Your inseparable friend’s perpetually ill spouse seems to get a sick kick out of infecting your family on the regular and refuses to respect any boundaries you’ve tried to establish that might keep her and her nasty cooties at bay. If you didn’t know any better, you’d suspect she was doing it on purpose! What can you do to protect the health of your household from this physically — and perhaps mentally — unwell woman? We’ll try to find a remedy 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:
- Your friend’s perpetually ill spouse seems to get a sick kick out of infecting your family on the regular. How can you keep her and her nasty cooties at bay?
- Must you bid your love adieu to dodge her herpes simplex 2?
- Is it time to cut loose the “friend” who ghosts you profusely?
- How can you remain an influential, vital part of your child’s life when they live with your ex on the other side of the world?
- You suspect you’re clinically depressed, but how can you ask for help when the thought of therapy just adds to your stress?
- 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.
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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If you haven’t heard our interview with Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of the peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb, make sure to catch up with episode 566: Brian Chesky | Lessons Airbnb Learned to Survive the Pandemic here!
Resources from This Episode:
- What Does ‘Piso Mojado’ Mean? | Quora
- Luis Navia | 25 Years Inside the Narco Cartels | Jordan Harbinger
- Deep Dive | How to Ask for a Promotion | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Break up with a Friend | Jordan Harbinger
- Croup | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- 10 Examples of What Gaslighting Sounds Like | Psych2Go
- Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy | Healthline
- 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘Typhoid Mary’ | History
- Every Kramer Entrance | Seinfeld
- STD Facts: Genital Herpes | CDC
- How to Cope with Being Ghosted | Verywell Mind
- How I Navigate Long-Distance Parenting | Parents
- Long-Distance Parenting: How to Stay Connected When Your Child Lives Far Away | Empowering Parents
- Ideas for Long-Distance Parents to Do for and with Your Kids | Distance Parent
- Clinical Depression: What Does That Mean? | Mayo Clinic
- Your Stalker’s Sister is Dating Your Brother | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Find a Therapist That’s Right for You: 9 Key Tips | Healthline
- Esther Perel | Twitter
- “Paolo’s Own Line.” | House of Gucci
- Affordable, Private Therapy Anytime, Anywhere | BetterHelp
667: Friend’s Sicko Spouse Keeps Infecting Our House | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show is brought to you by Nissan. Why wait for tomorrow? Today is made for thrill.
[00:00:08] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the piso mojado sign, keeping you from slick surface of sound life advice, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nice one.
[00:00:21] Jordan Harbinger: 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. 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.
[00:00:45] If you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers and performers. This week, we had Luis Navia, one of the most prolific cocaine smugglers of his day with absolutely wild stories of a man now reformed from his former occupation in life. Also this week, a new deep dive on how to ask for a promotion and make sure you land it. In this one, Gabe and I talk about our tried and tested approach to rising up in any organization, not by hoping your boss will give you more responsibility, but by carving out that responsibility on your own, and then steadily leveling up until you get the rewards and recognition that you so rightly deserve. Tons of practical strategies and case studies are in there as well. Many of them pulled from true stories here on Feedback Friday.
[00:01:40] I also write every so often on the blog, my latest post, how to break up with a friend. We've been getting this question here a lot on the show lately — how you know when it's time to part ways with a friend, whether your reasons for ending a friendship are legit, how to actually have that conversation. It's a great read for anyone going through a transition with a friend, a colleague, a peer i need some practical advice on how to navigate it. So make sure you've had a look and to listen to everything we created for you here this week.
[00:02:07] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, I live in a small town with my husband and two kids. We have a lifelong friendship with my husband's best friend. Let's call him Bob who's also the number one employee in our company. The thing is I've never really liked Bob's wife. She has a lot of mental health issues and a pattern of unhealthy behavior, jealousy and lying. Still, I've been very patient with her over the last 14 years as our families are very close. Three years ago, we had our first kids at the same time. Shortly afterward when my son was three months old, Bob's wife invited us over for dinner. While we were eating the dinner she made, she started telling me how she's been puking and running to the bathroom with the flu all day.
[00:02:50] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[00:02:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: My newborn baby, my husband, and I then got a terrible flu that lasted for five days. I was so angry because this was not the first time that happened. And I texted her to tell her to never invite us over when she's sick again. Another issue is that Bob's wife walks into my house on announced about three times a month. This one time she let herself into my house to give me a pie that she had baked because she was, and I quote, "Bored at home because her son has the flu." On another occasion, Bob's wife invited us to go on a trip all in one car together. When we met up, her son had a fever and was coughing like crazy. Our kids played together in the backseat and shared toys and food. She then — I kid you not — wiped her fevery son's nose with her finger and with that same finger shoved a cracker into my one-year-old's mouth. My son got a respiratory infection called croup six days later and almost ended up in the hospital.
[00:03:45] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:03:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: I again called her angry and she totally played it off, laughed, and tried to dodge accountability. I've now just had my second child. Last week, she came into the house with her kids without notice and without knocking to let the kids play together. She told me that her daughter had a fever, but that it was from teething when clearly both kids were ill. I immediately planned on being sick the next week. My three-year-old and four month old now have fevers, coughs, and colds. It's become obvious that she only comes over or invites us over when they are sick. At first, I thought she was just really stupid, but now I firmly believe that she does this on purpose and that she might be a dangerous person that I need to protect my family from. But this is my husband's main friend and employee, and there is no universe where we would ever cut him off unless we moved away. I want my husband to fix this problem, but the problem is unfixable. And now I'm starting to resent him for it. I try to tell him I'm not okay with us all hanging out. He's welcome to hang out with his friend on his own, but it just doesn't happen like that. There is no getting away from this person for me. So is this woman's stupid or is she a sociopath and what do I do? Signed, Caught in the Crossfire of This Cruel Cough.
[00:04:56] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. What the actual hell? Like another week, another doozy, yeah, Gabe.
[00:05:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yup.
[00:05:02] Jordan Harbinger: Another first for the show. This is a bulldozing, pathogen-spreading responsibility, dodging mother, who for some twisted reason wants her and her friends' kids to share the same illnesses. I am just racking my brain for some psychological concept that would explain this sort of thing. But honestly, I don't know if there is one. At best, this woman is disrespectful, presumptuous, and unhygienic, and a moron. At worst, she's malicious, manipulative, and it's like low-key sociopathic. And look, even if she weren't using her hand like a Kleenex and then shoving a freaking Triscuit in your son's mouth, the mental health issues you mentioned — the jealousy, the lying, that just paints a picture of a problematic woman who is not someone you want in your life, certainly not around your kids.
[00:05:52] Gabe, there's got to be some deep, dark psychological motive for why she's doing this, but obviously there's no way to know for sure. I mean, is this like envy? Is it rage? Is it masochism? It's almost sounds like she secretly hates this woman and her family. I know that might sound dramatic, but it really does sound like that.
[00:06:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or she loves them so much she wants them all to share the same germs in some way — I don't even know what that would Munchausen syndrome by proxy, by proxy, like double proxy, Munchausen syndrome.
[00:06:20] Jordan Harbinger: Sounds like a special at Burger King.
[00:06:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's really not on the menu. I have no clue. This is beyond weird.
[00:06:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this is next level. Her motivation is a mystery, but her behavior — that much is obvious. So honestly, I think this is pretty straightforward. I think the answer is you get together with your husband. You make it crystal clear how messed up this is, and you get on the same page about how you interact with Bob and freaking typhoid mommy over there because everything you're describing is beyond the pale.
[00:06:51] Showing up on announced — okay. It's weird. It's rude. Deliberately giving your kids viruses and infections that almost land them in a hospital — that is straight-up creepy, and it creates a ton of stress and vulnerability in your house. And then when you bring it up like, "Hey, please don't have us over when you guys are sick. Please don't spread your kids' cooties to mine," she laughs. It's just like gaslighting or worse. This lady has got to go. No more pathogenic pastries, no more breaking bread at the croup castle, no more road trips with the contagious crotch goblins. I could go on, but you get the point. This is not some innocent mistake where your kids pick something up on the playground one time. This is a pattern. It is deliberate. This woman is a vector. And you are well within your right to want to protect your literal bodies from infection to say nothing of your minds.
[00:07:40] And by the way, I don't know if you noticed it's a pandemic. There are other things out there that are worse than what your kids already have, and she could easily bring them to you.
[00:07:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Good point.
[00:07:47] Jordan Harbinger: My advice, new policy here, you and this woman, you're not hanging out anymore. No more swinging by unannounced. Like you live in a bad NBC sitcom. You don't owe her any. This is the Cosmo Kramer, but like with diseases instead of snacks. Okay.
[00:08:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Typhoid Kramer.
[00:08:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Typhoid Kramer. You don't owe her anything. And these playdates — yeah, they're not happening either. Not until this woman acknowledges what she's done, gives you a damn good reason to think she'd behave differently. And, you know, spoiler alert, people with kids are a dime a dozen, just find some new freaking friends. I'm sure your kids won't miss them either.
[00:08:19] Now, it sounds like you've tried to do that. But to use your words, "It just doesn't happen like that. There's no getting away from this person for me," but like, what does that mean? "It doesn't happen like that."
[00:08:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. What does that mean? I don't understand.
[00:08:32] Jordan Harbinger: Either, you agree to just not see this couple anymore or you don't, but if they want to go do dinner or go on a trip, you say, "Sorry, I'm not going to be able to go. I got to decline for the reasons I explained before." Just hold the boundary. There is getting away from this person if you are willing to stand up to this woman and stand up for yourself, which might also mean being more assertive with your husband, if he's not quite getting why this is such a big deal, I know that can be kind of scary, but this is essential.
[00:09:02] Now that said, I know it's not as easy as just cutting this woman off your husband and her husband are BFFs. He's his number one employee. That obviously makes things more complicated. So when you strategize with your husband about how to handle all of this, I would help him figure out a way to manage this with Bob as best he can. Maybe he says, "Look, man, my wife and I are concerned about this whole getting sick thing. It's not cool. That cannot happen anymore, but that doesn't have to affect our friendship and it doesn't have to affect our working relationship. You're still my homie. I still value you as an employee. I hope we can just keep these two things separate." And then hopefully, Bob and your husband can find a way to preserve their friendship, even if you stopped socializing as a family.
[00:09:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: That is the goal for sure. And I hope they can do that. But at the same time, I do wonder, is this really something that they can compartmentalize? I mean, Bob's wife is acting like a legit maniac and if Bob doesn't agree with them, that his wife is in the wrong here — oh, is that a friendship you can sustain? Because this isn't a minor disagreement about, you know, a little league call or carpool schedules or whatever it is. This seems like a fundamental rift. It's almost like two different relationships with the reality. So I guess I'm wondering — I don't know. I hesitate because the husbands obviously have a real friendship but can that friendship survive if Bob can't even begin to see their side?
[00:10:23] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah, that's a good point. I guess it depends on how deep that friendship really is. If they grab a drink now and again and mostly interact over spreadsheets and sales reports, they might be able to compartmentalize. But if these two families are deeply entwined and Bob and her husband are super tight, I mean, they've been friends for 14-plus years, so maybe they are. Then that'll be a lot harder.
[00:10:44] So honestly, I don't know, but for the sake of the business and their friends, I hope they can figure it out. But then my advice is you and your husband need to communicate really well about all of this. Get clear on how important these relationships actually are, what they mean to you guys, whether your husband can stay close to Bob in a way that doesn't feel unfair to you. Most importantly, get on the same page in terms of your policy on hanging out with his family. Because I get the sense that that's where a lot of the resentment and friction is coming from, not presenting a united front, which leaves you feeling like you're on your own or somehow you're the crazy one. And by the way, you are not, she is the crazy one, just to be a hundred percent clear. Okay. But honestly, you have a lot of power in this situation as a mother and a wife, you get to decide who your kids spend time with. You get to decide who comes over announced or not, where you guys go. So don't discount that either.
[00:11:38] Bottom line, this woman is not your friend. Keep this freaking headcase away from you and away from your family. And, you know, I don't like using disparaging terms like that, but this woman is deliberately malicious. And so I just, I have more choice words that I don't want to use on the show for somebody like that. You're right. This problem is unfixable because only this woman can fix it. So, hey, in a situation like that, your only move is to draw a boundary and hold it. And just pray that your husband doesn't pick up freaking whooping, cough or something when he plays racquetball with Bob on the weekends. Sending you all the good thoughts and some hand sanitizer. So good luck out there.
[00:12:17] You know who won't infect your body, mind, and home, at least not without your express approval? The amazing products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:12:28] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. If you've ever considered seeking a therapist, let this be your sign to try it out. I highly recommend Better Help online therapy, whether you've got burnout, you're feeling a little lack of motivation or myriad other curve balls that life might bring your way. Better Help online therapy is solid. All their therapists are licensed and trained professional therapists. They're available worldwide 24/7. A lot of people have been asking me if they're international or if they keep weird hours, can they still do it? Yes, yes, and yes. And now they actually have therapy available for couples and teen counseling as well. I think that's a little bit new. I know a lot of you said before that they didn't have that. They do now. Also, Better Help takes privacy very seriously. You can stay totally anonymous if you want to. Video, phone, even live chat sessions, right from the comfort of your home. Stay at your own couch. Why go to theirs? You can text things to your therapist at any time right when you think of it. There's a journal in the Better Help app you can use, and you can share it with your therapist as well. Also more affordable than in-person therapy. No driving, no parking. You get matched in under 48 hours. If you don't like your therapist, which happens, you can switch. No extra charge.
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[00:15:07] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:15:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. I recently reconnected with a girl I went to high school with who is always on my radar, but the timing was always off. She would have a boyfriend. I would have a girlfriend. That type of stuff. We've really hit it off like I've always wanted. The only thing is that she has HSV-2, a type of herpes. She told me that before we did anything physical and we've slept together since then. We use protection, but my paranoia gets the best of me from time to time. So I went to get tested. I tested negative, but I still feel that at any point she could give it to me. She takes the strongest antivirals and it hasn't had an outbreak for five years. That being said, I still don't know if I can get serious with her long-term if that's always going to be an issue. I know that's not fair to her, but it's a huge deal to me. At the same time though, I really liked this girl. Am I being unreasonable here or is it fair for me to be concerned? Signed, Transmissible Terror.
[00:16:04] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting question. You know, herpes is one of those things that's been made out to be super scary and gross, and there's this huge stigma around it. It's kind of an easy punchline and you see that on TV a lot, people ragging on each other for having it or talking about how scared they are of getting it or whatever. But the reality is it is extremely common. In fact, we did some quick research here. According to the CDC, 47.8 percent of Americans between 14 and 49 have HSV-1. So basically, half the population has it. And just under 12 percent have HSV-2 and just FYI, 50 to 80 percent of US adults have oral herpes, 50 to 80, which is pretty wild. And with all forms of herpes, there are often no symptoms whatsoever. So these viruses are a lot more common than most people think. And they are not as bad as people make them out to be.
[00:17:01] That said, I can certainly understand why being with somebody who has herpes might put you in your head. You're not a total a-hole for being concerned. It is a concern, but it is a relatively mild one. And as you know, herpes isn't going to kill you. Plus the antivirals out there these days are super effective. And if your girlfriend hasn't had an outbreak in a long time, the chances of giving it to you appear to be very, very low, especially if you're using protection. So in my view, I just think it would be a real shame to leave a great relationship, especially somebody you could see yourself settling down with long term, just because she has this virus that is this extremely common virus, extremely common and extremely manageable.
[00:17:43] First of all, it's not her fault that she has it. Nobody wants to get herpes. Nobody goes out and tries to get herpes, except for the mom from question one. And I'm sure your girlfriend went through her own cycle of shame and panic about this and having a partner make her feel bad about it all over again, that just sucks. And she absolutely did the right thing by telling you before you guys got physical, but also you could keep sleeping with her and just never get it, between the protection and the medication and communicating openly with each other, you could be totally safe. But even if you did get it — and I don't mean to sound flippant here, I understand that most people would rather not have to deal with this, but if you ever did get it, you'd be okay. It's not fun, but it's not, you know, HIV or hepatitis or something like that, where you really need to get treatment and stay on your meds and monitor your health all the time and all that stuff.
[00:18:35] The best thing you can do is communicate openly with your girlfriend. If she ever did have an outbreak, she should tell you and you should make her feel comfortable telling you the more you stigmatize it, the more it'll be hard to acknowledge. And that could become a bigger issue in the relationship. But yeah, man, I wouldn't blow up a relationship with a girl I've been super into for a decade and are getting along with great, just because of this one thing that wasn't even her fault. But if it's hard to get over your anxiety, if it's getting in the way of you guys becoming even more close, then I would do some homework. Read up on how other couples manage this. There are millions of them out there. Study the science of the virus, put yourself at ease a little bit. And most importantly, talk to your girlfriend, keep the line of communication open. Because if you really fall for this girl and you want a future, this herpes thing, it could easily just be a footnote in your relationship. She's doing all the right things. She's being honest and responsible. Nothing horrible is going to happen to you guys. I just think you have a little work to do to process your own feelings around it, which is perfectly valid. So good luck, man. I really do hope it works out.
[00:19:41] By the way, Gabe, a long time ago, I went to Vegas and a friend of mine saw — I guess it was posted on Facebook or something like that. And he goes, "Oh, I'm in Vegas too." And this is a close friend of mine and I said, "Oh, what are you doing here?" And he goes, "Oh, it's a herpes dating meetup."
[00:19:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, interesting.
[00:19:56] Jordan Harbinger: And I said, "Oh, that's cool." That's so interesting that that exists and makes perfect sense, right? Because everybody discloses and the other people aren't like, "Oh god deal breaker. I'm running." It's like, you just know everyone's coming in with the same—
[00:20:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:20:06] Jordan Harbinger: —sort of thing that they got to manage. And like, nobody has to go through the awkward conversation cause everybody's already familiar. So he's like, "Yeah, stop by for brunch." So we meet them at brunch and a couple of the women are like, "Oh, how do you know Jamie?" And I'm like, "Oh yeah, we met at this thing like a long time ago, whatever." And then just as a pure reflex, I said, "How about you?" And they were like, "Aah," and I was like, "Oh, I'm the weirdo here that doesn't have it." So they're like, "How do we—?" Because nobody wants to be like, "We all have herpes," right? Nobody wanted to do that.
[00:20:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's fair, but I love that a group like that exists. Why not?
[00:20:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it was there — everybody there was really cool. Like we hung out the whole weekend. It was super fun. It was — the takeaway from that was super normal people that you meet every single day have herpes. And now, we know it's half the US population. So chances are—
[00:20:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:20:55] Jordan Harbinger: —like 50 percent of the people you interact with on a daily basis have this and it's not freaking affecting them that much at all. Other than an awkward conversation in the beginning of dating some of the time.
[00:21:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, so true.
[00:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: You can reach us at email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise and try to use a descriptive subject line that does make our job easier. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you just need a new perspective on stuff, life love, work. What to do if you're thinking about another man on your wedding anniversary? Was it Gabriel? You can tell me. Wait, was it me? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:21:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Can you imagine if we got that email, like on my second anniversary, I just can't stop thinking about you guys.
[00:21:40] Jordan Harbinger: Your voice. I'm like, just look at one of my YouTube videos. That's the cure. Like, never mind, I don't need a pasty moonfaced guy in my life. I already have one.
[00:21:49] All right, what's next?
[00:21:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe, I have this friend who's ghosted me multiple times once for like two years. Normally, I would just move on, but this is somebody who helped me figure out a lot of things in my life and has been there for me when I was depressed or anxious about work. He's a great listener. And when we're hanging, we see each other every day, even if it's just for a short walk. I figure that this is his way of doing his own thing without pretending that he's busy or making up excuses. So when we got back to hanging out, I didn't even bring it up. He's a good soul and he's a positive force, but then a few weeks ago, he stopped responding to my messages again. Part of me thinks that's not acceptable for friends to do to each other. So now I'm tempted to just give up on the friendship. But part of me thinks that maybe I don't know him that well, even if we've been friends for a decade. Should I be open to letting him back in my life if he ever reaches out again? And is this a matter of self-respect? Signed, A Ghosted Guy Hung Up on Being Haunted.
[00:22:46] Jordan Harbinger: Uh, yeah, I feel your pain, man. I've had a few friends like this over the years. And to be fair, I might have been this friend to a few people in the past, although not intentionally. I now put a lot of effort into being responsive as those of you who have written into the show can attest. We're all walking our own paths with different needs and interests and expectations. And sometimes those values just don't line up consistently. And I hear how hard that's been for you — I get it — especially when this person has played such a big role in your life. That can be pretty confusing on top of being hurtful. So I feel for you here. I'm sorry, your friend hasn't always been very thoughtful.
[00:23:24] First of all, I am with you. I don't think it's cool for friends to do this to each other at all — ghosting, dropping off, being kind of shady, unthoughtful, not great quality. efinitely not how you want your homie to treat you. Now, I will say that this is something people tend to do when they're younger. Like in my 20s, even may early 30s, I had a lot more friends like that. Now that I'm a little old, the people I keep clothes they're steady. They're consistent. I'm the same with them. That's how I want it. It's possible that you're in the process of realizing that yourself and this guy, he's the person who's helping you understand what kind of people you do want to be close with.
[00:24:01] But before you decide to write him off completely, I do think it's okay to just ask him point blank, "What's up?" If this friend pops back up in three months and you guys decided to grab a drink, maybe you just say, "Hey, listen, man, I'm sure you know this, but our friendship has meant a lot to me. You've helped me through some really tough times. I really value that. I love hanging out. But I've noticed that we aren't consistently close and it seems like we spend a bunch of time together and then you just kind of go off on your own for a while. And hey, that is fine. I don't mind if that's how you'd like our relationship to be, but it is a little bit confusing. I don't know why or when it's going to happen. And sometimes I'm just left wondering like, hey, what happened? And you know, did something happen? I can't tell how close we really are. So I just figure, I would ask you. You know, what's going on? Is there something going on? Is there anything I can do to be a better friend to you? You know, help me understand."
[00:24:49] And then hear him out, make it safe for him to be real with you. You know, maybe he goes, "No, not at all. I'm just, I'm in my own world. I get distracted easily, you know me," and then you'll know it's not your fault. He's just that way. Now that doesn't let him off the hook, in my opinion, that is still crappy behavior from a friend. But hey, at least now you know. But if he's like, "Yeah, well, I do do that. I get overwhelmed taking care of my friends sometimes," and then you'll have to figure out what to do with that. You know, maybe you dial back on how much you rely on this person or you guys talk it out. See if maybe you were asking for too much, or maybe he was taking on too much from you or other people. Both are possible. Both are things you can absolutely work on in a friendship.
[00:25:31] It's also possible that he'll get really awkward and be like, "Oh, this is an uncomfortable conversation," and just give you a BS reason for ghosting. And you'll never really know what's going on because well, dudes be dude sometimes. But to me that is still a sign that you need to adjust your expectations. Because then the main issue is that this is a guy who isn't really being open with you, who is not taking your experience seriously. And that's just not a great friend either. Like you said, there's an element of self-respect and how you let people treat you.
[00:26:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: You know, it's interesting, Jordan. I have a really, really good friend of mine and I'm like, I would say like a year into our friendship I noticed something very similar happening where we would be super close and we would hang out. We would do like a weekend trip together. And then I wouldn't talk to him for three months. And so I did this exact thing that you just recommended. I was just like, "Hey, I noticed that this is what happens and we don't talk. And I just want to know, like, is everything cool? Is there something I'm not understanding," or whatever. And he was so — first of all, he seemed relieved to be able to talk about it, bluntly—
[00:26:30] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:26:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: —which was really interesting. But he also said, "Oh dude, not at all. Like, you're the only person I want to hang out with as much. I get overwhelmed when I have to like, be available to other people. And I just have to have like weeks where I'm just selfish and I just pay attention to my stuff and I don't deal with anybody else." Like he was just very forthright about it and it was incredibly liberating for both of us to just know where we stood and it actually made our friendship stronger. I think it brought us closer together. We're even tighter now than we were before, but I think that's partly because I don't get in my head or get hurt when he goes off for three or four weeks and doesn't respond to a text. I just know that that's the way he. And I know that it's not a reflection of his character.
[00:27:07] So I think doing what you recommended could be a game changer, no matter what the other guy's response is, he'll finally know where he stands. And sometimes that's the best thing for our friendship.
[00:27:17] Jordan Harbinger: You know, it was funny, I'm thinking about 30-year-old me or 20-something-year-old me and I would never do this. I would never follow this advice because I would feel so awkward. It would be so cringy to think about having a conversation with a friend of mine this way. As a guy, I would never take this advice if I were under 35, but it is such good advice because guys never have real conversations,. Like so rarely do you have a real conversation. Maybe you do. But like, I never had real conversations with my friends when I was in my 20s. Like that never, that never happened.
[00:27:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:27:49] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe annually one person and I would have a conversation like this after drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels or something. And then the next day you're like, "Oh, yeah, and I hope nobody remembers that," you know?
[00:28:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally. Yeah, no, I can't say I had those conversations when I was younger either. I think I've learned to have them, but also this is why guys have such stupid friendships.
[00:28:08] Jordan Harbinger: So bad, yeah.
[00:28:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: We could help ourselves out a lot if we just became like 10 percent more vulnerable and just hash something out, instead of just pretending that this issue isn't even an issue because it makes us feel some type of way.
[00:28:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I hundred percent agree. So really you have a few options here and they are not mutually exclusive. You can adjust your expectations, which is very standard in friendship as you get older. It happens all the time. You can talk this out with him, hopefully, resolve any issues and agree on the right amount of contact to have. Or you can just take a cue from him and pull back and possibly say goodbye to this friend. At a certain point, you just have to say to yourself, "Okay, this person is showing me what they want and who they are. And that's okay. It kind of stings, but it's totally fine. Now, I know." And then you can free up space in your life for more fulfilling, more stable friendships. And I realized that's painful in the short term, but ultimately that's healthy.
[00:28:58] My only other advice — hey, show up for other people the way you wish this guy had showed up for you, man. You know sometimes that is the best lesson we can take away from disappointing relationships. And hey, maybe that's the last big lesson that this guy teaches you. Good luck.
[00:29:15] You know who won't come and go — I mean, as long as you keep paying them to stick around? The amazing sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:29:24] This episode is sponsored in part 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 nifty comparison tool a try and you might just find getting a rate and the coverage you deserve is easy. All you need to do is visit Progressive's website. Get a quote with all 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 to join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
[00:30:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
[00:30:21] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Nissan. The future will be great, but today is just as incredible. Meet Nissan's most advanced lineup. If you can't get enough adrenaline, there's the all-new 400 HP Nissan Z, or for your off-road adventures, check out the all-terrain Nissan Frontier. If you're more of a spontaneous road trip type of person hop in the Nissan Pathfinder. So let's enjoy the ride.
[00:30:40] Jen Harbinger: 2023 Ariya and Z not yet available for purchase. Expected availability this spring for 2023 Z and this fall for 2023 Ariya.
[00:30:49] Jordan Harbinger: All right, now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:30:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 37-year-old man who married my Japanese wife at 22 years old. The relationship had been going down a hill for many years when COVID hit and we were forced into close quarters, which didn't help at all. On top of that, our son was doing Zoom kindergarten, which was absolutely ridiculous. We then learned that in my wife's hometown in Japan, they were doing in-person schooling. So we decided that my wife and son would go there for a semester, which gave my wife and me time apart, gave her family time with our son, and allowed our son to experience a different culture and language. The school my son attended in Japan was above and beyond what he could be getting in the US. He's worked on stem projects, public speaking, yoga, reading, computer science, and more. I saw my son suddenly excelling and maturing at an amazing rate, much more than he was in the states. That's when my wife proposed that they stay in Japan. I ended up agreeing so that he could continue learning and maturing, but the heavy cost is that I'm not directly in his life. I can't live in Japan because they have a very strict visa system. All I can do is travel there for three months at a time, which I'll likely do in the future. My wife and I have agreed to move on and she started dating a new man with multiple kids. Soon, this will mean a father figure in my son's life who is not me. I'm the main breadwinner in the family earning roughly six times in the states, what my wife makes in Japan. With all this new free time I have, I've decided to focus on self-improvement as a way to model for him what's possible. I've started working out regularly, taking dance classes and drum classes. Eventually, I hope to settle down with a new partner to show my son what a true loving relationship is supposed to be. Also, I talked to him about four times a week and constantly encourage him to work hard and push himself like I'm doing but I wonder if I'm doing the right thing on a daily basis. Of course, the huge question on my mind is are the trade-offs worth it? Signed, A Distant Dad Trying to Go the Distance.
[00:32:45] Jordan Harbinger: Oh boy, this is a tough one. I'm not sure. There's an easy answer to your question.
[00:32:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:32:51] Jordan Harbinger: This is a situation where there are always going to be trade-offs whether your son was living with you in the states or with his mom in Japan, or you guys somehow stayed together. It's messy. It is heartbreaking. It's life. And just coming to terms with that, accepting that your son is going to be impacted by this situation one way or another, that is really hard. I know it's a bummer, but I'm not sure there's really a right solution at this point. You can drive yourself crazy with that question.
[00:33:20] There's only a better and a worse way to show up for this imperfect situation and give your son the best possible life in these circumstances. So, honestly, if you feel that this arrangement is the way things have to be, then the best thing you can do for your son is to be a loving, consistent presence in his life. Interacting with your dad, mostly on a screen, yeah, that is not ideal. It will definitely shape your relationship. But when you go over there for three months at a time, which seems really important, especially at this stage of his life, I would just make every second of those visits count. You know, pick him up from school. Spend quality time with him in the evenings, planned trips and adventures together, shower him with love and attention, get to know him, all of that. And then, when you go back to the states, he'll have that connection with you and you can keep nurturing that over Skype, email, sending him videos and letters and gifts in the mail, whatever it is.
[00:34:15] And then he'll understand, you know, "Daddy's coming back in a few months, he's always there and he always comes back." That is crucial for a child. And I'm glad to hear that he has another man in his life, a larger family that could also be good for him. Part of your job is to get along with your ex-wife's new partner. I'm sure you know this — to build the best possible relationship with her as well. I would add that to your list of things to model for your son, not just working out and picking up hobbies and finding a good partner. All of which are great, by the way. But also being the kind of guy who treats his ex-wife well, who's respectful to her new partner, the kind of guy who's creating a peaceful and loving family in a tough situation. That is powerful too.
[00:34:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well said, Jordan. The only thing I would add is I would also make a real effort to stay close with your son as he gets older, you know, create the kind of relationship where you guys can talk about anything. Because even if you do everything right in this situation, your son is still going to experience some degree of pain or disappointment. I mean, all kids do, right? And one day he might have questions about why you weren't in Japan or he might feel angry or sad that you and his mom didn't stay together. He might have some feelings about being uprooted to another country at such a young age. Although I will say that could also turn out to be a huge asset to him one day to speak both languages and to be connected to two very interesting and different countries. That could be another thing that you help your son appreciate.
[00:35:41] But my point is one of the best things you can do is invite your son, to be honest with you as he grows up because when he's 16 and he's kind of angsty and he's feeling a little angry at dad for not being there all the time, you won't be able to go back in time and fix that. But you can say, "Listen, bud, if you're mad at me, I understand. I am willing to hear that. If you're sad, I get it. I am sad too. Tell me about that. I'm here to listen." You have to make it okay for your son to bring that stuff to you. You guys have to have a way of working through those feelings and still staying close.
[00:36:12] But for that to be possible, you have to create that relationship starting now, whether it's, you know, at midnight on Zoom or it's in the car on the way to school, when you go visit him in Japan. I guess what I'm saying is it's the quality of your relationship that's going to keep him grounded and keep you guys close, not the absence of problems in this situation.
[00:36:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Great point, Gabe. He sounds like a pretty conscientious guy, so I hope he finds a way to do that. It's not easy being a father halfway across the world. I think that would kill me. I really feel for this guy. My heart actually ached hearing you read this letter, no exaggeration. I rarely feel that sort of emotion.
[00:36:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:36:50] Jordan Harbinger: But this nagging question you have, "Am I doing the right thing?" that is the hardest part of all this, just living with the fact that there is no perfect solution, at least the way that things stand now. But if you focus on everything we talked about, you can minimize whatever damage does result and maximize all the upsides of growing up in his unconventional way. And hey, maybe things change in a few years and you reevaluate. Maybe he spends some time in the states with you or you move to Japan on a more permanent basis, or your wife moves back. It's all possible. So stay open to how the situation evolves, keep looking for the upsides and the opportunities, but most of all spend as much meaningful time virtual or real with your son. Prioritize him as much as possible. Of course, he deserves that. I'm sending you guys good thoughts.
[00:37:38] Man, there really is no easy answer to that one, Gabe. That's one of those—
[00:37:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:37:41] Jordan Harbinger: Like, you got to do what's best for your son, but also your heart will just break every day because he's not there, right? And up and moving to Japan is probably pretty tricky depending on whatever line of work you're in. It's just got to be tough.
[00:37:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. It also sucks that we live in a world where they have to make those choices because the trade-offs are so extreme. Like the fact that school here is so imperfect.
[00:38:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like the pandemic threw a wrench in the gears, but in Japan they figured it out. So do I send my son to the better school, but it's halfway across the world? Should he be close to his mom or should he be close to me? Because his mom and I just will not work out — like, oh man, like in life, you don't get the clean solution.
[00:38:18] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:38:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like, it's really hard to deal with the reality, which is that the trade-offs are there no matter what.
[00:38:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And you have to do what's best for your kids. And then you have to make them realize that you did what was best for them because to the kid, he'll be like, "Oh, so dad really didn't want to deal with me. So he sent me off to Japan."
[00:38:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:38:32] Jordan Harbinger: "And now he's like at home in America, dating different women, like screw you, man." And you're like, "No, I would've killed to have you at home all the time, but then you'd have to go to a school that costs $40,000 a year and does half the stuff your school does in Japan, right? And then you wouldn't have had your mom around." Like, it's just — uh, it's just like a no-win situation. It's so ugly.
[00:38:51] All right, what's next?
[00:38:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, long story short, I know I need therapy now more than ever. I've checked some trustworthy websites that suggested I might have clinical depression and that I should see someone. The problem is whenever I go to their website to book a session, I just hit the close button in the end. I'm also seeing patterns of self-sabotaging behavior in other aspects of my life. Nothing physically harmful, but serious stuff that could impact my career or is already affecting my relationships with friends, family, and most of all, my husband. I've been thinking about writing to you guys for about a month too, but I just couldn't. I do have an interest in psychology. I listened to audiobooks and podcasts with qualified people, and I have some speculations about what my situation is, but if being my own therapist work, it would have by now. I don't have a lot of people to talk to and I also have trust issues. I feel like I won't be able to, or maybe I don't want to open up. And I also feel like that might damage me more than heal me. I try to keep positive things around me and avoid things that are uncomfortable. So how do I force myself to go to therapy? Signed, Trying to Get Off My Feet, but Dreading the Couch.
[00:40:00] Jordan Harbinger: You know, we actually hear this kind of thing a lot on the show. Like a few weeks back when we took the letter from the guy who cries during tough conversations and was sort of BS-ing his therapist because he didn't really want to open up. So you're not alone there. And I appreciate your honesty. You're obviously struggling with reaching out, but the fact that you're onto yourself here, that you can see your resistance so clearly, I'd say that's already a big step in the right.
[00:40:25] So, first of all, if you're at the point where you're wrestling with depression, you're noticing other self-sabotaging behavior in your life, you know that your trust issues are affecting your career and your relationships, and you still can't bring yourself to talk to somebody, then your best bet might be to short circuit that behavior by just taking the leap, even if it makes you wildly uncomfortable and book that session. Because we could sit here all day and try to dissect, you know, "Why are you so averse to therapy? And how does the trust stuff work? And what happened to you in the past that made it hard to let someone in?" all these, by the way, are great questions, but those are the questions you'll explore in therapy.
[00:41:03] Sometimes the best thing to do when you're feeling a ton of inertia is just thrust yourself into the uncomfortable situation, tolerate the feelings that commitment brings up and just dive in. At some point, you'll have to pull the trigger. You have to be bigger than the fear. You have to make a commitment and say, "Yeah, I'm freaking terrified of having to deal with this, but I have to, so I am. So okay, next Tuesday at noon." Bam, done. Otherwise, what? six months go by, a year goes by, and you're just having the same conversation.
[00:41:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: The exact same conversation. I agree. But my advice to you there is when you go to your first session, I would just tell your therapist, everything you've told us, which was a great place to start. Be very upfront with that person. Because the resistance that you're describing, it's not just a barrier to getting into therapy. In a lot of ways, that resistance is the subject of therapy and a good therapist, especially a therapist who works more psychodynamically — which I would recommend looking into if I were you, I think it might be very helpful — they'll want to dig into that resistance with you because the resistance itself is meaningful.
[00:42:07] Resisting therapy, that's usually a way to avoid the feelings that therapy will bring up, whether it's, you know, being angry or being embarrassed or being sad or having to unpack the depression or whatever it is, it could also be a fear of what you're going to learn about yourself or even a fear of what you might learn about other people in your life. It could also be some concerns you have about having to change big things in your life after trying to keep things together like this for so long. Or, you know, the resistance might be a way to avoid having to create another close relationship. That's also a possibility.
[00:42:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think that relational piece is probably playing a big part here. She did say that she has trust issues. So I'm guessing there's something difficult about being intimate with somebody, especially someone new. But, you know, that therapeutic relationship, that is also what allows for the growth and healing that she's looking for. So there are two sides of the same coin.
[00:42:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, exactly. Right. She's afraid to get close to someone who can help her learn how to get close to someone, all the more reason to reach out and, you know, get close to someone.
[00:43:08] Jordan, I also found it interesting that she says she listens to all these audiobooks and podcasts and she has a decent grasp of her problem. That's great. I encourage that, obviously. I think it's wonderful. But that could also be an interesting form of resistance, right? To take this kind of academic approach to working on yourself. Like, "If I just listened to enough Esther Perel, I can fix my relationship." Or, you know, "If I just read one more article about depression, maybe I can kick this thing on my own." But reading about mental health, studying up on psychology, yeah, that's helpful. For sure, it can introduce you to new concepts. It can keep you engaged with that world, but it's no substitute for being in the room with a good therapist, doing the work, processing these feelings, talking about your life, all of that. Like you said, if that actually worked, it would have worked by now. And it's really good that you see that.
[00:43:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's a really good point, Gabe. I'm glad that you brought that up because I think that even happens sometimes with people listening to this show. You know, like, "Oh, I don't need to go to therapy. I'll just listen to Feedback Friday," which don't get me wrong. I love that. And I really do believe that hearing other people's stories is a huge source of help and comfort. But turning to any good resource can also be a great way to avoid having an experience yourself. It's like watching travel videos on YouTube about Sicily and being like, "Eh, I don't need to go to Palermo. This is good enough." Well, okay, but you still haven't ridden a bicycle through the streets of Palermo. You haven't tasted the food. You haven't walked through these amazing churches, right? It's not the same. Real growth, real healing, it's never conceptual. It is always experiential — meaning you have to experience it for yourself. Just like you had to experience that terrible Super Mario Brothers Italian accent for yourself.
[00:44:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like Jared Leto in House of Gucci.
[00:44:49] Jordan Harbinger: No Italian person talks like that. So I'm not even sure where that really came from. I mean I've never met, I've never seen anybody with that ridiculous of an accent but anyway — I hope that gives you the nudge that you need. The discomfort that you feel, the fear that you have, the depression, it's real. I get it. I know it's tough, but you can use those feelings to lean in rather than running away from them. You got over your resistance to writing us, which is awesome. Now keep that momentum going and book that appointment. Seriously, go right now, do it. Don't wait. Betterhelp.com/jordan if your local therapist is all booked up. You can freak out later. All you have to do right now is hit "confirm," and trust me one day, very soon, you will be so happy that you did.
[00:45:31] I hope y'all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thank you so much. Go back and check out Luis Navia and that deep dive on how to ask for a promotion if you haven't heard those episodes yet.
[00:45:42] If you want to know how I managed to book all of these great folks for the show and manage my relationships using software, systems, and tiny habits, please check out our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. It's over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. I know you think you're going to do it later, but I see people kicking the can down the road. And the number one mistake I see people make is not digging the well before they get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you are too late to make them. So dig the well before you get thirsty, folks. There's a reason this is such an apt analogy. The drills take just a few minutes a day. It's the type of habit that you really ignore at your own peril, not fluff, very crucial stuff. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it.
[00:46:22] A link to the show notes for the episode, jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, or you can connect with me right there on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:46:37] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but not your lawyer so do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice 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.
[00:47:11] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Airbnb's co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky.
[00:47:17] Brian Chesky: One day I had this moment in my life where the metaphor is as if the road I'm going to travel looks exactly like the road I have traveled. This is the rest of my life. And I had this moment, like, I need to make a change. I don't want to work for a company. I want to be an entrepreneur.
[00:47:30] So one day I pack everything in the back seat of an old Honda Civic, and I drive to San Francisco. I get to San Francisco and Joe tells me the rent is $1,159. So I don't have enough money to pay rent. It turns out that weekend though, International Design Conference was coming to San Francisco. And so that's when we had this idea, we said, "Well, what if we just turned our house into a bed and breakfast board design conference?" Joe had three air beds. So we pulled the air beds out of the closet. We inflated the air beds and we called it airbedandbreakfast.com.
[00:47:59] People said, "This idea will never work. Strangers will never stay with the other strangers," but three people did that one weekend. The name Airbnb was purchased on GoDaddy for seven dollars and 99 cents. This summer, we had about four million people every night, staying at a home on Airbnb. And these people came from 220 countries and regions staying at a hundred thousand cities. Imagine all the different cultures living together for the first time in human history.
[00:48:28] In a world on Zoom in a world with more flexibility is a world where while you're working, you can travel. So suddenly the calendar is open 365 days a year for a number of people, but even more profound than that, people aren't just traveling on Airbnb, they're now living on Airbnb. This is a profound shift. I actually think this is one of the biggest shifts in travel since the invention of the airplane, which is to say that the whole nature of travel is blurring with living. Now, people are just nomadic.
[00:48:56] Wait until borders opened up, suddenly people aren't just going away to Colorado for the summer. They're going to another country for the summer. And so I think you're going to have this fundamental shift in where people live, where people work, where people travel. And this is probably the biggest change to our daily living at one time since World War II.
[00:49:16] Jordan Harbinger: For more on the idea that took Airbnb to a billion-dollar company, check out episode 566 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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