Q & A with Ken: Expert advice for all your questions about love, dating and sex [E011]

What to do when you’re frustrated in your search for love; when you fear you’re losing hope, when nothing seems to be working well enough, or when you just feel stuck in your intimacy journey? And how do you show your authentic self in a dating profile? How do you search for the qualities that matter the most when you’re searching people’s profiles online? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating podcast as I answer these questions and more in our monthly Q & A with Ken episode.

Episode Table Of Contents

Introducing our Q & A with Ken Sessions

Hello, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and every week, I’m going to be giving you access to the greatest insights, the most powerful practices, and the most essential findings I know, for everyone who wants to find love and keep it flourishing, and heal their lives in the process. Because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of intimacy, and the skills of intimacy are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. You can see the transcript of this episode on deeperdatingpodcast.com/e11. And if you go there, you’ll also get to hear about my courses and classes and intensives. And by the way, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a tremendous gift if you subscribed on iTunes and left me a review, so thanks so much for that.

I also want to say, last piece of housekeeping before we begin, that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s to support you in your intimacy journey, and it’s not medical or psychiatric advice, or treatment for any emotional, physical, or psychological condition. Everything I say is just a perspective for you to consider, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please seek professional help. If it feels like a true emergency, please get emergency help right away. Your life is too precious to put at risk.

Q & A With Ken: How To Deal With Longing For A Relationship

Q & A With Ken: How to Deal with Longing for a Relationship
Q & A With Ken: How to Deal with Longing for a Relationship

Okay, we’re going to begin now with the first question, and this is from Katja in Slovenia. It’s a huge question. It has universal impact, and I’m going to answer her question, but guide every one of you through a process that’s going to bring you out the other side with, I think, a deeper and richer sense of your own journey.

Katja: Dear Ken, my name is Katja, and I come from Slovenia. I did contact you twice. And once we had … also one short conversation with Skype, because I really wanted to invite you here to Slovenia, and I still have this wish. But now I just have this question for me. I’m 40 years old, I will be this year. And I’m also Family and Marriage Therapist. And I’m chronically single, like you wrote in your book. I’m reading it all the time, and I’m really thankful and grateful that I found you.

And my longest relationship lasted for two years, and ended when I was 21. And then, for 16 years, I’ve been single. And now I have this emotionally, really strong relationship, which ended one year and a half back. And it was really strong, and we stayed friends, with this man.

But sometimes it’s just really hard for me to deal with this longing for a relationship.

I’m slowly losing hope

And since, in last three or four years, I did a lot of dating, a lot of things have changed. I’m not ashamed to be single anymore. I don’t have problems to go on a date. I feel comfortable, I feel relaxed when I go, when I meet other men. But it’s just … I’m slowly losing hope, because it just doesn’t happen.

And every time that I meet a man that I like … and that’s really rare … it just always started to complicate something. So I don’t know why, and I’m also asking myself what I’m doing wrong.

Otherwise, my life is okay now. I have strong social networks, I don’t have problem to organize my free time. But, my question would be, just how to deal with this longing for a relationship. Because I just finally wish to plan my life with someone. I never lived with someone until now. And, I just miss this feeling of two, and of course I also miss that, I miss kiss, I miss sex. And, all of these things that come with a relationship. I just feel that I’m slowly losing hope.

And, what could you say, or what would you say to me, how to deal with this wish, and with this longing that, it just doesn’t happen. How to stay in touch with this hope, that also for me, it is possible to happen one day. Thank you very much.

Finding the Light in the Middle of the Tunnel

Q & A With Ken: Finding the light in the middle of the tunnel
Q & A With Ken: Finding the light in the middle of the tunnel

Ken: So Katja, thank you so much for your lovely words and for your wonderful, important question that I think a lot of people relate to. I talk about this in my book, Deeper Dating, and it’s the task of finding the light in the middle of the tunnel. Not at the beginning, where you see the light behind you, where you’re coming from, or at the end, when you see the light ahead of you, but that middle phase of dating where you’re learning and you’re growing, but love just does not feel like it’s in sight.

I’m going to be answering your question, Katja, but I’m also going to be doing it in such a way that everyone can follow along with the questions that I ask, and take a little journey of your own to see where you’re at and what your next steps are. Katia, you’ve spoken about how to keep hope alive, how to get through the stuck point, and how to get a sense of your next steps that really make sense to you, that sit right, and have wisdom and strength and solidity. That’s what we’re going to be looking at.

Where do you need to start?

I think the place to start in situation like this is always with looking at how far you’ve come and where you’ve come from. Not only will that help you bypass a sense of hopelessness and a self criticism, but it’ll give you a picture of the tremendous journey that you’ve been on to get to the point where you are right now. And when you see that and feel that and hold that in your hands, you will have a beginning incipient picture of the next steps for you.

Let’s just look at this. Katja, for the first time in 16 years, you’ve had a relationship. You’ve done all this work on yourself. You are not ashamed to be single. You actually can get out there and date, and feel comfortable and relaxed. And another thing that I would call a gift is that your longing has come alive.

Your longing has come alive

That longing, to some degree, has been in hibernation, but longing for love is rocket fuel to get you out of your old patterns that might be holding you back, your timidity, self sabotage, isolation, anything that might still be going on to hold you back. That longing is the rocket fuel that’s going to bring you out of that orbit. It’s the awakening of your Eros. It might be hard to manage. It might be bitter. It might hurt, but it can save your life, because you’ve hit bottom with being romantically alone.

I’d like everybody to do that same step now. Just ask yourself a few questions. Have you been on a journey to deepen your own self esteem? Have you grown in your ability to accept yourself? Have you grown in your ability not to tolerate bad behavior from other people? Have you grown emotionally, spiritually, in terms of your own capacity to communicate? Have you grown in any of these ways? If so, take that in. Really acknowledge that. Think about your journey, where you came from, what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown. Just take a minute to do that.

You’re moving closer to love

And if you feel that you’re progressing, then that’s real. That’s wonderful, and it means that you’re moving closer to love, because this is most essentially a journey of growth. When you grow, you change the field so that different things come in, different people come in. You notice and appreciate them differently. You make better choices. It’s a journey that gets wider and deeper all the time, and so that’s the first step, to acknowledge your journey of growth.

I want to say something about how the field actually changes. This is something that, in my years of practice as a psychotherapist and a workshop leader and intensive leader, that I’ve seen again and again. When we take these steps to learn to love ourselves, and honor ourselves, and have compassion for ourselves, and make wiser choices in terms of the people that we’re with, and we allow ourselves to show more vulnerability, we care more about love and intimacy, when those things happen, the field changes.

The field is changing

Somehow, we begin to meet different kind of people. Our attractions actually begin to change. Our opportunities change, and I think if we don’t know that, it’s hard to take advantage of that fully. This is something I tell my clients all the time as they’re growing. I say, “The field is changing. Get out there, because different things will begin to happen, and you’re going to handle things in different ways.” It’s a huge and precious thing when your field is changing, and Katja, that’s happening for you. And I imagine that it’s happening for many listeners. If that is true, that’s a really great thing.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Next, Katja, you talked about, “What can I do? What are my next steps?” I want to share a few thoughts with all of you for what your next steps are, especially if you’re in this middle stage of the middle of the tunnel, where you’re growing but you haven’t seen the fruits of your efforts as much as you wish you would, just in terms of meeting somebody wonderful and being with them. Okay, here’s one thing. This is strong medicine, but it’s beautiful medicine and it works.

Think of a couple friends who really love you and really know you, and who have your best interest at heart. Ask them, especially ones who really know the details about your life and your dating life and your relationship life, and ask them what they see. Is there something they see that they wish you would do differently? Is there a pattern that they still see you stuck in? Is there an activity or something that they would like to see you do to help you along your way? And what they say, take it seriously.

Think about your next brave steps

Q & A With Ken: Your Next Brave Steps
Q & A With Ken: Your Next Brave Steps

Think about the same thing for yourself. What do you think your next brave steps are? Maybe they’re scary. Maybe you’d rather not take them, but admit to yourself. Take a minute now, everybody, to think about that. “What are my next brave steps? What have my friends been hinting that I should do differently?” And if they haven’t, you might want to ask them.

The Inner Mentor Process

And now, finally, I’m going to teach you a process that is … I talk about this in episode three. It’s the inner mentor process. It is quite simply the most fabulous process that I know for creating growth, for getting through difficult crossroads, for making wiser choices, and for learning to love yourself. I adore this process, and I’m going to lead everybody in a really quick version of it right now.

Take a minute, get comfortable, and take a breath. Exhale and let it go, and I’d like you to remember a time that you felt really comfortable in your own skin, really comfortable and good and happy in your own skin. Just remember what that felt like. Just gently, you don’t have to get the memory exactly. Just get that feeling. And remember a time when your heart was just filled with love, for anyone, for a pet, a spiritual love, a grandparent, a partner, anyone.

Remember what it’s like to have love flowing through your heart

And remember what that’s like, to have love flowing through your heart like that. How good that feels, but also how you that feels. Remember that you. And now think about someone who has really, really loved you in your life. Just picture that person, and I would like you to picture someone who, it still leaves a good taste in your mouth. It’s not someone who’s loved you and really let you down. It’s someone who, when you think of them, it’s a good, warm feeling.

Think of that person who has really loved you, and how that made you feel, and what that was like. And just take all these feelings and imagine a you who lives from this place. You don’t have to earn this person or try to get there. Just fantasize. Just imagine who lives from this place of comfort in yourself, of loving and of feeling loved, the freedom of that place, the warmth of that place, the flow of that place.

Imagine you

And just imagine this you, who’s on the other side of all of your inner glass ceilings that hold you back. It’s like a more evolved, older brother or sister person version of yourself. Just picture that you, that gorgeously evolved you, that you’re meant to be. Picture her, picture him, picture them. And imagine what it would be like now just to jump in to their body, jump in to this you that you’re meant to be, this flowing, loving you.

It’s a fantasy. Just imagine you’re there. Just imagine you’re there, that you’re inside these wonderful feelings, inside this you that is just such a fabulous you, full of compassion, full of insight, full of love, full of flow, free. Imagine what that would be like, and just become that person in fantasy. And from this fabulous space of being your more evolved self, this you you’re meant to be, imagine looking at the you of today, right here, right now, with all of your challenges, your struggles, everything.

What do you most want to impart?

To the you of today, what do you most want to impart? You are this wise self. You’re in her, you’re in him now. Look at the you of today from this place. What do you most want to impart to the you of right now? Good, good. And now imagine joining together somehow with this inner mentor, this more essentially you person, and how good that feels, because that person’s you anyway.

And just think of that message. Imagine if, just today, you could love that message. Not even do it perfectly, but just love it and hold on to it. Now, if you do that exercise with your dating life, if you do that exercise actually even every day, your life will change. Your path will speed. It will speed and ease your path to love and a richer, happier life, and it will dramatically reduce your tendency to self-criticize. It’s an amazing process. There’s a lot of fascinating research that backs up why it works and how it works and that it does work. But it’s yours, and I’d like to encourage all of you to use it.

Address the primary issue

One last thought here: If anyone who’s listening to this podcast is thinking about your next steps, but has a substance abuse issue or has a serious psychiatric condition that is not stabilized or treated, has any significant, real addiction or compulsion, address that first. Because nothing will stick and nothing will hold well enough until you address that primary issue. That’s just something I want to say to everybody.

Okay. The next question is from Catherine.

Q & A With Ken: How To Attract A Man Of Inspiration

Catherine: Hi Ken. This is Catherine with a question about online dating. I agree with your thoughts about attraction of inspiration. Character is important to me. If I want to attract a man of inspiration, what would his dating profile look like? Also, in my own profile, how do I advertise kindness, bravery, and honesty, for example, and come across as modest? I have tried showing rather than telling, but here is my concern about that approach. I’ve always believed that if I do a good deed, the reward is in the doing. I don’t believe in getting credit by trumpeting the news, but how else do I show my authentic self?

Specifically, I’m a retired English teacher who now spends her days volunteering as a tutor and online advice columnist, a theater usher, a storyteller, and a homeless shelter worker. I have a number of other interests such as reading mosaics and hiking, but my volunteer work probably speaks best both to my passions and my character. If I mention my volunteer work, I worry that I sound like a braggart who’s trying to get credit. But if I don’t mention it, then I worry that I sound like someone who has a lot of time on her hands and very little to do. Thank you, Ken, for any guidance you can offer. Catherine.

Online Dating Questions

Ken: Catherine, thank you for this great question. This question is wonderful for anyone who is pursuing online dating, but you’ll also see that this question is wonderful for anyone at any stage of their intimacy journey. We’re going to work with it on a few different levels.

Catherine, your question is, “What would an attraction of inspiration look like, a healthy, good, positive attraction in an online dating profile?” Then part two is, “How can you show those qualities in yourself without boasting or seeming arrogant or just somehow strangely listing every wonderful attribute that you have?”

Attractions of Inspiration versus Attractions of Deprivation

Well, I want to start with the question of when you’re looking at someone’s profile, what’s going to help you know what’s an attraction of inspiration? I’m going to back up for a minute here. My last episode, I talked about attractions of inspiration versus attractions of deprivation. That was episode 10.

The key point being that we can be attracted to someone because there’s a certain way that they almost treat us right or are almost available or are almost honest. Those attractions can really grab at us in very intense ways because we think we need to prove ourselves, and we get sucked into that again and again. We feel like love is almost there, and we can get lost in that, and it really deepens our sense of low self-worth. It’s just not good. So many of us have been stuck in relationships like that, but we also have the capacity, the circuitry to be attracted to what I call attractions of inspiration, and those turn-ons based on someone’s goodness and decency and consistency and availability and generosity. Those are the turn-ons we’re looking for.

How can you tell which is which?

Catherine is asking, “How can you tell which is which?” I want to start out, and of course, you can’t know perfectly until you get to know the person, but let’s just start with looking at a profile. Here’s what that kind of profile, that positive profile wouldn’t look like. It would not reflect arrogance or judgmentalness or nastiness. You can sense that from people’s profiles. People who show that in their profile, what they’re showing you is what they’re going to give you. I would say if you notice those qualities, it’s really best to stay away.

Some people’s profiles are going to show good qualities. They’re going to show funniness, warmth, show their values, show how they value the relationships in their lives, their family, their friends. There’ll be a quality of positivity. You’ll get the sense that they’re serious about looking for a relationship, but I want to say that a lot of people don’t know how to show that in their profiles, and we’re going to be talking about that next.

That’s why you, ultimately, you need to spend an appropriate amount of time speaking in this online venue, but then you need to really speaking via email, and then really speaking on the phone, and then actually meeting, not in each other’s homes for the first date, but for a cup of coffee or for dinner if it feels like a really good match so far, et cetera. You need to get to know the person.

Seeing a person’s goodness in their photo

Another thing that might show a person’s attributes is their photo because people who really do this in a wise way choose photos that reflect their soul, really reflect their heart, and in a moment, we’re going to get to how you can do that too. But on occasion, you can actually kind of see a person’s goodness in their photo, see their decency, get a sense of that. That’s another really good thing to look for.

You can also do a search. I really believe in this. I really believe in, from the very beginning, being proactive about saying, “I am completely not interested in dating attractions of deprivation, and I only, only want to pursue attractions of inspiration.

It is immeasurable how much time you will save, how much grief you will save yourselves, and how much more quickly you’ll be on the path to finding a happy relationship if you make that decision.

Do a proactive search for inspiration

You can do things like doing a search word. You can search for words that reflect those qualities, like the phrase “family and friends,” the word “volunteer work,” or if your religion, your spiritual is really important to you, some of those words, if nature’s really important to you, that word, or related words. Do a proactive search for inspiration. Do that. Save the time by doing that.

Showing qualities of inspiration in your online profile

Now, I’m going to talk about how to do your own, how to show your qualities of inspiration in your online profile. I’m going to first speak to Catherine. Catherine, you’ve asked how can you show these qualities without boasting or bragging. What I want to say is that in hearing the qualities that you describe, there’s a theme here. Your passions are very much in the arena of giving and service and generosity. Those are wonderful, precious qualities, and the first step is honoring and the dignifying, which I’m sure you do already, but the full-acknowledging them and knowing that so many of the things that you do and love doing are about serving and giving and that that actually gives you great joy.

Folks, listeners, I’d like you to take a minute and do the same. Think about the qualities in you that feed you the most, that matter the most to you. What are those qualities? Maybe it’s creativity that when you get to be creative, it just fills you with joy. Maybe it’s service. Maybe it’s giving. Maybe it’s nature. Think for a moment about what your passions are, the things that really give you happiness and meaning. Take minute to just name them in your head.

The determinant of our happiness and meaning in life

Those qualities where we care the most and we have the most passion are what I call core gifts, and they’re actually our relationship to them. The degree to which we dignify them, enjoy them, play with them, honor them, respect them is actually the main determinant of our happiness and meaning in life and our relationships. Of course, there are other main determinants like the people we choose, the relationships we have, but those, if we honor these parts of ourselves we are infinitely more likely to make good choices in love and to be able to keep love alive during the difficult times. What are those qualities in you?

If you can find a way to share those qualities in your profile, not as if these are my credentials that you are this kind of a person and that kind of a person, but simply by sharing from the heart about how much these attributes mean to you in life, in other people, and maybe even some of the ways that you live them in your life or how that you feel gratified, Catherine, maybe even a story about something that happened in your volunteer week that really illustrates why it matters so much to you would be a wonderful thing.

Let your passion show

This is about, in your profile, letting your passion show. If you can move that from the arena of “am I boasting” to the arena of “am I revealing myself,” then you’re going to be connecting to the living quality of your gifts as opposed to worrying about how they look on display, which is an agonizing process that we all know all too well. I would say, for all of you, whatever those attributes are, find a way to write about them in your profile from the place of the meaning that they have for you, that personal way.

Something else I want to say about this that’s pretty universal, and it speaks to how you write your profile and how you date and how you build love and how you maintain love is this:

There’s an awkwardness that happens when we reveal ourselves. There’s a kind of sense of nakedness. There’s a ring of fire of vulnerability that we go through when we reveal who we are.

It could feel awkward, but it’s ultimately beautiful, and it’s brave, like the first time maybe you let yourself say “I love you” to someone or the first time you really get naked with them or sharing your needs, longings, desires, telling someone what you appreciate about them.

Sharing your vulnerability is going to feel awkward

It’s not easy. Don’t think it needs to be easy. There is a ring of fire of awkwardness and embarrassment and shyness that we go through that is why it’s a big deal to do. It’s a kind of bravery, but when we know consciously, yeah, sharing this vulnerability is going to feel a little awkward, but it’s my bravery, it’s my authenticity, and it’s what I believe in, when we do it that way, it is experienced so many times as an act of generosity, and people feel that.

Listeners, do you ever remember going through that being with someone you care about, someone who is safe and good, and you shared something vulnerable, that kind of ring of fire that you had to go through? We’re supposed to go through that when we write our profile, when we talk to people, when we’re in a relationship appropriately, of course, but I want to acknowledge that that pang of vulnerability is part of the process, and there’s another side to it, and when you get to the other side, if you’re with someone who’s safe, if you’re with someone who is decent and cares about you, there’s a sense of gratification and fulfillment, a kind of mini-exaltation and delight that happens that is worth everything.

Find photos that capture your soul

That’s also what I want to say to you Catherine and to everyone who’s writing your profile, find a way to show that, by connecting to your passion and then just somehow revealing it in your profile. These are just a few tips. There’s a lot more we’ll be talking about in other episodes, but these are big ones.

The other one that I want to say, the last one that I want to say is find photos that don’t just make you look good. Of course, find photos that make you look good, but find photos that capture your soul. Find photos of where you’re glowing. Find photos where someone you love would look at that picture and say, “Oh, that is you. That is you.” Look for those pictures or get those pictures or make those pictures that show your glow.

You have a question?: Click on Ask Ken

That needs to be the last question that I answer today. This goes a little bit slowly because I’m trying to universalize it and take everyone on a journey where they can explore themselves as I answer these questions. Thank you, and let me say that if you have a question, go to deeperdatingpodcast.com. Click on Ask Ken, and it will bring you to a microphone. When you click that microphone, you’ll be able to leave me a message, which I’ll be able to play in the podcast and then answer. Thank you all. I will see you next week. Have a great week, and thanks for joining me at the Deeper Dating podcast.