“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” -James Baldwin
In his beautiful book, Deeper Dating, Ken Page discusses the importance of creating safety and respect in your relationships. The first few chapters are dedicated to helping you recognize and truly believe in your “core gifts”, which Page describes as the deepest and most sensitive parts of you.
Page believes that once you have developed a genuine appreciation for your gifts, you are in a good position to begin dating with a deeper intention and are more likely to find greater fulfillment in your relationships.
He asks important questions such as: how can you enter the dating world—which is often far from safe and kind—and still protect your vulnerability? How do you lead with your authentic qualities in ways that draw the right people to you?
Let’s take a closer look at his Seven Skills of Deeper Dating:
Be kind, generous, and thoughtful
These qualities tend to be underrated in the dating world, but new research has shown the importance of kindness and generosity when it comes to satisfying intimate relationships.
If your goal is to cultivate a giving, loving, and lasting connection, then it’s important to demonstrate kindness. If your date cares about these qualities and has worked on cultivating them, you’ll have started things off in the best possible way.
Kindness helps to unite couples over the long term. Research has shown that kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and supported. There’s also evidence that shows the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of positive feelings and generosity in a relationship.
If you like someone, let it show
We’re often taught to play it cool or that it’s not such a good idea to be too forthright when it comes to sharing how you feel about someone in the early stages of dating. “Play hard to get” or “don’t seem too interested” are phrases that are commonly thought of to help navigate the uncertainty of the dating scene. Research shows that letting someone know you like them is one of the strongest ways to turn a date into something more serious. Showing interest, takes confidence and self-acceptance.
Page also points out that it’s important to temper your displays of affection with an awareness that many people are cautious or even frightened in the early stages of dating so it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and read your date’s cues before sharing an expression of warmth or affection.
Focus on the quality of your connection
When we are on a date, it can be easy to focus on how we think we are being perceived or if the person measures up to our set of standards when it comes to what we want in a partner, etc.
When we are so busy evaluating every move or sentence, we are likely not focusing on the quality of the connection. Instead of evaluating endlessly, try taking a moment to check in with yourself about how you feel in the presence of the other person.
Am I working hard to impress?
Does the connection feels relatively “easy” and pleasant?
The next time you’re on a date and have a moment to yourself, try the following exercise to check in with your intuition:
See if you can get into a gut level sense of the quality of connection with your date. Take a break from the wearying stream of assessment: Does he like me? Do I like her? Instead, notice what you’re actually feeling with the person.
Of course you’re probably feeling nervous, but in addition to that, do you feel pleasure? Do you feel warmth? Is there a sense of fun? Do you feel inspired? Unsafe? Criticized? Our minds tick off our checklist of what constitutes a catch while our hearts may be sensing something altogether different. Rest with the feeling of your actual connection. This will help guide you to your next steps with the person you are with.
*Exercise featured in Deeper Dating by Ken Page
Relationships are always risky in that there are no guarantees. Bravery in the context of dating is an important skill to improve because the more you can put yourself out there, the greater the likelihood that you’ll connect with others in meaningful ways.
Strengthening our capacity to be brave in relationships is similar to strengthening a muscle. The more we can tolerate the discomfort of acting on what we want, the easier it becomes. By showing our interest, we’re giving the other person a compliment, and how that person responds will provide us with important information about who she is. Taking small, brave steps will help you to build your tolerance for the emotional risks involved in dating and the beginning stages of a relationship.
Discover the art of squinting
Squinting helps to take in the essence of a person and not get stuck on small external imperfections.
When we practice viewing a person in their wholeness and complexity and evaluate attraction from a more big picture perspective, we are better able to determine if this person will be a more lasting fit for us.
Was your date particularly present with you while you told a story?
Perhaps you really enjoyed how he interacted with the staff at the coffee shop. It’s easy to focus on the externals and miss important internal qualities.
Share what you’re passionate about & ask the same of your date
When you speak about what makes you feel excited and you’re genuinely enthusiastic, the right person will appreciate this. Page points out that the wrong person may not appreciate what you’re passionate about and that’s very good to know. Be sure to ask the same from your date. Notice what makes her glow and ask her more about it.
Become fiercely discriminating about what matters most
When you’re dating to meet a long-term partner, spend some time thinking about your “check boxes” in the context of your values.
Here are a few questions to help guide you:
What feels most important to you in life and why?
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
Do you have the space and time to nurture a meaningful relationship?
If not, what might you want to change?
What are your priorities and how do you imagine they might evolve over time?
Exploring some of these areas can help you get a better handle on what’s really important to you when it comes to finding a meaningful relationship.