be this pathology of yours.
In a situation like this where two people have something that they really, really care about, and it has deep, deep roots, and they feel differently, it’s a complex thing, but the most important ingredient is that both of you make space for the way the other one is feeling. In Harville Hendrix‘ Imago therapy, which is a brilliant, brilliant school of couples therapy, what they would say is that underneath your desire for connection and stability in marriage, and underneath his desire for freedom and space, lies really important pieces, your Core Gifts and his Core Gifts.
If you both can speak and really listen and make space for the other one’s needs, and do this amazing act of really hearing and knowing how true this is for the other person, it might help you to move on. If you feel really stuck, get help. Get couple’s therapy. If he feels like that’s too much like marriage and you’re not getting through this, that’s like a marker of a real problem if he’s not willing to do that. I would recommend that because, in therapy, you both can do the deeper listening. I have known couples that have had differences that seemed irreconcilable, but because they loved each other and cared about each other so much, they found a way to reconcile them. I have known that to happen. I’ve been very inspired by those stories, but it takes a deep, deep level of honesty, truth and experimentation.
If the two of you can do that without pathologizing each other, then that is wonderful. What I would say is most of us need help with that, and I want to offer a fabulous resource. Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt are two brilliant, brilliant thought leaders in this field. They have taken the concept of Imago therapy and all of their decades of work in the field, and distilled it down to a process that anybody can learn to listen and communicate in deeper ways. This distills the essence of so much of the Imago therapy work that I love so much.
You can go to SafeConversations.com and you can learn more about how you can learn this technique of deeper listening, which is life-changing. It’s hard work but man, it’s amazing. Especially in an arena like this, I believe something like that is incredibly helpful. If you can’t do it yourselves, get some help. Go to therapy and get some support. I think that’s really important, but don’t pathologize your desire to want to get married and have stability. Those are good and beautiful things.
Thank you, all. I know this was a much longer than usual episode and I still have a lot more questions that I need to catch up with, and I will in a few more episodes. Thank you all for listening and I look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.
Watch the episode here:
- Deeper Dating
- iTunes – Deeper Dating Podcast
- Thích Nhất Hạnh
- Dawson Church
- Nick Ortner
- Jessica Ortner
- Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!