Can a happy life with your BPD-addled wife ever be possible if she won’t take responsibility for the chaos she causes? Welcome to Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Can a happy life with your BPD-afflicted wife ever be possible if she won’t take responsibility for the chaos she causes and seek help for a condition most doctors consider treatable?
- Should you toe the union line, or scab your way to corporate prosperity?
- How do you keep your mom from overstepping her power in the upcoming wedding?
- Your time as a woman in the US Army should be a point of pride, not a boundary-breaking endeavor. What can you do? [Thanks to clinical psychologist Dr. Erin Margolis for helping us with this one!]
- Is it great that your boyfriend finds himself at home among your friend group, or should he get his own damned friends?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi and Instagram @gabrielmizrahi.
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
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Resources from This Episode:
- Ayurveda | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Jonathan Kennedy | How Pathogens Have Shaped Our World | Jordan Harbinger
- Kelly Richmond Pope | How Fraud Became a Trillion-Dollar Industry | Jordan Harbinger
- Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
- Treating BPD | National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder
- Unions: How Do They Help Workers? | Investopedia
- 100-Day Strike: Hollywood Writers Show Unity and Anger on Picket Lines | Reuters
- The 4 Things You Need to Thrive in the Gig Economy | HBR
- Preparation is Key to Survive a Labor Strike | MsMoney Personal Financial Empowerment
- How to Survive Financially During a Strike | MarketWatch
- Strike Benefits | Union Plus
- Only the Lonely | Prime Video
- Dr. Erin Margolis | Website
877: Blame’s All Mine — Her Personality’s Borderline | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:21] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the pea protein to my whey protein, if you will, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:32] Have you tried pea protein before, by the way?
[00:00:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's the only protein I mess around with, my friend.
[00:00:36] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, I figured. Whey is what? Eggs? I don't even know. I probably should since I eat it every day. I don't know. How is there enough protein—?
[00:00:44] Anyway, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. During the week, we have long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from organized crime figures, hostage negotiators, cold case homicide investigators. This week, we had John Kennedy. This was interesting, Gabriel. This is a guy who writes about history through the lens of diseases.
[00:01:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, very cool.
[00:01:15] Jordan Harbinger: So it's kind of like sapiens, but why humans are and what civilization is where it is because of the black plague and other pandemics. Really, super interesting. I mean, you never really think of diseases shaping the course of the world, but here we are.
[00:01:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Very cool.
[00:01:30] Jordan Harbinger: We also had Kelly Richmond Pope on fraud. Why people do it, the fraud triangle? I thought this is kind of an interesting insight and inside look to embezzlement and fraud and particularly important if you run a small business, but also interesting even if you don't. And Skeptical Sunday last Sunday on Ayurveda, Ayurvedic medicine, if you can even call it that which you shouldn't because it's not medicine with Dave Farina.
[00:01:51] On Fridays, though, we share stories, take listener letters, offer advice, and stumble down the occasional bizarre tangent so you guys have something to make fun of us for on Instagram or threads now, which is the latest app that I'm ignoring. As always, we've got fun ones; we've got doozies. Can't wait to dive in. Gabe, what is the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I've been married for nearly five years to a woman who says she has borderline personality disorder. We'll go through periods where she acts like everything is fine, and then suddenly, we'll have a really bad fight, and she'll become verbally abusive. We had our only child at the very beginning of our marriage, and neither of us was really prepared to be parents. We nearly broke up several times, but every time she says she wants to leave, she ends up in a brief fling with another guy. And when it doesn't work out, she decides she wants to be together again, but always expects me to fix the relationship. Last year, after moving to another state to live with her parents at great expense, she told me she didn't want to be in a relationship with me anymore, again. Living there was complete hell, so we eventually rented a place of our own. She then ended up getting pregnant with someone else's kid.
[00:02:55] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:02:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oof.
[00:02:57] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. I was going to do "dun, dun, dun," but wow, there's not—
[00:03:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow is the correct sound effect.
[00:03:02] Jordan Harbinger: It's not even big enough for that. Yeah, holy smokes.
[00:03:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: She was able to induce a miscarriage, but I had pretty much emotionally separated from the relationship, and she pulled her usual, "Why aren't we working on our marriage" game. During that time, I started to become somewhat religious again. I have a history of substance use disorder, and a few years before we got together, I spent a lot of time in Christian faith-based recovery programs. I reverted back to religious style self-help and wanted to go to church regularly on Sundays again. She told me that me wanting to go to church was tantamount to neglecting our marriage. I asked her why, and she blew up at me in what I can only describe as a hateful, verbally abusive tirade about why religion is wrong and how I'm turning into a, quote-unquote, "fruitcake" like my mother. I just wanted to have something in my life that makes me feel empowered. Both of us work overtime and I do physical labor outside. I don't feel like I'm that far out of line for wanting to go to church for an hour a week. She acted the same way when I was experimenting with other forms of self-improvement like meditation, journaling, or just reading a book. Anything that takes the focus off of her seems to drive her into a rage. I fear maybe I've been emotionally manipulated over the years, and maybe this person really doesn't love me, just sees me as this fail-safe fallback guy when her romantic escapades fall through. I scheduled an appointment with a marriage counselor, but I can't help but wonder, should I pursue marriage counseling even though we went through a year of it before and it didn't seem to help? Or should I just cut ties with this woman? Signed, Read These Signs and Grow a Spine or Put in More Time on the Borderline.
[00:04:36] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Yeah, man. Wow. You're married to a very, very troubled person and a very troubling person. I'm a be polite. Your wife has some serious issues. And you have also contributed to this dynamic in your own way, I'll come back to that in a moment, I'm not going to sit here and blame you for it, but just to get to the heart of the matter and save you a ton of time, no, I don't think the prospects for this marriage are good. I don't know whether couples therapy is going to work if you're not both, both, seriously committed to doing some very intense work, which I sense you might be, but I just, I don't think she is.
[00:05:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:05:12] Jordan Harbinger: Action speaking louder than words here. And anyway, so much has happened, and you guys are such different people, thankfully, that frankly, it sounds very difficult, if not impossible, to repair this relationship. I hate this phrase, but I'm just keeping it real with you. I know people say that before they say really rude things, so I'm not trying to do that. But here's the deal with BPD, borderline personality disorder. If that's what your wife has, she says she does, I don't know where she learned that. Maybe a therapist, maybe fricking TikTok. BPD content is huge on there, I've noticed, but a lot of what you're describing, the emotional swings, the explosive anger, the impulsive behavior, the unstable relationships, shifting goals, shifting values, the fear of abandonment that might drive her to seek out other men and then run back to you when they don't work out, that all fits with the classic symptoms of BPD.
[00:06:04] Now, the great news is that BPD is totally treatable with psychotherapy, if you actually go. But it takes a good therapist, an effective modality, and a ton of work on the patient's part. And based on what you shared, man, it doesn't sound at all like your wife is that serious about doing that work, either individually or with you as a couple. And like you said, she puts the onus on you to fix the relationship, which is a, that's a fascinating stance from somebody who's largely responsible for damaging the relationship so severely in the first place—
[00:06:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm. Good point.
[00:06:37] Jordan Harbinger: And on an ongoing basis from the sound of it. She says she wants to stay together, she says she wants to be close, but then she tears into you for seeking out the forms of support that you actually want and need, and does literally nothing to suggest that she's willing to address her own issues or actively repair things with you, so it's not even, I'm not even sure—
[00:06:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: What there is?
[00:06:57] Jordan Harbinger: What there is to work on here, man.
[00:06:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Agreed.
[00:06:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like you're not repairing a wall of a home here. You're drawing the plans while your three-year-old son scribbles over the whole thin g with crayons and then spits up broccoli on it. That's a real-life example.
[00:07:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. What an elaborate metaphor.
[00:07:13] Jordan Harbinger: Taken from my own colorful morning, this just today alone. But your wife has caused you and continues to cause you a ton of pain. She's moved you guys around. She's had several affairs. She's gotten pregnant with somebody else's kid which, ugh, sorry about that. She's induced a miscarriage, which I mean, yikes. That also sounds incredibly painful and risky. I don't even know what to say about that. I assume that's not that easy of a thing to do. I could be wrong. I haven't looked into this. She is the sort of person that gets herself in a situation like that, goes to these lengths, I guess. And she's jerked you around again and again and she's belittled and criticized and raged at you. She's demanded all your attention and been threatened by your attempts to get better while simultaneously pushing you away. Have I left anything out, Gabriel?
[00:07:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm with you. What are we working on here? What are you trying to save? And also, I guess most importantly, why?
[00:08:05] Jordan Harbinger: Freaking why? That's the question. Why do you stick around in this relationship for so long? Why are you still willing to work on it? That's what you need to sit with now. And I mean, really ask yourself — what drew you to this woman? Why it's been so hard to separate and protect yourself after everything that went down? Also, this is your second go-round in marriage counseling, right? You already tried for a year. That's a pretty long time. A year maybe not if you're really dealing with a bunch of stuff, but if somebody's just kind of crapping out and not putting it in, and you're going for a year, that doesn't really do anything. You already have an indication of how this could/probably will go if you do it again. And you at least know how she shows up in therapy.
[00:08:46] So this is where the story becomes about you. I'm not blaming you. I'm saying you can't do anything about her, so you need to focus on yourself. That's where I'm going with this. Yes, you married somebody who is objectively chaotic and hurtful, but you've also tolerated this for a long time, and you still seem to hold out hope that it can get better. And at this point, you are now choosing to expose yourself to this person, despite a ton of evidence that she is bad news, to say the least. Whatever your reasons for doing that, that is where your work begins.
[00:09:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well said, Jordan, this dumpster fire of a marriage is the product of two very interesting personalities coming together.
[00:09:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: There's one party with a probable personality disorder among who knows what other challenges who can't be alone, who can't stop hurting her partner. And there's another party who's willing to tolerate her behavior, who might feel beholden to her or responsible for her, who might not believe that he deserves better, or might be afraid of a future without somebody. And also somebody who struggled with substance abuse in the past, which I am so glad that he worked on, and it sounds like he's come a very long way. But any addiction almost certainly speaks to trauma that he brought into the relationship at the outset, so that's another important variable here. If there's a way forward for them, it's individual therapy and couples therapy and a lot of time and patience and forgiveness, which I'm not sure they have or deserve.
[00:10:10] I mean, she would need to throw herself into the BPD work. He would need to get to the root of his patterns. And that's work that they cannot really, I mean, they can do some of it together, but they can't ultimately do the personal work together. They have to do it apart. At this point, the fact that the marriage has failed so spectacularly and that both of them aren't equally invested in figuring out why, I just don't think that's an invitation to keep trying. That, to me, is an invitation to separate and figure out how in the world he got here.
[00:10:36] Jordan Harbinger: This marriage could be the catalyst for some pretty big growth on his part.
[00:10:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:39] Jordan Harbinger: But it's not something to keep protecting at all costs anymore.
[00:10:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's funny, Jordan. You and I are rarely this direct with people.
[00:10:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: We usually like to guide people and give them some questions to think about and hopefully let them come to their own conclusions.
[00:10:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: But this situation is pretty dire—
[00:10:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: —and urgent. I mean, there's not a lot of nuance for me as long as his wife is behaving this way.
[00:10:59] Jordan Harbinger: This is, get the hell out and do the forensics on your own so you can become a better person because the whole thing is—
[00:11:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: A hot mess.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: The plane has crashed into the mountain, Lebowski! That's where we're at.
[00:11:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm actually genuinely worried about what could happen if he sticks around.
[00:11:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:11:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: She deserves the chance to work on herself too, honestly, without him.
[00:11:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's charitable, sure. When he said, "I'm worried I might have been emotionally manipulated over the years. Maybe this person really doesn't love me. She just sees me as this fallback guy," that was brutal to hear.
[00:11:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I mean, deep down, I think he knows the place he holds in her life, but it's got to be hard to accept that by finally saying, "Okay, I'm done."
[00:11:36] Jordan Harbinger: I'm sure it's devastating. Because nobody wants to go, "Well, look what I put up with. Look what I thought I deserve. There must be something wrong with me."
[00:11:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: But the moment, he's willing to do that, and then to take steps to figure out why, which he's clearly capable of doing, which, by the way, I'm guessing is precisely what she finds so threatening about all the self-help that he's pursuing. Then, he'll be stepping into a very empowering stage in this whole process. It's a step toward recovery and figuring himself out, which is just so important.
[00:12:04] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely. Look, this is going to be painful for sure. There's a lot for him to unpack. But it can't be more painful than this BS in the long term.
[00:12:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:12:14] Jordan Harbinger: There's no way. And I think if he does go through this and do the work, he's going to find the freedom and control and just like the sense of self-worth that he wants so badly that we all kind of need, right? But I just don't think that he can do that inside this marriage, not right now. So I hope you get to do that, man. You have all of our sympathy, all of our confidence, but mostly, you have a couple of guys on a podcast looking at all this from the outside going, okay, this person is not safe for you. It's time to take your life back. I urge you to listen. Things will get so much better if you finally give yourself the gift of taking the L here, man, in doing your own work.
[00:12:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Plus, you know, if you do, you'll never have to listen to somebody call you a fruitcake like your mother again, which is—
[00:13:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: —probably the lamest insult I've ever heard.
[00:13:03] Jordan Harbinger: I'm glad you mentioned that. That alone is reason to get out. Fruitcake is a weird diss. It's like some '80s word for gay, or does that mean like crazy? Who says that?
[00:13:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: I was a little confused too, but I just googled it and it means crazy.
[00:13:17] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so he's going to become crazy for going to church once a week, but she's a picture of perfect mental health for getting railed by half the dudes in town and screaming at him for wanting community while refusing to seek any help whatsoever. Got it.
[00:13:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. Yeah. Perfect.
[00:13:32] Jordan Harbinger: It's so sad. We're sending you a hug. We're wishing you the best. And yeah, go to church, sit down and ask Jesus the best way to pack all your crap in one vehicle and head for the horizon. Amen.
[00:13:45] You know who loves a good fruitcake and has in all likelihood, banged zero of your neighbors, Gabriel? The amazing sponsors who support this show. Yeah, we'll be right back.
[00:13:58] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. Mulling over your next career move, pondering the prospect of parenthood. Perhaps you're considering packing your bags for a different zip code or country code, or reevaluating a romantic relationship. No matter which crossroads you might be at, therapy can be your GPS to the future, giving you the confidence to steer your life in the direction that you choose. Therapy isn't just for tackling life's heavy traumas, though it shines in that arena too. It's also there for everyday folks like us, navigating the stress and uncertainty that come with major life decisions. Therapy can be your secret weapon for mastering the art of stress management, setting healthy boundaries, charting your path forward. Want to give therapy a shot? Check out BetterHelp. It's entirely online, designed for your convenience. Just answer a quick survey, you'll be matched with a licensed therapist. Don't vibe with your first match, no sweat. With over 23,000 certified therapists, you're free to switch until you find the perfect therapeutic match. No extra charge.
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[00:16:00] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, if you haven't heard yet, we are doing a special partnership with GiveDirectly, an amazing charity, by the way. They are rated highly on Charity Navigator, and they use their funds efficiently and effectively, and thanks to your incredible generosity, within 72 hours, we successfully raised 20 grand, matched by a generous donor to become 40 grand. Now, we have until September 15th, so we decided to increase the goal and lift another village, this time in Kapkun, Kenya, out of extreme poverty by delivering cash donations with no strings attached. If you haven't heard episode 867 with Rory Stewart, go back and check it out. He explains why this type of charity works, why we should help these people in Kenya, even when people in the US are also struggling. Kapkun residents are suffering through a year's long drought that has left a lot of families, food insecure, and without any ability to generate income from farming or anything else for that matter. There are electricity poles available in the village, but residents can't afford the wiring necessary to connect it to their houses, which is ridiculous. Like Ngamani, there is limited water access, and they can't afford to install a water access point, so residents are trekking to distant rivers to fetch unhealthy, unsanitary water. According to the village chief, women in the village are hoping to use their transfers to form cooperative businesses and start savings groups. So this is not getting spent on booze and cigarettes. Go to givedirectly.com/jordan to donate. Donations are 100 percent tax deductible in the US. For those listeners not in the US, here's your chance to support the show, givedirectly.com/jordan.
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[00:17:46] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:17:50] Okay, what's next?
[00:17:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, I'm a UPS driver and as you probably know, there's a possible union strike coming up if the union and UPS can't come to an agreement. The problem is, I'm not in a position financially to strike. Right now, I'm leaning toward crossing the picket line and working to support my family. But most of the guys I talk to about this just tell me to strike with no explanation. Do I cross the picket line and risk being scrutinized by all my co-workers? Do I play ball and strike? Or is there another angle here? Signed, A Lady Dressed in Brown, Trying Not to Drown, Break Down Or Look like a Clown.
[00:18:26] Jordan Harbinger: It's a good question. I know there are tons of people in your shoes right now. There seem to be so many strikes happening or in the works, the UPS strike, the writer's strike. Now, there's an actor's strike. Gabe, you probably know way more about that than I do.
[00:18:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Crazy times.
[00:18:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I hear it's pretty bleak in a lot of industries right now. And yeah, these strikes, they can put a lot of pressure on folks who have financial commitments. The unions understand that better than anyone. Yeah, I feel bad for the guys and gals that have kids and bills and all that stuff. So, candidly, we're not labor experts by any means. But my general take here is that you have to weigh the potential upside against the risks of crossing the picket line. My understanding is that you're obligated to stand with your union and the cost of not doing so could be pretty steep although that can change union to union, industry to industry. Some unions are very intense about this stuff, others less stringent. But the implications of crossing the picket line can be pretty big. In some unions, you just get some side-eye and the cold shoulder from your peers. Other unions could impose a significant fine and collect on it by suing you in court, which you know, sounds kind of more intense than just picketing. So I would do your homework on what the ramifications would be before you put that brown uniform back on and jump in a truck. But look, I absolutely understand that you're not in a position to not work if there's a strike. And I think a lot of people are in those same shoes. So, here are a few ideas for how to survive in the meantime.
[00:19:52] First, I would look into short-term temp work that can keep you afloat during the strike. This is what tons of unionized workers do during strikes. My assumption, although I might be naive, is that any UPS strike would be relatively short because the impact of a labor stoppage would be pretty disastrous. We could be talking a couple of weeks, a month, we just don't know. But just imagine that e-commerce basically shuts down all over the country, I mean, wow. But there is work out there to fill the gaps. It might not be great work, you know, we're thinking like you'd still be some kind of driver or attempt somewhere, DoorDash, gig work, uber, not amazing stuff that you're going to find fulfilling, but it'll keep you safe.
[00:20:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's funny, Jordan. I met with a film editor recently whose work dried up completely because of the strikes and she told me she picked up a side job doing like home renovation, like installing flooring in people's homes and stuff like that.
[00:20:43] Jordan Harbinger: So pretty much the exact opposite of entertainment.
[00:20:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. We actually talked about that. She was like, "Yeah, I spend 14 hours a day sitting in front of a screen. Now, I'm on my hands and knees, like installing bamboo." I mean it's not her dream job. Obviously, She can't wait to get back to editing, but she did say it wasn't the worst thing in the world, and it's keeping her going for the thing she really loves. And actually she said it was kind of interesting, you know, like actually touching her work with her hands.
[00:21:06] Jordan Harbinger: I suppose I could see that. This is what the gig economy is ideal for, right?
[00:21:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:10] Jordan Harbinger: People jump in and jump out when they need to make a little extra money, our friend just needs to get creative to hang on until the strike ends. On that note, I would also talk to as many other UPS drivers as you can and find out what they are doing to survive. Maybe they have some good advice, leads on temp work, referrals, stuff like that. Maybe there are some long-timers who can tell you stories about past strikes, how they made it through. I also wonder if there are Facebook or WhatsApp groups for logistics drivers, where people share resources and offer each other support. If there aren't, maybe you start one. Might be an amazing way to grow your network too.
[00:21:48] My last piece of advice is more psychological. As you enter this period of stress and uncertainty, do your best to stay calm, stay grounded, stay present. I know how hard that can be. But the reality is that these labor disputes get determined at the highest levels. And there's very little one employee could ever do to fix them. So, your best bet is to be resilient and be adaptive. And if you need to drive Instacart for three weeks, that's not the worst outcome. If you need to pick up work with a family friend in a totally different field two towns away, whatever, man, just do it. I'm not trying to minimize how scary the money stuff is. I do get it. I've been in some situations similar to this. But there are better and worse ways to stress the heck out. And since you literally are not controlling the strike in any way, you can't control it.
[00:22:37] One of the better ways to handle this is to surrender to what's happening, put some opportunities in motion starting now, and just do the next thing until this dispute gets resolved. This is not going to go on for months and months and months. I promise you that. It's too expensive. And again, I think this whole thing's going to be done sooner than you think. I'm crossing my fingers for that, especially because, I mean, I'm not going to be alone here when I say that we can't live without Amazon Prime, basically.
[00:23:00] We're also going to link to some good articles about this that we found in the show notes. Maybe they'll give you some additional ideas on how to piece things together. Sorry, this is happening to anybody out there in those big brown trucks. It sucks, but I have a lot of confidence that you guys are going to make it through. And the strike, it might result in some real upside to you in the long term. So that's something to remember too.
[00:23:19] Sending you good thoughts. Hope you're back behind the wheel, dropping boxes full of our sponsors' amazing products to our listeners' doors in no time.
[00:23:26] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep your emails concise, use a descriptive subject line. That makes our job a lot easier. If you're finding dead squirrels in the mailbox, your neighbors are eavesdropping on your therapy sessions through the wall, or you're at war with your stepson's mom because he prefers to call you mom, whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:23:50] Oh, by the way, we relaunched the newsletter for the show. It's called Wee Bit Wiser. It's a bite-sized gem or two from a past episode from me to you, delivered right to your inbox once a week. If you want to stay connected to our huge library of past guests and ideas, come check it out. A lot of good feedback on that so far. You can sign up at jordanharbinger.com/news.
[00:24:10] All right, what's next?
[00:24:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a guy and I recently got engaged to my wonderful fiancée. As we start planning our wedding, my mom has been inserting herself into places without us asking her to. For example, when we were talking about centerpieces, she said that she could design and make some centerpieces and started rattling off ideas. We didn't ask her to do that, nor did we want her to do that. This is a normal thing for her. For example, I recently graduated university, and the morning of graduation, before I was awake, she posted two different things on social media without my permission. I usually don't like posting on social media, but I wanted to show off something I worked so hard to achieve myself. And now, I'll never get that chance again unless I go back to school. Another example is when I got into a friendship-ending argument a couple of months back. During the entire argument, my mom kept calling and texting me, wanting to know what was on my mind, the details of the argument, whether I needed to talk to someone. I understand that she was/is trying to help, but it's becoming a bit overbearing and intrusive. We also work for the same company. I work the IT help desk, and she works in manufacturing, so our paths cross sometimes when she puts in a ticket, but she constantly messages me through Teams at work.
[00:25:23] That's like Slack, right?
[00:25:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, Teams is like a corporate messaging thing. Some people use Slack. It's sort of like, think about instant messenger for your office.
[00:25:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: While I don't mind having friendly conversations, it feels like she's always messaging me about stuff I don't really want to talk about. One day, it got so bad, I muted her. I've talked to her about boundaries before, and she tried to manipulate the situation in a way to make me look like the bad guy. I put my foot down, and she changed for a bit after that, but has since reverted back to her old ways. This is now starting to affect my fiancée, too. As we plan the wedding, we find ourselves trying to hide things or avoiding certain topics so my mom won't put her two cents in. I love my mom, but I almost wish she weren't as involved in my life. How should I proceed in this situation? Signed, A Groom-to-Be, Still Wrestling With a Meddlesome Mommy.
[00:26:12] Jordan Harbinger: Oof, this is a real challenge. And you're not alone in this situation. Tons of people struggle with this pretty much exact dynamic with their parents. It's especially common and complicated with mothers and sons, and it can do a real number on everyone involved. I mean, y'all saw Everybody Loves Raymond. There's a reason that's funny because it hits close to home for a lot of folks. So, what you're describing here sounds like pretty classic enmeshment.
[00:26:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: A mother who's overly involved in her son's life, a son who struggles to disentangle himself from his mother, the fact that this is all becoming more intense as you get engaged and plan your wedding. I just, I don't think that's a coincidence. We can't know what's going on in your mom's head, but my hunch is that watching you build your own life with your fiancée, which by the way, you're supposed to do, that's probably very painful and scary for her, even if she can't articulate that. So on some level, I do feel for her, although she's going about this all wrong, in my opinion.
[00:27:13] So look, the obvious answer here is that you need to radically redefine the terms of your relationship with your mom, with the help of some very strong boundaries. But you already knew that, and you already tried that, and when you did, she tried to manipulate the situation to make you look like the bad guy, which is, I think that's very telling. That fits with a parent who has designs on their child in this way, but then, you put your foot down, which is excellent, and she changed for a bit. That's kind of a big deal. I think that's huge actually because it means it's not impossible. But then you say that she's since reverted back to her old ways, that is what I am most interested in.
[00:27:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:27:52] Jordan Harbinger: How those boundaries you drew slowly eroded over time? How each of you, bit by bit, maybe in ways neither of you consciously recognized, rolled back that healthy separation? I'm guessing that your mom was very unsettled by the hard stance you took back then, which makes sense. It's very upsetting for a parent like this to find herself on the outside of her child's life after being so enmeshed for so long. And there's an entitlement here. There's a power element, there's a sense of "I'm your mom so I deserve to occupy this place," slash, "You're my child so you owe me this." So for a child to go, "Hey mom, this thing we've been doing for decades, Yeah, not doing that anymore. Don't DM me during the workday. Don't blow up my phone when I'm going through something private. I'm not going to pick up the phone if I'm hanging out with my fiancée. If I want your help, I'll ask for it." Just imagine how threatening that is to a parent like this.
[00:28:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, you did nothing wrong by drawing that line. It was actually the best thing you could have done. But yeah, I can imagine your mom going to great lengths to kick that door down again because it sounds to me like her survival, I mean, her emotional survival depends on it.
[00:29:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: But I really feel for you, man. I mean, you're, you're caught between empathizing with your mom and appropriately resenting her for this.
[00:29:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I can hear him kind of ping-ponging between those two stances in his letter, which is interesting.
[00:29:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally. When you said that, "You know she's just trying to help in her own way," I think that's very thoughtful of you. You know, you're doing a great job trying to understand how she is experiencing all of this, what her intention is, even if the methods are a little annoying, and I think that's sweet. But, uh, I don't know, man. I would take a moment and really consider what helping actually means here because, yes, in a way, your mom might be trying to help with the wedding or trying to help by asking you if you want to talk about that friend you fell out with stuff like that, but I suspect that that help is often tinged with an agenda that has little to do with making sure the wedding goes off without a hitch or your relationships are excellent. I mean I think a lot of the time her help is a way to stay connected to you. Maybe even to control you sometimes and ultimately to secure her position in your life as you build a new one with your fiancée.
[00:30:03] The truly helpful thing would be to say, "Hey, you mentioned those centerpieces for the wedding. I had a couple of ideas. You know, I don't want to insert myself too much, but I can share them if you two want. And if you like them, you know, I can handle that. Would that be welcome? You know, what can I do?" That's helpful or asking you if it would be okay to brag about you on Facebook before you had a chance to or offering to talk to you about your friend it once or twice if you need a friendly ear. That's helpful. And also, what an enmeshed child has been trained to interpret as helpful is often something very different and the fact that you can still empathize with your mom so much, that you're looking for the most charitable read on her meddling. That's also part of what we're talking about here.
[00:30:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right, okay. Like his understanding and his empathy toward his mom, those might actually be products of the enmeshment itself.
[00:30:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, precisely. They're not bad things. They're wonderful qualities. But those are qualities that an enmeshed parent often cultivates and, in some extreme cases, exploits to secure this kind of identification and you can see how that would make it hard for this guy to say, look, "Mom, I love you, but I need you to back off and I need you to let me handle things on my own because that might feel very cruel or like a betrayal," which under the implicit rules that this mom created it might be.
[00:31:16] Jordan Harbinger: What's that movie with John Candy where he's enmeshed with his mother and she goes on all the dates with him?
[00:31:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know. I've not seen this movie.
[00:31:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, you haven't? Oh, gosh. It's super fun. I mean, of course, I have no idea what the title is, but basically, whenever he wants to set a boundary with his mom, it zooms in on his face, and he's visualizing the most ridiculous, horrible situation that could possibly happen with the mother.
[00:31:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Is it called Only the Lonely?
[00:31:40] Jordan Harbinger: It might be, I don't know. She ruins all the dates, and it threatens his relationship, and—
[00:31:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Interesting.
[00:31:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's really insane, but that's what most of us know about enmeshment, right? That's where we go. That's where our head goes if we're '80s kids. But the good news is, okay, he's already on to that.
[00:31:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:31:56] Jordan Harbinger: Because like he said, she's now becoming overbearing and intrusive. So clearly, he knows this isn't as simple as wanting to help. Or at least that mom's help comes at a very steep cost.
[00:32:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: A steep cost both to him and his fiancée, and I'm really glad that he sees that because she's the other person who's being impacted here, right? She's almost caught in a kind of love triangle—
[00:32:16] Jordan Harbinger: Ew.
[00:32:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: —with her fiancée and her mother-in-law—
[00:32:17] Jordan Harbinger: A little creepy, yeah.
[00:32:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: —which also not uncommon. And until they both set some firm boundaries with her, I think his loyalty, and his time, and his energy potentially always be split with this other woman.
[00:32:28] Jordan Harbinger: A woman who, by the way, also works in the same office. Can we touch on that for a moment?
[00:32:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, please. That's a fascinating detail in the context of everything that he shared, isn't it?
[00:32:37] Jordan Harbinger: It is. I'm so curious to know how that happened.
[00:32:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:32:41] Jordan Harbinger: Did she get him the job? Did he get her the job? Did she follow him there? Did they apply together at the same time? It's so—
[00:32:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Man—
[00:32:48] Jordan Harbinger: —what are the odds?
[00:32:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: —now that actually sounds like a John Candy movie.
[00:32:51] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:32:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: My mom and I are both applying for factory positions or something.
[00:32:54] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:32:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: I would love to know the answer to that, but whatever the, however, that happened, so bizarre that situation, I think it's meaningful that this enmeshed son is struggling to separate. And by the way, Mom works down the hall from him, basically.
[00:33:07] Jordan Harbinger: I know, it's so Laverne & Shirley, but like, dysfunctional version—
[00:33:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally.
[00:33:10] Jordan Harbinger: —mother-son edition. It can't be healthy. It's unusual even for a well-functioning family that's not a family business, but like you said, Gabe, given the problem here, the fact that they still work at the same company, it just gives me real pause. I don't want to go and say you need to quit your job tomorrow because it might not be possible. I don't know what this guy's professional situation is. But I do think this unusual work situation is one more thing to look at here.
[00:33:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:33:35] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, sending him 20 messages on Microsoft Teams before lunch while he's trying to patch an app until he has to mute her. That's just weird. It's a real problem. So the good news is. You already understand that this is not healthy. And you're willing to draw some hard boundaries. You've done it before, you can do it again. Hiding things, or avoiding certain topics, that's what people often do when they're avoiding these tough conversations. Then, they cramp around the problem, they sidestep the other person, they start playing games, and I get it. This stuff is not easy, especially with a parent. But it is essential, man. My strong feeling is that this wedding is an important opportunity for you to redefine this relationship once and for all. Because if you don't, this could become a real problem in your marriage.
[00:34:23] And by the way, You can put your foot down again and keep it down while still being loving and respectful. Your mom might get angry, she might freak out, she might push harder to stay close, and you might have to draw the lines even more strongly, but you can do that and still be a decent guy. Part of your work here is realizing you can be firm without being cruel.
[00:34:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:34:46] Jordan Harbinger: That what feels cruel in a family like this is often actually healthy. Congrats on the wedding. I hope it's a great night. We're rooting for you guys. You can do this.
[00:34:56] Gabriel, you know, this reminds me, a friend of the family here, and I got to be sort of careful because I don't know all the details and also I don't want to speak ill of somebody when I don't.
[00:35:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay.
[00:35:06] Jordan Harbinger: But her son got engaged. It's a friend of my mother-in-law, and she complained that she also wanted an engagement ring from her son—
[00:35:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: What?
[00:35:15] Jordan Harbinger: —when they got engaged. Yeah.
[00:35:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. That's not a real thing. What?
[00:35:19] Jordan Harbinger: It's a real thing.
[00:35:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hold on. She wanted an engagement ring from her son-in-law.
[00:35:23] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So he gave an engagement ring to his fiancée, as one does.
[00:35:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:35:27] Jordan Harbinger: And the mother was like, "Yeah, they got engaged, da, da, da," and she told my mother-in-law and a bunch of their friends, like, "I want one too."
[00:35:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:35:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: And what's the implication? Like, "I'm part of this throuple." Like, I don't understand.
[00:35:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good question. I guess it was just like, "Where's my ring?" for being his mommy.
[00:35:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's—
[00:35:44] Jordan Harbinger: Super weird.
[00:35:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: —next level. I've never heard of something like that.
[00:35:48] Jordan Harbinger: Everyone else is having a laugh, and me and Jen kind of side-eye looked at each other like—
[00:35:52] Soundbite: it's going to be a no for me, dawg. [Randy Jackson]
[00:35:54] Jordan Harbinger: It's just, it was so weird. Such a weird request. It was sort of like tongue-in-cheek kind of joking, but also definitely not.
[00:36:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: I see. That's, yeah, I'm a little freaked out by that one.
[00:36:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Damn, parents and their children. What are they doing?
[00:36:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Just not able to leave, allow the child to leave the nest.
[00:36:13] Speaking of inappropriate relationships, let's hear from the amazing sponsors who support this show. We'll be right back.
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[00:38:18] This episode is also sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. Jen and I are on next door where we get neighborhood alerts. It's a little scary to see the amount of break-ins that happen pretty much everywhere. Have you or somebody you know ever fallen victim to burglary, ever pondered whether a real-time conversation with the intruder through a security camera could have altered the outcome? Well, SimpliSafe is bringing a game-changing innovation to the home security scene, 24/7 Live Guard Protection. This ingenious solution aims to put a hard stop to crime as it unfolds. If an unwanted guest decides to intrude, SimpliSafe's vigilant monitoring team can now spring into action. With eyes on the intruder, the agents can notify 911 operators that the crisis is indeed happening, paving the way for rapid response from the police force. And the cherry on top, they'll be serving a stern warning that the police are hot on their trail. That's right. The 24/7 Live Guard Protection with the new smart alarm indoor camera, they will harass the burglar in your house using voice, taking images, telling them the cops are on their way. It is completely ridiculous, but also effective. And of course, if there's a fire or a flood or something like that, they can see it in real time and they know what the actual problem is, which I think is also quite clever.
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[00:40:11] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:40:13] All right, what's next?
[00:40:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm a female veteran who got out of the army last year due to a medical discharge after falling off of a truck and tearing my shoulder. In my time in service, I was one of the only female mechanics in my shop. I'm sure you can imagine the sexism I had to endure while I was there. I was assaulted twice, roofied, betrayed by my leadership, and treated as the source of many people's problems when I wasn't. For example, broken vehicles or somebody's angry day. I had terrible toxic leadership, which makes me not trust any authority, and I have issues with criticism. I also dissociated most of that time. For example, one time, I told a superior that I had to go see my therapist, and he said, quote, "I know women have their periods, but that doesn't mean you have to go to therapy about it," unquote. Once I had my injury, I was always considered less than, so I tried to seek help within by doing talk therapy with counselors who were high-ranking officers. I once confided to one of them that I wanted to off myself, and they told me that I needed to, quote-unquote, "Get up and get over it." That made me feel terrible and made me not want to seek help. Eventually, I ended up in a mental hospital due to my anxiety from the trauma. Now that I'm out, I got an amazing job as a court reporter that I absolutely love, and I'm in college working on a bachelor's in graphic design. I'm also in therapy and about to start EMDR, which I'm really excited about. The only problem is that I've been having lots of flashbacks, which are now affecting my job. I had four panic attacks in one hearing, and one client made me very uncomfortable and reminded me of some of the men I dealt with during my time in service. Some days are harder than others. I'm the only veteran in the company, and I don't know how to explain to my company what's going on with me, and why I act one way and then forget almost everything the next. I'm afraid of being fired from this job due to all this mental health crap. How do I explain the flashbacks and other symptoms to my employer without making it seem like an excuse? How do I frame this in a way that just puts into context why my work is never consistent? Signed, The Panicked Mechanic.
[00:42:22] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man, you have been through a lot here. And I'm so sorry to hear about all this — the sexism, the assaults, this mistreatment, the hospitalization. This is incredibly painful stuff, especially because it feels so isolating.
[00:42:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:36] Jordan Harbinger: You know, doing it alone and there's not other people in your unit that it can relate to you or won't relate to you. We've actually heard a lot of stories, far too many stories about the prevalence of assault and sexism in the military. So unfortunately, this kind of tracks. Interestingly, I hear often from men in the military, and they'll say things like, "This never happens. You know, I guess you had on, they are exaggerating." But of course, female veterans, they send me like, ten times more emails about how this happened to them as well. So I'm starting to see part of the problem here. I don't think every guy in the military denies it, but I think a lot of men probably do, and it seems to be this sort of silent, maybe not-so-silent epidemic. Or is it silent if people refuse to hear and see it? I don't know.
[00:43:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:43:18] Jordan Harbinger: Is that the same thing? Although to be fair, we also heard from a female lieutenant colonel in the army recently about all the ways the army is stepping up and doing right by victims. So I do want to give credit where credit's due, although it doesn't sound like that was your experience, of course. Regardless, this sounds like trauma after trauma, both the assault and then the denial, the blame, the indifference. My heart really does go out to you. It's devastating. And we wanted to run this by an expert, a proper expert, so we reached out to Dr. Erin Margolis, clinical psychologist and friend of the show.
[00:43:49] Soundbite: I'm also known to the people who know me the best as the f*cking doctor. [Analyze This - Ben Sobel]
[00:43:54] Jordan Harbinger: Dr. Margolis also worked at the VA for four years, including her postdoctoral fellowship, so she has some great experience and insight into what the military can be like. And on this very practical question you're asking, do you explain these symptoms to your employer? Dr. Margolis said that there is not one clear answer. On one hand, we can definitely appreciate why you'd feel the need to give him some context about why you had a panic attack or why you behaved a certain way. If I were in your shoes, I think I'd probably have a similar impulse. On the other hand, you don't necessarily owe your job an explanation, and you're certainly not obligated to tell them personal or mental health information. Also, I understand you've been struggling here and there at your job, and I hear you, but I also hear a ton of talent. and resilience in your letter.
[00:44:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:43] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, look at you. You got this amazing job that you love. You're probably pretty great at it most of the time. You're in college. You're in therapy. You have meaningful goals. You have a lot of life experience to bank on. So there's another part of me that wonders whether you might be over indexing these moments at work where you struggle a bit and maybe struggled in a way that was very intense for you, but possibly less noticeable to other people. And maybe you're under-indexing all the moments where you were probably doing a pretty darn good job at work and everybody noticed that instead. I'm not dismissing your concerns. They're legitimate. I'm just inviting you to consider whether the anxiety and discomfort are all your employer sees in you, even if it feels that way, and whether they tell the full story about your performance, and I suspect that they don't. But if you decide that you do need to get out in front of this a little, I get it.
[00:45:36] The way that I would frame this is, "Listen, as you know, I had an unusual reaction in that hearing. I just want to give you some context about what I'm going through so that when I behave in a certain way, it's not confusing to you." And then, you can tell them in very broad terms, if you like, that you went through some very difficult stuff during your service. That stuff comes up sometimes. It's totally up to you whether you want to tell them the details. I'm personally leaning towards not. Not at first, anyway, speaking in some general terms here seems right to me. And then you can cap it off by saying something like, "So that's why sometimes I get anxiety, or I respond strangely to a client, and I want you to know that I'm working on addressing all of this, so it won't continue to be an issue long term." That doesn't sound like an excuse to me whatsoever. You're not saying, "Hey, I'm having panic attacks, so I can't get my work done, I need you to go easy on me, or let me off the hook." You're just providing information for your employer to catch up with you.
[00:46:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: And part of that is also being disciplined about how much you say, right? Like if you go on a 12-minute monologue about everything that happened and why you're so worried about your job, that might come across as an excuse as kind of over explaining rather than a very simple, "Look, this is what's going on. I just want you to know, thank you for being understanding while I work on it."
[00:46:52] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Dr. Margolis also pointed out that this might be a great thing to work with your therapist on because your therapist will probably have more details and nuance about your situation and can help you find the right words as well as help you unpack the idea that all of this might come across like an excuse. Because I do think that that's an interesting fear.
[00:47:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:13] Jordan Harbinger: And as Dr. Margolis pointed out, that might be a bit of a holdover from your experience in the army.
[00:47:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, and also maybe this fear of judgment or retaliation if she does share this with her bosses, you know, we talked to Dr. Margolis about that too and she said that that makes a lot of sense given the trauma that you've experienced. So her thought there was you might also want to talk to your therapist about how to plan for whatever response you get back from your employer. In a perfect world, a good boss would say, "Hey, thanks for letting me know. I appreciate your honesty and your transparency. Just do your best and good luck." And I certainly hope that your employer responds to you in that way, but you just never know how somebody is going to respond or whether your bosses are equipped to understand what you're going to share with them. So, I'm with Dr. Margolis. I think it would be great to talk to your therapist about how you'll respond or how you'll cope if your boss doesn't respond in the most helpful way or if they respond in an unexpected way. Because given your history, that could feel pretty invalidating, and it might be triggering all over again and create some new issues.
[00:48:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes sense. Although, again, I have this weird feeling that she's probably doing a lot better than she realizes.
[00:48:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: I do too.
[00:48:21] Jordan Harbinger: Totally up to her whether she wants to have this chat with her employer.
[00:48:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:23] Jordan Harbinger: But before she does, I would just take a beat to get really clear on how well she's performing objectively.
[00:48:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:48:30] Jordan Harbinger: So she doesn't end up explaining something that doesn't necessarily need to be explained. It's kind of like, you know when you're younger and you feel like everyone's looking at you and focused on your stuff?
[00:48:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally.
[00:48:38] Jordan Harbinger: That's almost what this sounds like.
[00:48:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a very fair point. She's so impressive in so many ways and I do wonder if what she's been through in the army has possibly colored her perception of herself and also maybe made her hypervigilant and a little paranoid about what other people think about her because of the way people treated her in the past in a number of ways.
[00:48:58] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. And I'm sure that's a big part of the work she's doing in therapy, which I'm so glad to hear she's doing. So keep up the great work, keep taking care of yourself. What you've been through is objectively difficult and confusing stuff. But you're doing great, and it sounds like things are getting better, and we're super proud of you. Sending you a big hug, wishing you all the best.
[00:49:19] All right, what's next?
[00:49:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. My boyfriend of a year and a half and I are in our mid-20s, living in a major US city. I have a lot of friends from college who are here now, but my boyfriend was a commuter, so he didn't make many college friends. He's also outgrown his high school group. He likes my friends a lot, which is great, but it feels like he's been relying more and more on them for his entire social life. He'll keep organizing group stuff with just my friends and not his, hitting them up to hang out one on one, tell me things about their lives as if I don't already know, and once even joked about how he feels like he has to compete with me for some of them. I've tried encouraging him to make friends himself through local groups, but he won't take the initiative or says he doesn't like the people there. I'm getting increasingly bothered by this and have started to feel weirdly possessive of my friends. To be clear, this definitely isn't a cheating thing, just a social thing. I'm also worried about what would happen if we break up. I can't explain why this bothers me so much when I should be excited that they get along. And I cannot think of a way to bring this up that doesn't make me sound like a total a-h*le. What would you do? Am I just jealous? Signed, Trying to Describe Why I'm Circumscribing My Tribe From My Overly Friendly Guy.
[00:50:33] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, interesting situation. It's so hard to know exactly what's going on here. It sounds like this is confusing for you too. Part of the distress is not knowing exactly why this bothers you so much. Gabe, I don't know about you, but I'm getting the strong sense that this isn't so much about the friends and who gets to claim the friends—
[00:50:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:50:51] Jordan Harbinger: But more about what this whole friend situation says about her boyfriend.
[00:50:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I'm with you. When she said that she encouraged him to make his own friends, but he won't take the initiative, or what did he say? He's like, "Eh, I don't really like the people in pickleball league or whatever." Like that felt like a meaningful clue.
[00:51:07] Jordan Harbinger: To be fair, those pickleball people can be a little hit or miss.
[00:51:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: So bad. What a bet.
[00:51:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Actually, I kind of liked it, but it was terrible.
[00:51:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yep.
[00:51:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Honestly, I don't know who plays pickleball, actually, now that—
[00:51:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, my dad.
[00:51:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: It feels like everyone and their mom or dad is into it now. So yeah, maybe I can't, we can't really comment on the personalities you'd encounter in the pickleball league, would you?
[00:51:27] Jordan Harbinger: Everyone in there, enmeshed mom, for sure. Like I said, my dad plays, he's 80. It does cut across ages and types, though. At first, I was like, oh, it's just racquetball 2.0. And then tons of my friends are super into it.
[00:51:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:51:40] Jordan Harbinger: Or you see people online that you know and they're just like, "Practicing my backhand," and they're just taking a three-minute video of them hitting backhands. I'm not clear on the pickleball demographic now that we're talking about it. I don't know why we're still talking about it, actually.
[00:51:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Isn't it people who love tennis but hate exercise?
[00:51:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, people who want to play giant ping-pong.
[00:51:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Actually, but I've been reading about this, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America. Did you know that?
[00:52:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's interesting. It is. It is really taking everything by storm. It's always being written about in like the New York Times, right?
[00:52:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:52:11] Jordan Harbinger: Pickleball taking over, pickleball leagues, national pickleball. It's just, it's kind of surprising.
[00:52:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, it looks fun and I know it blew up during the pandemic, but I don't know. I don't really understand the sport. I need to maybe read up on it or play it or something.
[00:52:24] Jordan Harbinger: I think my dad started playing because it's outdoors.
[00:52:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:27] Jordan Harbinger: And so you're not stuck in a racquetball court.
[00:52:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ahh, makes sense.
[00:52:29] Jordan Harbinger: When maybe those were all closed and they're all indoors. So yeah, I understand that appeal. I like the idea of her boyfriend playing pickleball but going, "Nah, those people are lame. I'm just there for the love of the game, man." But, uh, what are we, the hell are we even talking about?
[00:52:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm not sure anymore.
[00:52:44] Jordan Harbinger: Your boyfriend probably doesn't even play pickleball. He's into something else. Lawn bowling or slacklining or color me mine pottery parties. We don't know.
[00:52:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's the one.
[00:52:53] Jordan Harbinger: The point is, he's really tapping into your friend group, and that doesn't sit well for whatever reason. So I wonder if maybe what's rubbing you the wrong way is that your boyfriend is overly reliant on you or seems that way and that makes you wonder about his ability to form relationships on his own and maybe makes you feel a little bit responsible for him. In addition to the fact that you might have to compete sometimes for your friend's time or that it could complicate your friendships if you guys ever did break up, not that you're thinking about that.
[00:53:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think your theory is a really good one, Jordan, but if that's true, then my question is still, why? Like, does the fact that he wants to be friends with her friends actually mean that he struggles to build his own relationships? Or does she feel that he doesn't have enough of a life of his own because she finds it kind of uncomfortable or maybe unattractive for him to be so dependent on her and her friend group?
[00:53:45] Jordan Harbinger: That's an interesting question. I think it is kind of an unattractive trait when somebody is completely dependent on you.
[00:53:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:53:51] Jordan Harbinger: That's not great. It's almost like financial dependence, also. I guess we'd just be speculating, but I do see what you're getting at. Although, you know, I got to say, I do find it a little weird all of his friends are also her friends. Whether she views that through a certain lens or not, it's just, that does strike me as a little odd.
[00:54:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:08] Jordan Harbinger: Like, come on, man, you don't have one friend from childhood? He didn't make one friend in college. And when she tells him to make his own friends, he won't take the initiative or says like, "Oh, I don't like the people that I know." That paints a picture, for me, of a guy who might objectively struggle to make friends. And that doesn't mean he's a bad person or anything, but that is an issue.
[00:54:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:54:28] Jordan Harbinger: Because this isn't just about who they hang out with or who takes priority. It's about their identities, their lives apart from each other.
[00:54:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, yeah, that's a really good point. Part of her anxiety here might be, is my boyfriend really his own guy?
[00:54:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like, is he just subsuming his life and his identity into mine? Dropping into my world because he can't or won't build one of his own.
[00:54:50] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. I mean, look, she said she likes that her boyfriend gets along with her friends. She's not worried about cheating. She doesn't sound like a particularly possessive or paranoid person.
[00:54:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:55:00] Jordan Harbinger: So my gut tells me that this is just making her realize. That her boyfriend might struggle in this department. And that makes her feel some type of way. I mean, look, she's already thinking about what would happen if they ever broke up.
[00:55:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:12] Jordan Harbinger: This could be the reason that they do. So I do feel you're allowed to bring this up with him. I understand that it's delicate and you don't want to be an a-h*le. And I think there's a way to do it kindly. The way that I'd approach it is, rather than call him out for spending too much time with your friends. I would ask him what it's been like to drop into your friend group, why he doesn't seem to connect as well with the people in his own life, what might be stopping him from finding the groups that he likes more, and just invite him to talk about that? Try to appreciate the way he forms friendships. And what's been hard for him instead of going, "You know I need you to stop going to color me mine with Ainsley every Sunday because Ainsley is my friend and color me mine is our thing and you need to find some friends to watch MMA with or we're done."
[00:55:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or you know she could just buy him a pickleball racket and just hope he gets the hint.
[00:55:59] Jordan Harbinger: Also an option. Go make some friends. It's a very social sport. My dad's always up for a game, by the way.
[00:56:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. "The court is so small, you can have a full-on conversation with people while you play, honey. Like, go!"
[00:56:09] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe that's why people like it. I could see that.
[00:56:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think it is.
[00:56:11] Jordan Harbinger: You're yelling back and forth.
[00:56:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:56:13] Jordan Harbinger: You probably can't get too deep with anybody doing that. Anyway, some interesting information could come out of that conversation for both of you. Maybe he'll help you see why he likes your friends or why those relationships are meaningful to him and you'll feel more comfortable with it. Maybe you'll help him see that he could use some friends outside of your circle and figure out why building new relationships is hard. And as you talk, you might also work your way towards some of those other feelings. Like, your annoyance when he tells you things about your friends that you already know, or any jealousy you might feel, or that joke he makes about having to compete with you for some of them that is kind of annoying and I can't put my finger on why either.
[00:56:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: My guess is that he does that bit with her because he knows that this is all a little weird.
[00:56:56] Jordan Harbinger: Right, like he's trying to get out in front of it a little and make fun—
[00:56:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:56:59] Jordan Harbinger: —of himself before she can be like, "Why don't you have your own friends?"
[00:57:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Also, that joke might be a good window into this conversation about whether he's totally comfortable with this arrangement too, right?
[00:57:08] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. Yeah, give it a go, see where you get. I feel like there's a healthy balance here where he has a life of his own and he can be friends with your friends. And that's probably a good goal. Anyway, you can't lose Ainsley in the breakup. That's for damn sure. Ainsley's a real one. That person you can do color me mine with at 11 p.m. on a Thursday is a keeper.
[00:57:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:57:27] Jordan Harbinger: So tell your boyfriend to work on his pickleball serve, and meet some Steves to go pound beers with after their fake tennis/weirdly big ping-pong match. Good luck.
[00:57:35] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everybody who wrote in this week and everybody who listened. Thank you so much. Go back and check out John Kennedy, Kelly Richmond Pope, and Dave Farina with Skeptical Sunday on Ayurvedic medicine if you haven't done so yet.
[00:57:47] The best things that have happened in my life and business have always come through my network, the circle of people that I know, like, and trust. And I'm teaching you how to do the same thing for yourself in our Six-Minute Networking course. It's 100 percent free. It's not gross. It's not schmoozy. You can find it on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. These drills, they take just a few minutes a day. I wish I knew it 20 years ago. Dig that well before you get thirsty, folks. Build those relationships before you need them. You can find it all again for free at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:58:19] Newsletter, Wee Bit Wiser, a bite-sized gem or two from a past episode from me to you, delivered to your inbox once a week. If you want to keep up with the wisdom from our 800-plus episodes and apply it to your life, I invite you to come check it out. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it.
[00:58:34] Show notes and transcripts at jordanharbinger.com. Advertisers, deals, discounts, ways to support this show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. AI chatbot on the website to make things easier. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And Gabe is on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[00:58:55] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:59:11] Dr. Margolis's input is general psychological information based on research and clinical experience. It's intended to be general and informational in nature. It does not represent or indicate an established clinical or professional relationship with those inquiring for guidance. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode useful, please share it with someone else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you learn. And we'll see you next time.
[00:59:39] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show about how you can be affected by ransomware and cyber attacks on the rise now all over the world.
[00:59:47] Nicole Perlroth: We still don't know just how deep the Russians are into our government systems. It's not as if we would see a Russian hacker inside the State Department's network and they would scurry away. They would stay and fight to keep their access. And when I went and interviewed the guys who were brought on-site to remediate and get the Russians out of those systems, they said, "We'd never seen anything like it. It was like hand-to-hand digital combat." So it's going to be at least a year or more before we can stand up and confidently say we've eradicated Russian hackers from nuclear labs, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury, the Justice Department. And now, you're seeing ransomware attacks that are taking out pipelines and the food supply that just come down to a lack of two-factor authentication and bad password management. That's all it takes.
[01:00:43] How do you trust that any of the software you're using is secure and not a Russian Trojan horse? How do you respond to an attack aggressively when you yourself are so vulnerable? We live in the glassiest of glass houses. That makes escalation, you know, that much more of a risk. So yeah, we might have sharper stones than others, but our adversaries can just come back and say, "Hey, they just blew up this pipeline," or, "Hey, they just turned off our lights." We're just going to go hit them and then you get into this cycle of escalation and that's what I worry about is the cycle of escalation and I think we're getting close enough that I think we're going to see a cyber attack within the next four years even that causes substantial loss of life.
[01:01:27] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Nicole Perlroth on what the US should do to push back against cyber warfare, check out episode 542 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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[01:02:27] Paula Barros: Hi, Cold Case Files fans. We have some exciting news for you. Brand new episodes of Cold Case Files are dropping in your feed, and I'm your new host, Paula Barros. I'm a Cold Case Files superfan, true crime aficionado, and I love telling stories with unbelievable twists and turns. And this season of Cold Case Files has all of that and more.
[01:02:48] Her cause of death was strangulation.
[01:02:51] Male 1: Lying face down on the bed.
[01:02:52] Male 2: She was in a pretty advanced state of decomposition.
[01:02:55] Male 3: He panicked and decided he was getting rid of the body.
[01:02:57] Female: I saw danger in everything.
[01:02:59] Paula Barros: So get ready. You don't want to miss what this season has in store. New episodes of Cold Case Files drop every Tuesday. Subscribe to Cold Case Files wherever you listen to podcasts.
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