With Valentine's Day comes renewed romantic hope for the single among us.
When it comes to the search for love, many strive to meet their match, only to wind up disappointed.
The reason for this, according to psychotherapist Ken Page, author of “Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy,” is that much of the common dating advice our society is given is just plain bad.
That’s right: You’re not finding love because you’re doing it wrong.
Page’s approach shows love-seekers how to use what they already have to find what they’re seeking when it comes to love.
“It’s an incredible time in history now, there is an explosion of new ways to meet,” Page explains. “It’s completely unprecedented, we’ve hit a tipping point of our country and the landscape of romance is changing.”
Most people are single — but somehow these meetings aren’t turning into lasting relationships.
“It’s like the advice we are handed was written by an anxious adolescent,” Page said. “How to fix yourself, improve yourself, how to play hard to get … I see so many people who are not finding love, and to me its obvious that it’s because they don’t know how to look for it.”
“Either you learn real skills of intimacy, or you repeat the same patterns again and again,” Page explained.
“It’s very clear that the search for love is one of the greatest missions of our entire adult lives. So many things are dependent on the quality of our spousal relationships.”
According to Page, the advice we’re getting does not honor the profundity or seriousness of this mission.
Though fingers are commonly pointed at dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr for making connection easy and impersonal, they’re not necessarily to blame for the dearth of romance found there.
“You do not want to be ground under the dehumanizing effects of these geosocial apps,” Page said. “They’re full of disconnection, jerkiness and none of the things you want. But you can use this wealth of technology to find love.”
“Use them, but use them wisely,” Page recommends. “Turn on Tinder at a museum or a volunteering event. Take your time to get to know people. In your profile — don’t make it look like a hookup. If you want a relationship, be frank.”
The most important thing to remember, according to Page, is that there are two kinds of attraction: Attractions of deprivation and attractions of inspiration.
“With attractions of deprivation, someone is almost able to commit, or almost treats you well, or almost accepts you — we can lose years doing that,” Page said. “Those are often the most exciting of all.”
“Attractions of inspiration, on the other hand, happen when someone has qualities of kindness and decency, and they’re available and you’re inspired by how they are in the world, and with other people, and how they treat other people and how they treat you,” Page said.
“The secret to happiness is making the choice to choose an attraction of inspiration. You’re still going to be wildly attracted to the wrong people— there is so much misery because no one has been taught the deeper lessons of the search for love,” Page explained.
That doesn’t mean the attraction of inspiration has to be boring.
“Here’s how it goes — you can be very or a little attracted initially,” Page said. “There’ll be a warmth or goodness that it makes you feel. That sense of insane fireworks might well not be there at first. That doesn’t mean that you’re not signing up for a life of unexciting sex. The attraction will be some warmth, safety, and you need to follow that to make it grow.”
Finding the attraction of inspiration isn’t enough, however. What comes next is one of the greatest destroyers of healthy new love that exists in the world, according to Page.
“Then comes the wave. There’s someone kind and decent and available— and then your interest just drops. You just can’t stand a nose hair, or want some more excitement. People again and again leave because they feel trapped, or don’t want to hurt the other person,” Page said. “Your insides recognize the opportunity, and you get scared.”
“It’s a wave, but waves pass, Page said. “If you stay, and enjoy the person, the wave will pass. The attraction either becomes richer, or it becomes clearer that you should leave.”
So, why are the people that daters are wildly attracted to so often bad for them?
“According to couples theory, the people that we’re crazy attracted to— the subconscious reason we’re attracted is that they hold the worst characteristics of our primary caregivers. There’s a huge chance that they will hurt us in the same ways we were hurt in our childhood and past relationships. It’s like we’re going back to try and fix it,” Page said.
“On an attraction spectrum of one to 10, 10 being physical symptoms, with nines and tens, we know that this is someone who can hurt us,” Page said. “Something inside us wants us to get them to love us right. I advise people who are looking for relationships — look at the fours and the sevens.”
Try this, not that
According to Page, the single best thing someone looking for love can do is free and fun: Have a dating buddy or learning partner.
“Find someone who really loves you and has your best interests at heart, and meet with them by phone or in person once a week, and support each other in using these real skills of intimacy and taking this approach,” Page recommends.
“My book is sort of a coursework for doing this: It’s divided up into 12 areas. For each lesson, many do it once a week, for each section there’s a workbook you can do with your partner.”
Starting the dating game over from scratch? Page offers these tips:
- Stop beating yourself up. Take all that advice about game-playing, immediate attraction, being young — toss them away. They’re not going to get you anywhere.
- Show yourself who you really are. Those qualities you thought you needed to suppress — those qualities are usually pure magic for finding the person who is right for you.
- Watch. You will see really quickly the people who love what they see, and save time and energy by being yourself from the beginning.
- Use the tools you know, but get to know the person. Make the decision to follow attractions of inspiration and follow them.
- Being single doesn’t mean you are not successful at intimacy.
- Start by celebrating all you have in your life already. Family members, pets, missions you have.
- Make Valentine’s Day about celebrating the love you have.
- The best place to find love: Your contact list. Take those people who really love you and know you, tell them you’re serious about finding someone wonderful— see who they think of. Say to them, go to your Facebook, look at all of the names, and make a list of anyone who they think is a possibility.
- Look in places where you can find people who share your passions. Let people know that you are interested. “The search for love is not the search for a needle in a haystack, and it’s not a race against time,” Page said. “If you look for these qualities that are young and successful and confident and gorgeous— those are not the skills of love. It’s an intimacy journey. Every step you take moves you closer to finding the love you really want.”
- Don’t rush into bed. “Sexual intimacy without corresponding emotional intimacy is like Miracle Gro, you’re either going to become needy or want to flee,” Page said. “There are all of these neural or emotional connections and you like them, and you have to wait— there’s a magic that happens. There’s a buildup of erotic and emotional energy that happens, it’s like magic. There’s a reason the courting ritual exists.”