When you determined the strange numbers on your husband’s phone connected to escort services, he immediately told you not to worry — he was just seeking inexpensive massages for back pain he’d been having. And when he went to the hospital to find relief from another kind of pain, his innocent explanation didn’t match with the doctor’s summary that it was an STI-related condition. So now that his cheating ways have caught him up in a clap trap of his own design, what are you going to do with this information? We’ll try to find an answer to this and more here on 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 email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- First off, we have a heartwarming update from a Feedback Friday listener who was going through tough times back in episode 478!
- Your husband always has a convenient way to explain away his obvious infidelities. But now that there’s evidence of an STI on his latest medical summary, what are you going to do with this information?
- How do you politely turn down a work acquaintance’s request for a donation to his crowdfunding cause?
- How can you maintain a healthy relationship with your mom without letting her addiction to alcohol get in the way? [Thanks to clinical psychologist and addiction specialist Dr. Rubin Khoddam for helping us field this one!]
- The fact that your 22-year-old girlfriend still tacks up magazine cutouts of pop stars she swoons over like a high school girl makes you more than a little jealous. Are you overreacting?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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Resources from This Episode:
- Tipping | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Dallas Taylor | The Psychology of Sound Design | Jordan Harbinger
- Vanessa Van Edwards | The Science of Succeeding with People | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Break up with a Friend | Jordan Harbinger
- Will Suing Abusive Father Bring Mother Peace? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Testicular Torsion Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
- Epididymitis Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
- Al-Anon Family Groups
- Al-Anon Meeting Search | Al-Anon Family Groups
- Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers | Hazelden Betty Ford
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Harry Styles | Instagram
- We Are…Beliebers | E! News
- Taylor Swift Lyrics, Songs, and Albums | Genius
- Taylor Swift – All Too Well: The Short Film | YouTube
671: Cheating Husband Caught in His Own Clap Trap | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the trustee sneeze guard, protecting this buffet of life advice from airborne contaminants, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:00:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, look, we've been doing this a long time. I got to reach here. 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 could use to impact your own life and those around you.
[00:00:33] By the way, sneeze guard just makes me cringe, like just the name of it. It's so vile because it's like you didn't realize what that thing was for until you heard what it was called and then you just think—
[00:00:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:00:44] Jordan Harbinger: —it's not protecting that whole thing from the sneeze.
[00:00:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's also the most literal name for what it is. It's not like plexiglass guards.
[00:00:51] Jordan Harbinger: Like fireplace, yeah.
[00:00:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Not a lot of criticism.
[00:00:55] Jordan Harbinger: No, it's very basic, and I appreciate it. I'm here for it.
[00:00:59] We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening, even inside your own mind.
[00:01:13] If you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you. We answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks — spies, CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers. This week, we had Dallas Taylor on sound design. Now I know that might sound a little plain Jane, but this is about how sound affects our brain and how genius sound designers come up with trademarked sounds that we hear in our heads for years like McDonald's and Netflix jingles, the du-dum sound. I mean, there's a huge process behind that. It costs tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to dial those in. It's really fascinating stuff. So this is a really interesting episode on the science of sound. Vanessa Van Edwards, also from the vault, with some pop science on body language and nonverbal communication and lie detection, things like that.
[00:02:01] I also write every so often on the blog, my latest post, how to break up with a friend. This one grew out of a lot of questions that we've taken here on the show about how to resolve conflicts with a friend. When a conflict is unresolvable and it's time to part ways, and if so, how to actually have that tough conversation. It's a great read for anybody at a crossroads with a friend and anyone who wants to make sure they're embarking on the right types of friendships in the first. So make sure you've had a look and a listen to everything that we created for you here this week — and the articles, of course, are on the website at jordanharbinger.com/articles.
[00:02:36] Now, before we jump into the questions today, Gabe and I wanted to share a pretty amazing email we received from a listener this week. And some of you might remember, we took a question here on Feedback Friday, about a year ago from a young guy who had gone to prison at 16 years old. He went through some pretty horrific abuse there, but managed to survive and even thrive behind bars. And we could tell from his letter that he was a special person, right? He was kind, humble, whip smart. In fact, in the process of surviving prison, he ended up teaching himself a ton about social engineering, negotiation, and security, getting information out of other inmates and corrections officers, forming the right alliances, stuff like that, pretty wild stuff.
[00:03:17] Then when he got out, he went to school for software engineering because his dream was to land a job in the tech world. So we shared some thoughts on how to market his unusual skill set, frame his story the right way, get creative in the job search. That was episode 478, by the way, if you want to check it out and, of course, we'll link it in the notes. Then this week he shared an update on his situation.
[00:03:38] Gabe, you want to read that for us.
[00:03:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, sure thing. So he writes this.
[00:03:43] Hey guys, I wanted to share some pretty incredible news with you. 19 months ago, I was released with $40 gate money, sweat pants without pockets, and a dream. When I was released at the age of 28, I had never driven a car, finished high school, or had a real job. Now, I'm withdrawing from one of the most competitive computer science schools in the country to take a full-time position as an entry-level software engineer, making six figures. I wrote you that first email while I was sharing a room in a halfway house, bedbugs crawled over the blankets, and I had to block out a ton of noise to listen to your podcast. I had to get up earlier than everyone else to make coffee, study for school, and learn how to shop, drive, use a smartphone, and apply for a job. So many people I knew back then had to quit trying and accepted life is nothing more than that existence. I don't know how to express what it feels like to be surrounded by that kind of hopelessness. But it was more than just grit, determination, and intellect that got me to this point, I had to build a network. I had to put myself out there and I had to be rejected. Make no mistake, I received so many nos. Over 50 internship applications that didn't even make it past the resume stage, tons of form letter rejections, the drive to try one more time, despite how much the last rejection stung. My mom even threatened to get me sent back to prison during an argument, but I persisted and found a place that was willing to give me a chance despite the things that came up on my background check. And now, I'm embarking on a career that has limitless potential. I get to use my security mindset, my understanding of breaking things to keep people safer. It is amazing. The things I own now, they don't mean much, but they do show me that I'm not limited to living beneath the poverty line anymore. I am more than my upbringing. So thank you for taking the time to answer my letter a year ago. The encouragement helped. There was something to lean on. Not everybody saw me as my mistakes. A few of your listeners reached out to me too, and I want to give them a shout-out. One of them helped fix up my LinkedIn, which was great. One of them partnered with me on a few engagements and I still video chat with another listener once a month. I even helped one guy with cyberbullies who were targeting his kids. I love you guys. This show has helped a lot. Thank you again. Signed, Marketing My Masterful Mendacity.
[00:05:58] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Gabe, it's incredible.
[00:06:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Incredible, yeah.
[00:06:01] Jordan Harbinger: So, first of all, I just want to say to our friend here that I am blown away by what you've accomplished with your life. You're a legit inspiration, man. You had the deck stacked against you in a major way and you hustled. And I mean truly hustled to build your skills, develop strong relationships, to learn how to tell your story the right way, to keep showing up when things seemed hopeless. It's amazing. There's no other word for it. And I'm so proud of you, man. You should be so proud of yourself.
[00:06:31] I'm also really touched that our audience — you guys, y'all, you played a role in this. I mean, he did the heavy lifting here, of course, but the fact that some of y'all reached out to this guy, gave him some love, helped him level up, shared your time and your experience and expertise. No joke. I'm tearing up a little bit over here. That you guys showed up for him in that way, that you wanted to help him succeed, it obviously meant the world to him. And it means a lot to me as well. So I just want to thank you all for that. I think — is someone cutting onions in here? I'm not crying. You're crying. Anyway—
[00:07:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, seriously.
[00:07:05] Jordan Harbinger: —we just wanted to share this letter with you. Because this guy, he really is an example of just how far hard work and relationships will take you. To go from being assaulted in prison as a teenager to landing a job as a coder, making six figures — this is the definition of inspiring. I'm in awe of you, dude. We all have a lot to learn from you. And I am honored to have you in our show family. We are so excited for you. We're pumped to see all the great things you're going to do in your career, and we're wishing you all the best. This is just the first chapter of what will be an incredible journey. I'm sure.
[00:07:40] And by the way, if anybody else wants to learn more about this guy and reach out to him, you can check out his website, hacksomniac.com. Yeah, we'll link to that in the show notes. His email is right there on the website. We'll link that, of course, as well.
[00:07:52] All right. On that inspiring note, we've got some fun ones and, of course, we have some doozies. I can't wait to dive in. Gabe, what is the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:08:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, a while back, I was going through my call records and I noticed multiple phone numbers with random area codes. I didn't remember calling those numbers myself. So I did some research. It turns out that those numbers belong to escort services. From what I could tell, most of those were mentioned on Craigslist posts under the therapeutic massage section, but there were some other random escort services in there as well. I called my husband at work and confronted him right away. On the phone, he said that I had nothing to worry about and that he knew how it looked, but he was honestly just looking for an inexpensive massage. He had been complaining about his back earlier in the week. So this seemed believable. I asked him to show me his phone when he got home and he showed me that he had blocked all of those numbers because they seemed shady. I then asked him to show me his browser history. Everything had been deleted. He said this was because he watched a lot of porn. He knew that I wasn't a huge fan, so he didn't want me to see it. Fast forward, a couple of years, he goes to the hospital for pain and tells me that the doctor explained that he had testicular torsion, which is basically a twisted testicle. When he got home, I looked at the doctor's summary and it said epididymitis and STI. After some research, it appears that this can only be caused by gonorrhea or Chlamydia. I also Googled testicular torsion and learn that this usually happens to males between the ages of 12 and 18 and requires emergency surgery. Naturally, I was suspicious, so I got tested for an STD, but it came back negative. This incident brought back memories of the previous incident. I tried to ignore it, but I started to become very insecure. Another year later after developing severe trust issues, we talked about all of this again, but he refused to admit to anything. I'm not proud of this, but I looked at his search history and I found that he had Googled what is gonorrhea and a few days later, doctors around our area. I nonchalantly asked him if he had been to the doctor that day. And he said, no. I feel absolutely crazy for doing this. But at the same time, I feel like my suspicions may have been valid. I asked him if he had been unfaithful in our marriage and he said he hadn't. I explained to him that I wouldn't be mad at him if he just told me the truth. So I could finally process my feelings. To this day, he swears that he was telling the truth. I love my husband. He has been nothing but supportive of me, and I want to make things work. To be fair, my insecurities about all of this had affected our sex life to the point where I started blaming him for not wanting to have sex. In retrospect, I take full responsibility for my actions and feel as if my mood drove him away. I've been in therapy and have been doing a lot of reflection. That has significantly improved our relationship and our sex life but I still feel as if I don't have closure. I want to just forget about these things. So could my husband have been lying and how can I fully trust him again? Signed, Interrogate These Sketchy Traits or Let My Mate Prevaricate.
[00:10:48] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, boy. So, yeah, this is quite a mess. Are you going to tell her, Gabe, or should I do it?
[00:10:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Eh, I'll let you do the honors.
[00:10:56] Jordan Harbinger: Fair enough. Well, I'm not quite sure where to dig in here. There's a lot going on. So I guess I will just lead with the headline, which is no, you are not crazy. You have pretty solid evidence over a long period of time that your husband is engaging in some extracurricular activities, almost certainly with these masseuses and escorts, but who knows where else, with who and how he's doing it. Worse, he's lying to you about it, dogmatically, repeatedly for years. And not just lying about what he's done, but also lying about his health, which is in turn, putting you at risk.
[00:11:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:11:34] Jordan Harbinger: None of what you are describing is normal or okay. When you put all this together, the escorts, the massages, the porn, the browser history, the secret doctors' visits, the habitual lying — it paints a pretty dark picture. Your husband is clearly cheating on you. And given the facts that you've shared, it sounds to me like he might even have a sex addiction or at least fall somewhere on that spectrum, hard to say, not entirely fair to analyze a guy from a distance, but this isn't like carrying on with one or two other people. It sounds like a real pattern.
[00:12:08] Also this guy doesn't know how to use the incognito mode. Come on, man. So to answer your question—
[00:12:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Good point.
[00:12:14] Jordan Harbinger: —could he have been lying? Yeah, of course, he could have. And it's pretty damn obvious that he is. I think you already know that deep down. All this new evidence you've found is just — it's additional confirmation. But coming to terms with that reality is probably just too overwhelming. And I feel for you there, this is a very unsettling thing to learn about your partner. It's probably very hard. But it's also pretty clear that you've been turning a blind eye to a ton of shady and manipulative behavior, because to use your words, "I just want to forget about all of these things," but you can't just forget about them. They happened, they are happening. And even if your husband owned up to them, you'd still have to acknowledge that, process it, and do a lot of work with your husband in order to move on.
[00:12:59] So even though your husband's the one carrying on like this, the person we really have to talk about is you, because you've known for years, that something isn't right, you feel your suspicions are valid, but for some reason, you're allowing this situation to continue by tolerating your husband's lies. And now you're stuck because like you said, you love him. He's been nothing but supportive and you want to make things work but hold on, let's dig into that a little bit more.
[00:13:27] You love him despite what he's done. Okay. I can understand that the feelings at play here are complex, but he's been nothing but supportive. Is that really true? Is it supportive of your husband to pay for sex behind your back? Is it supportive of your husband to get probably the clap and probably gonorrhea and not tell you and then make you worried about getting it yourself? Is it supportive of him to lie to you constantly about his porn consumption, about his health, about being unfaithful in general? Of course not, but I'm very interested to know why you view him that way.
[00:14:00] And look, I assume what you meant is that outside of the cheating, he's a decent guy. He's provided for you. He treats you fairly well. Fine, I'm not trying to discount. What I am saying is you seem to have an overly simplistic view of your husband. You're using his positive qualities to justify or overlook is problematic behavior. And you seem to go in and out of acknowledging the reality of your marriage. Now, him constantly lying doesn't make that any easier. But when you have this much evidence, you have to have more conviction than this.
[00:14:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I think, you know that Jordan. My guess, is that coming to terms with what her husband's been up to is just too upsetting and, like you said, unsettling, and it's probably easier to chug along and denial and hopefully cling to the marriage you really want than to finally call them out and bring this problem to a head, so to speak.
[00:14:51] At this point, I'm guessing the actual cheating that might not even be the worst part of it for her. The worst part of it might be knowing that her husband has lied for this long and that she put up with that on some level and having to accept what that says about his feelings for her and how he views her and maybe even how she views herself. So I know this is complicated and I do have a lot of sympathy for her.
[00:15:14] I also admire that. She's trying to understand her role in all of this. As she put it, her insecurity is affected their sex life. She blamed him for not wanting to have sex. She feels that her mood might've driven him away, but to be clear, that will happen after he started cheating, right? It's not like she was insecure from the very beginning and their sex life was always a problem. He cheated and she understandably got hurt and withdrew, right? So I wonder if she's taking on too much responsibility here. I mean, look, yes, he cheats. She withdraws that makes him keep carrying on behind her back and lying about it, which tanks our mood. Okay, I get that. Her depression or whatever then drives him away even more. The rift between them grows, none of this gets addressed. Yes, that is an important dynamic for them to understand if they want to repair their relationship. So I respect her clarity and I respect her honesty about that.
[00:16:05] But in terms of who is responsible for this mess, I do wonder if she's taking on too much of the burden here, and if that's also part of what you were just describing, Jordan, this tendency to discount what her husband's done, put them up on a pedestal a little bit and maybe internalize the justifiable anger she feels as self-recrimination. "This is my fault. I did something." From where I'm sitting though, the one piece of this she should own is tolerating her husband's BS and looking the other way for so long, but not causing it in the first place.
[00:16:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I got the exact same feeling when she was like, "But I drove him away because I was sad." I was like, well, yeah, you're sad because he's calling women on freaking Craigslist for crotch massages and lying to you about having a clap. Like how was that your fault?
[00:16:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. It's not, exactly.
[00:16:51] Jordan Harbinger: I'm with you, Gabe. I'm thrilled to hear that she's in therapy and that she's doing all of this reflection. That's wonderful. And hey, if it helps her and her husband work on this, I'm all for it if that's what they both want. But she's asking for some basic respect from him, she's asking for closure.
[00:17:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:17:07] Jordan Harbinger: She's hoping he'll stop cheating so they can heal this wound and work on their marriage. And none of that is happening right now and it won't happen, not until her husband is at least willing to live in the same reality and own up to his issues and indiscretions.
[00:17:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:17:22] Jordan Harbinger: So if you really do want to stick around and work through this, your husband's going to have to want that too. This isn't something you can resolve by only working on your stuff. As long as he keeps cheating and lying, it's just a nonstarter. Your best bet is to take this into couples counseling, start hashing this out ASAP. That's the only place where you guys are going to make real progress in my view. And if he won't go with you and sincerely engage in that process, I think you have your answer. At some point, you're going to have to accept your husband for the person he's showing himself to be.
[00:17:55] So there you have it. I know how painful this is. I'm so sorry that it's happening to you. I really am. But the sooner you confront this, the sooner you can either work on it or just move on, so start talking ideally with the help of a professional, individually and as a couple. We're sending you good thoughts, a course of antibiotics for your husband, and we're wishing you guys the best.
[00:18:18] Gabriel, you know who won't give you the clap? The amazing sponsors who support this show. Here are some products that won't make it burn when you pee. We'll be right back.
[00:18:28] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. I've seen therapists numerous times in the past to help deal with issues I was having, but also when things were going well, and I wanted to keep it that way, it's been life-changing. I recommend everybody go and try it. Better Help makes it easy to get support from a licensed professional therapist because it's more affordable and you can do it every week. Choose from video, phone, or even live chat sessions with your therapist. Don't use the camera if you don't feel like it. And you've got to feel self-conscious. I totally get that. And you can remain totally anonymous as well. They don't have to even know who you are. Privacy is very important to Better Help. And look, they got a lot of five-star reviews. The app is really good. It's got a journal and worksheets that you can send to your therapist and sort of message back and forth. They're even online groupinars on practically every issue that you might be experiencing, facilitated by counselors who are knowledgeable about the chosen topics. So even your particular weird quirk is probably covered. Get matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Your mental health is worth it, so go and try it out.
[00:19:27] Jen Harbinger: And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month of Better Help. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:19:33] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Credit Karma. Paying down debt can be stressful, especially when you need to keep track of multiple monthly payments and you can't figure out which card is a higher interest rate. You may want to consider consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan, just to have one due date a month. Plus loans usually have lower interest rates than credit cards do. And Credit Karma can help you find the best option for you. Credit Karma uses your credit data to find loan offers that are personalized to you. So you can have a better idea of what loan amount you can get approved for. And Credit Karma will show you your chances of approval. So you're choosing between loans that you're more likely to get approved for, and you can apply with more confidence and not waste a bunch of time on something that's not going to happen. Comparing loan offers on Credit Karma is a hundred percent free. It doesn't affect your credit scores and could very likely save you money.
[00:20:17] Jen Harbinger: Credit Karma, apply with more confidence today. Ready to apply? Head to creditkarma.com/loanoffers to see personalized offers. Go to creditkarma.com/loanoffers to find the loan for you. That's creditkarma.com/loanoffers.
[00:20:31] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you all for listening to and supporting the show. Your support of the advertisers and sponsors is what keeps the lights on around here. To learn more and get links to all of the discounts you hear, all those discount codes and URLs, you don't have to memorize that stuff, just go to jordanharbinger.com/deals. They're all in one place. You can also search for the sponsors using the search box on the website as well. So please consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:20:54] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:20:57] All right, what's next?
[00:20:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, for more than 20 years, I've worked at a company that has a relatively high turnover rate. As a result, many of my colleagues are much younger than I am. We all get along well, but I don't socialize with anyone from work. Recently, one of them, a guy 21 years my junior told me that he plans to go back to school and has applied to a specialty program in Spain. I told them that I think it was great and wished him lots of success. And then a few days later he mentioned that if he gets accepted, he's going to set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for school. He mentioned it again a few days later, and then again, the next week, I'm pretty sure he's going to ask me to donate. The problem is I really don't want to. I wish them well, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with crowdfunding, except in the case of very close friends. I don't think it's my responsibility to help an acquaintance pay for grad school. I understand how hard it is to pay for college. No one helped me pay for my education. I took out loans and finally pay them off when I was 41. Student loans crippled me financially for years, and I certainly don't wish that on anyone else. But at the same time, I have no interest in paying for someone else's education. The thing is this kid is very sensitive and doesn't respond well to criticism. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I'm not going to use my meager savings to help fund his dreams. If he does ask me to donate, how do I tell him I won't? Signed, No Dummy For This GoFundMe.
[00:22:22] Jordan Harbinger: This is a really interesting question and also very timely. So look, I do think that contributing to people's crowdfunding campaigns is a personal choice. If you like the person in question and you want to give, great. If you don't, that's also cool and that should be acceptable too. What I don't like is this implicit expectation that you have to give, or you're a bad person if you don't. Nobody has a claim on anyone else's money when it comes to this kind of thing. Everybody's in a different financial situation and has different values around money. And I think it should be fair game to contribute or not contribute without risking someone's opinion of you. Also, there are many different ways to support someone in their goals, money just being one of them.
[00:23:06] So if this guy asks you to donate, maybe you could say something like, "Listen, bud, I'm really happy that you applied for this program. It sounds great. Unfortunately, I can't donate to the GoFundMe because it's hard for me to support everyone in my life financially. But if I can be of help to you in other ways, like you ever want to talk about the program or moving to another country or planning for your career in general, I'd be happy to carve out some time. Please don't take this as an indication of my feelings about your plans. I think what you're doing is terrific and I wish you nothing but success," something like that. And honestly, I don't even know if you need to explain it further than that. You absolutely have the right to just politely decline. It doesn't need to be a huge point of conflict. And if this guy takes that poorly and holds it against you, whatever, that's his problem. It's not your problem.
[00:23:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. I'm with you, Jordan. Although I do get why this is so uncomfortable, it's probably hard for a kid like this to not take this message as you know, "I don't like you and I don't support your dreams," but you know, I also wonder if maybe there's a part of this guy — the guy who's writing in, I mean that maybe doesn't like this kid and maybe that's playing a role here too. Because okay, first of all, they work at a company with high turnover. So I'm guessing the relationships in this office are already pretty weak. And then this young guy applies to this program abroad and he starts talking to his colleagues about crowdfunding tuition before he's even accepted. And then he mentions it three more times before he's even set up the GoFundMe. I don't know. That strikes me as a little bit tactless and also a little bit presumptuous. Like, "Bro, why don't you find out if you got in before you start hitting up your coworkers for tuition money?"
[00:24:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's a good point. That part almost slipped by me. That's a little annoying. I just assumed he got in, but now we don't even know. It could be, "I'm planning to go here but either way, pay for my way to go to Spain.
[00:24:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Kind of putting the cart before the horse a little bit, right? And if for some reason he doesn't end up getting into this program, he'll have asked his colleagues for money for something he wasn't able to achieve. Plus this kid's very sensitive. He doesn't respond well to criticism and that might've turned this guy off of helping him. So part of me feels like this kid is just kind of tone-deaf and kind of pushy, in general. And if that's the case, then it's an interesting case study in getting your ducks in a row before you make a big request like this. Like this kid wants everyone to support him, but he's not really thinking about how he comes across how strong his relationships are, whether he's earned people's loyal. Because if he did, I do wonder if the guy writing in would be more willing to make an exception to his rule about not donating to crowdfunding, even if it were just a small contribution.
[00:25:33] Jordan Harbinger: You know, that's a great point. It's like any big goal, getting an interview, landing a promotion, asking for an introduction, a favor. Your odds of success are astronomically higher if you've built bridges and cemented your reputation before you make your play. It's another version of digging the well before you get thirsty, right?
[00:25:51] Also this whole question about whether crowdfunding is fair game. This is why I'm very deliberate about my — and I put this in air quotes — philanthropy because I feel like it's the most pretentious word ever, but I will donate to charities fairly big each year, you know, to the tune of thousands of dollars, generally. But I won't donate to personal things almost without exception. There was a couple of refugee situations where I was like, "Okay, you know, you really need this," because the real impact is made in other ways. You know, I like to write a real sort of meaningful check, like fund a program in whole or in part for a charity instead of giving people little bits of money for things that they could probably get on their own or like something people just want.
[00:26:33] You know, it's not a wedding gift, right? That's another thing. But if someone's like, "Oh, I really need to go on vacation because it's been a while." Or like, "I never went on a honeymoon." I'm like, "You know what? There's people who can use this money for something that's not a piña colada and a beach cabana. It's just better used in larger amounts to actual charities — just seems to go further. And then I can say, "I gave it the office and I'm off the hook."
[00:26:54] So yeah, I get this kid wants you to help them personally, but it doesn't really solve the greater issue of why tuition is super inexpensive or even that this kid is doing the right thing. And the last thing you want to do is help some kid fund something and he drops out after a semester. And you just find it a semester of drinking in Spain. It's a waste of everybody's time and money.
[00:27:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: If he gets in.
[00:27:13] Jordan Harbinger: Right, if he even gets in.
[00:27:14] You can reach us email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise, try to use a descriptive subject line. That makes our job a lot easier. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you want a new perspective on stuff, like life, love, work. What to do if another mom is deliberately infecting your kids with her and her kids' germs? Literally, nightmare stuff from last week, Gabe.
[00:27:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh yeah.
[00:27:35] Jordan Harbinger: Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:27:44] All right. What's next?
[00:27:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm 24 years old and I consider my mom one of the most important people in my life. We are very close and she has supported me and loved me through all of my trials and tribulations. However, she has been a severe alcoholic my entire life. Her addiction has landed her two DUIs, hospital visits, jail time, house arrest. She's totaled cars. She has pretty bad memory loss. In the last couple of years, I've set boundaries with her, so I don't have to put up with the constant drinking, like not buying her alcohol or not spending time with her when she's under the influence. Last year, she suffered from two seizures, which gave her a reality check. She quit drinking and became such a fun, energetic woman. But then a few months later, I noticed that she had started drinking again. I confronted her, but she completely denied it. More recently, she admitted to having started again but has tried to make it seem as if she just picked it back up. When I know for a fact, she's been at it for months. It's one thing for me to put up with her addiction, but I'm a new mom to my first child and I don't want my daughter to be around her addiction too. My mom loves being a grandma, but when I brought my daughter over to spend time with her recently, she's clearly been under the influence. I'm struggling with how to tell my mom that her actions are unacceptable and that she isn't going to be in my daughter's life the way she wants to be if she continues to drink. I don't want to cut her off because I'm the only person my mom can rely on, but she's not fun to be around while drinking. She's never wanted to quit drinking for herself and I don't think she ever will. I'm mentally exhausted from trying to navigate around her addiction. How can I maintain a healthy relationship with my mom without letting her addiction get in the way? Signed, Calibrating the Throttle Against the Bottle.
[00:29:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man, this is incredibly sad. Your mom is obviously in the grip of a pretty serious addiction. She's loving and supportive and present when she doesn't drink, but then she falls off the wagon again and starts lying and pretending it's not as bad as it is, which I kind of understand. And it's got to be just extremely hard for you to watch. And now you have a daughter of your own, so the stakes on hanging out with grandma are even higher. I really feel for you. There's no easy answer in a situation like this.
[00:29:57] We wanted to run your question by an expert. So we reached out to Dr. Rubin Khoddam, a clinical psychologist specializing in addiction and trauma. And the first thing Dr. Khoddam said was watching someone else struggle with addiction. That's one of the most powerless feelings you can have because you can't force your mom to get help or force her to stay sober. You can't change her wiring, her patterns, her life experiences. You want to maintain a relationship with your mom without letting her addiction get in the way. But the fact is her addiction is getting in the way. So in Dr. Khoddam's view the most important conversation you can have with her, it probably isn't communicating how unacceptable her actions are, but instead how painful it is for you to watch her drink and then working towards defining some strong boundaries with your mom because you will understandably have certain expectations and boundaries given her history.
[00:30:51] Once, you know what those are that might warrant a conversation with your mom, where you lay them out. Maybe you decide to only see your mom for a limited amount of time. Maybe you limit contact with her all around. Maybe you draw a hard line around her spending time alone with your daughter, as long as she's drinking. Whatever you decide you need is fair in Dr. Khoddam's view. And she might ask you for more, but it doesn't mean you have to give more if you have concerns.
[00:31:18] Now mom can choose to adhere to all these expectations or not. And given what you've shared, you might have to be prepared for her to not always live up to them, but then at least she'll be clear about the consequences. Then it's up to you to enforce those boundaries. Dr. Khoddam pointed out that boundaries, they're not for mom to adhere to, they're for you to enforce, which I thought was a really great point about boundaries in general. They're often about self-empowered. Ultimately, in Dr. Khoddam's view, no one can violate boundaries. You just enforce them.
[00:31:51] Now the hard part about all this is having this conversation in a way that's supportive rather than punitive. Dr. Khoddam said that it might feel sometimes like your mom is choosing alcohol over you guys, but that it's important to remember that the addiction brain has taken over and in Dr. Khoddam's experience, it's just not personal. It's a reflection of how much her body has become acclimated to alcohol and potentially how much pain she's in.
[00:32:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. I think sometimes we forget how addiction sort of hijacks the brain and the body that you're not really dealing with a well-functioning, lucid, clear healthy person, but also Jordan, that's really tough because we're also saying that mom has to take accountability here. She has to engage with our sobriety. She needs to stay on top of it. And that's part of, what's so hard about watching somebody like a parent go through this. You know, you don't really know just how angry or disappointed you're allowed to be, because it's unclear how conscious the other person really is. It's just — I guess what I'm saying is I feel for this woman, it is tough.
[00:32:49] But anyway, Dr. Khoddam also shared something really insightful, which was that he doesn't think it's possible to answer this question you're asking without talking about grief. In his view, the underlying question here, maybe the more important question is how do I grieve the loss of the mom I wanted to have? And also the grandmother I wanted for my daughter, which is heartbreaking and challenging for sure. But unfortunately, it is the reality you're going to have to come to terms with.
[00:33:16] You know, Jordan, it's a bit like the woman from question one, you know, having to come to terms with the husband she has versus the husband she wishes she had. Dr. Khoddam also pointed out that there might be a world where there is no conversation that needs to be had with your mom, but more a conversation you need to have with yourself. And that conversation is around acceptance, acceptance about who your mom is, and also how you now have to adjust as a result.
[00:33:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, he hit the nail on the head. There's the pain of watching a parent hurt herself like this. And then there's the pain of accepting that a parent isn't who you want them to be. And sometimes that second pain is even harder because that means recognizing the limit of your power. And it shifts the responsibility to you in terms of figuring out how to respond.
[00:34:01] And on that note, I highly recommend checking out some Al-Anon meetings. I think that that would be an amazing resource for you. If you don't know, Al-Anon is a recovery program for families and friends of alcoholics. It's a really supportive place. They'll talk a lot about what you can do to take care of yourself, how to cope with the feelings that your mom's addiction brings up, how to take care of your side of the street as they put it.
[00:34:24] I've had several friends who go to Al-Anon meetings and they all say it's been a game changer. Even if you just go to a couple or you pop in from time to time, I promise you we'll pick up some gems. I actually went to a few of myself years ago just to make sure it was something I could feel comfortable recommending to you guys. And it's incredibly supportive. It's not awkward. It's not tough. You're not getting singled out. You don't have to share and stand up or any of that stuff.
[00:34:48] Also Dr. Khoddam mentioned that many rehab centers offer family support groups. He suggests reaching out to residential rehabs near you for in-house or virtual resources. Betty Ford Clinic also sometimes offers free family support groups. That would be great, so check that out too. We'll link to all of those for you, plus some other resources in the show notes.
[00:35:08] So I hope you find a new relationship with your mom while she goes through this and that, that gives you a sense of peace with who she is right now. As Dr. Khoddam put it to us, you might not have the relationship that you want with her, but it is the relationship that you have. And your best bet right now is to work with that reality rather than try to work against it.
[00:35:30] Many thanks to Dr. Khoddam for the wise advice. And by the way, Dr. Khoddam practices at the COPE Psychological Center, a mental health treatment center that provides evidence-based treatment to individuals throughout California. You can learn more about COPE at copepsychology.com.
[00:35:45] You know who's a great role model for your kids though, Gabriel? The sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:35:53] This episode is sponsored in part by Wondery's Business Wars podcasts. In business, competition is the key to success. Every product you own from the shoes on your feet, to the phone in your hands got there because of cutthroat business decisions. And Wondery's podcast Business Wars brings you stories about the most well-known in the world like Nike versus Adidas, iPhone versus Blackberry — I wonder won that one — and the newest season Häagen-Dazs versus Ben and Jerry's, the story of two legendary American brands — Häagen-Dazs is American apparently that have traded licks — see what I did there? Trying to conquer the global ice cream market while Häagen-Dazs focuses on simplicity and high-end flavors, Ben and Jerry's flavors are fun and wacky and even tap into the mindset of conscious consumerism. It's obvious so much research goes into each season of Business Wars. It's entertaining, eye-opening. Great for all ages to learn the history of some of your favorite companies. So listen to Business Wars on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts and listen one week early and add free by joining Wondery Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondery app.
[00:36:50] This episode is also sponsored by Progressive insurance. Let's face it. Sometimes multitasking can be overwhelming, like when your favorite podcast is playing and the person next to you is talking and your car fan is blasting, all while you're trying to find that perfect parking spot. But then again, sometimes multitasking is easy, like quoting with Progressive insurance. They do the hard work of comparing rates. So you can find a great rate that works for you, even if it's not with them. Give their comparison tool a try, and you might find getting the rate and coverage you deserve is easy. All you need to do is visit Progressive's website to get a quote with the coverage you want, like comprehensive and collision coverage or personal injury protection. Then you'll see Progressive's direct rate and their tool will provide options from other companies all lined up and ready to compare. So it's simple to choose the rate and coverage you like. Press play on comparing auto rates quote at progressive.com and join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
[00:37:38] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
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[00:37:54] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:37:57] All right, what's next?
[00:37:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe, my girlfriend and I have been together for three and a half years. We're both 22 and she's always enjoyed music and kept up with the latest releases from artists like Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and 5 Seconds of Summer. In addition to talking about their music frequently, she seems to be obsessed with the celebrities themselves and is constantly posting their material on her social media. Over time, I've become jealous about the attention she pays the celebrity men. About a year ago, she had a lot of pictures of Harry Styles on our wall and it bothered me so much that I asked her to take them down. She agreed and has made efforts to tone down the amount of stuff I see about them. While I appreciate that, there's still a lot of it on our social media to the point where close friends have actually questioned me about it. We've had fights about this on and off, and she'll generally take down anything that makes me uncomfortable, but I'm more concerned about the need to post these men on our social media at all. I understand loving music, but sometimes this feels like something a teenage girl would be doing. When we've spoken about it in the past, she says it's because their music got her through a difficult move from Texas to Georgia. She moved back in middle school and young girls tend to love boy bands, but I'm conflicted because my girlfriend is otherwise great. She supports me. She's always there to laugh and talk when I need someone. I love spending time with her and I want to continue to build a healthy and happy life. Should I be concerned about this or is my jealousy and worry unwarranted? Is there something deeper going on here that I might not be aware of? Or do you think she'll just grow out of this? Signed, Wincing at this Watermelon Sugar.
[00:39:32] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, interesting. Gabe, I got to say, I do find it a little odd that a 22-year-old woman is swooning over pop stars and constantly posting about them on Instagram. It just feels a little immature or regressed or something like that.
[00:39:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:39:46] Jordan Harbinger: But also I've never been a super fan of anyone before. So maybe this is just how people who are really passionate about an artist will act just like Bieber fans, right? Like many of them grew up listening to his music. A lot of them were around his age when he started. I'm sure there are tons of 30-something women who are hardcore Beliebers and we'll stay hardcore Beliebers because they have that history with them. But I just think I'd be a little weirded out if Jen had like Sean Mendez posters hanging in our bedroom or something. Although I also have a borderline creepy number of North Korean propaganda posters hanging around the house, so I'm not sure. Who am I to talk? I mean, "Oh, you think it's weird I have a Michael Bublé water bottle. Well, you have a hand-drawn Korean man smashing in the United States with a sledgehammer. So who's the actual weirdo here, Jordan."
[00:40:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: What a glimpse into the marriage. It's an investment. It's like an analog NFT. It will go up in 10 years.
[00:40:36] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.
[00:40:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:40:37] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. It's an analog NFT. Come on. So, I guess I'm of two minds here. On one hand, yes, your jealousy is probably unwarranted given that your girlfriend is just a huge fan of these artists that she'll never meet. It's not like she's DM-ing them or spending any time with them in real life or whatever. So this probably is not a real threat to your relationship. Plus when you explain that T Swift and 5SOS got her through a tough move when she was 13, that actually makes a lot of sense. I do feel for her. When you're that age, you're sensitive, your emotions are huge, and the music you listened to can make a big impact. And you telling her to take it easy with these posters, maybe that comes across as you dismissing her feelings a little bit or implying that she can't feel free to express herself.
[00:41:21] On the other hand, I don't know. I just do think there's something deeper going on here with your girlfriend because yeah, an artist can have a huge impact on you. You can love their music for the rest of your life, but when you're posting Harry Styles photos on your personal Instagram every day at 22 years old, and you're not doing it to build a business around it or something like that, it just sounds to me like there's more going on beneath the surface.
[00:41:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree. Maybe some unresolved feelings about that time in her life, or maybe a need for comfort from these artists that she's not finding elsewhere. Or, you know, Jordan, maybe she just really wants to belong to this community of fans. That can give you an identity. It can give you a connection to other people who feel the same way. That's powerful. So if I were you, I would talk to your girlfriend, try to find out what this super fandom is really all about. Try to invite her to share more about why she feels so passionately about these artists, why she feels moved to post about them. And then maybe you can share a little bit about what it's like for you to be in a relationship with somebody who is so obsessed with these artists. You know, maybe if you guys explore that together, it would help you feel a little less threatened by them if there's really no cause for concern and/or help her see that she might be going a little bit overboard here.
[00:42:32] But most importantly, I would try to understand whether your girlfriend feels a little immature or regressed in other parts of her life. Like if she has a hard time understanding and processing her emotions, or if she's struggling to pursue her goals, or if she's clinging to the past in other ways, that would be really interesting. That would be good data for you to know, because in that case, this super fandom of hers, it might just be one aspect of an immature personality overall. And that's the real issue. But if your girlfriend is well adjusted for her age and she's super on top of her life and all that, then this T Swift, Harry Styles obsession might just be like an endearing quirk of hers. Like, "Yeah, Chelsea is great. She's supportive and she's mature and she's doing great. She's just really into annotating Taylor Swift lyrics on genius.com," or whatever.
[00:43:19] I know if you people like that. They have this intense obsession that they can't really explain. And then that one department, they're 12 years old, but overall they're great. They're high-functioning and then it's just sort of like the sweet and funny quality of theirs. So I would consider the overall picture here. Is the fandom or a reflection of a deeper issue that you see in your girlfriend? Or is it just one innocent aspect of her personality?
[00:43:42] Jordan Harbinger: That's a great question, Gabe, because like she supports him. She's always there to laugh and talk. He wants to build a life with her. It's not like she's a crazy train wreck who can't stop crying while she listens to All Too Well every night before bed. I mean, I get it. It's an amazing song, but every night, come on, Chelsea.
[00:43:58] So this might end up being something that he just has to accept, but then he needs to figure out what to do about the feelings that her obsession brings up, especially the jealousy. And when you guys talk, I'd get into that too, whether she's actually standing for Harry Styles in an unhealthy way, or whether it's just a harmless crush and it doesn't say anything about you or your relationship, which I'm kind of — I'm fairly sure that's the case. Also, I'm curious to know, are you jealous that she's paying attention to Harry Styles specifically? Or is it more like you're kind of miffed whenever your girlfriend isn't focused on you no matter what the reason? That would be helpful to parse out too because then you'll have a better sense of where the problem actually lies.
[00:44:40] So get to talk and hear each other out, dig deeper. And hey, if the conversation goes sideways, just put on the folklore album and let those dulcet cottage core vibes take you away. Works for me every time. Good luck, man.
[00:44:53] I hope y'all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and of course, everyone who listened. Go back and check out Dallas Taylor and Vanessa Van Edwards if you haven't yet.
[00:45:01] Want to know how I managed to book all these great people and manage my relationships using software, systems, and tiny habits? Of course, you do. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course. It's free. It's over there on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. Everybody needs to learn how to dig the well before they get thirsty. It's about building relationships before you need them. It takes a few minutes a day. It doesn't cause anything. Come on, folks. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It's been crucial for my life, my business, my social life, my personal stuff, all of the above. You can find it for free at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:45:35] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:45:49] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and naturally Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own. I'm a lawyer. I'm not your lawyer. I'm not even a good lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:46:07] Dr. Khoddam'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.
[00:46:21] Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found the episode useful, please do share it with somebody else who can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:46:38] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into here's a trailer with Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and an investor in one of Silicon Valley's top VC firms. He drives by the show to discuss how we can tell when we're informing our intuition with the best available data, or if we're just procrastinating to avoid making important decisions. And why never give up is terrible advice and how to separate our winning instincts from our losing ideas.
[00:47:04] Reid Hoffman: Piece of advice I most often give entrepreneurs is don't just work on the product, work on your go-to-market. It's a huge world. It's eight billion people. How do you stand out against eight billion people? Actually, in fact, that's kind of challenging.
[00:47:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good — are we at eight already?
[00:47:18] Reid Hoffman: Yes.
[00:47:19] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:47:20] Reid Hoffman: Yeah. They, "Oh, I build this thing in the corner. No one sees it. It may be the best thing ever, but no one sees it. So it's never used." That's the problem on the entrepreneurship side. So network one key component, another one is which is your plan A, you have plans B, which is how to think about like, "Well, if A is not working on, maybe B will work or maybe B would be a different path or you're not coming." And then you have a Z plan, which has, it's not working out at all. What's my lifeboat plan? I'm going to row to a different set of plan A and plan B's.
[00:47:48] There's always luck. There's always timing. The game is not so much. Can I be one of the heroes that's written about in the next hundred years, but the game is can I do something that, where I started from, I can make something interesting.
[00:48:02] You're playing your own game. Yes, your passion's important, but you should be paying attention to market realities. You should say, "Well, what are the opportunities look like? What does competition look like? What's the best match for me to what the opportunity landscape looks like? You could always say, well more data is useful. The test is what's the minimum set of data that you would actually in fact make this decision.
[00:48:25] Jordan Harbinger: We need to separate our winning intuition or instincts from our losing ideas.
[00:48:31] Reid Hoffman: More often than not greater than 50 percent of the time, you're going to have to give up on that idea. Everyone loves to tell these narratives of, "Well, when I was two, I knew what I was going to do when I was 40," and it was a straight line, it was kind of smooth sailing. The wind was at our backs. It was kind of unproblematic. It's always fiction.
[00:48:52] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Reid Hoffman in a two-part mashup, that includes cameos by the founder of Spotify, the CEO of Yahoo, and more, check out episode 207 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:49:04] Are you ready for a podcast that doesn't hold back, check out The Adam Carolla Show, the number one daily downloaded podcast in the world, five days a week, and completely uncensored. Join Adam as he shares his thoughts on current events, relationships, politics, and so much more. Adam welcomes a wide range of special guests to join him in studio for in-depth interviews and a front-row seat to his freewheeling point of view. Download, subscribe and tune in to The Adam Carolla Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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