Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at
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Now displaying: November, 2018
Nov 20, 2018

How does your emotional intelligence help you develop a relationship with someone? Is your emotional intelligence something you can improve? And...what are the kinds of things that you should steer away from because they undermine the ways that you’re relating to the people around you, and the one you love? This week, our guest is Jordan Harbinger. Often referred to as “The Larry King of podcasting,” Jordan is a Wall Street lawyer turned interview talk show host, and communications & social dynamics expert. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, Jordan deconstructs the playbooks of the most successful people on earth and shares their strategies, perspectives, and practical insights with the rest of us. In this episode, you’ll learn what emotional intelligence is and how you can improve it to have a positive impact on your relationships. We’ll also dive into how you can improve your self-awareness which is something that can be a challenge for anyone.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode is being sponsored by two amazing companies with special offers for you. is the world’s best-selling language learning app makes it easy for you to learn French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Danish – and many more languages. Is there a language you’ve always wanted to learn? Try Babbel for FREE at and use the offer code “ALIVE” to get 50% off your first 3 months.

This week’s second sponsor is James Avery Artisan Jewelry. Gifts from James Avery help tell your story – one that you and your loved one will remember for years to come. James Avery also sources their gemstones responsibly - something that’s especially important to Chloe and me as we make choices about jewelry. You can find James Avery Artisan Jewelry in their shops, in many Dillard’s stores and online at


Visit Jordan Harbinger’s website to listen to his podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show.

Get access to Jordan’s Six Minute Networking — for free.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jordan Harbinger.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out


Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of "Relationship Alive". This is your host, Neil Sattin. On today's show, we're going to explore the question of how to relate better with your partner, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your whomever with other people in your life and perhaps, also how you relate better to yourself. And when I talk about relating better, I'm going to distinguish it a little bit from the kinds of things that we typically talk about on the show because we're really talking about, more often than not, establishing emotional safety and how to handle problems and those kinds of things. But I wanted to bring in an expert who can really dive into the topic of: What does it even mean to develop a relationship with someone and what are the kinds of conditions that make that easier so that you're actually more efficient in how you communicate, you're more likely to actually like each other? And on the flip side, what are the kinds of things that you might want to steer away from, that would be undermining the ways that you're relating to the people around you and specifically in your partnership?

Neil Sattin: So, today's guest is... This came about in an unusual way. We actually got chatting on LinkedIn, of all places. I'm hardly ever on LinkedIn, but in the process and just talking about our podcasts, deciding that this person would be a great guest for the show to talk about these things that I just mentioned to you. His name is Jordan Harbinger, and he is formerly the host of the Art of Charm Podcast, which you may have heard of. He now has his own show and it's already gotten over a million downloads in its first month alone, and he is focused on how to develop these skills of relatedness and succeed in your life, in your connections. And I'm really excited to have you here with me today, Jordan. So, welcome to Relationship Alive.

Jordan Harbinger: Hey, thanks for having me on, man. It is weird. I'm never on LinkedIn. I go on once a month to kinda go, "Hey, I'm never on LinkedIn stop sending me messages here." And there you were.

Neil Sattin: And yeah, it was kinda like that, I think. Yeah. I think, in fact, your message to me said, "Hey, if we know each other, connect with me on Facebook," or something like that.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. If we know each other, then you probably should know I'm never going to answer this message if you reply. Yeah, that's pretty much what it was.

Neil Sattin: That's so funny. And yet there we were.

Jordan Harbinger: Yep.

Neil Sattin: So, Jordan, here we are, you're on the heels of getting your new show going. Tell me in a nutshell, what do you like to say is your specialty? When you're helping people out in life, what's your elevator pitch in a sense of how you are helping people achieve more success in their lives?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So for now, what I do on the Jordan Harbinger Show is I study the thoughts, the actions, and habits of brilliant people and ask them interesting questions so that the audience can apply that same wisdom for themselves. So, I steal guests' superpowers and deliver them to the listener.

Neil Sattin: Awesome.

Jordan Harbinger: And so, that's what I do on the show. But what we do at "Advanced Human Dynamics", which is my training company where we teach live events, have products and things like that, where we teach networking rapport, relationship development for professional reasons and things like that. Essentially, that slogan is TBD, I guess you would say but really what we do is we teach emotional intelligence in a systematic way that anyone can learn and understand.

Neil Sattin: Perfect. That may be the title of this episode. And let's dive in there. I watched a video of yours prior to this conversation, and I think a great place to start is this concept of ABG, or to "Always Be Giving". And especially in the context of relationship because a lot of the times when people come to me as a coach, they're in this place of scarcity in their relationship. And when I start suggesting that, well, the way to get to the other side and to actually feel good about your relationship is to start showing up even more brightly, more brilliantly and more, in some respect, selflessly in your relationship. People sometimes look at me cross-eyed like, "Wait a minute. Well, I came here to tell you just how much my partner is failing me." So, let's start maybe with a concept of "Always Be Giving" and where that's come from for you and why it's so important.

Jordan Harbinger: Sure. So, the reason that this is important, I'd love to say, I had this great moment in my life where I realized that this had to happen for me. What really happened was I was pretty good in school when I was a kid and then, I got to college and everybody was smart and I couldn't just rely on that so, I had to outwork everyone. I shifted my competitive advantage to outworking everyone from just being smart enough to teach myself Geometry the day of a test, right? And then when I got to Wall Street as an attorney, everyone was smart and everyone was working 20 hours a day, seven days a week or 16 hours or whatever it was.

Jordan Harbinger: And so I didn't have a competitive advantage. And I started to learn how to build relationships, to try to get to the top of the law game, to become a partner to bring in business. And what I'd realized was schmoozing and handing out business cards and all that stuff. It really didn't work trying to take classes from, no offense to the Dale Carnegie organization, they do great stuff, but trying to learn how to win friends and influence people from a guy in a sweater vest at the YMCA just was very limited. You would take those classes and you'd go, great, you've gotta have a firm handshake and you've gotta have good eye contact, and you gotta use these mnemonic devices to remember that someone's kids played tennis. But at the same time, if somebody doesn't like you and they're not giving your law firm business, it's not because, "Well, you broke eye contact a little too early there, let's give the business to the other guys." It's because they don't freaking like you or they don't trust you.

Jordan Harbinger: So I dedicated myself to figuring out what was going on there, and that's where the principle of ABG came from. 'cause if your ABC, Always be closing, you're trying to close business, you're trying to close... You're trying to match people with a service that you provide. So if I meet you, I go, "What do you do?" And you go, "Oh, I'm a relationship coach," and I go, "Ah I don't need that." And I move on to the next person. Your experience of me is kinda like, "That wasn't so great," and I don't really get any social capital from dealing with you. You don't get anything from me. It's a waste of both of our time. I'm searching for needles in haystacks if I'm trying to generate legal referrals, but if I'm ABG, always be generous or always be giving. This is logistically easier because I'm not trying to match a need that you have with a service I provide. I'm just trying to find out who in my network would be a good connection with you. That opens up all kinds of opportunity. "Oh, you're a relationship coach? Oh man. I have a bunch of friends in that industry."

Jordan Harbinger: "Do you know this person, this person, this person? Oh, what are you looking for in your business? Are you looking for clients like that? Oh, then you should go on some of these podcasts that my friends run, they do these relationship things. Maybe you guys could be a fit." So in that respect, ABG shifts the value proposition in sales terms from your skill, if you're a graphic designer or a lawyer, it shifts it to becoming your network itself. Right. So, everybody I meet, I try to plug into somebody else in my network. I meet a CPA. "Great. I know a bunch of cryptocurrency investors that don't know how to plan for taxes. Let me introduce you." "Are you a relationship coach? Great. I know a bunch of people who could probably use your help. Let me plug you into them." I'm not trying to match it to myself. I'm trying to match it to others. I'm not thinking about what I'm going to get in return. I have no attachment to what I'm going to get in return. So it becomes scalable for me to network with anybody and it becomes something that I don't have to think about because I'm not trying to get something for myself. Does that all make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, absolutely.

Jordan Harbinger: So this wasn't of some kind of spiritual awakening type of deal that I need, that I found. It was never anything like that. It was always something to do with the practicality of the situation. It was always just, hey, this is working. It wasn't because I'm a great, nice guy and I decided I'm just going to be giving. That I'd like to think is the truth. But when I look back, it was surely a matter of practicality. The reason I kept doing it for 11 years, throughout my business was because I was teaching this as a skill and it was a really nice way to live because people go, Jordan's so nice. He keeps doing these valuable things for me in my business. I really like dealing with him. It paid off very quickly later on, but I certainly started for selfish reasons, and I encourage everybody to just try it. You don't have to be this pushover who gets walked on. Just try this from a purely logistical standpoint, it's still going to be a win for you.

Neil Sattin: And where this also for me, connects into what might happen in a romantic partnership, is if you're always focused on what the other person can do for you, then, as you said, that's not scalable. There's a very limited number of interactions that you can have. And I think the way people in relationships often experience that is a slow deadening of their connection because there are only so many possibilities right for how they're going to interact with each other. But as they learn to not only enjoy each other's company but also to really support each other in being big and bright in the world. So creating those connections to others in life for their partner or supporting their partner in how they do that, then that creates a ton more energy and vibrancy, and it does, I think, feedback into the system, that vibrancy and energy becomes something that strengthens your relationship, as opposed to what people often experience which is, "Oh, that threatens me." Which would, I think, be why like in a business setting, someone might not connect two people because they might be like, "Oh, well that's... Then I'm kind of cutting myself out of the equation” and at the risk of being cliche - It's sort of like the scarcity mindset versus the abundance mindset.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I appreciate that for sure. And I also... The reason I say try it from a selfish perspective is because I don't want to... I'm always about the abundance mindset, and I'm always about trying things that are good for other people. I realize that's a hard sell, especially if you're in your 20s or even in your 30s, and you're thinking, "No, no, no, you don't understand. I need to get things for myself because I've been too lax with that." Or, "I know I need to help myself first." That's an easier sell for most people, especially guys, I've found. So I go, "Go ahead and try it from a purely selfish perspective and it'll still work as a tactic." But what you'll quickly find is, "Gee, I really like being nice and helping other people because this is really fun." And, "Holy crap does this work!" But also, I look like a great guy and I feel like a great guy. So I'm going to start being good in my relationships with other people and generous in my relationships with other people, all the time because it seems limitless at that point.

Jordan Harbinger: But if you just tell people, "No, no, no, trust me. Turn the other cheek and forgive people, and ABG." They go, "Okay, whatever. I'm broke. You don't understand." Like, "This, I need this. You don't get it." It becomes a problem and you have to sort of fight. You have to sell it like, "No, no, no, no. This is better for your psyche." And people who go, "I don't care about that. I need to win." So try it, you'll still win. You'll win either way.

Neil Sattin: Since you were mentioning the... Trust has come up a couple of times already, I'm curious for you, What do you think are the key components of developing trust with someone, and maybe this is someone new? And then this also again, comes up a lot in relationships where breakdowns happen and you're in a position where you have to rebuild trust with your partner.

Jordan Harbinger: Sure. This is a huge subject. I'm sure you've done 700 hours on this particular topic. But when you're trying to bring trust into a new relationship, it's probably likely... It's likely a lot of the same stuff that you would do in any relationship. But I think any new relationship really... We're evolved to figure out quickly whether or not someone's trustworthy. And this isn't like, "Look at their eyes and if they're looking upward, they're lying and not trustworthy." We really are as humans, sort of evolved to trust certain people implicitly and not trust other people; the outsiders of the tribe implicitly. So the top things that I think you can do are small gestures that show that you do what you say you were going to do if that makes sense.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: So these small gestures that you would want to do. For example, going back on the ABG subject, if I say, "Neil, man, this is really great. I would love to introduce you to a few people." And you go, "Yeah, I would love those introductions." And then I never do it. You're not like, "Jordan's a jerk. He never introduced me to those people. I hate him." But what you are thinking is, "Yeah, I guess he's just one of those guys who is too busy and he forgot." Or, "He offers to do something, but then it doesn't quite materialize. That's fine, whatever. No, I don't hate him or anything." But you don't trust me. You might still like me but you don't really trust me. So we're not going to end up doing business together because if I... Most likely. Because if I decide to do something and I say, "Hey, you know, you and I should create a product." You're thinking, "Yeah, but you also said that you would introduce me to those people and that never happened, so I'll take it with a grain of salt." On the other hand, these very small gestures of, "Hey, I should make these introductions." If I do those the same day that we met, generally, that signals professionalism in a way that is trustworthy. You go, "Wow, okay. He actually just did that. It didn't take a week. I didn't have to remind him. He didn't forget.

Jordan Harbinger: He wrote it down and he did it." Literally, that's unusual. We find that unusual in today's day and age for someone to actually do what they say they're going to do, which the bar is low, for that basic level of trust. And so I say, create an opportunity for yourself, in that you're going to make an introduction, you're going to send somebody a piece of knowledge, an article, a book, something like that. It really, really easily is attainable. You can really generate some trust right off the bat that's easily attainable, I should say. And so what I mean is, create that opportunity, follow through on that opportunity and you'll end up with a slight amount of trust. Now, this isn't going to be like, "Hey, I made those introductions. Can you lend me 10 grand?" But you build it up over time and it's always these little things that count. It's showing up on time, not flaking the morning of the day before. And I know what people are thinking, "Well, those sound more like habits than ways to build trust." I find that people who are untrustworthy, they're not necessarily bad people. Sure, you should distrust some people because they are bad. They will screw you over. But most people are simply irresponsible. It's more of a negligent lack of trust. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. And I'm just... I'm letting that percolate a little bit 'cause I think that's totally true that, in the end, yeah, it's just kind of people's inability... That trust is really the whole sum of what you experience with a person and their consistency. And their consistency has a lot to do with their integrity and their ability to just follow through on basic commitments, is what it comes right down to.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And I know that that sounds like a dumb technique, but the reason that we don't trust people is, it seems like, "Oh, well, this person cheated on me." Great, yeah, distrust them. That makes sense. Usually though, when we have a casual lack of trust, it's not because of a big lapse. It's literally because of, "Well, yeah, they say they're going to be there at 4:00, but... " And you know people like this, "Yeah, Jim said he's going to be here at 4:00." "No, no, no, no. Let's just go to the restaurant. He can meet us there." "Oh, what? Why?" "Yeah, yeah, Jim's not going to be there at 4:00. Let's just go eat. We'll order some appetizers and some drinks and we'll wait for him to show up," and sure enough Jim rolls in at 5:15, and everyone knows that. And that seems like that's just him. But how many people are making plans with him all the time and relying on him to do what he says? We always have to build in a buffer. I have friends like this in my circle. "Oh yeah, she's not going to be ready on time. Let's just go there. She can meet us there. We wait for her, we're going to be two hours late every time." And we all have people like that in our lives. We tend to go, "Lack of trust is this big giant thing. How do we make up for a lack of trust in a relationship and a friendship and an intimate relationship?" Man, that's not it.

Jordan Harbinger: It's not showing up on time. It's not doing what you say you're going to do. It's offering to do something and then failing. It's changing your mind and not having the guts to tell somebody that you changed your mind, so you just hope they forget. So you fail them in that way. That's how lack of trust starts. It's a set of habits that you have regardless of whether or not you're treating everyone like that, that's really the reason people don't like and trust people I shouldn't even say like and trust. It's a reason people don't trust others, and trust is more important for business. It may be different in personal relationships, but I personally have done plenty of business with people that I don't necessarily like that much, but that I trust. It's the most important thing. I know there are people that aren't going to rip me off that are going to show up on time, that are going to deliver when they say they're going to deliver, but I wouldn't necessarily hang out with them. But there are plenty of people that I hang out with all the time where if they said, "Hey, we should do this business together," I would say, "No offense, but hell no."


Jordan Harbinger: I think we all probably could think of people like that if we had to.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and one other thing that occurs to me too, is how helpful it can be. So if you're sitting here and you're listening to all these things and you're like, well, honestly, a little bit like me, or you're like, "Oh shit, I've done that. I see how I've undermined trust left and right". To be willing to actually show that you are noticing that about yourself, so potentially as a way to repair lapses in trust with your friends and your partner, to be able to say, "Hey, " know I made this commitment and I recognize that I didn't do that." Or, "I recognize that I didn't show up on time when I said I was going to." 'Cause I think one of the things that really is detrimental is when there's this unspoken, like, "Does this person even realize what they're doing? Or maybe it's intentional," that's where you get into that question of, "Is it negligence or is it actual malicious intent?" So much can be clarified by actually connecting around that very thing.

Jordan Harbinger: I agree with you. Yeah, I agree with you 100%, and I think it's something we don't normally think about really.

Neil Sattin: I wonder Jordan, for you, when you look at the big picture of being giving, making connections, how do you suggest someone recognize in themselves the ways that they are doing really well and then the ways that they're falling short so that they could do a self-diagnosis on their ability to show up and be trustworthy and make great connections with people?

Jordan Harbinger: Well, that's a cool question. I haven't put a ton of thought into this, but I'll tell you right now, one of the best ways to get this kind of feedback or to get this kind of assessment done would be to get feedback with other people that will tell you the truth. We don't always have friends like this, but I think that we all have a friend or two like this where we can say, "hey, look, do people think that I show up... What is my reputation like?" And they go "oh everyone loves you men what are you talking about?" "no, no like what is my reputation like, do people trust me, etcetera?" And people go, "yeah, of course, they trust you." So if you have an inkling though of what your flaw might be, I would ask specifically about that. So I would say "I did borrow money from you guys for John's birthday, and it took me like a year to pay everyone back. Does anybody talk about that, think about that?". "Do you talk about that think about that". "Honestly, I'm looking for real honest feedback here", and I've done this in my social circle.

Jordan Harbinger: I know other people in our circles evade honest conversations about this. Sometimes invited by the other party and other times foisted upon them for good reason. It's very important because people will say, "Yeah, honestly, I've thought twice about lending money to you and your girlfriend and in recent past, because it did take me a year to get paid back. I had to ask like 10 times and it just got awkward and I felt like it sort of poisoned friendship a little bit, we're still super tight, still love you guys, but I don't want to go through that again 'cause it was kind of a pain." Oh, okay. Maybe you should work on that. Maybe you don't realize how that's been affecting certain people in your circle. Other people who show if you think you show up late and it's fine, you might want to say, "Hey, I realize I'm always the last one here," and don't do this to the whole group during a party. [chuckle] They're not going to want to answer this at that point. This is like, you're hanging out with your friend on a balcony, relaxing having a beer at the end of the night, or you show up and you're the only person there having coffee with a buddy, or you have a phone call and you go, "Hey man look, I just want some honest feedback."

Jordan Harbinger: You have to frame it that you want honest to goodness feedback, ask one person at a time. Because then you're more likely not to get a group going, "Hey it's Tim's birthday, let's talk about this another time." "Oh, you're good bro, don't worry about it, it's fine. Here have a beer. Change the subject." That's not going to get you legit feedback. You really need to find one or two people that you think are going to give you honest feedback and you need to get them alone. And then you need to ask about the specific things 'cause I would say Neil that you kinda know. Right, if you're going, "I don't get why people to trust me," either you have a massive lack of self-awareness, or you've somehow forgotten about an incident, or maybe there's some other devious stuff going on, but probably not. Probably you know that you're always the last one there because it takes you two hours to get ready and you don't plan ahead.

Jordan Harbinger: Probably you know that you've owed people a thousand dollars for two years and you think they forgot, but they didn't. But they're too polite to say anything and you're just kinda dodging it. You know this stuff, you know it. You know? That becomes problematic. When it's more vague is when you go, "Hey, do you find that I complain too much?" "Oh yeah. Actually, I wasn't going to say anything, but yes, you do. You've been very negative since your break up or your divorce, and we understand it 'cause it's rough, but sometimes it does grate on other people." That's harder to get because you might not even notice.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: But for all this other stuff, man, come on, you know? You know.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. The phrase that's coming to me ironically, is from 12 step, the fearless moral inventory, like actually being willing to just sit down and make a list of all those things where you just know.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's great. I like that. And you do, you just know. "Oh, why didn't I get promoted, this is BS. The other guy just brown nosed the boss". "So have you ever failed on a project?" "No." "Well, what time do you show up for work"? "9:30." "What time does everybody else show up for work?" "8:30." "Okay, so you show up an hour later than everyone else." "What time do you leave?" "5:00." "What time does everyone else leave?" "Five, maybe a little later." "Okay, so you show up late and you leave early?" "Well yeah, but I get my work done. I'm really good at it." "Are you? Who's been the project lead on everything?" "Well, the other guy." "Alright, well, what's going on here?" "Alright, fine." "So is it really 'cause he brown nosed the boss? Or you just not really giving it your all?" You have to be honest with yourself about this. You do know, you know, you at least have a clue.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: No one...

Neil Sattin: This does get tricky, right? Because you get into that zone of self-assessment and people... I forget what the effect is, there's some name for it, but where people always assess themselves better than the world might objectively assess them, or that you don't necessarily know what you don't know and you probably run into this in terms of teaching people emotional intelligence skills where they're like, wow, it finally kinda dawns in them, "Wow I didn't realize that by not taking a moment to actually listen to what someone was telling me and let it affect me in some way that they were feeling like I didn't even hear them." That there are probably core skills or awarenesses that people don't have because they haven't been able to experience the world through that filter, through that lens.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you're probably right, there's going to be some people that don't know what they don't know, and that could be caused by a lot of different things like if you've got a substance abuse problem, then maybe you're not thinking about the fact that you owed someone $500 for two years. You've got other stuff on your plate. So maybe this will come in handy then. But I think for the average moderately more or less healthy person, there's going to be stuff where you kinda think you're getting away with it, and then you're like, "ah, it's fine. She never complains about this. So it's fine." My wife a couple of weeks ago, asked me, she goes, "What percentage of the housework would you say that you do?" And I went, "Oh, I don't know, 5%?" And she goes, "Really?" And I go, "Yeah, I don't know. Maybe even less." And she goes, "No, I would say you do between five and 10 percent." And I said, "Oh, great." And she goes, "I'm really glad to hear you say that." And I said, "Why?" And she goes, "'Cause I thought you were going to say like 50%" and I said, "No, not a chance."

Jordan Harbinger: She was very pleased to hear that. She didn't say, "You gotta get off your ass and do more." But she was very glad to hear that I didn't think that I was doing exactly the same amount of stuff as she was, 'cause I'm not, and I'm very aware of that. But if she went, "You know, it kinda bothers me that you don't do this and this and this and this," I would have known that I had behavior change coming. And I think a lot of people don't necessarily realize this. I think a lot of people go, "Oh yeah, I pull my own weight around here." And the whole team is kinda like shaking their head going, "What are you talking? Are you serious? You really think that you do the same amount of work on our projects as us. We're just waiting until somebody figures out you don't do squat and you get fired. Are you crazy?"

Jordan Harbinger: You know, you should figure that out on your own or with the help of other people in the team before you have a performance review at work. Or before you have a significant other that goes, "You know what, I am so sick and tired of you freeloading and not paying rent, and having me do all the work and you're playing Xbox when I get home. Who the hell do you think you are?" You know that there's a hint there, and if you don't, you can get a hint by asking. Most people are going to give you that hint. And look, if you ask, and the other person goes, "No, it's totally fine." And then when you break up, she's like, "There are 87 things wrong with you," then they're to share for some of that blame. But at the end of the day who's suffering the consequences, you are. So figure it out.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah this makes me think a little bit too of that strategy that a lot of people use when they're single where you say, identify your ideal partner and then you figure out, "Well, who would I have to be in order to have this amazing partner?" There's an element of that in what we're talking about. It's being willing to look at yourself and say, "Okay, who would I have to be to be in an amazing relationship if my relationship is suffering or if my work life is suffering? Who would I have to be... " Being willing to, sure, look out around because there are probably some examples of that in the people who are doing better at it than you. But also, I think it's a great, great kinda counterpoint to be able to say like, "Oh yeah, if I wanted my partner to trust me, then maybe I would have to call home instead of just being AWOL for three hours after work or something along those lines.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you're probably right, and I think it's tough to ask yourself that second question, "Who would I need to be?" Because what we find is that we go, "Here's my dream partner. Well, who would I need to be to get this person? Are you kidding me? I'm freakin' phenomenal. [chuckle] I'm already there. I'm authentically me. I'm just want to be myself." And I noticed, this is kinda funny too 'cause you see, I noticed men do this a lot. They go, "If she doesn't like me for me, then screw it." And I go, "Okay, well, you're wearing a jersey with a mustard stain on it. You're a little bit overweight, okay, you're a lot overweight. You clearly don't care at work. You're not really trying to get ahead. And what kind of woman are you looking for? Oh, someone that goes to the gym, takes care of herself, looks really good, gets really done up to go out, impresses all your friends, has an education." So, they have to work their butt off, but you get to be authentically you? [chuckle] That seems fair, right?


Jordan Harbinger: And it's like, "Oh, well, if she doesn't like me for me, then fine. Well, good, she doesn't like you for you. You are not good enough. You do not deserve what you want. No one really says that though, right? That's kind of not cool to be that guy in a friendship or the very many relationship coaches are not going to say, "You really don't deserve what you want," because the client goes, "Screw you. I'm going to hire somebody else." I kind of understand that, but that's not very effective coaching wise. I think a lot of guys especially... And I say this among guys, it's really probably equally shared, but I used to coach guys far more than women, and a lot of guys just don't deserve what they want. [laughter] They really don't. They're not putting in any effort at all, and yet they expect the complete polar inverse when they are going for a member of the opposite sex and... Or even the same sex. There are plenty of same-sex relationships [chuckle] where one party goes, "Well, he just has to like me for me, or she just has to like me for me." And they're putting in absolutely no effort, but expect the other party to do so.

Jordan Harbinger: So you have to work on yourself and become who you need to be to get that person involved with you. You have to have a world that is so welcoming that somebody else wants to be a part of it. You can't just take that for granted, especially if you don't really want to be a part of your world. Think about what kind of person that's going to attract.


Neil Sattin: What do you think is the obstacle for people being willing to put in the effort? Because it does require effort to not just coast, to not just leave the mustard stain on your shirts.

Jordan Harbinger: Some of it self-awareness and the other part is a little bit of fear that I think is healthy. Well, there's healthy and unhealthy fear, of course, as you know. The unhealthy fear is, "Well, shoot. If I try and I dress in clothes that fit and I get rid of the mustard stain, what if I don't know what I'm doing? What if I try to grow and I still get rejected, that's going to signal something about who I am as a person instead of just me being able to say, "Oh, these shallow folks, they're not... They don't like me for me." That's a lot easier and a little bit nicer. The other side of that fear is, "Holy crap. I'm not even sure that I know how to get out of this." So it's easier to rationalize that you don't have to. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: The side of the fear is, "I don't really know what I'm doing, so I'm just going to say, I should be good enough as I am because I heard that somewhere. Then the other side of that coin is, "What if I do know what to do and I bust my butt and I get coaching from Neil, and I go to the workshops that Jordan has and I create a great network around me and I get a good career, and I still can't get the people in my life that I want, that then signals that I'm inherently not good enough and that's my worst nightmare. It's not a conscious level of thought. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah, yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And yeah, I'm just thinking about someone being in that position and what it would take 'cause at that point, yeah, it does take a lot of willingness and courage to even maybe see that that's what's going on with you. Then, yeah, what do you find can help incentivize someone to take that other step? In other words...

Jordan Harbinger: So...

Neil Sattin: I'm imagining too, there could be a lot of people listening to this episode and who are thinking, "Holy shit, I wish I could just get my partner to take that kind of level of responsibility for themselves." To see that, "Oh yeah. If they started to show up with a little bit more ferocity with their lives, how much better our lives together would be." But they need something that's maybe better than a kick in the ass, although maybe that's what it takes sometimes.

Jordan Harbinger: It does take that sometimes. It really does take... It takes a compassionate kick in the ass if it's a friend or if somebody else in your relationship. So here's how... Here's an example of how not to do this. So I had somebody write me recently and go, "I just got married and my wife is not interested in me anymore". I said, "Wow, that's highly unusual. You're a month after your wedding". What happened was they were both really overweight, and the wife lost 110 pounds for the wedding. Then she started saying, "I'm not interested in you anymore because you're still overweight, and you didn't lose any weight." I'm thinking, "I don't think that that's true. Maybe she's really, really self-centered, and she's really not interested in you and she really thinks that she's outgrown you, but that seems unlikely because you did just get married." So my hunch was she's trying to motivate him by saying, "I'm basically not going to sleep with you until you start getting yourself together because I did it. I know it's possible." I'd like to think that that's her positive intent, but I think it's a really negative way to do that by making your partner feel like crap and undesirable doesn't exactly get them to want to go, "You know what? I'm going to get desirable again by watching what I eat and going to work out all the time.

Jordan Harbinger: Thanks, babe." This is probably how she was raised, and how she was motivated by her parents, which backfired, and caused unhealthy habits on her part, which is probably why she was obese in the first place. Potentially, why she was obese in the first place, so there's this unhealthy negative motivation. I think they both need to work on that. That's how you don't do it, right? The way to do it would be to do it together or if you don't need to lose weight if you're fit, and your partner's not, and you really want to motivate them, to make it easy for them and say, "Look, I want you to be around for a long time. I want to be able to enjoy things with you that are going to take physical prowess, and I want to be able to go hiking on the Great Wall of China. And I want to be able to be around for our grandkids. And I'm going to start making healthy food, and I'm going to make stuff that you like that's healthy. And I want you to go to the gym with me. And I want you to follow this program with me because I care about you." You have to motivate people that way.

Jordan Harbinger: And if they don't want to do it for themselves, they'll probably do it for you as their partner. It's different though when it's a friend. When it's a friend, sometimes all you can do is have the harsh truth because you're not going to say, "Look, I don't want to be friends with you 'cause you're overweight." That's ridiculous. But what you might say is, "Hey, you're not allowed to complain about relationship stuff anymore because the reason you're not attracting the women that you want and the men that you want is because you are not in good shape. And you only go after people that are. They're not going to be interested in you. I'm happy to go to the gym with you. I'm happy to get you on a fitness plan. I'm happy to be your accountability buddy. Text me in the morning. I'll text you in the morning, and make sure that you're eating right, make sure that you're going to the gym," things like that. That's fine. But the reason you're not getting what you want is because you aren't doing what you need to do to become who you need to be to get what you want.

Jordan Harbinger: And sometimes, that's the best thing you can do as a friend because really, you can't punish people more than a certain degree as a friend. Because what are you going to do? Cut them off? "You're not allowed to come over anymore because you're fat." That's completely ridiculous. So you have to do it with love as cheesy as that might sound. But some people will not respond to that. But then you have to say, look, you are not allowed to complain about being unhappy because you're single while you're eating a bag of chicharrones for dinner every night. You're just not allowed. I'm not going to hear it. We have a solution. You don't want the solution. So I'm not going to suffer through this anymore. And I know that that sounds harsh, but a lot of times, that social isolation is all you can do as a friend. But you can't isolate them so much that they don't have you in their life anymore or you won't be able to influence them.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, interesting. 'cause I am. I'm struck by the difference in the different kinds of relationships that exist. And how yeah, a friend like for some people, friend groups come and go. It seems a lot more common for someone to feel like somehow they got stuck for instance in this relationship like, "I'm with this person." Maybe we have two kids together, so now I'm really with this person. And what do I do like “They don't want to change?” I'm changing. I'm trying to grow. I'm trying to do everything that I can to have a great life and to make this great. But they're not motivated at all. And what do I do? And I think with that comes, "I like the feeling of accountability." This is actually something we were just talking about on the show with Cheryl Richardson. She talks a lot about self-care and boundaries. But that question of like, "Look, I don't want to dwell any more on the, 'What's going wrong with us?'" Like, "There are things that we could actually do about this."

Neil Sattin: So either you're willing to do them or some of the harsh reality is maybe we do "isolate ourselves from each other." Maybe we do break up. If we can actually steer this in a good direction or if you have a friend who's consistently complaining, and even with getting that tough love from you, they still don't want to shift. Well, you're probably naturally going to evolve apart anyway, would be my guess.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I would agree with that. Yeah, I would agree with that.

Neil Sattin: So I'm wondering for you when you are helping someone come up the curve in terms of their emotional intelligence, do you have a checklist in the back of your head that's like, "Okay, I want to make sure someone has the ability to stay present when they're actually having a conversation with someone. I want to make sure they have the ability to connect with other people and be giving. I want to make sure that they know how to make little commitments and actually follow through on them"? Are there other things along those lines that you think are really the core aspects of what I think we've been talking about this whole time, which is encouraging people to sort of show the fuck up in their lives and to not coast and to really be engaged with the people and the opportunities that are around them?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I do have a rough checklist, but I'll tell you that the way that we run things at our Advanced Human Dynamics events are usually... The first few events or first few sessions are kind of about eliciting that checklist, 'cause it does differ from person to person. So some of the things that we do, for example, would be, I might videotape an interaction, with your permission of course. But I might videotape an interaction. It's like, "Oh, okay, you are not present because you're thinking about what to say next 'cause you often you're trying to figure out how to be clever. Alright, we have to fix that because being clever is not as important as being present." Or, "Oh, okay, interesting. You're invading psychological space. That's something that's probably going to cause other people to play defense, which is going to inhibit your ability to connect with them." Or, "Wow, you got really vulnerable really fast in a way that was a little bit uncalibrated for a professional situation that's probably blowing up in your face and causing people to put walls up because they don't want to reciprocate in such a vulnerable fashion."

Jordan Harbinger: And the example here is we had a guy that was saying... Actually a better example... We had a woman that was saying something like, within the first few minutes of meeting people, "I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years, and we have a kid together." And I was like, "Whoa! Hang on, man. That's a good share for something later on. You don't know these people." So it can be problematic. You could be triggering someone else's stuff, you could be coming across as a victim, big time. It's problematic. You're going to run into people's filters and you're going to end up getting screened out. And they go, "Oh, I thought I was just being vulnerable, I thought this was helpful. I just went to some self-help seminar, where they told me to dah dah dah." I'm like, "Okay, that's just not appropriate for every situation."

Jordan Harbinger: And most people know, things like that so I'm giving you extreme examples. However, it's not uncommon for somebody to be a close-talker and invade psychological space. It's not uncommon for someone to be a little bit too touchy-feely. Maybe they even come from a different culture, where that's okay, but it doesn't make sense in a professional American context. Or maybe someone isn't showcasing any vulnerability, maybe they're doing this thing where they're trying to take up a lot of space because they read on some message board that alpha men take up space, so they're spreading out and other people are like, how rude is this guy? He's taking up three seats and I'm standing. But he's thinking, I'm alpha right now!

Jordan Harbinger: So I have these checklists that say things like, are you trying to broadcast a specific image? If so, is that image appropriate for the context? And if not, can we try to do this in another way by consciously or forming new habits? And sometimes it's a matter of going, hey, you don't have to be "alpha", you just look like a douche. And they go, oh, thank God I took a coaching class last year and I've been struggling with this forever because I feel like such a turd. And you go, yeah you shouldn't do this, it's not helping you and they go, oh, thank God. 'Cause their other coach or their other boot camp or their other whatchamacallit is some book they read, told them they have to do this or they're going to get walked on.

Jordan Harbinger: And you've probably seen guys like this and we see them on the internet, where they... The catchphrase of some of these guys is like, I don't give a fuck. And it's like, no, no, no. You give so many fucks that you don't even know who you are anymore, that's... I don't give a fuck, I'll do whatever I want. No, no, no. You're doing what this other group of guys tells you that you should want because you're giving all of the fucks. You have no fucks left.


Jordan Harbinger: You're being programmed by other people and it's still not working, and people still don't like you. So you're trying to reject them, but really, you've already been rejected, so it's not helping. How do you feel? And then a lot of times those guys go, "Lonely!" It's like, "Well, yeah, of course, because your only friends are weirdos on Reddit, that tell you to take up space and to not care about other people. How do you think they're working out in life?" So I try to elicit those checklists from men and women that come through the program because people really have their own individual hang-ups and they really wear... We really wear them on our sleeve as humans.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, there's something in what you're saying that where I find myself getting even kind of sad thinking about all of the, well for lack of a better word, propaganda that's out there about games to play, ways to get other people interested in you. And I feel like there's a pretty big distinction between what we've been talking about, which is really more about being in your integrity and in your authenticity, versus let's say having the checklist of, "Okay, I got a... " For the typical advice for a guy, "I gotta take up space, be the alpha guy, show them that I know how to lead, etcetera, etcetera," where they get lost in... And it's the same, especially the gendered stuff. If you want to be a woman who gets a guy, all that stuff. I think it robs people a lot of the magic that really happens when they're willing to just show up and be who they are and notice, like, "Oh, even though I think this person is really attractive, there's actually nothing there between us, so why would I want to like somehow game them into being interested in me because in the end, we don't really have anything. Whereas by being present, I get to sense, 'Oh, but there are all these other people that I really do relate to and we actually create magic when we're interacting with each other.'"

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think that getting help in this space is tough because it requires a certain level of self-awareness, and it requires a desire to generate even more self-awareness, which can be really scary, especially if we perceive that we might be lacking in some area. It's really uncomfortable. And then I mean this in a bad way, it's uncomfortable to go, "Oh my gosh, I know there are problems and I'm going to ask someone else, possibly pay them to toss... Just rip the blanket off and look at what's underneath," and that's really scary. So I think that we, especially guys, but men and women both, have a problem moving forward in this area. So I just want to close with the idea that this is in many ways about momentum. Once you find a weakness and you're able to correct or fix or start working on it, in my opinion, Neil, it really becomes almost addictive because you go, "Holy crap, that wasn't as hard as I thought. It didn't feel terrible and it feels really good to have this under wraps, and now I can finally attack all these other little things." And it becomes really fun to become who you need to be. So I don't want to scare people away from it because I honestly really do feel like it becomes healthy and it becomes addictive in a good way to work on yourself. It's just scary beforehand. Almost exclusively, it's just scary beforehand.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, those are great. Great piece of advice there. Jordan, I really appreciate your time today and I'm wondering, do you have a moment for one more question?

Jordan Harbinger: I do.

Neil Sattin: Great. Before we got on the call, we were talking about some of the upheaval that's been going on in your life, for lack of a better word. And if it's okay for me to ask you a personal question, I'm curious to know, 'cause you're married and in a time that's created... Where there's been a lot of stress, and those can sometimes be when we're at our worst in our partnerships, I'm wondering what's been helpful for you and your wife to stay connected with everything changing around you?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you know what's funny? I work with my wife, so this might be unique to our situation, but all of this turmoil of relaunching the Jordan Harbinger show and Advanced Team and Dynamics and everything, all of a sudden after leaving The Art of Charm suddenly has actually brought us closer together. And I think one of the keys is being really aware when I'm negative because I tend to, when I get negative, get a little bit bummed out and/or take it out on whoever's near me. That's a very human thing to do. But I have to be really careful about that because I'm not doing this in the office during a stressful time, and then coming home and keeping it separate from the family. I work with my wife, so I gotta be really careful not to be like, I'm going to explode about this thing and then go, oh, I feel better, but meanwhile, everybody else is like, I don't. So, I've had to become really conscious of that. I've had to do, I guess you would say, I've really actually almost ironically had to focus on self care because when I'm going to the gym, when I'm getting sun, when I'm walking outside, when I'm connecting with friends, I don't have to just rely on my wife for emotional support, which can be exhausting for her and I'm actually able to support her too. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, absolutely.

Jordan Harbinger: So a lot of people go, oh, I gotta make sure I'm taking care of my family and I agree that you do. But one of the best ways to do that is making sure that you have the capacity for it and the way that you do that is through self-care. And a lot of people, when they hit hard times myself included, we don't do self-care, we stop going to the gym, we start eating a bunch of crap, we drink more or whatever it is because it's an emergency. We're in emergency mode. Fight or flight, anxiety, not sleeping. That stuff diminishes your capacity to take care of those around you as well as yourself. And that's when things start to break down. It's like, "I'm doing everything I can for this other person." It's like, "Well, you are, but what you can do is 10% of what you should be doing because you're a freaking mess."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: So that's what I've been working on.

Neil Sattin: Makes perfect sense. And I think that's another place where it can be so challenging for people to be willing to prioritize that and to maybe do it in a way so that the people around them understand what's going on. If you were completely absent and your wife was like, "Where are you going? Why aren't you here?" Then that might be a different story. "Oh, I was just taking care of myself. I went to the movies, got myself a smoothie. Did you want one too?" You know, might be different.

Jordan Harbinger: It's been really fun man. I appreciate the opportunity.

Neil Sattin: Yeah Jordan, thank you so much for being here with us on Relationship Alive and for me, it's been a bit of a stretch having you here only because typically I've got people on like John Gottman and Sue Johnson who are writing books about relationships, and that's what frames our conversations. And so I appreciate your willingness to get on and just go for it and see what we could come up with your vast expertise in those relational dynamics and to see what we could make practical for our listeners here. So thank you so much.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, thank you, man. I appreciate the opportunity.

Neil Sattin: And if you are interested in finding out more about Jordan Harbinger, you can visit You can check out the Jordan Harbinger show, and his company, Advanced Human Dynamics, is developing online courses and events that you can visit, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we actually have a course up now. It's free, and it's about networking and relationship development. It's very systematic. It's all about not feeling like a smarmy business card slinger, and generating professional and personal relationships in a way that's scalable, fun doesn't take three hours a day, doesn't involve you being a fake weirdo on the internet, etcetera. And that's all at Advanced Human Dynamics. You just click level one in the corner, and I'll teach you all the secrets.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Jordan. Great to have you here.

Jordan Harbinger: Thanks, Neil.

Nov 13, 2018

Have you ever found yourself making assumptions about how your partner will take care of you or show up for you? Do you assume they’ll do certain things that make your life easier even though they haven’t actually agreed to do that? Have you ever felt resentful toward your partner for not following through on what you assumed they would do for you? If so, you’re not alone! In today’s episode, we’ll discover how these assumptions can lead to resentment and learned helplessness. We’re going to dive into some specific actions you can take to prevent this from happening in your relationship.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


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Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive - this is your host Neil Sattin. When you make assumptions about how you and your partner will show up for each other in your relationship, that can ultimately erode the goodwill and generosity in your relationship. And, on top of that, it can undermine your own ability to feel safe in your own skin. So this week we’re going to talk about how to make the implicit explicit - so that the way that you and your partner collaborate in each other’s lives actually adds energy to both of you - instead of ultimately stealing your fire. It’s an important topic so get ready to dive deep.

But first - are you finding Relationship Alive to be helpful in your life? If so, please consider a donation to help support what we do. To choose something that feels right for you, please visit or text the word SUPPORT to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And this week, I want to offer sincere gratitude to Danielle, Denise, Kelee, Kent, Abe, Sarah, Renee, Micheila, Ruthana - thank you all so much for your generous contributions to help us keep the lights on here at Relationship Alive headquarters.

This episode is also brought to you by Green Chef. For 50 dollars off your first box of Green Chef go to And I’ll tell you a little bit more about them later in the show.

So let’s move on. When you first get into a relationship, it can feel almost magical the way that everything lines up. Those falling in love feelings often also lead to incredible generosity - we’re inspired to show up for our beloveds for so many reasons, not the least of which is how good it feels to offer them something and see the happiness that comes as a result. Back in episode 102, Jeff Zeig talked about the phenomenon called “TOPIAH” - taking pleasure in another’s happiness - which is central to that falling in love state of being.

And when this is happening it can feel like you have been brought together in order to complement each other, make each other’s lives easier, etc. What’s the point of being in a relationship, if not to share joy, and make each other’s life easier? Otherwise, why would we tolerate all the challenges of relationship?

So I’m not going to get down on the way that happens. On the other hand, what tends to happen is that the overwhelming generosity that can mark the beginning of a relationship leads to ways that we take each other for granted. And this is a huge double-edged sword that can slice right into your happiness together and take you down if you’re not careful. Let me explain…

Why is it a double-edged sword? Because on the one side of the blade are the assumptions that we start making about our partner. Assumptions about how they will take care of us, show up for us, make life happier and easier, etc. The problem isn’t that they’re doing all those things - the problem is the assumption, the expectations, that can then lead to resentment. In the ways where you once showed up willingly, out of generosity, you might now find yourself feeling taken for granted and wondering if your partner gets how much you do for them.

Don’t worry, in a moment I’m going to give you a way to steer clear of that problem - but you might remember that I said it was a double-edged sword - so what’s the other problem?

The other side of the blade is the ways in which we learn to rely on our partner and how that can sometimes get in the way of our realizing our own capabilities. It’s a form of learned helplessness - not the kind that’s linked to trauma or recurring pain - though of course, that can *also* happen in relationships - I’m talking about how we come to rely on our partners and then when they for some reason can’t show up in the way that we’ve come to rely on them, it actually triggers our fear - instead of inspiring us to be capable.

Here’s an example. These are the kinds of things that you come to see more clearly when you have to be apart from your partner for any length of time - as you start to realize all the ways that they contribute to your life, or the household, or your wellbeing. Like imagine that your partner leaves for a week, and you suddenly realize that there are no groceries in the fridge, or gas in the car, or dinner on the table when you get home from work. Sometimes when that happens, instead of diving into our own capability - like going to the grocery store, gassing up the car, and cooking a nice dinner - and doing all of those things OURSELVES - we go into a fear response from NOT being taken care of in the ways that we’re used to. So there we are in our trigger - not only not getting our needs met, but feeling fight/flight/freeze in reaction to a partner who simply went out of town on business (or for whatever reason).

And that can ALSO lead to resentment. We can resent our partners for leaving us to fend for ourselves, or we can resent them for making us confront our own little ways of being helpless, or we can actually resent ourselves for having given so much power away to our partners in the first place. It’s a habit that we’ve acquired - letting our partner do things for us, and coming to rely on them for that.

Quick side note on that - often when you move through the triggered place, you can find an enormous blessing in HAVING that space, so that you can feel what you’re truly capable of.

And what’s ironic about this situation? It’s usually true for BOTH partners. In other words, it’s rare that one of you is doing all the assuming, and the other one of you is doing all the work. The reality is usually that both of you give in your own ways, and both of you can feel taken for granted. This is a dynamic that we actually talked about back in our episode with Betty Martin, in episode 162, talking about the Wheel of Consent. Now in that episode, we talked about how it impacts the way that we touch or receive touch from our partners, but the underlying premise is the same as you come to understand the dynamics of giving and receiving.

But I’ll let you listen to that episode to get that part of what I’m talking about. What we’re focused on here is the danger that making assumptions brings to your relationship. And I’m going to show you what to do about it. We’ll solve all your assumption problems with a simple exercise or two - in just a moment.

However, this is the time in the show when I get to tell you about this week’s sponsors. And they both have cool deals for you, so you can try them out - at a discount - and experience what they’re cooking up for you.

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Now let’s get back into the conversation about how to keep your assumptions from eroding your relationship.

As I hinted at the very beginning, the antidote to the toxic effect of assuming on your relationship is to make the implicit explicit - in other words, to get really clear on the dynamic that’s happening in your relationship and to turn assumptions into agreements.

You may have heard me talk about agreements before on Relationship Alive, as they are a key part of creating the container of your relationship. So far we’ve talked about them in broad strokes, though - they represent the things that you and your partner agree NOT to do - you know, things like spending large sums of money without talking to each other about it first, or your agreements around monogamy - these are important things to be really clear about with your partner. We’ve also talked about the things that you agree TO do - things like commitment to supporting each other’s growth or sharing appreciations with each other each night. These are just a couple of small examples.

The problem with assumptions is that they represent agreements that you haven’t actually agreed to. They often have the same degree of expectations that come with an actual agreement - but the problem is that you and your partner don’t actually know exactly that the agreement exists. Let’s take something simple as an example.

Let’s say that every night your beloved gets home from work 30 minutes earlier than you do. And every night they get home, take the dog out, and then start cooking dinner. So you walk in the door, and the dog comes over to you, tail wagging, and you fall on the floor to give your dog a tummy rub, while your partner is there, standing over the stove, whipping up something tasty. Only instead of being really happy to see you, for some reason your partner is standing there looking really serious as they saute the onions, and you already have that sinking feeling that there’s something going on that you’re going to have to talk about later.

Now, let’s just state the obvious - you should always greet your partner before you start rubbing the dog’s belly. If your dog is getting more affection and attention than your partner is, then you’re in trouble. Trust me. In fact, maybe I’ll devote an episode to just that. Moving right along…

And, now let’s even take this situation a step further. Let’s imagine that it’s this way night after night. Except for one night you get home, and your partner is in the living room, kicking back and reading a book. And as you walk in the door and the dog rushes over to greet you they say “great, can you take the dog out?” - and then you realize that they have already cooked and eaten an early dinner - without you. In that moment are you feeling, maybe, just a little bit...resentful?

I’m pretty sure that the answer here would be “yes”. And why is that? Why was your partner stewing over something when you came home to their cooking, and why are you now stewing because it’s suddenly on you to take the dog out and figure out dinner?

In this hypothetical situation that I know none of you has experienced...did you and your partner ever create an agreement about who was going to take the dog out and start dinner?

Now, of course, it’s possible that you might have a stale agreement, something that you made long ago and which no longer is working for one, or both, of you. It’s worth revisiting your agreements every so often. But in order to do that, you’re going to have to know what your agreements are.

So, let’s get there - together. As you may be guessing right now, you are going to actually have to communicate with your partner to figure this out. But before you take that step, let’s get more clear on what your assumptions are.

The best way to do this is to keep track. Have you ever used a time-tracking app to figure out how you spend your time when you’re on your computer? That can be really useful data to have, so that after a week or two you get to see when and how you’re the most productive (and, correspondingly, when and how you waste time). It’s useful - and occasionally scary.

So for the next week what I’d like you to do is to keep track of all of the ways in which you are relying on your partner. The challenge is going to be remembering to do this throughout your way to approach it is to have a little pocket notebook that you carry with you so that you can note things down as they happen. Or you can, of course, keep track in your smartphone. The key here is, first, to remember to be paying attention throughout your day - and then to actually write it down or note it.

It’s tempting here to think “OK, I’m going to just notice it as it happens” - and to take the shortcut and NOT write anything down, or actually keep track of anything. Unless you have a superhuman memory, do NOT do this. Write it down, or record it somehow. This is important, first so that you don’t miss anything! And second, so that as you review your notes at the end of the week, you’ll have a sense of just how vast the number of assumptions is.

Now there may be some things that jump out at you right away as you hear me talking about this. You can go ahead and write those things down. Maybe it’s the “who makes the meals” scenario? Maybe it’s the who does the laundry or the grocery shopping? Maybe it’s that you trust your partner to text you back within 5 minutes when you’ve texted them, and if any more time goes by you start to get anxious?

The big question here is: what are all the ways that I rely on my partner? And what are all the ways that they’re relying on me?

And...after a week of that goes get to look over your findings. There will probably be some things on your list that you already knew about - and hopefully, there will also be some surprises on your list. See if you can get a sense of what led to a particular thing becoming just a way of being - how did it work its way onto your assumption list? That’s helpful to know - at a 1000 foot view you can often see the ways that these patterns start - which is a great way of seeing your own part in things.

Now the next step is going to be to communicate with your partner about what you discovered. I’ll give you a framework for that in a moment. As you might expect, the WAY that you talk about it will have a huge impact. For some important pointers, make sure that you check out my free Relationship Communication guide. If you’ve already downloaded it, then you might want to revisit it just for a reminder - and if you haven’t gotten it yet, you can grab it at - or by texting the word RELATE to the number 33444 and following the instructions.

So let’s talk about how to approach this conversation with your partner. Maybe you’re lucky and you’re already listening to Relationship Alive together - and doing this research together. So if that’s the case then you simply want to schedule a time to talk about what you discovered. If you’re doing this on your own, then the first step is to ask your beloved if there’s a time when you can sit down to talk about some important things you’ve been noticing. Don’t just spring this on your partner!

And even if you have a long list of ways that your partner is making assumptions about you, I wouldn’t bring that up just yet - if your partner asks you what you want to talk about, just say that you’ve been noticing some ways that you take them for granted, and you were hoping to be able to sit down, chat with them, and get some clarity about it. Maybe even express your gratitude - you know, that kind of thing.

When the appointed time arrives, then, yes - you want to set the stage by talking about how you have noticed all these ways in which you’ve been taking your partner for granted or making assumptions that things are a certain way. If you have lots of examples to choose from in your observations, you might choose the one that seems the least triggering to your partner - in other words, start with something easy. Not necessarily a hot-button issue right away.

Then you might say something like…”I’ve been operating as if this is an agreement that we have made, to do things this way. But we never really did, did we? Or maybe we did, but that was a long time ago, and I’m not sure that it necessarily makes sense anymore.”

Each step along the way you want to check in with your partner to see if what you’re saying is making sense to them. Do they get it, what you’re saying? Do they agree? Can they lend any insight into what you’ve already noticed?

If you’re starting with ways that you’ve been taking them for granted, then it will be easier to inspire their collaboration in the conversation. One thing to pay attention to here is your own level of activation, of being triggered. If your partner is TOO eager to point out the assumptions that you’ve been making, then you could find yourself feeling like you’re being attacked. Do your best here to find your balance on your own, to take responsibility for your own emotional state. As much as possible you want to keep operating from your prefrontal cortex - in other words, the non-triggered part of your brain that knows how to problem-solve, stay curious, and be creative.

So - what’s the ultimate goal here? The goal is to bring up the assumptions that you’ve been making  and then to ask your partner if there’s an agreement that you can actually make, together, about each particular thing. It’s as simple as that. Some possible ways to frame that include: “In this situation, would you like to <and then insert the thing>”. Or “What would make that ok for you? What would make that feel like something you actually want to do?” or “how can I help you so that you’re not doing it on your own?” or “What would be a meaningful way - to you - that I could show my appreciation?” Or “Is there some way that I could contribute that would make a difference to you?”

You may also discover that some of these ways that you’ve come to rely on your partner actually are obstacles to your own feeling fulfilled, actualized, and capable in your own life. So rather than your go-to being trying to get your partner’s buy-in to just keep doing things that way - but with an agreement - I invite you to first consider how you can show up to at least be an equal partner in what’s happening. Or perhaps you want to take full responsibility for making this thing happen for you - rather than relying on your partner at all. This could be about your reclaiming that part of yourself, or it could also be about ways to give even more to the relationship.

I leave it to you to feel through the situation for what feels best to you and your partner. But definitely, spend time entertaining the different possibilities - instead of immediately rushing to the first solution that jumps out at you.

Bear in mind too that even if your partner says that they are more than happy to do whatever it is that they’ve been doing, by at least getting it out in the open you can ensure that you’re both completely in integrity about it. And you can also discuss how to safely bring it up if the agreement STOPS being ok with either one of you. Having a way to bring the topic up without anyone getting triggered or resentful - in other words, revisiting your agreements on a regular basis and having that be just built into the structure of your relationship will help you keep things healthy and minimize resentment in the time ahead of you.

Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering about how to address all those ways that you feel like your partner might be taking you for granted...again remember that it’s best to start with an offering - which in this case is you taking responsibility for all the assumptions that you’ve been making.

Next you might ask your partner something like this: “Would you be willing to talk about some other places where I think we could use a more explicit agreement between us?” And if the answer is “Yes” - then you’re on the right track. Instead of framing this part of the conversation as ways that you’re being “taken for granted” - you might instead say something like “Here is a place where our agreement isn’t quite clear…” And rather than focusing on the assumption - in other words, rather than saying something like “it seems like you assume I’m going to make dinner every night” you might say something like “I find that most nights I’m making dinner. And I’m doing it by myself. And while I do enjoy making dinner, what I really miss is the opportunity for us to work together to make choices about what we’re going to eat. So I find that lately I’ve been getting lonely and maybe even a little sad, instead of feeling inspired to cook for both of us. Would you be willing to talk about ways that we could change that up a bit?”

You might be surprised to find that your partner will actually show up with some creative solutions - especially if they’re not being blamed.

OK - I think that’s enough to get you going in the right direction. If you’re on Facebook and haven’t joined us in the Relationship Alive Community yet, please come find us there. You can get support from the more than 2300 Relationship Alive listeners who are creating a safe space to talk about relationships. And in the meantime, if you know someone who could benefit from hearing this episode, please feel free to send the link along - it’s I look forward to being with you next week - take care until then!



Nov 6, 2018

Have you ever felt compelled to jump into a new relationship a little too quickly? Is it possible that you’re actually addicted to love and relationships? How would you know? This week, our guest is Sherry Gaba, best-selling author of The Marriage and Relationship Junkie and The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery. Sherry is a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Certified Recovery Coach specializing in individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy - and she is also the editor of Recovery Today magazine. In this episode, you’ll learn what it means to be addicted to love and relationships and where it comes from. We’ll also dive into how you can tell if you’re addicted to love and relationships and what you can do to start on your path toward healthier relationships and connection.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!


Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode is being sponsored by two amazing companies with special offers for you.

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Visit the website for Sherry Gaba’s book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie, to learn more about how to break the cycle of marriage and relationship addiction and live fabulously on your own or with a partner.

Visit Sherry Gaba’s main website

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE) Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Sherry Gaba.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out



Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. We're here to talk about relationships and yet what brings us into a relationship? Why are we there in the first place? So many of us enter relationships for awesome reasons, sometimes it's less than awesome reasons, and sometimes it's a combination of the two. You feel some magnetic spark with a person, but at the same time, maybe they support you in ways that aren't necessarily healthy for you, or you get trapped in some dynamic that doesn't really make for the best relationship possible. And then you might feel like, "Oh, okay, this relationship ended," and you're ready to go into another relationship, maybe even a little too quickly. And it wouldn't be that uncommon for you to wonder, "Is there something about this? Am I actually addicted to being in relationships? Am I addicted to love? Is there something... What is it that's compelling me to do this?" And I think it's interesting to tease apart what it is that might compel us in an unhealthy way, to enter into a relationship with others, and what's healthy about it? 'Cause when we're talking about addiction, there are positive addictions, as well as negative addictions. So how do you find the balance, and how do you figure out you where you land in terms of your approach to the relationship?

Neil Sattin: So we're going to tackle this question about whether or not you might possibly be addicted to love and relationship, how to know and what to do about it. And in order to have that conversation, I have with me today, yet another esteemed guest, her name is Sherry Gaba, and she's a therapist who is also the author of "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie." A book that is available on Amazon, and talks all about this question of how do you find your own path to health in terms of how you relate to others? And of course, that's a conversation we're having all the time here on Relationship Alive because hey, I'm just... I recognize that just like you, there's work to be done. And so, we're going to dive deep into this question around addiction and obsession around love and see if we can come out the other side with some answers. As always, we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode and to download that, all you have to do is visit, and you spell that, G-A-B-A, as in Sherry Gaba, our guest for today. Or you can always text the word, "passion" to the number 33444, follow the instructions and I will send you a link where you can download the transcript for this episode. Alright, I think that's all I have to cover today at this moment. Let's dive in. Sherry Gaba, so great to have you here with us on Relationship Alive.

Sherry Gaba: What a fantastic introduction, thank you, Neil, that was amazing, and I love what you're doing in the world and loving just getting to know you, I love your energy and I'm just grateful to have this platform today to talk about this really important subject.

Neil Sattin: Great, well we're off to a good start then.

Sherry Gaba: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: So it is a complicated question whether we're drawn into relating with another person for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. Maybe you can help us start to tease that apart, how do we know if the reason that we're seeking out someone else is something that ultimately is going to support our health and growth, and thriving in the world?

Sherry Gaba: Well, let's look at addiction in general, if you look at the broader sense of addiction, and love addiction and relationship romance addiction is our subject today. If you look at the broader definition of addiction is when your life is out of control and it's becoming unmanageable and underneath that, you're making choices based on emptiness a feeling of lack, a feeling of not wanting to be alone, that would be a love addiction, feeling like the world is just a really scary place almost terror that, "If I'm not in a relationship, if I'm not connected or hooked up to somebody, then I'm going to "dies," literally. And so, love addiction is really under the umbrella of addiction.

Sherry Gaba: It's a process addiction, it's a lifestyle addiction, so think about binge eating, or sex addiction, or being addicted to exercise or internet addiction or gaming, or shopping or spending, those are all lifestyle addictions. So, you're becoming addicted to a mood-altering activity, in other words, your brain really lights up when you're hooking up with whatever it is that you're needing to hook up with, whether it's the food or the love, or the sex or whatever your addiction is. So the relationship for a love addict is the only person's identity. And then if a breakup occurs, the addictive lover is longing for the attachment and the pleasurable feelings of that lost relationship. So just like the drug addict may be withdrawing from his or her drug needing that "fix," the love addict is needing that fix of attachment.

Sherry Gaba: And underneath all of us, all of us as human beings we all want to attach, we all want to bond, we all want to connect. But when it becomes unhealthy, and we start making really bad choices around that, then we're stepping into love addiction. For instance, you step into a relationship 'cause you're afraid of being alone like I mentioned earlier, or you're afraid of the unknown, or you get into a relationship where you're trying to change them or fix them and not accepting them for who they are. Needing someone to make you feel whole, because like I mentioned earlier, you feel empty if you're not in a relationship. Looking for others for affirmation and self-worth and for validation rather than already having that within yourself. Being terrorized of abandonment, having those withdrawal symptoms that I mentioned earlier that if a relationship ends, you are in complete withdrawal. And then really giving up who we are out of the fear that we might lose someone or someone may not approve of us. So, if any of those things sound familiar, you may be dealing with love addiction.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I'm reminded of when Helen Fisher was on the show, she has this viewpoint that in some respects, all love is addiction and that's why when we break up, we go through symptoms and pain that's very similar to what any addict would go through when they are in withdrawal from their partner. But I like the distinction that you're making around how... And this is I think, why love can be a positive or a negative addiction, because you could be addicted to love with someone who's really good for you, and where you actually really support each other and there's a lot that's beneficial going on, or you can be addicted to love with someone where you're just fueling the dopamine rush.

Sherry Gaba: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And I think that is... Go ahead.

Sherry Gaba: Well, if you're feeling the dopamine rush, it probably isn't you're addicted to a healthy relationship. Because yes, in the beginning, there's that fantasy, there's that attachment, there's that goo-goo ga-ga feeling. Sure, that can happen, but healthy relationships really move into a more mature growing state of being. I'm not saying you can't have that goo-goo ga-ga come up at times, but I think if you're constantly in that state, I think then it becomes more obsessive and then it becomes more unhealthy. I can't speak to all relationships, but I think healthier relationships change, they morph into other things, they morph into healthier love, they morph into other things like respect and nurturing, and it isn't just fueled by that, "Oh my god," goo-goo ga-ga feeling, you know what I'm saying?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, if we look at the addiction cycle, and we had Alex Katehakis on the show to talk a little bit also about sex addiction. That what we're really doing, the reason we show up predictive behaviors, and you mentioned this a moment ago, is to help us with our own feelings of dysregulation and discomfort, we turn to the thing that gives us that pleasurable sensation for comfort. And I think you're right, all relationships are going to do that at first to some extent. And as I was preparing for our conversations today, it just occurred to me like, Oh, right, so if you're in a relationship, like most relationships where after a certain period of time, the dopamine energy starts to fade a little bit, and you haven't necessarily figured out how to build health into your relationship, and those healthy bonding behaviors foster lots of oxytocin which is another, a pair bonding hormone, then you're going to be missing the effects of the dopamine, not because there's something wrong with your partnership necessarily, but because you tune back into what's wrong with you, and those feelings of discomfort. And so then you have to chase the dopamine whether it's escalating the drama or ditching someone for someone new so that you can get that because you're not equipped at that moment to actually deal with your own dysregulation and discomfort.

Sherry Gaba: Right. Well, you're addicted to the high, so to speak. You're addicted to the romance, you're addicted to the newness factor. I am a love addict, the best time for me is that first falling in love, that's the part where I'm just... That's where I'm most comfortable, that's my go-to. The problem with that is, you're picking from a place of need versus a place of healthful being. In other words, you're picking from a place of emptiness, you're picking a place of, "This person's going to fill up this need that I have, that I don't feel whole already, that I need somebody else to fill me up to feel good about myself." And hopefully, we can lead into a conversation about early trauma because that is a huge piece to this subject.

Sherry Gaba: And often I'll share my own story because I think people underestimate what early trauma does and why that is a huge piece in the love addict behavior or the need for that high, that initial high. We're always chasing that early high, we often say with addicts, they're chasing that first high, that first crack experience or that first alcoholic experience, whatever, heroin experience. Well, the love addict is chasing that first high of falling in love, that's where everything... That is it, this is utopia, this is where it all is, and unfortunately, it isn't sustaining and when it does change, hopefully, it'll change into something healthy, but for the love addict, it generally does not turn into that something healthy. And usually, what they... The love addict picks people that aren't healthy for them. That's another piece to this, is that love addicts tend to be attracted to love avoidance, they're attracted to people that are unavailable, they might be attracted to people that are abusive and they don't care because they want that high no matter what, and they're picking what they know rather than what's good for them.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right, so if you're in a relationship, what are some of the signs that you might see happening in your relationship if you've veered into addictive territory?

Sherry Gaba: Well, I think if you're putting up with abuse, of course, you may be with a narcissist. I think we talked about this a little bit earlier, but over-adapting to what others want, losing yourself in the process, having no boundaries, always saying yes when really, “no” is not even in your vocabulary. This terror, this fear of letting go, fear of the unknown, so you stay because it's better than what might be out there. At least you know what you're getting here, even if it's unhealthy. You're always trying to fix and change your partner. That person is what makes you feel whole and complete, you're absolutely empty, you're in the ethers of emptiness without that person or in relationship, and then that person is all that you are in terms of, you're seeking their affirmation, their validation, their acknowledgment, all your self-worth is based on being with that person. You're petrified of abandonment. You might have some of those withdrawal symptoms when they're not around, you only are comfortable when they're in your space, but if they're off to work or off with other... Doing other things, you feel completely lost, and you give up who you are out of fear that they may not want you. You give up who you are, you lose parts of yourself to be with this person.

Neil Sattin: Got it. So I'm feeling a pretty... I'm doing the diagnosis here on myself even and thinking about how even relationships in the past that have started out healthy, they can veer into this territory if you're not careful.

Sherry Gaba: Sure. And then we're talking maybe more about a codependent relationship. And I hate throwing out words like codependent or even a love addiction word, because people... It becomes very cliche, because what you said earlier in the call, and I really picked up on that was that some of these things you have with your relationship but they're healthy. And in other words, you love that person, you respect that person, and sure, that person on some level maybe completes you on some level. But the question is if that relationship wasn't there would you be okay? Sure, you might be sad and you would grieve, and you would miss that person terribly, but would you be completely lost? I think of my own mother, my father passed away and they had a 60-year romance. And when my father died, and again, this is part of grief as well, but it was a little more pathological than that. My mother picked up the first man that looked at her. And he's a very bad man. She picked somebody that really is a predator per se, and he knew exactly what he was doing. And she's in a relationship with... In a very unhealthy relationship with someone that's completely taking advantage of her, because she is petrified of being without somebody. She just can't even function. And so that's when we're really getting into territory that's dangerous.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Sherry Gaba: Because you're actually being taken advantage of. And that's a whole other conversation, there is a whole world out there, there's... Just in LA alone, there are probably 10,000 predators out there picking women that just will believe anything that they hear, just so they can couple up and partner up and bond with somebody.

Neil Sattin: Let's...

Sherry Gaba: I use that example because you never know, you could have a listener right now, a call that's in a situation like that.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, I'm glad that you brought it up. And yeah, what it makes me curious about, I picked up on the sense of not being okay if you were to be alone. And because I think that it's so important to have that sense of okay-ness, that brings with it so much freedom to really see your relationship clearly, to see your part in the relationship clearly. So if we were to take a listener on a step or two down the road, toward... Like, if they're looking at themselves right now and saying, "Wow, yeah, I'm not sure I would be okay if this fell apart." There may be some practical considerations to that, maybe their livelihood is dependent on their partner or something like that. But I think you're talking about, even more, the existential sense of like, "No, my life might fall apart if I weren't with this person or... " How does someone go about starting to restore that sense of inner safety, so that they can bring that to the relationship?

Sherry Gaba: Well, maybe that... This is a good time to talk about early trauma because if we grew up in a situation where our parents were really unavailable, maybe they were addicts, alcoholics themselves, maybe there was a divorce, maybe were raised by a single parent and they were busy working and you felt invisible because your needs weren't being met, maybe you were in a situation where you were almost parenting your parent. Maybe you were abandoned by a parent. There's this panic that sets in. And then what happens is, you're looking for anything outside yourself to fill up that pain and that panic, and you'll cling to anything and anyone. You're craving for something else to make you feel whole. So the question is, if you're already in a relationship, what draws you to this person? Is it because this person adds to your life? You feel like it brings joy to the joy that you already are as a person? Did you already feel whole as a person? Were you ever successfully single and just loving life as a single person? Or your whole basis was, "I need to attach to someone because without attaching to someone, I am lost. I'm like that child that didn't have a parent that was available to me."

Sherry Gaba: Do you feel like you're not enough without that relationship? Do you feel enough anyway? Yeah, do you feel good enough even without a relationship? Are you unconsciously attempting to satisfy that developmental hungry, so that hungry ghost that people talk about, Buddhists talk about, are you trying to satisfy that? Or does that person, again, add to your sense of being, and sense of self, or are they just completing what you are not?

Sherry Gaba: And are you always looking outside yourself to fix yourself, your fear, your pain, your discomfort? Or do you have that safety within yourself to... That's a great word, are you able to self-regulate yourself? Are you able to be alone at any time? I don't know if that answers your question, Neil, I think it's so great that we're diving into the fact that if you're already in a relationship, do you have these things? And I don't want people to freak out and think, "Oh my God, I'm a love addict, and I'm in a relationship, I better get out because I gotta find myself." No, no, no, no, it's not about that. But I think there are ways to start creating... And see, do you have early trauma? Were you abandoned? And then if you were, how to start healing from that. For me, my trauma was so early, it's unbelievable, I was in an incubator for two and a half months. So I started out in the world unregulated. I started out not having that early bonding with my mother, she didn't hold me for two and a half months, and then even when I came home, she went to work right away, so she was unavailable. And I didn't get what I needed, and so I was always looking for something outside of me to fill me up. I was always looking for that "breast," so to speak.

Sherry Gaba: That's kind of a metaphor, but it's... I was always looking for something else to completely... 'Cause I felt complete, I didn't get that mirroring, I didn't get that bonding, I didn't get that security, that safety. So those are some things to think about, what was your early childhood like? Did you go through any of the things that I mentioned earlier? And if you did, how do you work on those issues? For me, I got into therapy with someone that does what's called somatic experiencing, and now, I'm a practitioner of that, and it's getting back into your body and being able to be okay within yourself, instead of always running away from yourself. Always thinking something else can complete you when everything you have is right there within you.

Neil Sattin: Great, and yes, we've had Peter Levine on the show actually, to talk about somatic experiencing.

Sherry Gaba: Oh fast, you've had some amazing guest.

Neil Sattin: Fortunately yeah, I'm so happy that he was willing to chat and I do believe that that, in particular, is such a powerful modality for healing early traumas. And what I love about it because it's based on your sensation, you don't necessarily have to know what it was. It goes by this theory that the trauma is just stored in there and so you're giving your body a chance to process things that are stuck, that it should have processed through whenever the trauma, and it could be a "big-T" trauma or "little-T" trauma, whenever that occurred. So there's nothing abnormal about you or anyone with having something that might be stuck within you that just needs to be healed.

Sherry Gaba: I love that. I want people to know that there is nothing wrong with you. There might have been something that happened to you as you said, a big trauma, or little trauma, and let's discharge that energy that's been built up so that we can get unblocked so that we can bring in health and wholeness. So that you can feel complete just within yourself, so you don't have to seek outside yourself to feel good. The truth of the matter is just being on this call right now, is the first step because people are going to become aware like, "Oh, this is interesting, let's get curious about this." And then from there, make a decision to change, learning to stop looking for external solutions for problems that can be solved within.

Sherry Gaba: Really explore their personal fears, and really get out of the denial, that's a huge piece with addiction. Addiction is the only disease that says, "I don't have a problem." So really, open yourself up to, "Yeah, there might be something here." And really examine those early suppressed traumas that might have occurred early on in life that we just talked about. Maybe go ahead and listen to your Peter Levine interview, so you can understand trauma a little bit better. Start self-parenting yourself. Really look... I sometimes suggest to people, "Find a photo of you when you were a child and stick that photo right next to your bed, and just start loving that inner child that maybe didn't get what they needed." Become really a loving, forgiving and compassionate person to yourself.

Sherry Gaba: You didn't just wake up one day and go, "Oh, I want to be a love addict. I want to feel pain all the time. I want to feel like I have to be... " You have to completely or I feel like nothing. No, that isn't what you... You didn't cause anything, it's just from your experiences in your history, this is what happened, that energy never got completed, as you said. And just use the pain to grow and prepare for a healthy relationship or the relationship that you're already in, and just really begin to trust in yourself and to let go of what no longer is serving you and find a really great therapist, find a really great coach but somebody that really understands perhaps, trauma work. I don't know if coaches really do trauma work, some may, but you want to make sure they understand the trauma piece. Maybe, find a sex and love addicts anonymous meeting. There's so much support out there to begin working on these issues.

Neil Sattin: Right. And in your book, "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" you do offer some great tools for people who are looking to rebuild, and you don't have to be alone in order to go through them. So I'm glad that you qualified that earlier on, where you said, "If you're in a relationship, you don't have to panic and abandon just to find yourself."

Sherry Gaba: Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Sherry Gaba: Exactly. And you know what you said too earlier, it's such a great feeling, and I think you said it, I think you used the word, extreme. I divorced my... I've had multiple marriages, multi-relationships, I divorced my ex-husband, he was an alcoholic and he couldn't get sober, and I really gave it my best. And I was lost when that relationship ended because it was a very codependent, obsessive relationship, but once I healed and I started doing things for myself, I joined a great 12-Step Program, I took up canoeing. I started really finding myself, I was able to then hopefully pick somebody else that was much better for me because I knew that no matter what, I could be on my own. And I have to be honest, I never felt that way before. I had never been able to really be alone successfully and be happy, and I truly was happy and single. And that brings me to another topic which would be as changing your verbiage around it, instead of saying to yourself, "Oh, I can't be alone. Oh my God, I can't be alone." It's like, "I can be single." Doesn't that sound a lot better? "I can be single" rather than, "I can't be alone"?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so much better and it just makes me think of how very few of us truly are alone, ever. I suppose that is true for some people but if you're listening to this podcast, you're here with me, at this moment. And odds are that there are other people in your life who care about you and who want to support you, and not see you in pain and not see you suffering.

Sherry Gaba: Right, exactly. We all want to bond, we all want to connect. The opposite of addiction is connection, but the point of this call is really healthy connection. That's the point of your podcast, healthy relationships. And so that's... But it's not about stigmatizing you if you are in a codependent relationship. How great that you're on this call and now you can start changing things up a little bit and loosen up that codependent relationship, find other things in your life that help you feel good about yourself. And if you have that trauma, really start working on that trauma 'cause that's really where it all begins. I do some coaching, I'm a psychotherapist, but I can't tell you how many times I'll have a coaching client and they're just stuck. And that stuck-ness... They paid for every class, they listened to all of the podcasts, they bought all the books, but there's something inside of them that's stuck. And so to me, it really begins with moving that trauma out of your body, so that you can have a purposeful life and a meaningful relationship.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So a couple of things, first, let's just regroup, and I want to mention to you listening, I've mentioned a couple of other episodes, if you want to check out the Peter Levine episode, he's been on a couple times, but you definitely want to hear episode 29, which was the first one that he was on, to talk specifically about trauma and healing trauma. The other episode he was on, he was talking more about building resilience which is also important, but not as relevant to what we're talking about here. Also, the episode with Alex Katehakis, talking about addiction and what's involved in our neurobiology of addiction and how to heal that. That is episode 116. So I just wanted you to have those so you can listen to them later. And Sherry, I'm really curious because so many of the tools that you offer in "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" are very practical, and I hear you as a strong voice of support for someone getting help, and I'm always talking about that here on the show. That there are some things where it's just easier if you're not trying to do it by yourself or trying to wing it, or reading a book and trying to put it into practice. That being said, I would love to offer our listeners something really powerful here that they could do or they could try on their own, that would give them a taste of the kind of healing that we're talking about, a taste of the personal empowerment and freedom that we're talking about.

Neil Sattin: And so I'm wondering if just speaking those words, if there's anything that comes to mind for you that we could offer our listeners as a way to get started, to jump-start the process, whether they're single or in relationship or if you have a different idea for both, then that's good too 'cause there are plenty of single people who are also listening to the show. I hear from you, but all the time to learn so that when you're in your next relationship, you're prepared, and I so appreciate that. I wish I had had a show like this, honestly to listen to way back when...

Sherry Gaba: Well, I think in the beginning, is just to see if you have this issue, is to maybe take my quiz, if you go to, I have a love addiction quiz. And that's just a first step in seeing if you are a love addict. I also have a quiz at on whether or not you're codependent. Because you can be codependent and not be a love addict. A codependent may be someone who's always trying to fix, control everything outside themselves, addicted to controlling people, places, and things. But a love addict is a little bit more specific, and that is that you are addicted to love, relationship, romance and feel empty if you're not in a relationship or with somebody. So that's a great place to start, is to take those quizzes, and see if it applies. I have some free ebooks that go along with those quizzes. My book is almost like a workbook, every chapter has questions for you to answer, to journal on. It's really... It's years and years of personal and professional experience in a book.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I found that it was really a great synthesis of lots of different modalities, and you talk about inner child work which you mentioned a few moments ago, you talk about healing trauma, you talk about taking proactive steps in your own life so that you're building your own strength and presence in the world.

Sherry Gaba: And even talking about the law of attraction, on how to attract somebody in a healthy way. Because energetically, we attract what we are. I'm sure you've had conversations with people related to positive psychology or law of attraction, and the truth of the matter is energetically, we're going to attract exactly where we are in our life. When you're in a healthy place, you're going to attract healthy, when you're not, you're going to attract not healthy.

Neil Sattin: Right. I would love it, and I'm putting you on the spot here, so I'm admitting, freely admitting that there's maybe a little bit of pressure here, but I'm curious, yeah, if I've listened to this conversation and thought, "Yep, that's me. Like I don't need to take the quiz, I know it's me, and oh my God, with what Sherry just said about attracting what is within, is what we attract without, now I'm really screwed." What can we do to help someone experience a shift even around that? How do you experience that shift in who you are, let's say... What's coming to me is like who you are energetically and what you want to be in the world, in such a way that you can feel what it's like to see the world with different glasses on?

Sherry Gaba: That's a very broad question. I don't even know how to answer that because I think it's a process, I don't think there's an instant fix.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, of course not.

Sherry Gaba: I think the only thing I can say is the fact that they're on this call and they're hearing things that feel like that could be me when they're actually moving out of denial and that's the first step. I suppose, what I would say is, the first step is waking up to the truth. Waking up to the truth and "Oh my God, this... I realize that I am not complete unless I'm coupled up." And just knowing that is the first step. And then the next step is to... As you said, you can read a book that doesn't always do the magic. I'd love for people to pick up my book and dive deeper into even my story to see if they can relate and all the exercises. But hiring somebody like yourself who does relationship coaching or maybe working with someone like me who dives more into love addiction piece, I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. You definitely put me on the spot.

Neil Sattin: Okay. Well, I feel like this will take form, this will take shape, so I'm not worried.

Sherry Gaba: Yeah, one thing I could do with everybody right now, which might be a way to metaphorically move to the other side in the moment, is I can do some positive affirmations right now on the call. And then, we know that positive affirmations change the wiring within your brain, and if you keep doing it it's going to keep changing the wiring in your brain of how you see things from negative to positive. So I'm going to say some affirmations maybe Neil you can repeat after me and everybody listening, and this might answer your question of, what would that feel like if we were in the middle of that transition from emptiness to wholeness? Does that... What do you think? Okay. Okay. So repeat after me, I'm a lovable and valuable person.

Neil Sattin: I am a lovable and valuable person.

Sherry Gaba: I am deserving of a healthy partner.

Neil Sattin: I am deserving of a healthy partner.

Sherry Gaba: Who is capable of loving, respecting and honoring me as a person.

Neil Sattin: A healthy partner who is capable of loving, honoring and respecting me as a person.

Sherry Gaba: Withdrawal will not last forever.

Neil Sattin: Withdrawal will not last forever.

Sherry Gaba: My needs and wants are important.

Neil Sattin: My needs and wants are important.

Sherry Gaba: All my experiences contribute to my growth.

Neil Sattin: All my experiences contribute to my growth.

Sherry Gaba: I am learning to let go of dependencies on others.

Neil Sattin: I'm learning to let go of dependencies on others.

Sherry Gaba: And relying on myself for happiness.

Neil Sattin: And relying on myself for happiness.

Sherry Gaba: I walk away from toxic people.

Neil Sattin: I walk away from toxic People.

Sherry Gaba: I create my own truth in love.

Neil Sattin: I create my own truth in love.

Sherry Gaba: And that's that. And so maybe there is a little energetic shift that people might be experiencing right now. Again, I'm not about instant fixes but this is a beginning point, this is a starting point, and that's really all we have is a starting point and then we transit, we grow from there.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, one thing that I really love about that exercise and the practice of positive affirmation, yes, there's the way that it reinforces a different neuro pathway within us and a different energetic pathway in terms of what we project into the world around us.

Sherry Gaba: Yes.

Neil Sattin: On top of that, I feel like I got to recognize, "Oh these are the places where there's a little bit of dissonance within me, like when I say it, I can't say it with 100% conviction. And so if that's true, that I'm not able to say it with 100% conviction, then to me that indicates a place where there's some work to be done.

Sherry Gaba: Yeah, that's so true, because for the law of attraction to work or to attract what it is that you desire, you have to be congruent with what you're saying and believing and what you're actually doing on the outside. So, that's exactly true. There is a dissonance, if you're feeling any kind of like, "Oh, that's not completely true," then there's a really good chance that how you're acting in the world, how you're behaving in the world or being in the world is not a match to how you really feel. You need to work on that a little bit because the congruency is what allows you to attract either the healthy relationship that you desire or the one that you're in.

Neil Sattin: Right. This reminds me a little bit of what might be the next step in this process. It's not the next step necessarily, but a lot of times with my clients, there can be this moment where you realize like, "Oh." For instance let's say, this wasn't true for me in this moment, but it has been true in the past, where I might say, "Oh, I'm worthy of being loved and I'm lovable." And I think I've even shared with my audience in a past episode, a time when that actually didn't really feel true for me. And so when that's not entirely true for you, the choices that you make are totally different than if you are to... If you recognize, "Oh, there was a little bit of a hitch when I said that statement out loud," or it could have been one of the other things that Sherry just offered you, then you can ask yourself, "Well, if I did think that I was lovable and worthy of love, how does that act? How would I act in the world from that perspective?" You get to try on that lens...

Sherry Gaba: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Once you've identified where it's missing, You can be like, "Well, if I were that what would the world look like?"

Sherry Gaba: And even more important is to make friends with that intuition that you know to be true. In other words, don't run away from what you know to be true, because then you're stepping into that denial lens again, is where, "Oh, I feel this, and I know it's not right but I don't care, I'm just going to close my eyes." And my whole mission in life is to keep people awake to their truth. So not to be afraid of the truth, the truth doesn't mean you have to break up with your partner this minute, it doesn't mean that you have to spend the rest of your life soul searching, it doesn't mean that you have to go get a divorce, it doesn't mean that you have to get off that dating app, it just means you need to just become aware and to stay in truth. And as long as you do that, the transformation is possible.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I take a really strong stand for the process that we go through as individuals and the effect that that can have on our partnerships. So lest do you think that if you're in a dysfunctional relationship, the whole point of this show isn't that it's perfect, the point is, it probably isn't perfect. And so you get to take steps that help you transform you and thus transform the whole dynamic.

Sherry Gaba: Yeah, and not be afraid, let go of that fear, just welcome up the chance to transform. Welcome up that the exactly that life is messy and as long as you stay away and you're willing to grow... We're all growing, we're all changing, we're all making better choices, hopefully, learning from our mistakes but it's not about beating ourselves up, it's about having the great compassion of humanity that we are, that we're just humans doing the best that we can. That was one of the points of writing the book, "The marriage and Relationship Junkie" was that I really wanted to eradicate the stigma around someone like myself who's been married multiple times, who's had multiple relationships instead of walking around thinking "I'm a failure," or those that read my book think that they're a failure because they just couldn't get it right, is to just have an understanding of where that began and how can I change that the trajectory of the future?

Sherry Gaba: So that I, maybe, do things in a different way and make different choices, 'cause life is filled with choices. And to own up to those choices, not to beat yourself up because of those choices, because there was a reason you made those choices. My choices were already paved for me when I was born two and a half months early, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about that. I had separation anxiety, I had abandonment issues, and that was going to be... Those feelings were going to be based on the decisions that I made in relationships.

Neil Sattin: Right, and they were nobody's fault.

Sherry Gaba: Nobody's fault. So we're not victims, we're just people that come from different histories, different experiences, and there's a reason why we are. I did one podcast with a woman who's been married six times, she had no idea, she started hysterically crying on the call. She was the host, because she goes, "Oh my God, you have labeled what I've always known, but didn't know what to call it, that's me." And it's like, "Okay, that's me? Okay great. So let's get curious about that." Doesn't mean we have to divorce our sixth husband, it just means, "Am I in a healthy relationship? Did I make a good choice and what can I do to heal all of that that brought me here today?"

Neil Sattin: Right. They say the sixth time is a charm for a reason, right?

Sherry Gaba: I think it's the third one.


Neil Sattin: I'm just kidding.

Sherry Gaba: Oh, okay. [laughter] My attitude is, do until you do it right, I don't think I ever... I won't say never, I'm not really interested at this point in my life, getting married again, but I certainly... I'm enjoying a healthy relationship, and I think that anything's possible. Anything's possible.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so one important thing that I'd like to chat about before we go, because I think one of the hesitations that people have around labeling and use that word a moment ago, labeling themselves as an addict, is the stigma that comes with it, the sense of, "Oh, this is inescapable, if I admit that I'm an addict then... " You hear the talk about a cliche like, "Once an addict, always an addict." And I'm curious for you, what's the truth in that versus that there is a true path for healing and... 'Cause I like that sense that the truth will set you free. If you're willing to look at your patterns, then that gives you a whole lot of power to make different kinds of choices for yourself and to heal the dysfunctional ways that you're looking for connection and regulation in your life and create positive ways of doing that.

Sherry Gaba: Well, I think if you are a love addict per se, let's say, I'm not going to address substance abuse 'cause that might be a different... That goes a different way. That's a whole other topic, but if you feel that you might be a love addict, and you feel like you've had early trauma, I highly, highly recommend getting the support you need around that finding a really great somatic experiencing practitioner, reading up on Peter Levine's work, maybe even getting EMDR, that's another modality. I think that really healing that early trauma is important because, without that, I don't think you can make choices that are going to be in your best interest 'cause you haven't healed what is already inside of you that needs to be discharged in order to bring positivity back into your life. That work was the greatest work that I ever did in my life, join a sex and love addicts anonymous meeting, do that work, so you can bring healthy love into your life. I can't emphasize that enough because once I did that work, my whole life changed. Am I still a love addict? I guess is what you're asking, yes, I have to always be mindful for the rest of my life about love addict codependent behaviors. If I start getting obsessive, if I start just focusing on the person I'm with, start giving up my friendships, there's a...

Sherry Gaba: I have to be continually vigilant at those things. And what I'm here to say is, once you do that work of trauma and self-regulation, you're less apt to become codependent again or making someone else your whole life, because you don't need to do that anymore because everything that you know and feel is within you, you feel whole already, so there's no need to be attached to just that one person, but I still have to be vigilant about it. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Absolutely, and the question, it's kind of a rhetorical question that comes up, is like, "Why wouldn't you want to be vigilant about those things?" I would want to know, first thing, if I'm starting to sacrifice my friendships and disappear into my relationship, I would want to know that, at any point in time, addict or not.

Sherry Gaba: A few are an example of raw and real. You actually have a boyfriend and he's going to be going away for a couple of weeks, and that early piece of trauma comes up and goes. "This feels a little bit scary," like, "Oh, am I being abandoned?" And then I just... But because I've done the work, I can sit with that and I can be with it, and notice it and feel it and discharge it instead of becoming needy and obsessive and go into fear, "He's going to leave me," all of those things that I would have done in the past. Instead, I can just be the curious observer of the feelings and the thoughts and I can let it go. And that's a real example.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Sherry Gaba: That I'm still that baby that was born two and a half months early, but I have tools and ways to deal with those feelings that might come up rather than act out on them.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, that's great, that's great. And I'm reminded too that it clicked into place for me actually, when you were describing that, which is that I think probably, part of that, the dopamine rush that we were talking about earlier and that pleasure, it actually is creating the illusion of safety. And I think it's been theorized, maybe John Gorman was even talking about this, that if we didn't feel that temporary love blindness at the beginning, we might never get into a relationship anyway. You almost need that to jump-start you into connection. But that being said, there are so much healthier ways of developing safety, and you were just talking about that inner safety and then there are also, of course, the healthy ways of developing safety in your relationship so that when your partner goes away for two weeks, there's true safety there. So you can counterbalance your inner safety with, "And we've created a container that actually I can rely on and I trust."

Sherry Gaba: Exactly, a container within and maybe a container in the relationship. But certainly, that container within is vital, or you're going to do behaviors that... You're going to start doing all those obsessive behaviors, those needy behaviors that are not going to help the relationship.

Neil Sattin: Right, they're crucial, crucial stuff. Well, Sherry Gaba, thank you so much for being here with us today, what a far-ranging conversation we've had. And of course, I feel like we could talk longer, but I want to respect your time. Your book, "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" is a great read full of very practical stuff for you if you're thinking that this is something you identify with on some level and there's a path towards recovery in the book, so I highly recommend that. Sherry, you mentioned your website, and it's S-H-E-R-R-Y. I guess we should clarify that. We'll have links to all of this in the transcript for the show, which as a reminder, you can get if you visit, G-A-B-A, or text the word "passion" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Sherry, I really appreciate your time today.

Sherry Gaba: Oh my God, I love... This is probably one of the best interviews I've had. You truly know your subject, and you've obviously done a lot of homework and work on yourself and your relationship and I'm really grateful for your platform and for giving me this opportunity today, thank you so, so much.

Neil Sattin: You are so welcome.