Helpie FAQ

Helpie FAQ

  • FAQ's

  • What is Deeper Dating Online?

    Deeper Dating® Online is an unprecedented new way for single people to meet, created by Ken Page, LCSW, a respected psychotherapist, author and relationship expert and Greg Romer, an expert in emerging technology an online dating event which truly is a game-changer for the vast, ever-growing world of online dating.

     

    It’s like online dating, but infinitely more engaging, fun, and warm.

    It’s like speed-dating—but with soul.

    It’s like a dating event, but from the comfort of your home—with so much less awkwardness.

     

    And, best of all, it works to help you find love! Why? Because it’s carefully designed to facilitate warm, positive connection—and then it utilizes multiple technologies to support and grow that connection!

  • What happens at a Deeper Dating Event?

    First, you visit our website (Deeperdating.com) and you register for an event that matches your location and demographics. Then you create a profile through a process that’s video-guided, and lets you show your best self through a series of dropdowns and open questions. Of course, the profile includes location, age, sexual orientation and match requirements—all the basics, as well.

    That’s when you get your link to the Deeper Dating® event.

    The event is live, and lasts about 90 minutes.

    It begins with a short, highly engaging talk by Ken or another expert, presenting quick keys to help you succeed in this event—and everywhere else in your search for love.

    Then the fun builds as you get to meet each other. Throughout the event, we’ll bring you onto a series of new breakout groups, ranging from groups of two to eight or more

    While seeing each other on video (or JPGs) you’ll get to answer great questions that are fun, positive, engaging and show you in your best light (that alone is unique in the world of dating events!)

    Tell about a favorite pet you’ve had. Talk about a best friend from your childhood. Talk about a book that changed your life.

    The pace is quick and exciting but not rushed. And you can take notes–built into the platform–so you can remember details about everyone who interests you.

    What you end up with is this: A truly feel-good dating event: A virtual dating event that’s more intimate, more fun, and less threatening than almost any in-person dating event.

  • What happens after the event?

    After the event, you’ll get a link to the group page. Here you can look at everyone’s profile, direct message each other through an easy messaging system, and actually create one-on-one video chats with each other (with mutual consent!) In addition to possible finding amazing people for dating, you’ll also be able to make friends, business connections, etc.

    You’ll also get an email with the names of the people in the event who are closest to your ideal choices and have the closest shared interests and values.

    In the end, you’ll have met wonderful people in a virtual environment that’s built to maximize your chance of finding a great relationship.!

  • How can I find out more about Deeper Dating?

    Deeper Dating® Online is an unprecedented new way for single people to meet, created by Ken Page, LCSW, a respected psychotherapist, author and relationship expert and Greg Romer, an expert in emerging technology an online dating event which truly is a game-changer for the vast, ever-growing world of online dating.

     

    It’s like online dating, but infinitely more engaging, fun, and warm.

    It’s like speed-dating—but with soul.

    It’s like a dating event, but from the comfort of your home—with so much less awkwardness.

     

    And, best of all, it works to help you find love! Why? Because it’s carefully designed to facilitate warm, positive connection—and then it utilizes multiple technologies to support and grow that connection!

     

  • Deeper Dating Podcasts

    Transcripts from the Deeper Dating Podcast

  • Try This When It’s Too Hard To Love – LOVE POD TOUR [EP116]

    Table of Contents:

    Try This When It’s Too Hard To Love

    There are times that all of us feel like we’re just too broken or too strange or different or wounded to be able to love successfully. In this episode, I’m going to share truly life-changing tools to help you discover the gift that lies at the heart of that wounding, so that you can find the self-love you need to be able to authentically connect again. Stay tuned to this episode of 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 the best-selling book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, an environment where single people can meet online in a way that’s kind, respectful, fun and inspiring. In every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are nothing more than the real skills of love, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more about Deeper Dating, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and you can sign up for my mailing list and get free gifts and learn so much more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.

    Today’s episode is going to be a little bit different. It’s part of a podcast tour called “How to Actually Feel Worthy in Love“. I was really honored when Veronica Grant, my friend, asked me to be a part of it. Here’s what’s going to happen. During this tour, every day for two weeks, the tour is going to feature an episode from a variety of podcasts on how to feel worthy in love. Yesterday, October 7th episode was Madeline Charles‘ podcast, and the next episode on October 11th is over in Kira Sabin’s The League of Adventurous Singles podcast, and today it’s me. If you want to register for the entire tour and just get wonderful kind of new insights, just go to VeronicaGrant.com/podtour. By the way, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful thank you to subscribe and to leave me a review. Thank you so much for that, and enjoy this episode.

    In my work and in my life, I’ve really come to believe that maybe one of the absolute greatest stuck points in our ability to love doesn’t come from our inability to love. It comes from shame around the particular, unique, diverse ways that we love, and then when that shame comes, we block intimacy. We get this messaging that this is what love is supposed to look like, and really for all of us like love and sex look different than that. They look unique. They touch the deepest aspects of our being, and the deepest aspects of our being are different, are brilliant, are unfathomable, are mysterious, are edgy, are quiet, all of these different things that don’t exactly fit into the paradigm. What happens is when we have this kind of intimacy diversity, kind of like neurodiversity or gender diversity.

    When we learn to honor and listen to our intimacy diversity, our lives start working, and amazing things happen.CLICK TO TWEETWhen we’ve got our own intimacy diversity like the ways that we respond to love, the ways that we love, the ways that we show love, the ways that we get frightened from love, when we don’t accept those ways, we go into a lockdown. Our being locks up like a bicycle where the chain kind of locks and everything stops. That’s what happens inside of us when we can’t name and honor our intimacy diversity. Here’s the fabulous news around that, and it’s what we’re going to all work on today in this episode. When we learn to honor those parts of ourselves that feel different or strange, or don’t love in normal ways, or have sex in normal ways or relate in “normal ways.” When we learn to honor and listen to those parts, our lives start working. Amazing things happen.

    The choices that we make in love shift. There’s a dignifying of self, a sense of freedom, and kind of like a sense of joining the full human race because, oh yeah, I am someone who can love. I just love in these different ways. Those different ways are the key to us being able to love in the world. This is a concept that is fascinating and amazing, and really revolutionary. Here’s what it is. Beneath every one of the places where we feel like we’re not ready for love or capable of love, lies a Core Gift. Meaning one of the deepest capacities and gifts of our being.

    It’s just one we have not learned to listen to yet. Identifying it will make all the difference in the world. I know for me that one of the most painful, existentially painful experiences, that I’ve had in my life is this feeling of like, “What is wrong with me that I can’t love?” That I shut people out, that my sexuality is different, that my sexual response is different, that my emotional responses are different, and then I just shut down. I lock up and I don’t want to be there, and that means I can’t love. That lock-up was one of the most painful parts of my life, and then that understanding that there was a part of me that was made mute, that wasn’t allowed to speak, and when it was allowed to speak and when I could listen and when in the relationship I could share what it was that I needed, what it was that this part of me was afraid of or desirous of, or the pacing that I needed, or the connection or the holding that I needed.

    How To Identify Diversity In Ourselves

    When I could do that, it was like liberation. It was like the same liberation as coming out as gay. It was the same liberation, “Oh my God, I could be a part of this world and I can love,” and then the walls begin to come down. How do we identify these parts of ourselves? We’re going to start with looking at the ways that we feel that we’re not capable of love or not ready for love, or we block love consistently, or we just go numb or shut down or stop feeling, whatever the things are that we have. You could even just take a minute now to think about this. The ways that you feel like, “I just don’t cut it when it comes to love, or I’m too different, or this part of me is too strange.” Essentially, these are places where we either feel like we’re too much or that we’re not enough, and there’s a shame and a feeling that we won’t be loved because we’re either too much or not enough.

    DDP 116 | Too Hard To Love
    Too Hard To Love: What keeps us from loving and being loved is the shame around the diverse parts of ourselves.

     

    We’ll talk in much more detail about what those are, and I’ll help you identify those spots for you, but I just want to say that what I have come to see in my years as a therapist is that the opposite is true. That what keeps us from loving and being loved is the shame around those parts of ourselves. It is not those parts of ourselves, because when we are ashamed of those parts of ourselves, we never learn how to work with them, and we never discover the genius in them, and the gift in them. Just some examples of too much, feeling like too much and too little.

    Some feelings of too much are, and see which ones ring true for you. I know so many of them have rung true for me and do ring true for me. One is “I need too much”. If I really really enter into deep love, I get so needy that it’s kind of just like the Grand Canyon, and no one is going to be able to bear all of that need. Another is “my emotions are too intense, my joy is really intense, my anger is really intense, my sadness is really intense”, and people just feel like I’m too much. Another is “my sexuality is so intense that it might scare people off”, or it’s so kinky that it might scare people off, or it’s so fierce that it just scares me.

    My need for love and connection is so fierce that it scares me. My need and my caring about truth is so intense that I have upset people my entire life because I speak the truth and I get in trouble, or I ask people to really speak the truth and they can’t do it, and they end up gaslighting me and making me feel ashamed, or I have a lot of sense of personal power, and I scare people with that.

    I feel like a big, big, big, big, big one I think for women is the feeling like that too-muchness is going to make me not feminine enough, and then I’ll never be able to find an alpha male, and that I’m somehow like going against the natural order of things. That’s a scary and sad thing for powerful women to feel. Now, just a little break here to say something about that. I deeply believe that all of us need to be able to be vulnerable and not hide behind a mask of toughness or strength, but hey folks, that’s the men too. Women are not more responsible for that task than men are.

    I deeply believe that each of these qualities that I described definitely has stuck points, has immaturity, has reactiveness, etc., because we’re human and because our biggest insecurities constellate around our deepest places of charge, and our Core Gifts are where we are the most deeply charged. Of course, we’re going to kind of get excessive around these parts of us. Of course, there’s a journey to learn, to take that fierce, raw energy and work with it in wise ways, but that doesn’t make the raw energy any less precious and central to our being. It’s not something we can deny because it scares us. It’s not something we could deny because it’s gotten us in trouble. It’s not even something we can deny because we’ve screwed up around it. These are our Core Gifts, and they’re like the very core of the mechanism of our being.

    We need to find the gift underneath and behind our behaviors.CLICK TO TWEETOther side to this is the feeling of I’m not enough. Not that I’m too much but in fact, I’m not enough. “I’m not strong enough. I don’t stand up for myself enough. I’m not ambitious enough. I’m not aggressive enough. I’m not intense enough in sex. I get steamrolled by people. I lose myself. There’s a quietness or a shyness or an introversion in myself that feels like a flaw or a problem, or I find myself going numb or shutting down, and then feeling like I have nothing to give, and that just makes me want to run because I feel like it’s so unfair to the other person, and it’s so kind of upsetting to see and to do, or a kind of like aversion to making waves or making too much of ourselves.”

    A fear of expressing our needs. A fear of expressing when something doesn’t feel right to us, and then this kind of attendant feeling of being weak, not strong enough. These are all the kind of environments of not enough. These are all the kind of things we feel around the Core Gifts of gentleness, tenderness, humility and graciousness, and quiet in a world that doesn’t honor those qualities.

    Before moving on, I just also want to acknowledge that there are character disorders. There is mental illness. There is addiction. There are traits and attributes that make us kind of really veer off into zones that are very problematic for us and for other people. I want to acknowledge that kind of those pathological situations might not exactly be what I’m talking about here. Although, I would say that even in those situations, we still need to find the gift underneath and behind our behaviors.

    How To Find Our Core Gift

    How do we do this? How do we go from the place that we’re ashamed of? The ways in which we are kind of intimacy divergent, or we feel not enough, or we feel like too much in the realm of intimacy. How do we take that and find the Core Gift in those places where we have been ashamed, and we feel like we don’t love right, or that we are not right? How do we find the Core Gift? This is a kind of rich and complex process and, you know, I spend huge amounts of time in my intensives and in my book and my course, teaching how people can identify their Core Gifts, but there are some simple things that I can say about that, that I think really help.

    DDP 116 | Too Hard To Love
    Too Hard To Love: A part of our being is essential, true, and deep that doesn’t know how to speak in an adult way yet about who it is, what it longs for, and what it needs. 

     

    Here’s what happens, I think. We feel and experience a part of ourselves, and then we feel ashamed, and we tell ourselves, “This is never going to work in the realm of love. I won’t be able to find anybody that can accept this, or it’ll be too difficult,” or whatever. We just feel shame around this aspect of our being. Our task is to find the Core Gift inherent in that part of us because it is not just a pathology. There is a part of our being that is essential and true and deep that doesn’t know how to speak in an adult way yet, about who it is and what it longs for and what it needs, and our job is to find that out.

    Again, in my work, that’s something I teach, and it’s a structured process to do. Like to keep it really simple, to notice in your interactions with the world when you feel numb, when you feel hurt, when you feel joy, when you feel connectedness, and ask yourself this question. What is this saying about my being that this is hurting me? What is this saying about what matters to me that this is hurting me? What is this hurt asking for? What created this sadness, or what’s this exuberance? What’s this joy? What’s this peace? What’s this happiness that I’m feeling in connection with what happened just now in this interaction?

    We dishonor the negative things we tell ourselves, “Get over it, we’re being too sensitive.” The positive things, we don’t kind of deeply enough treasure the beauty of our capacity to have joy and connectedness, and understand what it was in that situation that allowed our hearts to be open like that. These are the keys to understanding our intimacy diversity and being able to honor it. The key is to find out why does it make sense that I feel this way? Given who I am, why does it make sense that I feel this sadness? Why does it make sense that I feel this anger? Why does it make sense that I feel this joy? Why might it make sense that I feel numb now?

    We start out by listening to and honoring that part, and then the next question is, what does this part of me need? I’ll never forget that I was in a workshop. I’ll never forget this glorious exercise that the playwright, David Schechter, created, where you had to find the part of you that felt like it couldn’t love, and you had to embody that part of you, and then there would be a group of people. It was a psychodrama exercise around you. From this place where you felt like you couldn’t love, you would tell them what you need from them, and words would come out. That would be about how much distance I needed, but not too much distance. The tender space that I was in, how I needed to feel held and seen but not engulfed, not demanded of, certainly not criticized.

    I never knew there were words for what I wanted. I just thought I was screwed up. I just thought I was numb or blank or couldn’t love. The experience of putting words on the needs that we feel at those times is just huge, and I would not be in a relationship today if I couldn’t do that, because I am so intimacy divergent in so many beautiful and amazing ways that luckily, I’m able to say strange, strange things to my husband and ask for things I need, like maybe asking for complete quiet because I’ve lost myself and I need to come back to myself, or maybe being held in a certain way, or maybe being able to talk about something or have him talk about something.

    Find a person who is a treasure and who treasures you.CLICK TO TWEETThings that in the past I would have just thought, “Oh my God, these are too annoying. These are too weird,” but I found a person who is a treasure and treasures, and usually, essentially, makes space for these parts of me. But the learning and the liberation for me was in finding out, how does it make sense that I’m feeling this way and what would I optimally want and need? I might not get it, but what I’m doing is honoring and enlivening and allowing a deeply unique part in me, and those parts in me, which are often related to pulling back from love for me, are some of my greatest treasures, because when I pull back, and there’s space for me to pull back, the next wave of love comes strongly, but then I need to retreat again.

    These are kind of things that Elaine Aron talks about for HSPs, Highly Sensitive People, but the discovery that this did not mean that I was incapable of love, that the language of my love came out in these particular ways was such a liberating gift. Now I can be in relationships and honor these parts of me to a very large degree, not enough, and there are definitely places I still feel shame, and in those places, I get prickly in lots of different ways, but this is a key thing, is to actually name the gift and when you know how it makes sense that you’re feeling the strange way that you’re feeling at the moment.

    I remember hearing Janeane Garofalo. She’s doing a comedy routine, and she just came out with this thing. She said, “Were you ever like in the middle of sex and you just wanted to like reach out and punch the guy in the face and say, ‘Stop fucking me?’” What my guess is that like if she felt that way, she probably felt like, “What is wrong with me that I can’t even enjoy sex, and this like huge dose of aggression comes up?” We can be pretty sure that what was going on in most cases, maybe it was PTSD, but in most cases, what it was is that there was a part of her talking inside her about the kind of sex that she wanted, and it wasn’t happening, and she couldn’t put words on it. All of a sudden, she wanted to punch the guy in the face. I think this is like a very kind of rich story that really captures something.

    Two Solutions: Internal And External

    The solution is twofold, and this is like what I really believe. I believe that there are two things that we can do. Two very clear things, one is internal and one is external, to help us find these parts of ourselves, learn to treasure them, find their magic and find their genius and find their potential and find their beauty, and then be able to stand behind them, and be intimate in a way that makes room for them, because when we don’t do that, we create walls. We shut out love because our psyche, our deep psyche knows that we will not be able to protect those parts of ourselves because we’re ashamed of them. We’ll try to override them or suppress them, and when our deep psyche knows that, it says, “I’m going to keep you out of a good relationship because that could be devastating. If you can’t take care of me like that, it could go really bad,” so then we choose unavailable people, or we stay solo or single or both.

    The first task is to find the beauty in our intimacy diversity. To find the worth and the value in the places we feel not enough, to find the tenderness, the desire for peace, the desire for people to be happy and comfortable, a quietness of spirit, a deep internalized aspect of our being that goes really far and really deep in, not just out, and for qualities of kind of intensity; our passion, our ferocity, our ambition, our aliveness, our desire to eat the world, our desire to be real, our desire to grapple with and wrestle with and live in connection and context.

    DDP 116 | Too Hard To Love
    Too Hard To Love: Name the tenderness, sensitivity, and uniqueness of the way that we respond to love. 

     

    These are parts that it’s really simple, and in a way, as a gay man, I think that this is a metaphor like I could have years ago, gone on and on and on. I mean, these were the old days when like most of the literature told me that I was sick, and I remember, you know, day after day sitting in the library on the floor going, “Oh no, oh boy, this is really bad.” At a certain point, I had to make a decision, and the decision was I was going to embrace how I loved, or I was going to go with all these things about how it was obviously screwed up, and it was an existential choice, and one would have led to constant and terrible convolutions of isolation and pain and suffering and shame, and one would have led to my having a life, and that was the path that I chose, and it’s a similar kind of coming out metaphor for each of us. With the ways that we love, the pacing that we want love to happen in, the moments of quietness, the moments of power.

    I think that the shame around our diversity and the uniqueness of our expression is the greatest, greatest block to love that exists. The other way, there’s the work of honoring and naming, that’s the internal work. The other work is finding those precious people who can see those exact parts of you that we’re talking about, and make space for them, and hold them like they’re valuable. Hold them like they’re sacred. Not necessarily understand them fully, but love them or get a kick out of them, and protect them and make those parts of us essentially feel safe because of who they are. Without those two things, the honoring from the inside and the honoring from the outside, it’s too hard to really kind of like for most of us to feel like we can be part of the world as we are, and really kind of be the full expression of ourselves.

    Those are the two things that are needed. The people outside who honor, and this is why I always say that the main question in our search for love, the first question needs to be, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” The same is true with friendship, and until we have people that can honor these parts of ourselves, and enjoy them, and appreciate them that we felt were like just too damn quirky or weird or strange or different or incapable or too much or not enough, until we find those people, it’s going to be almost too hard to be able to find our place in the world.

    I just want to support each of us in our journey to embrace our intimacy diversity, and put names on these parts that are names that are not shaming, but names that honor the bigness, the tenderness, the sensitivity, the uniqueness, the preciousness of the way that we respond, and what we need in love. Thank you for listening to this episode, and thank you for also being a part of the How To Actually Feel Worthy In Love Podcast Tour. If you want to listen to the rest of the podcasts in this tour, you can sign up at VeronicaGrant.com/podtour. I look forward to seeing you at DeeperDatingPodcast.com for transcripts, more episodes, and free gifts. Thanks so much for joining me. Also, I’d love to hear your responses to these ideas. Thanks so much, and see you in the next episode.

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  • How To Rewire Your Attractions To Find Real And Healthy Love [EP115]
    There are three great keys to help you uplevel your entire search for love, heal attachment wounds and increase your chances of finding beautiful, healthy sustainable love. You’ll learn each of them in this important episode, and you’ll have the chance to begin to apply them right away to your own dating life or relationships.

    Table of Contents:

    How To Rewire Your Attractions To Find Real And Healthy Love

    The 3 Keys To Transforming Your Dating Life – And Your Future

    There are three skills that you can use to rewire your romantic and sexual attractions to be able to find and keep healthy love. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast as I teach you each one of these research-backed skills.

    Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that’s kind, respectful, fun and inspiring. Every episode, I’m going to teach you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process, because the real skills of dating are nothing more than the real skills of love. Those are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating approach, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts, a free eBook, and you’ll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey, and you’ll find a complete transcript of every episode.

    I also want to say that you can find me on Instagram @Deeper.Dating, and I’ve been offering a lot of very short videos there that I hope are helpful as well. I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature, and it’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you like what you’re learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review, so thank you so much for that.

    I’m really excited to jump into this now. I’ve been thinking so much about this issue of kind of rewiring our attractions. It’s an exquisitely intense, difficult, important process, and we are not given the tools to do that deep rewiring, but it makes all the difference in the world for those of us like me, and like many people I work with, whose wiring was not kind of set up to quickly and easily lead us to healthy love. I’m going to talk about three things that not only help you rewire in powerful ways and change your future, but heal your life in the process. I think it’s an amazingly positive thing, but it’s what they call a hard work miracle.

    Develop a new taste for a loving relationship that’s good and healthy for you.CLICK TO TWEETI think Thomas Edison said that most of us don’t realize the key to success because it’s dressed in overalls and it looks like work. I love that quote, and this is work, but it’s nice work. It’s good work if you can get it. It’s the most beautiful work that there is, I think, for all of us who are really trying to bring evolution and mindfulness into our search for love, and are building a family in the world. I want to talk about these three steps that make such a powerful difference, that in my very long time as a therapist and a coach, and as a seeker and a student of intimacy, I’ve seen again and again are a very simple and direct and powerful path to what we’re looking for.

    DDP 115 | Rewire Your Attractions
    Rewire Your Attractions: Rewiring our attractions is an exquisite, intense, difficult, but important process. And we are not given the tools to do that deep rewiring, but it makes all the difference in the world.

     

    First Question

    Let me start upfront by saying what these three steps are. The first one is this question that could, and should, shape your entire search for love from now on, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” Yes, there are a lot of other questions that need to be answered too, but this is the number one question. The second is to look for your attractions of inspiration and avoid your attractions of deprivation, and even make a pledge to do that. We’re going to do that in this episode. Each of you is going to have an opportunity to kind of make a personal pledge inside about this, which I have found is remarkably powerful.

    Take Time

    The third one is a kind of complex one, and it’s about taking the time to build healthy, sexy, deep, authentic connection, to create that kind of circuitry, not to flee, and to build the tools to allow that rewiring to happen. I’m going to be talking about each one of these. Let me go back to each of these now. The first one, this question, this defining, organizing principle, this question number one, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” I think maybe the most misguided aspect of all dating advice is all the things we put before that question. Sexual attraction takes care of itself. It’s either there, it’s not there or it grows. All of those things are possible.

    Look For Your Attractions

    Other kinds of attraction as well are really rich and important, and they’re all essential, but the first question is, “Am I inspired by who this human being is? Do I feel safe with who they are as a being, and with who they are in the world, and with who they are with me?” Because that is the number one definer of how happy your future is going to be with this person. I truly believe that. We get taught that the first question is, “Am I attractive enough?” Maybe the second question or for some people, the first question is, “Am I attracted enough? Is the potential for lust there?” It’s a great and fabulous question, but the first question needs to be this, because it routes you in a different direction. There’s a subtle realignment. It gives you dignity. It shifts your field. It conveys a message of self-dignifying. That shows, people feel that, and also, it’s just a different way to orient.

    I’m just so excited about people making that shift and having that become their primary question, and writing back to me or going to my website, DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and letting me know, and letting everyone know what shifts you see, because you will see shifts. It’s something we’re not taught. The people who find healthy love the most easily are the people who know this. It just really comes down to that, so play with this. Play with this tool and watch how it shifts you. Also, I’ll say another thing about that. When you make that your central question, you actually heal your own attachment wounds and evolve your attachment style to a healthier kind of version of itself. That’s number one, is to let that be your first question, and thinking about how that is going to shift your landscape gives me great joy just to think about.

    Be with someone whom your soul feels essentially safe, loved for the future.CLICK TO TWEETOkay, the second one is, and it comes from the first one, and it is recognizing your attractions of deprivation and your attractions of inspiration, and making a choice to only pursue your attractions of inspiration. I think that one of the places that people who are pursuing this path of mindful dating is getting stuck in a relationship with someone who, again and again, you see is not able to meet your needs for integrity or essential availability or mental health or presence. You try again and again and again and again, and maybe you know consciously this person is not going to ever be the one for me, or they are certainly not now, but it’s just too hard to stop. I can’t tell you how much this is an issue for so many conscious wonderful people who are just sticky, sticky, sticky in a relationship like that, and this does involve a degree of withdrawal.

    DDP 115 | Rewire Your Attractions
    Rewire Your Attractions: The first question needs to be this because it routes you in a different direction. There’s a subtle realignment. It gives you dignity and shifts your field.

     

    In twelve-step programs, they have a beautiful concept whether you kind of believe in God or not. They say, “Withdrawal is emptying the cup of your own self-will so that God can fill it with their will.” What does that mean for people who don’t particularly follow that kind of, you know, way of thinking is that we have these hardened patterns of clutching for love in places we’re not going to find it. I think of it like a little kid who’s got a piece of colored sharp glass in their hand, and they’re squeezing onto it so tight and their hand is bleeding, but they won’t let go because it’s pretty and precious, and people who have done so much work on themselves still struggle with letting go of relationships like this.

    Here’s what I want to say. Do not assume that you can do this without help; a therapist, a friend, a circle of friends. It’s painful. I remember a time that I had to do that, and someone very wise looked at me and said, “Ken, it’s going to feel like amputating your arm, but you have to do it.” It was so helpful to hear that acknowledgement of how much it hurts, and the reality that I had to do it, and I did do it. I did end that relationship, so it’s not easy to let go of our attractions of deprivation. It’s beyond not easy.

    Here’s another thing that fits with this. If you’re having a non-sexual relationship with someone that deep down you think you’re kind of still in love with them, even though you’re dating, even though you’re still finding people hot and attractive, a significant portion of your libido is still focused on them. It’s like trying to get out of gravity zone without enough rocket fuel, because we need all the rocket fuel we can get to do this incredibly complex metamorphosis of making a stranger into home.

    We fool ourselves thinking that we could often stay in touch with someone, even like have a friends with benefits kind of relationship with them, but if deep down, you’re still kind of in love with them or hoping they’ll fall in love with you, you are dramatically decreasing your chances of ever being able to really find healthy love and go with it, because you won’t have enough energy to do the hard work of rewiring that’s required for finding and nourishing new healthy love in almost all cases.

    I encourage all of you, at this point, even right now, you might even take a moment and really actually do this as a ritual, or just think it in your mind, that you’re going to make a conscious choice to say no to your attractions of deprivation and yes only to your attractions of inspiration. I’m going to read to you the contract that I have in my online course that I have people sign, and you can kind of just listen to this and see if you can give yourself a yes. It’s called My Commitment to My Future Happiness and Love. Here’s what it is and you can kind of just listen and say yes as you do, as you listen.

    “I commit out of my own self-love and my desire for a beautiful, loving relationship to develop my awareness of my circuitries of attraction to deprivation, and to protect myself from the damage and harm that those circuitries cause. Wonderfully, I also have the circuitries to be attracted to inspiration. Now, I’m making the commitment that those are the only attractions I will follow. From now on, I will only pursue my attractions of inspiration, and I will say no again and again to attractions of deprivation. I will only be with someone with whom my soul feels essentially safe, loved and supported. No one else. For my future and my dream of a love-filled life, I now make this commitment in love and respect for my vision.” See if you can kind of commit to that.

    If it’s ringing true, whether you made the commitment or not, if it’s ringing true, hold that close because this is really like maybe the single central greatest piece of dating wisdom that I know. This is the choice. This is the pivotal choice. I really do believe that. Let’s go on to number three, the third step. That is this incredible process of rewiring. Let’s say that you, and I’m going to share a story about that for me, so let’s say you are someone who, again and again, has been attracted to relationships that weren’t that healthy and weren’t that good. There is a new kind of way that you’re going to develop a new taste. The groundwork for that is the two steps we just talked about, but then there’s still more work, because what you’re going to find, and this is an amazing thing, is that when you do steps one and step two of what I described, your field will shift.

    Respect your vision, allow love to come to you, and then make the commitment.CLICK TO TWEETYou will start to lose your taste for unhealthy relationships even though, trust me, that taste won’t go away, but it will diminish. You will increase your desire and awareness of attractions of inspiration, and you’re more likely finally to find mutuality with people like that. I swear it’s true. It’s an amazing and beautiful thing that gives me great hope. I think it’s the most hopeful thing that I know and see, and it’s big. It’s why this is such a journey of self-healing, as I say all the time.

    When that happens, you’re going to meet somebody, you’ll meet people, you’ll find these things happening, and you’ll find they may be less spicy because, let me tell you, unavailability is a really filled, delicious, spice-filled, umami-filled flavor. It really is, and that spice is going to be missing. Now, that does not mean there aren’t glorious spices of a person who’s sexy and attractive and accomplished and amazing and a turn-on and caring, and all of these glorious, glorious things.

    I promise you, you will ultimately not miss the spice of unavailability. You will ultimately not miss the spice of arrogance, but in that first phase, if you’re not used to these kind of healthier relationships, they might seem boring in a way, or the thing that is so amazing is that available people are much more dangerous and frightening than unavailable assholes, no matter how sexy the unavailable assholes are, no matter how much you feel in love or obsessed with those unavailable assholes, because someone who’s really wonderful and really sees you, having them not work out hurts in a much more profound and existentially dangerous way.

    It’s why we protect ourselves against available people, and we do that so often by telling ourselves they’re boring, or that maybe they live 50 miles outside of the range that we think that they should live at, or they’re 2 inches too tall or 2 inches too short. You know, whatever those things are. We use all sorts of things. I speak about the wave a lot which is, you know, that kind of like spasm of fear that makes us become disinterested in someone.

    Also, with an available person, with an attraction of inspiration, there are tools that you can use to deepen magic attraction in intimacy. Those tools revolve around getting kind of naked in deeper ways; sharing more of your needs, asking for your needs to be met, giving more, nurturing more, touching the deeper places of sexuality, the deeper places of tenderness, the deeper places of passion, sharing scary things, sharing deep vulnerability and authenticity. Those things are rings of fire. They’re terrifying but that terror, and research backs this up, increases Eros, and increases aliveness, and increases connection and desire. If the person, when you share that vulnerability or you stretch or reach out like that, catches you, holds you, sees you, that increases joy, sexiness, warmth, intimacy, and this deep sense of goodness-based happiness that is just so kind of explosive and quiet and beautiful all at once. That’s where you want to build your home.

    I just want to share a story about a kind of, so there’s lots to this rewiring piece. We’ll talk about it in other episodes, but I just wanted to share just some points about that. I want to share a story. It’s about someone I dated who I had to do rewiring with. This is someone who we had been speaking on the phone for quite a long time but not meeting in person, and then we finally met in person, and I’ve told this part of the story before. I saw him and he was wearing like a thick gold chain and Elizabeth Taylor cologne for men that really smelled strong. His face was not what I pictured nor quite, you know, what he had described or showed me.

    I was kind of horrified and I was like, “Oh no, this is so not going to work,” but I did kind of some of the deeper dating techniques that I teach in the book. I checked in with my inner self and I felt not disinterested, but in fact like warm and connected. I thought, “How am I going to negotiate this one?” I wasn’t attracted, but I was falling in love with him. I did continue to fall in love with him, but I was not attracted. There were parts of him that I was attracted to, but not enough, and I knew that I wasn’t going to fake this or do that to myself. I had spent too many years like telling myself I couldn’t be gay and be attracted to who I’m attracted. I knew I was not going to go down that route, but I knew that I was falling in love, and I knew this was an amazing man.

    DDP 115 | Rewire Your Attractions
    Rewire Your Attractions: Those tools revolve around in deeper ways, sharing more of your needs, asking for your needs to be met, giving more, nurturing. Those things are rings of fire.

     

    I remember being with my friends, I was out at the beach, and I just kind of began to cry because I felt like I had found potential love, and I wasn’t big enough or able enough or deep enough to be able to do that because he wasn’t my type enough. There was such a deep grief in me and actually, I went out to the beach, and I kind of made a pledge. I said to myself, “I’m not leaving this beach until I get an answer.” I prayed and I asked and I prayed again and again and again, and I cried and I really had this commitment, and I don’t know when it was. I think it might have been hours later. All of a sudden, I felt this peace inside, and the message was, “This is going to be taken care of.”

    It was really an amazing experience. It was a mystical experience. Literally, it felt like the weather changed, and definitely the weather changed inside of me, so I went home and went to sleep, and in my dreams I had the first sexual dreams about this person. I actually felt the tendrils of turn-on begin to happen. The message that I got was, “Don’t worry about the physical attraction, it’s coming and it’s going to come. Worry about the fact that this is not someone who is right for you for some other reasons that I won’t get into, but they were really clear reasons that this was not a safe relationship to get into,” but the sex came, the turn-on came, and this kind of very amazing experience. I learned that this sex stuff is more malleable than I thought. That attraction grows differently than I was taught, and differently than we’re taught which is like, “You’re not attracted right away? Swipe left. You’re attracted? Swipe right,” but there’s such deeper stuff going on that we don’t touch.

    I just wanted to share that story because it was an example of rewiring that I had to do there with this person and many times after that, which I can talk about in the future episodes. What I want to say is, do any of these hit your heart? Does this person make me feel safe in my soul? Making a commitment to only choose attractions of inspiration and say no to attractions of deprivation, and to be able to do this deep and rich work of rewiring in the presence of a healthy relationship. If you get big yeses inside, I celebrate that. Ride those yeses. Feel those kinds of quiet explosions of, “Yes, this is what I want. This is what I believe,” and let it begin to download in you because it changes your field when you do that work. Thank you so much for listening. Blessings on your journey, and I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode.

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  • Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex [EP114]

    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 talk about what to do when someone you’re dating starts to pull away; deciding to become a single parent, the single most powerful way to change unhelpful dating patterns, and much more!

    Table of Contents:

    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 personal questions about love and sex and intimacy, in a way so that listeners can apply these insights to the particulars of their own intimacy journey, and leave the episode with new possibilities and hopefully, some really important revelations about their own love life, so 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 the book Deeper Dating and the Co-founder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that is kind and respectful and fun and inspiring. In this episode, I’m going to be answering your questions. There are some really amazing questions that I’m excited about getting to and sharing and reflecting on. In every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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 nothing more than the deep skills of intimacy, which are the most important skills of all for the kind of rich life that we all want to have.

    If you want to learn more about deeper dating, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, a lot of resources, and learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your intimacy journey, and you’ll also find a complete transcript of every episode. Just a couple of more things, I want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you feel like you need help, please do seek professional help. You deserve that. Finally, if you like what you learn, please do feel free to subscribe and leave me a review. I always appreciate that really deeply. There are just such amazing reviews and I so appreciate that. Okay, let’s jump in.

    Someone called in with a really poignant question about becoming a parent as a single person. I’m very excited about responding to that. That’s one that is really very personally relevant to me, and I can share my experience, and I’m excited to share some thoughts. This person said some really kind things about Deeper Dating and acknowledged how, for the first time, she was able to end a relationship that was not healthy. She had not ever been able to do that on her own before, so she’s very thankful for that.

    Sometimes when we end a relationship, when we take a step that really gives us freedom and mastery and empowerment, a new door opens up. That happens so often. It’s like the deeper physics of dating. This happened for her but in a different way. The way that it happened for her was that she’s 39 years old, and she had a revelation of how much she wanted to have a child. That happened to me when I was 45 years old, 44 years old into 45.

    DDP 114 | Dating Questions
    Dating Questions: Happiness is when you see how the person you love looks into your eyes and feel the love there.

     

    This was her revelation. She had never considered having a child by herself, and a friend said something to her that just profoundly influenced her. Her friend said, “You’ve always thought about having a kid like that’s when your life stops, that your freedom stops, that your life stops because you have to focus everything on the kid.” She said her friend said though, “What if your life has stopped because what you really want is to have a child, and you have blocked that and not admitted it? What if your life has stopped because you’ve blocked this deep and profound longing to have a child?”

    This hit her so deeply and she had an experience of uncontrollable tears. The tears just poured out in a flood, and she’s wondering about this now. She asked, “Was it scary for me to adopt a child as a single parent to take that journey myself, and how did it influence my ability to find a relationship?” I’m going to say something about that but first, I just want to talk about the power and the beauty of that experience. I want to ask listeners, have you ever had an experience where someone said something to you that released a flood of healing tears? Just take a minute. You can even pause this and think about it because those moments are so precious and so important.

    I remember when I was on my journey, I had a number of times like that. Once, seeing a mom with her little baby. I went into another room and all of a sudden, I was just brought to my knees in tears with the desire to have a child, and the kind of admitting of how much I wanted that. Another thing I want to say about this is it’s just there’s something so profound in this that’s a really universal thing, which is that when we have a deep truth about who we are and what we want, and we don’t live it, it is not just suppression. It is an act of quiet violence against our being. It always ends us up, this is that deeper physics thing, in a situation or situations that are somewhat masochistic, where we live a deeply reduced experience of who we are.

    Understanding Your Truth

    I was speaking with someone recently who had been through college and left, and didn’t have a good experience. They had this revelation which was, “I was not my true gender identity,” which is gender-fluid, non-binary. “I was not that me, so I couldn’t appreciate or live in the college experience because I was denying who I was.” This woman had a deeply rich experience of her truth which is that she so wanted a child. That was her truth. Here’s what I want to say about that. I understand that journey. Having a child is not for everyone, but if you do have that deep longing or, listeners, any deep longing that is so deep, that it actually feels like it’s your identity, or can lead you to these kinds of revelation experiences of emotion just flooding out when you recognize something. If you don’t pursue it, you limit yourself.

    If you don’t pursue your dream, you are limiting yourself.CLICK TO TWEETI remember somebody saying something really wise to me when I was going on that journey. I just want to say this is not just about having kids. These ideas apply to your mission and your passion, and it might be to have a relationship. It could be anything. It might be to really embrace the fact that you’re an artist or you want to write a book or whatever it is. The stoppage that happens isn’t just the stoppage of that particular impulse. It’s a stoppage of the flow of your being, which has profound repercussions.

    I was talking to somebody about my own desire to have a child and my fear. I said, “I’m a psychotherapist. I don’t make a ton of money. I don’t have the savings that can allow me the freedom to just get an au pair and not worry about this, and I’m single, and I’m single. How am I going to do this? How am I going to date? How am I going to have a life?” She said something so beautiful and wise to me. She said, “You’re evaluating your life now and imagining what it would be like having a child in your life now, but when you make this commitment to have a child, the circle of your experience will widen and broaden.”

    She said that there’s a German saying which is, “A child brings its own luck,” but she said, “What that means is that the circle of your luck is going to expand,” and God knows it did, and that’s how I found my wonderful husband and now my other two children. It was through pursuing that deep longing and impulse. This is where I get to say to all of you, what’s yours? What’s your deep longing? What have been those moments that you got kind of like hit with a longing that almost felt torrential or powerful or profound? Maybe not like that, but just in some simple and steady way really identifies who you are.

    That is your soul and you will widen the circle of your luck by embracing that, because you’ll widen the love in your life because you’ll be living love, and in this case, love of self and love of your mission, so that’s this kind of esoteric truth, is that when we block the flow of that, we crimp our being. We diminish our being. It’s an act of quiet violence against our being, and violence begets violence. In this case, what that means is that if we reduce ourselves by not pursuing our dream, somehow we will encounter situations again and again that conspire to reduce us. As Jung said, “It’s going to feel like fate, but what it really is, is the shadow of the dreams that we are not embracing.”

    Not Wanting To Be More Than Friends

    Okay, so moving on next. Someone else spoke about being in her 60s and dating. What she finds is that guys keep just wanting to be friends. Again and again, the guys that she goes out with, she kind of stays in a friend zone with them because she senses that that is what they want, that they only want to be friends. She was speaking about one guy that she had gone out with for a really long time, and is still connected to that has landed kind of solidly in that friend zone, and she had a revelation. She realized that she didn’t have the courage to tell him that she was interested in exploring something deep. She said it just made her feel so vulnerable. She acknowledged that she just didn’t feel like she had the courage to do it.

    DDP 114 | Dating Questions
    Dating Questions: When we have a deep truth about who we are and what we want, and we ignore it, it is not just suppression but also an act of quiet violence against our being.

     

    I want to zoom out for a minute and kind of look at the bigger picture here, and then zoom in and share some specific thoughts for her, but zooming out…..I think that one of the great harms, profound harms that’s done by treating the search for love as almost more like a gimmick or a series of hacks or tricks, or focusing on just making yourself more attractive, etc., the not treating it as a deep and profound growth journey, is that we miss the biggest points. One of the absolutely hugest points is that we need to become a student of our patterns.

    That’s how we can mark if we’re growing and progressing because we notice that we’re approaching different people. We’re becoming attracted to different people. We’re avoiding different people, that all of those things are changing, that somehow we’re meeting people who are kind of closer to what we’re looking for, closer to what I call attractions of inspiration versus attractions of deprivation. When we see that, even if we haven’t found our one yet, that is cause for such profound hope.

    Cherishing Your Core Gifts

    That’s the second stage of the deeper dating journey. The first stage is the discovery and naming and cherishing of your Core Gifts. The second is the re-education of your attractions because we cannot force our sexual attractions, and we should not try to. However, we can educate over time our sexual and romantic attractions, and the tools for doing that are the tools that are going to help you keep sex and love and romance alive when you find your beloved, but that’s for another episode and another discussion.

    The kind of first layer of experience that she has had has been the layer of experience of, “This keeps happening to me.” We all have like a lot of stories as we get older especially of, “This keeps happening to me.” Although I know 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds who totally can tell the “This is what keeps happening to me” story, but we need to stop and examine that. What is it that keeps happening for you? Because whatever that is, there’s so much to be learned from that. Not just what to stay away from, but also if anything keeps happening again and again, it’s a deeper and richer statement about the parts of ourselves that we have not learned to honor, dignify and have wiser custody over.

    We need to become a student of our patterns.CLICK TO TWEETThe two link, the places where we don’t love ourselves, are connected in very rich and sometimes complex, sometimes simple ways. They’re the kind of people that we’re sexually and romantically attracted to. This is a rich and amazing thing that all of us should learn to understand. In my book, in my courses, and all of my work, I teach that in really clear structured ways, which is something I’m very passionate about. Anyway, so she reached the point where she had this first story of, “This always is what keeps happening to me, which is guys keep just wanting to be my friend,” but then in reflecting in a deeper way, she realizes that there’s something deeper here, which is that she is afraid of sharing the part of herself that wants to depend, that wants to need, that wants to lean in, that wants to be held, that wants to say yes to a deeper, committed relationship, and this is gold.

    When we can see how we’re afraid of intimacy and playing that out, we have gold. That’s where we need to get help. That’s where we need to get support, at exactly that juncture, because that juncture is gold. It might knock us to our knees that saying that the truth will set you free but first, it will make you miserable. Yeah, that’s true but she’s got it. She’s got it and what that is, is that she is not having the courage to own her deep longing for intimacy and connectedness which is her treasure. This is your treasure, so what do you do about it? First, you validate yourself for seeing it.

    I want to ask every listener here to take a minute now. What is your “This always happens to me” kind of story? You know the truth of that piece of it. What might be the deeper truth of what you are afraid to reveal or honor or cherish? You might not have an answer yet. Another way to ask that question is, “What does your wiser self have to say to you about what you are not doing in your search for love? Is there any piece of wisdom, something your friends have told you, something you know that you’re kind of preferring to avoid, but you know it’s like really a big deal and really important?

    I had a friend who said to me once. I’ve talked about this before, but she said to me after my being single for like decades and decades, and really upset about it and wanting a partner. She said, “Ken, I know why you don’t have a partner and you kind of know why too.” I said, “Please educate me because no, I don’t.” She said, “You’re always going to the bars. You’re always going to the clubs. You’re going to look for people in those environments, but not in places with people who share your values.” I proceeded to ignore that with great passion for about 8 to 10 more years, and then finally, kind of was brought to my knees and said, “Yeah, that’s true and that’s what I need to do.”

    Anyway, what I want to say to you, you’re feeling like you don’t have the courage. When we feel like we don’t have the courage for something, there is a simple response to that. We do the internal processes to build courage. Yes, but we don’t bank on those. We don’t count on those. We almost give up on those, trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and we look for connection and support. I promise you, you will be able to take that next step infinitely better if you have friends or a coach or a therapist or a group or a combination thereof of people who can support you in this terrifying experience of saying, “This is who I really am, and this is what I want.”

    DDP 114 | Dating Questions
    Dating Questions: One of the great harms in the search for love is focusing on making yourself more attractive and not treating it as a profound growth journey.

     

    The liberation that you will experience with that will not only impact your relationship with this person, it will impact your life because like the last piece I talked about, that holding back of who you are, which is this precious quality of longing for a deeper connection. When you hold that back, you hold you back, and everything there gets crimped and stuck and blocked as a result. Terrifying? Yes. Thrilling? Absolutely. Don’t try to do it alone. I want to say this to each one of you as well. If there’s a pattern that you want to change or break, don’t try to do it alone because your life will not expand in the way that it needs to. It is an incredible truth how interdependent we are.

    It is wiser to give up on trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It is truly wiser and get help because time is precious, and I can pretty much promise you that you will speed your journey so much more beautifully with the proper support. Everybody who is listening, take a moment to just think about where that might apply to you in your precious, precious life and intimacy journey. For the next few Q&As, I’m going to go a lot, lot quicker because I’m kind of backed up in the Q&As, but please keep sending them to me. I love them. I adore them and I get to them little by little. The next ones, I’m going to do are a little bit quicker.

    Someone called into the Ask Ken section of my Deeper Dating Podcast website, which is how you can leave your questions. I had a number of people that responded after my podcast episode about chemistry. She said that there was a guy that she went out with, and they had good sex. They had a beautiful connection. He was a lovely guy but she ultimately, in that process of dating, went back to someone who was a toxic, intense rollercoaster relationship. She was heartbroken for that person, and she ended this relationship, then she listened to my chemistry podcast and she asked me, “If I look at this guy with new eyes, is there a chance that I could fall in love with him?”

    I want to respond to that. Those white-hot, crazy attractions of deprivation grab us, and they grab us in a really vulnerable place. They grab us in all the places where we feel like we’re not worthy of being loved. We finally are almost getting loved by someone who also can see the ways that we’re not worthy of being loved, but will choose to love us anyway. That’s the construct, and that’s the unbelievable excitement of these people. Our psyche wants to go back to the scene of the original crimes and finally be loved right.

    Don’t pressure yourself romantically. Give yourself space, and enjoy the person that you are.CLICK TO TWEETIt’s white-hot. It’s intense, but what it doesn’t have is that place of deep peace. I say this all the time, and I’ll say it again. When you have that feeling of deep peace because of someone’s goodness and integrity, and they’re hot and they’re sexy, and they love you and they’re there, and when you see how they look into your eyes, you see the love there, that’s happiness. That’s where you want to build your home, and that exists. Those are attractions of inspiration.

    What I would say to you is there is absolutely a chance that you could fall in love. If it’s not too late, get to know this person. Follow the ideas that I talk about in the chemistry podcast which are don’t pressure yourself sexually, don’t pressure yourself romantically, give yourself space, enjoy the person, kind of let yourself fetishize the personality and sexual and physical things that you like about them. Let yourself taste those, reflect on them. Let yourself fantasize about sex with this person. Let yourself fantasize about enjoyable times with this person. Use these tools to grow Eros, which is what you’re going to do in a long-term relationship anyway. It’s fun and it’s a beautiful thing to do, and it’s a tool that we all need, so do that.

    Extra Spark

    So often, your focus, get to know this guy if it’s still a possibility, but here’s what I would say. Who knows if that like kind of extra spark that you felt was missing will come? If it doesn’t come, you will know. If it comes and goes, then you know that this is worth pursuing and exploring. What happens when it comes? What happens when it goes? If it comes in a strong way, which it really might, that’s a glorious thing.

    Mirror Image

    Okay, I’m trying to move a little more quickly so I’m going to move to the next one now, which is just kind of so fascinating. It’s the mirror image. It’s someone who also has spoken about how much she has kind of loved this content, and how it has helped her and changed her. She said, “I was with someone who saw me as what I call an attraction of inspiration, but he went back to a toxic rollercoaster relationship.” She suspects that it’s the wave of distancing, which is when someone is available and decent and kind, and all of a sudden, we lose interest in them, and we kind of start devaluing them in our head, or all of a sudden, we start remembering this hot, unhealthy relationship, and we want to go back there. This is such a deep human tendency that we have not been instructed about. She said she feels compelled to share what she has learned from Deeper Dating, this concept of the wave, which I think is the single biggest saboteur of healthy, new love.

    She wondered, “Should I speak to this guy? Should I tell him what I’ve learned?” I would say, “Sure.” You can kind of offer one of my Psychology Today articles, the podcast episode, or any of those things where I talked about the wave and say, “I just wonder what you think about this, and might this have been something that has been true for us?” That’s really all you can do. If there’s continued dialogue, then that’s great, but you can certainly offer that. I just feel like, absolutely, why not, but realize that this person is in the throes of an avoidance of intimacy, quite possibly, and also quite possibly, a romantic obsession, and those are powerful things like any addiction that we don’t have as much control over as we’d like to, but I say, “Sure, why not plant the seed?”

    DDP 114 | Dating Questions
    Dating Questions: Sometimes, when we end a relationship, a new door opens up possibilities, and we take a step that gives us freedom, mastery, and empowerment.

     

    The last question for today is somebody who thanked me also for this work and said that his main learning has been a deeper learning to love himself, but here is his question. The concept of attractions of deprivation and inspiration, you can find those in earlier episodes. I talk about two circuitries of attraction, Attractions of Inspiration, where attraction and Eros grows because of a person’s goodness, availability, integrity, love and caring for us, combined with the fact that they have to be sexy and attractive to us, or an Attraction of Deprivation, which is where we kind of are chasing love.

    What he asked me was, “Can there be elements of deprivation in an attraction of inspiration?” To which I say, “Absolutely, 100% yes.” This is so infinitely not black and white. We’re human and we’re all filled with holes and gaps and triggers and traumas, but the question is, “Is something essentially so? Is someone committed to curating a life where they are essentially decent and honest and integrity-based? Do they have an unstabilized serious psychiatric condition that they’re not working on? Do they have an active, serious addiction?”

    These are all things that can help you decide if, overall, this is something that is safe to pursue, but within that, Harville Hendrix says this really beautifully. He says, “We come to a point in our intimate relationship, often, years in, where the thing we most need from our partner is the thing that they’re least able to give us, and that’s not the end of love. That’s the beginning of conscious, deeper love because you build bridges together, and you work on that together,” so absolutely, but the question is, “Over time, is there an essential, basic sense of trust in the person’s goodness and integrity and availability and decency, and all of those basic, basic things?”

    If that is there, then you work on that other stuff. That’s hard and difficult and ongoing and stressful, and also wonderful, but that’s the work. The thing is you want somebody who is able and willing to do that work with you, and cares and is committed enough to do it, so that’s my kind of answer on that. Thank you all for listening. I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. You might even just want to take a minute now and just ask yourself, what touched you most in this? What’s a message in this episode that touches you and matters and that you want to carry forward in your own life? Thank you all so much. Have a great day.

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  • Create Your Personal Love-Wisdom Practice [EP113]

    One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to create a personal practice that delivers daily access to deeper wisdom about your own love life. In this episode, I’ll teach you how to create a personal practice that can truly change your future. Over time, your practice will deepen you, make you more capable of loving, and help you become so much more skilled at finding love, intimacy, wisdom–and passion too!

    Table of Contents:

    Create Your Personal Love-Wisdom Practice

    Finding Your Inner Intimacy-GPS

    In this episode, I’m going to help you craft a personal practice to bring deeper wisdom into your intimacy journey, so stay tuned to this very important and special episode of 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, which is a new site where single people can meet in an environment that’s fun, kind, respectful and inspiring. Today, I’m going to talk about spiritual practice as a tool to help you in your search for love, and I’m going to help you craft your own personal spiritual practice to support you in your intimacy journey.

    In every one of these episodes, 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 skills of dating are the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy, rich, meaningful life. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you can sign up for my mailing list, and get lots and lots of free things, and lots and lots of resources, as well as complete transcript of every episode, including this one.

    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. If you’re experiencing any psychological symptoms that concern you, it’s a great idea to get professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could leave me a review, subscribe, etc. Thank you so much for that. Okay, so let’s jump in.

    DDP 113 | Personal Love
    Personal Love: Create your own personal practice to help you in your precious and amazing search for love.

     

    I think the intimacy path is very much a wisdom path. I know in my experience, it is on and on, again and again about what I can learn, what I need to learn about the obstacles that I hit in myself, the ways that I refine how I interact with people, just lessons about love that come and come and come, and meditation or a practice that really speaks to you speeds your journey to your own personal wisdom. What could be better than that? It’s just such an incredibly important, important thing.

    The Two Things That Made The Biggest Difference

    I remember thinking, what are the things that allowed me most to move from chronically single and enacting these patterns again and again that I really, really thought would work, and just didn’t work again and again? What were the things? The two things that made the biggest difference to me were my support group of chronically single shrinks and the friends who mentored me. That kind of connection and support that got me out of my own patterned attempts to find love, that were failing again and again as much as I believed in them, and the other was a spiritual practice.

    I did for a long time, I still do a spiritual practice. I am someone who’s been meditating I guess about 40 years in my life, a really, really long time. I’ll say a little bit more about that, but during the time that I committed to my search for love in a more intense way, I had a daily spiritual practice that was specifically about finding love.

    As much as anything, these particular two things, my spiritual practice and the connection and support of other people who could take me out of my patterned ways of doing things, those were the big things that made the hugest, hugest difference. I believe in them so much and they’re humbling. They’re both humbling because in both of those cases, it’s this realization that my patterned ways that I believed in so deeply just like weren’t the wisest way to do this, and so meditation was really important to me.

    If you’re experiencing any psychological symptoms that concern you, it’s a great idea to get professional help.CLICK TO TWEET

    Understanding Meditation

    I’m going to talk a little bit more very shortly about the practices that I used, that I believe in so deeply, and work with you to create your own personal practice, meditation practice, spiritual practice that is built and designed to help you in your precious and amazing and profoundly important search for love, but first, I want to talk a little bit about the value of meditation, but I’m going to precede that with something else. I just want to say, if you are thinking, “I can’t meditate because I can’t still my mind,” welcome to the club. I have been meditating for 40 years and I cannot still my mind. It’s the rarest thing in the world for me to still my mind.

    Now, does that mean that my meditations aren’t life-changing, beautiful, amazing, delicious, powerful, essential? No. They are but I just suck at stilling my mind and you can still meditate. I’m going to talk about that a little bit more. Also, meditation does not have to be this dry, boring thing. I hate dry, boring meditation. I can’t stand it. My meditations are rich and intense and beautiful and life-changing. Don’t think that you just need to do a meditation that bores you.

    I will say though that some of the meditations that you might think are boring, like some of the meditations of watching your breath or saying a mantra are anything but boring when you stay with them. They can be deep and rich and amazingly beautiful. I’m just saying that too, but you don’t have to do them. You do not have to have rigor. You do not have to have amazing discipline. You just do your best.

    I just want to share a story with you. As someone who is a very serious meditator and has been for like a crazy, crazy long amount of time, I follow a particular path of meditation. I will say that my guru, my spiritual teacher is a man named Paramahansa Yogananda who came to the States. He was the first Indian teacher to come to the States and stay for a really, really long time teaching. He was beloved by Gandhi. Gandhi bequeathed some of his ashes to him and he was just a great soul. I follow, since I was seventeen, his meditation path.

    DDP 113 | Personal Love
    Personal Love: When you have waves of emotion, you ride them, and you feel them.

     

    Unfortunately, Self-Realization Fellowship, his organization, has some homophobic elements or has had them, and that has been a little bit difficult for me but he’s still my guru, my spiritual teacher, and his meditations are my meditations, and I love him dearly and deeply, even if his community might be somewhat misguided in that area. Anyway, so I was at a retreat and I had not yet received the next level of initiations, and I was talking to my friend, Paul, who was very smart, and I said to him, he said, “Well, why haven’t you done this next series of meditations?” I said, “Because I’m such a sloppy meditator. I’m so bad at it. I have so little rigor. I have so little discipline.” He said to me, “Fine. Take the next level of meditations and be like a sloppy meditator with no rigor and keep doing them,” so that is what I did.

    I learned and I believe in deeply the beauty of sloppy spiritual practice. Meaning, if your heart is in it, if you choose a meditation that speaks to your soul, if your meditation touches you, who cares? Now, if you can have more rigor and discipline than me, and many people do, three cheers for you, but you don’t need it. I just want to speak up in praise of sloppy spiritual practice. Do you do it? Do you put heart into it? If so, your meditations will be getting more and more beautiful, powerful and meaningful if they’re ones that speak the language of your heart, and today, we’re going to help you find what those are.

    Going back to Yogananda, my teacher, he said something so beautiful, and I haven’t been able to find the exact quote but it was something like this. It was that left to their own devices, left to our own devices, our hearts become flinty and hard. They just are prone to do that as we live unless we have relationships and practices that soften our hearts again and again, and that’s one of the things that meditation does. It softens our hearts and when our hearts soften, we see our relationships with more compassion. We also see ourselves with more clarity. To me, those are two of the more amazing things that happen in meditation. Is I gain compassion. I decenter from my rigidity, and the other piece that happens in my meditation is that I just see things clearer. It doesn’t make me fuzzy thinking. It makes me more of a practical clear thinker and I adore those things.

    In the arena of dating, there’s a twelve-step sentence that’s something like, in that area, my mind is not a safe neighborhood to be alone in, and when it comes to dating and intimacy and all of our stuck places around intimacy, I promise you, our minds are not safe neighborhoods to be alone in. I think that what we need to be feeling, and this is something that I would like to ask you to think about if it’s something you’re experiencing, is a kind of ongoing way that there’s an influx of new ideas, new wisdom, new compassion, new awareness. If that’s happening for you already on a regular basis, that’s glorious. If it’s not, it probably will if you take on a practice, and I’m talking ten minutes a day to start, five minutes a day if it needs to be five minutes a day.

    Meditation softens our hearts. When our hearts soften, we see our relationships with more compassion.CLICK TO TWEETOther things that happen for me in my meditation, I often say that my meditation is pretty always the best part of my day, and the reason is that in my meditation, all the joys of my day kind of get distilled down, and I get to like taste their sweetness and their nature and their flavor. They get essentialized. They get distilled, and I can really feel and sense their nature, their essence, so meditation takes the beautiful moments of my life and gives that to me, and also gives me wisdom. I don’t know, but to me, it’s just the most fabulous, fabulous feeling in the world to feel like I’m gaining intimacy wisdom. That’s something that stuck, got me stuck or scared or blocked or helpless, that all of a sudden, there’s this influx of wisdom that doesn’t feel like it’s something I knew or understood before, but I gain it and I could just feel, “Oh, I just learned something.” That’s a wonderful thing, and that is also what meditation offers.

    I wanted to say this thing about don’t worry about meditating correctly and I wanted to talk a little bit about the beauty of meditation. I’ll say that some other things that happen in meditation are a sense of expansion, a sense of peace, a sense of transcendence, a sense of touching something vast like, “Holy cow, I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon,” and I’m in awe and I’m scared. This is vaster than I expected, and it’s so dimensional and rich, and there’s heart in it and it’s me. I’m a little scared, but wow. That kind of awe of experiencing something that’s like slightly, slightly transcendent, or maybe even more than slightly transcendent, so those are some of the beautiful, wonderful things I wanted to say about meditation.

    Create Your Own Personal Practice

    Now, I want to help you kind of create a practice for yourself, and I want to offer you a few ideas. One is a contemplative kind of prayer practice that for me was a really, really important part of my spiritual practice to find love, and made a huge, huge, huge, huge difference. I actually teach this contemplative practice. It’s an ancient practice and I teach it in episode 26 in pretty good detail, but I’m going to give you kind of the basics of it here, and the basics are that you find the words that touch your heart deeply about your search for love, and it’s okay for the words to be an ask, like universal spirit, or maybe you don’t even name it, or maybe you say goddess, or maybe you say God, or maybe you say wisdom or strength inside me, untapped wisdom inside me. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful and it’s vaster than our limited little mind, and we call on it.

    It’s like you ask, you ask and that asking should evoke a kind of real like longing, or a sense of this longing for a relationship in me is so true. It almost burns. It’s so deep. It’s so true. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, it’s exquisite but it’s my truth and I’m going to ask. I’m going to ask the universe for help in making this dream happen. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do my own efforts, but it means that this vast and humble reaching out of arms and just asking is something that I do.

    DDP 113 | Personal Love
    Personal Love: The more your magnetic field shifts, the more love, wisdom, and healthy relationships come towards you.

     

    I had a prayer that I said. I tried to do it ten minutes a day but it burned so much that often I could only do it for five minutes a day, just because it touched such an ache inside of me and touched fears, “What if I can’t have this?” Lots of intense stuff, which all of which are symbols, not symbols but signs that I was really close to my heart and signs that because it hurt, because it burned, that it was real and it was true.

    For me, this one was God, because the word God works for me but it doesn’t have to work for you, but “God bless me that I choose my life companion based on your ways of perfect soul unity.” Here’s what I would do and here’s what the contemplative practice is. I would say the prayer and then I would feel the waves of emotion that came afterwards, then so when that happened, I would ride those waves. I would stay with them until they subsided, and then I would say it again, and maybe the second time, I’d be thinking about my shopping list and it would be like useless.

    I would just start again and say the words, “God bless me that I choose my life companion based on your ways of perfect soul unity,” then I would have a flare-up of, “Yeah but what about sex? What about sexual attraction? What about that?” I would calm myself down and say, “Yes, Ken, that too, that too,” but this was this huge lesson that I learned and I teach that when you put soul unity first, of course, you have to be attracted, but when you make that first your priority, your world changes, everything changes. This is something we are not taught and this is the way that you make your entire search for love a spiritual practice.

    You say it. When you have waves of emotion, you ride them. You feel them. You experience those ripples, and when they subside, you do it again. When you’re not focusing, you don’t have to wait for the ripples to subside because there probably won’t be any ripples. You just go back and do it again. You just do this and deepen into the heart of it. Whatever your words are, you might find a prayer you really love, you might just say, “Help me, help me find the love I seek.” You don’t need fancy words. It does not need to be pretty. It does not need to be iconic. It could be like a grunt or a call or an ache. It can be a sound. It could be a note that you hit. It could be anything.

    Find the words that touch your heart deeply about your search for love.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s the point here is that it doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is, does it touch your heart? Does it maybe bring tears to your eyes? Does it make you long? Does it touch you in a deep place? If it does, then that’s what you use, and it will change you, it will change you. Does it burn sometimes? Yes. Is it hard? Yes, it is, but it’s so worth it because it will reshape your being in alignment with this intention over time. That’s one idea for a practice. I’ll share some other ones too.

    There’s the inner mentor practice, which I adore endlessly and I teach in episode 3, and I teach in a lot of places, and I’ll say just briefly what it is now. It’s imagining a you on the other side of all of your inner glass ceilings. It’s like imagining the you that you’re meant to be, unfolded, unfurled, alive, and you don’t have to earn it or be it. You just have to imagine it like a fantasy. Then you look at that being’s eyes and face, and what that reflects. This you that is just such pure, beautiful essence of you, and then you do this thing like method acting, where you jump in and you become that you, even if you don’t deserve it, even if you haven’t earned it, even if you haven’t gotten there, because you won’t have gotten there but you imagine, and in a way, it’s more than an imagination because it’s you. It tastes like you. It feels like you. It’s you. It’s essence of you, and you look at the you of today and you think, “What guidance do I want to call out to the me of today?”

    I go over this practice in a lot more detail in episode 3, but you do that and then you take the message, and all you need to do is write it down and let it become your daily meditation, for that day, and all you need to do is love that meditation, and the more you do this, the more you become that being, and the more you become closer and closer to being that being, the more your magnetic field shifts and love and wisdom and healthy relationships end up coming towards you. That’s why this is so much a spiritual path of growth in the deepest and richest ways.

    Tapping Acupuncture Points

    I will share another practice that I love and it’s called tapping, and I haven’t done this yet but I will do, and I’m going to bring in a teacher who’s going to teach tapping to my audience. Many of you know tapping already, but it’s tapping along certain acupressure points, acupuncture points and then following a protocol. There are over 100 clinical studies proving the efficacy of this process that kind of like not only reduces stress, but can be used for meditation and brings you into a much deeper place. Every morning, I start out by doing twenty minutes of tapping, and then I do the inner mentor process. That’s my morning meditation and my coffee, of course. I love those morning meditations. I treasure them. They’re really, really wonderful.

    DDP 113 | Personal Love

    I am all for, as you know, as I’ve said, meditations that focus on the breathing or focus on whatever that are kind of less directed to your search for intimacy, but that’s what I’m asking you to consider here is to craft a spiritual practice that focuses on your precious search for intimacy. You would not have listened to this whole podcast if this didn’t resonate for you in some way. You wouldn’t be listening to any of my podcasts if this stuff didn’t resonate for you, so I just want to honor your longing for growth and healing, and say that some of the ideas are an inner mentor to help you in your intimacy journey. This contemplative practice of prayer or just stating something or asking for something, those are two practices. You might find others that really speak to you. You might create a song and sing that song. You could do so many millions of different things.

    I’ll share a story here. One of my great mentors was a man named John McNeill. He was a Jesuit priest who wrote a book called The Church and the Homosexual. He was kicked out of the Jesuit order for his homosexuality by a Cardinal who then became Pope Benedict. Anyway, he was a wonderful, wonderful hero and mentor of mine and my spiritual director. He told me at one point that he always felt guilty because he could not do a prayer in the morning. He had to sit down with his coffee and his New York Times. He just had to, and he kept telling himself to be more spiritual and pray first, but for years and I guess decades, he didn’t, so finally, it hit him.

    He was going to create an organic spiritual practice, so he prayed The Times. He would read The Times and if anything moved him or touched him, his compassion, his joy, his concern, he would craft and ask a prayer, a blessing, something in that moment. That, he was able to do, and for the rest of his life, he was able to do a morning spiritual practice, so what I want to say to you is whether it’s walking meditation or singing or anything, that you consider how to craft a practice that really speaks the language of your heart.

    In my book, Deeper Dating, Chapter 6 is completely devoted to this, and you’ll also find a number of podcast episodes that focus on this to different degrees, but I want to hear your stories because you want a practice that is going to inject this magic, bigger wisdom into your search for love and your intimacy life, and it will change you and make you more of the person, and rewire you and reshape you to be the person who you want to be, and who is so much more capable of living and feeling love.

    You can go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and click Ask Ken, and share your stories about how you found a practice, how you created a practice, what that practice is like for you that’s specifically focused on your intimacy journey, and I’ll do my best to read these out because I think people will be inspired by them. Good luck on your journey of crafting your own beautiful spiritual practice for your search for love and your intimacy journey, and I look forward to connecting on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

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  • How To Protect Heart, Soul And Self In Online Dating: An Interview With Charly Lester [EP112]

    What can we do to protect ourselves from the physical and emotional risks in online dating? And what are the keys to handling the stress, anxiety, and burnout online dating can create? In this interview with brilliant online dating innovator, fearless adventurer and humanitarian Charly Lester, we’ll explore how you can better protect and care for yourself in your online dating life.

    Table of Contents

    How To Protect Heart, Soul And Self In Online Dating: An Interview With Charly Lester

    How To Practice Self-Care And Self-Protection In The World Of Online Dating

    What can you do to protect yourself from the physical and emotional risks in online dating, and what are the keys to handling the stress and the anxiety and the burnout online dating can create? In this interview with brilliant online dating innovator and humanitarian Charly Lester, we’re going to explore how you can better protect and care for yourself in your online dating life, so stay tuned to this episode of 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 site where single people can meet in an online environment that is fun, inspiring, kind and respectful. In this podcast, I am so excited to be interviewing Charly Lester. Let me tell you a little bit about Charly. She is one of the world’s leading dating industry experts. She’s a serial entrepreneur and she currently runs a successful marketing consultancy business for dating apps and tech startups.

    She launched her first business at age 30, which was The Dating Awards. Most famously, she cofounded Lumen, which is the dating app for over 50s, which has been the fastest-growing dating app in the world in 2019, and she was profiled in Forbes in 2018 and she is currently preparing to launch her fifth business, Peaches & Poppies, which is a plus-size activewear brand inspired by her own struggles to find triathlon-specific clothing which accommodates her curves. I adore this.

    Charly is the former dating editor for The Guardian and the global head of dating for Time Out. She’s been on BBC News Night representing the online dating industry. In 2015, she was an expert advisor to Lord Sugar in the final of The Apprentice, and she’s a regular guest on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. She’s also an ambassador for the charity Survivors Manchester, which supports male survivors of rape and sexual assault. She cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2016 and completed her first Ironman in 2018 in aid of this charity.

    In her spare time, she enjoys Ironman Triathlons and played for team Romania in the Roller Derby World Cup, and recently completed the Marathon des Sables, six marathons in five days across the Sahara Desert. She is the dating industry expert for RealMe, which is a company that has developed solutions to make dating apps safer. There are just worlds of things that we’re going to be talking about together, but one of the biggest and most central ones is how people can keep themselves safe emotionally, physically, and spiritually in their online dating experience.

    If you want to know more about Deeper Dating, and I’ll be telling you all the different ways that you can connect with Charly and her work, and giving you all the links in the transcript. If you want to know more about the Deeper Dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you’ll get free gifts. You’ll learn a lot more about the ideas we speak about, and you’ll get a complete transcript of every episode including this one.

    I also just want to say that everything I share on this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, if you like what Charly has to say, if you have any questions, it would just be a tremendous thank you if you subscribed, left me a review or just went to the Ask Me section of DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and share any thoughts, feedback or questions about what you hear in this episode. Thank you so much and we are going to jump in right now.

    Charly, it’s so great to have you here.

    Thank you for having me.

    I originally just was so impressed by the quality of your dating advice, which is non-gimmicky and heartfelt and practical, and the combination of the kind of humanitarian aspect of your work that kind of just so integrates in, as well as your sense of adventure. All of the things that are wonderful and kind of part of the dating experience.

    I would just like to start out by having you talk about this current passion of yours, which is the issue, well, current and ongoing, but this passion for creating safety; physical, emotional and spiritual, for people who are doing online dating. I just love to hear any of your thoughts and reflections, and what this means to you.

    I think I’m probably part of the new wave of dating entrepreneurs in a way because I’ve come at this industry at an age where I was dating still, so if you look at the first people who created online dating sites, a lot of them had been married for like 10, 15 years before online dating came around, and so they never really experienced their products. I think that’s where, you know, I’m in my late 30s and a lot of my sort of fellow entrepreneurs that is in their age, we dated on Tinder, right? We were there the first year that it launched.

    I worked at Gaydar for a time, and all of my colleagues, they were all on Gaydar. I think it makes a real difference when you’re actually dating on these products because suddenly you understand the world in a different way. My entry point into the dating industry was I wrote a blog. I went on 30 blind dates before I turned 30.

    Sometimes, we give ourselves different advice from the advice that we would give other people.CLICK TO TWEETAs a result of that blog, I was constantly being asked questions by people all around the world about dating, and so I think because I came into this kind of an inverted commerce dating expert role as the dater, and just my expertise comes from having been on thousands of dates rather than an academic qualification or anything like that.

    I think it does mean that my advice is often more practical and more kind of in the trenches, and I have seen the experience, yes, I’m a straight female in my late 30s, a straight white female in my 30s, but I’ve seen the experiences of so many different people in this dating space because of writing the blog and speaking to so many people. I worked for Gaydar, which is a men’s, a gay dating app but I also worked, you know, obviously at Lumen, which is for over 50s.

    I’ve worked with demographics that I don’t belong to, which I think is really important because actually the best thing you can do, I believe as a founder of a product for the people, is listen to your users. With Lumen, I had a profile in-app where literally, people could message me any time of day and it said, “I’m the cofounder of Lumen.” It went straight to my phone. It wasn’t my community operations team pretending to be me.

    It was literally me answering questions at 11:00 at night on my phone to someone who said, “Hey, can you help me improve my dating profile? I’ve just messaged this guy and he’s not messaging me back. What would you recommend?” I think when you start talking to people and you start recognizing the problems that people face time and again, and I’m sure we’ll talk about Lumen in more detail later, but the whole reason I launched Lumen was because that was the question for like four years that I kept being asked, “My mom’s just got divorced. Which dating apps should she use?”

    I never had an answer. For me, a good skill in an entrepreneur is if you keep seeing the same problem in multiple places, and you can come up with a solution for it, that’s a suggestion that maybe that solution is needed. That definitely, within the dating space, I’ve seen it time and time again where something is being asked for and no one is catering for it.

    Dating And Safety

    I deeply agree with that and that was kind of how I began in this entire journey. I was a single gay man who adopted a child and I had no time, and I thought, “What would be the most healing and effective way for me to meet people?” Also, I was an incredibly unskilled dater and I really had to be a student of what I was doing wrong to begin to change that, so I love that.

    I love that in the trenches kind of approach and caring about kind of the pain that you saw, and the missing pieces that you saw again and again. I would like to hear from you kind of just around this issue of safety; physical safety and emotional safety. Kind of, what are the things that stand out for you in the over 50 community, in any community at all? What are the key things that stand out for you?

    I think in terms of practical safety, I think the key thing, always, is to remember that you’re talking to strangers, and that applies even up on your third date, right? This is a third date. You’ve probably spent 4 or 5 hours in that person’s company. I always liken it to a fellow traveler on a train journey. I mean, you wouldn’t give that person your wallet and your address and your car keys, right? You hear these stories of people’s cars being stolen on a second date. I was like, “It’s because you handed your car keys to a stranger.”

    The reality is because we let our heart take over from our head. I think from a practical safety perspective, it’s remembering in those early stages, to try to listen to your head and to almost be like your brutal best friend. When you’re rushing ahead with things, think about it from the perspective of if your friend was telling you this story, what advice would you give him or her? I think sometimes we give ourselves different advice to the advice that we would give other people. I think that that’s really important.

    I think from an emotional perspective, I think the problem and I say this is someone who’s worked for multiple dating apps. I think one of the problems of dating apps, a by-product of dating apps is that people have become products, right? We can see people in the same way that we can view apartments, right, on an app on our phone. If I’m online shopping or if I’m looking for an apartment, then I click a load of things that I want and I can specify exactly what I want, right? “I need three bedrooms. I need a garage for my car.”

    Well, real life isn’t like that and people are not products, but the way that we see dating apps and the filters we see on dating apps, we start to dehumanize people. I think that that’s the problem with online dating, is to step away. We forget there are people in our pocket. We just see these cards that are the faces and the ages and the names, and we suddenly start forgetting there’s a real human being on the other side.

    I can remember really early on when I was writing my blog. I matched with a guy in the early days of Tinder, and we never went on the date, and part of it was from the way that he behaved with me. I met him six months later and he was a really lovely guy and I actually called him up on it. I said, “You are so nice. Why were you like this?” He admitted it himself. He said, “I know. I was chatting so many women. I forgot you were a real person and I just didn’t treat you how I would.”

    He was such a good friend, honestly, and I think that what’s quite startling is people behave completely differently to how they would in real life, and so you’re only seeing this one side of their personality. The gamification, the way that the app is designed to be a bit like a game to keep us on there, well it brings out that side of that person, and it’s not their whole self but it’s just what we see of them. I think the key is partly to remember there is a game aspect to this, that this is not total real life. It’s a great way to introduce you to people but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

    DDP 112 Charly Lester | Online Dating
    Online Dating: When you start talking to people and recognizing the problems they face, you start to craft solutions that could eliminate those problems.

     

    It can get really consuming in the same way that our cellphones are really consuming, right? These days, we spend so much time on our phones that a lot of people I hear are saying, “Oh, this feels like a second job that I’m having to spend hours on.” If you are feeling like this is not fun, if this is feeling like a second job, if you can’t bring yourself to go on and reply to people, then just take a break. We shouldn’t have to, you know, and I would say this to someone who’s been single now for about two years. You shouldn’t have to spend all your time on dating apps.

    It is one of those things I think you should do in bursts, and you do it when you’re enjoying it, and then when you’re not enjoying it, you step away from it and do something else because otherwise, you’re not bringing your full best you to the table anyway. I can remember when I first started in the dating blog and I was going on three dates a week for this blog. I remember turning up on a date. I had wet hair because I’d just gone for a swim. I didn’t have any makeup on and I just didn’t care, right?

    Being Your True Self

    I looked at myself and I actually, because on these dates, I would evaluate the date. Not the guy, but I would give the date that we went on marks out of ten, and on that write up I gave myself 2 out of 10 because I knew that I hadn’t brought my A-game to that date, and it wasn’t fair on the other person. I think that, you know, if you are feeling like your mental health is starting to get a bit sapped or just feeling a bit drained by it all, then take a step away because for me, I think the whole point of dating and the whole point of finding someone is by being your true self, right?

    I always say this, my advice when it comes to dating profiles is, “Don’t use filters. Don’t lie about anything because you’re not going to attract the right person, but you still need to be your proper self to attract the right person too. If you’re a rundown, knackered is a very English term, tired version of yourself.

    If you’re a rundown knackered version of yourself, then you’re not actually going to attract the right people for you. Because you’re going to attract people who maybe feed off that energy, and actually it could be quite disruptive to go at it when you’re feeling 25% or 50% because I feel like the type of people you’re going to attract is going to be a completely different type of person.

    I think that being quite self-aware, I think could be quite important in this and not just feeling like, “Oh, my God. I’ve been single for so long. I have to carry on at this even if I’m not enjoying it because when it comes down to it, this is your life, right? This is a part of your life and it should be enjoyable. You are spending time that you could be spending seeing your friends, doing other stuff, going on these dates. If you’re not enjoying it, just take some time out.

    That’s really great advice, and there are so many pieces to what you said. One is a kind of curation of self, that we don’t get to forget ourselves when we’re doing online dating. It’s really, really part of the experience. There’s been research and I’d love there to be more research on this, but this is something I have really found to be true. That when we get into what I call swipe circuitry, which is that gamification headspace, not only do we not notice the deeper qualities in somebody, but we actually are drawn more to our scratch the itch type.

    Research shows that the scratch the itch type is not always the best type. That’s why, in all the work that I do, I say, there’s one key question that we need to askDoes my soul feel safe with this person? Is there a sense of deep safety? The same with ourselves as well. I love the different things that you’re saying, and that you could take a break. When you are not feeling in a centered, good place, you are not obligated to go out there and try to like gather more numbers. There’s a curation and a self-care, which I think is just wonderful. I think that’s a really good point.

    Red Flags

    I think one of the key red flags for me is if something happens that you feel like you can’t tell your friends about, you know, like someone treats you in a way. That if you told your friends, they would tell you, “Don’t see this person again.” I think the minute you get into that territory, then you need to take a step back. If you can’t tell your best friends about the dating experience for some reason, then there’s something wrong, right? Again, that kind of goes back to being your own best friend.

    I love that. That is fabulous. That’s for everyone to remember because we kind of allow ourselves to compromise things that really matter to us, and when we do it and we don’t want to talk about it, then we’re engaging in acts that have a little bit of shame, and that is going to draw us to people who are prone to taking advantage of that. That’s a great point. Charly, can I ask you to introduce your friend here?

    I have two dogs. One under the chair and one on my lap. This is Hugo. You can just see him there behind the microphone, and then under my chair, Dudley is asleep. I have two sausage dogs.

    Dating Apps Dehumanizing People

    Thank you so much for the introduction. I would love to hear your thoughts about kind of there’s a lot of research now that shows that being on dating apps, especially certain dating apps, ‎Grindr is a really bad one for this. I think it’s like one of the worst, but being on dating apps, especially swipe dating apps can increase depression and anxiety for a lot of people because of the dehumanization that occurs.

    The key to practical safety in online dating always is to remember that you’re talking to strangers.CLICK TO TWEETThis is actually particularly true in some ways for people of color, and there’s been powerful, powerful documentation of that. Could you just talk about how people can protect themselves emotionally in that way, from the kind of anxiety and depression that come from just being treated in dehumanizing ways?

    Yeah. I think this is a tricky part of dating, right, because we’re all being put into boxes. The way that the algorithms work is we get put into boxes. I am definitely feeling it as a 37-year-old female, right? Someone, I had a conversation just this week where someone was saying, “The power has changed when you were a 27-year-old female. You had power over men as a straight female.” Now, I’m in a zone where I clearly, if I want to have kids, it needs to happen soon. The guys know that the power is in their court, and so it is interesting and it affects lots of people in lots of different ways.

    As you mentioned, people of color, particularly women of color, really suffer from this, particularly dark-skinned black women are treated appallingly on dating apps because of fetishism, and because a lot of the apps allow you to filter based on race even within the black community. I know there’s a lot of racism internally with darker skin and these concepts, basically these awful concepts, that society has put on us that everyone needs to be a blue-eyed, blonde-haired bikini model.

    There’s a lot to unpick in society and there’s a lot then manifests itself when you start to give people boxes that they can take and say, “When people start thinking they have a choice and people start deconstructing people to a list of age, hair color, skin color, eye color, in a way that you wouldn’t actually do if you met someone at the bar, right. If I walk up to you in a bar, you can’t tell how old I am within probably a fifteen-year age gap. I wouldn’t be. I know I can’t age people within at least ten years, right?

    I don’t walk around with an age label on my head, and one of the things to remember, if you are feeling like you are being marginalized on these apps is you are not being rejected. The reality is you’re just not being seen because of the way these filters work, people aren’t even seeing you. I saw that firsthand when I turned from 29 to 30 on dating apps because suddenly, I had the exact same photos, right, because they were all about six months old. It was all that had changed. It’s literally within a day, I had ticked over a decade and suddenly, I wasn’t appearing in filters anymore.

    People had filtered me out. Quite often, men my own age filtered me out. I really noticed literally overnight, the drop in attention that I was getting. You can’t take it personally because what’s actually happening is you are ticking a box that someone else hasn’t ticked. They’re not looking at your picture and saying, “No, I don’t want her because she’s too old or she’s too ugly or he’s too camp or whatever you’re worrying about.” It’s not even got that far. It will be that they haven’t even seen you in the first place.

    It’s remembering that I think, and then I think it’s also really remembering that these tools should, all these tools should be is a form of introduction. They are not telling you your worth by any stretch. This is not a tool to measure your attractiveness to the opposite sex, for example. Dating apps are not a replacement for real-life interaction. They are just an opportunity to cast your net a bit wider, and maybe meet people who you wouldn’t meet in your neighborhood or in your bar or at work.

    I think it’s making sure that you frame it correctly in your head, because I think if you try and see it as a replacement for society or some value of your worth and you’re counting your own worth on how many matches you’re getting in a night, no one wins from that kind of thinking and you see that. There are definitely people, and this is one of the things that really angers me about people’s use of dating apps. I love dating apps. I don’t like the way people use dating apps.

    One of the things that really upsets me is when people who are not single-use dating apps to, “Let’s see how many people like me.” For example, and I’ve heard married couples doing this, right, where both partners go on an app, like as many people as they can, and then they compete to see who gets the most reciprocal likes. They have no intention of communicating with those people, and they’re just leading people on. You see it a lot, right? There’s nothing that dating apps can do. The dating apps can’t ask, “I need proof that you’re single.”

    What are you going to do? “Please prove that you didn’t have a marriage license.” It’s really tricky and you have to trust people. I think that it’s just worth remembering that people, we know this not just from dating. We know this from the whole online world. People are not their best selves when they’re behind a screen, and they think they can get away with something that they can’t get away with in real life. It’s just remembering that, right?

    That’s a really wonderful filter right there. If someone, even in that dehumanizing environment, still is human, still is kind, still is connected, extra brownie points for them because that’s really a sign, because you’re walking up a down escalator in order to do that. That’s a real mark in your favor. In developing our app, I did a lot of research and learn just such amazing things like for example, some huge percentage of college men never have an intention when they’re on dating apps to even hook up. They don’t even want to talk. They just want to see how many people, it’s like a boredom relief and a kind of self-confidence booster. There is literally no intention to even hook up or even speak. That’s like a shocking thing. I think that dating apps have been built brilliantly to generate matches, but terribly to create an environment of intimacy, and I think that has to change. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that too, like what can dating app creators do to create more humanity, to create more humanization? I’d love to hear any of your thoughts, dreams and reflections of what could be.

    I think it’s quite tricky because the reality is that for a successful dating app, you need numbers, and the way to have numbers is not to restrict your audience too much, right? Anytime you add any form of filter onto that audience, whether it’s sexuality, whether it’s age, whether it’s something more niche like an app for people with a certain type of hobby or religion, you are already filtering down a group that is already filtered because you’re already starting from a point that everyone has to be single, and so the group becomes smaller and smaller.

    DDP 112 Charly Lester | Online Dating
    Online Dating: In the online dating world, we let our hearts take over from my head. From a practical safety perspective, it’s important to remember those early stages to try to listen to your head and don’t rush into things.

     

    In reality, for me, the ideal dating apps would be ones that made very clear what the intention is that you get on the app, but the minute you start doing that, and I think that it’s tricky because a lot of people won’t admit their intention. I use Bumble and Tinder quite predominantly, and there’s an option where when it asks you what you’re looking for, so many guys say, “I’m not sure. Actually, I want a relationship,” or is that, I don’t want to say I want to hook up because there’s an option to say both of those things.

    Then you’re kind of working out where in the middle are they and it’s interesting. For me, it angers me that that’s even an option. I’d rather just it be binary and they had to answer it so at least you knew where they stood. I’ve heard lots of stories that people are saying, “Actually, I met with someone who said, ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for.’” They ended up being in a relationship and they almost had to nudge them over the line.

    My most recent date, which was sort of about two, three weeks ago. I went on a date with a guy who it turns out had been very recently single, like literally had separated from his partner of fourteen years, and they’d been separated a month. I sat on the date and the first thing I said was, “I don’t think you really should be dating. I think you just need a friend and maybe, please don’t go on multiple more dates with more women and put more women in these situations.”

    It was really interesting because he genuinely, he seemed really quite put out that he had been dating on Tinder, and in his head as a married person who had only ever heard about Tinder, he thought Tinder, I’ll be frank. The way he described Tinder to me felt like free prostitution. He just thought it was an opportunity to just go on there and get lots of sex.

    He seemed genuinely shocked that he was matching with educated women between the ages of 35 and 45 and we wanted relationships. It was so interesting, that was how he perceived this app. This is a smart guy who clearly has lots of friends who are women between 35 and 45. We both went to the same university. We’d both gone to Cambridge University. This is a smart guy and you kind of think, “Look at your circle of friends. If you’re picking girls on this app that would have been in your circle of friends, why would their intentions be any different to the people that you already know?”

    I think it’s tricky because Tinder’s not going to advertise saying it’s the relationship app, right, because it would suddenly narrow down as numbers, but the reality is and the reason that I still date on it as someone who does want a long-term relationship is it’s the app that everyone’s heard of. You know that if someone is just testing the water in terms of dating apps, that will be one of the first ones they go on because they’ve heard of it. Because eight years ago, their friends did actually have formed relationship on it. It is quite a tricky one because you need the numbers to be a good experience and to have a choice, but in order to attract the numbers, you can’t be too picky and you can’t, as an app founder, you don’t want to be too restrictive in who you’re letting on the app.

    That’s a really fascinating thing is what is the win-win between humanity and numbers? What’s the way that there can be a win-win there? I think that playing that game in between draws numbers but creates a lot of pain.

    With Lumen, we knew that we were restricting ourselves immediately by putting that age limit on, right? You have to be at least 50 to join Lumen, and we knew we were really restricting that and our investors kept saying to us, “Why don’t you lower the women to 40?” I was really adamant that, “No, the whole reason we were creating it is that women of a certain age were having a real issue being overlooked by men that are their own age,” and that doesn’t start at 50.

    I’ll be completely frank with you. I think it starts about 25. Like, literally there’s a point really early on where men suddenly start looking for younger women and the guys at  OkCupid did a lot of research on this. I think it’s basically 22 is the ideal age for a woman for men of any age, which is kind of insane. I saw it firsthand at Lumen. I had men in their 80s trying to chat me up through my customer service profile, and they were literally over 50 years older than me, but it’s interesting. What happens is the older that women get, the larger the age gap the men the same age as them are trying to date on.

    Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.

    It’s described almost like an island of women in this book by Christian Rudder. He is the Founder of OkCupid. It’s these women who have just basically been forgotten by their own age group, and so that was why we started Lumen. We knew that not every man over 50 wants to date a 30-year-old. There are men in their 50s who want to date other women in their 50s. By putting that age limit, and the whole point was that we were going to say to these women, “Look, if you come on our app, these men know you’re over 50, and that you’re not going to get overlooked.”

    The one thing I will say though is that if you are a really attractive guy, you know you can get younger women. What would happen is the caliber of the women, if I’m being completely frank, the caliber of the women would be a lot higher than the caliber of the men, and then the women would complain about the caliber of the men. You were like, “Well, we’ve got the men who want you. Can you actually meet up with them and see if there’s more than just their photos?” It’s really interesting, right, because people would ask me really early on, “Are older people less picky when it comes to things like looks. No, no one changes.

    People are not products in real life, but the way that we see dating apps start to dehumanize people.CLICK TO TWEETHonestly, from the age of 25, we’re all the same. We all use apps in the same way, in the same way that I was saying that there are people looking for hookups on Tinder. People in their 80s were still looking for hookups on Lumen, right? No one changes their attitude that much and no one realizes how old they are. If you asked me off the cuff how old I was, I’d probably say 26 before I remember that I’m 37. If you ask a 70-year-old how old they are, they’re probably still feeling 35 until they remember. We grow up but we don’t, and I think people don’t really change that much regardless of their age.

    I’ve kind of devoted a lot of time to this because I think that we are victims of terrible information, and we’re given these breathtakingly sophisticated tools to meet, and no education on the real skills of intimacy, which are the true skills of dating. I just want to say that I think people can learn, and I think that the apps can even teach people, but that’s a very difficult and complex thing, but I think we tend to go for a least common denominator and that has really, really hurt us.

    In my work, just like you, I can’t tell you how many women have talked about this as being such an issue. The men want women who are dramatically younger than them. They are like kids in a candy store so often. They just want to have fun. They feel like they can. Women are looking for more serious relationships, and almost like men of that age become more immature in some ways than they were in earlier years. I would just love to hear kind of your biggest learning for that population.

    I agree. I think particularly people have come out of a long-term relationship, I think a lot of the men are like, “I’m done. I’ve done that. I don’t need that again. What are my options?” I think it’s one of those things that’s almost become a cliché, but because it’s become a cliché, people then go, “It worked for other people so why shouldn’t I try and do this?” The thing that surprised me the most actually was the way that over 50’s date, men and women, particularly if they are post-divorce or widowed, is if they’ve been married for a long period and they’ve had kids and they’ve done the cohabitation, the thing that actually surprised me was that the type of relationship often they were looking for was more like a teenage relationship where you don’t live with the other person. You just catch up with them a couple of times a week, right, and go to the cinema, and have that more social life with them. The reason for that is they’ve got their own worlds. They’ve spent 50, 60 years building this world that they love. They love their apartment or their house. Why should they bring a stranger into that place?

    I thought it was quite interesting this idea that when in you’re in your late 20s, early 30s, it’s all about building that shared world with someone. Whereas by that point, they’re like, “No, my world is built. I’m happy. I like my world. I’ve got a space in it for someone on a Tuesday night to go to the cinema with me, and on a Friday night to go to the jazz bar or whatever they want to do.” They’re looking for someone to fill quite a different role, I think at that age, but that’s not for everyone but that definitely was the thing that surprised me.

    Advice On Online Dating

    Yeah. That’s so interesting and that does happen a lot and of course, there are so many people who are older, who are looking for a deeply committed, connected, live-in relationship but these are things that are all true and all really different. What advice would you give women in that situation? Let’s say over 50, very aware of kind of what a buyer’s market is for men, how much immaturity there is out there, but who still have hope that there are great guys who are looking for someone like them. What’s your best advice for those women? What are the three key things that you would want to say to them as they enter the world of online dating?

    Yes, at first, I would say, be really honest. Be really honest about who you are. Don’t lie about your age. Don’t put filters on your photo. When I was at Lumen, honestly, I can’t tell you the filters that people are trying to put in their photos. We could see it because you have to selfie verify to join the app. We would see what people’s selfies looked like, and sometimes they look 30 years younger in the pictures that they were trying to upload to the app. There’s no point doing that if you want to meet someone in person. Why would you want your first impression in real life to be one of disappointment? Be honest about who you are.

    Can I just pause here with a question? Somebody is, they really, really look fifteen years younger than their age. They look twenty years younger than their age and they feel like, “I’m going to lower my amount of people that are interested in me because they judge me by the number age, and not how they would see me when they actually see how I look,” and they struggle with that. I know very, very integrity-based people who change their age from that. Tell me what you think about that.

    I mean, you’re starting on a lie and also a very good friend of mine is Maria Avgitidis who’s one of the leading matchmakers in New York, and every Wednesday, she does Ask the Matchmaker on Instagram where she answers these questions. Someone asked that exact question this week. They were like, “I look seventeen years younger so I’m calling myself this age.” She replied saying, “I’ve just looked at your pictures. You don’t look that age.” I think that’s the tricky thing. People think they look a certain age. I mean, how do you decide what age you actually look?

    In reality, again, you’re setting yourself up for a really awkward conversation at some point. You’re either going to turn up and they think that immediately they’re like, “That person lied about their age.” Even if you do actually look the age, I mean, why would you want to pretend to be that much younger? If they’re matching with, it depends, doesn’t it? If it’s someone actually your age who then is like, “You’re same age as me. I thought you were fifteen years younger. I will still carry this on.” I mean, one of the reasons the age is important is in terms of social shared jokes and shared cultural references, right?

    The reason I wouldn’t date someone fifteen years younger than me is most of my cultural references won’t make sense to them, and this is why it blows my mind when people try to date someone who is significantly younger than them, because I kind of think, “You need to be in that shared space.” A big part of partnership is actually just being in the same place in your life and understanding each other’s lives, right? I think that by lying about your age, then it’s going to get very confusing if you all having to try and pretend that you’re fifteen years younger when you don’t understand half of the references.

    Good point. I mean, I think that there are intergenerational relationships that work wonderfully, and it’s a spice for people that they’re like entering a new land of the other person’s culture, but I think the point that you’re making, it’s almost like a metaphor for a mistake people make in dating which is, I’m going to be what I think you want, and then ultimately you’re going to have to see that that’s not who I am. That’s my interpretation of what you wanted. I’ve wasted a lot of time finding someone who’s not looking for someone like me.

    DDP 112 Charly Lester | Online Dating
    Online Dating: One of the problems of dating applications is that people have become products. 

     

    I think one of the big parts about growing up is becoming comfortable in your own skin, right, and realizing who you are. For me, and this is why I’m still single and I say this, “I’m not going to settle. I’m not going to settle to someone that doesn’t match who I am, and I’m not going to pretend to be something that I’m not to try and attract someone. I could have easily married some millionaires when I was at Cambridge if I had quite happily not had an opinion and tucked under someone’s arm. That’s never going to happen in a million years with me, right?

    I could be far richer if I hadn’t been outspoken for the last fifteen years, but I have and I’ve got opinions. I like my opinions and I like firing off opinions. I like the banter, of debating stuff with a partner and actually feeling like an equal in a partnership. I think it’s really vital to be yourself. Being yourself is my first advice to these over 50 ladies. My second piece of advice is to give the other person a chance. For a start, men’s profile, and I can tell you this because I saw thousands of them. I saw what women looked like and I saw the dating profiles.

    Men are really bad at creating dating profiles. They do not know how to sell themselves. They don’t know how to take pictures, whereas women go the opposite direction and almost market themselves too well. Men are appalling marketeers for themselves. A lot of them won’t admit it. One of the reasons I realized that this is the case. Women will enlist the help of friends. Friends will take their pictures. Friends will tell them what a good picture is. They’ll tell them what sounds good in their profiles.

    Men don’t want to admit to their friends that they’re online dating, and so they try and take the pictures themselves. They have five photos that all look exactly the same, taken at the same time and place. Normally an angle on their chin, then you can’t see their face or it’s really badly lit or they’ve got sunglasses on or they’ve got hats on them. You can’t actually see their face. Men don’t realize how to make themselves look not just good, but just look like themselves.

    This is something that I was constantly telling the women on Lumen, “Please don’t be too picky. Give these people a chance. Meet them in real life. Have a video call.” A fifteen-minute video call, you’re going to get a feel of whether actually someone does look exactly like the pictures or whether they actually did themselves an injustice with the images that they chose.

    Yeah. I kind of say that all the time is like when it comes to character, be even more fiercely discriminating. When it comes to things like that, soften your focus a little bit to see. Yeah, really true but I think what you just said about men is probably not so true about gay men, right?

    No, and I was thinking that as I was saying it. They were straight men. I think gay men know how to market themselves definitely. It’s the straight men who don’t. It’s the straight men who won’t admit they’re dating online I think. My third point is just really on general safety, particularly with women. Women over 50 are the most targeted by scammers, so really keep your wits about you, and that includes things like asking to do a video call really early on to see that they are the person in their photos, and asking to meet up in real life and again, in a public place and in a nice safe place.

    If someone starts giving you excuses why they can’t meet up with you in real life like they’ve suddenly left the country, which particularly at the moment is questionable, right? Back in the day, one of the main excuses that scammers would use is that they were in the military and they were abroad for the military. I think really, really keeping your wits about you. If the app that you’re using offers verification. With Lumen, we would use these selfies to make sure that they were the person in their photos, and some of the apps will offer verification with ID.

    RealMe, who is the company that I work with at the moment, what they do is that they actually offer the apps. They don’t work with consumers. They work with apps and they allow the apps to do things like background check people, and tell you if someone has a criminal record or if someone has lawsuits pending against them. There are different levels of this verification and the information that you can get about someone, but even if the app that you’re using doesn’t offer those things yet, be smart.

    Go off their site and google that person. I do this regularly. If someone tells me, “This is my job,” well then I’ll go on LinkedIn and I’ll check their name and their job just to see actually this lines up and they’re telling the truth. It is very hard these days to not have some kind of online paper trail about yourself and I’m quite open with guys that I’m matching with. If I can’t find much about them, then I’ll just say to them, “Sorry, can you tell me your surname?”

    I know that if you type “Charly,” the way I spell it, if you type that in on Google with “dating” or with “journalist” or even with my university probably, my profile will come up. It’s so easy for them to find out who I am before we meet in real life so why shouldn’t I have the tools to find out who they are? If they don’t want that and they don’t like that, for me that’s a red flag. No one should be ashamed of who they are to go on a date. What are they going to do if I’m going on a date with them? Why would they not want to tell you their full name? I just find it bizarre.

    Absolutely. Yeah, and on a character level, that applies also, like really keeping an eye out. How does the person talk to you? Are they a little bit rude? Did you hear them yelling out to somebody in an insulting way like to the delivery person or to whatever? Really watch for those signs because I think we really underestimate that, too and then emotionally, we end up getting really hurt when we deny those warning signs or ignore them. I guess that’s really true all around and I think this way of framing it, remember this is a stranger. Remember this is a stranger. Even if that person was referred to you by someone else you know, this person is still a stranger.

    I think that real-life quality like you mentioned, I think that’s so important. I’ve heard a lot of people over the last eighteen months falling in love with someone over Zoom calls. I’m sorry but until you are in the same room as them, you can’t smell them. There are the pheromones, there are things like that that you’re not going to realize if you’re attracted to do them properly until you’re in the same room, but also how they talk to other people is so vital if.

    If you feel like your mental health is starting to decline and you’re drained, take a step away.CLICK TO TWEETThe minute you sit down in the restaurant with them, if they’re rude to the waiter, you’re suddenly going to view them so differently to when you’ve been one-on-one with them for the last eighteen months on Zoom. People behave really differently in different settings, and I think it’s really important almost to test the water, right? If you’re planning different dates, plan dates where you’re going to see that person in different situations.

    I am a big fan of escape rooms. I have been for years and I quite often go on first dates in escape rooms because that is seeing someone in their emergency mode, right, in a high pressure, stressful and seeing how they react, right? If they’re shouting at me and losing it, then that’s not someone I want to be in a relationship with, and I love when I say this is a bit of a litmus test. It really is and you start to see what people are like under pressure.

    Some of the best dates I’ve been on have been ones where something has gone wrong, and then you see how that person reacts to that thing going wrong like the tickets they booked were for the wrong day or they can’t get a table at the restaurant they wanted to. Seeing how someone reacts when stuff isn’t perfect. If you want to have a relationship with someone, then you need to know that when things go wrong, that they’re still someone that you like. Otherwise, again, it’s a red flag.

    Charly’s Fire

    It’s so essential. My dear friend, Hara Marano who’s the editorat-large of Psychology Today says there are three Cs when it comes to making a choice about the relationship. The first is character, the second is character, and the third is character, and I really agree with that. Charly, you’ve shared so many wonderful things, and I have one other question for you. You are obviously someone who gets on fire about different things. You’re obviously so passionate about different subjects. You’re an entrepreneur and you’re an athlete and you’re visionary and you’re a humanitarian. What these days is kind of like giving you the most fire? What’s the thing that you’re kind of most excited about in your life, your work life, your personal life? What’s the most exciting to you now?

    It’s quite a big question, isn’t it. What am I most excited about at the moment? I’m a massive feminist. I’m a huge feminist. Anyone that’s watching the video of this recording, I have a big picture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg behind me who I just think is the world’s most incredible woman, and there are lots of Brits who have never heard of her. Literally, her entire story, I find so inspirational. I think for me, the thing that’s getting me most excited is really seeing equality in action. I think we are getting to a point. I mean, we’re still not there and this isn’t just women. This is the whole LGBTQ community.

    It does feel like in the last five years, we’re really starting to see steps have been formed in terms of equality, and particularly racial equality in the last year with everything that’s happened in the States. I feel like there are conversations happening that weren’t happening even twelve months ago, and I think that it’s awful the situations that have happened to get us to this situation where we’re actually talking about things. What I like is that these topics are repeatedly coming up first and foremost.

    I don’t know if anyone follows soccer. I’m not a football fan. Obviously, Britain is huge for its football but the British team, the English team have been taking a knee in the tournament, and you’ve got some of our politicians refusing to watch the football because they’re so offended by it. I mean, they are racist. I’m sorry. You’re a racist if you’re that offended by someone taking a knee, but it’s really interesting because the main demographic that watch that sport in the UK are not educated. They’re not people who will have these conversations about racial equality.

    They’re not people who this would have been a topic on the agenda for, but they see their idols taking a knee and I can’t stand football, but actually something like that, I just think is so powerful because these are not people who listened to scholars or politicians. They don’t tune into radio broadcasts talking about these topics but they’re tuning into the football. They’re coming away and talking about race. At the moment, obviously, this is where we’re recording in two days’ time during the European final.

    The team that has got to that final, I think 8 out of the 11 would not be on the team if it weren’t for immigration and that’s a huge deal. As they say in Hamilton, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” I say that as a half Romanian Brit and I love that. I love that people are saying, “Look, all these racist people in my country who were voted for Brexit in the last five years are suddenly going, “Hang on. Actually, we need Europeans in this country because we wouldn’t have a football team without them.”

    That’s what I’m passionate about actually is working out, how do you inform people who are not as well-educated, who are not as well-informed? Because I feel like we live in an age where and we’ve seen this with the elections on both sides of the Atlantic where the uneducated and the misinformed can be really used as tools by nasty higher powers. Actually, finding ways to communicate with them on Cambridge Analytica or on Facebook, and finding ways to show them simple messages, that for me is really powerful. Taking the knee at sports events is a way to do that.

    That’s wonderful. You know, for me, it’s just been such a painful polarization to witness in my country, and hearing this perspective of people’s having their eyes opened who wouldn’t have otherwise, that’s very reassuring to me and I haven’t thought of it in that way. Thank you for that.

    It’s tricky, isn’t it? Because we live in our own bubbles. I imagine you live in a very similar liberal bubble to the one that I live in where our social media becomes an echo chamber because you’re only hearing stuff that you believe, too. We saw this really happen 4 or 5 years ago with the Brexit vote, where everyone that was voting to stay in the EU just thought that would be a landslide vote because that’s all we had heard and seen, and then suddenly on the day, it was 48% of the country believed the same as I did and 52 did not.

    Even if those 52 didn’t necessarily know what they were voting for, it was heartbreaking. It really was and I think that was the first time that a lot of my generation, in particular, really realized, “Hang on, we’re living in this echo chamber.” Particularly, I live in London. I live in the capital city. We’re in this very liberal bubble and the rest of the country does not believe the same as we do, and I think that’s been a real eye-opener.

    DDP 112 Charly Lester | Online Dating
    Online Dating: Excellent skill in an entrepreneur is developing a solution for problems if you keep seeing the same thing in multiple places.

     

    Yeah, joining hands with you across the ocean. Absolutely true. It’s so profound. Thank you for bringing your humanity and your passion, and your spark to all of these different subjects. This was just wonderful and helpful. I want to ask, how can people who want to follow you, follow your passions, follow the projects that you’re doing? How can they learn more about you, stay in touch with you, and follow you?

    My two main platforms are Twitter and Instagram. I’m @CharlyLester on Twitter. Charly is spelled C-H-A R-L-Y. I think I’m @Charly.Lester on Instagram because I couldn’t get the same handle on the two platforms but I’m pretty easy to find, to be honest, as I’ve realized whenever I’ve gone on a date.

    That’s wonderful and all of that, all the links are going to be in the transcript as well. It was a joy connecting with you, and if there are any last words you want to share with our listeners and viewers, what would those be?

    One of the things I mentioned early on is this RealMe product, right? This is a team of people I’ve been doing some work with, and they are trying to change the dating industry from the inside really by trying to demand that dating apps include more safety. I think as users, if you are feeling unsafe with a dating app, with a dating site, speak out, like literally go to the founders. Go to the company and say, “Look, I want to be doing more.” That doesn’t obviously have to be just using RealMe. There are lots of different safety options out there, but if you’re not seeing safety provisions on a dating app or site that you’re starting to see on other sites, speak out about it because our love life, it’s not just our love lives that they’re looking after. It is on safety.

    I say that as a consumer, right, as someone using these apps too. If there’s something that you want, go to the providers and say, “Look, I don’t feel safe because of this. I want you to do more background checks. I want you to offer me a blue verified check so I know someone is who they say they are.” Because I feel like they make a lot of money from us as consumers so we have the power in numbers, right? As I was saying earlier, if they don’t have us in numbers, they don’t have a product. The dating apps need you as dater to tell them what you want from them.

    Beautiful. That’s wonderful advice. Thank you for everything, Charly, and it was great to have you on the show.

    Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

    Bye, everyone.

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  • Freedom Versus Intimacy: How To Have Both [EP111]

    We all long for closeness and depth and intimacy — but we also desperately need freedom and space. How do we work with these two profoundly different needs in our lives and relationships? In this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast, you’ll learn some of the most liberating ways I know.
    Table of Contents

    Freedom Versus Intimacy: How To Have Both

    The Intimacy Skills That Let You Have Both

    We are all looking for closeness and depth and intimacy, but we also want freedom and space. How do we work with these two profoundly different needs in our intimacy life? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to explore this powerful question.

    Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating, and Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a site for single people to meet in an online environment that’s fun, inspiring, kind and respectful. In this podcast, I’m going to talk about the pull toward freedom and independence versus the pull toward intimacy and closeness. It’s such a rich and important subject. In this podcast, I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find healthy love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and those are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you can sign up for my mailing list, learn about the classes that I teach, the free classes, the intensives. You’ll get some free gifts and you’ll also learn about how to use these ideas to transform your intimacy journey. You’ll also find complete transcripts of this and every episode. I also just want to say that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment, and if you feel that you need that, please do seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would so appreciate it if you subscribed and left me a review. I’ve gotten the most beautiful reviews this week and I just thank you so much.

    Conflicting Poles

    Let’s jump right into this incredibly rich and important, and kind of universal subject, which is the tension between the parts of us that want freedom and space, and the parts of us that want intimacy and closeness, and connectedness, and bondedness. This is such a rich subject because both parts need room, but it’s a complicated, complicated thing. We’re going to talk about how to find ways to hold both parts of yourself, and to kind of extract the wisdom from each of those two sides, and help the more immature parts to kind of grow up. It’s a rich journey, finding the language of honoring those two parts of ourselves and helping them grow up, and communicate and connect. I’m going to teach you some fabulous practices for doing that, but I’m going to begin by talking about this kind of rich, rich dichotomy, and how it’s affected my life, and how it’s affected the lives of so many people that I know and work with.

    We long for freedom and independence, but we also crave intimacy and closeness for a happy life.CLICK TO TWEETAll of us have these two different conflicting pulls and we handle them differently, or you might say two streams of wisdom and need and self, which can often be in really deep conflict. In a complicated world, which this is, or in a dysfunctional family, or just simply because it’s hard to name and identify and honor and find a language for our deepest gifts. For all of these reasons and other reasons including trauma, we end up having to choose one of those pulls over the other in ways that hurt us, and hurt our ability to love.

    In a moment, I’m going to talk about the value, the wisdom and the value of each of these two pulls, but first, I’m going to share something that is a really rich metaphor, and this is just a piece of LGBTQ anthropological information that’s just so rich and capture so much. This is from Will Roscoe‘s book from 1998 called Living The Spirit, which speaks about LGBTQ, two-spirit Native Americans. It’s just rich with really fascinating material, but in many indigenous cultures, LGBTQ people were considered, in some ways, the holder of sacred ritual, because one of the definitions of what sacred means is having each of your feet in a different world and being able to hold that. They felt that LGBTQ people were able to do that with the masculine and feminine.

    Often, these children, these two-spirit children were cultivated for roles as shamans or ritual holders, or just very particular kind of mystical roles in the tradition, and this is very, very universal. Christian de la Huerta‘s book Coming Out Spiritually is just a very rich description of this, across many indigenous cultures. It’s amazing stuff. Anyway, a separate story, but what they would do is they would take an area of brush. In that area of brush, they would have a bow and arrow, and they would have a basket. The child that they were wondering about, if this child is two-spirit, they would set the brush on fire, and the child had to go in and either take the bow and arrow….it could only take one thing, so if the boy took the basket, that boy was considered probably two-spirit. If the girl took the bow and arrow, she would probably be considered two-spirit.

    Why do I tell this story? Because it’s the experience of living in a world where you don’t get both, and it’s like there’s a fire, and you only get to take the one that means the most to you, and the other you have to give up. All of us kind of have a predilection, or I don’t know about all of us, but many of us have a predilection wherein freedom has to come first. It has to come first. For others of us, what has to come first is connection. In a dysfunctional situation or just being raised not to understand the richness of these two qualities, we often feel like we don’t get to hold both, so we have to choose the one we need the most to survive. This is true in so many different ways and this exercise of holding both that I teach. This concept of holding conflicting Core Gifts, conflicting deep parts of you is something I’m going to be talking about in many different ways, but I chose one which is this one of freedom or the desire to connect.

    DDP 111 | Freedom And Intimacy

    Freedom And Intimacy: A connection can be the enemy of freedom. So it’s difficult to have that gift of freedom being so important because often we think we’re flawed in our ability to love.

     

    Need For Freedom

    I’m going to talk a little bit about each one. I think that people who have this deep need for freedom carry a particular pain in them, because they’ve had to say no to connection to maintain that sense of freedom. When your survival depends on having that freedom, and that freedom, that sense of separation or integrity or dignity of self, or if you grew up in an environment where there was emotional abuse and manipulation, maybe your survival was saying, “No. I’m not going to merge in this family. I am not going to fully join this family, because it would mean the annihilation and the suffocation of my individuality, of my truth, of my clarity, of my freedom.”

    We learn then in those cases, in deep, deep ways, that connection can be the enemy of freedom. It can be the enemy of autonomy. It’s difficult to have that gift of freedom being so important because often, we think we’re flawed in our ability to love, “What is wrong with me that I can’t love like other people? What is this call to freedom? What is this need for space that I have that has made me lose relationships, that has made me run, that has made me flee, that has made me separate?”

    I know a story of a woman who kind of had that tendency and had also a lot of consciousness. She and a man were in love with each other, so they decided that they were going to get married, but she let him know from the beginning that she had a part that could make no eternal promises forever. She had a suitcase, which was her leaving suitcase. She had it packed and she said to him, “I love you. I want to commit to you, but I need this suitcase because I cannot promise you that at some point I don’t want to leave.” Amazingly, you know, he knew that she really loved him, and I guess he had just a lot of spaciousness. That suitcase remained there for decades and they remained together, but she needed the suitcase.

    For me, I used to wonder why I couldn’t sleep close to anybody for more than a few minutes. I would start to feel kind of claustrophobic. I would need space, and I thought that this was a fear of intimacy. I later learned that highly sensitive people often need that extra space in bed, and that need for a space marked so much of why I could not find a relationship for so many years, because I didn’t know how to honor this odd and strange need for space that made no sense and made me feel really kind of guilty. It wasn’t until I learned to say, “I need space,” which was not easy, was just incredibly, incredibly hard.

    We don’t realize that our problem was not fear of intimacy but our language of intimacy.CLICK TO TWEETMy mom is a very, very amazing woman. She’s a 92-year-old street artist, Holocaust survivor, but we’ve had to work on this issue because I have felt in my life that it was sometimes hard to be close to her, because I felt like I couldn’t breathe, because her relationship to space was different than mine. It took me so long to realize that this was not fear of intimacy. It was my language of intimacy. I’ll never forget that time that I was able to get past my guilt and kind of self pathologizing and say, “Mom, I’m feeling like I can’t breathe.” Somehow there is not enough space around me in this conversation, and I need more space because I’m not happy in it now, and I’m wanting to pull away. This was just such a great thing because of all the growth, she was able to say, “Oh, yeah. I get that. I’m being kind of pressury. I’m just going to lay back and give you space.”

    Anyway, this was kind of like a path out of a cage that I had been in for a really long time, and I’ve had to do this endlessly with my husband to let him know ways in which I just needed space because that was the language of my being. When I couldn’t do that, my deep insights knew that they would not be protected, so I created what’s called a primitive defense, which is a wall. I wouldn’t let closeness in or I just kind of was gravitating again and again toward unavailable people, because I could breathe with them and with someone who was just available and there, I would start to feel like I couldn’t breathe, but as I learned to treasure this need for a space, that began to all change for me.

    So many people I think have a passion for freedom, and what those people, what us people need to do who have that is to learn to honor that language of a need for freedom, and not so quickly call it pathology but call it space. Call it the need for space, and when that’s honored and dignified, it’s a very, very different experience. The poet Rilke talked about this in a really interesting way. He said, “An artist needs to feel like they can walk miles and miles and miles in their own internal world without having to be in touch with anybody or in contact with anybody during that time.”

    Need For Space

    There are other pieces here in addition to the freedom piece, the space piece. There’s the ambition piece, people who are on fire in ambitious ways who need the space to be able to kind of like be on fire with the arc of their passions and their ambitions, another thing that needs to be really treasured and honored. When we can do that, because often, you know, we’ve got this one thing that we pick out of the fire, and it’s the thing that we most are organized to need, but then we lose the other. As we learn to claim and honor that kind of more primary or dominant need, then there’s space to be able to see its complement, and until we see its complement, until we see the opposite part, we’re going to be victims of clumsy compromises that we have to make. We’re going to shut people out. We are going to feel blocked. We are going to have problems loving ourselves, and we will either find ourselves, again and again, doing those acts of either suppression of self or acting out of self in a not very helpful, wonderful way.

    DDP 111 | Freedom And Intimacy

    Freedom And Intimacy: All of us have these two different conflicting poles, and we handle them differently. We end up having to choose one of those poles over the other in ways that hurt us and our ability to love.

     

    This learning to treasure and dignify both is just such a rich and important journey, but now I want to talk about the people who need connection most and that experience. I think that people who need connection kind of first in that primary way have another kind of suffering, and that’s like, “What is wrong with me that I need love so bad that I’m actually willing to give up parts of myself?” That’s a very, very difficult and painful thing to face. That’s kind of codependency.

    In many ways, codependency is just a misuse of the quality of caring about connection. It’s kind of poor use of that deep and profound need for healthy connection, where we fill up the space that the other person is not meeting with our own energy, with our own life, with our own resources. Once again, there’s a particular pain that those of us who have that as a primary kind of part of ourselves. That’s what we pick out of the fire and run with is the need for connection. I can give up my freedom to some degree. I can give up my integrity because I’ll die without connection, and it’s a very profound, profound thing. It’s painful and it’s humiliating to think back on how we’ve given up pieces of ourselves because we wanted love so badly, but there is a treasure here.

    Those of us who do treasure that part of ourselves, and realize that even though our culture shames us for that need in a million different ways, our need for connection is wisdom, and it’s actually a kind of wisdom that the world is hungry for now. It’s a wisdom that’s denigrated in our culture. There’s this kind of over celebration and overemphasis on independence versus interdependence, and the amount of pain that that has caused for our planet and our relationships and our inner lives is breathtaking.

    I have a friend who was a flying doctor in Australia, and he told me that when he worked with these Aboriginal tribes, if one of them had an injury, you couldn’t just go in and say, “What hurts? Let’s talk about it,” because that seemed like the height of disconnectedness. You would have to start and say, “How is your family? How is the community? How is,” whatever the broader questions are, because it would just feel like such a violation to just jump into talking about this person. It would just feel so kind of unkind and unconnected. This is a culture that in these ways, treasured connection.

    Many of us have a belief that freedom has to come first. But the truth is what has to come first is connection.CLICK TO TWEETI say this all the time. Our longing for love is wisdom. It is not weakness. So there is, just like with that primary need for freedom, there is a kind of grieving that has to happen when we face this and we say, “Look how much I’ve given up. Look how much connection I’ve had to give up from my love of freedom, my need for freedom. Look at how much of myself I’ve had to give up because of my need for connection.” There’s a grieving that happens, but then there is also a reclaiming. There’s a rescuing that needs to happen with both of these.

    In both cases, it’s like rescuing yourself from this picture of pathology and being able to say, “This is how I am built. This is so important to me that I will not give it up.” That has to be honored, and so that grieving and also that honoring are things that really need to happen, because when we shift and start honoring that part of us, we finally grow up in intimacy, and our world of intimacy changes when we stop shaming ourselves.

    I would like each of you now to take a minute and think about this. It’s such a great, great question like, “Which did you pull out of the fire in your life? Which was the one that you had to pull out of the fire?” It could be not a simple answer of one or the other. It could be in certain situations you’ve had to pull out one. In certain situations, you’ve had to pull out another, that there’ve been a series of sometimes clumsy compromises that didn’t end up working. Take a minute to think about that for yourself, and you could even pause the recording and just think, “What did I need to pull out of the fire? What did I lose? How have I dishonored myself for this part of me or for both of these parts of me?”

    The next time you’re in a relationship and you feel a need for space and you feel like, “Oh, my God. I’m so screwed up that I need this,” or you feel angry that you’re not getting it and you want to handle it in a reactive way, or you want to suppress that need. Instead, ask yourself, “How is this connected to a Core Gift of needing space and freedom inside myself? How might I be able to honor that?” Then the next fabulous question is, “What would I need right now in this situation?” It’s a completely different path but man, it makes a difference. The next question is, “How can I express this with kindness and seeing the other person, but really make room for it at the same time as I’m making space for them, but making room for this need?” This is radical intimacy and radical intimacy with self.

    DDP 111 | Freedom And Intimacy
    Freedom and Intimacy: In many ways, codependency is just a misuse of the quality of caring about connection. It’s a poor use of that profound need for a healthy connection. 

     

    Holding Freedom And Space

    Now I’m going to lead you in an exercise that I adore to help you be able to do this. I call it holding both, and I’ve taught this in I think one other episode in the past, but I’m going to share it now because it’s so connected to this. I’m going to ask you to do a visualization with me, and the thing that I’ll say first about visualizations is don’t worry if your capacity to visualize is like Swiss cheese, filled with holes. Mine is – don’t worry if you focus somewhere else, you lose focus. I do. It’s okay. What you just want to do is have those kinds of sweet moments where you’re there and you’re present and enjoy those moments, and those moments, if you do this with heart, you will have those moments and that will carry you, so don’t worry about visualizing perfectly or anything like that. Sloppy spiritual practice, I am a huge, huge champion of that.

    So, okay, I’d like you to close your eyes if you can, only if you can. We’re going to start together with one of these qualities. Let’s imagine that you are a parent and you’re sitting down, and you’ve got these two children. Let’s just start with the child who needs freedom, and who even unconsciously pushes things away that in any way encroach upon that sense of freedom and autonomy and space. Just picture that part of you because we all have that part of us, a part that needs that space, and has had pain in the world because it hasn’t gotten that. It hasn’t known how to ask for it, and maybe has had to push love and intimacy away because it didn’t have words to speak its truth and its boundaries.

    Picture this child of yours, the child for whom freedom comes first, and look at their face. See if you could let yourself see their beauty just like, you know, this beautiful quote by Edward Hallowell, “The child who needs your love is not the child you’ve pictured you should have. It’s the child who’s right in front of you right now.” This is the child who’s right in front of you right now. It’s the part of you that has to be able to breathe and have space and freedom. Now imagine that child sitting on your knee, one knee you pick. Your arm is around this child and you’re just letting them be them, and you’re thinking of what it’s going to be like for them to make their way in the world with this particular beautiful and complicated gift. Just have your arm around this kid. You’re not trying to change them or help them grow or shift. You just have your arm around them, and you love them, and you’re thinking about them.

    Now imagine the child for whom connection comes first, the child who will give up pieces of themselves for closeness and sweetness and goodness and connectedness. Look at this child’s face. Look at the beauty in this child’s face, and the hurt in this child’s face that they have incurred. Let this child come sit on your other knee and put your arm around this child. Think about both the pain and the beauty this child is going to face in their life journey. Now, just imagine. All you have to do is imagine that your arms are around both of these children and you’re holding them both. You’re not doing anything to fix or help or anything. You’re just holding them both as these kind of amazing beings who have a path ahead of them, and they’re your children. Just hold them and feel what it’s like to hold both. Just hold both. Take as long as you want with this. You could pause the recording if you like. Imagine what it would be like for you because you are the parent. You are the primary caretaker of both of these parts of you.

    Imagine what it would be like to live this way, kind of holding both like that kind of very spacious and aware kind of parent who’s maybe a little bit wry, but also very loving and just seeking reality, and seeing the differentness of their children. Just stay with that experience. Just loving both of them fully and just holding them both. With that experience, just slowly come back and open your eyes. I am so excited for you to think about your journey. I’m excited for all of us. I’m excited for me. Think about our journey as we grow in our ability to give language and dignity to those two parts of ourselves in our relationships. How amazing that will be. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and you can find a full transcript at DeeperDatingPodcast.com. I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode.

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  • Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex [EP110]

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    Deeper Dating Podcast

    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 talk about really liking someone, but still feeling blocked, what to do when you and your partner have different life goals, building a family of creation with friends, how to develop self-love, and much more.

    Table of Contents

    Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex

    Welcome to The Deeper Dating Q and A, where I answer your most pressing personal questions about love and sex, and intimacy, in a way that will help you apply these insights to the particulars of your own love life, and hopefully, leave this episode with new insights and revelations about your own journey, so stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m so happy to have you join me. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of Deeper Datingand the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that’s fun, inspiring, kind and respectful. In this podcast, I’m going to be answering your personal questions that you call into me. In this and every 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 skills of dating are the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all.

    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, get free gifts, and learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. I also want to say everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Just this week, I’ve gotten the most beautiful reviews from people, so thank you so much for that.

    The meat and potatoes of beautiful intimacy work is learning to work without walls.CLICK TO TWEET

    The Evolutionary Process Of Self-Honoring

    So let’s jump in. Someone, who I’m going to call L, for the first letter of their name, called in and asked me this question. She said that she had to take care of her paraplegic father herself as a child, as well as raise her younger children, and she’s a very caring person, but she does not want to have children, but her boyfriend does have children, and this is a real dilemma for her, and she called in to ask how to handle this situation. I want to use this question to talk about all of those kinds of situations that we enter into where we meet somebody who’s really wonderful, really lovely, but there are things that are difficult. Maybe it’s a physical thing, a part of them that you’re just so not attracted to, or maybe it’s their politics, or maybe it’s that they have children and you don’t want children, or they don’t want children and you do want children. Any of these kinds of things that it’s just kind of so universal this experience.

    My broad general comment is this. Love is built to turn us inside out, to help us become the people we are meant to be, but that does not mean losing our authentic truth, and what’s right for us and what isn’t right, and both of those things are true, and both need to be honored. This is a kind of evolutionary journey. I’ve worked with so many people who I have just deeply respected their ability to hold both sides of this. The part that said, “No, this is not right for me,” and the part that said, “I’m falling in love with this person. I’m having these really deep feelings, and I love this person, or I’m growing to love this person, or so much is right that I have never had be right before in a relationship. What do I do?”

    I want to say that the people whose kind of process I’ve honored and appreciated, and respected the most are the people who hold both of those truths, and stay in the presence of the relationship until an answer becomes clear, because what’s going to happen is over time, one of those sides will become ascendant. Either the person will become more beautiful, the relationship will become more beautiful, to the point where you say, “I’m going to give up this expectation or this want,” or that expectation or want will become so clear and feel really true that you know it’s not going to work, but love teaches us and trains us, and so often things that we think were not going to be what we want, and I am not talking about character issues because character is everything. Emotional safety is everything. I’m talking about things like them having children or not having children.

    DDP 110 | Expert Dating Advice
    Expert Dating Advice: Love is built to turn us inside out to help us become the people we are meant to be, but that does not mean losing our authentic truth and what’s right for us and what isn’t.

     

    What I would say is stay in this, honor both sides, as crazy-making as that is. Talk to people who you love and trust, and just be present in the relationship with both waves. The wave of, “I can’t do this,” and the wave of, “Oh my God, I really like this person.” That beautiful evolutionary process of self-honoring, but where honoring the beauty of the relationship, will ultimately make things clearer for you. It’s a scary and rocky journey, but it’s a journey of truth and it’s an important journey.

    Understanding Our Inner Restrictions

    Someone else left a message talking about an experience where she has found an attraction of inspiration. She’s been with this guy like five times, and there’s a kindness, a decency. She feels like she could be herself. She’s allowed to be who she is. There’s a feeling of real freedom, deep connection, mutual respect, and she’s celebrating that, and I am celebrating that with you. That is just wonderful, but she says that there’s a feeling of internal pressure that she’s experiencing that is very uncomfortable. She describes it as a sense of inner restriction. She says this guy is attractive, but she’s not insanely wildly crazy attracted to him. He definitely is attractive, but she feels the sense of inner restriction.

    She knows that this is probably internal stuff and she’s beginning therapy, three cheers. That is wonderful to explore this more fully. In her journey, she decided to be honest with this guy because she felt this blockage and she wanted to be authentic. She talked about this inner restriction that she was feeling. She told him that she was attracted to him and interested in him, and wanted to continue, but there was this inner restriction sense that was holding her back. He kind of pulled back after that, but they are still seeing each other. She’s concerned that she might have hurt him, that she might have hurt the relationship. Did she do the right thing by mentioning this? Even more, what to do from here on?

    The same lessons for deep friendship apply to deep romantic love, which is to look for the people with whom your soul feels safe.CLICK TO TWEETI think that that phrase “an inner sense of restriction” is a very powerful one and says a lot. Maybe some of you who are listening relate to those words, an inner restriction. I think that I just want to honor you for doing what you did because you needed to do that to stay real with him. I’m very curious, too, if as he began to distance himself a little bit, if you started feeling more attracted and interested, because that’s kind of a sign that this might be what I call the wave of distancing, which is what happens when we’re with an available, kind, decent person, and we’re just not used to that. That has affected decades of my life until I learned how to work through that, which I talk about in other podcast episodes. The other piece that I would say is “inner restriction.” What part of your body do you feel the restriction in?

    I want to say that the meat and potatoes of beautiful intimacy work is learning to work with our walls. That’s like the greatest thing of all, is to learn the language of our walls, so that we can begin to deconstruct them and protect ourselves in more conscious ways. A question here that I would love you to be able to ask yourself is this, what does that inner restriction say? What are its words if you’re going to put words on it? What part of you is it restricting? What does it need to feel better?

    And then some more nitty-gritty questions. When you’re with this guy, what stuff triggers that sense of inner restriction? What stuff happens that doesn’t trigger that feeling that lets you be free from it? This is a super new relationship, and you’re learning whether that sense of inner restriction is an important message of self-protection, or quite likely if it is the wave and it’s just fear, but listen to the words of the inner restriction. Let it tell you what it needs, what it wants and so important, how it wants to be handled, how it wants to be touched, how it wants to be interacted with.

    DDP 110 | Expert Dating Advice
    Expert Dating Advice: The greatest thing of all is to learn the language of our walls so that we can begin to deconstruct them and protect ourselves in more conscious ways.

     

    I think the greatest error in our intimacy journey is to just take these places where we just can’t, or where we have walls, or where we’re just frightened and condemn ourselves, instead of saying, “Let me unknot this, let me unravel this, let me explore this,” because it is those exact knots where our deepest gifts lie underneath that we have not yet learned how to protect. Asking those questions is so rich, and if this applies to any of you in any different way in your relationships, and it should apply to a lot of you, coupled or singled. You might even pause the recording and just take a minute and say, “What does my inner restriction say? What is it asking for? How does it need to be treated?” These are like the liberating questions that we are not taught to ask.

    Finding And Building Community As A Single Person

    The next question is just such a wonderful and important one. It is from Barbara and she is 42, and she was very thankful about the work that I teach. Thank you, Barbara. She talked about wanting to build a kind of community, friendship and family, and connection as a single person. She talked about how hard that has been to do because the people she knows often don’t have time for that level of connection. She said, “You know, I do a lot of different social things, but that feeling of family is not there. That’s a very empty and sad place for me and something that’s really important for me to have. Do you have any ideas or any thoughts about that?” I have a lot of ideas and thoughts about that because it’s something I have lived through a lot.

    This is one thing I think. I think that the same lessons for deep friendship are the lessons of deep romantic love, which is to look for the people with whom your soul feels safe. There could be a lot of wonderful people, but you want to look for that feeling of like, “This person is gold. There is goodness here. There is a decency. There is a caring. There is creativity. There is a deep integrity.” You want to put that first and foremost. When you make that your kind of guide, you are more likely to find that kind of person. It is harder to find that kind of person with someone who is married or in a relationship and has kids. It is easier to find that with single people often, or people with more, more time on their hands.

    Culturally, we are given an idea of independence that fails us again and again because we are deeply interdependent. It’s a both-end thing.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s a really good and wonderful thing, and so essentially important. What I would say is that it’s not easy, but it is as doable as any other kind of relationship challenge. We learn the skills of getting out there. We notice and think about, “What have our friendships been like? What kind of people have we chosen to follow, to chase, to spend time with? Are these people who’ve deeply met our needs, or historically, are they the people who haven’t?” And then begin to rewire and look for people who are antidotal to what we maybe have done before, people who really can fill our hearts. Those are the lessons that will apply brilliantly in your search for love as well, and is it easy? Is the search for love easy? No. Does it require so much recalibration, so much of reconnecting to our heart, and our wisdom, and our inner sense of discovery, and hitting walls, and finding a way through and trying again?

    But what I would say to you is look in the arenas where you can find people who also are looking for that sense of family. There are organizations where you’re more likely to find that. Maybe churches or temples, or spiritual paths, or different groups that you could find. Ongoing groups that support community are wonderful ways. These are just some of the thoughts on this journey, but I just want to say this is doable. You can do this. It is preciously important, and it is profoundly connected to your search for love because it’s the same skills.

    Finding The Balance In A New Relationship

    There was a longish question from someone who asked to be kept anonymous, but it’s a really interesting one and a really good one. It has two parts. The first part is she said that she lost her mom after a long illness when she was only twelve years old. That has made the ambiguity of early relating and early dating incredibly difficult for her, because she just wants to lock things in, to know that her heart is going to be safe, and that’s not appropriate for early dating, and that causes a lot of tension and stress, and just she doesn’t know how to handle that.

    DDP 110 | Expert Dating Advice
    Expert Dating Advice: Learn whether that sense of inner restriction is an important message of self-protection or just fear.

     

    This is the thing that I want to say first. The thing that you don’t want to do in a case like this is to shame yourself and blame yourself, and think you need to act cool. This is a part of your heart and your soul, and your Core Gift that is incredibly profound. She also said she loves the Core Gift work, but this is kind of more the issue that she’s facing at this point. Yes, this part of you is a Core Gift part of you that wants deep connection and safety, so that has to be treasured because here’s what happens. When we have a need that we shame, it turns into neediness, and neediness doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t act good, and it is unkind to us. So the first thing is to normalize and make room for this ache, this longing, this insecurity, and to be able to talk about it with friends, and to love it and understand it, just to know that this is just part of the stuff that you go through in early relationships.

    It’s part of the mine fields that you need to learn to map yourself around in terms of how you handle it, but the way to do that is absolutely not to shame yourself, or to tell yourself that you should be someone different. If you can release the pressure by either letting him know in some ways that it would be nice to have some reassurance, or maybe it’s just like you want to reach out and take his hand, but you don’t do that because you think, “Oh, that’s going to look needy, or he’ll interpret that as that I’m insecure,” so then you don’t reach out to hold his hand, and that is when the need shamed turns into neediness and insecurity, and all of those horrible, horrible feelings. One action is often just being bold, just being bold and expressing not even so much their requests, but the generous spirit of wanting to connect in a playful way.

    The more you can express the essence of that without going through that internal judge and jury that makes you question, “Am I being too much?” The better off you will be, and you might need to share with him in different ways over time, like you’ll need to find ways to ask for what you want, or at other times, you’ll need to reach out to friends to do that, but just know that this is part of your journey. This is like a big hill that needs to be climbed that you absolutely can climb, and can and should and need to develop skills. Those skills are around not shaming yourself, turning the need into a generous reaching out, getting support from friends, and just honoring and treasuring this part of you. So those are just some ideas there.

    Part two of her questions was about this guy as well, and she said, “He is an attraction of inspiration, just yay to everybody who is doing this work,” and saying, “I’m only going to look for attractions of inspiration, and hence being more likely to find them. I just celebrate that so much,” so yay on that account, and she says, “He also is not that communicative. He has these wonderful, wonderful qualities.” She has a deep sense of kind of trust and a really good sense about him, but he’s not a big sharer. He doesn’t necessarily communicate his feelings. She asks, “I’m a little worried that that is going to end up feeling deprivational to me in the relationship. Does that mean this is not a good relationship, or might it mean that it’s still could be, and we find a way to work around it?”

    I would say definitely assume the latter if the character pieces are there, if you’re interested in him, and he’s interested in you. I wrote a piece about my husband and I, and I just said, “I’m the feelings channel, like all feelings all the time,” and then I look at Greg and I’m like, “Could I like get a feeling out of you about this?” It’s very, very hard for him, although he’s wonderful at listening to other people, so conceptually, on paper, I would have wondered if this could be a match. I’m like Mr. Therapist, share feelings, but in fact, I feel deeply and essentially held and seen by him, even in his quietness. Not that it hasn’t been hard at different points for both of us, but I would say absolutely, the big question is, what’s the weather like inside of you when you’re with him? What do you feel inside? And if it’s good, warm, gratifying, generative feelings, that says a lot, and a lot can be worked through and around if that is there.

    The Interdependence In Loving The Self And Others

    There is a group of gay men in the New York area. They’ve created their own self-study group with deeper dating, and I’ve got two questions from that group, and I’m going to share them both because they’re great questions. The first question was around a passage that was on page 90 of my book, which says, “Popular psychology tells us we can only love others if we love ourselves first,” but the real truth is often the other way around. Until we feel seen and loved in the places we’re most vulnerable, few of us will ever be able to fully love ourselves. What he says is he says, “Speaking for myself, I’ve learned in all of these different spiritual disciplines, not to mention RuPaul, that learning to love myself needs to be an internal process that doesn’t rely on whether or not someone else happens to love me for who I am, and that many spiritual practices say this same thing. Can you reconcile these beliefs or explain your position further?”

    What I would say about that is that culturally, we are given an ideal of independence that fails us again and again because we are deeply interdependent. It’s a “both-and” thing. It is not an “either-or” thing, but the experience in the places where we have the hardest time loving ourselves when we have someone who can look at us and instruct us in the gift part of what we’ve been embarrassed by and ashamed of, there is nothing like that, and the task of doing that on our own is often like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps like you stay up for about one second.

    It is so true that we need each other to heal. Conceptually beautiful concept, love yourself first, and I am all about learning the skills of loving yourself, and it is an inside job to a really deep degree. That’s so much of what I teach with the Core Gift work, but it’s “both-and.” It is also true that we learn to love ourselves, one, by choosing people who love us in a wonderful way. That’s like maybe the greatest gift of all in our search for love is learning to choose those people. Learning to choose people only with whom our soul feels safe. So the answer here is it is so much more “both-and” than we are taught by popular psychology or many spiritual disciplines, and that’s just my take on this.

    The Joys Of Experiencing Our Core Gifts

    The next one is around some particular exercises, which are in my book and in my courses, etc. around discovering your Core Gifts, and some of the questions that I ask in that process are, “Recall three times in your life when you felt most deeply inspired, fed, or moved in a relationship with someone,” so this person tells three very, very moving stories that kind of connect to some of the themes that we’ve been talking about in this episode. Three times in his life when he felt very vulnerable, and experienced a lot of pain, a lot of vulnerability, a lot of uncertainty, and was brave enough, first of all, to reach out to someone, even though it was hard and scary, and embarrassing. Wise enough to choose the right people, and blessed enough that he got to have this experience of in each of these cases, really being able to express his grief and his fear, and feel seen and heard, and not diminished in any way, but honored and supported.

    In this work of discovering your Core Gifts, we ask a series of questions. In the book and in the course, there are questions that we ask. This was under the category of discovering your Core Gifts through your joys. These were the joys that he described and he asked, “Can you give me any feedback? Are these really joys? Are there Core Gifts here in these experiences?” Here’s what I would say. Absolutely, yes. These are all situations where you were brave enough to get in touch with deep grief, trusting and beautiful enough to share it with someone, and then able to receive healing from that. That’s big stuff. Many people or most people in the world can’t do that. I just think that there’s something here about your ability to drink deeply from authentic communication, that probably has gotten you in trouble because it’s a Core Gift and it’s a very strong capacity, and made you feel misunderstood, but also has felt like a key to understanding what works for you in intimacy, because these are the gifts of someone who can share deeply and really receive the experience of being held, which I am quite certain that you’re able to give to other people as well.

    When we look at the things in our relationships that touch us and move us the most, they’re going to be kind of universal, but they’re also going to be kind of really individual, and out of those, we begin to name our Core Gifts, and I think these are beautiful Core Gifts that you’re describing. I have lots more questions I still need to answer. I will do that on the next Q and A episode. I thank you all for listening. Go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com to join my mailing list, and if you do, the free gift that you’ll get is actually the first two chapters of my book in which you will be able to learn how to discover and name your own Core Gifts. It was a joy to be with everybody, and I look forward to the next episode of The Deeper Dating Podcast with you.

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  • The 3 Questions That Reveal Your Deepest Intimacy Gifts [EP109]
    Listen to the podcast here:
    Deeper Dating Podcast

    Your Core Gifts lie at the very heart of your ability to find and nurture generative, beautiful, healthy love. They are the deepest language of your inner self, and the degree to which you value them and understand them is the degree to which you will make wiser, more empowered choices in love—and everywhere else. These three simple, illuminating questions will invite you to a life-changing adventure of self-discovery.

    Table of Contents

    The 3 Questions That Reveal Your Deepest Intimacy Gifts

    How To Claim The Power Of Your Core Gifts

    How can we use our deepest insecurities to actually discover our greatest inner gifts? Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn a formula and a concept that turns everything inside out; that brings meaning, direction, and healing to our lives.

    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 co-founder of DeeperDating.com, which is a site where single people can meet in an environment that is fun, inspiring, kind, and respectful. In this episode, I’m going to talk about the central concept in all the work I do, which is the power of your Core Gifts. In this episode and in every episode, I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of intimacy. Those are the greatest skills of all for a happy rich life.

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You’ll learn about upcoming courses and events, and if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll also get some free gifts. You’ll learn 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. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a tremendous gift if you would subscribe and leave me a review. I have gotten the most beautiful reviews and thank all of you who’ve written them. Okay, let’s dive in.

    We are true artists because we are living from our truth and our capacity for intimate love is profound here.CLICK TO TWEETIf I had to synopsize the most beautiful, liberating, and mysterious insight that I’ve ever learned in my life and in my decades of practice as a psychotherapist, it’s this. It’s that the parts of ourselves that we feel the most timid around, the most vulnerable, the most embarrassed, the most sensitive, the parts where we have the deepest insecurities are actually the path to our greatest gifts, to our genius, to our mission, to our ability to love. The profound mind-boggling formula that I really believe is true is this. The degree to which we treasure, honor, and dignify those gifts is the degree to which we can have a happy life and the degree to which we can find healthy, sustaining relationships.

    We don’t have to do it perfectly, but the more we learn to do that, the better our relationships become, including our relationship with ourselves, with the world, with spirituality, all of those different kinds of love, and the more we develop a truly secure attachment style. The converse is true as well. I know this so well from my own life. All the ways that I don’t honor and dignify those parts of me are all the ways that I end up in life situations and relationships that are masochistic or painful or not wonderful. It’s a formula of such profundity that until we start with the honoring of I think of it as like the deep inner petals of our being. The beating heart of our humanity, the most intimate part of who we are, and the realest, truest part of who we are. That the secret really to life and to love is the treasuring of those parts of ourselves, but those parts of ourselves have probably gotten us into so much trouble because genius is not easy, and these are our genius places. These are our deep, what I call, Core Gift places.

    Core Gifts, Explained

    All of the work that I teach rests on the foundation of being able to name, discover, honor, and learn the language of our Core Gifts, and then choose situations, people, passions, and projects that feed that part of ourselves. In this episode, I’m going to teach you how you can discover your own Core Gifts. The kind of key practices, you don’t learn this in a minute, and it’s deeply kind of counterintuitive in some ways, that our greatest insecurities reveal our greatest gifts. These are practices that I’m going to teach you that will enrich your life and shift your kind of experience from that painful, crippling place that we all know so well. Where we are beholden to the eyes of the people who are looking at us and judging us, and shift that to a place where there’s a sense of a sacred self that surprises us, challenges us, challenges the world, and is generative, creative, strange, quirky, and generous. All different kinds of things that don’t necessarily make life easy, but genius domesticated is genius lost, and we need to honor those parts of ourselves.

    DDP 109 | Deepest Intimacy Gifts
    Deepest Intimacy Gifts: The parts of ourselves that we feel the most timid around are actually the path to our greatest gifts, our genius, our mission, and our ability to love.

     

    In my teaching, in my book, that’s where we begin. In my intensives, which last six months, almost half of the intensive is spent focusing on Core Gifts. I’m very, very excited that I’ve been in contact with and in dialogue with some very renowned researchers who are very interested in this approach and how it changes people’s search for love. We’re talking about developing a real research project and they asked me, “What is the piece of your work that to you is the most important for us to start with?”

    After thinking not too long, I said, “It is the concept of Core Gifts,” the discovery of, the naming of, the honoring of, the leading with your Core Gifts, and the looking for people who treasure those gifts. That’s the central foundational piece and actually, we’re going to be building, and I’ll talk about this a little bit more later because I’m going to actually be offering a workshop in this. In this episode, I feel like I can give you the essence of these concepts and give you some beautiful, rich, self-honoring practices that will help you begin to treasure and name your Core Gifts even more fully and richly.

    First, I just want to share an image that I use in teaching this work. It’s just the image of a target. Imagine a target with the number of concentric rings, and that target is a map of your being. The closer you get to the center, to the inside, is the closer you get to the beating heart of your humanity. It’s where you feel things the most deeply. It’s where the greatest meaning lies. It’s where the deepest roots of your being lie. It’s your biggest truth. It’s your place of deepest, dynamic authenticity and truth.

    When we live from that place, we are true artists because we are living from our truth, and our capacity for intimate love is profound here. Now, this is not all like fun and games in light because it’s a lifetime of work to learn to bear the vulnerability, the intensity, the mystery, and the challenges that these parts of ourselves ask. It’s a holy, holy sacred task, but also because these parts of us are so deep, they’re such deep strata of our being, they’re the places where life touches us the most. They’re also the places where we feel our wounds the most, our pain the most, our compassion the most, our grief the most.

    Genius domesticated is genius lost.CLICK TO TWEETWe don’t just get to barrel into the very center of our being because there are skills that we need to develop in order to kind of bear and bare the beauty and the intensity of these gifts. It doesn’t happen easily and it doesn’t happen quickly, but it’s an exquisite process. That’s kind of like, in a very concrete level, it’s like you’re in a relationship with someone and you’re having an interchange and something doesn’t feel right, but you tell yourself you’re wrong for feeling that it doesn’t feel right, or you’re being too much or you’re being over-sensitive.

    When you do that, you tell yourself that you will do one of two things. You will suppress whatever it is that you’re feeling from this deeper place or you’ll act it out in an unhelpful way, or you’ll do both, but let’s say instead, you remember and realize, “Oh, this sensitivity, this thing that I’m feeling, I have to treat it with honor. It is connected obviously to a deep part of myself or I wouldn’t be feeling it. How can I honor it in the relationship?” When we say that and we ask that we begin to learn kinder, more connected ways to share these quirky parts of ourselves as actual gifts. We do it with generosity. We do it with vulnerability. It is scary, but that act of being able to think, what does this part of me want? Then to ask for that in a way that’s engaged and connected, that’s just an act of intimacy greatness that as we grow, we learn to do better and better, and then it’s actually an act of generosity to share those parts of ourselves. Even though it’s hard or embarrassing, it is beautiful.

    There’s a ring of fire that exists between us and these Core Gifts where we get embarrassed or ashamed, or we think we’re too much, or we think we’re not enough. That kind of coming out of stepping across that ring of fire of embarrassment and awkwardness and saying, “This is who I am,” is one of the most beautiful and affirming things that we can do. It turns out the very things that we thought we wouldn’t be loved for are the things that we end up being loved for the most by the right people. That’s just who created this amazing, amazing journey where we actually had to go inside to the parts that we thought we had to hide, and those are the parts that get celebrated. How incredible is that?

    DDP 109 | Deepest Intimacy Gifts
    Deepest Intimacy Gifts: There’s a ring of fire that exists between us and these Core Gifts where we get embarrassed or ashamed, or we think we’re too much or we’re not enough.

     

    Question For Discovering Your Core Gift

    I’m going to leave this kind of like very esoteric, theoretical framework now, and I’m going to bring it down to some of these practices that I was talking about. These are some practices, these are questions you can ask yourself that you can ask yourself on a regular basis that will help you discover your Core Gifts. There are two central basic questions and this is an exercise that I teach, which is you can take two days and a journal, a phone, a tablet or anything that you can write in, and for two days, notice two things. Notice the things in your interactions with the world that hurt you, that sting you, that make you feel like you just got a paper cut, or maybe cause even deeper pain than that. Notice those things and don’t step over them so quickly and tell yourself you’re being too sensitive or just try to get rid of the pain and the suffering. Instead, ask yourself, “What hurts? Why does it hurt? Is this a hurt that I have had in my life before? What does this hurt say about what matters most to me? What does this hurt say about the things that are important?”

    When you answer those questions, you can ask the next question, which is, “What might be the Core Gift in this hurt that I’m experiencing?” You’re probably going to be able to figure out an answer. When you do that over the course of two days, you will find that certain themes emerge. Those themes might be a loss of connection, an unkindness, a lack of generosity, a dishonesty, and a lack of commitment. These are the kinds of things that are like fingerprints, they’re universal but they’re individual for each of us, and you will find the things that hurt and sting the most. I’m going to ask you to think, “How might these come from my deepest gifts?”

    The second question is, “What things fill my heart?” Like during the day, what are the things that give you a sense of peace or you get this feeling of solidity, strength, clarity, or you get a creative burst? What are the things or you feel a sense of joy or connectedness or love? What are the things, what are the environments that create that for you? With those things, I ask you not to just step over them quickly and think, “Well, that was a nice moment,” but instead to think this is a portal to my deepest roots. How might that be so, if it was so? What is it in me that is being filled with this joy, this piece, or this good feeling? What is it about what’s going on that’s making me feel these good feelings? Have I ever felt these good feelings before? What kind of things have triggered them for me? What does this say about what my Core Gift might be that is getting a little bit of a light shown on it, and it’s illumined at the moment?

    The happiness that we want in finding love is with someone with whom these parts of us feel safe, feel held, and feel appreciated.CLICK TO TWEETIf you take the time to think in this philosophical way, you will find the key themes that have bewildered you because you’ve said, “Why am I so sensitive? I don’t need to be this sensitive,” or maybe concerned you because the feeling of joy or peace was really great and it just felt odd or strange, and you didn’t know what to do with it. These are portals to your deepest self. When you know those Core Gifts, when you begin to put names on them, and you know, in my book and my work there, you know, I go into a lot more details about how to do that, but even with these practices, you will be able to do that. You begin to notice the themes that matter the most to you.

    Now, here are some other ways that you can identify your core gift. This is a great one. This is a way to identify your Core Gifts in romantic relationships and it’s this. What do you feel most timid to reveal in bed, in communication? What is the stuff that it’s like, “Oh, this is hard to share. This is hard to share.” I don’t mean experiences that you’ve had in your life that were painful or difficult or embarrassing. I mean parts of you that are just hard to share. Those are your Core Gifts.

    What it is is that those parts of you have an intense charge. Those are the places where you have the greatest charge because it’s where your greatest genius is. It’s where your mission is. It’s where your deepest language of self lies. The more you learn to treasure these parts of you, the more you will also learn to become so familiar with that horrible feeling of having them stepped on, neglected, denied or ignored, and that’s another act of personal greatness – is to cultivate that dignity to say, “It’s not that I’m not enough, it’s that something is happening here, that to my heart, to my soul, to my being, to my gift just doesn’t feel right. I’m going to figure out what that is, I’m going to trust it, and I’m going to honor it.” The more we do that, for those of us who are single, the more your taste in romantic partners will actually shift. This is an amazing thing. I have done this work with thousands of people and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen that happen. It’s a formula. It’s a beautiful formula that I really believe in.

    DDP 109 | Deepest Intimacy Gifts
    Deepest Intimacy Gifts: This work of listening to our Core Gifts is a life work, and none of us are perfect at it.

     

    I also want to say that I am going to be creating a four-session workshop, helping people discover, name and learn to lead with their Core Gifts in their intimacy journey and in their life as a whole. If you’d like to know more about that, you can just go to the show notes, or you can go to MyCoreGifts.com to learn more. Now, just one other concept. I’ve talked about this a lot, but it comes out of this experience of learning to treasure your Core Gifts, dignify them and lead with them, and it’s this. That in your dating life, in your search for love, in your everything, asking yourself this question, “Do my Core Gifts, does my deep inner self feel safe at this moment?”

    In your dating life, for those of you who are dating, that is an incredible question to ask. “Do I think that my Core Gifts might feel safe with this being?” If the answer is yes, well, that is a very beautiful thing, and there are, of course, other questions that follow that, including the consistency of that feeling. It’s never going to be perfect because we’re all human, but it needs to be kind of essentially so, but I believe that the happiness that you want and that we want in finding love is with someone with whom these parts of us feel safe, feel held, feel appreciated. Also, that the heat of their challenge is honored and accepted even with all of its quirks or over intensities, and yeah, it’s our responsibility to work on that but in an essential way. We need a partner who welcomes, honors and accepts the challenges of these profound gifts that we have. When you make that kind of the key point of your search, something deep inside feels honored, and something deep inside feels like it can begin to play, dance, be sexual, be flirtatious, be intimate, and be allowed because there’s a sense of safety and authenticity.

    This work of listening to our Core Gifts is a life work and none of us are perfect at it. We all have clay feet when it comes to doing this kind of work, but the truth is, that the more that we do it, the more our lives become rich and the more our lives work in wonderful ways. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and please go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you can click, “Ask Ken.” I want to hear your experiences with these practices. I really would love to hear them. Thank you all and I look forward to connecting again on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

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  • Is There Chemistry? Here’s What You Need To Know [EP108]

    Listen to the podcast here:

    Deeper Dating Podcast

    Is there chemistry? That’s a necessary question. But the bigger question lies right behind that! Because different types of chemistries lead to different futures. This is why it’s so essential to understand how your “chemistries” have guided your love life. In this episode, we’ll explore which kinds of chemistries to follow–and which to stay away from–for a happy future in love. These insights can change your entire search for love–and empower you to love yourself more deeply!

    Table of Contents

    Is There Chemistry? Here’s What You Need To Know

    Is there chemistry? That’s a question that we ask ourselves and get asked, but the richer question lies right behind that. What kind of chemistry is there? Because different chemistries lead us into different futures. In this episode of The Deeper Dating Podcast, I’m going to share what kind of chemistries can lead to happiness and what kind of romantic chemistries lead to pain, so stay tuned to this episode.

    Hello everybody and welcome to The Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating, and Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that’s respectful, inspiring, kind and fun. Today, I’m going to talk about the different kinds of chemistry there are. The ones to watch out for and the ones to pursue, and the ones to cultivate and grow. In this episode and every 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 skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love. Those are the most important skills of all for a happy, rich, meaningful 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 there. You’ll get free gifts and you’ll learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. You’ll also find transcripts of this and every other episode. Now let’s jump in.

    DDP 108 | Chemistry
    Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

     

    People say all the time, “Well, there was no chemistry” or, “Well, there was chemistry.” As if there’s either chemistry or no chemistry. That’s a really limited understanding of how this works because there are different kinds of chemistry. The first question, appropriately is, “Is there some kind of chemistry?” The next question that has to be asked and is so important for anybody who wants to have a wiser search for love is this, “What kind of chemistry is it?” Because there are different kinds of chemistry and each different of chemistry, if you follow that relationship, is going to lead you down a very different path and into a very different future, and a very different life. The question is not just, “Is there chemistry?” It’s, “Is there chemistry and what’s the nature of that chemistry? What parts of me are engaged in the chemistry of this relationship, and what am I learning about where that’s going to lead me in my future?” We’re going to talk about that today. We’re going to talk about chemistries that are good to choose to follow, and chemistries that aren’t so good to choose to follow.

    In our culture, there’s a kind of relentless focus on quick matching. Getting the matches and getting it quickly, and getting the matches with the people with whom there is the most obvious and immediate chemistry. What’s troubling about that is the hottest and most immediate chemistry is often to people who your unconscious knows are capable of hurting you in ways you’ve been hurt before, are very capable of not seeing your worth or value fully, and you get engaged in wanting to prove your value to them. These things are not conscious until we make them conscious. This relentless focus on, “Is it a match?” and “Is there chemistry?” just ignores that depth. Then as we get wiser in our search for love, we learn this and we begin to look at it differently.

    When you have to bend yourself into a pretzel to get the other person to value you, that’s not the kind of chemistry you’re looking for.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s why so much of online dating is so skilled at finding and creating matches, but not at creating intimacy. Looking for chemistry and choosing quick chemistry, but not necessarily choosing the kind of chemistry that’s going to lead to happiness. Interestingly, in the field of research, I have learned that there’s a great deal of research on how matches are made about initial attraction and how people match, and what makes them match, but there is dramatically less research on what creates quality matching. What creates matching that can really turn into relationships that can last? There’s some but there’s not a lot because of this focus on this simple definition of chemistry, instead of this richer one that I’m just encouraging all of you to take into account. By the end of this episode, you’ll have done some deep and rich thinking about your different chemistries and what they’ve led you to. You’ll begin to move toward making choices about following the kind of chemistries that really lead to happiness, joy, meaning and peace.

    Simplest Path To Happiness In Finding Love: Ask This Question

    By knowing the different types of chemistry that there are for you, you will change your future. That is what this work is all about. I’m going to talk first about the kind of chemistries that we want to look for and follow. This is something that I have talked about before. It’s a way that we can have so much more control of our search for love, and it’s by asking ourselves one question as we search for love. Let me tell you, asking this question just makes such a profound difference. It truly, truly, truly is, I think, the kind of simplest path to happiness in finding love, and that is this question and I ask it in a kind of spiritual way. I use the word soul but for you, maybe heart might be more appropriate. The question is, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?”

    DDP 108 | Chemistry
    Chemistry: You often have the hottest, most immediate chemistry with people who your unconscious knows are capable of hurting you in ways you’ve been hurt before.

     

    Is there a feeling of goodness, of trust, of solidity, of generosity, of consistency? When you make your first question, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” You are infinitely more likely to choose someone with a lot of goodness inside them, a lot of integrity inside them. Actually, some research has shown, there’s not a lot but there’s some, and some research has shown what are the things that make the difference between somebody just matching for a quick amount of time and actually turning into a relationship, and two huge factors in that are these, that you feel like the other person likes you back, that’s one. The other is that you have a sense of their trustworthiness. Those are the two things that help matches turn into ongoing connections.

    When you make your question, “Does my soul feels safe with this person? Do I have this innate sense of this person’s goodness, commitment to values that really matter to me, including in their integrity, in the way that they treat me, in the way that they treat other people?” When you make that your question, the first thing that happens that is amazing is that you somehow stand straighter. There is a self-love that you have and a self-dignity that you kind of develop. It gives you the spine that you want. It helps you organize around really, really, really what matters most. Because when you don’t do that, the message is I’m going to sell out on that stuff if there’s chemistry and if someone is interested in me. That brings us down a path that we don’t want to go, that makes us so susceptible to unhealthy relationships.

    A triggered sense of insecurity often comes from another person’s unavailability or unsafety.CLICK TO TWEETThis question, “Does my soul feel safe?” You know, we can tell much more quickly than we think by how the person talks to the waitperson, by how they talk to us as the dating continues, how they talk about difficult things, how they treat us, how they communicate with us, how they live their life with their friends. This is something that I have seen so much in the work that I do, in my intensives, in my courses, that people begin to say, “I lose my taste for people with whom I don’t feel safe, and I get out of there, and I get out of there more quickly,” which is such a hugely important thing. In other words, this is like living self-love in dating when you say this. When you say it and you make this conscious decision that you’re only going to pursue chemistries that include that wonderful chemistry of sensing someone’s goodness, safety and solidity, which combined with a person who is sexy to you, that is just happiness. It’s real happiness.

    Just to say a little bit more about these kind of chemistries. Do you remember a time in your life when you have felt that kind of chemistry towards someone in a romantic relationship? That kind of “My soul feels safe” feeling, in combination, of course, with being attracted to them. Let yourself just remember that because you kind of want to orient yourself so that that’s what you’re looking for. As you remember it and develop more and more of a taste for that, truly, truly, truly your dating life is going to change. Your search for love is going to change, and hence your future is going to change. So simple but so true, because you are acting now on self-love instead of that other place which is like bending yourself into a pretzel to get the person to be interested, to think you’re irresistible, to want to be with you, to value you, to treat you right. When you have to bend yourself into a pretzel to experience that, that’s a huge, huge sign that something is really not safe, that it’s not the kind of chemistry you’re looking for.

    DDP 108 | Chemistry
    Chemistry: Two huge factors that help matches turn into ongoing connections: you feel like the other person likes you back and you have a sense of their trustworthiness.

     

    If there’s nobody who you can remember in your life with whom you’ve had a romantic connection, which has that feeling of, “Myself feels safe with this person,” then think about a friend that you feel that with, and what that’s like because that is what you’re looking for. That’s bedrock. It is the only place you want to build your home. Now, let’s talk about some of the other kinds of chemistries and I’m just kind of talking about two chemistries. It’s a little bit binary because there are so many different kinds of chemistries. I think a huge and important question to ask yourself is, “Where have you felt that chemistry of attraction combined with goodness, integrity, generosity and safety that you feel from that person?”

    The Sexy But Unsafe Chemistry

    If you haven’t had that yet, welcome to your future because you can choose that. It’s a little scary because you have to say no to so many people, but it’s a future that you can absolutely choose. When you make that, your question and your focus on your intention, your dating life changes on its axis. Okay, let’s talk about another kind of chemistry and that’s a chemistry that’s sexy, exciting, erotic, delicious and hot, but it’s not safe. It’s not truly safe and you feel it inside. You’re always tweaking, manipulating and trying to convince yourself that you’re just being too sensitive or you should just be more detached, and you shouldn’t worry about that and let that go. You’re always doing that to convince yourself that that weird unsafe feeling where your feet are touching the ground in this relationship, this sense of shakiness or not rightness, you’re doing all these things to convince yourself that it’s really okay. That convincing really translates into, “I’m not enough and I have to fix myself.”

    There are so many different kinds of beautiful chemistries in this world, but we need to develop a taste for them.CLICK TO TWEETRemember some kind of maybe bad boy, bad girl, bad person, kind of sexy-sexy, cocky, not so friendly, not so nice, or wonderful and glorious and then disappears, or wonderful and glorious and then just doesn’t treat you well, or is wonderful and glorious in there but they’re not so honest. Those kinds of relationships where your feet don’t feel safe on the ground, but this person is sexy and you’re desirous. Also, they’re available and they’re there. Maybe they love you and that is breathtakingly hard to say no to. Just remember those kinds of experiences, because those kinds of experiences where you can’t say in an essential way, “My soul feels safe with this person in terms of their integrity, their decency, their availability, their solidity.”

    The thing is that those relationships often feel so sexy. That’s this unconscious thing of looking for someone who is just doesn’t love you fully, which increases their sense of value. They must be pretty special because you’re obviously not special as them, and decreases your sense of value. This is a rich another kind of the point. If you find in a relationship again and again that you were feeling insecure like a deep insecurity, very often it’s because the other person is not safe, does not fully value you for who you are, but you don’t translate it. Often we don’t translate that into, “This person is not treating me the way I want to be treated. There’s something off here. There’s something not right. There’s something that doesn’t align with my values.” Instead, we think, “Why am I feeling so insecure? I have to get over this insecurity.” Often, that triggered sense of insecurity comes from another person’s unavailability or unsafety.

    If you’re feeling consistently insecure or frequently or chronically insecure in a relationship, don’t be so quick to assume that you’re just insecure, because there’s a really, really good chance that something in the person’s way of being with you is not making your soul feel safe inside. Often, these relationships are very roller-coastery. The person might have some attributes that are highly sexy to you like the way that they look or they might be very wealthy, or they might have a great deal of success. They may have personality qualities that you just adore, creativity, generosity, there may be kind of sexy qualities of being dominant and aggressive or sexy qualities of being pliable and submissive, fierce leader, or someone who backs you and supports you. These things that can be really sexy and glorious, but is there that shakiness in the ground, that shakiness, that unsafety, that unstability in the ground beneath your feet? We have to learn to honor that as well.

    DDP 108 | Chemistry
    A Home at the End of the World

     

    Try to remember if you have experienced that kind of experience, like a relationship with someone where that beautiful sense of transparency that comes when you know someone’s going to be truthful and kind wasn’t really there. That feeling of safety and being loved, treasured and accepted wasn’t really there. What happens for you in that circuitry when you’re attracted, when there’s chemistry with someone like that? Just take a minute to remember what that’s like. Those feel so much like love and they also trigger those deep-down places where we feel like, “I’m really not kind of enough so I get it. I get it why they’re not quite that into me.” Those triggers are there for all of us. All of us can be triggered or almost all of us can be triggered in those ways, which is why it’s so important to be able to know these different chemistries to look at your life history and patterns and see what those are, where they have led you?

    A World Full Of Possible Chemistries

    There is not just one chemistry and there are not two chemistries. There is a world full of possible chemistries, and some of them are highly erotic and romantic, some start out gently erotic and romantic but grow, some start out erotic and then turn into friendships, some touch different parts of our being. There are so many different kinds of chemistries. Just like we’re discovering that there are so many different kinds of gender identities. This makes me think of a beautiful book by Michael Cunningham called A Home at the End of the World. I tell this story sometimes. This boy is in front of the mirror and he’s making up his face, and half of his face has shaving cream. He’s got this guy thing going on. This man thing that he’s imagining or emulating, and then he puts on makeup on the other side of his face, and he just looks at himself. He says, “I didn’t know that there were so many different kinds of beauties that could exist in this world.” What I want to say is that there are so many different kinds of beautiful chemistries in this world, but we need to develop a taste for them. This is something else that I think is really important to know. It’s something I talk about a lot.

    When you’re with someone who is safe, available, decent and just present, you might find this strange experience of your desire plummeting and then thinking, “Oh my God, I guess I just wasn’t attractive enough.” You think, “I am so superficial. The people who are really good for me, I just run from them,” but whatever it is, you kind of like leave because you don’t want to hurt them anymore and you realize you’re not interested. What this is, is something that I call “the wave” which so many of us have, which is this wave of disinterest, judgment, boredom or desire to get away, or suffocation that happens when we find someone who’s just plain available. When we are used to deriving our spice and our chemistry from people who are not that available, there is a shift that needs to happen. What I would say is that wave is actually a spasm of fear. Like a wave, it hits us and then it goes away.

    If you are changing your kind of path of chemistries for people who are available and decent, and make your soul feel safe, understand that that white-hot roller-coastery sexiness will go away and will need to be replaced with a new kind of sexiness, which is the deep revealing of who you are and being met, held and caught by the other person. When you can reveal that romantically, sexually, spiritually, and the other person is there for you, it’s just the most incredible experience. For those of us who are used to pursuing these chemistries of the rollercoaster, this will take a little bit of getting used to. It’ll take a little bit of our friends reminding us of how wonderful this person is or telling us, “You fuck this up and I’ll kill you.”

    DDP 108 | Chemistry
    Chemistry: You are the gatekeeper in your dating life. Choose relationships that have goodness, safety, and rightness.

     

    The other thing that happens that is really cool is this approach of understanding that we are going to just choose what I call “Attractions of inspiration” versus “Attractions of deprivation”. This approach begins to heal our attachment wounds. When your deep-down insides know that you, as the gatekeeper in your dating life, is going to only choose relationships that have this goodness, and this safety, and this rightness, that deep inner part of you is going to begin to relax and feel more secure. When you choose someone like that, that relationship will deepen your capacity for secure attachment, and it becomes a very virtuous cycle. When your deep insides don’t feel safe because they know that you’re going to be pursuing these other kinds of relationships, there’s a sense of insecurity and unsafety, which exacerbates ways in which we might have an anxious or avoidant attachment style.

    That’s kind of like another benefit that happens is we learn self-love by making these choices. I’m very excited to hear your experiences with these things, and I’d love you to go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and you can go to Ask Ken and leave me messages there. You can leave recorded messages. You can let me know if you want me to use your recording, or if you’d just like me to kind of paraphrase. If I don’t hear that from you, I will just paraphrase. I want to hear your stories of playing with this, experimenting with this, and the shifts that happen for you because they’re going to be good ones. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Deeper Dating Podcast, and I look forward to connecting next episode.

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  • Love, Spirit And The Entrepreneur’s Journey: An Interview With Tami Simon [EP107]

    Listen to the podcast here:

    Conscious love, conscious business, conscious spirituality! In this episode, I had the privilege of interviewing Tami Simon, the brilliant, soulful and very authentic CEO of Sounds True; the world’s largest living library of transformational teachings to support and accelerate spiritual awakening and personal transformation. For me, this stunning interview was a spiritual experience. Not to be missed!

    Table of Contents

    Love, Spirit And The Entrepreneur’s Journey: An Interview With Tami Simon

    Conscious love, conscious business, conscious spirituality. Today, I’m so excited to be interviewing Tami Simon. The brilliant, soulful and very authentic CEO of Sounds True, which is the world’s largest living library of transformational teachings to support and accelerate spiritual awakening and personal transformation. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of Deeper Dating and the Co-Founder of DeeperDating.com. In this podcast, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools and the greatest voices of wisdom that I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and those are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more or join my mailing list, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com.

    Today, I am so excited to be interviewing Tami Simon about the intersection of love, entrepreneurship, spirituality and business. Tami is the Founder of Sounds True, which is a multimedia publisher based in Boulder, Colorado. Tami started Sounds True in 1985 at the age of 22 with a clear purpose, to disseminate spiritual wisdom. Over its 36-year history, Sounds True has produced over 3,000 learning programs with the world’s leading wisdom teachers. It’s been twice named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies in North America. Tami also hosts the Sounds True Podcast: Insights at the Edge, which has been downloaded more than twenty million times. She’s also the Founder of Sounds True’s Inner MBA Program, which is now in its second year. It’s a nine-month immersion program that trains entrepreneurs, managers and employees on the inner wisdom skills needed for outer business success. Tami lives in Boulder, Colorado with her partner of twenty-plus years, Julie Kramer, and their two spoodles, Raspberry and Beulah. Tami is a true teacher of spirituality, wisdom, entrepreneurship, decency and integrity. I love her and I love her work. I’m so excited to be interviewing her.

    —-

    Tami, it is so good to be with you. Welcome and thank you for taking the time to be here on this podcast.

    It’s wonderful to be with you, Ken.

    Thank you so much. You’re someone I have looked up to for a really long time and I have seen you as a visionary in what you do in the world. God knows, I have listened to the recordings of Sounds True and sent them to people I love. Numerous people who have been through surgery have been through the visualization tapes that I’ve gotten again and again from you, for people that I love. The work that you do is very inspiring on so many levels, and I’m excited to talk with you about entrepreneurship, love and intimacy.

    You’re bringing up my favorite topics all in one sentence.

    Oh, good, good, good. Yeah, because you live those things and so many people I know are entrepreneurs or really trying to create their own vision of what they want to contribute to the world and care deeply about love. I would just love to start hearing about your journey, your love journey, your intimacy journey, your entrepreneurship journey, your Sounds True journey, and how all of those have woven together. I know that’s big but I’d love to hear about it.

    Love, intimacy, and entrepreneurship come from a lot of pain, anguish, and alienation.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s okay. Well, you know, the truth is it comes from a lot of pain, anguish and alienation. That’s the starting point for all of these beautiful things, love, intimacy and really entrepreneurship. That word makes it sound maybe bigger than what it feels like inside. What it feels like inside of me is being creative, giving to other people, making enough money to support myself, sharing my gifts with the world, really. That’s what it means to me. I think, the reason I say it comes from a lot of anguish and alienation is I grew up feeling kind of like I’d landed here from another planet and I wasn’t quite sure I belonged. I didn’t feel necessarily like I belonged in my family, and I certainly didn’t feel like I belonged as part of the human race, a race that I saw heading swiftly to destruction, and treating the way humans treated each other, which I thought was at such a gross level of existence. I was a very sensitive and idealistic young person.

    I wasn’t quite sure, actually, I would have a place here, a place on Earth, and it started with being drawn to philosophy. I wanted to make sense of things and then that turned into religious studies because at least that’s direct. It’s about personal revelatory experience. I was searching, searching, searching. What I didn’t know is that I was actually searching for, are you ready for this, connection. Connection with other people, connection with my own body, and in connecting with my own body, connecting with a lot of very intense emotions that as a young person, I didn’t even know how to turn towards and be with. In some ways, my whole spiritual search was just a way to be at home in my body through meditation with intense emotions. I would say, I became an “entrepreneur,” to use your word, primarily because I was completely unemployable.

    There’s a lot here, Ken, but you know, I dropped out of college. I went to India to study meditation for a year. I traveled through Sri Lanka and Nepal. I committed myself to bringing these internal practices, which helped me feel connected inside myself for the first time in my life. I committed to bringing those to as many people as possible. I wasn’t particularly interested in starting a business. It took me years before I even realized I was in business. I wanted to help bring inner connective practices to other people because I felt like they had saved my own life. Then in my journey as a lover, I came out as a lesbian in my early twenties and had painful relationships really until I was 39 years old. I met the woman that I’ve been with for the last twenty years, a woman named Julie Kramer. I think there was so much deep healing I first had to go through on my own to even be ready for that kind of partnership. Then that partnership has been the greatest source of healing in my life, and has given me so much energy and inspiration for my work. I think of it as a reservoir, and my work comes from that reservoir of energy and goodness and overflow that can go towards others.

    Thank you for your deep honesty and truth-telling. There are about a million points that I relate to you on, and I have a number of questions but I just want to start with one from what you shared. Could you tell me, can you tell us about the moment that you realized that that was going to be what you wanted to do? How that happened that you realized that that was what you wanted to do, was to share these teachings?

    Realizing The Desire Of Sharing Spiritual Teachings

    Sure. Well, I left college really on a search, and when I went to Sri Lanka originally, I was introduced to meditation in a ten-day bootcamp style with someone named S. N. Goenka who’s a Burmese meditation master. He was teaching in-person. For people who know of his work, it’s kind of a big deal because he’s such a legendary figure. There he was. Ten days you wake up at 5:00 in the morning and you go to sleep at 10:00 PM, and you meditate all day for ten days in what’s known as noble silence. You’re not speaking at all during this ten-day period. At the end of my first ten-day retreat, it’s kind of like the lights went on inside me, in a way, for the first time. Afterwards, I went and I spoke to a professor. I was staying at his home. He had been at Swarthmore College one year on a Fulbright scholarship.

    When he left with his family, I left with him to go to Sri Lanka, but he looked at me when I come out of the ten-day retreat and he said, “Your eyes look so different, Tami. There’s suddenly this kind of light in them that I always knew was there, but now I can see it and feel it and sense it,” and I could feel that inside myself. I don’t really know how else to describe it but it was a quality of homecoming and the lights going on. Then I decided I want to do another one of these ten-day retreats so I’m going to travel up to Goenka Center in India. As I was traveling, I stopped at various Buddhist temples on the way, and this is to answer your question.

    What I found myself doing was lying in the dirt at these temples outside, and they would have these full moon ceremonies so people would stay up all night and chant at various temples. I would lie down in the dirt with my arms outstretched in a full prostration and said, “I give my life to these teachings. I give my whole life to it. This is it. Everything I have. All the cells in my body, may you be used in service of bringing as many people as possible to this type of inner discovery.” It started with those kinds of prayers but of course, that’s not a business. That’s a 21-year-old kid lying in the dirt in India, praying. You know what I mean.

    I just have to back up here for a minute and say that that is incredibly beautiful and incredibly personal, and thank you for sharing it. It’s very moving.

    DDP 107 | Entrepreneur's Journey
    Entrepreneur’s Journey: There’s so much more support for us when we’re in a place of deep sincerity and service. 

     

    That’s when you learn a little bit about my heart and the kind of gonzo nature of my heart that that’s what was in me, but I had no idea what that might look like. When I came back from my travels in India, my parents were like, “Now it’s time to get a college degree, right? Game over. Adventure is over.” I wasn’t able to get a college degree. It didn’t make sense to me to pursue an academic path. They said, “We’re not going to support you anymore.” I said, “Make sense. Why should you support me? I’ll go get a job.” I started volunteering at the same time that I was working at a Chinese restaurant. I started volunteering for the local community radio station because I wanted to interview spiritual teachers to try to understand what happened to me.

    I wanted to get a sense of where am I on this journey. “What’s going on? I feel so different. I feel like I’ve been rewired. I don’t even know myself. I’ve entered a different sense of time, a different sense of priorities. I don’t know who I am. Help me.” I wanted to talk to spiritual teachers and I wanted to keep getting an education, just not an academic education. One of the people that I was interviewing, and this is really interesting because it ended up that he is a very successful businessman. At the time, with this community radio station volunteer show, I was interviewing him of all things about crystals, because he had these huge crystals. We’re talking like 1.5 foot tall and 10 inches wide in his window, and I would walk by them all the time on my way to the radio station.

    He also had a yin yang symbol, you ready for this, with a dollar sign in the center. I was like, “What’s going on?” He said, “It’s a transformational economy.” I’m like, “What’s the yin yang sign with the dollar symbol in these crystals? What’s going on with this person? I want to talk to him. I’ll interview him for my radio show.” He and I are getting to know each other, and in the course of getting to know each other, preparing for the interview, my father passes away. My father died when I was 21 and when he died, I received a small inheritance, which was about $50,000. I said to this gentleman, “I’ve now received this inheritance and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what to do with this money. You seem to know a lot about transformational economy. What should I do? I’m looking for some advice? What should I do with this money?” He said, “Why don’t you put it into yourself?” I was like, “Really good idea, but what are me and my bad self going to do with that? We don’t know.”

    All the multiplicities of me, “What are we going to do with this money? I don’t know.” He just looked at me and he said, “Tami, come back in three days and we’ll talk about it. I have a feeling you know what you want to do.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll come back in three days and talk to you again.” I walked out of his office and Ken, you know things like this happen. It happened to me. You know, you hear stories like this so this is my story. I walk out of his office and suddenly, I started feeling quite odd like I was walking a few feet above the ground. That was, first of all, something that I’d never experienced. I was like, “This is really weird. I feel like I’m walking on air.” It’s a really weird feeling. Then I heard a voice and of course, I don’t know where it came from. It was an inner voice or what, and I heard the words, “disseminate spiritual wisdom.” Those three words. Then my feet hit the ground. I started walking and I started thinking about it and how I might be able to do that. It was from that experience that Sounds True was born.

    Wow. I don’t really have a lot of words for that. That’s incredibly beautiful and powerful in its own entity, its own entity of truth. Thank you so much for telling that story.

    You know, there are so many things in life the older I get. I’m almost 60 now so I’m sharing with you something that happened 38 years ago, but there are so many things that are mysterious, and the older that I get, the more dimensions of intelligence that I see operating in my own life. Like I think so often that what’s happening is what Tami Simon, the embodied ego person, is thinking about. I think it’s so much more complicated than that. There are so many more factors, and quite honestly, there’s so much more support for us when we’re in a place of deep sincerity and service and open-heartedness. There’s so much support that wants to collaborate and work with us. That’s really been my experience, and the older I get, the clearer it is to me.

    How beautiful. I would like to ask you about that and again, I’m kind of putting aside about a million shared stories and other questions, but I want to follow this thread that feels so significant to me. For everybody who is listening to this episode who is thinking, “I would like to enlist that shared support in my search for a loving relationship, or I would like to enlist that support in my search to be able to have financial abundance or both.” Can you talk to us about what opens that door?

    Opening The Door To Financial Abundance

    Yeah. Well, this is what I’ve come to see at this moment in time and it’s about our life being for others. We think we want these things for ourselves, and I think when we have that kind of viewpoint, if that’s what’s leading the charge, I don’t think that evokes the same kind of magic if you will, as when we devote ourselves to other humans, just to others, to life. When we say, “I am here as a servant. I’m here. I want to bring love into my life so I can really love someone, so I can give all that I have to give,” which is a little different than, “So that this person will admire me and  do all these things for me.”

    A healthy partnership can be your greatest source of healing, energy, and inspiration for your work.CLICK TO TWEETIt’s like, “I want a creative business life where I’m bringing my best talents to lift up our suffering world in every way I can. I want to bring so much value to other people. I want to deliver value, value, value to others in the ways that are most meaningful, that lights me up and where I see other people come alive from my generosity.” I think when we lead with that kind of spirit, and not just in words, it’s actions. It’s actions we take every day to go out of our way for other people, really. I think when we do that, we become so magnetic. You know, you can’t keep people or projects away from us.

    Two questions here. One question is what about the people who are listening and saying, “I give, I give, I give, I give, I give, I give but I’m still not in a relationship. I’m in a relationship with people who I give to or I give, I give, I give but I’m not making much money.” They say, “Yeah, I love that service concept but there’s a depletion that comes because I’m not taking. I’m not receiving.”

    Well, you have to give to yourself too. You’re a part of the equation, and so it’s not just out there. There has to be a sense of energetic balance in the whole thing.

    Which is where your journey started with someone saying you should give to you. That was kind of the first step there.

    Yeah. Treat yourself like the number one person you’re responsible for, but that’s still a different lens that I think a lot of times, especially when people approach business, they are really looking at the financial gain picture that is leading the picture. I just don’t think that works if you’re trying to create a business with soul. If you’re trying to create a business that you know is filled with goodness and meaning, I don’t think that can come first. I think the value you’re bringing to other people comes first.

    I’m trying to not make it quite the same in the relationship world because I don’t think necessarily the business and the relationship thing are you know. I haven’t thought about that this much, Ken, so I don’t want to just group them together. That feels very clear to me in the business world. In the relationship world, what I see is just an infinity symbol, and this notion of utter reciprocity and generosity between you and another person where the outpouring of that is something that benefits your community. I can feel that. That makes sense to me.

    DDP 107 | Entrepreneur's Journey
    Entrepreneur’s Journey: If you’re trying to create a business filled with goodness and meaning, the value you’re bringing to other people comes first.

     

    In a sense, I see the connection between those being, that it’s about being in a state where you’re caring about love. Like when you’re in that place that you are caring about love, that is what you’re thinking about, and that’s what matters to you, that space makes all the difference I guess in both arenas, really. I know for me, my story is so similar to your story in so many ways. From growing up queer to a lot of pain, leading to a spiritual search and a spiritual path that I started in high school with a guru whose name is Yogananda, who has been my guru since I was like seventeen years old. Not really fitting into the college world or the academic world and kind of the importance of spirituality, and then really struggling with finding a relationship, and then finding it really late.

    So many deep connections, but I know that for me, which I think relates to what you’re saying. When I was in the place of looking, looking, looking, there was an emptiness inside. There was a stillness. Not a good stillness, an empty stillness inside of me, and when my longing for the reciprocity of love became the most important thing, well, there was a lot of pain with that, but that reciprocity of love, that was the thing that mattered the most, and that’s what changed things. I think that’s the key.

    Another big thing occurs to me, Ken, which is we’ve kind of placed the listener into this special like, “I’m going to magnetize. I’m going to manifest. I’m going to manifest the love in my life and I’m going to manifest the business thing in my life.” To be honest, I think that’s not how I see stuff, and I actually think it’s a little bit of an egoic overlay that we’re putting on the magic of life.

    Oh, how beautiful.

    If it’s more like the magic of life will deliver life through me, it will bring all the partners that I need. It will bring the email connections. It will bring the investors. It will bring the friends because life itself is teeming with intelligence and wanting to be in this gorgeous dialogue. My job is to be a patient participant, and to give what I have, but it’s not like it’s my show. You know what I mean. It’s more like I’m in a show and I’m listening and I’m looking and I’m seeing what has to happen. You know, there’s a teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh that has to do with things happen when conditions are sufficient. Conditions are sometimes sufficient not on our timetable.

    For example, with Sounds True, I have been on this journey for 37 years now. It’s not like it was so profitable for the first X number of years, but it was the thing that was right for me to do and I knew that. I wasn’t going to waiver from it like, “Oh, it hasn’t made this amount of return in this amount of time. I guess, I’ll hop to a different career.” I was like, “No, that’s not how the great mystics thought when they were creating a hermitage. They did it in a devotional style and how long might it take for this partner, for conditions to become sufficient for this person to come? We don’t know.” I look at it more like being a participant in a magical, creative, brilliant, sparkling world, and things happen when they happen.

    You know, usually, I have a lot to say but I find myself being completely silent when you say things like that. Very beautiful, very powerful, and that was a gift. In my podcast, I usually try to take some moments that feel important and turn them into practices. I would love to do that with our listeners with what you just said. We get taught so often this kind of force thing about manifesting. They really does have this I quality and this struggle quality and a pain around it. What you just said is, this is how I’m experiencing what you said, what about if we do this differently? What about if we enter into the search for love, life, abundanceentrepreneurship and creation by saying, “I want to step into the magic of life?”

    Stepping Into The Magic Of Life

    That’s going to be the medium, stepping into the magic of life. I think of those kids who are really good with jump rope, that could just step into this amazing kind of jump rope thing. They know when to step in, but I would invite everybody now to take a moment and imagine what would that mean for you, and I’m going to do the same, to step into the magic of life and have that be the way we approach our search for a career, our search for love. What if we did it by stepping into the magic of life? I encourage people to pause the recording if you like. I’m going to take a moment, but I just think that that was pure magic and I adore it.

    Well, also even this notion of stepping into it right here together, we could just fall into this very moment, which is this very moment right here. You and I, Ken, new friends. New friends who value each other and who see a kind of preciousness and this timing of the intersection of our lives together, whatever comes from it. We feel that, “Oh, my gosh,” wherever the listener is right now, right here, tuning into the quality of something like light in the room. What is light? What is it? Feeling or breathing, the miracle, the unbelievable savoring miracle of a full inhale, just take it in. Feel it, whatever part of your body, it touches your belly, your chest, your nose. I mean, this is exquisite.

    You don’t need a partner or a business or anything out of this moment of the inhale, the top of the inhale, the fullness. How full we are each with life at the top of the inhale, bursting? Then the exhale itself, which is a huge release and letting go, and then the interesting space at the end of the exhale, which has a kind of openness to it, no boundaries to it. That’s just one conscious breath, savored, enjoyed, supremely delighted in. I think when we have this kind of spirit and we keep living with that sense of utter appreciation, and it can even be something hard you discover inside in your experience when you’re breathing. Even if you hit some heartache or something, even that has a richness and intensity, and it’s sort of deeply fascinating, even if it’s difficult, and sometimes it can be difficult, but I think when we have that kind of attitude and we’re in present time, that’s where there’s so much power to actually celebrate all that we already have right here.

    May all the cells in our body serve others and bring them to inner discovery.CLICK TO TWEETWell, that was a beautiful spiritual ice cream sundae for everybody.

    Yeah and I think sometimes, we have our ice cream sundaes and then we put them aside, and we’re like, “Now the search is back on and the me-show is back. Like, that’s great. That’s my spiritual sundae,” which is okay. I mean, that’s over here when I do my practices or whatever but then it’s up to me to manifest this thing. What I’m actually offering is this idea that we can live more like that, and when we do, we find really a lot of opportunities are naturally coming to us.

    First of all, you become very magnetic. This is what I was saying to other people. If you’re like, “Well, people don’t seem very attracted to me or interested in me or dah, dah, dah.” Well, someone who’s in the present, who’s appreciating the sky, suddenly people are like, “I’d like to be sitting next to that person. I’d like to be in their presence, in the field of their being, because being around them is so calming. It’s so loving. It’s so warm. I love being near them.” I mean, we love being near people like that. I love being near people like that.

    Absolutely.

    It’s almost like being next to a fire when it’s slightly cold out or something. You’re warmed by such a person. In terms of relationships, it’s a way that people just want to be around you. “I want to be around you.” Then I think in terms of creative business life, I know I love having people on our team who are very open. Their minds are open and they are really present because what I know happens is that the best ideas come from working with people like that. They listen, listen, listen and suddenly, they say this thing and I’m like, “That’s cool.” I know there’s kind of enough space for the good new stuff to come and be part of the conversation. We’re not just recycling what other companies have done and other people have done, because we’re looking outside in a desperate search to copy the moneymaker out there. No, we’re listening. What’s ours to do? What’s the part we can contribute? There’s an openness to receive that.

    DDP 107 | Entrepreneur's Journey
    Entrepreneur’s Journey: When the universe is ready, and when conditions are sufficient, things will happen.

     

    You’re listening for that magic and then when you hear it, you go with it.

    Yeah. You can feel it.

    You know, what this is leading me to think about too is humility because you have that spiritual ice cream sundae. You have the beautiful connection to magic and I know for myself, what’s so often follows this is this humbling experience of seeing my clay feet when it comes to love, when it comes to business, when it comes to whatever. I just want to say something about the magic of that too, right? Like you were talking about this beauty not just coming out of happiness and fun, but out of suffering as well. I think that manifestation approach doesn’t let us be humble and stop and say, “I feel broken here. I don’t feel ready here. I feel scared here.” That’s part of the magic too, and the way that you speak invites that as well. I just want to make room for that treasure of not knowing, that treasure of feeling lost, of being humbled by seeing where we are not ready for the next step yet, and holding that with cupped hands.

    I hear what you’re saying. What occurs to me for a moment is something I learned from somebody I work with. This is somebody I’ve worked with now for the past six years. Her name is Sibyl. She has really powerful faith and trust, and she’s pretty gosh darn fearless when it comes to all the different projects that we’re doing at Sounds True. Many of which are very high risk and certainly might not work. I’ve been trying to understand, “How do you get this way? I want to get more of what you got. I want to have that kind of attitude.” She told me something. She’s like, “Look, Tami. I live by the 70/30 rule. The 70/30 rule is that I’m only responsible for 30% of what’s happening, and 70% of what’s happening is up to the universe. First of all, I’m only 30% here, and here’s the thing, I’m going to give 100% to my 30%. I’m going to give 100% to that, but I know I’m only responsible for 30% of what might happen.”

    What happened for me after hearing this from her is I started looking at projects that way, and I just started thinking, “Okay, I’m going to give 100% to my part, to my 30%. I’m talking ‘business speak’ here, just kidding with you Ken.” It’s like, “Of course, I’m going to respond and dot my I’s and follow through.” When I get an idea then I say to somebody, “I’m going to send you this,” I do 100% but that’s only 30% of the equation, and the rest is this huge letting go. It’s this huge letting go. When the universe is ready, when conditions are sufficient, these things will happen. I’m not taking it on as it’s up to me. I just did my part. What I’ve watched is it works incredibly well. It takes a lot of the pressure off.

    I get it. I instantly feel a relief of pressure, but tell me how it works well.

    It works well because it opens the space for unforeseen things to happen because you’re like, “Okay, 70% of this. I’m going to follow these little breadcrumbs when I see them, because that’s how the universe is playing with me.” Now remember, the universe is alive. We’re not like in some dead world where we humans are. The whole thing, everything, all the air molecules, all the Earth molecules, all of the dimensions we can’t see. It’s all living, breathing, interacting, interacting with our thoughts and feelings, everything. This very alive universe is also, “Oh, okay.” It attunes us to that. I also think it gets us out of this good me, bad me. I’m here talking about humility. There’s the, “Look what I did. I magnetized my partner and I built this great successful company and sold it for XYZ.” The universe gets the credit for these things.

    Seventy-percent.

    Yeah. I did my part and I played faithfully, and I did what I could. It’s naturally humbling in that sense, but it also gets us out of this self-flagellation that I think is so terrible like in terms of the timing of meeting a partner. Well, what if it’s like some problem you have? No. What if 70% is this universal timing thing? So relax about it in that sense.

    Your 30% is to step into whatever it is that you’re learning, whatever is the magic that is possible, whatever the dance is that’s in front of you. I love that. I think that’s so big too because I think that people define their success with love based on, are they in a good relationship now? I don’t think it works that way. I mean, yes, that’s a big deal to be in a loving good relationship. It really is but so many of the skills of love are love itself, and if you’re learning those skills, you can’t determine the success of your journey by, do you have a partner right now?

    Well, I’m going to say something weird, Ken. I haven’t said this to anybody but that’s okay. You know, I’ve been feeling very fortunate in my life about a couple of different things, and Julie, my wife, and I were talking about how we’re now, I’m using this as a metaphor so I’ll try to be quick here, but how we’re now working with a contractor that we really want to work with to do some remodeling in our house and how fortunate we are that he’s available next summer, because in Boulder right now, it’s very hard to get contractors. They’re booked out years in advance and everything. I thought to myself, “You know, like with so many things, we had to fire the old contractor that wasn’t working.”

    The best ideas come from working with people whose minds are open and present.CLICK TO TWEETIt’s not so much like, “Okay, this person I just described to you that I work with.” I bless my lucky stars that I get to work with this woman named Sibyl. I feel so fortunate like how could the universe have brought me my business soulmate, if you will, like this? Oh, my God, and yet I had to break up with a couple of other people, previously, before Sibyl came on the scene, and breaking up with those other people was really hard. Business breakups are hard. I knew it wasn’t right, though I had to muster all my courage. I thought if anything, this is getting to my point here, the gratitude I have. I’m like, “God, I feel so lucky that I did the hard work of getting out of the situations that weren’t working.” Then the universe, over time as I grew, delivered something to me, but getting out of those previous situations was tough.

    Inner MBA Program

    Oh, saying no is so hard and so liberating and so important, so thank you for making space for that too. Tami, you’ve shared all these practices and these concepts that are just delicious and powerful and revelatory. Can you talk a little bit about this Inner MBA Program that you have created for people who might want to learn more of these tools and really apply them?

    Sure. Well, I think one of the things that are really important to me is that our work relationships, just like our intimate relationships, become part of our growth path as individuals. People often say that intimate relationships are the crucible for spiritual growth and development. True. Well, now we have these relationships with all these people we work with. They’re not our intimate love relationships. They’re our relationships at work. I have learned and grown so much from the people that I’ve worked with. I would go so far as to say that the workplace can be, and needs to be, a crucible for personal growth. The reason I say that is even for people who are maybe not signing on to say, “I want to do a lot of deep therapy work, et cetera.” They’re working with other people.

    DDP 107 | Entrepreneur's Journey
    Entrepreneur’s Journey: The universe is alive. Everything is living, breathing, and interacting with our thoughts and feelings.

    If you start creating that as the norm, for example, at Sounds True, we have a commitment. We are committed to grow and transform. It’s one of our core values. It’s part of what we’re doing. That means that we say things to other people like, “When you interact X, Y, Z way with me, it shuts me down in the meeting instead of creating an opening for me to bring forward my ideas,” or “Do you realize that that’s your own kind of fear of being left out that’s putting you into all these meetings that you don’t really need to be in? That may not be the best use of your time,” and so committing to the workplace being a place of personal growth is a really important idea to me and that’s because like you, I want people to grow.

    I want to grow myself and I want other people to grow because I have a vision of a different kind of society where people have a different level of self-awareness and personal accountability and responsibility. I think the workplace can be that incubator. Knowing this and experimenting with this for many years at Sounds True, I started seeing what some of the core ideas were that really support that kind of growth and development. First of all, you have to have a level of self-awareness. You have to know that managing yourself is actually the most important job for anybody, whether you’re a manager of other people or not. That means managing your reactivity, starting to know your own mind and heart, the skills of emotional intelligence at work, how to have difficult conversations, how to speak from a place of vulnerability and listen deeply to other people, how to recognize the cognitive diversity that’s in the room, as well as all the other forms of diversity, visible and invisible, and what that means to let each person at work show up as a unique soul at work.

    What is their unique perspective and how that’s what actually creates exceptional teamwork when the best is brought out at everybody, how to create that kind of psychological safety at work. I could keep going here, but you’re getting the notion. These are all of the skills that we decided to bake into the Inner MBA because unlike a traditional MBA that teaches you accounting, finance strategy, fundraising, etc., this teaches you how to grow as a person, knowing that the more you grow as an individual, you’ll be able to bring that to your workplace and grow with other people and grow your business too.

    It’s so wonderful because then the skills of intimacy are the skills of a workplace and the skills of business, because all the skills you’re describing are the skills of intimacy.

    I think the skills of intimacy become the skills in business, and we get a lot of reflections in our business world that help us also in our intimate relationships. I think too often in the past, the idea of a successful entrepreneur, first of all, only 4% of all businesses in the United States right now are run by women, have female CEOs. Most of the CEOs historically have been men, and after spending a bunch of time talking to many CEOs, I also discovered that a lot of them did not have what I would call very intimate relationships. Meaning they’re traveling 50 weeks who has time to be a husband or a father. That’s an old model, and I think it’s a model that actually doesn’t serve us as individuals, and I don’t think it serves our culture either because then you have children growing up without fathers because they’re gone out being the warrior making money.

    For example, one of the things at Sounds True that’s been so important to us is to support mothers and fathers and having the time to be family people, to be with their families, to have flexible jobs where they can prioritize that. We want you to be family people. Don’t make those kinds of sacrifices for the corporation. We’re going to be fine. The more you are whole with your family, the more your creative heart will come to the company and that’s going to benefit our business. I think it’s important to have a different vision of success and I think that’s part of what the Inner MBA is about. It’s about creating businesses that say, “Yes, of course, we’re interested in financial flourishing but primarily, we’re interested in human flourishing.” Humans flourishing together.

    Yes. That’s the principle that all of this radiates out from.

    Yes and it’s a nine-month immersion training. We created online training in partnership with LinkedIn and then also Wisdom 2.0, which is an organization that brings together a conversation with technology leaders and wisdom leaders, and then also a division of NYU called MindfulNYU. We’ve all partnered together to create this nine-month online training, really to change the world of business so that business supports human growth, human flourishing, and becomes a force for good in the world with the goal, because once we have our hearts online, we want to bake that into everything we do at work. You know, what’s interesting is we’ve had a CEO storytelling track. We’ve had, for example, Rose Marcario, who’s the former CEO of Patagonia, a $1.5 billion company, Joey Bergstein the CEO of Seventh Generation, half billion dollar company, Eileen Fisher, half billion dollar company, Steve Macadam who’s been running a dual bottom line company, a manufacturing company called Enpro, a public company doing close to $2 billion in sales.

    These principles and these ideas are not just for the feel good ice cream sundae spiritual teaching company of Sounds True. I’m going to remember that one. Meaning it’s not just this small little niche. Sure, niche businesses are great too but these ideas can scale and they will be the businesses of the future. You know, this is really interesting. It just happened today, Ken. Soren Gordhamer who’s the Founder of Wisdom 2.0, sent me a video clip from Mark Cuban, who’s one of the panelists on Shark Tank. Mark Cuban is saying, “It’s great to be an entrepreneur but you know what’s even greater? To be a compassion entrepreneur, where compassion is part of what you do at your company and for the world, and even the companies that are coming on Shark Tank, the companies that are being run by people in their 20s and 30s, there’s almost always a kind of give back component, and they’re looking to bake in this kind of a compassionate activity into the business itself.” This is also an emerging wave. We say at Sounds True, conscious business rising. It’s happening. It’s the future. It’s what customers will demand of businesses.

    I think the research shows that if you’re going against the cultural current to go in this direction of compassion in the world of business, you need support, right? You need people who remind you and support you and have your back as you go against so much of the current in current business.

    Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot at stake here too. What I mean by that is I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re in an urgent situation on the planet, and that this is going to take all of us collaborating with each other to create continuity for the human species in the next twenty-plus years. The whole idea that we can be, “Well, wait a second, wait a second. Business primarily has to be about this other thing.” Well, no, that’s not what time it is on planet earth. It’s a different time. It’s a time where all boats need to rise together. All of us need to rise together into a new connected, compassionate species for our continuation, and I think people are feeling it. I feel it.

    Yes, you sure do and you reflect it and you radiate it. I think this opportunity to step into the magic is just something that you really, really convey, and it’s so exciting to think about that in our search for love and our search for success in our life and abundance. I experience such a deep welcome from you in that direction.

    I’m going to say something, Ken, a little bit because I noticed when you say step into the magic, there’s a moment where I say, “I’d like to say it differently.” Be the magic. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to split hairs or anything but I think the language is important because step into the magic, it’s almost like there’s this mat, there’s you over here and you’re not it. You’re the confused person, the seeking person, the person who wants more money and more love now, et cetera, and then you can step into this magic. What I’m saying actually is you are the magic. You’re breathing. You’re magical right now because you’re alive. You’re an alive interconnected part of this huge web of being. You’re it. You’re the magic. That’s almost like just coming to that recognition. That’s it.

    Relationships are the crucible for spiritual growth and development.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s the stepping into it. That’s like stepping into yourself. I guess it’s like saying yes in a way, saying yes to an invitation.

    Yes. You know, part of me is like, “Oh, my God. When did I become like the unicorn rainbow person?” Like I’m on the back of a unicorn and a rainbow. Be the magic, you know.

    No, no, noI’m sorry. This is hard work. This is real stuff.

    It is real stuff and it is 100% available to each and every one of us listening right now.

    So beautiful. I was going to ask you if you had any closing words and those are gorgeous closing words. I think, Tami, you are an invitation to that.

    Well, thank you. Thanks, Ken. You know, your warmth brings out my authenticity. What I would say to people listening is we can spend a lot of time in our skeptic mind. Believe me. I have a strong, rational skeptic mind. I have my whole life and there’s a healthiness in that, but if you are a good, healthy skeptic, you want to experiment and see what the results are of experimentation, and let the experiments give you feedback. Experiment with relishing the present moment being the magic and see what happens. Just do it for a while and see what happens. See what happens in your connections with other people. See what happens in your creative life, in your generative life. Experiment with it.

    This is such a message, such an invitation and I think that applies everywhere. Like I said, I think you are that invitation and I feel it. I just love this and it’s playtime, everybody. We get to play with that invitation. Tami, can you tell people how they can learn more from you? How they could learn more about the Inner MBA Program? How they can learn more about Sounds True? How they can follow you, et cetera?

    Come visit us at SoundsTrue.com. It’s all there and the Inner MBA Program has a special URL as well in our InnerMBAProgram.com. Come check us out. Lots of free resources. We’d love to have you come be part of Sounds True. There’s a place where you can join our email list and then you’ll find out all the things that are happening all the time.

    Tami, thank you so much for living what matters so much to you and this was just a joy. This was one of the most wonderful interviews that I feel like I’ve ever done. Thank you so much for being here.

    Thanks, Ken. Thank you. Thanks, everyone.

    Thank you, everyone and we’ll see you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Watch the episode here:

    Important Links:

    About Tami Simon

    Tami Simon is the Founder of Sounds True, a multi-media publisher based in Boulder, Colorado.
    Tami started Sounds True in 1985 at the age of 22 with a clear purpose: to disseminate spiritual wisdom.
    Over its 36-year history, Sounds True has produced over 3,000 learning programs with the world’s leading wisdom teachers and has twice been named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in North America.
    Tami also hosts the popular Sounds True podcast, Insights at the Edge, which has now been downloaded more than 20 million times.
    She is also the founder of Sounds True’s Inner MBA Program, now in its second year, a 9-month immersion program that trains entrepreneurs, managers and employees on the inner wisdom skills needed for outer business success.
    Tami lives in Boulder, Colorado with her partner of 20+ years, Julie M Kramer, and their two spoodles, Raspberry and Bula.

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  • How To Reclaim Self-Love When It Goes Away [EP106]

    Listen to the podcast here:

    Deeper Dating Podcast

    Sometimes life and love just feel too hard. Sometimes it seems like self-love has gone into hiding. In this episode, I’ll teach you a few powerful tools for reclaiming that beautiful experience of self-love, even in the most challenging situations.

    Table of Contents

    How To Reclaim Self-Love When It Goes Away

    How To Find Your Sense Of Self

    All of us have times when we feel like we just can’t navigate the complexities of love, where we feel like we’re losing ourselves. In this episode, I’m going to teach you some powerful tools to reclaim yourself at those times when love and relationships just seem too complicated. Stay tuned to this episode of 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 the book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a site where single people can meet in an environment that is fun, inspiring, kind and respectful. Today, I’m going to teach some tools for handling those times we feel we just can’t navigate love and relationships. This week and every 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 skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy 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, get free gifts, and see transcripts of every episode. I also just want to say that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological symptoms, please seek professional help. Of course, if you like what you’re learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that.

    You can stand on a rock in this moving current of river called life and still have yourself.CLICK TO TWEETToday, I want to speak about the experience of not having a self or more specifically, having a hole where our sense of healthy self is supposed to be. It’s not a good feeling. It’s something we think we shouldn’t have, but it’s so much of what we do end up having in the course of this strange life that we live and in the course of learning the skills of love. There are pockets where we just don’t know, and even worse than just not knowing, there’s a “missingness” inside. Today I’m going to offer some tools for healing those places of “missingness” inside, of emptiness, of feeling like, “I just can’t do this. I’m missing a piece of me. There’s something defective in me. There’s something broken in me. I don’t have the skills.” I think in the face of this strange and treacherous life, and in the face of the strange and treacherous, often, experience of intimacy, and the mystery of what happens in love, we’re so often confronted with that experience. I think as we grow, we learn the skills to lose ourselves less. Even when we don’t know who we are, even when we’re bewildered and in pain and stuck, we learn these skills. I think of it as trying to cross a wide river and that experience like, “There’s no way I can do this. I can’t do it. There’s no place for me to stand. I can’t get through.”

    In my life, there have been so many of those times and there still are many of those times, but especially when I was younger, that terrible place of, “I just don’t know. I don’t have the tools. I don’t have the ground to stand on.” After so many experiences of confronting that very painful place, and finding the tools of discovering myself, the image is like this river that I need to cross and all of a sudden, there’s a rock underneath my feet. I can stand on that rock in this moving current of river and still have myself. What I want to teach today is some wonderful tools for how to build those rock experiences, these rocks that we can stand on in the river of this mystery of love and life, and feel a sense of wholeness and connectedness.

    Tools For Developing Rock Spaces

    I don’t know and I don’t think any of us ever have an experience where the path across that river becomes one that we could just simply walk across. There are these places where the water is rushing and we can’t get through. If we’re lucky, there’s a rock that we could step on to of a sense of self, a memory of self, a tool that we’ve learned, something that we can do so that we can move further on the river, but there’s always this rushing river of not having ground to stand on and not knowing ourselves. That’s just so much a part of being human. By the experience of self-honoring, we can cultivate the experience of having rocks beneath our feet that we can step on in love. I’m going to share some tools for developing those kinds of rock spaces. I’m going to ask you to remember times when there wasn’t ground for you to stand on, that you figured out a way to create ground to stand on. That became a rock for you. What kind of wisdom tool that you had in your life? Guaranteed, every one of you has those.

    When we see what those are, they come together to form a mission of our deepest life lessons, the things that get us through the river of life with wisdom. I’m just going to share a few that I know, and that many people I know have experienced. I just want you to remember and we’re going to start with that experience of, “There’s not a rock for me to stand on here.” There’s not a steppingstone. There’s just a sense of not rightness, not “okayness”, emptiness, “flawedness”, brokenness. Have you ever been in a relationship and had a really bad feeling of suffocation, and then felt like, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling suffocated? I should really be fine in this relationship. My partner is fine. Why do I feel like I can’t breathe? Why do I feel like there’s no air for me? Why do I feel like I want to flee?” Maybe a feeling of numbness where the other person is feeling, but you are kind of feeling nothing, and you feel bad that you’re feeling nothing. These are places that have been groundless places for me in my own intimacy journey. I’ve had to learn such important things about those places. Have you ever experienced those things?

    Highly sensitive people often feel a sense of suffocation or needing space.CLICK TO TWEETThe feeling of suffocation in an intimate relationship for me is a big one. When I learned about Elaine Aron‘s work with highly sensitive people, and I learned that highly sensitive people often feel that kind of sense of suffocation or needing space. That was really helpful for me to begin to understand who I was, when I realized and I could admit that my suffocation was a sign. It’s pretty obvious but to me, it just felt like a defect. It was a sign that I needed more space. Something was happening inside me or in my interaction with the other person where I literally didn’t have enough space, and I needed to somehow reclaim that sense of space. That insight gave me ground to stand on instead of just feeling like I am just so dysfunctional with love. That’s one example.

    Feeling Reduced And Minimized

    Have you ever felt that kind of sense of suffocation in a relationship and learned a skill, and actually through your interactions with yourself or the other person heal that, fix that and get past that? Just take a minute to think. Here’s another one. Feeling somehow “less than” because of who you are in an intimate relationship. That experience of feeling reduced, less than, minimized, maybe because you had a need that was not being met, or maybe because the other person was somehow degrading you, controlling you, somehow dishonoring you or not honoring you fully enough, or you were doing that yourself. That feeling of being less than, that horrible feeling of being less than. Have you ever experienced that and been able to get past it, get through it and get out of it?

    DDP 106 | Self-Love
    Self-Love: By the experience of self-honoring, we can cultivate the experience of having rocks beneath our feet that we can step on in love.

    What helped you do that? For me, one of the things that helped me was once again finding that it’s not that I was less than, it was that a part of me was somehow feeling diminished in the interaction, which made me feel bone-deep less than, but when I could acknowledge, “Here’s a valid piece of me that I need to actually be able to express and bring out not in a hostile, cruel way, but somehow make room for.” Have you ever had that experience where you grew enough to be able to make room for a part of yourself like that? What was that for you? What was that experience where you felt “less than”, and then you did something, and you were able to find ground beneath your feet, and stop feeling less than and feel like a whole being?

    These are memories of micro triumphs that become the building blocks for a life that we could live with a sense of wisdom and possibility and being able. This is from my book, Deeper Dating. I say that honoring the worth of our emotions, no matter what they are or how little, we or other people understand them, is a skill that changes the entire tenor of our lives. When we learn to honor our authentic experience, we discover the deep gift that lies in the heart of that experience, whatever it is. What I’m going to do now is I’m going to offer some big self-doubt questions, places where there’s not going to be ground beneath our feet when we’re self-doubting like this, and then I’m going to offer a self-honoring question that we can replace that with, that doesn’t just make us feel better, it helps us find self because those places where there’s no ground beneath our feet are places where we are not cherishing, honoring and feeling a sense of self.

    When we feel that sense of self, there’s a sense of connectedness to the heart of the world.CLICK TO TWEETWhen we feel that sense of self, there’s a sense of connectedness to the heart of the world. When we feel that we’re somehow okay, because disconnectedness is the most painful state there is, that’s why solitary confinement is such a cruel and destructive punishment because it separates us from our sense of connectedness. There’s just nothing more terrible that could happen. Each of these questions, when you replace the self-doubt question with the self-honoring question, you will feel the glimmer of a sense of self, the solidity of a feeling of ground beneath your feet, the sense that there’s a path that you could take to move forward and where you want to go, and a connectedness to the good heart of the world. Here are some of those questions. What’s wrong with me for feeling this way? Think about a time that you have thought that and imagine replacing that with, in what way is this feeling actually really make sense, given who I am and what I care about, and what I’ve experienced, and why this matters to me?

    Fear Of Other Peoples’ Opinions

    When we ask that, we make room for our humanity. All of a sudden, it’s literally the feeling of ground beneath our feet. Here’s another one. What will people think of me? These are all such human ones, but I think you could sense that when you get lost in them, it’s just that feeling of a lack of ground beneath our feet. What will people think of me? The replacement for that is, what do I think of this? Whatever it is that I think or feel about this, how is that authentically a part of who I am? I remember a moment in therapy. I was with a therapist who, ultimately, I was not so thrilled with and was not a great therapist for me, but there was one thing that happened. I was in a relationship with the boss, and I talked a lot about what she thought of me and how she saw me. My therapist said to me, “Well, how do you see her?” I thought that that was a great question, but then she went further and she explained to me, “The minute you disconnect from your eyes and how you perceive the world, you will be prey to this experience of a terrible sense of vulnerability to how other people see you. The healing from that is the going back to what you see, and what you notice. The lack of being able to do that creates a vacuum inside, which always gets filled with masochistic situations where we over worry about what other people think of us.”

    DDP 106 | Self-Love
    Self-Love: There’s a valid piece of you that you need to be able to express and bring out, not in a hostile, cruel way, but somehow make room for.

     

    Just pause for a moment and just say, “These are such rich tools of intimacy.” I would like for you to take a moment and think of a big lesson of intimacy, whatever it was, where there wasn’t ground beneath your feet, and you did something or said something or reached out to someone who really saw you and knew you, and you were able to go from that place of that bad state of just not having ground beneath your feet, not having a warm and good sense of positive self, and you did something that helped you find that. Just take a minute to remember that. What was that? What did you do and how might that be thematic for your life intimacy journey? Here’s another one. How can I fix this part of me because I am just not attractive as long as this part of me is not fixed? Here’s the replacement question. Here’s the wisdom question. The path that leads you to the heart and the worth of your humanity, and also to a lot of discovery, what does that part of me need now? How does that need actually make sense?

    The Need To Toughen Up

    Here’s another one. I need to toughen up. I am too sensitive. Just take a minute to think about the times that you may have felt that. What if that was replaced with, I’m actually not going to toughen up because this is how sensitive I am. This is what I feel. What if my strength was a more flexible strength that came from honoring that vulnerability, and then making choices that took care of it? Instead of trying to get rid of it, step on it, suppress it, bury it or make it tougher. It’s in that act of self-honoring, of finding the spaciousness to self-honor, the room to self-honor that so many of those deep and strange hole spots inside of us are healed and soothed and changed. That is about honoring self. That terrible painful space is about the dishonoring of self.

    It’s in that act of self-honoring those deep and strange whole spots inside of us that we are healed, soothed, and changed.CLICK TO TWEET 

    DDP 106 | Self-Love
    Deeper Dating: How to Drop The Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

     

    I just want to read something from my book, Deeper Dating. “In the long run, it’s the act of honoring that is the antidote to our bewilderment and the path to our own unique genius. The act of self-treasuring may be challenging but ultimately, it’s the most comforting path of all. Every other path hurts. Everything else is broken glass, sharp brambles in our side. Honoring is the skill that enables us to live the beauty of our hearts and the mission of our gifts in the world. It requires giving up the whip we wield against ourselves. It requires a kindness, listening to our gifts”, which makes me think of those treasured, awesome, wonderful people in our lives who treat us that way, and how those people are gold for us.

    I just want to say that sometimes the river is really deep, really scary, really cascading and intense, and we can’t get across it. Sometimes there are times like that, and then we just need to stand there and honor and have awe for the vastness, the intensity of what’s going on there, and to be able to stand right where we are and be able to feel ourselves. I’ve been really inspired by someone very dear to me who was just diagnosed with cancer. Pretty significant situation and really difficult. I was talking to her and she said to me, “The first thing I had to do so that I could have myself back, what I needed to do was I needed to wrap my head around what the worst-case scenario could be.” She said, “That’s not for everybody but for me, I needed to do that so I could reclaim myself in the presence of this very big and scary thing.”

    DDP 106 | Self-Love
    Self-Love: The minute you disconnect from your eyes and how you perceive the world, you will be prey to this experience of a terrible sense of vulnerability to how other people see you.

     

    I want to share with you something that she heard from a dear friend of hers. That dear friend who also had had cancer said that when she found out she had cancer, she said, “My first question was, am I going to live? If I am going to live, everything else is solely about adaptation. If I’m not going to live, then that as well is about adaptation.” I just thought this was so powerful. I had such honor and respect for this very dear person in my life. I want to close with just a sense of that amazing, earned experience of finding self when it sometimes can be so hard to find self. I want to acknowledge you and me, and all of us for those amazing wisdom tools that we have cultivated to help us find self in these difficult times because that is a treasure and that’s a treasure that doesn’t go away. That’s one of the great treasures of the intimacy journey. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

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  • Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex [EP105]

    Listen to the podcast here:

    Deeper Dating Podcast

    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

    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.

    Pain is part of the pain of loving.CLICK TO TWEET

    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.

    DDP 105 | Questions About Love
    Questions About Love: Don’t worry so much about making your wants and needs known, feeling that you’ll make yourself appear less worthy because you expressed them.

     

    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.

    DDP 105 | Questions About Love

    Questions About Love: Choose to be in the presence of people with whom, when you do share your wants and needs, they don’t shame you. Instead, they treat you with honor and value, and they listen.

     

    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.

    Unhealthy Relationships

    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.

    DDP 105 | Questions About Love
    Questions About Love: It is okay to want to feel the safety of stability, monogamy, and marriage. It is not for everybody, but you have every right not have to pathologize it.

     

    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.

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  • Addiction And Love: An Interview With Rob Weiss, Ph.D. [EP104]

    Addiction in all its forms has powerfully impacted so many of our lives. In this episode, I interview Dr. Rob Weiss, the world-renowned expert on addiction and love. If you’ve ever struggled with issues of addiction in the lives of the people you love–or even in your own life–then I truly encourage you not to miss this episode.

    Table of Contents

    Addiction And Love: An Interview With Rob Weiss, Ph.D.

    A Compassionate New Understanding

    If you have questions or concerns about addiction of all sorts and its impact on you, your family, and your relationship, this is an interview you shouldn’t miss. Today, I talked to Dr. Rob Weiss, a world-renowned expert on addiction and relationships, and what he has to say simply should not be missed. Stay tuned to this episode of 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 platform for people to meet in a way that is kind, respectful and based on the real principles of deeper intimacy that I speak about on this podcast. I’m so excited today because I’m going to be interviewing my good friend, Dr. Rob Weiss, who is a globally renowned expert in the treatment of adult intimacy disorders and related addictions. We’re going to be speaking about addiction and how that impacts our relationship lives, our lives as a whole, and how we can address issues of addiction in our relationships. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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 nothing more than the skills of intimacy, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy, meaningful 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 receive some free gifts and learn more about using these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. I also want to say that everything I share and that Rob shares in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice. Finally, if you like what you’re hearing and learning here, it would be wonderful if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that and let’s dive in.

    Let me tell you a little bit about Rob and the work that he does. Dr. Weiss is the Chief Clinical Officer of Seeking Integrity Treatment Centers, working with sex, porn, and drug-addicted men. He’s an expert in the treatment of adult intimacy disorders and related addictions, most notably sex, porn, and relationship addictions. He’s a 25-year addiction specialist and a clinical sexologist, and a practicing psychotherapist. He’s created intimacy-focused clinical treatment programs in the United States, around the world, and for the US military.

    He’s also a subject matter expert for major media, including CNN, The New York Times, and Newsweek, among others. He is the author of ten books, among which are Prodependence: Moving Beyond CodependencySex Addiction 101Out of the Doghouse and Cruise Control among others. He’s also a weekly writer for Psychology Today. His blog Love and Sex in the Digital Age has had over eighteen million readers to date. His wonderful podcast, which I’m excited that I’m going to be appearing on or maybe by this point, will have appeared on already, which is ‎Sex, Love, & Addiction, was rated as a Top 10 US addiction podcast with over 550,000 downloads since 2019. It’s deeply impressive. When we speak, you will have a much richer understanding of why that is. Rob, I’m so glad to have you on the show.

    Hey, Ken. I’m glad to be here.

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love
    Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency

    Rob, I think that this is such an important subject, and it’s not one that we have covered much in detail in this podcast. Although I do speak about the issues that come up when we are in a relationship with someone who has an active addiction or if we do ourselves. I would love to just hear your general thoughts for this audience, for anybody who is struggling with being in a relationship where there is some form of addiction. Either their partner, they have a sense that their partner has some form of addiction or that they sensed that they do, and are troubled and trying to figure out what to do next. Very globally, if you could just share some thoughts to help us dive in.

    I think you are starting with loved ones, partners, family members. When you have someone in your life who’s addicted, you understand that addicts are very clever, especially when it comes to doing everything they can to be secretive and hide their addiction. Ken, we were talking about this earlier, and I actually think that it is very hard for someone close to a loved one to know that there’s an addiction until they run straight into it. If you see the heroin, if you find the bottles hidden all over the house, if you see all the bills for the sex workers and the porn, then you’ve got some information that tells you, “Wow. There’s a lot more going on here than maybe I thought about, or maybe at least we need to talk about it.” Addicts tend to live in a very secret world that is separate from their day-to-day life.

    I think the things you would most see are things like they lose time. They say they’re going somewhere and they’re not there. They tell you they’re going to be home at a certain time, then when they’re not, they say, “Well, I never said that time.” They lie. They manipulate the beliefs of those close to them to feel like they’re wrong. In other words, this is frog in the boiling water metaphor. I think that’s a lot of families and spouses of addicts where things start out not so great, and then they get worse and worse and worse, but the person becomes adapted to it. It’s almost easier for the neighbor to see that your husband is a drunk than it is for you sometimes.

    You are articulating one particular quality here as well, which is dishonesty, a lack of integrity. Would you say that’s true?

    This is why I named my treatment program, Seeking Integrity. Integrity comes from the word integration. Integration is to be one person without secrets, without surprises. To be an addict is to be disintegrated, that you have different parts of your life in different places and they never meet. I think the secret life of an addict is often well hidden. Sometimes it can be your next-door neighbor who sees that your husband is a drunk before you do, because partners are often in kind of a frog in the boiling water situation where things are getting worse and worse and worse, but they’re used to it, and they’re used to it, and they’re used to it, and sometimes they don’t see the problem in front of them.

    It’s so easy to want to believe your partner. Just believe them even though something doesn’t feel right. It’s so easy to make that choice even though it may not be the wisest choice, and with addicts, that happens a lot.

    To be an addict is to be disintegrated; you have different parts of your life in different places, and they never meet.CLICK TO TWEETKen, you have to think about the fact that we all want to believe that those closest to us have our back, that their primary thing in the world when they go out there is to do whatever they need to do, but to not do anything that will hurt us, that will let us down or that they know would cause harm to our families. That’s what addicts do routinely. They do things all the time that are going to hurt their families, hurt their loved ones, hurt themselves, and they don’t talk about it. It’s kept a secret. It really isn’t found out until the partner runs into some major issue.

    Rob, what would you say about someone who’s in a relationship? They don’t necessarily know that there is an addiction issue. They don’t have kind of palpable proof of that, but they see a pattern of dishonesty, and that they know, that they recognize.

    I think you trust your gut. Every partner I’ve ever worked with and family members said, “There’s something not right. They seem disconnected. They seem to be in places where they didn’t say they were going to be. I’m hearing hints that they left work earlier.” You just get bits and pieces. I think, for people close to the addict, they feel the sense that something is not right, and they feel little pieces of it in different areas, but they can’t quite put their finger on it.

    One thing I wanted to say to you, Ken, is that when we love somebody, we don’t ever want to think badly of them. We will work hard to not think badly of the people we love because they’re the ones who are closest to us. I think of the mom who’s, God forbid, her kid killed five people. They say to the mom, “Hey mom, we’re really sorry to say but your kid did this.” The first thing mom says is, “Not my kid. There’s no way. He would never do anything like that. He’s a good kid.” That’s because when you’re close to someone, you don’t want to and can’t see some of what’s going on, but I’ll tell you what. Your next-door neighbor is going to see it when you can’t.

    Rob, let’s talk about sex addiction some here. Let’s talk about people who are listening to the show, who are wondering, “Might I have some sex addiction or porn addiction? I do feel like I watch porn too much. I do feel like I lose time doing that, but it doesn’t really get in the way of my life in any really big ways. It concerns me. I don’t know how it’s going to affect my sex life with my partner or my dating life. I just don’t know. I feel a little funny about it, but I’m not sure how to evaluate it.” I would just love to hear any of your thoughts about how to evaluate when something is sex addiction or porn addiction. What are the different levels of harm? How should we evaluate that in our own lives for everyone who’s wondering?

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love
    Addiction And Love: Some people may think they have an addiction, but it might be more of a mental health problem.

    I think in terms of addiction in general, what you said was really useful. You said, “I don’t know if I have a problem. I can’t see whether it’s really affecting my life or not.” The thing is, when you are an addict or you’re someone who is hiding things from others, you’re also hiding things from yourself. Work might diminish a little bit. Your relationship might diminish a little bit, your time with your kids, whatever it is. You may not see it as like you said, “I don’t know whether I’m an addict or not because my life hasn’t completely fallen apart.” Well, it may be falling apart in a whole bunch of ways that you don’t see or you don’t want to see, but someone else might step in and say, “You know what? I’m concerned about this.”

    I guess that might be the first thing is have people show concern about your sexual behavior, your romantic behavior, you’re drinking, you’re using. Have other people said, “Gee, I’m a little worried about this and you don’t pay any attention?” Have you found yourself saying, “I’m going to stop looking at this porn. It’s in the way,” or “I’m going to stop drinking,” or whatever it is and then found that, “Gosh, darn it,” a week later, you were back at it again? Even though you make promises to yourself and you made them to other people, you couldn’t keep them. That’s a really big sign of addiction.

    Another one is consequences. “I’m going to have somebody at work find out. I’m going to have an arrest. I’m going to have a DUI. I’m going to get a disease.” Despite that, “I’m just going to fix the little problem that that caused and go back to the behavior.” I mean healthy people say, “Wow. Look what that behavior caused. I’m not going to do that again.” Addicts say, “How can I keep doing that thing without it becoming more of a problem?”

    That’s beautiful and a really important point. Specifically, now let’s just talk about porn addiction. What are the markers that you have crossed over? In addition to the one that you just said that you’ve crossed over to a place where harm is happening, and what is the harm that happens in a relationship where one of the partners has a porn addiction?

    Let me say a couple of things. Before you get to partners, let’s talk about how it affects the individual. A couple of things, there are different kinds of people who have porn problems. To be really honest, I don’t use the word porn addict because we don’t really have a diagnosis called that. We don’t really have research that speaks to who is a porn addict and who isn’t. This is part of the problem, Ken, is that people can have all kinds of problems related to porn. For example, they can become isolated and not go out in the world and not be socializing and not be dating. For some men, they can lose their ability to have erections. They can lose their ability and interest in being sexual with other adult human beings.

    You are as strong today as your connections and relationships, not just your ability to succeed.CLICK TO TWEETPorn abuse, if you will, can affect your life in a whole variety of ways, but they basically have to do with you don’t show up for your life because you’re too busy spending hours and hours at home with your porn or wherever you are. I think there’s something else too. That problems with porn, a couple of things, it’s easier to use that word, they can come from various things. Someone might have a mental health disorder and they’re manic. They’re going to be crazy around porn. Someone might have ADD or OCD, other mental health issues that involve the same part of the brain as compulsivity and impulsivity. They may think they have an addiction, but it might more be a mental health problem.

    There are many places that this problem we call porn addiction can come from, but people need different kinds of help.

    For example, there’s a young person who started looking porn when they were 9 or 11. They looked at it all the way through high school. Now they’ve gotten through it and they haven’t built social relationships. They’re not dating, and they’ve gotten further and further away from having a life because of the porn, but maybe when they were younger, when they were 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, they had a life. Their life is diminished because of the porn. There are others who really have an addiction problem related to sex and it isn’t just porn. They’re also engaged in sex workers and cam people online, and they’re going on apps. They have more broad problems with porn. There are even folks who, let’s say, have strong moral or religious objections to porn, but they can’t help but look at it.

    They hate themselves even if they look a few times because they feel it’s so against their values and beliefs. Some of those people call themselves addicts simply because their sexual behavior goes against their values and beliefs. There is no one thing I would call a porn addict, but it certainly comes down to the time you spend, the reduction of your intimacy in your relationships, the isolation. I’ve got to say that of all the people I work with sexual problems, porn addicts are the most ashamed. They are the most embarrassed, the men in particular, because who wants to be that guy who’s sitting around by yourself masturbating to porn and not having relationships, not being sexual with people, being isolated with the porn? Nobody wants to be that guy or gal.

    Or being in a relationship and knowing it’s creating a wall between you and your partner.

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love

    Addiction And Love: Some people call themselves addicts simply because their sexual behavior goes against their values and beliefs.

    It’s interesting, Ken. I’ve worked with recently a whole bunch of people who have had porn problems often into their relationships. They come to treatment at Seeking Integrity and they are 45, and they have been lying about their porn use to their spouses for twenty years. Their spouse may have caught a little. They saw it. The person promised, “I won’t look at it as much,” or “It’s no big deal,” or whatever they said, but slowly, the intimacy went out of the relationship. Slowly, they became less and less sexual. Slowly, he or she couldn’t figure out where their partner is disappearing to. When in fact, they’re losing them to porn use or any addiction that happens to be going on.

    Now let’s talk about people who are aware that their partner has a porn addiction, a little guidance about what to do, how to handle that, how to address it.

    I think with every addict, you have to be direct and talk about what’s true for you. One of the things that I think partners and family members are often fearful of is, “Oh my goodness. If I confront this person, if I challenge this person, if I really get upset about this, maybe they’ll use more. Maybe they’ll look at more porn.” In other words, “Maybe I will be the cause of the problem by challenging them.” The truth is and it’s something that I want everyone out there to hear is that no partner, no family member, no friend can ever be responsible for someone else’s using or sexual acting out or gambling or whatever the problem is. “You can make me miserable. You can hate me. You can make my life a living hell, and I can go play cards. I can divorce you. I can go get therapy. My choice to drink or use or sex or gamble or whatever it is when I am upset, that’s my choice.”

    What partners often run into is they are doubting themselves. They’re wondering what they’re doing wrong. Partners often turn on themselves, families too. They say, “What’s wrong with me that this person is doing this? Is there something I can do to make it different?” When, in fact, it really is the person with a problem who is the only person who can come up with the motivation to make it different. Partners and family members can confront. They can tell their truth. They can express their concerns. They can show their concerns but ultimately, it’s up to that family member to decide, “What do I do with this addict in my life, and how do I want to live my life with this person in it?”

    There’s so much in what you said just now. I think one piece of it is that terrible kind of tyranny that emotional blackmail of, “If I change, this person will be better. If I don’t get angry, if I do this or don’t do that, this person will behave differently.” Addicts absolutely love to put those exact forms of blame on their partners, which makes it really hard. That brings us to the area of codependency. There’s so much talk about codependency, so much speaking about codependency. In your book about prodependency, you’ve developed a whole different set of theories. I’d love to hear about those theories and how they relate to anybody who’s in a relationship with someone who might have an addiction.

    The problem with an addict is that you’re giving and loving into an empty well.CLICK TO TWEETAs you know and as you mentioned, Ken, I’ve worked in addictions and been licensed for over 25 years. I’ve worked in so many treatment centers and so many environments and set them up and created them. One of the constant concerns that I hear from family members is, “I don’t feel like I fit this model. I don’t think I did anything wrong that caused this person to have their addiction. I don’t think there’s anything I could do to make them.” In other words, they’re getting a sense I think in relations to shifts in our culture that the person with the problem is the person who is responsible, and the people around them are reacting to the problem. Codependency says, “What’s wrong with me for getting involved with this person? Am I just playing out all my own trauma and staying with them my past issues? Am I enabling this person in whatever they’re doing because I’m not doing whatever I should be doing? Could I cause it?”

    Codependency asks us to look at our history, our family experiences and say, “What’s wrong with me that I ended up with this person who’s an addict, that I stayed with this person who’s an addict? If I were to make that choice again after lots of therapy and trauma work, would I choose this person?” I just think why in the world would you want to make somebody in a relationship who’s tried so hard to maybe get this person sober or to stop their behavior or to live with it? All of a sudden, you’re going to turn around to this person when they’ve done everything they can to make it better. Instead of saying to them, “Good for you for hanging in there. Wow. I’m really impressed.” Anyone who’s willing to love such a troubled person is my hero.

    Ken, if someone had cancer, my partner had cancer, and I was dealing with that and working three jobs and giving up my life, you would bring me casseroles, but if for some reason my partner is an addict, and I’m giving up my jobs and not recreating, doing everything I can to save my family, you have nasty names for me like codependent. I just think that is number one, it doesn’t mirror where we are in the therapy world today, which is much more about attachment and connections. I am as strong today as my connections and my relationships, not just my ability to succeed. Partnerships and healthy partnership, as you know, as you talk about in Deeper Dating, is what it’s all about. Why would we tell people there’s something wrong with partnering with this person? There’s something wrong with staying with this person, and that if you don’t fix yourself, you’re going to end up with another person like that.

    None of that seems productive to me to helping a family heal because what it does to people who have done nothing in my belief, but try to love the person who is troubled and ill in their family, who’s tried to do their absolute best to heal them. By the way, most people don’t go to school to learn how to work with addictions. If they marry an addict, they don’t know how to help. They might bring the battles home. They don’t know how. They’re just doing the best they can. For us to turn to them and say, “Gee, I understand you didn’t want to lose your loved one. You did everything you can, but it’s really about what’s wrong with you,” to me, it is counterintuitive. By the way, family members don’t like it.

    There is a new way of looking at this, and it has to do with taking a step back and saying, “What if there’s nothing wrong with the people who love an addict? What if there’s nothing wrong with people who love someone who’s mentally ill? What if they simply got involved with someone they loved and adored and appreciated, then that person got sicker and sicker, and they didn’t know how to help, they did everything they could to make the situation better, but addicts are only ready when they’re ready?”

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love
    Addiction And Love: No partner, family member, or friend can ever be responsible for someone else’s using, sexual acting out, gambling, or whatever the problem is.

    When the person finally goes to get help, what I believe under Prodependence is that people need validation and support for everything they’ve given and everything they’ve done. I would never pick apart someone who’s in a crisis. I would never diagnose someone who’s in a crisis, not as codependent or as anything. By the way, let me just say this before I stop my rant, codependency despite the 370 pop culture books that have been written about, it has never been validated in our research. Codependency does not exist in any of our diagnoses. I can’t bill insurance for it.

    It’s been 35 years, and we don’t have the research. We don’t have a diagnosis. There are 370 books written about it. Which is the right one? Because we have no diagnosis. We have no criteria for codependency. As far as I’m concerned, it is a pop-culture notion that arose in the 1980s and became hugely encouraging to women to become more independent of men because that’s what the whole thing was about in the 1980s is women becoming more independent. The reality is that that is not interdependence. It’s anti-dependence. We want to encourage people to be dependent on each other, to be intimate with each other, to know that that person’s got my back. I think, Ken, we also need to know that we need other people to survive, especially that one person who we lean into, and don’t tell me there’s ever anything wrong with me loving the people that I love.

    That was amazing and powerful. I got a bunch of thoughts and questions about that. First of all, I just want to acknowledge your compassion, and this very key point, which is something that I also talk about a lot in relation to codependency, is that there is a Core Gift there, which is a gift of generosity and loyalty. The people who are called codependent are the most generous and loyal people that you could find, often, yes, to their detriment, but to miss that gift at the center of all of this is to miss the most important part of all. That love and generosity of spirit and loyalty, which probably needs help to mature and get legs and stand up and honor itself, but the first step wouldn’t be beating someone down and pathologizing them. It would be acknowledging this primal gift of generosity and loyalty. I love what you’re saying.

    You said, Ken, that sometimes partners, family members love and are generous to their own detriment. What I would say about that is they don’t know. They’re just doing the best they can, and they’re giving and giving and giving and loving and loving. The problem is that with an addict, you’re giving and loving into an empty well. There’s nothing there for it. There’s no resonance. People start to blame themselves because their love, their attention, and their affection isn’t healing the person they love, when all along, their love and affection could have never healed that person. They have an emotional problem called addiction.

    I love what you’re saying. I love the compassion inherent in what you’re saying. What it makes me want to ask next is, so people who identify with these concepts that have been called codependency, where you give up yourself for another person, where you throw yourself in front of the tracks to save another person, but they still do the same thing again and again, the dishonoring of self that can go with it, all of the pieces that go with a situation where you don’t honor the other person’s adult right of choice. There are so many pieces. I don’t even know how to begin to articulate it, but whatever it is, all of those different parts of the constellation. What would you say to someone who recognizes some of those things in themselves after they’ve acknowledged how hard they’re trying, how much they care? Once they acknowledge that, what are the next steps to be able to continue growing?

    Relationships fail, even bad ones.CLICK TO TWEETI think they need to get help. If I have a problem and I can’t solve it, if I can’t fix the leak under my sink, I’m not going to say, “Well, maybe if I try tomorrow, I’m going to get somebody to help me.” If you can’t solve the problem of addiction or mental health in someone you love, and you’ve done your very best, I guess you need help. I never say to somebody, “You shouldn’t have done this. You shouldn’t have done that,” in the process of helping someone who’s an addict. I will say, “You did your very best. Unfortunately, you didn’t study addiction healing in high school, and you don’t know how to heal your partner, despite all the energy, but if we do it together, I bet I’ll have a lot of solutions and ideas that will be able to help both of us get where you want that person to go.”

    Rather than asking the partner to examine themselves and look at themselves, what if they just get help? By the way, the issue for partners and loved ones is they lose self-care. We say, “Well, that’s pathology. Why do they stop taking care of themselves?” The answer is because they love somebody. That person is failing. Every one of us who love, deeply love a family member, a sister, a brother, a child, we would absolutely give up ourselves if we’re healthy to help support them. That’s what love is. That’s what family independency is. Why would we, as under codependency, ever blame someone?

    Back to self-care, I do think that once I or someone is helping or a professional is helping someone deal with the addiction problem, part of dealing with that is saying to the person, “You might take a night off. Maybe you should get someone to hang out at your house so that your spouse doesn’t go out driving and drinking. You can take a yoga class.” In other words, we slowly weave in the idea that the person who loves the troubled person needs to begin to refocus on themselves, not at the detriment of the relationship, not saying, “I have to leave or pull back from the relationship, but I have to take better care of myself as any caregiver of someone who’s medically sick would have to do.”

    Beautiful. I think this thing of getting help is so hugely important, and that help needs to include a community of support in some way. A therapist is wonderful and important once a week or maybe twice a week, and that kind of community of people that you can reach out to is also a really huge thing. Just to share a story of mine, a personal story, I was dating somebody with who I was cataclysmically in love with. It was a complete revelation.

    That’s not the right word for love. That’s not supposed to be the right word for love.

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love
    Addiction And Love: People of a similar emotional level with similar emotional issues will be drawn together.

    It wasn’t a kind of really healthy love at all. In the slightest, it was what I call an attraction of deprivation, but it was one that cracked me open and changed my life because it was such a revelation in so many ways. There were really good parts to what I learned. Anyway, the relationship ended, and the pain that I experienced was so intense. I mean, I felt like I literally could not catch my breath. Somebody recommended that I went to a Codependence Anonymous meeting. I remember going to that meeting, and it provided me with a completely different angle on things because it asked me to look at the ways in which I gave up on myself, focusing on getting this person to love me.

    I literally had the experience of oxygen coming back into my being. Somehow my being was allowed to breathe again with that insight. Those meetings were amazingly helpful for me and really important. In this whole arena of addiction, I just want to acknowledge and make space for twelve-step work, which as a psychotherapist and as someone who’s had a lot of addiction in my family, I have seen heal so many lives in addition.

    I will tell you that all over the world, people are starting Prodependence Anonymous meetings because they want to be in rooms where the fact that they gave and loved and gave of themselves is considered a gift and not a fault. Ken, even in your situation, what you described is not what I would call love. I would disagree with this. You said, “We love the person so that we are loved.” I think we love people because we love them. Whether that man was available to you or not, you loved him and you wanted to have a relationship, and you might have been more available than this other person was. Maybe the choices that you made and you’re attempting to get something from a stone really is about you, but the fact that you might have cared for this person, that you might have been needful, that you might have hoped they would meet your dreams, I think that’s human.

    I also think our relationships fail, even bad ones. We grieve them. We’re sad. We miss them. Even the abusive people we miss, because they’re our most recent experience of deep and meaningful attachment, even if they hurt us. I understand how codependency can bring a different light to people over time, but I’m interested in the first six months or the first year when someone is finally looking at their partner’s addiction, or that partner finally gets sober, or they’ve left that partner. I’m interested when they’re in a crisis around addiction, how do we treat them? What do we call them? Because people who are wanting personal growth, I think as you described, they can read books, they can go to therapy, they can go to twelve-step meetings, and they can grow if they wish.

    I believe people who are involved with an addict just want to get back where they were. They just want things to be okay again. I actually think that to impose personal growth on people is abusive because most people just want to get back to the way it was. Who said it was my job to make them more functional, better people? If people seek that, that’s great, but if all they’re seeking is to tolerate, get past, live with and hopefully, heal someone’s addiction so that they can begin to heal themselves, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them at all.

    Intimacy is created when you take the risk of revealing yourself to others.CLICK TO TWEETYou’ll like this. I wrote a chapter in Prodependence called 2s Don’t Marry 7s. What that means is if you’re emotionally a 2, you’re going to look at a 7 or an 8 emotionally. You’re going to say, and I hear this all the time, “They’re so boring. I don’t want to date someone that boring,” but they’re the healthy person. Then if you’re a 2 or 3, that 8 or 9, that healthy person looks at you and says, “Oh my God, too much drama. I don’t want to date that person.” I actually do believe that people of a similar emotional level with similar emotional issues, will be drawn together. I think that’s a good thing provided both members of the relationship are working on themselves. They’re going to twelve-step meetings. They have self-awareness. They’re in therapy.

    I can date or be in a relationship with anyone. I can love anyone as long as they are willing to be accountable for their part of the relationship. I can love an addict. I can love a troubled person as long as they keep their side of the street clean and can own their part. I can only not be in a relationship with someone who makes me wrong all the time for bringing things up, for talking about things, for asking things to get better. Troubled people, I think actually two 2s together or two 3s together have the possibility of becoming a 5 together. This idea that codependency has that we need to separate and distance and not be in a relationship in order to heal, I just don’t agree with or believe in.

    We might have some different beliefs about that, but as you know I don’t believe in codependency. I think that’s a cruel name for people who deeply love, and are now being blamed for the love that they have given. You can say that someone loved the wrong person. You can say that someone loved someone who couldn’t give love back. You can say that somebody loved into a situation which is only going to cause them harm. You can say that you can love people who will never love you back, but the love itself, and the giving itself, and the choosing, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that the person you choose has not gotten past some of their troubles or isn’t willing to look at themselves, then the couple won’t grow, but if both members of the couple are willing to grow, I believe that individuals can grow faster in coupleship than they do as individuals, but that’s me.

    I think we certainly agree on a few of those points and including the major ones, but I think that there are very few 2s I feel like if you are a 2 or a 3 using this construct who can take responsibility for yourself, and not blame the other person, and be willing to and want to grow, then you wait no 2. You are like a 6 or above because that is a treasured quality. It’s a huge quality. It demands a huge amount of integrity. I think that there’s some line where if both parties are willing to do the work, even if deeply imperfectly, I agree. I think that’s a glorious thing, but I think that that takes a certain level of self-acknowledgment. I don’t think that happens easily with an addict who is active, for example.

    Right, but I would never get in a relationship with an active addict until they were sober and looking at themselves.

    DDP 104 | Addiction And Love
    Addiction And Love: The troubled people who love other troubled people, who are both on a journey of healing, are better off together than they are separate.

    I agree with that.

    This is the wisdom of the partners looking for love. I would say this constantly, “Go find a broken person. Great, but make sure they’re working on themselves. Make sure they have a language for it.” You’re going to find a broken person anyway because you’re broken, and you’re going to find somebody at your same level of functioning. Find someone who really works for you, but make sure that they’re already sober. Make sure they’re already working on themselves. In that way, you can grow together.

    That’s a huge point. I really agree with this. The choice not to enter into a relationship with someone who has an active addiction is an essential choice. This is something that I say all the time is that if you or your prospective partner has an untreated, unstabilized, serious-psychiatric disorder or an active addiction, it’s better not to commit to the relationship until those things have been really significantly addressed. I think that’s also a really, really important thing. You said, Rob, that there are Prodependence Anonymous groups. That’s very exciting using the twelve-step model but applying it to these concepts.

    Yes, but we would never use the word prodependency because it’s not a pathology. It’s not a name. It’s not a label. It’s a concept, which says the troubled people who love other troubled people, who are both on a journey of healing are better off together than they are separate. Codependency in my belief system broke up a lot of good marriages that could have been saved in the ‘90s, had people been redirected back to their relationships instead of simply asked to self-actualize for themselves.

    I deeply agree with that. Harville Hendrix’s work really turned my head around when he talked about there’s a certain point in a relationship where your partner cannot give you the thing you most need, but that’s not the point to end the relationship. That’s the beginning of doing the work of deeper love. This blew my mind when I heard it. I do remember in those Codependence Anonymous meetings. There was a thing. It would make me laugh that somebody would say, “I just broke up with my partner,” and people would clap. It was like a kind of general thing that people would do. For a lot of assumptions that were under there, “I just broke up with my partner who wasn’t treating me right, etc.,” but the fact that that kind of separation was the way to go instead of in it and through it, assuming the kind of qualities of integrity that we keep talking about as being so central.

    Let’s not forget, Ken, that not everyone has those qualities if they are an active addict. It doesn’t mean that they are not present. In other words, I might as a heroin addict spend my kids’ college fund to get some drugs, but sober, I might work 3 or 4 jobs and take no time for myself to pay that fund back. Many addicts have very intact moral and ethical belief systems. It’s just that they’re obliterated by the addiction.

    Yes. It’s so deeply true. Rob, anything you want to share in closing about codependency, about prodependence, about being in a relationship with an addict, about exploring whether or not you might have an addiction? Any closing thoughts you want to share?

    I want to say to you, Ken, that I love that you’re doing Deeper Dating. I love that you’re helping people find their true selves and be able to reveal them as fully as they can to the people they love because that is how intimacy is created. It’s the revealing of oneself to others and taking that risk. First, I have to say kudos to you for the work you’re doing. I think it’s much needed, especially with single people, because I hear them struggle. I hear, “What is the relationship? How do you find a relationship? What is intimacy? What is love?” We’ve all struggled, but especially in this digital era, I think it’s really a struggle. Kudos to you for doing it.

    Thank you. Kudos to you for bringing kindness, humanity, compassion, and clinical clarity to this entire concept of prodependence versus an approach to codependency which really can limit us and devalue us at the same time. Rob, thank you so much for all that. How can people get in touch with you and learn more about your work?

    I’m in lots of places. If you want to hear the podcast, as you said, it’s very, very popular. We’ve had Harville Hendrix and Sue Johnson and a whole bunch of really famous therapists on there, and that is Sex, Love, & Addiction. You can read my blog on Psychology Today, Sex and Love in the Digital Age, or you can drop me a note at our treatment program because I’m [email protected]. Our treatment program, which is for men with sex, intimacy, and drug disorders because sometimes they cross and they’re co-related, is SeekingIntegrity.com. Thank you again for having me.

    Thank you so much, Rob. It’s always a joy to speak with you. We will continue our conversations. Thank you, everybody, for listening to this episode, and we look forward to seeing you on the next one. Thanks.

  • How Deep Friendship Paves The Way To Deepest Love [EP103]

     

    Table of Contents

    How Deep Friendship Paves The Way To Deepest Love

    Single People: Building Your Family Of Creation

    How to build a family of creation in this world that supports you, nourishes you, gives you meaning, and helps you find the love that you’re seeking or deepen the love that you have already? Stay tuned to this episode of 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, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that’s inspiring, kind, fun, and respectful. Today in this show, I’m going to talk about building a family of creation for single people. This episode and every 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 skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy, rich life. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, learn about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey, and see transcripts of every episode. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you’re experiencing any serious symptoms, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that and let’s dive in.

     

    I would love to talk about, and this is for everyone, this is for people who are single, people who are coupled, but specifically, I want to talk about building a family of creation in the world for people who are single and looking for a relationship. This is a huge subject and one that I have a lot of personal relationship to, and as a psychotherapist, one that I work with people around all the time. This is important on so many levels because the deepest skills of intimacy that we’re going to use in our relationship, our romantic relationship, are learned through all of our social relationships. The big things of making a different kind of decision about who you’re going to choose to be with, about learning how to choose people who really feed your soul, attractions of inspiration in the friendship arena, and then getting through all of the roadblocks, obstacles, dilemmas and fears of closeness, and all the patterns that come up. We learn that by building love in our life. That helps us profoundly make better choices about who we’re going to end up committing to, and living in the relationship with the person that we commit to in a richer, deeper way.

    I just want to say something just a little bit about my stories. I could start way at the beginning, but where I’m going to start was arriving in New York City to go to graduate school and being a gay man, and discovering this buffet, this banquet of sex, the search for love, infinite varieties of playground type of ways to hook up and connect. In my eyes, all the time, looking for what I really wanted, which was a relationship, but you might not have known that from the things that I was doing on a regular basis because that’s what I was brought up in. This was like the gay men’s crazy life of the ‘80s. Anyway, I did this for a long time, and my goal was to find love. I devoted a lot of time to my profession. That was very exciting to me and I was passionate about that. I devoted most of the rest of my time to this beautiful world of this gay, pre-AIDS blossoming of queer culture, which was fun, sexual, magical, and empty in a lot of ways at the same time.

    Slow down, connect to your feelings, and discover yourself.CLICK TO TWEETI did this. I was passionate about it, passionate for years. I just didn’t want to even leave New York City on the weekends and I was driven. I was driven to find love, and I failed at finding love, but there was so much excitement that I kept doing this. At a certain point, I committed to a deeper path of healing and that involves therapy. That was also when I was getting trained as a therapist at the same time, and I went into therapy. One of the most amazing things that happened to me at that point was that I discovered, because I slowed down and connected to my feelings enough, I discovered that as filled as my life was, it was really empty. As much time as I was spending looking for love, I was spending no time building love, except maybe with the wrong people like the club people or whoever it was that I felt had what I wanted at that time. When I entered into deeper therapy work, workshops, groups, and this kind of deeper training, I discovered an emptiness that was so great. This is when the shift in my journey away from shame and away from emptiness began.

    I remember being in a workshop, and I was touching on a loneliness that was so huge that I didn’t let myself even feel it. I remember at one point, deep tears came out. If you ever saw a kid who got hurt, they were so upset and so shocked that their mouth was wide open, but no cry came out because the tears were too big at first to find traction. I remember feeling that way, and then I remember the tears just pouring and pouring out. This was a good thing. This was a huge healing. I was beginning to recognize that I had not built family in the world. I had not built community, and the beautiful people who I could have had that with didn’t interest me enough. This is just my story. It may not be your story, but maybe pieces of it relate to you and are useful, because that is when my deeper, richer journey began to change.

    DDP 103 | Family Of Creation
    Family Of Creation: The deepest skills of intimacy that we’re going to use in our romantic relationship are learned through all of our social relationships.

    I began to think of the people who I adored and who felt safer to me, who I had not really spent much time with for years as I was in this search, looking for love and in this kind of crazy world that I was in. I began to reach out to those people. I realized how hungry I was for family, for people to just connect with, live with, be stupid with, have fun with and do nothing with. None of those were parts of my New York City life, so I began to reconnect with people who were very precious to me. I’m going to come back to this because this connects to, I think, one of the greatest ways that we can start building connection and family in our lives. As I did that, I started building connections in other ways. I had a wonderful support group of other therapists. It went on for twelve years, and it was infinitely nourishing to me. I decided that I was ready to have cats, which you might think is kind of crazy at 30 years old, but that was very big for me. That was another moment of revelation that I could take care of these pets for me at that point, because I had been stunted. It was a very huge, deep, and emotional thing. It was a milestone. I still remember it.

    I started a support group for chronically single therapists, and I realized how important connection and family was. All along this journey at the same time, I was looking for relationships. As I learned the lessons that I described, my friends changed. I began to choose what I call attractions of inspiration for my friends. I did not realize that that was the heart and soul of what was going to change my entire search for love. It happened with friends first, and then I started noticing that the guys that I was dating had more depth, had more decency, had deeper traction in goodness and authenticity that I was used to with the people that I was hanging out with. I realized how great a hunger I had for family.

    Reconnect with people who are very precious to you.CLICK TO TWEETAt one point along the way, this is something I’ve talked about a bunch, but I saw Almodóvar’s movie, All About My Mother, and I left the movie, and I was very shaken. It was about someone who found a path to meaning after great tragedy through building family in different ways in the world. That’s how I experienced it. I left the movie and I thought, “What’s going on inside me?” My next step in building a family without a partner was to become a dad, was to adopt a child as a single dad. This was something I dreaded so much for so many years because I thought that would be the ultimate stamp on my eternal singlehood if I did that. Most of my friends were not dads at that time. I felt like I was at this long table of people and they were all eating rubber chicken at a banquet, and I hit this gloppy, gooey, glorious chocolate dripping sundae that I was eating. That’s what it was like to be a dad for me. It brought me incredible joy and moved me into a state of family, which I had been so longing for.

    That led to meeting my husband and his children, and building a shared family together and meeting so much of those needs, but it didn’t happen the way that I thought it would happen. I thought I was going to find a boyfriend and that boyfriend would become a lover. We didn’t have husbands yet in those days but life partner, that was what I thought. I found that I had to dig my own well, and that well was building a beautiful family. Looking for the people who were deep with their authenticity, deep with their integrity, deep with their goodness who truly loved and appreciated me, and building a world with them.

    DDP 103 | Family Of Creation
    Family Of Creation: The deepest skills of intimacy that we’re going to use in our romantic relationship are learned through all of our social relationships.

    That was anathema for me because I thought it meant moving away from the thing that mattered the most, which was finding a relationship, but God knows that was what moved me toward that. Many of you know this wisdom. I didn’t know it much at all, but if this is any help for those of you that maybe think that you really just need to find the partner and then family will come after that, that for most of us, the great lessons of love are learned in building a family of creation in the world, whether we have a partner or not. I just want to say another thing here with that veer, because your search, our search for a healthy, beautiful and inspiring family of creation, is an absolute mirror for finding your one, finding your beloved. It’s not different. Marianne Williamson said this so gorgeously, and I love this quote. She said, “As I grow emotionally and spiritually, my friends become more like lovers and my lovers become more like friends.”

    I would go as far as to say that the journey to build a family of creation is the very foundation that’s essential for everybody who is on an intimacy journey, whether they have a partner, whether they don’t have a partner, but definitely those who are single, this journey to create a rich family is where we learn our lessons. Many of you know this already, but I just want to share a couple other things. One is that in my decades of being a therapist and doing this work, and this is something I’ve talked about in another podcast, I see a three-stage process that encapsulates and captures the wiser intimacy journey. The first stage, we are embroiled in relationships with people that maybe irritate us or frustrate us, or don’t meet our needs, we try to get them to, it doesn’t work that well. Maybe they’re abusive. Maybe they take advantage of us, but they’re not the relationships where our hearts say, “This is family. This is home. This is good. This is safe. These are beings I respect and trust.”

    ‘As I grow emotionally and spiritually, my friends become more like lovers, and my lovers become more like friends.’ – Marianne WilliamsonCLICK TO TWEETThe great truth, I think, is that it’s only with those people that we find a real foundation and find real happiness. Those are the people we need. We have people we don’t have a choice. We need to be with them, their family, but in terms of family of creation, that’s it. Those are the choices we must make. Anything else is almost a waste. I don’t want to say that old relationships should just be junked, but they might need to be revamped, changed, healed, shifted or maybe let go of. Anyway, the first stage for many of us is to be embroiled in relationships like that, including romantic relationships, what I call the attractions of deprivation.

    The second stage, which I have been fortunate enough to witness huge numbers of time in doing the work that I do, and doing the teaching that I do. The second stage as we begin to claim the beauty of our hearts, our authenticity, and our real selves is that we begin to lose our taste for those people. Literally, we start losing our taste for them. It’s not as exciting, entrancing, sticky, itchy or endlessly engaging to try to pull those people along or get them to be different, or try to be more like them because we think we’re just too sensitive. We lose our taste for that, and then there’s this weird second stage often, which is pretty empty. It’s like nothing is going on, but something is going on. The deeper shift is happening underneath. The seedlings under the earth are just beginning to move, because this is a vast shift when we lose our taste for attractions of deprivation. Stage two is marked by a weird kind of emptiness like, “Where are my people?”

    DDP 103 | Family Of Creation
    Family Of Creation: The deepest skills of intimacy that we’re going to use in our romantic relationship are learned through all of our social relationships.

    Ramakrishna, the great Saint Ramakrishna who was given his temple that later became a great center of spiritual development in India, he used to do this thing. He would go up onto the steps and he would actually call out, “My own, come to me.” That was a practice he did because he knew that his life was empty of his people, and then his people began to come. That middle stage is an odd one, but it passes, and people who feed our souls start coming into our life when that becomes our intention. That is a fabulous, amazing thing. The same stages happen in our search for love, and so then as the second stage moves into the third stage, and the third stage is having a life that’s filled with attractions and relationships of inspiration.

    What happens is, and it’s almost unnoticeable, as a therapist and a coach, I really usually have to help people begin to notice that their field is really shifting at this point, that these new relationships come up. All of a sudden, you’re meeting friends who don’t disturb you in those same ways or shake you up, but instead feed you and nurture you. You begin to notice that there are people who speak truth like you speak truth, or care about goodness like you care about goodness, or care about integrity like you care about integrity, or whatever the things are for you that you feel that wonderful feeling of these people are my spiritual home in the world.

    You notice it in little ways like you’re in class and there’s someone next to you, and they’re just really nice. They’re interested in maybe hanging out. You don’t even notice that as a thing, but I’m encouraging you to notice that as a thing, because as you do this journey that begins to happen, and then that happens more and more, and your life, little by little, becomes more populated with these beautiful people. Is this quick? Is it easy? No. Is it slow? Is it frustrating? Often, but it is beautiful and foundational and precious. The more it happens, the more your life becomes populated with these new relationships and then you are in stage three. Going through these stages with your friends moves you into going through the exact same stages if you do it consciously in your relationship. Sometimes that’s harder because when you’re talking about sex and romance, it’s easier to get sticky with those old paradigms.

    Those are the three stages. The next thing I want to say is I want to talk about how can you speed that process up? What is the quickest, smartest way to begin to fill your life with family of creation? What I have found to be true if you really want to speed this up is don’t start from scratch. Look at your contacts over the last number of years, and see who has a quality of goodness, a rock-solid quality of goodness combined with integrity. Who interests you by the way that they choose to live their lives? Who has an essential generosity of spirit? Every one of those people are gold. They’re your tribe, maybe not perfectly or exactly, but essentially and in really big ways. Those are the places to go back. I know that for me, I gave those relationships short shrift for a long time when I was on my crazy search for just a relationship. Start with those people because you probably have them in your life already, and build the connection and build the sense of family.

    Another thing that’s wonderful that I talk about all the time is to have a learning partner. If there’s someone who’s single, who’s willing to do the deeper work, who has all the qualities I just described and is willing to do the richer, deeper work of intimacy, become learning partners with them. Meet once a week in person on Zoom. Laugh, bitch, complain, but share your growth and support each other in your growth. It’s this act of bringing family to our worlds that makes our world so much more meaningful. This is such a rich journey and I’d love to hear from people what your experience is with this. You could just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and press Ask Ken. I’d love to hear your stories too. For all of you, the great treasure in looking for love and looking for a family is to choose and find those people who feel like home, and have those qualities of character, goodness and decency, and to build your home there. Good luck in your journey. Thanks for reading. I look forward to connecting with you on the next episode.

  • 3 Powerful Ways To Speed Your Path To Love—Right Now! [EP102]

    There are three powerful ways to speed your path to love—right now! Each of these things changes your future in love, helps you grow into a fuller expression of the person you are meant to be, and deepens your capacity for true intimacy. Try them right now and watch what happens!

    Table of Contents

    3 Powerful Ways To Speed Your Path To Love—Right Now!

    Life-Changing Hacks That Lead To Romantic Love And Personal Healing

    There are three things that you can do right now that will accelerate, empower, and deepen your entire search for love. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn what they are.

    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 I’m the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet in an online environment that’s fun, inspiring, kind, and respectful. Today, I’m going to talk about three things that you can do that will immediately empower, accelerate, and deepen your search for love. In this podcast, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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 nothing more than the skills of love, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.

    DDP 102 | Speed Love

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts, you’ll be able to get transcripts of every episode, and get to hear all 102 episodes. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. Please seek help if you feel you need it. By the way, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful thank you if you subscribe at iTunes or elsewhere and left your review. Thank you so much for that. Let’s jump in.

    The first thing that you can do, and these are the things that I would love and encourage you to make actionable, because really finding love is such a difficult, mysterious, and complicated thing. Wherever there are the gems of real tools that work, it’s just such a healing and empowering feeling to feel like you know those tools and you can use them. I’m going to give you three broad tools. If you can take one of them and make it yours even today, it will be a really good thing. We are so misguided with advice about how to find love as if the wisdom doesn’t come from our guts, as we say in Jewish, our kishkes, our deep insides. As if the wisdom doesn’t come from there, as if it comes from somewhere outside, as if we need this “it” to be able to be sexy, attractive, and desirable. Some kind of “it” that we have to figure out what it is, as opposed to living the magic of who we are.

    Look For Events And Communities Of People With The Same Values

    These different tools that I’m going to give you will help you live the magic of who you are, of what your gifts are. It will help you mature and develop those gifts and learn to become more of an artisan in your search for love and your intimacy journey as a whole. They’re all a little bit uphill. They take some work, they take some practice, but the first one is one that I have resisted a lot in my life, and then breaking through that resistance is what led to my marriage and a lot of growth. It was the absolute essence of what transformed a pretty painful and rough period of decades of deeply looking for love and never finding it. This was something that really transformed it, and here’s what it was. I stopped looking for love in my old ways, which in those days as a gay man in New York City, involved the clubs, the parties, and all of those kinds of things. It’s not that I didn’t adore dancing and continue dancing even when I changed these patterns because I did, but changing these patterns changed my world and changed my life.

    The skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love.CLICK TO TWEETIt was saying that I’m not just going to look for people in those ways, which now is just somewhat kind of mindless, habitual, or non-soulful approach to finding love online, which I think is the common way that people do that now. Instead, saying that you are going to think about what your deepest passions, interests, and values are, and that you are going to go to, at this point, online environments  When you can go to non-online environments, fantastic, but there’s so much online too, with people who deeply share the values and passions that matter the most to you.

    DDP 102 | Speed Love
    Speed Love: We need a community or a person we can learn from, have insights, and practice those insights with.

     

    I have been a therapist for a really long time, working with people who are single and looking for relationships. I would say this is, in many ways, the single most powerful tool. I have story after story in my head of people finally doing this, finally going to the events, joining the communities with people who share their deepest values. Maybe they didn’t find their partner there, but they met someone who introduced them to their partner, or they met someone who introduced them to another event that really fed their passions, and they met their partner there. I can’t tell you how many stories of that I’ve heard, because when we’re in environments like that, we begin to glow. We begin to show who we really are. It’s easier and more comfortable to do that with people who share the things that matter the most to you. When you do that, you become more beautiful. You become more alive. You are more noticed by people who are looking for someone like you.

    It’s a humbling thing to admit the ways you are pushing love away, even as you’re seeking it.CLICK TO TWEETIt’s not going to be the first time that you go to an event like that, that you meet your soulmate probably, or the second or the third, but I pretty much promise you that you will dramatically speed your path to finding your one when you do this. It’s not that there’s not other work to do and other patterns that need to be changed, etc., but this is the place to start if you want a really big bang for your buck. You could even do that. I encourage you to take one of these things on right now, if you can, or at some point today. Look online for events and communities with people who care about the same things you care about, and join and connect. Look for events and communities, particularly with a good number of people of the gender or genders that you’re interested in.

    DDP 102 | Speed Love
    Speed Love: There’s almost nothing that you’re going to get a bigger bang for your buck in your search for love than admitting the places where your fear of intimacy holds you back and, full-heartedly with support, addressing those things.

     

    There are also niche dating sites that you can find that have a lot smaller numbers of people, but at the same time, they also have people who share the things that really matter to you. In fact, on DeeperDating.com, we’re very clear of offering ways that people can search for people who share their values, interests, and passions. Something I really believe in if you get out there and do that, it will enrich you and it will also speed your path. What I would love is for a bunch of people listening now to try that, and to then go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com under the Ask Ken section. Leave me a message telling me about what your experience was and what it was like, so I can begin to share these experiences with other people. It is different to do that. It is wiser and smarter dating.

    Finding A Learning Partner

    Next, find a learning partner. Literally, these three tools will change your future. They truly will so much more than a lot of the habitual patterns that probably, if you’re anything like I was, and like so many of us are, you’ve tried again and again but haven’t necessarily worked. Find a learning partner. How do you find a learning partner? You go through your list of connections. You look for someone preferably single, but they don’t have to be single, because you can support them in whatever area they want to grow in. It’s nice if it’s two single people doing that. There’s something really good about that. Someone who has integrity. Someone who doesn’t hurt you, who cares about you, who has your best interest at heart. Someone who has good character and someone who is willing to grow, change, and work toward their goal. Someone with a rich sense of insight. Those people are A-team. They are our gold.

    There is almost no greater meat and potatoes intimacy skill than seeing the ways we’re not available for love and then changing it.CLICK TO TWEETIf you find somebody like that, and you commit to just connecting together for half an hour a week, making plans and bringing mindfulness and awareness to your search for love, you can use a template of learning. Any teacher that you want, including my work, the Deeper Dating work, but any template you want. The two of you could use that together and you could go through it. Every week you could touch base to bring more power, bravery, depth, habit-breaking, risk-taking, vulnerability, and commitment to love, to your journey. I pretty much promise you, you will shave off vast amounts of time in your search for healthy love if you do this. The research backs this up 1,000%. We need a community or a person with whom we can learn, have insights, practice those insights, and do all of the failing, rewiring, bitching, complaining, sharing, longing, yearning, complaining some more. All the things that we do with people that we feel safe with when we’re on a journey with them, that you will get to do that with them.

    There will be so many points where you bring something up, and they’re just going to say something, and it’s going to touch you. It’s going to open a door and it’s going to spark a kind of ambition to growth and healing. That is beautiful. We learn from jumping from stone to stone, from rock to rock. Sometimes I think of the wiser dating journey as being like the Parkour. There you are, and there’s a ledge in front of you. There’s a space you can’t get through, so you look at what’s the next ledge that you could somehow get to, which for you, for me, for us is the next point of insight, the next point of understanding, the next point of commitment. Those insights are our fuel. We leap from where we are into that insight and it brings us to the next ledge, to the next rock, to the next point. We wait for insight and we get insight from our learning partner. We get insight from our practices, from our growth, and when we get that, we just make a leap. How does this Parkour person get from one point to another that looks just completely crazy? They do it by looking at the next point that they can leap to.

    DDP 102 | Speed Love
    Speed Love: Do not fear intimacy but begin to learn its language, work with it, and create transformation.

     

    For us, it’s our next insight. When you do this work in a more conscious way, you will have insights. You’ll say, “I’ve been pushing this really nice person away without even realizing it,” or “There’s a person I’m interested in and I am just totally too afraid to let them know. I hang out with them on a regular basis, but I don’t truly tell them,” or whatever it is. Those are the points that we need to leap to when we get those insights. You will get them with your learning partner. You will make a commitment to take that leap, and then you will meet with your learning partner, and report on how you did. It makes all the difference in the world, not to mention, it’s free and it’s fun. That’s point number two. If you weren’t going to do point number one or even if you were, if you can go through your list of contacts, find someone, ask them and concretize this, your year will be different. Your search for love will be different, and hence, your future will be different. These are real things.

    Admit You Are Pushing Love Away

    The third is a little bit harder. It takes a lot of courage. It is incredibly powerful. You get a huge bang for your buck with this one. You truly do. You change your field. You change your future. That is to admit. It’s a humbling thing to admit the ways that you are pushing love away even as you’re seeking it. Maybe you keep choosing people that you know in your guts aren’t going to be right for you or aren’t going to be good for you. Maybe you keep choosing people that you’re not deeply passionate about because they’re safer. Maybe you find that you’re drinking too much or smoking too much. Maybe it’s internet porn. Maybe you meet wonderful people, and then you kind of feel the need to flee. These are humbling things to face, but let me tell you, if you can, with the help of your learning partner or on your own, but hopefully with the help of your learning partner or therapist or coach, if you can find the ways that you are pushing love away consciously, unconsciously, semi-consciously, and you can admit those things to yourself, it’s very humbling, but it is very life changing.

    If you can make a plan to change that, and then please get the support you need because we do not change patterns just by willpower almost ever. That’s usually a myth. We do it and the research backs this up. I think 10% of people who want to change a really deeply entrenched pattern succeed unless they have a template for a process that they believe in, and they have a community of support where they can fail, pick themselves up, rewire and get support and care again and again. That’s who succeeds. If you can admit this humbling truth that almost against your own will, you are avoiding love, turning from it, pushing it away, not making yourself present for it. If you can do that, I believe that’s heroic, truly heroic. What I can almost completely promise you, but it’s something that I have found to be true again and again, when you address that, when you change that, there will be ways that your world will open. The people you meet will be different. The way you interact with them will be different, and your luck will shift.

    There’s almost nothing that you’re going to get a bigger bang for your buck around in your search for love than admitting the places where your fear of intimacy holds you back, and full-heartedly with support, addressing those things. It changes your luck. It changes your field. This may take some searching to find a path that you really believe in, teachings that you believe in, support that feels safe and that you really believe in. This is something I’ve found to be really true in my own life. There is almost no greater meat and potatoes intimacy skill than seeing the ways that we’re not available for love, and admitting it and longing to change, and then practicing changing. That is one of the most central intimacy skills that exist, not to be beyond our fear of intimacy, but to begin to learn its language, to work with it, and to create transformation.

    Thank you for listening. Before we end this episode, I want to encourage you to just take a minute. I encourage you not to get through and pass this episode without doing this. Consider picking one of these. Allow yourself to become a kind of growth athlete in your search for love. It’s a joyful, empowering, wonderful experience. It’s like that great experience when you exercise, and all of a sudden, you notice that you have more strength, more resilience, more muscle, more bounce. It’s just the best feeling. The same is true in our search for love when we start to really bring wisdom to it. There’s a joy that happens when we know that we’re really making change around something that matters so much. I deeply encourage each one of you to try at least one of these things. Just take it on. Take on all three if you really are ready to go for it and watch what happens. Thank you so much for listening. Go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com or DeeperDating.com. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

  • Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex [EP101]

    In this Deeper Dating Q&A episode, listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships to host Ken Page and get his direct personal advice. Today, we’ll explore how to recognize your Core Gifts, how to understand and recognize marijuana overuse in a partner, how to understand your attraction patterns, ….and more!

    Table of Contents

    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. The goal is that you’ll leave this episode with new possibilities and hopefully, new revelations about your own love life, so stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating and Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new online dating experience where single people can meet online in a way that’s kind, inspiring, and respectful. Every episode, I’m going to share the greatest tools I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process, because the true skills of dating are nothing more than the true skills of intimacy. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, and get transcripts to every single one of my episodes. Also, everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical, psychiatric advice, or treatment. If you’re experiencing any serious psychological conditions, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be wonderful if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that, and let’s jump in.

    What goes up has to come down. After the high, there is a low.CLICK TO TWEET

    Attraction Patterns

    The first question is from Laura, and she has two questions. Number one is the idea of attractions of inspiration and attractions of deprivation. Is that a spectrum or is that very black and white? For those new listeners, I’m just going to say a little bit really quickly about what attractions of inspiration and deprivation are. Episode 10 explains these two different kinds of attractions in much greater detail, but an attraction of deprivation is when we get attracted to somebody because their love and their availability seems so close, but it’s not there. We think we need to change ourselves and fix ourselves, or change and fix them to finally get it right, and we get lost in those relationships often for a really long time, and they’re very seductive. An attraction of inspiration is when you’re attracted to someone because of their integrity, their goodness, their growing availability, and their decency.

    It’s a very different circuitry of attraction. One leads to pain and one leads to the real potential for happiness, so absolutely it’s a spectrum. There is nobody who is a perfect attraction of inspiration. There’s nobody, well, I don’t know about nobody, but probably really close to nobody, who is a pure attraction of deprivation. There can be extremes in either of those cases, but you want to look for one where in your heart you can say, “This is deeply, truly, and essentially an attraction of inspiration.” The other part of the question is, can one partner in a partnership be attracted out of inspiration and the other person be attracted out of deprivation? That’s a really interesting question and definitely, that is a possibility. One partner can be deeply inspired by the other partner, and that other partner could feel like, “This person is really just not able to meet my needs,” so yes, absolutely.

    DDP 101 | Relationship And Dating Advice
    Relationship And Dating Advice: One of the signs of an addiction is that you use a substance to get away from, control, or medicate certain symptoms.

     

    Understanding And Recognizing Marijuana Use In A Partner

    Next question, “Hi, Ken, I love your show and your book, and I’m a big fan. I am starting in a new relationship after having been single for most of the past five years. We’re almost two months in, and this guy is really great. He’s everything on my man list and more. He’s fun. He’s sweet. He’s got a successful career. He successfully raised a son. He has multiple degrees. He’s very thoughtful and romantic. He’s a wonderful lover and he’s supportive of me. He follows through in his words. He’s responsible with money, and he has plans for the future that even include me now. He’s asked me if I want to be included. All of that sounds so fabulous. The only issue I have is that he smokes marijuana on a regular basis after work or when he’s done with his responsibilities. I don’t have a problem with recreational marijuana use, but it concerns me when it’s almost every day. He doesn’t drink too much. I’m afraid to tell my friends about this because I don’t want them to tell me that I shouldn’t be with him because he is so great. I would love your feedback.”

    My first thought is this guy sounds great and there’s such good here, and I just want to really acknowledge that. What I would say simply is conversation is needed. One of the signs of an addiction is that you use a substance to get away from or to control or to medicate certain symptoms. That’s a real question. If he needs to smoke every day, what is he doing it for? Is it to calm down? Is it to get more relaxed? Is it to listen to music? What are his reasons for doing it? Because there are issues that he is medicating by doing that, and that’s an important thing. That’s an important thing to be aware of.

    Our Core Gifts are the qualities in us that are the most tender, sensitive, and passionate. They are the deepest inner petals of our being.CLICK TO TWEETThe other thing is that research shows really simply, what goes up has to come down. The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is THC, which activates cannabinoid receptors that are found in the brain. Those receptors are really important and they allow us to experience novel sensations. They relax us. They give us a zing in terms of our experiencing of life. All these things happen, but the reverse happens as well. The receptors in our brain, which can allow us to experience these novel sensations, this relaxation, this richer experience of life actually diminish when we smoke weed too regularly. People who use marijuana regularly have 20% fewer of those receptors in their brain’s cortex, and it takes a month of total abstinence to be able to upregulate to the normal levels. In other words, after the high, there is a low, and here are some of the symptoms of that low. After your high, there’s a restlessness and a fidgety feeling, and often it’s worse when you’re trying to go to sleep. There’s anxiety, irritability, loss of appetite, boredom, which is the opposite of novelty, which marijuana helps you enjoy in an even more intense way, and insomnia.

    All of those things can come with different parts of life, and it takes a rigorous degree of honesty to say, “Do I feel like I smoke or I get high because I want more of the opposite of those negative things?” Because when you’re used to smoking weed every day, you experience these negative symptoms and then you use the weed to try to get over them. There’s a cycle that happens there and it takes, as I said, a month of abstinence to actually notice if there are shifts and changes. You are changing your brain, and so many people talk about a kind of quality of irritability or boredom. There is certainly research proven – less ability to enjoy and delight in novel experiences in life, with the diminishment of those receptors.

    DDP 101 | Relationship And Dating Advice
    Relationship And Dating Advice: When you’re used to smoking weed every day, you experience these negative symptoms and then use the weed to try to get over them. There’s a cycle that happens.

     

    There’s something called Amotivational Syndrome, which is that you lack the motivation to take part in activities. There’s a diminishment of motivation. Short-term memory loss happens. Some distorted sensory perception happens, and over time there could be personality changes as well. These are things to be concerned about, and I think things to think about, research a little bit, and share in conversation in an ongoing way about your concerns. Hopefully, he will be willing to listen, reconsider, and explore further. Good luck with this because he sounds like an amazing guy, and this is an issue that will need exploration and discussion.

    The Wave

    Next, “Hello, Ken, I have a question about the wave,” and the wave is what I think of as the single biggest saboteur of healthy new love. I talk about it in a lot of detail in Episode 39, but I know it destroyed my capacity to find love for decades. It’s when someone is really available, decent, and present, and all of a sudden, you just want to flee. You feel claustrophobic. Your interest plummets. You feel judgmental of that person. In my experience, more than half the people at events that where I’m teaching experience the wave.

    The journey to accept, name, and treasure our Core Gifts is the journey that changes everything in our dating life.CLICK TO TWEET“My recently ex-boyfriend and I are in our late 50s so we’ve been dating for three years. The first year we spent in the same state, the last two we’ve been traveling back and forth between nearby states, and I was set to move to his state. I had a wonderful job opportunity, and we had discussed closing the distance gap for a while. This seemed like the chance to do it, but the bottom fell out of my heart when he balked. There was no sincerity in his voice. I asked if he still saw a future for us, because he’d been acting kind of distant for the past few months, which I attributed to the wave. A week after my job interview, I was back in my state and he sent me a breakup email. He wanted to remain friends but in the last few months, he’s actually become surly and angry even at his dog. His sister says he’s been dating randomly, even during COVID. This is not the man I’ve known for three years. I’m concerned for him, but I just want to know if this is wave behavior or perhaps this is his true personality.”

    Here’s what I’d like to say about that. This does not seem like just the wave. The wave is a wave. It is not sustained. There’s a quality of anger and disconnection that is indicative of a real problem here. I don’t know if it’s an addiction problem of some sort that would often manifest in this kind of a way, or if you’re seeing qualities in his personality that apart from addiction are really part of his characteralogical structure. I would say this doesn’t seem like the wave. It’s too sustained. It’s too angry. It’s too unpleasant. This is for some reason him. I think the chances are significant that there’s some kind of trauma or some kind of addiction, because it’s different than he’s ever been before. It makes me want to ask listeners, have you ever had an experience like that where someone seemed like one person, and then they shifted so significantly, and that shift remained sustained or kept coming back again and again?

    DDP 101 | Relationship And Dating Advice
    Relationship And Dating Advice: Trauma surgically bonds terrible feelings to precious parts of our being. We need to separate that bond by learning to love those parts of ourselves.

     

    What was that? Might that have been addiction in retrospect? Might that have been a mental illness? Might that have been the effects of serious trauma? It’s very important for us to know, but what I would say here is just like they say in the 12 Step Program. Remember the three Cs. You did not cause this. You cannot control this and you cannot cure it. There’s a real problem here that he’s going through. It is a good thing that you are not with him because these are real problems that it doesn’t seem like he’s addressing. As painful and as hard as that is, I celebrate the good parts of what you’ve had but it does seem like it’s really time to move on.

    Your Core Gifts

    Here’s a question from Lisa in the Netherlands. “Dear, Mr. Page. I bought your book I think a year ago, and I want to say thank you because I think it’s the first time in my life that I really have hoped to find someone who can actually love me for who I am. I have a question because it’s hard for me to find out what my Core Gifts are, and the problem is that I see again and again, when I go to that place of myself and my gifts, I get stuck. I grew up in a family where I was rejected for almost everything. I was too sensitive. I was too smart. I was too honest. I was too fierce. I was too shy. I was too strong. Nothing was okay, so I’ve done a lot of things to really start embracing and accepting myself, but when you say, ‘What’s your Core Gift?’ I just don’t know, so how can you find out what your Core Gift is when there’s so much rejection in your life in so many aspects?”

    This is a wonderful question. What I would say to you first, Lisa, is that you just named your Core Gifts in what you said. Now this concept, folks, of Core Gift is a really rich, deep, and important one. It’s something I speak about a lot in my book and in an ongoing way in this podcast. Our Core Gifts are the qualities in us, which are the most tender, sensitive, passionate. They are the deepest inner petals of our being, and often we have shame around them. We’re embarrassed around them. Their uniqueness scares us or embarrasses us. We’ve been shamed or hurt around them. The degree to which we don’t accept these attributes of ourselves is the degree to which we’re going to be sexually and romantically attracted to people who aren’t good for us.

    The journey to accept and name and treasure these Core Gifts is the journey that changes everything in our dating life, and when we learn to not just accept these qualities but cherish them, our attractions change, our love life changes, and our life changes in powerful ways, which is why this Deeper Dating journey is one of the richest journeys that a human being can experience in their life. What I would say to you, Lisa, is that the depth and richness of your being, frightened or, intimidated your family. I would say that you listed all your Core Gifts. You are deeply sensitive. You are smart. You’re really honest. You’re fierce. You’re also shy. You’re powerful but you’re also tender. You named all the qualities, and here’s something I want to say about this. In my work with people, in my intensives, in my courses, in everything around Core Gifts, once this concept becomes clear, what are the places where you are touched most deeply by life in pain or in joy and meaning? Those speak to your Core Gifts.

    There is in the book, and actually if you go to DeeperDating.com and you subscribe to my mailing list, you’ll get the first two chapters of the book in which I teach you all of the ways to discover and identify your Core Gifts. When you discover them, when people acknowledge and see, using these methods, their Core Gift, you just did that, Lisa, by saying, “What were the things I have been rejected for in my life?” The hardest part is to actually say, “Yup, those are Core Gifts. I am going to accept that these are treasures, that there is genius here, that there is power here, that these really are mine.” That’s harder than actually even finding and naming these qualities, and Lisa, that’s what I would say. You named them and you listed them, and each one is to be treasured. That’s the task, is the growing ability to treasure, honor, and listen to those parts of you.

    Trauma surgically bonds terrible feelings to precious parts of our being. We need to separate that bond by learning to love those parts of ourselves. The first step is naming them. The next step is learning to treasure them, and understand the gifts that they give us. Along with that is this incredibly important step of finding our tribe, the people who love these qualities about us. All of those pieces are necessary and yes, it’s a hard journey, especially if there’s been trauma, but that’s the journey you are on, Lisa. Thank you for that question. I will be answering more questions in the next Q&A episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. I thank everybody for joining me. I will see you in the next episode, and if you go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, join my mailing list, you’ll get lots more information about resources around this entire deeper journey to love. Thank you so much.

  • How To Liberate Yourself From The Dating Slog [EP100]

    It’s the 100th episode! And there’s no way around it; dating can feel like an unhappy repetition of the same disappointing, time-consuming and frustrating old experiences. Here are some wonderful techniques to bring you back to inspiration, courage and a wonderful sense of new direction – and perhaps even fun. In this episode, you’ll find the hope it sometimes feels like you’ve lost.

    Table of Contents

     

    Today on the 100th episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast, I talk about all the difficult crossroads we hit on our dating journeys, and what to do to bring wisdom, guidance, and inspiration to those difficult moments. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hello, everybody and welcome to the 100th episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of Deeper Dating and I’m the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a way for people to meet online in an environment that’s respectful, warm, and inspiring. Today in this podcast, I’m going to talk about that difficult period on the dating journey when we’ve learned new skills and gained new wisdom, but we haven’t found our partner yet. This week and in every 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 skills of dating are the skills of love. The skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You’ll get free gifts and you’ll be able to see transcripts of every one of the 100 episodes, and I hope you enjoy that. Also, everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you’re concerned about certain symptoms or conditions that you’re experiencing, please do seek professional help. If you like what you’re learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that, and let’s jump in.

    In the work that I teach in my courses, in my intensives, in my book, and in my life journey, something that just really hits me, I mean, of course what hits me, and this is something I say a lot, which is there is hardly a day that ever goes by that I am not humbled by my clay feet when it comes to intimacy. I’m not happy about the things that I see that I need to work on, but I am happy because I see them and I work on them, because they hurt me, because they cause me pain, and I know that there are things that I need to work on. I’m just kind of in a very ongoing way in my relationships, pretty committed to that, but really, every step of the intimacy journey shows us our clay feet. Every step of the intimacy journey brings up new questions. We’re constantly, and we should be constantly, pondering with a kind of awe of what our stuck places are. How the same patterns seem to happen again and again. How hard it may be to extricate ourselves from that, as well as all the other wonderful things about the love that we have and the connections that we have.

    I think that we do a disservice on social media and elsewhere, where we celebrate how fabulous our relationship is and how fabulous our life is because we want to be teachers of how fabulous we’ve gotten, and how other people can learn from us, and get that fabulous too. That saddens me a lot because I think it’s those humbling moments that are the sacred ones. That’s where we build. That’s where we grow. In the dating journey, I spend a lot of time in my classes, teaching people what I think are the foundations of wiser dating. I say this all the time, what I teach these four stages of discovering, naming, and treasuring your CORE GIFTS, understanding in a deeper way your patterns of attraction, and what they can teach you, and need to teach you about the places where you don’t love yourself, and the places where you do love yourself, about your bravery in life, and actually being who you are and choosing people who treasure that. That’s all stage two.

    DDP 100 | Dating Slog
    Dating Slog: It’s the humbling moments that are the sacred ones. That’s where we build and grow.

     

    Stage three is the bravery of getting out there in new and different ways, and having growth adventures in an ongoing basis in our dating lives, hopefully with help, hopefully with support. The fourth stage is the rewiring that has to happen as we enter, because when we do these steps, we lose our taste for relationships that chip away our sense of self-worth. All of a sudden, we are having relationships with people who are kinder, more available, less roller-coastery, more caring, and more interested. This happens gradually, but it happens, and then there is a whole rewiring when our attraction is not based on fear of abandonment but instead, fear of intimacy because we’re with someone who’s really present. There’s so much rewiring ongoing that needs to happen that’s rich and important, and it’s an everyday kind of thing. These are the stages of the journey.

    The Slow Part Of The Journey

    I think that when I teach people about CORE GIFTS, it’s so powerful and so liberating for people to understand that, especially when we do the deep intensive work. It’s such a liberating, wonderful thing that there’s just a great sense of hope, and then people see that they are beginning to meet different kinds of people, that maybe their field or their understanding of themselves is actually beginning to shift. That is also fabulous, wonderful, empowering and exciting. Then there’s kind of like what happens between then and when you find your partner. That can be slow-going and hard. There can be repetitions of so many sadnesses and so many lonelinesses. That’s a hard part of the journey in very unique ways. Every part of the journey is humbling. It’s both humbling and thrilling, good, and wonderful when we heal and when we grow. We discover new mastery, but it’s all humbling too. This stage where we’re looking, and it hasn’t happened yet, and it could feel like that’s going on for way too long, can be a really difficult stage.

    I remember a dream I had once when I was fiercely, deeply into my intimacy journey, my desire to change the way that I date. I hope that for all of you, you are reaching a point where you can say, “I am deeply into my intimacy journey. I am learning, I am working on this, I’m really trying, I’m learning things, I’m changing.” If you can say that, there’s just such hope in that, but I remember very much being in that place of learning and growing, and very much still being single. I remember a dream I had. There was a couple that fell deeply, deeply in love. I was watching this in my dream, and they were kissing each other, and they were so deeply in love. I somehow ended up having this beautiful, dewy rose in my hand. This beautiful rose with dew on it, it was my rose.

    Every step of the intimacy journey shows us our clay feet.CLICK TO TWEETThey were so in love and I handed them the rose, and they really appreciated it, then they were out of the dream. I was filled with bittersweetness and I just wept. I was glad that I gave them that rose, but I was just viscerally experiencing my loneliness. For me, that period where I finally let myself stop rushing and could feel my loneliness, I knew that was a sign of progress. That dream I knew was a harbinger of something new. I could feel, even though it hurt, that I was on my way. What I would want for all of you that are on this journey is that you feel like, “It’s not going as perfectly as I wanted. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way. I’m growing and I feel progress. I’m learning lessons of authenticity, truth, kindness and revealing, and making better choices,” because that’s such a huge one, is the choices we make.

    I say this a lot. We focus all the time on how attractive we are, and so not enough on our patterns of attraction. I’ve never done an episode like this before, where I just riff on the things that I think are important. I’m always a lot more prepared. You may have a different experience with this. I hope it’s a useful experience because the subject of what it’s like in the middle is such a big deal. Here’s maybe the greatest thing that I want to tell you, is don’t do it alone. Don’t do it alone. I used to love watching Sex and the City. I mean, these women were hitting up against their own brick walls again and again and again, but they at least got to have fun with each other and laugh and talk.

    I know for me, I needed friends who could guide me. I’ve mentioned this before. I created a support group for chronically single psychotherapists. It was only a few of us, but these were very wonderful people. Each week, we would come in with our struggles, what was happening in our dating life, where we were getting stuck, you know that experience of again and again, “Damn, I am hitting up against the same walls. I feel inept and I feel stuck, and I feel inadequate. What do I do?” Each of us would speak and the other members would hold what we said with care, and with what I call “cupped hands”. In that being held, my friends would notice openings that I didn’t see, like when you have a giant knot and you don’t know what to do with it, but there’s one thread that you could pull at and create an opening. They would notice these openings and they would share them with me. I still remember how pivotal that was, and how that changed my journey and other people’s journeys too. Many people in that group are now married and in couples. It’s just too hard a journey to do alone, and it’s not a smart journey to do alone because we will, even with help, again and again and again, play out old patterns.

    There’s pretty much no class that I teach where I don’t encourage people to have a learning partner, in my audio course, in my book, in my intensive. In fact, even on DeeperDating.com, when people fill out their profiles, I ask if they are interested in finding a learning partner, and there’s actually a special functionality where you can click to look for learning partners from anywhere who can pair with you, to take this journey with you and learn together, and grow together. I just can’t say how much I believe in the importance of that. Also, it could be a lonely journey, and this helps. It helps a lot. It’s kind of crazy actually to think that we can do this by ourselves, and so much of the education and the advice out there tells us, “Just change this, just change this, just change this,” but change is not easy. This is such a truth that we forget again and again.

    DDP 100 | Dating Slog
    Dating Slog: Intimacy is just too hard a journey to do alone. Find a learning partner so that you can work together.

     

    Beautiful Forks In The Road

    Every day, I wake up thinking I am going to get so much done. Every day at the end of the day, I think, “Oh my God, I got so much less done than my most conservative picture of what I could get done could even show.” I got done less than that. I’m 64 years old. I do this every single day. Change is not an easy thing. Rewiring is just not an easy thing. That’s something else I just want to talk about. I want to talk about the beauty of bewildering crossroads. How many times have you been in a situation in your dating life or your life-life where you’re like, “Damn, I am here again at this stuck place where I’ve done the same thing again,” or where, “I feel not seen, not heard, disappointed or betrayed, again. It’s happening again and I’m helpless because I don’t know how to stop this?” A bewildering point where you just don’t know how to behave or how to handle something, or you’re frustrated, resentful or angry. These are the intimacy crossroads that we experience, and they’re holy and powerful. Left to our own devices, whatever it is that our kind of inner kid told us is the best way to do this, push through, ignore other people’s needs. Only focus on other people’s needs and ignore our needs.

    The tendency, the fierce, fierce wired tendency is to do the same things. When we’re connected with someone or when we’re connected with our own inner wisdom, and I’m going to lead you in a beautiful process for your crossroads in just a couple of minutes, but whenever we’re in that situation, it’s a place to deconstruct as opposed to push through in our old ways. I think that’s an act of intimacy greatness when at those crossroads where we’re triggered, stuck, bewildered, pissed off, hurt, irritated, whatever things we are, confused, lonely. We have an old pattern of how we’re going to get through that that just somehow has not really worked that great. We can stop and somehow deconstruct, like soften around that hardened pattern, get brave around the ways that we avoid, whatever it is that we can come to that crossroads and rest, think, connect, and find some wisdom. Find some wisdom and do it differently.

    That’s magic. That builds the foundation for the life that we dream of, the life that we want. Such a rich thing these crossroads, and God knows, kazillions of crossroads, I do the same way, but those crossroads where I can stop and decenter, often by getting advice from wise, loving friends, or by doing this Inner Mentor Process, which is my favorite process in the world, and which many of you have done already. This is a crossroads process because again and again, when I’m at a stuck place, I do this Inner Mentor Process and I deconstruct my stuck place, and a breeze of wisdom comes in. I start to see the good there. I see the possibility. I see the potential. I soothe myself. I have a sense of grace, and then some wisdom pours in that’s just like essence of the best of me, and my ancestors, and the people that love me and support me, and my teachers. I can feel it. I can feel the goodness, the sweetness, the airiness, and the spaciousness of the insight that I am given when I’m at this crossroads, and I do the Inner Mentor Process, which I do pretty much every day, and I’d like to do a number of times every day. That’s a goal of mine. I would love to lead you in this process because this is a way to find a friend, and it’s the friend of the you that you were born to be. It’s a friend of the you that is soft, caring, wise, strong and grounded. It’s the you that people who love you get to see and feel at your best. It’s your magic place.

    Change is not an easy thing. We have a fierce, wired tendency to do the same things again and again.CLICK TO TWEET

    Becoming Your Inner Mentor

    Let’s do this. I’d like you to just close your eyes and just take a moment, and just relax. If you’ve had me do this Inner Mentor Process with you before, awesome, let’s do it again. You’re going to get a different set of guidance. Maybe you’ll get the same set of guidance but it will land in a different way. Get comfortable. I’d like you to remember a time that you felt really comfortable in your own skin; healthy, solid, good, and positive. Just remember a moment, a time when you felt that way. Don’t look for perfection in the way that you visualize this because my visualizations are like Swiss cheese, like moments of getting it, big moments if not, big holes. That’s fine. I love visualization because I accept that mine are like Swiss cheese. Give yourself that grace and that freedom. Also, you don’t have to have the perfect memory, just a general memory and even just little moments of glimpse.

    Do that and remember that very unique, good feeling of feeling right in your own skin. Now I want you to remember a time that you felt a deep and beautiful love. I would just ask that it not be like a memory that is traumatic, that traumatizes you, in other words, like someone who betrayed you. Even if the person is not alive and you might have sadness, but it still is not traumatic and it holds goodness, that’s a fine memory. A time that you felt filled with a big and great and deep love. It could have been a spiritual moment, it could have been in nature, it doesn’t matter. Just remember what that was like. Gently and graciously hold that memory. I think of it like a breeze with a beautiful scent. You don’t smell it all the time, but there are moments that you do, and then you just enjoy that. That’s how I’d like you to remember this moment, if that fits for you.

    Just hold that to your heart what that’s like. Now I’d like you to remember a time that you were at a crossroads, and you deconstructed an old way of behaving, and handled it in a better way and felt really good as a result. A time you did something different. You pivoted from an old, not helpful way. You did something wiser and it worked that it was good. Remember what that felt like, just hold that memory. Now I just want you to imagine the you that lives that way, like a you that is the enlightened you, that lives in the flow of those feelings. It’s an imagination. You don’t have to be there yet. You just imagine this you. On some level, it’s so close to you. It’s like a sibling. It’s so close because you know that you. It’s you. It’s the you you’re meant to be. It’s the you unblocked. It’s the you beautiful.

    Picture that you, imagine that you, full throttle, open, relaxed, present, essence of you. Now I want you to imagine that you become that you, just for the moment. It’s an imagination exercise, but it’s awesome, because it’s a practice to actually move toward becoming that you. Just imagine that you are that you, and that you actually step into that role. You step into the body, the heart and the face, behind the eyes of that you. In your guts, in your kishkes, in your heart, you’re you, in your fingertips. You are this you, and just feel and imagine what that’s like.

    DDP 100 | Dating Slog
    Dating Slog: In this slow, sluggish, confusing crossroads of dating, it’s wonderful to know that you can tap into a place of goodness, wisdom and guidance.

     

    Now, look at the you of today. I want you to speak out loud if you can or write it down. You can pause this if you like, and just take some time to let the words and the wisdom pool, and then unspool, and come out. Just take some time to do this. Share whatever guidance you want with the you of today. Good. Now, imagine opening your arms and now you’re hugging each other, and it’s the you of today and the you that you’re meant to be, your Inner Mentor, your full, full self. What that’s like to hug each other, to feel the differentness and the sameness. Feel that lovely hug, slowly open your eyes, come back, and what you wrote, what you said is your meditation for the day. That’s your perfect, couldn’t be better, daily meditation. All you have to do is love this message. By loving it, it will change you. By doing this process, the more you do it, the more you’re going to get close and friendly, and become that Inner Mentor self.

    I encourage you to use this in the slow, sloggy, confusing crossroads of dating, crossroads of all relationships. It’s so sweet and wonderful to know that you can tap into a place that has such goodness, wisdom and guidance. We need that guidance again and again. We need the kind, soft touch of caring guidance to help us steer right again and again. Thank you so much for listening to the 100th episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast, and I look forward to connecting with you in the next episode.

  • 4 Beautiful, Powerful V-Day Gifts For Singles And Couples! [EP099]
    Valentine’s Day.. a loaded and emotional time for many of us. Here are four of the most wonderful intimacy hacks I know, V Day or not! I absolutely love each one of these. Two are for single people, two are for people in relationships, and they are interchangeable. Anyone can modify these practices to apply to their circumstances. Enjoy! Share your stories. I want to hear!

    Table of Contents

    In this episode, I’m going to share four beautiful, profound, and amazing hacks for deeper intimacy, especially for Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or coupled. Stay tuned to this episode. The 99th episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hello, everybody. Welcome to the 99th episode of 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, a space for people to meet online in an environment that is inspiring, warm, safe, and fun. Today, in this podcast for Valentine’s Day, I am going to share some very powerful, beautiful, and eye-opening hacks for deeper love for single people and for people who are in couples.

    This week and every week, I want to share with you the greatest tools 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 love, and the skills of love are the greatest and most important skills of all for a life that has happiness, joy, meaning, and comfort. If you want to know more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you’ll receive free gifts. You’ll get a lot of free resources, and you’ll learn a lot more about using these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.

    DDP 99 | Valentines Day Hacks
    Valentines Day Hacks: The way to create lasting change is to find a template of understanding that is wiser to you, and then find a community or a person with whom you can have support.

     

    If you’re interested in DeeperDating.com to meet people, just go to DeeperDating.com, and you can sign up for free and start connecting in a very different way with people. 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. Also, I just want to say that if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful gift if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you for letting me give that little plug there, and let’s dive in.

    I want to start with single folks, having lived for decades as a single person looking for a relationship. I was reading recently about a research and what it says about what to do when you just wake up in the middle of the night, and you can’t go back to sleep because something is bothering you. That happens to me sometimes. I was very interested in this. What it said is that the research shows that one technique that really works is that you have paper and a pen right next to you by the bed. If you wake up and something is spinning around in your head, you will have a much better chance of getting to sleep if you do this. You write down what the issue is, and you make a commitment to yourself that you are going to tackle this in a conscious and thoughtful way, and then you are much more likely to be able to get past the anxiety and go to sleep.

    I think that that concept with something difficult, taking some kind of a conscious action is so important. Valentine’s Day, a suggestion for a process that you can do. First, I think it’s a great thing to celebrate in some way by nourishing yourself, whether that’s being alone, ordering insanely fabulous take out, having a Zoom call, or depending on who you can be with, being with somebody who you really love and feel safe with, and making a commitment. Creating a contract with yourself that in the year ahead, you are going to find a path, an approach to finding love that is deep, smart, practical and suits you, and that you’re going to commit to it.

    That’s going to take a bit of research to find the work that speaks to you the most, and you can search and search for a teacher whose work really speaks to you. There are a number of great teachers out there. Finding the work that really speaks to you, and then getting a learning partner, a buddy, or joining a community of people doing that same kind of work if that teacher has an ongoing kind of course going on. Because the research shows that the way to create change that lasts is to find a template of understanding that is wiser to you, and then find a community or a person with whom you can have support. Those are the keys. Those are the research-backed keys.

    We live in great poverty of understanding what our deepest gifts are, and that makes us spin around in circles.CLICK TO TWEETIf you make this next year one where you make that commitment, the gifts will be absolutely incredible because as you up-level your skillset at finding love, as you infuse wisdom, goodness, care, smarts, and discrimination into your search for love, you will feel better about yourself. You will feel more like you have a beautiful backbone. Your own unique flavor of wisdom will begin to take over the way that you do things, and you’ll have support at those crossroads where you get triggered in old ways.

    You’ll have a person with their arm around your shoulder, even though not literally, probably, saying to you what they see. That drop of infusion of wisdom from someone else at a juncture where there’s been tightness, fear, discomfort, and anger just makes all the difference in the world. It makes me think of Dorothy when she took that oil can, and she would just oil the joints of the Tin Man, and then he could move again. That is I think what happens when we get to these really reactive and difficult junctures, and somebody tells us something wise, and we soften and loosen. I’ve had that happen to me so many times in my intimacy life. I rely on that. I don’t know where I would be without that softening, wisening influence. If you give yourself that Valentine’s gift, I think it’s one of the most beautiful and precious gifts that you could give yourself.

    Write A Valentine’s Day Card

    Now, I want to share one for couples. This is actually one that is not just for couples, but it’s a great one for couples. Here’s what it is. You’re going to be probably writing a Valentine’s Day card. If you’re not, I really encourage you to. I encourage you in this card to really take the time to describe the things you most love, most respect, and most learn from about your partner. It’s easy to say that you love them and why you love them. That’s great. We want that in the card, but to then say what you respect them deeply for about who they are, and then getting really vulnerable. What you learned from them, what they teach you, because you’re with them, because they have gifts that you’re trying to cultivate that they’re better at, and of course, vice versa.

    You can make a pact that the two of you write this letter to each other. That’s even more fabulous, but in it, you put in all the words of what you love, respect, adore, and are attracted to about them. It feels very vulnerable to do it, but when you do it from that place, you will feel your Eros begin to loosen up like that same squeaky tin can thing. You will find your heart and your love begins to loosen, and your Eros begin to loosen up again. It’s also a really important process because we live in a kind of great poverty of understanding what our deepest gifts are, and that makes us spin around in circles. It’s very hard to go forward into a difficult world if we can’t name the treasures of our being, our Core Gifts which often have been stepped on or taken advantage of, but which are the treasures of our being in which our life’s task is to learn to become heroes around those qualities.

    DDP 99 | Valentines Day Hacks

    Valentines Day Hacks: As you up-level your skillset at finding love, you will feel better about yourself.[/caption]

     

    Your loved one can name those for you. It’s a beautiful process and it will last. It will last for you because of the things you get taught, because we need to be instructed in our deepest gifts, and the things that your partner will learn, the closeness that will happen, the way that both of you will be able to rest in a place of, “This is what they think of me. They might be really annoyed at me now. I might have been a pain in the ass. We might be going through a really difficult time, but there’s a shelf I can rest on, which is they do think this about me. They feel this about me.” We can hold that to our hearts and reframe, and rename our journey based on that understanding.

    We can move ahead remembering how much we’re loved by this person, because it’s so easy to stop remembering in day-to-day life how much this person treasures us, loves us, needs us, adores us, not at all moments, but in an essential general way. That is a practice that the two of you could do together, or the three of you. It is just fabulous. You can do it with anybody you love. This could be a Valentine’s gift.

    I love when my child was really little, everybody gave Valentines to everybody else. There are these little tiny Valentine’s and everybody gave them to everybody. I think that’s what Valentine’s Day should be. You could do this process to single folks with friends and coupled folks, you can do this with other people that you love too.

    Connect

    Next, single folks. There are so many different things. This is just a quick one, but I want to encourage you to look at the new wave of dating sites and functionalities using video, using ways to connect. I will say that my husband and I have put heart and soul into this new event, which is called Deeper Dating. It’s actually experience events online as well as an online platform. It’s built with love and for love. It’s built to incubate intimacy every step of the way throughout the process. We’d love to have you joined and you can join for free, and connect with people for free too, and hear about upcoming events in your area. This gives me great joy to be able to tell you about.

    Discover Your Inner Dating Coach

    The next kind of process or hack that I would love to share with you is one of my very favorite processes in the world. I do it pretty much every day. I have a buddy that we share our Inner Mentor Processes with. I’m going to tell you what it is. You’re going to discover your inner dating coach. Just follow me along with this. I just want you to imagine yourself, and I’m going to keep it pretty brief. You can find recordings of this. There’s an entire episode, it’s episode number three, focused on this exercise, but here’s a quick one. I like you to remember a time that you felt like your love was flowing freely and beautifully. There was that wonderful sense of love, not with someone who betrayed you. It doesn’t have to be with someone you’re with now, but when you do it, I don’t want you to do it about a relationship where there’s the flavor of betrayal in it.

    When we get to these really reactive and difficult junctures, and somebody tells us something wise, we soften and loosen.CLICK TO TWEETSomeone with whom you could think of this, and remember the good in a very rich way. A time that you felt like really the love flowing between you and another person. It does not have to be a romantic partner. It could be a child, it could be a grandparent, it could be anything, it could be a pet, but the way that it feels for you when love is flowing, when that oil can has really lubricated your being and love is moving through you. You don’t have to remember perfectly, but just remember the wonderfulness of that. I want you to remember a time that you felt really comfortable in your own skin, and how marvelous that feels to feel comfortable in your own skin. It could be at any point in your life, and you don’t have to bring it back perfectly. It could be a gentle wisp of a memory that comes in and out. It doesn’t have to be really strong or crisp by the time that you felt that and how that felt.

    We’re going to do one more. A time that you got through a relationship difficulty in a really good way with someone who could listen to you, where the two of you moved to a new positive place together, and you remember that there was learning in it and growth for you. It didn’t have to be a big change, but it was something where you said, “I’ve just learned something about how to love and how that felt,” how that feels in your heart. Now, I just want you to imagine, and it’s a fantasy, a you who loves freely as you, a you who stands in his or her or their own feet, loving as you are from the heart, and the soul, and the core of who you are. This is just you, like the you that you’re meant to be when you’re fully unfurled in love. Just picture that. You don’t have to earn it or be it right now, but just imagine it. Imagine what this being’s face looks like, how it feels in this being’s heart.

    Now, I’d like you to imagine that you jump into this self, this inner mentor, this you that you’re meant to be. Just jump in, it’s a fantasy. It’s just a fantasy, but it’s also not a fantasy because you know what it feels like on some level to be this being, because you’re in some ways almost there. Feel, imagine that you are there. You are actually there, you are this you, and look at the you of today. Right now, in your intimacy journey, from this place of essence of wonderful, unfurled you, what do you want to say to the you of today? If you have paper and pen, write it down, otherwise speak it out loud or whisper it, or just think it. Take a minute to do this. You can pause this for as long as you like.

    That is your inner mentor message. You can go back and do this so quickly. You could do it at the drop of a hat once you get comfortable, really quick. I promise you, at the crossroads of your intimacy choices when you do this, the response you get, the wisdom you get will move you in a different direction at those crossroads. Every one of those directions weaves you in a different life direction, in a different life pattern, and weaves you and moves you closer to richer, deeper love. Try this. Have this inner mentor be a dear partner to you. The other gift that happens with this is that the more you do it, the more you become that inner mentor, the more comfortable you are living in that amazing space. This is a treasure of an exercise, and I encourage you to use it, to do it, to do it every day, to do it really quickly, but watch what happens. You’re just going to love what happens.

    DDP 99 | Valentines Day Hacks
    Valentines Day Hacks: If you look at a graph of the trajectory of the quality of marital or spousal relationships, the quality of their connection and communication decreases year after year.[/caption]

     

    The Marriage Hack

    Next, this is for couples and it’s pretty cool. It’s called the marriage hack. This is a technique that is very highly researched. It was developed by Eli Finkel, a very renowned relationship expert and researcher. The marriage hack, and you can do this with close friends too. You can do it in all kinds of relationships, but this is an exercise that what Eli says is that it is the best 21 minutes that you will spend all year if you want to improve your life. The research shows that the quality of your spousal relationship affects the quality of your life more than anything else, including your health. It’s pretty wild. By healing the quality of our spousal relationships, we just bring so much more love and ease into our lives, and meaning, and possibility.

    If you look at a graph of the trajectory of marital or spousal relationship quality, you don’t have to be married, but it’s a committed relationship. If you look at a graph, you see that virtually, almost every couple, the quality of their connection decreases the quality of their communication, of their listening, of their treasuring. It gently decreases year after year. It’s a downward slope that’s almost universal, not a quick one in the cases of most healthy relationships but it’s a downward slope. This exercise, basically wherever you’re at, it won’t raise you to a higher level of your slope, other things will, but it will stop the slope from going downward, which is why the sooner you begin this process, Eli says, the better for you. Here’s what it is. It’s very much like the Inner Mentor Process.

    You could actually even add the Inner Mentor Process if you like. Here’s what it is, 21 minutes. The first thing that each of you do together is to think about a recent argument. It’s an argument that kind of captures a stuck point in your relationship. It’s a kind of argument or stuck place that happens again and again. You are going to write down the experience of a recent argument where this happened to you. Maybe it’s nagging, maybe it’s around sex, maybe it’s not feeling listened to, maybe it’s differences in how you relate to money, or the children, or politics.

    First, just write down what that is, then you’re going to write three different things. Each of them is going to take seven minutes long. You’re going to think of this conflict and you’re going to imagine a neutral third-party that wants the best for everybody, wants the best for both of you and for the two of you as a couple, and for each of you individually. A neutral third-party that wants that. You may even tweak that a little bit I think, and make it like a very wise-being. The research shows doing this exercise with thinking of a neutral third-party who wants the best for everybody.

    You’re going to write about what this neutral third-party would tell the two of you to do to handle this. Again, a neutral wise third-party who wants the best for both of you. Write down seven minutes what this person would say to the two of you to help you both get through this. The second question you’ll answer for another seven minutes, each of you will do this, is what do you think are the obstacles that you’re going to confront when you try to adopt this new approach or perspective? You’re going to write about the obstacles that you think will happen for you as you try to make this change. Both of you do that, seven minutes.

    The third seven minutes is you write down what you can do individually and as a couple to surmount those obstacles. What Eli says is that the greatest determinant of a healthy relationship is how the couple handles conflict. That’s the greatest determinant of a good relationship. This gives both of you the space to think in really different ways, and to think in more conscious, more caring, and more compassionate ways.

    What Eli says is that the research shows that the two of you get to do this together. You might not want to do it on Valentine’s Day because it could be a little difficult, or you might want to do it on Valentine’s Day. You do this 21 minutes once a year. The research clearly shows there’s beautiful and dramatic results. These are four different hacks that I’m very excited to share with you. Each of them will open up a world and open up your world to becoming that person who you were born to be, who you’re meant to be, who can love more fully, richly and wisely. We know there is nothing better than that. The knowledge that you’re going to tackle this will change your Valentine’s Day for the richer and the better. All my best to all of you on this Valentine’s Day, and on your entire future journey in intimacy. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

  • How To Discover Your Core Gifts In Your Most Challenging Qualities [EP098]
    How to handle those parts of ourselves that get us in trouble again and again in our lives? Stay tuned to this episode where you’ll learn how to work with those parts of yourself and discover the gift that lies at their core.

    Table of Contents

    How To Discover Your Core Gifts In Your Most Challenging Qualities

    How to handle those parts of ourselves that get us in trouble again and again in our lives? Stay tuned to this episode where you’ll learn how to work with those parts of yourself and discover the gift that lies at their core.

    Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new way for people to meet online that is based on values of kindness, decency, and respect. Today in this episode, I’m going to talk about how you can discover your deepest core gifts right in the heart of your biggest personal challenges. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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 nothing more than the skills of intimacy. Those 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 and you can sign on for my mailing list, or go to DeeperDating.com if you’re single and interested in looking for a relationship in a much healthier way. 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. Finally, if you like what you’re hearing and learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much and let’s jump in.

    Gifts Deep In Our Core

    In this very early part of our new year, I want to share a counterintuitive approach to change that I find tremendously exciting. Here’s the central idea – It’s that our deepest wounds, and bewilderments, and complications spring from our deepest gifts. Gifts that we have not learned how to handle and bare their power and their sensitivity as fully as we need to. By acknowledging these gifts, taking time to name them, and learning to treasure them and honor them, we can speed and deepen our own healing, and definitely our search for love.

    Our deepest wounds, bewilderments, and complications spring from our deepest gifts.CLICK TO TWEETIn these podcast episodes, in my book Deeper Dating, and in my course, I talk about the concept of Core Gifts. Those are the places of deepest sensitivity, tenderness, passion, and meaning within us. They’re the places where we have the greatest capacity to love and to create. They are also the places where most of us have been profoundly hurt. They are the places that we tend to either suppress our real self or act out our real self and get in trouble. These are our trigger spots because they are a place of deepest sensitivity. They are the places where the nerve endings of our being are the richest and most full. They are incredibly important.

    DDP 98 | Core Gifts
    Core Gifts: Our relationship to our core gifts determines what our life looks like, what our relationships look like, and what we can create in the world.

     

    I really believe that more than almost anything else, it’s our relationship to these Core Gifts that determines what our life looks like, and what our relationships look like, and what we can create in the world in all of those arenas. In my six-month intensives, we spend almost half of the intensive focusing on being able to name our Core Gifts, discover our Core Gifts, and celebrate and dignify them. I think it’s an incredibly rich subject because these Core Gifts speak to the very DNA of your being.

    When we are in the right relationship with our essential self, we do so much better in choosing partners and in maintaining relationships and growing. Our Core Gifts are strands of potential greatness within us. When we express them, we feel most alive and empowered, or most frighteningly vulnerable and raw. Core Gifts are not the same as strengths and they’re not the same as talents. In fact, a lot of time they feel like our greatest weaknesses because there’s such vulnerability around them. Because their power can be so great, that it takes a lifetime of work to learn how to handle these gifts to help them grow up, mature in the world, get legs, act and fulfill their mission, and learn the skills that are needed. Like with any greatness or any genius, there’s a great deal of skill-building that needs to happen.

    This is a question that I have asked before. I’d like you to think about this for a minute. Which of your own sensitivities and passions have more often felt like a curse than a gift to you? That is a sign of a Core Gift, or another question, “What tender parts of you have often been really misunderstood in the world or taken advantage of?” Those are other signs. What positive experiences in your life touch the heart of what matters most to you? It’s another sign. Because in pain or in joy, the great marker of a Core Gift is the depth of meaning that lies there. It’s the sense of our humanity.

    The closer we feel to the beating heart of our own or another’s humanity and meaning, the closer we are to our own deepest gifts. As a psychotherapist or as a coach, when I try to understand my client’s deepest conundrums, struggles, and challenges, I lean into it in this way. What is the Core Gift that’s trying to express itself in the heart of this struggle? Often, the answer just can’t be reduced to a word or a phrase or anything like that. It’s often just a deep feeling. Often, we need the insight of other people to help us decipher our own gifts, and that is really true.

    How do we handle the parts of ourselves that get us in trouble again and again in our lives? In this episode, you’ll learn a much more powerful way to work with them, and you’ll also discover the gift that lies at their core.CLICK TO TWEETIt’s almost impossible to understand the beauty, the power, the value, the preciousness of our gifts if people don’t reflect back to us what they are, and how to see them. This is an amazing starvation that occurs in this world, is that people don’t tell each other the gifts that they see in each other in a direct, clear way, using their wisdom and their insight to do that. When I do workshops and when I do classes and I do courses, that’s always a part of it. Because I think we need to be instructed into the value of our gifts and the quality of our gifts. We often need to be instructed. We’re not going to figure it out ourselves. We won’t understand it fully. We won’t have that moment of realization of how we’ve impacted people’s lives.

    That honoring of the gifts is so much at the heart of this, and I’ll get to that in a couple of minutes. I want to say that learning to bear the passion, the vulnerability, the sensitivity, the originality, and coming from all different directions in ways that we can’t really easily understand. These parts of ourselves, these core gifts, it’s a task of a lifetime to be able to make space for them, to honor them, to see their treasure, and to learn their language. I’m going to share a personal example of that. The experience of guilt has been a lifelong burden for me, a core wound for me. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still am prone to guilt. It’s a weight that I carry to one degree or another, frequently. It used to be constantly. Now, it’s frequently.

    I feel responsible in some ways for way too much, way too often. Knowing what I know, I approach that guilt wound on my good days in a new way. I look for the Core Gift in it. I’ve been reminded to do this by people who know me and love me, and see the gift there because I’d get lost in that guilt myself, and I do. The minute I do that, the minute I look for the Core Gift, things become clear, and it’s empathy. It’s a deep empathy, care, and concern, which doesn’t mean that I can’t be selfish and lots of other things.

    It means that that empathy is a deep quality in my being, that I experienced a lot of pain around when I feel like I haven’t done something right, or even a deeper, more generic kind of pain. That’s the gift that led me to become a therapist. It’s the gift that fuels a fierce protectiveness I have for the people I love, for my children, for my partner, for my family, for the children that were separated and put in cages at the border.

    It’s a gift that somehow in a strange way, also leaves me feeling responsible, like feeling responsible for my parent’s suffering at the hands of Hitler or my son’s ancestors’ horrors in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. This guilt is not perfectly healthy for sure, but it’s part of my genius. It’s roots spring from the depths of what makes me who I am, my fierce protectiveness, my compassion, my caring. I’m not saying that I’m this perfect embodiment of that or anywhere near it, because I have a lot of other parts too. That part of me is very real. That guilt that weighs me down has its roots in my very ability to love.

    Unleashing The Undomesticated Genius

    How does that awareness lead to healing for me, for us? How could we use this knowledge to heal our wounds and liberate the gifts trapped inside them? The first thing is to understand the gifts that lie there, that come out in convulsive, and immature, and imperfect ways, but something is coming out. Something is trying to be spoken, known and seen, and understood. We have to find what that is. You might want to take a minute right now and think about a quality in your being, in your personality that has this intensity that maybe you’ve wondered, is it too intense? Is it too sensitive? Is it too tender? Is it too demanding?

    I would say that the task is to find the Core Gift that lies there. Maybe it’s a quality of not enough, like, “I’m too quiet, I’m too tender, I’m too passive.” In those cases as well, there is a gift that lies there. For example, qualities of passion have this “something really matters to you”, and we want to find what that is, what that thing is that mattered to you in that situation so much again and again. Maybe it’s truth. Maybe it’s a connection. Those are some of the things that we can get really passionate about.

    DDP 98 | Core Gifts
    Core Gifts: It’s a task of a lifetime to be able to make space for our core gifts, to honor them, to see their treasure, and to learn their language.

     

    Maybe it’s needing space. Maybe it’s needing freedom, but if these things come up again and again, there is a Core Gift. There is a germ, a seed of something that is aching to be expressed and probably has not been fully honored. What does it work for all those reasons is simple willpower. Telling ourselves that we have to stop, that we have to become more mature. For me, that I have to get more adult and realistic about where my responsibility ends.

    As seductive as that simple approach seems, use your willpower, use your smarts, use your logic. I have found that it has very little leverage. It’s one of the weakest tools that there is. This is what I’ve come to see as the step that is the most important. This quality of yours that you thought of, what if each of us in these arenas sees the humanity at the heart of the wound? What it was we were aching for? What it was that hurt us? What it was that we needed?

    It’s hard to do that when we’re upset at ourselves. It’s hard to do it when we’re upset at someone else who didn’t treat us right. The act of saying, “This makes emotional sense. This is what I was trying to do. Not well, imperfectly, but this is what I was trying to do.” A dignifying of that Core Gift, to me, is what I think the first step, the most important step. For example for me, the care that fuels my guilt is what’s best about me. Even though my guilt creates like whole slews of problems, it’s still the size of my caring that gets me in trouble.

    As much as I might want to manage to reduce that caring to a simpler, easier, more handleable level, that will never work. I can’t amputate my soul. Our Core Gifts spring from a source more profound and more essential than anything that we can control. If we shift, if you think about what is the core gift in that pain, in that sensitivity, in that passion that you experience again and again, whatever it is that you’re picking up. Maybe you could think of it as like, “This is the thing that gets me in trouble in my relationships.” I, fill in the blank. The task here is to feel the humanity behind what that is and to name it, and to see the gift in it.

    Until we cherish the gift at the heart of our flaws, we’re going to live in knots and miss out on the magic that makes us who we are.CLICK TO TWEETWhen we do that, when we say it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t make the perfect logical sense, but it makes sense in terms of who I am and what matters to me, and my wounds, and all the different parts of me. It makes sense that this made me feel that way. When we can do that, we dignify those feelings. We’re much more likely to avoid the two great dangers at a moment like that. One is suppression of what our needs are because we feel ashamed, or our feelings are because we feel ashamed. The other is acting out, expressing those things in a way that is unkind or doesn’t have empathy, or doesn’t take the other person into account, or forgets how much this person loves us and cares about us, and all that they’ve done for us. Those are two ways that we can get stuck. When we begin by saying, “Yeah, this is a treasure,” all of a sudden, we are holding it like the parents that we wish we had.

    When we begin by feeling the mystery and the humanity in our gifts, something different happens. When we name the gift and we honor it, and find the inner logic, worth, sense, and truth of it, something else happens. We become more human, more balanced, and more chill. Finally, whole new doorways of possibilities begin to unfold. I want to say here too, as much as I might want to embrace my gifts of empathy, for example, as much as we might want to fully embrace our gifts, often we can’t because our Core Gifts, there could be so much pain there, so much longing, even so much joy and so much meaning. There’s a fierceness. There’s a depth. They touch the very marrow of our being.

    That’s where they come from, the very core of our being. It stands to reason that their humanity would be hard to bear. I think of those qualities not as attributes but as portals. I think of them as portals to something so vast, something so mysterious, in my opinion, something so holy because I wouldn’t care that much if it wasn’t. This way of looking at the world, this way of looking at conflict and argument and confusion is so much kinder. It allows space. It gives us that kind of core where we can move around and be more agile in handling the complexities and pains that come up, when we hold it with that kind of kindness.

    How do we do this though? If these feelings are so hard to bear, I think that what we need to do is gradually over years, practice exposing ourselves to our Core Gift in small doses with a sense of treasure and dignity. Gradually increase our tolerance for their beauty, their bigness, their tenderness, and all the challenges that they give us. How do you live in the world with this much empathy? How do you live in the world with this much caring? How do you live in the world with this much fierce sense of justice?

    Whatever for you these qualities are, I think that the key is to acknowledge that there’s a treasure in you, that is a mystery that you will be unfolding and unfurling and discovering for your whole life, but that it is the fuel of the life that you want, and the richness that you want. Our deepest gifts can definitely grow. They can mature and they need to mature. When we do this, we can finally parent them. It’s like parenting a fiercely gifted child, but those gifts can never be domesticated. They will never fit into the small and safe and well-mannered boxes that we think we’re supposed to create for them.

    DDP 98 | Core Gifts
    Core Gifts: There’s a treasure within you that’s a mystery that you’ll be unfolding your whole life, but that is the fuel of the life that you want.

     

    They’re going to continue to get us in trouble. They’re going to cajole us to the edge of authenticity. They’re going to cause tears that we don’t understand. They’re going to shock us with their truths because genius domesticated is genius lost. Genius has fire and challenge, and that’s a gift. We spend so much time trying to get these Core Gifts to listen to us, to behave correctly, and to line up in a nice row, to do what we tell them. Guess who loses that battle again and again? Until we cherish the gift at the heart of our flaws, we’re going to live in knots.

    More importantly, we’re going to miss out on the magic that makes us who we are and which allows the precious people who are made for us to finally discover where we are. This new year, my wish is that all of you, and that I, get to feel more deeply and treasure more kindly and fully the deep gifts living at the heart of our struggles. That we allow ourselves an answerless awe at their mystery, their beauty, and their humanity. Thank you so much for joining me in this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode

  • A Life-Changing Exercise for Everyone Who Has Lost A Loved One [EP097]
    I’m very excited to share a powerful and transformational process for anyone who has lost a loved one, and to share some very personal stories about my own experiences with this exercise in my own life. This process is truly life-changing!

    Table of Contents

    A Life-Changing Exercise for Everyone Who Has Lost A Loved One

    Wisdom from Dr. Jamie Turndorf’s book, Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased

    In this episode, I’m excited to bring you a life-changing exercise for anyone who has lost a loved one, so stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating, and Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a site to help single people meet online in a way that’s respectful, kind and inspiring. Today, I’m going to be talking about a powerful process, a life-changing exercise for anyone who has lost a loved one. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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 nothing more than the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts and learn a lot more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey. You’ll also find a complete transcript of every episode. I also want to say that everything I’m going to be sharing is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions or symptoms, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would so appreciate it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you and let’s jump in.

    Many of us have lost people we love. Many of us are still suffering from those losses, and maybe even feel blocked in their ability to move on. Many of us might not feel blocked in our ability to move on, but might not have had the healing that we could potentially have with someone even after they pass. I think the greatest secret to a love-filled life is cherishing the relationships that we have already. That includes relationships with people who have passed. Today, I want to share a simple but profoundly healing exercise for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

    Until wounds are healed, we will continue to be limited in terms of our capacity to find a new relationship.CLICK TO TWEETI’ve often heard people say that they can feel the presence of loved ones who have died. I have to admit that usually, I have felt a pang of envy when I heard those words. This has happened to me. I have experienced it, but I haven’t usually experienced it when I’ve lost people I love and treasure. For me, when I’ve lost a loved one, not in all cases but in most cases, it’s like the door just shuts. It doesn’t shut on my grief, but it shuts on my sense of access to that relationship. After reading Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased by Dr. Jamie Turndorf, I find that that is beginning to change. Although unlike Dr. Turndorf, I’m still somewhat of an agnostic on the subject of, is it actual communication with people who have passed? This episode is for people who believe there is actual communication and those who aren’t sure, and those who just don’t believe it. These exercises apply to everyone.

    Life-Changing Exercise
    Life-Changing Exercise: Old wounds can be healed, and we can feel the warmth of past love in our bodies and our hearts.

    Our cultural training around death can close down a wealth of available love and inner guidance that comes from a sense of connection to people we’ve lost, whether or not we believe that their spirit is still alive. Almost none of us have been taught about the power of creating an inner dialogue with people we’ve lost. In the spirituality of many Eastern religions, and also in that of many indigenous cultures, there are really strong beliefs that an ongoing connection with our ancestors links us to the very core of our life’s meaning, but few of us are taught how to create that connection.

    Dr. Turndorf says, “When we don’t reconnect and work out unfinished business with those who have passed, we limp through life dragging our unhealed wounds.” I just want to say that so many of us have had broken hearts in love, and it’s not as though the person has passed away, but as though there’s been such a profound loss that we are left sometimes feeling like we’re limping through life. Until those wounds are healed, it limits us in terms of our capacity to find a new relationship. This exercise applies as well to situations where we’ve lost a loved one, not through death but through a breakup.

    I found in my own life that when loved ones die, somehow they’ve become elevated in my mind. That has held me back from cherishing my connection with them as fully as I would have liked to. I’m a 64-year-old gay man. I have survived through the AIDS crisis. I have lost a lot of people. I’m a 64-year-old man, so I’ve lost a number of people already right there too. When these loved ones were alive, I reached out to them as often as I wanted, but after they passed, I lost that inner freedom to converse with them in my own mind. It would be a thing if I wanted to reach out to them because I would be hit with this immense gulf of the loss of them, which I somehow didn’t believe I could crossover, traverse, communicate through or past.

    I began to feel awkward and also less deserving because of guilt. The ways that I have not been there for that person, the ways that I’ve let them down, the ways that I didn’t show up, and the ways that I wasn’t there enough. Those guilts became magnified when there was no chance to make them up anymore. Was I a good enough friend? Was I a good enough grandson? Was I a good enough mentee? Was I a good enough mentor? Those doubts led me to deny myself a sense of free access to their presence. Once the really sharp waves of grief had passed, I placed my loved ones on this precious but dusty shelf, just relegating our relationship to the past.

    In her book, Dr. Turndorf teaches a method for dialoguing with departed people. Also, this can be used for people that we have broken up with and have ended relationships with or they have with us, but it holds tremendous healing potential for everyone in those situations. Dr. Turndorf is really passionate in her certainty that we can communicate with people we’ve lost, and I hope that’s true, especially after the passing of my father, where amazing things happened. I’ll share a story. This is quite an amazing story. I felt my dad’s presence after he passed in a way that I hadn’t felt at all as much with most other relationships where I lost people. I got used to feeling this with my dad. I remember at one point, I said to my dad, “Could you give me a sign?”

    Folks, I swear this really happened. My husband has his office and I walked by his office to the bedroom and sticking out of his door on the floor was a photograph of my dad’s big hand and my child’s little baby hand in his. It was not there when I passed previously. I believed it more with him. I felt his presence in a different way, but that’s not something that I’ve always had. I just wanted to share that story. There is something that I found again and again, and that is my relationship with lost loved ones, when I take it off that precious and somewhat dusty shelf, can come to life again through this process that I’m going to teach you of dialoguing from Dr. Turndorf. Old wounds can be healed and really we can feel the warmth of past love in our bodies and our hearts. I know that many of you know that already.

    My dad, he was a Holocaust survivor. I’ve talked about him in a previous episode. I think I called that one, Losing Love and Finding It Again. My dad was a teenager when he and his mom were wrenched apart in a way that was unimaginable during the Holocaust, and he never saw her again. Somehow, he went on to create a life that was full of love, family and success, but that unspeakable pain remained inside of him. Half a century, after he was liberated from concentration camp, and I dragged him to a workshop. In that workshop, he was asked to have a conversation with a loved one who died and he chose his mom. He remembered her really vividly and he spoke to her. Maybe it was the first time that he ever spoke to her since he saw her that day. He realized, it really hit him without a doubt, exactly what she would say to him, and that moment was life-changing. This is what he imagined. He imagined his mom looking at him and looking at his life and he knew she would say, “Eric, look what a beautiful family you’ve created. Look what a good life you have now. I’m so proud of you.” He had never had the gift of knowing that that’s what she would say and of having that window onto his current life until he did that exercise.

    Forgiveness is not an obligation. It is not a requirement. It is an organic gift that comes with intention and desire over time.CLICK TO TWEETThat exercise brought him a profound healing. One that none of us could ever have imagined even being possible. We felt the change in him after that. It was like a giant knot had finally unknotted inside him. Since reading this beautiful book, Love Never Dies, which describes the dialogue process in great detail, I have used Dr. Turndorf’s technique and it has opened life-changing doors for me. It’s a powerful process and I encourage everyone who feels ready to give it a try. Dr. Turndorf generously agreed to share her instructions for this process, and I’m going to tell you her words, and maybe you could even do them now. You can absolutely pause as you do it. As long as you’re not operating heavy machinery or driving, you can even sort of do it as you walk, sit, reflect or whatever it is that you’re doing. The first step is to make an effort to be more still and quiet. I’m excited and happy to be leading you in this. The idea is to create pockets of peace – moments in which you sit in silence, so you turn off the TV, the radio, the cell phone, and your computer, even if only for ten minutes. You just sit in some silence.

    Dr. Turndorf says, “In Love Never Dies, I share a lot of exercises for connecting with loved ones. The most powerful is my dialoguing with the departed technique.” Again, you don’t have to believe in life after death, and it could even be done with people who are still alive, but there’s been a breakup or a silence. You first find your stillness as she described, and then you speak back and forth with whoever it is that you want to contact. You talk aloud and you make a first statement, and then you just be open to what comes back in. It might be a picture, a thought or a sensation. You might want to try that now, and then you can write down or record if you have that capacity with you. If not, don’t worry, but you could write down and record not only what you say, but definitely what you hear, speaking aloud both your part and also what you hear or imagine or sense coming back.

    You just keep dialoguing back and forth for as long as you wish. You can dialogue to get support and guidance or to just reconnect. This can also be like an inner mentor process that I teach, where you connect with your wisest self, because you can get such wisdom from this process. You could say goodbye to the person. If someone was ripped from you, you can say goodbye to their physical body. If it was a traumatic ending, you can share what that was like for you. You can say goodbye in whatever way you wish, but above all, you can dialogue to heal any unfinished business. Now, if a death is really raw, traumatic or evokes PTSD symptoms, you would want to do this in the presence of a therapist or a very skilled and trained clinical facilitator.

    Going back to the experience, the good news is you do not have to force forgiveness on yourself. I deeply believe in the concept that forgiveness is not an obligation. It is not a requirement. It is an organic gift that comes with intention and desire over time, honesty, and with the help of dialogue. Using this technique, just pick up where you’re stuck with this person and just keep talking back and forth until you begin to sense a kind of quality of resolution. As you repeat this technique, it can heal a lot of emotional negative issues or struggles that remain with you. After reading this book, I tried this dialogue with two loved ones. I did it with my dear friend, Michael, who died of AIDS in 1991, and I’ve talked about him a bunch.

    Life-Changing Exercise
    Life-Changing Exercise: Our cultural training around death can close down a wealth of available love and inner guidance that comes from a sense of connection to people we’ve lost.

     

    I also did it with my grandmother, who died at 99 years old, as me and my sister were coming back with my infant baby from Cambodia after I adopted him. In both cases, just the act of remembering how it felt to be with them brought this warm kind of living memory of their presence. Was it their actual presence? Was it real? It felt real to me, but the question didn’t concern me because the love that we shared was unequivocally real and that’s what I felt. It felt almost as alive as it ever had. In that conjured sense of memory, I felt their loving concern for me.

    I got a dose of their familiar guidance and presence. Their presence moved me, just like it did so many times during my life and their life. I was struck by the fact that I denied myself this poignant gift for so long because I felt like I didn’t deserve it, because I felt like it wasn’t real, because I felt like it was not what one does. Ridiculous kind of things really, because there was a world of rich relationships that were hard-won, that were crafted over decades, and were still available to me. If nothing else, in their living presence inside me, in the ways that they had imprinted me and still lived inside of me. Their kind but sharp wisdom could be resurrected in present time just by remembering them and having a dialogue.

    In Memory Of John Neill

    Just to share one more story, I was privileged to spend some of the last days of his life with my dear friend and mentor, John McNeill. John was a priest who wrote a book called Taking a Chance on God and The Church and the Homosexualwho was kicked out of the Jesuit order by Benedict, who was then I believe Cardinal and became Pope later, for being gay. He was an LGBT activist and he changed my life, and the lives of countless other people. Another time, I’ll talk about what he meant to me. I had to leave John the day before he died. I’m just going to share one more story. John loved vichyssoise. It was a soup that he really loved. On the last day before that, as he was really moving toward passing, he just looked up and he said, “vichyssoise.” I made this my mission and I took a taxi 20 miles or something to this one place that was open that had vichyssoise in Fort Lauderdale.

    I got it for him and brought it back. My dear friend, the activist Brendan Fay and I, late at night, fed that to John on a little sponge, but then we got rid of the sponge because who wants to eat good food off a sponge? We used a tiny spoon. He loved it and he smiled. That was the story of how I got to give a very precious last wish to someone who had helped me and healed me in so many ways. Anyway, that next day, I had to leave. It was the day before John passed and the room was filled with his loved ones, but I gave myself the gift of asking for some moments alone with him. That’s something I learned from the passing of another friend where I didn’t give myself that gift.

    I bent down toward his ear and I just whispered a stream of pure gratitude to him. I told him how he changed my life, how he brought me back to the me that I had given up in my childhood. I told him how he helped me overcome old childhood shame, not just of being gay, but even a deeper shame at being me. I thanked him for growing me back to the parts of myself that I had given up so many years ago, parts that allowed me the gift of my current personal life and my professional life. He gave that to me. He gave it back to me because of what he saw in me. I felt a resolve never to put our relationship on that old dusty shelf. I just drank him in. I looked into his sweet face and I just filled myself with him. I knew that I would be coming back to visit him. That was a gift that I no longer had to deny myself. I hope that this exercise sounds helpful to you. I hope you try it and use it. I think you’ll find incredible riches from it. I also encourage you if this interests you, to look for Dr. Turndorf’s book, Love Never Dies. Thank you all for listening to this, a very kind of different episode. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

  • How To Change The Script Of Your Love Life [EP096]
    How do you truly change the script of your love life so the same painful patterns don’t keep happening again and again – and newer, wiser patterns can take their place? In this episode, you’ll learn some powerful and life-transforming tools to change the course of your future in love.

    Table of Contents

    How To Change The Script Of Your Love Life

    Your Myth Of Lost Love: Part 2

    How do you truly change the script of your dating life so the same kind of patterns in situations don’t keep happening again and again? Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn how.

    Hello, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating, and the co-founder of DeeperDating.com, a new way for people to meet online that is respectful, warm, and inspiring. In every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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, and the skills of intimacy 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. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get some free gifts and learn about how to use these ideas to transform your search for intimacy, and you’ll find complete transcripts of every episode as well. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice. Finally, I want to say that if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful gift if you could subscribe, leave a review on iTunes, and that would be much appreciated. Now, let’s jump in.

    DDP 96 | Myth Of Lost Love
    Myth Of Lost Love: Some people get in trouble repeatedly because of being naïve, as they don’t necessarily see the reality of how others behave.

     

    Last Episode Recap

    Let me begin by recapping what we talked about in the last episode because this is a two-part series. In the last episode, I talked about our scripts that we carry with us in our search for love. They’re deep and profound and that we act out again and again. One of these, I call the myth of lost love, which is the story that we tell ourselves about why we haven’t been loved right, what it says about the world, and what we need to do about it? These scripts are deep and profound things. They truly shape our behavior in amazing ways, and we can change these scripts by bringing wisdom into our search for love. I want to just start by recapping what the myth of lost love is, what we talked about in the last episode. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how we can deconstruct that myth, and how we can rewire and build a story that makes more sense, that holds us in a better way, that allows us to make better and wiser choices, that allows more freedom and more intimacy.

    Let me start by just explaining this concept of the myth of lost love. In the ways that we were not seen and the ways that we were not loved right, and we’re human beings in a world filled with pain, suffering, and defense, and so none of us were loved perfectly right. Also, all of us have qualities that are both genius qualities but also deeply challenging to us and to the world. They’re the source of our greatness, but they are also the source of so much struggle and dilemma, because we have to grow into the power, the size, the gentleness, the intensity of these gifts, and whatever they are. Of course, our parents and our caregivers have also been wounded, and have not been able to see us and meet us properly in important ways, no matter how much they loved us.

    Admitting how you push love away is an act of greatness.CLICK TO TWEETOf course, the world has hurt us in our dating lives and our romantic lives. I think almost all of us have been hurt and often profoundly hurt, so we create this myth of lost love that originates in our childhood that grows and develops in our life and our dating life. It has three parts to it. The first part is it gives us an explanation of what the world is, like the world is a place where I can’t trust, or the world is a place where I am generous again and again, and keep being taken advantage of. The world is a place where this particular quality of mine has never really been seen or cherished and hence, has never felt safe. These are deep down stories that we tell ourselves about what the world is, and really how the world is going to treat us, and particularly, how the world is going to treat us if we show our deepest authentic self.

    That’s the first part of the myth. I’m doing this briefly because it’s what we talked about in the last episode. The second part of the myth is, what’s wrong with us? When a child is not treated right, they always think, “What’s wrong with me? How did I do this? How did I create this?” Often, we’re told directly or in subtler ways that it is our fault. We learn these deep down messages that way down in our psyche we translate into, “This is what’s wrong with me that I am not loved, seen, honored, or respected, etc.” The third part of the myth is, what do we need to do to protect ourselves so that we are not hurt this way again? So that we can avoid that pain and still find love. Often, these are kind of Byzantine complicated patterns that we create, that end up being self-sabotaging, and they get played out again and again. These are our myths of lost love.

    DDP 96 | Myth Of Lost Love
    Myth Of Lost Love: The qualities that are the reason why people don’t love you are almost always connected to your core gifts.

     

    Based on these myths, we act out stories again and again. These myths, to some huge degree, determine who we’re crazy attracted to, who we’re not interested in, because a part of our being is seeking resolution to the pain of that myth, but does it based on the stories that come out of that myth, so a repetition happens again and again. How do we change this script that is so deeply embedded, so habitual, so reasonable to our inner child, the way that we’ve protected ourselves? It’s so embedded. How do we change that script? That’s kind of what I have devoted so much of my life work to figuring out how to do, and that includes my own personal work and journey. I’m excited to share some ideas on that, but the first thing that I want to say is something that I say all the time. That is that the research shows that if you’re trying to change a deeply embedded habit, two things that you need are some kind of template for a different way of being that feels to you like it has wisdom and solidity, and that you can really believe in.

    The second thing is a community of support, even if it’s just one person. Some kind of community of support where you can fail, think, rewire, pick yourself up, try something new, and unwire, dewire, and rewire again and again in the presence of a compassionate, somewhat objective, more spacious person who can help us not ram ourselves back into the same way of trying that we habitually do again and again. Don’t try to do that alone. In all of my classes, in all of my courses, and in my book too, I have people find a learning partner. Even on DeeperDating.com, when you fill out a profile, you can check whether or not you want a learning partner, and then you can search for people who are looking for learning partners. Please do this, give this gift to yourself in changing your script, not thinking that you can do it alone, no matter how smart you are, and no matter how self-disciplined you are, because this is a deeper process. It’s another dimension than just your smarts or your willpower.

    People who need to protect their soul, heart, peace, and safety don’t use fighting as a solution.CLICK TO TWEET

    Deconstruction And Rewiring

    That said, I want to talk about the deconstruction and the rewiring around the three parts of this myth that we talked about. The first one that we talked about was understanding of what the world is and how the world will treat you when you’re authentic, when you’re vulnerable, when you need, when you’re extra fierce, when you’re extra tender, whatever those most important parts of you are. Out of our picture of what the world is and how we will be treated, we develop attachment styles. Some of the attachment styles that we develop, some of the ways that we develop are as follows. Tell me if any of them or you can tell me if you do the Ask Ken thing, but otherwise, think for yourself about which of these feel like they’re true for you.

    Here’s a really interesting one that I’m going to start with. I guess this is what it’s like. It’s like you’re in a burning building and you can only take out one thing. In a difficult life, we choose the things that we most need for survival. If what we most need is a sense of freedom, we have to often cut the cords to dependence. If what we most need is interconnectedness, we have to cut the cords to being radically authentic and we’ll have to people please. Each of us makes hard choices of what we’re going to take out of the burning building, and it’s the thing we need the most. One thing that I’ve noticed in my work is that people who have a deep connection to goodness need the world to be a good place, need to see goodness in the world. One way that they survive is a kind of enforced naivete, where they won’t see the reality of how selfish people can be, of how unkind people can be, not everyone but some people, how ethicless some people can be, and how abusive.

    DDP 96 | Myth Of Lost Love
    Myth Of Lost Love: If you don’t know how to embrace your core gifts, you will be sexually and romantically attracted to people who will step on them.

     

    To protect the sense of the world’s goodness, some people need to hold a naivete, which gets them in trouble again and again because they don’t necessarily see the reality of how people can behave. Some of us who have been told that we don’t have a right to have a voice, who have been hurt in the place of our dignity, autonomy, sovereignty, or many other things like that, hold a quality of defensiveness. Those of us that believe that the world is going to cut us down, that the world is going to hurt us, that the world is going to squash us, that if we are weak, if we are not strong, if we don’t fight back regularly and even preemptively, we’re going to be wounded and hurt. Those of us who have that have a quality of defensiveness or anger that we then use to protect ourselves against a world that’s hostile.

    Some of us who need to protect our soul, our heart, our peace, our safety don’t use fighting as a solution. We use retreat. We pull back and we become avoidant. Some of us who deeply believe that we might be betrayed, but deeply need connection, those of us who need connection in very deep ways, we all do, but some people are wired so that’s the thing they have to take out of the building, the one thing they need the most, and have this belief that we will be abandoned or not seen or dropped. We have a more insecure attachment style. These are just some examples and there are so many more, but they’re examples of, first of all, what’s the thing that we tell ourselves? You could think about this for a moment now. What are the myths that you’ve told yourself about how the world is an unsafe place, and just to reiterate that these myths are in a way seen from a child’s mind, but they have real reality not only in your experience but about what the world actually can be like?

    Those with a deep connection to goodness can often tend to become naïve.CLICK TO TWEET

    Core Gifts

    Now, I want to talk about the second part. The second part is what we tell ourselves is wrong with us, that we have created this pain or this problem, or that we have invited it or allowed it. That is the human tendency, is to blame ourselves. This is a really rich one and connects to our core gifts. There’s a lot of complexity, a lot of richness here that I talk about in greater depth in my book, and in many podcast episodes where I speak about core gifts. I’m just going to say briefly that the amazing thing here, the incredible thing here is that the qualities that we decide are the reason that people don’t love us, are almost always connected to our deepest gifts, which I call our core gifts. Those are the parts of us that have a quality of depth, intensity, sensitivity, or differentness that people don’t normally easily know how to handle, including us.

    They’re the deepest richest parts of us. They are our greatest beauty, and the more we align with those parts and honor them, and kind of live like artists in the presence of those qualities, like a deep sensitivity, a truth-telling, a hunger for accomplishment, achievement or creativity, a passion, an intensity, a tenderness, a humility, a generosity that runs so deep that it’s gotten us in trouble. These are the holy parts of us. These are the powerful parts of us, and the simple, strange question of, what have we told ourselves is wrong with us? Whatever those qualities are, are almost definitely intimately connected with our greatest gifts.

    If we don’t know how to embrace those qualities, we will be sexually and romantically attracted to people who step on them, deny them, ignore them, or don’t at all understand or appreciate them. The deep journey here and the gift of finding out our answer to that question, and you could take a moment now and pause and think about this. What do you tell yourself are the flaws in you that people just can’t love or betray you or let you down because of, or are too much, or maybe are not strong enough? Those are often the two things. We think we’re too much or we think we’re not enough. Around each of those points, there is a depth of being that’s so big, that maybe the world hasn’t known how to handle it, and we haven’t known how to handle it. Those are our core gifts.

    The journey here is to name those gifts. To come to understand them like we would understand a child that we have, who is brilliant and gifted, and also struggling with the weight of those gifts. There’s a lot of compassion that we need to hold. Also, a lot of treasuring and renaming again and again of the worth of these gifts. When we do this, we form into a self that can really live in an extraordinary way in the world. Over time, we find as we do this, as we name these gifts, is that when we’re dating, when we’re in relationships, we will notice when those gifts are not being seen. We’ll notice when those gifts are being stepped on or taken advantage of or abused, and we’ll say, “This feels horrible, no.”

    Instead of doing our old methods of convincing ourselves that we have to change, or convincing ourselves that the world is just this way, and this is all we can expect, we will instead begin to say, “This is not a place where I can feel really at home. I need to do something about that.” When we do that, our search for love changes, and our life changes. That is why this is really a kind of almost holy journey because it’s a journey to come back to those most deeply authentic, passionate, tender and sacred parts of ourselves that really as we do, our mission in life becomes clearer, and our capacity to love in a wiser way and choose in a wiser way also develops. That’s the second piece of how we blame ourselves, which can lead us to seeing what our deepest gifts are.

    The third one is then, what are the defense mechanisms that we create? What are the structures? What are the flight patterns from intimacy? What are the things that we do to look for love based on that myth? How do we behave when we believe this is what the world is? How do we behave when we feel shame around some of our deepest core gifts? What are the things that we do? What is the choreography of our behavior around those wounds? This is an incredibly rich and complex question, but I think I could just ask this in a way that you could think about briefly and just see what pops up.

    What are your ways of unconsciously, or maybe even consciously, pushing love away? What are the patterns that are yours by which you push love away even though you’re looking for it? You can take a minute, you can pause and think about it, but I want to say, I think it behooves all of us to become a student of our fear of intimacy and to really know the ways that we do this because we all do. I think that that is an act of greatness. It is to be able to swallow and admit, “These are the ways I push love away. This is the choreography of how I protect myself in ways that maybe aren’t the wisest, but they are the best I have had, and this is what I could consider doing differently.” I think that’s an act of greatness and humility. I think that the bang for your buck that you get in your intimacy journey when you tackle these things is absolutely huge.

    Each one of these things that we’ve talked about, your search for love and your intimacy life, will change profoundly as you embrace these pieces. You can see why this path is really a path to your own greatness, a path to the deepest parts of you, and God knows love is one of the deepest parts of all of us. Thank you so much for listening. I encourage you to think about all of these things and explore them further. I wish you blessings in your deep, profound, precious, and important learning journey around your search for love. I look forward to speaking with you in the next episode.

  • How To Discover Your Personal “Myth Of Lost Love” [EP095]
    Your Myth of Lost Love is the story you created to help you make sense of love. Your myth profoundly impacts the people you choose, the ways you behave in loving relationships, and ultimately, your entire intimacy journey. In this episode, you’ll discover your own personal Myth of Lost Love–and the deep Core Gifts at the heart of this myth.

    Table of Contents

    How To Discover Your Personal “Myth Of Lost Love”

    Understanding Your Core Beliefs About Romantic Love

    In this episode of the Deeper Dating, you will discover your myth of lost love, the story that you crafted to help you understand your relationship to love and to the world. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

    Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page. I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the book, Deeper Dating, and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a site where single people can meet based on the principles of dignity, respect, kindness and inspiration. Today, I’m going to talk about the myth of lost love, which are the inner stories that we tell ourselves, that shape the entire way we approach our romantic lives. You’ll learn about what your myth of lost love is. Every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools 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, and the skills of intimacy are the skills of life.

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts. You’ll also have access there to all of the transcripts of all of my episodes. I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice. Finally, if you like what you’re hearing and learning here, it would be a wonderful gift if you could subscribe and even review this podcast. That’s a tremendous thing. The reviews that people have given have just been so beautiful and I’m really appreciative. Let’s jump in.

    Myth Of Lost Love

    Today, I’m going to be talking about what I call the myth of lost love, which is the deep story that we tell ourselves about who we are, who the world is, and how we need to behave in order to protect ourselves, and be loved. I call it a myth because it has an ancient depth. It touches our heartstrings in a very deep way. There are universal themes, but it’s also very personal. Like a myth, it shapes the way we approach our lives, and in this case, our romantic lives and our entire intimacy life. What we’re going to do in this episode is I’m going to talk about the different components of the myth of lost love. I’m going to ask you some questions as we go, and you can just quickly think of what your response is. By the end of this episode, you will have a much richer understanding of your myth of lost love and how it shapes your romantic life, and also where it came from.

    There’s a lot of rich stuff here. You’re also going to be learning how your myth of lost love points to you, what your deepest core gifts are that you have not yet been able to embrace. It’s exciting and profound stuff. This is going to be a two-part episode. In the second episode, we’ll be talking about how we can change the story of our myth of lost love. To have it finally become a story that works and heals us, and adds to the love in our life instead of ultimately subtracting from it, and that includes self-love. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what the myth of lost love is. You’re going to identify yours, and in that, you will get glimpses of your deepest core gifts, which lie at the heart of your entire intimacy journey.

    The act of suppressing hidden parts of us is an act of quiet violence against our deepest being.CLICK TO TWEET

    The Story We Tell Ourselves As Children

    Each one of us has created this myth of lost love, which is a life-defining story that we use to explain why we were not loved the way we needed to be when we were children, why we were not loved the way we needed to be by our romantic partners, and what we can do to repair that pain or protect ourselves from experiencing it again. This myth comes alive whenever we’re in a relationship that really matters to us, and it can stir us down to our very core. I’m going to share a story, and that story is going to illustrate some of the different points of the myth of lost love.

    Why We Deserve Punishment

    The first dynamic in the myth of lost love that we create is the story we tell ourselves as children, about the ways in which the world is an unsafe and unloving place.

    Debbie’s story. Debbie’s dad divorced her mother when Debbie was about seven years old. She was a single parent with four older boys, and one very sensitive little girl to raise. Her mom just didn’t have the time or the energy for her. She seemed angry a lot of the time. Debbie’s many attempts to show love to her mother were sometimes returned, but often they were rebuffed or ignored completely. Debbie really only remembered a few times when her mother showed her real affection. Sometimes, her mom would actually humiliate her when Debbie showed her need, her longing for connection, her soft side. As a result, Debbie ended up experiencing the world as a place that had an essential coldness, and where the warmth of real love was mostly unattainable. She developed a myth of lost love to explain why her mother’s love was being denied to her. She came to the conclusion that the world was a cold place that rewarded need and vulnerability with humiliation, and rewarded the lack of need and the lack of vulnerability with success.

    That’s the first part of how we come to see and understand the world based on our experiences. You might want to take a minute to think about that. We’re going to get to this one more deeply in a moment, but what are the parts of you that you felt were not treasured or honored at home, in your deep love relationships, or in the world in general? What did that teach you or tell you? What did you decide about the world because of that? Some people decide that the world is a cold place and shut down in particular ways, and protect themselves because they hold onto a sense of reality. Other people, for very different reasons, can experience abuse, neglect and those same things. What they need to hold on to is a sense of goodness of the world.

    Even if it’s a losery, those people approach the world with a kind of naiveté. Not believing that someone would hurt them even if their gut instincts are this person isn’t safe. These are just some of the ways that we create a myth. That second myth is a myth of, “If I’m good enough, if I’m kind enough, if I’m loving enough, this other person will be different.” My mom is a Holocaust survivor. She had that. Her thing when she was eight years old was, “If the Nazis could see my goodness, they would never hurt me.” There is cruelty, unkindness, and vast amounts of pain and suffering in the world. Each of us develops a story.

    DDP
    Myth Of Lost Love: The myth of lost love is the deep story that we tell ourselves about who we are, who the world is, and how we need to behave in order to protect ourselves and be loved.

     

    Second, the myth of lost love explains why we deserve this punishment. On one hand, we believe something about the world. On the other hand, deep down, we believe something about us. That’s what kids do. They make it all about themselves. That’s what children do. As a kid, Debbie had no way to know that her mom was the one with the big issue here. She loved her, and so she explained her mom’s coldness in a way that made sense to her, “It’s my fault. I’m unlovable.” What it came down to for Debbie was, “I need too much and people hate that.” She grew up feeling that somehow, she was the reason that she couldn’t find real love. Our myth of lost love continues this path of damage, our negative myth, by telling us exactly what makes us unworthy of love.

    We do that to ourselves in such crippling terms. We hone in on our most human traits. Our most vulnerable traits, our traits of need, our traits that were shamed or ignored, or our traits that are somehow immature, not refined, or not socially skilled. We blame ourselves and tell ourselves that those are the reasons why we lose love. It taught Debbie that vulnerability and emotional intensity were humiliating traits that made her unlovable, in a world that tended to step on those parts of her, and of ourselves.

    Here’s another really rich question. What are the parts of you that somewhere deep down inside, you believe if you really show them to a person, you’re deeply intimate with, they’re going to be turned off? They’re going to turn away from you. Somehow, they’re going to betray you. Somehow, they’re going to pull the rug out from under you. Somehow, they’re going to profoundly disappoint you, or you with these traits, you are so profoundly going to disappoint them, that they’re not going to be available to you. Now, this is a rich and amazing question for a lot of reasons, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but take a minute. You could even pause the recording if you want just to think about, what are those qualities that you tell yourself “This is the reason why people don’t end up being attracted to me romantically, sexually, or why the world doesn’t want to hear my message, or hear my creativity, or appreciate or relish my gifts.”? Take a minute just to think about that.

    I have lots to say about this. The big thing that I want to say is that these qualities, the ones you just listed, and I’m not talking about events in your life that you feel, “I’m ashamed of this. I’m embarrassed by this.” I’m not talking about events. I’m talking about parts of your being, parts of your nature. Some examples would be, a deep longing for love, a need to depend on people, and be able to really deeply lean on them. A passion for truth, an intense sensitivity, a deep quality of humility, a fiercely passionate kind of fiery attribute to your nature, a truth-telling. These are just some examples. Whatever it is for you, these are core gifts. Meaning they are parts of you that can never be amputated. Ultimately, if you try to airbrush them or people-please them away, you will pay because they’re parts of your soul. The act of suppressing those parts is an act of quiet violence against our deepest being.

    This is such an amazing thing, but the things we tell ourselves are the reasons why people can’t love us. This is the therapy journey that, as a therapist, I take people on, that, is a very extended process in many cases to have the depth of realization come alive about this. Those qualities that we’re most ashamed of are qualities that are connected to our deepest core gifts, and end up being our saviors in life and in love when we claim them and embrace them. When we don’t, we end up sexually and romantically attracted to people who also can’t treasure those parts of us.

    Treasure the hidden parts of ourselves, name them, identify them, and look for people who in essential ways, love those parts.CLICK TO TWEETNow, are those parts of us demanding? Yes. They’re like being a genius. Genius demands a lot of fuel. It demands a lot of understanding. It demands a lot of spaciousness, a lot of creativity, a lot of challenge, and a lot of work. These qualities demand that of us. They demand it of the people who love us, and the people who love us are often not willing to do that work, which is why our salvation comes from finding the people who treasure those very aspects of us. In a nutshell, I think that’s the greatest secret of self-love and romantic love.

    How To Protect And Defend Ourselves

    The third part of the myth of lost love is that it tells us how to protect and defend ourselves in an unsafe world. As a kid, Debbie had to learn how to be quiet in the face of her mom’s anger. She had to be the best little girl in the world. The anger that took root in Debbie as a child came into full bloom in Debbie as an adult. She still wanted to be the best girl in the world, but she vowed not to be humiliated again. Every time she felt vulnerable, even if she felt afraid of being unloved, in other words, she felt vulnerable and she didn’t express it. She was afraid that if she did, she would be hurt. She would mount a kind of preemptive strike. She would have a sudden kind of prickliness or over the top anger, and it would undermine and destroy each new budding relationship for her. Now, there’s a few pieces here. There is her need, her vulnerability, and her soft heart. There is the ferocity of her self-protection and pride.

    All of which are cherished, precious, and essential parts of us, and Debbie in this case. Here is the thing that is also so rich and powerful. It’s that because these core gifts are so demanding, and because they get us in trouble, we try to leave them behind so we could be normal and like everyone else, and be loved and be whatever it is that we think we need to be, which never works and bites us in the butt in an essential, profound, and ongoing way, but because we leave these parts of us behind, they don’t grow up. There’s a quality of immaturity that is often stuck with them. Part of the work of reclaiming these gifts is not just thinking, “I have these fabulous gifts, and anyone who doesn’t get them in whatever form they’re in, just doesn’t love me.”

    That’s kind of an exaggeration because we need to teach these gifts how to grow up in the world, how to have legs, how to express themselves with more courage, with more kindness, and with more integration. That comes with the first step, that is unequivocally to treasure these parts of ourselves, to name them, to identify them, and to look for people who in an essential way, love those parts of us, but then the work does become to help those parts of ourselves grow up, and become more mature, and be able to stand as entities, as part of our mission in the world.

    DDP 95 | Myth Of Lost Love
    Myth Of Lost Love: Genius demands a lot of fuel. It demands a lot of understanding, a lot of spaciousness, a lot of creativity, a lot of challenges, and a lot of work.

     

    Until we do that, our myth of lost love instructs us in how to protect and defend ourselves in an unsafe world. Even though we know that those parts of Debbie were core gifts, and that her efforts to suppress them were not going to work, she didn’t know that at the time that these were central parts of her being. She knew she hadn’t found the love that she wanted, and that the life she had dreamed of was passing her by. She didn’t know what to do about it. In therapy, she began to name those core gifts. She discovered that there was a really important similarity with almost all her past boyfriends. None of them were comfortable with her vulnerability or with their own vulnerability. In fact, they all made her feel ashamed of it. Now with that, she had a blueprint behind her, what I call attractions of deprivation.

    She saw that again and again, the people she was most wildly attracted to were the people in front of whom she felt like she needed to hide these parts of herself to get them to really love her and commit, but it never worked. She couldn’t hide them well enough so she felt like a failure, and they didn’t love her fully or fully enough. That same pattern happened again and again. She began to realize that the pain she had felt in past relationships was the pain of a gift that had never been loved into fullness. She had lost all this time trying to get people to accept parts of her that she didn’t acceptm and they were not the kind of people who could accept and treasure. At this point, her powerful will and her pride lined up behind a new goal. That that was the only kind of man that she would settle for. She began to date and surround herself with people who, in an essential way, valued her vulnerability, and were not terrified by her need. These were hallmarks and foundations of changing her life, and being able to find and nourish and keep love.

    Take a minute to think about what your ways are to protect yourself in this world. It might be avoidance of deeper intimacy. It might be choosing unavailable people. What are the ways that you have done this? In our next episode, we’re going to talk about how to change our myth of lost love, but with the information you have now, you can begin to think about the treasured parts of you that you felt like you had to neglect, ignore or airbrush in order to find love, which in fact are the keys to self-love and the creation of love in our lives. Thank you so much for listening, and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

  • Deeper Dating Q&A: Expert Advice For All Your Questions About Love, Dating And Sex [EP094]
    Listeners bring their most important questions about love, sex, dating, and relationships to host Ken Page and get his personal direct advice in Ken’s Q and A podcasts. We’ll explore what it means when your partner’s scent turns you off, how to handle a partner who asks you to go faster than you’re ready for…or who pulls away from you when things are just starting to speed up in a wonderful direction….and more!

    Table of Contents

    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.

    DDP 94 | Questions About Love
    Questions About Love: We are most attracted to the smell of people who are immunologically dissimilar.

     

    Biologically Incompatible

    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.

    Deeper love begins by the way you handle the things your intuition says are off.CLICK TO TWEET

    Emotional Sobriety

    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.

    DDP 94 | Questions About Love
    Questions About Love: 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.

     

    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

  • Swipe Circuitry: How Online Dating Trains Us To Stay Single [EP093]
    Table of Contents

    Swipe Circuitry: How Online Dating Trains Us To Stay Single

    How To Stop Fleeing Love While You Seek It Online

    Swipe circuitry is this incredibly seductive behavior pattern that’s sculpted by online dating, that actually leads us away from the love that we’re seeking. Stay tuned to this episode to learn more about what swipe circuitry is and how you can stop it.

    Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Dating, and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new way for single people to meet online that’s respectful, warm and inspiring. Today, I’m going to talk about what I call swipe circuitry, a behavior pattern in online dating that looks like it can lead us to love, but actually leads us away from it. Every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the real skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of intimacy. Those are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.

    If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll get free gifts and resources, and you’ll 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 conditions, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe on iTunes or elsewhere and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that and thanks for the amazing reviews that so many of you have left. Let’s jump in.

    We push love away while we’re looking for it.CLICK TO TWEET

    Studies On Swipe-Based Dating Apps

    Let me start out with some pretty amazing statistics. Research from the West Sydney University and the University of Sydney has directly linked the experience of swipe-based dating apps to higher rates of depression and psychological distress. In 2017, there was a study that linked the use of Tinder with negative self-esteem and body shame, but interestingly, not leading to any positive change in diet or eating habits. Another study showed that the app Grindr was way at the top of the apps that made people feel most unhappy. Seventy-seven percent of them admitted that it made them feel miserable. Tinder was up there too, but here is something interesting too, is that 70% of gay relationships began online. Clearly, there is good here. There is potential here. There is capacity here, but there are patterns that get sculpted by what I call swipe circuitry, that gets sculpted by dating apps that do swiping, and get sculpted by dating apps in general.

    Here’s another wild statistic. Less than 10% of matches in swipe apps are consummated with even a hello, because the users keep playing instead of messaging the matches that were already made. This is huge. This is deep and this is so symbolic of the incredible possibilities that exist in online dating, and the behaviors that get sculpted out of these apps that pull us away from really being able to make use of these incredible resources. Less than 10% even get a hello, and these are matches. These are matches that were made. I think that speaks to the gamifying of swipe apps and what happens to us.

    Pushing Love Away While Looking For It

    I’m going to talk about this a little more because it’s really interesting what happens to us. This is what it is, it’s the ways in which we push love away while we’re looking for it. I know for me, this is one of the most profound realizations that I had to have, was that in my desperate and ongoing and relentless search for a relationship, I was pushing love away. I was trusting numbers and I was trusting in getting in great shape. I was trusting meeting lots of people. I was trusting in all of those things, that because they have nothing to do with intimacy, ultimately failed me in my search for intimacy.

    Unavailability has a spice, a kind of umami, that is so lovely, so exciting, so delicious, and so compelling, and really feels like love.CLICK TO TWEETWhether you’re using swiping apps or not, whether you’re using online dating as a tool or not, I think these questions are very powerful. How in the ways that I’m searching for love might I be pushing love away? What are my metaphors for this concept of getting a match and 9 out of 10 times, not even responding? I’ll tell you what some of mine were that I’m clear on. One was consistently looking for people who were sexy, spicy, attractive, desirable, and did not get me or weren’t available. That was one way that I did that. Another way that I did that was, unconsciously, I fled the possibility of real intimacy with peers who could be available. I don’t know if it seemed more boring or claustrophobic or scary to me, but what I told myself is that those people were not exciting enough. That’s a really interesting point, I think.

    Unavailability has a spice, a kind of umami that is so lovely, so exciting, so delicious, and so compelling, and really feels like love. Not so much the experience of living in love, but the experience of longing for love and feeling like it’s almost in reach, but not quite. When you fall for someone who’s not available, there’s no fear, and that is such a relief. I know that was such a relief for me. Unavailable people, I had no fear. Now, if it was someone available, I would start to feel claustrophobic. I would start to lose interest. I would start to feel bored, and the glory of unavailable people was that I could just feel delightful, excitement, and attraction with none of that fear, because there’s a gulp that has to happen. There’s a kind of like a swallowing of discomfort when you go through the process of having someone who is a stranger, who’s available and interested, and wants to enter into your world, actually, go from being a stranger to being someone you deeply bond with is hard and it’s scary.

    Research shows that the degree to which we don’t yet really love ourselves or honor ourselves is the degree to which we’re going to be attracted to people who also don’t really love us, or honor us fully, or are not available. The degree to which we don’t love ourselves enough is the degree to which, when we meet people who are interested and available, we’re going to want to push them away. We’ll have a deep discomfort. This is what I call the wave of distancing. I’ve talked about it a lot. I think it’s one of the greatest, if not THE greatest saboteur of healthy new love. These apps that are constantly bringing you to the next, to the new, are very powerful for getting us over the discomfort that comes with availability. I think that’s a huge reason why so many of these matches aren’t consummated. It’s like, then I’ll have to talk to this person, then I might have to feel obligated to this person. I might not like this person. They might like me and I won’t like them, and that’s kind of exhausting, and you don’t want to have that happen, or maybe they’re kind of exciting and I’m scared because they might not like me.

    DDP 93 | Swipe Circuitry
    Swipe Circuitry: Research shows that the degree to which we don’t really love or honor ourselves is the degree to which we’re going to be attracted to people who also don’t really love us or honor us fully.

     

    Circuitries Of Attraction

    I think something that is very important to understand, if we are trying to have a conscious and effective dating life and search for love, is this concept of circuitries of attraction. I think that all of us have different circuitries of attraction. The two big ones that I talk about a lot are attractions of deprivation and attractions of inspiration. Just to briefly describe those, I’ve spoken about them a lot in different episodes, an attraction of deprivation is where the sexiness, and the attraction, and the desire, at least in part, springs from the sense that someone is almost available, or is almost going to like us. They’re just somehow out of reach, and that is so sexy. It brings up such deep longing inside us, or they don’t fully accept us, or they accept us, but they don’t treasure us, or they miss our jokes and they miss our ideas, and they don’t get kind of our unique genius or our way of seeing the world. We feel like we are not seen or loved or cherished enough, but we almost are enough. We try to get that person to love us more fully, to get our jokes, to understand our unique kind of intelligence, to appreciate our beauty. You know, when you have to try that hard, it means that it’s not working.

    It’s hard to describe how sexy these attractions are and how they pull at us, and how they feel like love, but these are what I call attractions of deprivation. It’s a circuitry all of us have. It’s like that playing hard to get kind of thing activates that circuitry. So much of the men’s seduction techniques are based on triggering that circuitry in women. So much of women’s seduction techniques to get a man are based on not being too available and all those kinds of things. Lots more to say about that in another episode, but the research clearly shows that playing hard to get doesn’t work. We can talk about that more in other episodes. Anyway, those are attractions of deprivation, and how many years or months have we spent lost in those attractions?

    One of the things that happen in those attractions is that we are branded again and again with our feelings of insecurity. They’re branded more deeply into us. They prove the point that we’re not enough, but if we try harder, we might become enough, which translates into we are essentially just not enough. This is a powerful circuitry. It’s one that gets triggered easily, but for almost all of us, it is not our only circuitry. We have another circuitry, which I call attractions of inspiration. That’s when we’re attracted to somebody because of their goodness, their decency, their authenticity, qualities like creativity and originality, but the kind of good qualities, the qualities of decency, goodness, truth-telling, availability, and the kind of consistent, essential, liking and loving of us. Now, this is a different circuitry of attraction.

    When you fall for someone who’s not available, there’s no fear, and that is such a relief.CLICK TO TWEETHere’s a really interesting point. The people that kind of grab at you and excite you deeply and intensely from the beginning often do so because unconsciously, you recognize that they’re not going to love you the way that you want to be loved. That reminds you of ways in your life that you weren’t loved the way that you want to be loved, and that’s very compelling. With attractions of inspiration, that desperate, sexy edge is not there. There’s a sense of goodness. There’s a sense of growing care. There can be such deep, rich, wonderful, fabulous lust. I’m absolutely not saying that can’t be there, but it’s a skill that we need to develop to allow that to happen in an attraction of inspiration, because for many of us, we just want to get out of there. We want to flee.

    How To Do Swiping Differently

    Now, in the land of online dating, what this means is that the people that you swipe most quickly “yes” on, the people that you swipe right on most quickly, are the people who are your scratch-the-itch type in most cases. I’m going to talk about how to do this, how to do swiping differently, but assuming you just kind of go with the sculpted behavior that comes out of this, the people that you’ll swipe right on will often be those real scratch-the-itch types, and those are often attractions of deprivation. All of this happens unconsciously, but it happens. This is not always the case, but it’s often the case. You just recognize that tiny little smirk, maybe that drop of arrogance that’s there, that little bit of superiority that like, you don’t quite name yet, but there’s something sexy there. A distance, a pullback that just grabs you. I know all of these so well from my own experiences.

    You have to look differently for an attraction of inspiration. You need to look for inspiration. You need to look for the qualities of decency, stability, values that you love. You need to look for these things. At a certain point, in my intensives and my courses, there’s a certain point where people reach where they’ve kind of explored their attractions of deprivation, their attractions of inspiration, and they make a pledge, and the pledge is, “No more attractions of deprivation. No more. I won’t do that again. I’m going to close the door on that no matter how sexy it seems. I’m only going to pursue my attractions of inspiration, people with deep goodness, decency, integrity, and a growing sense of availability.”

    DDP 93 | Swipe Circuitry
    Swipe Circuitry: Slow down enough to allow yourself not to be stuck on the type of person you always think you’re attracted to. Instead, slow down enough to feel the quality of chemistry with someone.

     

    When you make that choice, you begin to shift your attraction circuitries. Your circuitry of attractions of inspiration grows, and is watered and fed, just like to a hammer, everything is a nail. The more you’re in this decision to only choose inspiration, the more you will notice inspiration. You’ll notice people you wouldn’t have noticed before. Often, when you’re in that circuitry, a funny thing happens. You start remembering people from your past who were attractions of inspiration that you’ve kind of forgotten about. They come back to the fore. I always say to people, “When you do this kind of work and you grow in these kinds of ways, when people pop up from your past in your mind, and you remember, “That person was good and decent. That was an attraction of inspiration and I wasn’t ready for it.” You can find out what those people are doing. They might be available. It might be a match. I think that’s always good to do. I’ve heard so many stories of people later just becoming friends with these people.

    When you’re swiping, you go into a different zone, you click into a different circuitry. Another interesting piece of research showed that college males often never ever use swiping apps even to hook up, much less to ever even speak or anything. They use it because it builds their self-esteem and it kind of helps them when they’re feeling bored. This is an amazing thing. Now, maybe you’re not using swiping apps. Maybe you’re not even dating online, but this is a very deep thing. What happens with these people who aren’t spicy because of their unavailability, cockiness, arrogance, mild disdain, or addictions? What happens with the people who aren’t those people but are real attractions of inspiration? What do you do with those people, because they just might not be quite as exciting at first. Do you ignore those people? Do you dismiss those people?

    Now, I am not saying that you should be with someone who’s intellectually boring to you, that you should not be with someone who’s not really attractive to you. Of course, you shouldn’t, but I promise you that there are people who are good and decent, who are deeply creative, who have great intellect, who are physically attractive to you and are going to be physically attracted to you. There’s quite a pool of people like that. Those are the people that you want to look for. You’re doing online dating, you’re doing swipe app dating, you’re not doing online dating, the kind of task becomes the same. It is to slow down, to move away from that kind of sped up circuitry, that kind of scratch-the-itch circuitry, because scratch-the-itch circuitry might lead to a hookup. It might lead to a bad relationship. You never know it might lead to a good relationship, but usually that kind of scratch-the-itch circuitry pulls you away from closeness and intimacy.

    The people that you swipe most quickly yes on are the people who are your scratch-the-itch type in most cases.CLICK TO TWEETWhat you want to do is to slow down enough, to allow yourself to not be stuck on the type of person that you always think you’re attracted to. Instead, slow down enough to feel into the quality of chemistry with someone. Often when you do that, it’s a hugely different experience than the experience of just being in your head and thinking, “This person is hot,” or “This person isn’t right for me.” When you slow down enough and you kind of go deep into your feeling state, you will feel different things than what your head is telling you. You want to know what those feelings are, because what those feelings are, are deeper chemistry, and you want to know what that deeper chemistry is.

    This is a really important thing. Take the time to find out, even when you want to flee, even when you want it to get away. This is a story that I often tell. My mentor, John McNeill, who was a brilliant author and theologian, who wrote the book, Taking a Chance on God and The Church and the Homosexual. He’s a hero of mine. I was telling him once in our spiritual direction sessions. I was telling him about somebody I was dating, and in his directing me, because I was saying that this guy was somewhat attractive. He was definitely not a red flag. No, but I wasn’t that interested. John said to me, “Keep dating him, because in time, either he’s going to become more beautiful to you or he’s not, and either way, you will know.”

    We do need to slow down. There are speed bumps with people who are attractions of inspiration. We get scared, but we don’t know it’s freer. In those cases, when that happens, what you want to do is slow down. You want to enjoy and almost fetishize, and appreciate the physical, emotional, and behavioral qualities about them that are sexy to you. You want to enjoy those, but with a little bit of space and a little bit of distance. You don’t necessarily want to force yourself to do sexual or intimate things that you don’t feel ready for. You keep a bit of space. You don’t flee and you don’t force yourself, and you allow this wave of distancing to pass, which it almost always will. When it passes, you will have a clearer sense of, “Is this person right for me, or are they not?”

    Now, we come to a wonderful question, and the question is, what ways do you use to push possible healthy love away while you’re looking for love? Just take a minute to think about that, because your answer is gold. It might be hard to swallow and a little humbling, but it is gold. If you can take that and begin to shift it, it’s just such an important piece of knowledge. I can pretty much assure you that if you do that, if you recognize it, if you admit it, and if you start to act outside of that circuitry, you will grow in wisdom, you will grow in intimacy, and you will speed your path to finding love by a lot. This is another thing, is that online dating is built to keep you looking and not finding, which is why I’ve devoted a lot of time to creating an online resource that is about real intimacy, that incubates intimacy from beginning, hopefully to end, and that’s DeeperDating.com. Please come and visit that site, and explore it. You can now meet people on there. You can create a profile, and you can meet other people and message with them all for free.

    I’d like you to just take a minute, as we move toward closing this episode and think, is there one thing that hit home for you in this, one thing that had charge, that had resonance for you, that felt important and significant around your own dating journey and search for love? Whatever that is, really value that. Just as we are saying, “Don’t move too quickly to the next while you’re dating. Don’t move too quickly to the next, when you have a beautiful insight or an awareness in your own search for love or intimacy journey because those things are gold.” Those are the things that make us stronger and wiser, and lead us to love. Those insights, those revelations have a very big bang for the buck. When we follow them and try to act based on them, doors open. I’ve seen this again and again. It is a beautiful truth. I want to encourage you to swipe slower, notice inspiration, and trust and honor your revelations about how you need to grow in your own search for love, and ways in which you can deepen in your capacity for love, and ways in which you can minimize the degree to which you flee love even as you’re searching for it. Thanks so much for listening and visit me on DeeperDatingPodcast.com or go to DeeperDating.com, and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

  • 2 Wonderful Ways To Heal Your Inner Conflicts [EP092]
    What determines how much love and meaning your life can hold? Largely, the way you handle your inner conflicts! In this episode, you’ll learn two beautiful, quick, “wisdom-hacks” that will help you handle your inner conflicts in completely new ways. Try these techniques as you listen—I’ll teach you how—and watch how self-love grows, inner feelings of emptiness diminish, and a sense of deep well-being emerges. By the end of the episode, the techniques will be yours!

    Table of Contents

    2 Wonderful Ways To Heal Your Inner Conflicts

    Wisdom-Hacks to Soothe Pain, Learn Love, and Find Healing

    There are powerful life-changing techniques for handling our inner conflicts that most of us never get taught. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn two beautiful and powerful techniques to handle, evolve, and transform your own inner conflict.

    Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book Deeper Datingand the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, a new kinder, more respectful, and inspiring way for single people to meet online. Today, I’m going to talk about how we can hold and work with conflicting parts of ourselves. I’m going to share with you this week and every week, the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are the skills of love. We know that those are the greatest and most important skills of all for a happy, rich, and meaningful life. If you want to learn more about this approach, go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can get free gifts there when you sign up for my mailing list and get transcripts of every one of these episodes.

    I also just want to say that everything 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 do seek professional help. If you like what you’re learning here, it would be so wonderful if you could subscribe and leave me a review. The reviews that I get are beautiful and powerful, and they help other people decide to tune in to this show. Thank you so much for that, and let’s jump in.

    The skills of dating are the skills of love.CLICK TO TWEETToday, I want to share with you two of the most beautiful exercises I know for self-healing, for evolution, and also for healing internal conflict and internal pain. I love these processes. I think they carry a great deal of wisdom and compassion. I’m excited to teach them to you, give you the framework for them, and then as you listen, you could simply, easily and quickly practice them. In some way, they’re no big deal at all. You’re going to get to do that during the course of this episode, and when the episode is over, you’ll have some rich experience with this and it will be portable. It’s a portable process, so you can take it with you and use it whenever you like.

    What these processes are going to do are going to create an inner environment that gives space and dignity to whatever it is that you’re struggling with, and to the different conflicting parts of you. By giving something space and dignity, and not demanding an instant solution, but trusting that this way of holding it with space and dignity will lead to some kind of growth and wisdom. The act of just doing that is very powerful.

    A brilliant researcher who many of you might have heard of, and psychotherapist, Carl Rogers, a powerful force in the field of humanistic psychology. He did a very seminal research study. He researched psychotherapists, who worked in a huge variety of approaches. Some were behavioral, all different kinds of approaches to psychotherapy. Some were psychoanalytic, and he researched many of them to see the success of their methods to determine which would be the most successful methods.

    This is what he found out. He found out that it wasn’t so much about the methods. That the magic ingredient, the secret ingredient, the ingredient that created change more than the technique itself was what he called Unconditional Positive Regard. That meant that the therapist looked at the client with a sense of respect, dignified where they were at, allowed them to be where they were at, and saw the person’s inherent goodness and worth. The act of looking at someone that way and interacting with someone in that way, that’s the way you hold their being as they struggle with their problems. It’s the most healing thing of all that can be done. These two processes that you’re going to learn are going to be ways that you are going to learn to hold yourself in crisis, in difficulty and in transition with unconditional positive regard. They’re simple, and they’re lovely.

    Holding With Cupped Hands

    I’m going to start with the first one now. This is one that I call “Holding with Cupped Hands”. If you’ve listened to a number of my podcasts, or if you’ve been to any of my classes or intensives, you’ve heard this concept before. It’s very precious. It’s very seminal. It’s very foundational to this approach. What it is, is being able to hold your humanity in the middle of conflict or difficulty with this sense of dignity, compassion, and caring. We’re going to do the hand motions. Hopefully, you’re not in public so that you could do this to get a sense of it. What I’d like you to do is to imagine that there is an issue that you’re dealing with. Go ahead and pick an issue that you’re dealing with in your life right now. Not a really hugely traumatic one. Maybe one that’s somewhat annoying or somewhat challenging, but not bigger than that.

    We’re going to think about how you hold this problem, knowing that the way that you will hold it is going to sculpt the outcome of how you grow around it to a large degree. If you imagine holding it with flat hands, just take your hands and open them up and hold them flat. No kindness, no warmth, just flat hands. Imagine this issue sitting there in this cold open space. Nothing really happens. Take your hands and imagine squeezing this problem tight, like trying to squeeze it into a solution. I think we all know what that feels like to try to squeeze something into some kind of premature or prefab solution that feels violent, colder or unkind to do.

    In the long run, it’s the act of honoring that’s the antidote to our bewilderment and the path to our own unique genius.CLICK TO TWEETNow, take your hands and hold them cupped like you were cupping holding a baby bird, and now just experience or imagine holding whatever this issue is with cupped hands, not worrying about a solution but just holding it in that way. How does that feel different? If you’re imagining doing it because you’re in a public space, how do you imagine that would feel different? This act of holding with cupped hands is one of the practices that in my intensives and my work with clients, we do often, we do again and again.

    We don’t only have to do this with problems or difficulties. The act of holding our humanity with cupped hands. When we do that, there’s a slowing down. There’s a connecting to maybe the sadness of our humanity, the decency, the goodness of our humanity. There’s something kind in it, and there’s something immensely soothing. It’s that amazing experience of being a good parent to yourself. It’s something I heard about for years and years, and didn’t get until I learned these processes. Maybe I didn’t learn them until I became a dad, and found out what that meant to hold your child’s heart and emotions with cupped hands.

    Take a minute right now and notice, recognize whatever it is you’re feeling at the moment. Just let yourself imagine holding it with cupped hands. You could do this physical symbol of holding your hands cupped like you were holding a baby bird, and imagine holding your heart and your humanity in your hands in that way. Let yourself feel that. I want to share with you some of the things that will happen for you, I believe, if you practice this. One thing that will happen will be that there will be a sense of dignity in you just being you, nothing other than you. In your quirkiness, in your craziness, in your sadness, in your sweetness, in your joy, in your excitement, in your whatever. There’s a way that you’ll be making space for the reality that a being who is just like you exists in the world.

    DDP 92 | Heal Inner Conflicts
    Heal Inner Conflicts: The heart of the practice of being an artist is that you don’t try to change your experience to be what you think it should be. Instead, you will hold your experience with cupped hands and then create and express from that place by allowing it to be.

     

    I think in some ways, this is the heart of the practice of being an artist, is that you don’t try to change your experience to be what you think it should be. Instead, you will hold your experience with cupped hands, and then you create an express from that place by allowing it to be. I think too that it makes us better human beings. We become the being we’re meant to be, and we get more comfortable in our own quirky skin when we do this. Also, there’s a kind of aura or blossoming of energy that happens out of this space. It’s a kind of luminosity. It’s a kind of being lit from within. Even in our sadness, even in our confusion, there is a feeling of beauty, and then the other thing is that somehow, it’s like we’re creating an environment of benevolence, which is healing and soothing, and somehow teaches us that it’s possible, that there is an environment of benevolence in the world and in life.

    Just the act of holding ourselves that way moves us closer to being sacred, moves us closer to a kind of magic that is our magic. When we do that, we glow as us in deeper and richer ways. It’s the ultimate holding environment in some ways, and it’s something that we can give ourselves, and we can do it when we feel joy, sadness, confusion, anything. That’s one process, this universal holding our hearts with cupped hands. I encourage you to try it and notice the differences that you experience in your own inner state, in your actions, and in your interactions. My guess is that if you do it for a while and start to feel it, it’s going to be a significant key, moving you to a more beautiful space, and a space that nourishes, allows, expresses, and creates intimacy and truth even more fully and deeply in your life.

    Holding Both

    Now, I want to talk about another process. This is  heavy stuff, I know. This is a process which I called “Holding Both”. It’s a process that we can do when we have conflicting sides, and God knows we all have a lot of conflicting sides. This is a process that you can do when you have two different conflicting sides. Why don’t you take a minute right now and imagine two different parts of yourselves that are both real and true but are conflicting. Maybe you have a part of you that is shy and afraid to speak out, and it’s real. It’s really a part of you. It affects and influences your life, and then you have another part of you that is fierce.

    The act of self-honoring may be challenging, but ultimately, it’s the most comforting path of all.CLICK TO TWEETI know someone who calls that part of herself, the pirate queen. A part of yourself that wants to express things and does express things, that needs to express things. That would be one example of two conflicting parts. Maybe another set of conflicting parts would be a part of you that craves closeness, intimacy, and approval, and another part of you that craves freedom and truth. At different times, those parts pull in really different directions. The freedom and truth part might want independence, might want to say things that are going to get you in trouble, or maybe even hurt other people’s feelings, but they’re the truth for you.

    The other part of you doesn’t want to cause pain, wants connection, wants affiliation. It doesn’t want to hurt people. That’s another example of two different parts. Maybe you have a sexual part that’s wild, crazy, free and expressive, and another sexual part of you that’s private, quiet and deeply internalized. That would be another example. There are so many different examples of different parts of ourselves. A part that needs to be quiet that is deeply quiet, and another part that’s crazy, social and bubbly, all different parts. I’d like you to take a minute now, and think of two parts of you that are different and can get into conflict. They each want and need what they want and need, and don’t fit well together.

    DDP 92 | Heal Inner Conflicts
    Heal Inner Conflicts: Honoring is the skill that enables us to live the beauty and the mission of our core gifts in the world.

     

    Picture those two parts of you. Here’s what we’re going to do with this. I want you to imagine the first part, whichever it is, it could be either one. Imagine it as a child, your child, maybe 7, 8, 10, 12 years old, whatever feels right to you. You’re just going to let this child be your child, and you’re going to put this child on one knee, and you’re going to put your arm around this child. This is the part of you that is shy, timid, intense, expressive, and fierce, whatever those qualities are. This is one of those two children that are yours. Imagine this wonderful child that you love resting on one of your knees, and your arm around them, just like you would do with a child who had very particular needs, and your arm is around this kid.

    Now, think of this opposite quality of you. Imagine this as another one of your kids. It’s so different with a really different life trajectory, with different strengths, with different weaknesses, with a different journey altogether, but your kid, your child also. Imagine this child now sitting on your other knee, and you put your arm around this child too. You’re not going to do anything to make them communicate or be more like each other or change them.

    All you’re going to do is sit there with these two parts of yourself, one on each knee holding both of these kids, both of these precious, real, and true parts of your being. Such different children, but both yours, and just imagine taking your arms, keeping your arms and putting them around them, and just holding them. Now, feel what it’s like to hold both without trying to change either, your two very different children, and you love them both, and you’re holding them both. Try this right now for a moment and see how it feels.

    This is an exquisite way to evolve in your relationship with these two different parts of you. Both of which, of course, need a place at the voting table of your life. Probably, both of which have felt pissed off because they haven’t been listened to enough, cramped by the other one, and maybe judged as well. Maybe, one has been more appreciated than the other, but now you’re holding both. It’s a beautiful exercise, and when you do it, both of these precious parts of your being, both of which hold the true Core Gifts, which are essential for your being. Even if one of them is shy, timid, and afraid, it’s still true. That experience of simply holding both will make you so much of a richer, more amazing, and full human being. These are processes of honoring.

    I’d like to read something that I wrote in my book, Deeper Dating. “In the long run, it’s the act of honoring that’s the antidote to our bewilderment and the path to our own unique genius. The act of self-honoring may be challenging, but ultimately, it’s the most comforting path of all. Every other path hurts. Everything else is broken glass, sharp brambles in our side. Honoring is the skill that enables us to live the beauty and the mission of our Core Gifts in the world. It requires giving up the whip we wield against ourselves. It requires a kindness, a listening to our gifts. Anything less than honoring is essentially an act of quiet violence against ourselves. We can’t dishonor our Core Gifts without repercussions.”

    I want to read a beautiful poem from Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my great heroes in the world who, at this point, is very ill and probably not much longer for the world. He’s a true hero and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King. Here’s his poem, “I hold my face in my hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm, two hands protecting, two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my soul from leaving me in anger.” It’s a beautiful poem. As you practice these two techniques of deep, radical honoring, you will emerge more and more as you. That is a beautiful and powerful thing. It is the soil in which rich intimacy can grow in your life. Thank you for listening. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

  • How To Empower Your Deepest Intimacy Gifts [EP091]
    Core Gifts are the most tender, passionate, and authentic parts of us. They lie at the very heart of our ability to love. To embrace them is to be guided inexorably to deeper love, greater authenticity, and our very life-mission. To ignore them is to commit an act of quiet violence against ourselves. Join Ken Page in this episode to discover, nourish, and embrace your own Core Gifts.

    Table of Contents

    How To Empower Your Deepest Intimacy Gifts

    The Five Essential Needs Of Your Core Gifts

    How can you identify your deepest Core Gifts and how can you strengthen, empower, and nourish them in a way that transforms your life and your search for love? Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn how.

    Welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book Deeper Datingand the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a new and revolutionary platform for single people to meet in ways that are kinder, more inspiring, and emotionally safer. Today, I’m going to be talking about how you can identify and empower and nourish your Core Gifts, which are the attributes that are the most essentially you and really hold the key to your success in your intimacy journey. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, honor the love that you find, and keep it flourishing while you heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy, and the skills of intimacy are the greatest and most important skills of our lives.

    If you want to learn more about my work and receive some free gifts and hear about a lot of different resources, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and you’ll also find transcripts of every episode there. I also just want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could subscribe, leave me a review. Your reviews have been so beautiful and powerful and mean so much to me and kind of helped this project along. Thank you so much for that.

    Let’s jump in. I want to talk about the great hungers of your Core Gifts. Your Core Gifts are the most tender, sensitive, and passionate parts of you. They’re the places where you care the most and you feel the most, where you get most wounded and most inspired. They’re kind of the blueprint to understanding how you work in the world, what your mission is, what matters to you, and what is your language of love, and what are your languages of intimacy. We find our Core Gifts whenever we feel the most vulnerable and the most authentic, the most creative, the most passionate. As I describe in my book, Deeper Dating, they lie at the very heart of your creativity and your love. If we open to these Core Gifts, they guide us inexorably to what matters most to us. When we ignore them, which is so easy to do, we commit an act of quiet violence against ourselves.

    ”DDP
    Core Gifts: We have been trained that the most essential parts of ourselves are embarrassing, get us in trouble, hurt us, or can’t be seen or shown.

    In this episode, I’m going to help you discover your own Core Gifts and I’m going to talk about the five great hungers that these Core Gifts have. The parts of them that need to be fed and as you feed them, they become richer, stronger, more empowered, and they guide your life more powerfully. Of course, when they do, that means you’re leading with your heart, that means you’re leading with your soul, that means you’re leading with your essence and your truth. When you do that, the heft of your being, the power of your heart, in your kind of innate nature takes form in such important ways.

    Let’s talk about what your Core Gifts are. To discover what your Core Gifts are, which is the work of a lifetime, you can begin by asking yourself three very particular questions and then studying your life, studying your days and your minutes and your hours to see what the answers are. You’ll learn such usually important things about yourself when you do that. Here are the three questions. What qualities in you have led to your greatest experiences of joy? Now, that’s a complicated question. The first thing you would need to think about is, what have been your greatest and richest moments of joy. Maybe just think of a few of those really rich moments and then think, what’s an attribute of yours that led you to that joy. You can pause as often as you want for this podcast or you could just keep going and answer the questions as we go.

    Next question. What sensitivities in you have led to your deepest suffering? Then there’s that same process there where you think, “What have been my experiences of deepest suffering? Where do I suffer the most deeply? What are the sensitivities in me that are triggered by things that make me suffer?” These are core gift places, and then finally, what do you long to create or do in the world? What is there longing for in you? These also speak to Core Gifts Just in thinking about those questions, you can see that your answers, that this touches profoundly deep roots of your being, the deepest roots of your being and these core gift qualities need to be named, cherished, and fed by us if they’re going to flourish.

    The Hunger To Be Accepted By Our Ultimate Parent

    To thrive in this world, each gift that we have needs to be nourished in five particular ways. As I run through these five ways, just notice if any idea strikes a deep chord in you and if it does, again, you might just want to pause just to reflect on its personal meaning for you. The first thing that your Core Gifts need, first and foremost, is to feel accepted by their ultimate parent and that’s you, but that’s not always so simple because we get frightened by the intensity of our passion, for example. We get punished for the intensity of our passion, or we get punished for speaking truth, or we get punished for living and acting outside our prescribed gender roles, or we get stepped on because of our tenderness.

    Your Core Gifts are the most tender, sensitive, and passionate parts of you.CLICK TO TWEETSo many different ways that we have been trained that these most precious parts of ourselves, the most original and true and essential parts of ourselves are embarrassing, get us in trouble, hurt us, can’t be shown, can’t be seen, etc. Maybe you have felt this experience. I know I’ve been frightened by the intensity of my passion, all different kinds of passion. I know that I have felt many times that my heart was too tender to survive in the cold commerce of day-to-day life. Maybe you’ve felt something like that too, or that fear that if you really shared what you thought, and felt or wanted to express, that you’d be rejected or punished or misunderstood.

    All of these things point to our truth, our genius, our heart, our Core Gifts, and our authenticity. You know, many of us have been deeply hurt many times in each of the ways that I just mentioned. We learn to treat our gifts almost like children that we secretly love but publicly can feel embarrassed by. We treat our gifts gingerly. We create airbrushed versions of them that won’t get us in trouble. Most of us feel ambivalent about our Core Gifts and we know they’re the truest parts of ourselves but they scare us and for good reason because they are powerful, fierce, true, and essential, and spring from roots that are so not prefab. They’re so authentic, they’re so original and alive that it’s just scary to go with them.

    My parents were Holocaust survivors. I’ve talked about them a number of times. They learned the hard way that weakness meant death and I grew up as a boy in the ‘50s and the ‘60s who was a really sensitive kid and I was really ashamed of my sensitivity. I was embarrassed by how I was moved to tears in movies and humiliated by the intensity of my emotional responses to other people’s suffering and pain. So many things, joys and pains, knocked me down at the knees. They were hard for me to bear and I had a beautiful secret world where I loved and treasured these things, but I was also ashamed of them when it came to living them in the world, which meant that socially I was ashamed of them, which meant that there was a circuitry and a pathway that was going to lead to a lot of unhappiness in later years in my romantic life.

    Going back to then, I knew that my sensitivity was a weakness. Now, I know the opposite is true. I know that my weakness was my lack of respect for my own sensitivity. My weakness was in my terror of dignifying that sensitivity and that’s been one of the greatest, hardest, and richest lessons in my life. That sensitivity is one of my Core Gifts. I think that my best writing and my best work as a teacher and a psychotherapist springs from those very qualities I always thought I had to hide that were mortifying to me.

    DDP 91 | Core Gifts
    Core Gifts: To help our gifts mature in the world, we need to help cultivate their opposite so that we can use them more wisely.

    What does this touch for you? What are qualities like that, that are kind of coming into your consciousness as I’m saying these things, parts of yourself that are very alive and very true, that it’s been a journey to learn to dignify and treasure and honor? This work of deep self-acceptance doesn’t involve building some larger than life self-confidence, which is why I’m always troubled by dating advice that just tells you to be more confident. That’s easy to do when you’re feeling confident, but when you’re not feeling confident, that means that you just kind of need to fake it. What are the skills when you’re not feeling confident of being able to somehow still be confident in your not confidentness? I think those skills are saying, what’s not making me feel safe now? What’s not making me feel confident and honoring that and making space for it?

    That to me is true rich, self-dignifying, and kind of the antithesis of this model of faking confidence so that you look sexier. It’s really more about a moment-to-moment acceptance of your currents of experience and emotion running through every moment of your days. Our Core Gifts are always trying to get us to listen to them, like a kid is always trying to get his or her parents or their parents to listen to them. Our Core Gifts are trying to do that sometimes in a gentle whisper, sometimes in a painful shout, sometimes in sullen, angry silence, but as long as we’re alive, our Core Gifts are going to be waiting for us to love them and accept them and to finally give them their freedom.

    The Hunger To Be Shared

    Another hunger of our Core Gifts is the hunger to be shared. Giving and being given to are not luxuries, they’re imperatives. What water is to a plant, generosity is to your gifts. We all hunger to give. We need to give. We long for children. We long for pets. We long for loved ones because unfettered giving is one of life’s absolute joys. Our Core Gifts must be given and they must touch others, and we must see this happening before we can ever truly feel like we’re worthy. In my many, many, many years of practice as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen that my clients who are generous are the ones who are the most capable of happiness. It’s the ones who cherish and honor and water their generosity that have the happiest and richest lives, not always, but essentially, I find and in the long run, I really find that to be true. Which of your gifts are you longing to share?

    The Hunger To Cultivate Our Gift’s Opposite

    Here’s an interesting one. This is the third gift and that is your gift’s cultivation of its opposite or your cultivation of your gift’s opposite. What do I mean by that? In order for our gifts to have legs in the world, we need to develop their complementary opposite quality inside us. Our tenderness needs bravery if we’re going to ever share it with the world. If we’re visionaries and dreamers, we need to cultivate practicality for our creations to come to life. Practical people need to cultivate their dreamer self in order to create beauty in their lives. A generous person needs to cultivate his, her or their “no”. Really on some level, most of us would just kind of rather not do that work because it’s a hard uphill battle to cultivate the opposite quality of your dominant gifts but when you do it, something magnificent happens.

    As long as we’re alive, our Core Gifts are going to be waiting for us to love them and accept them.CLICK TO TWEETYou feel your self-respect growing. When we do that, we feel more solid, more self-confident and we like ourselves more. It’s that feeling of mastery which feels so good and is so central to a life that works. We feel more like adults, but we maintain the kid inside us as well. Our core gift properties will always probably remain dominant, and that’s fine because perfection isn’t the goal, a rich life where we can take care of ourselves is. To help our gifts mature in the world, we need to help cultivate their opposite, so that we can use them more wisely. This is something really interesting.

    The less you’ve cultivated the opposite quality to your gifts, the more you’re going to be sexually and romantically attracted to people who carry that opposite quality in an extreme and not so great way. For example, somebody who’s really generous of spirit but can’t say no, is going to tend to be attracted to someone who is great at taking, but not so great at giving back. The more we cultivate these complementary qualities in ourselves, the more we’ll find ourselves attracted to people who appreciate our gifts and won’t take advantage of us.

    The Hunger For Discipline And Development

    Something else our Core Gifts hunger for is discipline and development. Our Core Gifts long to be respected enough, to be cultivated and developed. They hunger to test themselves to push past fears and obstacles and obstacle illusions. Just like a gifted child hungers to have her gift seen and acknowledged, our gifts hunger for that as well. They hunger for a mentor who honors them and gets them. They hunger for people who delight in their flights of excess, who shelter their vulnerability, and who send them out into the world to create and be shared. Creating that sense of inner-discipline is a rare accomplishment, and it takes time and effort. This is a poem that I really love by the great abstract painter Arthur G. Dove. “We have not yet made shoes that fit like sand nor clothes that fit like water nor thoughts that fit like air. There is much to be done.”

    Our gifts aren’t stagnant. They really long to take us somewhere. They compel us to take a risk, to turn the next corner, to meet the next enemy, to devour our next limitation. They’re hungry for that. When we learn to call them gifts instead of imperfections, then they find freedom from that kind of crippling carefulness that we can treat them with when we’re timid and afraid. That’s when they become joyously, ferociously hungry for the next new learning, and that’s when life becomes truly exciting. I want to say something else about this too is that our Core Gifts have a quality of joyful excess. Not all Core Gifts, but many of them do. When we’re in touch with our Core Gifts, we get silly, we get ridiculous, we get playful, we get sensual, we get creative, we laugh, we cry.

    The Hunger For Connectedness With The World

    There’s a quality of bigness and vibrancy and a kind of enthusiastic excess that is just such a central part of one of the things that our gifts need, just one, but one of the things that our gifts need in the world. Now, I want to talk about the final hunger that our Core Gifts have. These hungers all include connectedness with the world, connectedness with people who treasure them, who can play with them, whose gifts we can cultivate. I think that’s kind of assumed in all the things I’m saying, that hunger for living in connection with others in the world.

    DDP 91 | Core Gifts
    Core Gifts: Our gifts aren’t stagnant. They long to take us somewhere and compel us to take risks.

    This last one which is greatness, your Core Gifts hunger for greatness, but just like we’re rethinking the meaning of gifts, let’s also rethink the meaning of greatness. Greatness is not necessarily fame or success. It’s really something much more humbling, and kind of much more exalted, and much more challenging. As we feed these hungers of our Core Gifts, we find ourselves touching the hem of some kind of felt greatness. One that might not even have words. We sense that we’re closer to some unknown, unnamed kind of native land with a really big open sky, that’s so broad, that we may never fully encompass it, but maybe we’ve been homesick for that greatness our entire lives.

    I think that our love of fame is a kind of cheapened expression for this hunger for personal greatness. I know for me, sometimes when I’m with my family, when I’m with the people I love, I’m hit by a quiet happiness that’s so strong that it almost burns. It feels huge and kind of heart swelling but so simple. That’s the greatest greatness to me. What are the greatnesses that your gifts yearn for? Take a moment to think about that and answer it for yourself.

    The Buddhists teach that we have seeds of suffering and seeds of joy inside us, and they never go away, they remain latent. What determines our life is the seeds that we water and the seeds that we allow to remain latent. When you water the seeds of your Core Gifts, your life blossoms and your intimacy life blossoms, and your ability to hold and cherish the tenderness and beauty of intimacy grows and increases and expands. I encourage all of you if you want to go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and click on Ask Ken, share with me your experiences of trying these exercises, of feeding these great hungers of your great Core Gifts and let me know how that goes. Let the community of other listeners learn about how that goes. Thank you so much for listening and blessings in your journey to feed the powerful hungers of your innate Core Gifts. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast in two weeks.

  • How To Experience Sexual Healing While You’re Still Single: Sex Therapist Mike Moran [EP090]
    Right now, while you’re single, you can give yourself the gift of sexual healing!  During this time, you can heal trauma, discover your own inner sexual language, and learn to honor your body and sexuality in deeper ways than ever before. Join me as I interview Mike Moran, an inspired, compassionate, internationally renowned sex therapist, and the Founder and Director of the Center for Relational Fulfillment.

    Table of Contents

    How To Experience Sexual Healing While You’re Still Single: Sex Therapist Mike Moran

    A Powerful Interview With Sex Therapist Mike Moran

    How can we experience life-changing, powerful sexual healing while we’re single? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast as I interview sex therapist, Mike Moran.

    Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the book, Deeper Dating, the Cofounder of the meeting site – DeeperDating.com, and of course, the host of this show. I’m excited today because I am interviewing a dear friend who is also a brilliant sex therapist. Mike Moran is going to be talking to us about how we can experience and create sexual healing before we’re in a relationship. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest skills I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and the skills of love are the greatest skills of all for a happy and meaningful 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, you’ll get free gifts and you can get transcripts of each of these episodes, including this one. I also want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is 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 a wonderful thank you if you subscribed and left me a review on iTunes or elsewhere. Thank you so much for that. Without any further ado, I want to introduce my dear friend and  deeply respected colleague, Mike Moran.

    Let me tell you a little bit about Mike, why I’m excited to have him on this show. Mike is an LCSW and a psychotherapist, a certified EFT couples’ therapist and supervisor, a certified sex therapist, and a certified inner bonding facilitator based in New York, where he specializes at the intersection of relational and sexual challenges. He’s the Founder and Director of The Center for Relational Fulfillment, and he’s on the board of directors of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy.

    Mike also presents internationally training therapists on sexual issues in EFT, couples therapy, and he’s also taught graduate courses in marriage and family therapy, and LGBTQ practice at Rutgers University. He offers weekend workshops to couples. Mike says that he views erotic energy as chi, meaning life force or creative vitality, and loves helping people remove the barriers to creating authentic, passionate connection emotionally and sexually. You can learn more about his work by going to FulfilledCouples.com. I know Mike for decades. We’ve worked together many times, and you will get this quality of goodness, decency, intelligence, clarity, integrity, and smarts that he emanates, which is why it’s such a joy for me to have him on the show. Welcome, Mike.

    Thank you, Ken. Thank you for that introduction. I feel all warm inside.

    It’s all true about you. I am so glad to have you here because this is such an important topic that doesn’t get talked about enough, and single people who are not yet in a relationship don’t know the tools that are available to them to grow in their sexuality and their sexual healing while they’re dating, and before they’re in the committed relationship that they’re searching for. The way I would love to start is with you telling us anything about your story and what led you here.

    Sure. I think on a fundamental level, sex, erotic energy has always been very important to me. I am a sexual person. I honor that energy, and I feel like it’s been an integral component to my own healing. I was born with a birth defect that impacted my sex life. I was in sex therapy as a single gay young man in my twenties, and it changed my life. That awakened me to the power of sexual energy, and how if we do our work, it can enlighten us. As I say in my bio, I think of erotic energy, sexual energy as chi, as life force. For so many of us, that energy has been dampened. It’s been tainted by many things, so I help people. I help folks liberate that.

    Trauma occurs in relationships. It is also healed in relationships.CLICK TO TWEETThat is beautiful and powerful. Can you tell us more about how you do that? For our listeners as well, what’s the journey that they can take as they learn from you, as we speak?

    Toxic Beliefs

    I’ve worked with many people over the years. Straight, gay, transgender, gender fluid, who have recognized in themselves that they sense that this wonderful energy, this wonderful life force that lives within them has been tainted, and has been dampened  down. We go on a journey together to learn about how their sexuality, how their sexual energy, their Eros, emerged in their body. How it lives in their body, how it came of being, and then how it lives in their body now, and how the myths, the messages. In our culture, I don’t care if you’re straight, gay, what have you. The culture at large, mainstream culture can do a real number on us. It’s like toxins. We ingest these negative beliefs and messages and myths about sex that can do a number on us and that can hijack our capacity to let that energy flow in us. That’s one of the questions I ask the folks that I work with, “What toxins have you swallowed in the culture at large, in your family culture? What lives within you that, perhaps, you and I can help release, get that poison out of there?”

    That is beautiful and powerful. Let’s have a moment so that all of the audience could think about this. Maybe you even want to take out a paper and pen, or maybe you’re walking or driving and you want to pause this and think about it, but this is a powerful question. You’re saying, Mike, it’s the very first question, it’s where you start on this journey. Let’s all do this for a minute. Let’s sit with this question that Mike asked. Mike, can I ask you to ask it once more, and then we’ll give people a minute to think or to pause, and reflect on it?

    Sure, of course. What toxins have you swallowed that are living in your body from the culture at large, from your family, from your friends? What lives in your body that isn’t authentically you? What messages, what poisons do you need to release to come to embrace a healthy, loving, powerful model of sexuality?

    Beautiful. Here’s something I want to say that I’m going to ask you to address in a minute, Mike, which is for those listeners who have experienced real sexual trauma, this could be a very triggering question. Feel free to answer this in a brief and general way and not to dive in, to be aware of what triggers you. To take care of yourself in the process of answering this question, you might want to answer it on a very broad level. Stand as far away from the trauma as you need to, to be able to look at it, even if it’s from ten miles back and getting a kind of a safe view of it. I wanted to put that in for people who’ve experienced trauma because it’s a rich and important question we all should be able to ask.

    It doesn’t have words. It’s a feeling of shame that I feel goes deep inside my being kind of to the point of curling my toes and my fingers. It’s a sense of shame and it’s a deep belief. Goodness is important to me, and it’s a deeply imprinted belief that sex and goodness are antithetical. That’s a myth that I’ve spent my life working to deal with. I wanted to share mine because it’s such a beautiful question and I wanted to kind of model a little bit of answering that question.

    That’s beautiful, Ken. I’ve worked a lot with shame as I’m sure you have. Personally, and in my work with folks, shame is a big one. Isn’t it? It can hijack our ability to own our truth in our lives. It can just shut us down, and what’s the underbelly of that? What’s going on there? What have we taken in that we haven’t released yet? That is not us, but it’s in us.

    Well said. Asking this question and articulating even more fully, what the words are to that shame? Would that be the next step?

    DDP 90 | Sexual Healing
    Sexual Healing: In mainstream culture, we ingest negative beliefs and myths about sex that hijack our capacity to let the sexual energy flow in us.

     

    Absolutely, to slow things down. You weren’t born with that shame inside you. Something happened there and it came of being. What happened there? What’s the story of how shame began to take over your experience of your sexuality, if indeed that’s occurring?

    Healing Sexual Trauma

    I know there are more questions, Mike, and I have a choice point question for you. What this is bringing up for me, as all the people who are listening, who have experienced sexual trauma and violation? I think I would like to pause and hear any insights because this is huge. It was one of the questions I was going to ask you. If you could address for folks, those of us who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual trauma and have the deep trauma reverberations inside our being, how do people in that situation? Do you have any thoughts you want to share about the healing journey around that?

    I was glad that you added that, Ken, because I’ve worked a lot with sexual trauma. I can talk about a case with a person I’m working with right now. The first thing I would say with this is in order for us to open to our trauma, we have to feel safe enough to do that. If you’re working on your own and beginning to open that box, pay attention to what’s happening for you, pay attention to your body. Sometimes, memories have been kind of stored in there and then they start to emerge. I’ve worked with folks where that’s been the case. If you find yourself feeling that your trauma has limited you and you want to do the work of washing it out, go slow and be gentle.

    As you open to what happened, learn about how, then how you respond to what happened. I’ll tell you why. I worked with a woman who had been date-raped in college. It was interesting. After it happened, she repressed the whole thing. She pushed it down. She forgot about it. She was pretty promiscuous in college afterward, and we wondered if that was a component, if the trauma was playing out on some level. Anyway, it reemerged. After she got married, she had had a satisfying sex life with her partner, but about a year into the marriage, all the trauma came up in front and center, and her body completely shut down. I worked with her for about a year when I’d had the partner come in sometimes. She had an awesome husband. I loved this guy. He was great, but the key was helping her open to that she’s in control, that she’s the one, that she gets to decide about her body. She holds the reigns and nobody else holds the reins around her sexuality. It was a very healing work.

    Since safety is the first order of business for many people working on trauma, it is good to get help, right?

    Absolutely, especially with trauma because it’s overwhelming. Remember, trauma occurs in a relationship, trauma is healed in a relationship. I encourage folks who have had to deal with that to get help.

    Here’s another question. This is not in any way to discount the importance of therapy and doing trauma work, but if trauma can be healed through relationship, how can trauma be healed through your relationship with yourself? Let’s say you’re a single person. You’re not having sex. Maybe you’re having sex occasionally with people that you date. Maybe you’re having recreational sex. Maybe you’re just masturbating and wanting to do your healing work in that. Could you share thoughts in addition to, or on the side, even instead of, therapy, what are ways that people can heal sexual trauma and sexual wounding in their relationship with themselves before they are in a partnership?

    It’s a good question. I relate to it. I think I did a lot of my healing as a single person.

    Own your disabilities from a place of empowerment instead of shame.CLICK TO TWEETI have talked a lot about being in a support group for chronically single psychotherapists, and Mike was one of my support group members. We were in this together.

    We were.

    It was very healing for us.

    I loved that group. I would say, the first step, if you’re going to work on this on your own is do the work on every level. There’s the mind. That’s what we talked about the myths, the messages, do that work, and understand how it lives in your body from an insight perspective. Also, get to know your body. If you had trauma, how does the trauma impact your relationship to your body? How do you feel about your body? I’m working with a gentleman right now who’s had major trauma. I gave him an exercise, “Just lay naked on your bed and notice sensations of what’s happening. Just slow down.” A lot emerged for him because he had never thought to do that before. I would encourage you to slow things down and get to know what goes on inside your head, what goes on inside your body, what’s your relationship to your body? Do your best to keep a deep sense of curiosity,  just noticing it all.

    What a powerful, beautiful, and simple exercise for reflection.

    It can be very powerful. The other thing that I encourage you to do is all of us have what we call an erotic blueprint. All of us have our own unique algorithm that allows our sensual sexual energy to come alive. There’s more direct stimulation. There’s the senses, our  sensuality, and then there’s what we call psychogenic, which is thoughts, feelings, fantasies, what have you. Do some exploration around “what’s your erotic blueprint? How does your sexual energy begin to hum? I ask folks, “How does your erotic engine get turned on and  humming? What happens there?” Get deeply curious because we’re all a little different in that place.

    That’s wonderful. That’s something I talk about too in my book, like different components of that are what moves you in sex. What emotionally moves you? What makes you feel safe, and what turns you on, and holding all of those together is. that’s the rich place. That’s the wonderful place. I want to share, Mike, the genesis of this episode. You and I were in a cafe together maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I don’t know if you remember this, but I remember it so vividly. We were sitting there drinking our ice coffee together, and I asked you, “In your work as a sex therapist at this point,what’s exciting you the most?” What you said was beautiful and powerful to me. I would like you to speak about that a little bit and I’ll say what that was. This is what you said to me.

    Tell me because I don’t remember.

    DDP 90 | Sexual Healing
    Sexual Healing: All of us have our own unique algorithm that allows our sexuality to come alive.

     

    I will tell you and it was awesome. It opened a whole new vista of pathways to healing and a possibility. This is what you said, “This is what interests me. No matter how traumatized someone might be that I am working with, there’s a zone that they can go into where they can be sexual and feel good inside and feel unblocked and unfettered. There’s circuitry that they can go into where things work for them, even if they’ve been traumatized. Even if a great amount of the time they can’t do that, there are times when it’s smooth sailing. They are just in alignment with themselves. I’m fascinated by what it is that allows that to happen.”

    What it is that allows them to drop into that groove where they can celebrate their sexuality in such a satisfying way.

    Tell us what you have learned about what helps people, no matter what, be able to drop into that groove.

    I think a real component is the yearning to do it, the motivation to do it, the persistence to keep learning about, what are the barriers to you claiming your unique, beautiful version to your sexual energy? I’ve worked with folks with all kinds of fetishes. For so many of us that grow up in a culture that denigrates anything that is “other”, it shuts us down before we even know that we’re shutting it down. I’ve worked with many of the fetishes, the Adult Diaper community. I’ve worked with folks were in Puppy Play, which is your erotic energy comes alive through primarily portraying an animal, what have you. The human experience, the mind, the nervous system, all of it is so rich.

    I think with that, those of us who are willing to move beyond the confines of this world that we live in, that tells us that we’re not allowed to be ourselves in whatever’s going on in there, those of us who have the chutzpah to move beyond that, I think that’s the impetus to be able to link into that group. Can you allow yourself to be your erotic self ,in all its glory, whatever that is, however that begins to come alive within you? I think that’s the underbelly of it all. Many people, including myself, have real feelings about claiming that truth and that borrows back to the myth, the messages, the stuff that we’ve taken in that we have to move, we have to release, and we have to throw and vomit out.

    This is great because this is work that everyone, no matter where they are in the spectrum of single to committed couple hood can do. Every one of us can do this, and if you do it now before you’re in a relationship, it will save you a great deal of grief and allow you a great deal more of happiness. This is a wonderful time to be doing that work. Mike, the first thing you talked about so richly was naming the myths that we’ve swallowed our sexual freedom that block us from being who we can be sexually. Now you’ve talked about naming your algorithm, acknowledging what brings you to the place where your heart is alive, your Eros is alive, and you’re turned on and your engine is humming, and I love that. Can you frame that for the audience as a question that we can all sit with for a moment?

    Sure. Let me put it this way, which borrows back to Jack Morin’s work, which is amazing. Think about it this way. Let’s say you’re not turned on at all. You’re not feeling erotic at all, but you would like to be. What are the thoughts, feelings, images, and fantasies? What’s all that you know would be the best bet to help you come alive there, to help your erotic portal open and for you to move into that altered state of Eros coming alive in you? What are all the factors that come into play there? What is it about those qualities? What is it about those that make it so inviting, that make it so enticing? Let’s ponder that for a moment.

    That is beautiful. It is such rich, wonderful stuff. Thank you, Mike. This is great.

    We heal through compassion, not judgment.CLICK TO TWEETYou’re very welcome.

    Was there more you wanted to say there, or should I jump to my next question?

    I think we’re good. Keep jumping, Ken.

    I want to ask about, and this is like a huge range. I’m going to say them all in this one question, but feel free to separate them. What about people who have shame about organic conditions of any sort, who are single and feel scared of entering into a relationship or even the dating world because of shame around disabilities, things in their sexual anatomy, scarring, STDs like herpes, any of these kinds of things that could make people feel, “I know this takes me out of the game?”

    You’re talking my language because I have a birth defect. This is exactly what my journey was and I value the sexual energy that I did this work. I think the key with that is to do your best to let go of seeing your disability, your scarring, your STD, your herpes. Do your best to let go of framing it as this is my illness, this is where I’m damaged, this is my defectiveness. Do your best to soften the gaze and try to see it through the lens of, “This is the body that I was meant to explore, that I was meant to have on this journey of embracing my sexual truth.” In fact, this was part of it. Try to see it as a component of your journey. Try to shift the lens from it being a deficit to more of an attribute of your unique journey.

    Did you do that, Mike?

    I have done that. I have crossed the bridge in that capacity and it’s been very powerful, but it’s hard. It’s not a one conversation thing. That’s a burner.

    I just want to say something about this journey concept because I guess, when we look at ourselves and our defects, whatever they are, are glaring, obvious, and embarrassing. We feel like, “How would anyone be turned on to me?” Maybe we even feel like, “I wouldn’t be turned on to me,” and all of these thoughts that are kind of crushing. The question you asked was not as simple as, “how were these parts of me just fine, just beautiful? How is this actually part of my authentic sexual journey of claiming my sexuality? That’s a shift and that’s very profound, and thank you so much for sharing something so personal with us because then everyone who’s dealing with that can say, “He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been through it.”

    DDP 90 | Sexual Healing
    Sexual Healing: No matter how traumatized someone might be, there’s a zone where they can be sexual and feel good inside, unblocked and unfettered.

     

    It’s developing the capacity to own it but from a place of empowerment versus a place of shame and trying to cover it up, trying to pretend that it’s not there, or foreclosing on your dating or sexual journey because you can’t imagine. You are giving into fear versus claiming it as a component of your journey, of your life that is meant to be there for you to learn from. Ultimately, I see all of life as a classroom. It’s all a classroom and we all have to embrace what we’ve got and what we’ve been given.

    Tips For The Chronically Single

    Mike, this is so beautiful, so rich and I have some more questions for you.

    Sure.

    What about people who’ve been chronically single for a long time and want to get out into the dating world, and are just afraid and feel rusty with dating?

    Ken, you shared. We were in our chronically single therapist group. I think what I would say with that, where I come from that, I think about how I tortured myself about that. I labeled myself. I used it as an identity, “I’m chronically single,” and I’ve been partnered now for thirteen years. I look back at the young man. I used that label to torture myself. I think the first step is, so you’ve been single for a long time. That’s all it means; you’ve been single for a long time. It doesn’t mean you’re defective. It doesn’t mean you’re broken. It doesn’t mean that nobody’s ever going to want to date you.

    All it means is that you’ve been single for a long time. That’s all it means. Don’t take that like Ken and I did and run with that and torture yourself with it. That’s all it is. It’s just data. It’s information. You’ve been single for a long time. What’s your next step toward taking a risk and getting up there again? If you want to internet date, great. If you don’t, great. If you want to take a class, I had a client, who met her partner in an Italian class. She took an Italian class and ended up meeting her partner. What’s your next step? Seeing it through the lens of this, I keep coming back to this word, journey.

    Do your best not to focus on this destination of, “Where is my partner?” See it as a journey of moving toward this person. I remember and it is true, it’s such a cliche when they talk about it, it comes out of nowhere, what have you, but it is true. When I met my partner, I met my partner at  Big Apple Ranch, which is a gay square dance in the middle of Manhattan. I remember the night so well because it was all I could do not to cancel. If I hadn’t promised my friend to meet him at this thing, I would never have gone. I remember getting into the shower and being like, “Why am I going to this thing?” I don’t even like country music. I just was not there, but I showed up and my partner was there and I’ve been with him for thirteen years. You just don’t know. You just have to keep taking the next step and do your best to not frame it from a negative place.

    Mike, I’m smiling because I quote you all the time in my classes and my courses without mentioning who you are. This is another thing that relates to that because when you were searching, or maybe it was when you first met Steve, and I said to you, “What are you doing now that’s different?” You said, “Ken, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I get home from work and the last thing I want to do in the world is to take a shower and get dressed and go out.” It literally makes me feel sick to my stomach, but I know that if I don’t do that and go to events where there are spiritual gay men, I will never find my partner, and I quote you on that all the time.

    Sexual energy is powerful. It’s beautiful energy. It’s healing energy. It’s vitality. It’s an awesome part of living on this planet.CLICK TO TWEETIt is because that’s exactly what happened when I met Steve. I’m telling you; I remember getting into the shower like I can’t breathe. I’m dragging my butt up the Seventh Avenue. I lived in the West Village at the time. I think I remember that walk. I was dragging myself into that building, but it’s true, we have to get in the ring, don’t we?

    We have to get in the ring and the ring also includes doing the rich sexual questioning and mining of treasures that you are describing. I have another question for you. I want to talk about the whole issue of hooking up. This is a show for people who are into the conscious search for love so we don’t talk that much about hooking up. I think many people here don’t do that. I think that there are also many people who do that and wonder how they feel about it, and wonder if it’s a good thing to do. I would like us to talk for a few minutes about this issue of this conscious journey of healing. If your commitment is toward healing, and you’re single and you want sex, how to hold this issue of hooking up? I would love to hear any of your thoughts.

    Firstly, I want to preface this by saying, I’m a sex-positive sex therapist. What I mean by that is, if the sex is consensual, respectful, and safe and everybody in the room, regardless of how many people are in the room, are having pleasure, if everyone is having pleasure, then rock and roll. I don’t judge any of that. Now, that said, if you’re recognizing that who you are in that context, your behavior, what you’re doing, if you are starting to get those inner promptings of, “This is not really reflective of my deepest truth. This is not reflective of who I want to be. This is not my wisest self that’s doing that.” You’re wanting to deepen into, “What is my wisest self with respect to the challenging conundrum of being a sexual being?”

    Some of us have very high sex drives, and being single and needing that release and needing that outlet. Trust me, I very much empathize with that. That said, if you’re feeling like, “This is not who I want to be here,” do some exploration. What is the part of you that’s doing the hooking up? What is that part wanting? What’s going on there? Do your best to open to compassion. We heal through compassion, not judgment. Do your best to soften the gaze, let the inner critical wounded part of you ask him or her to step outside for a moment and do some compassionate learning about, “What’s happening in this place? What’s going on?”

    There’s the part that is doing something here. There’s the part that is acting in a way that’s not in alignment with who you want to be, and so you want to get curious, partner with this part of you. Learn about what’s going on there. It may feel better to hook up and to engage in casual sex in a way that ultimately doesn’t feel right to you, but maybe it’s serving you because it’s helping you not feel more vulnerable feelings. Maybe it’s helping you to distract yourself from feelings that otherwise would be knocking on your door. What I say with that is to get curious, slow down, and learn about it. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up. There are always good reasons for why this stuff plays out the way it does.

    Beautiful. Thank you, Mike. I agree with you. It’s important that even when we are acting in ways that might be not great for us sexually, that we still hold the beauty of our sexuality and remember that first and primarily. That’s wonderful. Mike, you’ve shared so many rich, wonderful things. One thing that I’ve appreciated is you have articulated all of these kinds of thorny and important and highly charged issues as a journey that we can be kind to ourselves around and curious and exploratory, which is what I love about your work and why I so wanted to have you on the show.

    I’m glad you picked up on that, Ken. It’s a fundamental tenet of how I work with folks and I help them open to their journey through the eyes of compassion, not judgment.

    You have been through that journey and we are all on that journey together.

    DDP 90 | Sexual Healing
    Sexual Healing: When you’re single for a long time, it means you’re single and nothing else. Don’t torture yourself by thinking you’re defective.

     

    We are, indeed.

    Mike, we’re moving toward closing now and in a minute, I’m going to ask you to talk about how people could get in touch with you and reach out and find out more about your work and take part in it if they’re moved to do that, but first, are there any last closing words that you want to share with this community?

    This borrows back to what we touched on earlier in our conversation, but I think what I want to emphasize is erotic energy and sexual energy are powerful. It’s a beautiful energy. It’s healing energy, it’s a vitality, it’s aliveness , it’s such an awesome part of living on this planet. As we all well know, living on this planet can be challenging, but it’s like anything. It can be used in the service of the best parts of ourselves or it could be used in the service of these wounded parts. I think the key is to honor the energy, honor how powerful it is, honor its role in your life because, of course, that looks different for everybody. Respect it because it’s a beautiful part of living, in my opinion.

    Mike, that’s wonderful. I just want to acknowledge you and all the other folks in the world who are brave adventurers in exploring sexual healing because it’s still is so taboo and limited in this world and in this country. This is a statement of gratitude for all the people working on sex and sexuality in the world, and to you in particular. For everyone who wants to explore this more fully, some of the things that Mike talked about, who want to learn from him, hear more about what he’s doing, what he believes in, what he’s studying, what he’s teaching, how can people find out everything about you, Mike?

    Just go to my website, it’s www.FulfilledCouples.com, and if you want to email me directly, my email is [email protected]. That’s the easiest way.

    Mike, I can’t thank you enough for your years of loyal and wonderful friendship, for the work that you’re doing in the world, and for sharing this with us.

    Likewise, Ken. I remember us doing the retreats back in the day where I would do the music and we’ve had a rich journey together.

    It’s true. Mike is a musician and a songwriter, by the way, as well. Mike, thank you. Thank you everybody for listening. You can go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com to sign up for my mailing list. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Just a reminder that at this point, I’m only doing episodes every two weeks for the time being, so see you then and thank you so much. Thank you, Mike, once again.

    Thanks, Ken.

  • Trump, Coronavirus, And The Greatest Lesson Of Love [EP089]
    Toxic relationships affect our lives in the most profound ways. They can be compelling beyond belief – and over time the damage they cause is profound. This same dynamic is playing out on the world stage: In the case of coronavirus we have a breathtaking view into the nature of narcissism – and it’s costing us countless lives. The issue isn’t primarily about policy or politics – it’s about character. And our country has married someone who cannot take care of us.

    Table of Contents

    Watch the episode here:

    Trump, Coronavirus, And The Greatest Lesson Of Love

    Acknowledging The Devastating Effects Of A Toxic Relationship 

    The first and greatest lesson of love relationships is being played out now in our country around Coronavirus in the current administration. It’s being played out in so many of our lives. Stay tuned to this episode to learn what that lesson is and what we can learn from what’s happening now in our country.

    I’m Ken page. I’m a psychotherapist author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating, the Cofounder of the dating site, DeeperDating.com, and the host of this show. I’m going to talk about the first great lesson of intimacy and how that plays out in so many of our lives and how it’s playing out in our country, around Coronavirus, and the current administration. This week and every week, although I’m now doing these podcasts every two weeks for the time being, I will 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 skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of intimacy. Those are the greatest and richest skills of our lives.

    If you want to learn more about the Deeper Dating path to finding intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. If you sign up for my mailing list, you can get a number of free gifts and learn more about these ideas and how to use them. There are also transcripts of every episode of this podcast. Also, I want to say that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment. If you’re experiencing any serious psychological symptoms, please seek professional help.

    Finally, if you like what you hear here, I would love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. The reviews that I get are very beautiful, very touching, very important, and also let other people know about this show. Thank you so much for that. Now, we’re going to jump in.

    In my work and in my life, the place where I have seen and experienced the greatest and most intractable pain has been around the compelling power of unhealthy toxic relationships. When you choose someone who is not safe, whose character is not good, and it’s so hard because they have such great promises that they make to you, or because they almost love you, or because they’re so sexy or they have so much to offer, it’s an attraction of deprivation. These kinds of attractions are some of the most intractable issues that I have seen. I feel like the thing that I see that stops people, apart from the lack of wiser information about intimacy, the thing that causes the most pain and blocks people the most is the addiction to the “stuckness” with unhealthy, toxic relationships.

    I think that this is happening in our country and we can see it with what’s going on with the way that we as a country have addressed Coronavirus and how Trump and his administration have actually led us into tremendous, tremendous pain and suffering and loss. Similar to what happens when we decide to enter into relationships with toxic people. This is like a cautionary tale. By looking at what’s happening in our country, we can understand the single-most painful dynamic that happens in romantic relationships and the single most important lesson.

    The inner world of a narcissist is a rancid place, and the narcissist wants to drag other people into that space.CLICK TO TWEET

    Married To A Narcissist

    By looking at these personal relationships, we can understand more what seems to be happening at this time in our country. I think that on both counts, this is pressing and urgent, and I have a lot to say. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a kind of cautionary tale, but it’s also going to be filled with hope because when we can see a hypnosis for what it is, we can break free from a toxic relationship. I want to say, this is not about Trump’s policies.

    This is not about being a Democrat or being a Republican. It’s about character. What’s being acted out in the state of our country and in the world is that many Americans have fallen in love with a profound narcissist. The sign there, the key great difficulty, is the inability to de-center from what you want and the importance of how you’re perceived, and to be able to actually look at the world with great empathy.

    I think it would be really hard to disagree that this is an area where Donald Trump is profoundly weak, and where that weakness, specifically in regard to Coronavirus, has led to death, death of loved ones, more deaths to follow of our precious loved ones because Coronavirus is not something that Trump wants to admit to or deal with because it doesn’t make him look good. The description of this kind of narcissism was beautifully described by E.B. Johnson in an article in Medium called How your personality changes after surviving narcissistic abuse.

    “Narcissistic abuse,” the author says, or a toxic relationship, I add in, “occurs through verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, and even all-out campaigns of fear, threats, and terror. A narcissist is unable to see the inherent value in anyone else because they’re only able to see their needs, desires, and perspectives.” Let’s talk about this on a personal level. How many of us have been in relationships with a narcissist?

    How many of us have been in a toxic relationship with someone who couldn’t de-center from their own needs and would hurt us and hurt others because of their inability to choose compassion over self-gratification? How many people do you know now that are in those situations? How many times have you had loved ones in situations of relationships with people where you knew that this was so bad for them and these otherwise really intelligent people when you tried to show them the facts, their eyes would kind of glaze over?

    They would have rationalizations; they would have excuses. How many times have we done that? How to capture the degree of pain and lost years and suffering, not to mention abuse, not to mention abuse of our children, not to mention the loss of friendships and other relationships, because the narcissist feels threatened by those other connections and other alliances, and pushes us to dissolve them, from the subtlest level to the grossest level?

    DDP 89 | Toxic Relationships
    Toxic Relationships: A narcissist is unable to see the inherent value in anyone else because they’re only able to see their needs, desires, and perspectives.

     

    Most of us have seen in deep and powerful ways, the devastating effects of a toxic relationship, and the kind of hypnosis occurs where we don’t want to admit that. Coronavirus is bad, for Trump and how he looks at his success. He prefers that it doesn’t exist. Testing makes the numbers look bigger, so let’s slow it down. If children don’t go back to school, that’s going to hurt our economy. It’s going to hurt the optics of how our country looks, and how I look, and whether or not I’ll get re-elected.

    Let’s make sure that no matter what, we send them to school, and we’ll pull funding of any school that doesn’t support t