You’ve met this great guy.
You like him a lot. He likes you.
There’s only one problem:
You don’t feel a spark.
Should you keep seeing him?
When I made a video on this topic 2 years ago, I didn’t expect to get such a huge response…
Over 10K views and 50+ comments!
It turns out there are a LOT of people wondering whether they should keep trying with someone they don’t feel a spark with.
In the video, I discussed Attractions of Deprivation and Attractions of Inspiration.
It’s an idea I learned from renowned psychotherapist Ken Page.
When we chase that red-hot instant chemistry, we often find ourselves in relationships that make us feel inadequate. We hustle for approval. We prove ourselves to him.
But when we relax and seek out men who inspire us with their inner qualities—their heart, their soul, their goodness—we find ourselves feeling a different kind of attraction. Slow-burning. Sustainable. Lasting.
The video was part of my #TheShortAnswer series, which meant I didn’t have the time to answer questions like…
- How do you know which type of attraction you’re feeling?
- How do you know whether there’s potential if sparks don’t fly at first sight?
- How long should you give a man before writing him off?
Besides, I wasn’t the expert on Attractions of Inspiration and Attractions of Deprivation. That was Ken Page!
So I had a brainstorm…
What if I invited the MAN HIMSELF onto my show and posed YOUR questions to him?
I’m delighted to announce that he AGREED!
So, without further ado, on this week’s episode of YBTV, Deeper Dating founder Ken Page shows us how to cultivate Attractions of Inspiration that lead us to happiness, joy, and lifelong love.
What You’ll Learn
So much of what we get taught about dating actually leads us AWAY from love.”
Dating is superficial.
It’s a meat market. All that matters is how you look.
And then when you go out with a guy?
If you like him, he doesn’t like you. If he likes you, you don’t like him.
It’s hopeless. Pointless. Painful.
That’s because you haven’t tried Deeper Dating.
The Deeper Dating Community
Deeper Dating is the creation of psychotherapist Ken Page, with the goal of bringing humanity back to dating.
Ken created Deeper Dating because of his own experiences in love.
He was single for decades. Despite his years of work as a therapist, he couldn’t make love happen for himself. He even started a support group for “chronically single” psychotherapists.
Then he became a single father. He found himself home all the time and unable to date.
The break gave him the space to envision what it would be like if he could invent a way for singles to meet each other that reflected everything he believed in.
This led to the very first Deeper Dating events. Despite their popularity, Ken put the events on hold so he could focus on his writing (including the Deeper Dating book), but he never lost sight of his vision.
One day, his husband (yes, Ken found love in the end!) suggested that they build a Deeper Dating community online.
Today, the Deeper Dating online community is open to everyone. It’s not your typical dating site. Membership is free. It’s a place to meet other singles who share your values.
Which Attractions Lead to Love
But let’s back up a moment to a part of the story we skipped over…
How did Ken find HIS forever love?
How did he break the “single cycle”?
The insight that changed Ken’s life is the very same insight that inspired my “great guy, no chemistry” video.
We have TWO different circuitries of attraction.
One circuitry leads us to happiness, while the other leads to agony and despair.
Part of the reason Ken was single forever was because of his attraction to bad boys.
It never worked. The tough, cocky guys he liked were never that interested in him back.
Then he remember someone he’d fallen in love with in high school.
THIS guy “was decent and kind and soft and caring and spiritual,” and Ken was head over heels for him.
He thought to himself: ‘Wait a minute! If I could have had that kind of total attraction for someone who is filled with decency and goodness, maybe I’m NOT hopeless.”
He knew how it felt to be attracted to the wrong guys. What if he had a different circuitry of attraction, one that would lead him to the kind of love he was seeking?
This led him to develop the concept of Attractions of Inspiration and Attractions of Deprivation.
Attractions of Inspiration are “where we can become attracted to someone because of their goodness and decency … and stability and availability,” Ken explains.
Those attractions requires nurturing in a different way, and they have the potential to lead to beautiful love.
Then there are Attractions of Deprivation, “which grab us in all the places we think we’re not sexy enough or confident enough or beautiful enough or intelligent enough or powerful enough… [These attractions] make us want to try to prove to that other person that they should love us.”
Most of us are much more used to Attractions of Deprivation. We expect to have to work hard for love, with rejection nipping at our heels.
But what happens if we start to pay attention to Attractions of Inspiration?
We may just start to meet partners who want the same things we do.
Why Goodness and Decency are So Hot
We don’t often think of goodness, decency, stability and availability as hot.
But there’s some strong research behind this.
One study found that almost 70% of people in relationships started out in platonic relationships.
Another study looked at the qualities people were looking for most in love, and #1 was kindness and understanding.
Now, that’s not to say that chemistry doesn’t matter!
“You cannot force your attractions,” Ken says. “The cruelest thing that you could do to yourself is to subject yourself to a relationship with someone you’re not attracted to because you think they’re good for you.”
He continues, “You have the right to be with someone that you’re really sexually attracted to, but here’s the amazing thing. Sexual attraction can’t be forced, but it could be educated.
“If there’s some kind of a spark (and even if there’s not at first), as you get to know someone and deepen what are called the companionate love skills, like kindness and respect and understanding and warmth and laughter, there’s some chance that romance can develop.”
Cultivating This New Attraction Circuitry
When you meet a really great guy you like in every way, but you just don’t feel that instant spark, try this.
Soften your focus.
“Give yourself space to soften your focus,” Ken explains, “like a portrait artist who’s doing a painting of a subject and they squint because they don’t want the harsh outlines to get in the way.”
Even if you don’t feel like sleeping with him right away, don’t write him off. See what you enjoy about his company. Play around with noticing the attributes about him you like.
“How many of us have had the experience [where] we’re sitting in a room,” Ken says, “there’s somebody there, we don’t even notice them, but then the way they crinkle their eyes when they laugh… or the way that they looked at us when we said something funny… all of a sudden we just feel like, ‘That was kind of hot!'”
It’s just about giving people a chance.
Giving them the opportunity to show us how sexy they are on the inside, rather than being written off because they’re not hot enough on the outside.
“There’s a mechanism that doesn’t necessarily allow healthy romantic love to evolve,” Ken explains, “and that mechanism is, we think, ‘I’ve got to be attracted to that person right now. Am I? No. So forget it.'”
If you really enjoy someone, see if your connection deepens. Give them a chance.
That being said, if there’s still nothing there, don’t feel any pressure to pursue it.
“You DO have to be attracted to somebody,” Ken says, “but attraction can grow.”
Viewer Question #1
I can meet a wonderful man who I am not physically attracted to at first glance. So what? I meet him again and again and again because the first time is too soon to tell? To what end? Is he suddenly gonna turn into a hunk on the 5th date?”
Now it’s time to turn the floor over to my viewers!
The first viewer wanted to know how it’s possible that a man she’s not attracted to at first sight can suddenly change into someone attractive over time.
If you’ve gone on a number of dates with someone and you still don’t feel attracted to them, trust that, Ken says.
Celebrate the fact that you met someone wonderful, even if it’s not going to turn into a relationship.
But you can also try a strategy to test out whether there’s romantic potential with someone.
On each and every date, Ken says, “get out of your head … and go deep into your gut. Notice what’s the weather inside. Do you feel warm? Do you feel safe? You might be totally hot for someone, but there’s a coldness in the air.”
If your internal weather feels nice, all you have to do is enjoy it. No pressure. No obligation.
Viewer Question #2
I’m seeing [him for the] last four months, and still this question [of having no chemistry] is there. What to do?”
If you’re continuing to see someone for months that you don’t feel attracted to, ask yourself what is keeping you there. Is there some spark, even if it’s not a romantic spark?
If there’s a reason you keep trying, create opportunities for those “first thin tiny tendrils of attraction” to develop.
Let yourself become more vulnerable with him, and see if he does the same.
Do activities that are low-pressure, like going for a walk together.
If you feel like holding hands or nonsexual touching, let yourself explore that. Enjoy eye gazing. “Let yourself think about the things you’re attracted to” in him.
Often, genuine attraction can grow from affection and connection and deepening friendship.
But if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.
Viewer Question #3
The problem is that the ‘oh get to know them and you could end up super attracted to them’ is a very dangerous place to go because all it does is make both of you open up and be vulnerable and waste time only to likely break it off because that spark never ended up igniting due to the lack of physical chemistry/attraction you knew about from the beginning.”
There’s integrity in being up front and honest about the physical attraction not being there.
But “if you’re interested in someone enough to try to grow the spark, something’s going on there,” Ken says. Get curious.
You don’t have to decide immediately what to do. You can see how your feelings evolve. It may turn out that you fall for them, or they may decide they’re not that interested in you.
If you want to be absolutely clear with them, you can say:
I’m feeling mixed. I don’t know if this is going more in a friend direction or potentially a romantic direction, and I want to be fair to you. I don’t know, but I’d like to see. I’d like to explore.”
Then give them the chance to decide what they want.
“Don’t preemptively cheat yourself of the potential of something wonderful,” Ken advises.
Sometimes we have trained ourselves to discount good people.
It’s because of what Ken calls the wave.
The wave is [where] you meet somebody, you like them, you’re interested, and then when you find that they’re available, all of a sudden you want to flee.”
This tends to happen “when you meet someone who’s available and you’re not used to it,” or you meet someone “who’s decent and you’re not used to that.”
Don’t let the wave sink new love. Notice it, and let it pass.
Look for THIS in Everyone You Date
If you take away just one piece of advice from this interview, let it be this:
There’s one non-negotiable in your relationships, and it isn’t red-hot chemistry. It’s safety.
This is the single question that I invite each one of you to make YOUR question, your #1 question from today onward in your search for love: ‘Does my soul feel safe with this person?’ Or, if it feels better, ‘Does my heart feel safe with this person?'”
When you refuse to waste time with anyone who doesn’t have the capacity to hold your heart securely, it changes how you feel about yourself.
“There’s a self-dignifying that happens inside you when you decide to honor your heart first,” he says.
Because you’re looking for good men, you start to spot the good men around you.
You know that elusive combo of goodness and sexiness is out there, and you won’t settle for less.
For tips on how to seek out that kind of love, Ken is offering a free gift to our Your Brilliance community:
These keys will help speed you on your path to healthy, solid love.
Ken knows they work, because he’s used them himself.
He’s been married for over a decade now to a man who continually inspires him.
What does it feel like, to have finally found that elusive combo “of sexiness, of goodness, of attraction, of love, of safety”?
“I often say it’s like a quiet explosion of joy,” he muses. “It’s like an explosion of joy, but it has peace.”
That’s what’s possible for you…
If you follow your Attractions of Inspiration.
Ken Page, LCSW
Ken is a psychotherapist, author and lecturer specializing in issues of intimacy, personal growth, creativity and spirituality. He is the author of the very popular Psychology Today blog Finding Love, and also writes for the Huffington Post. He and his work have been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Essence, WPIX-TV and more. Ken also created Deeper Dating, a groundbreaking event in which single people meet in an environment encouraging positive interaction and self-discovery. Find out how you can work with Ken.