Linda Carroll (@Lovecycleslinda) is a licensed marriage and family therapist, relationship sage, and author of Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love.
What We Discuss with Linda Carroll:
- What to do when good chemistry goes bad.
- Why falling in love with “forbidden” people feels so exciting — even when we know it’s wrong.
- What to do when we find ourselves Facebook-stalking old flames and fantasizing about rekindling relationships probably best left in the past.
- What happens to an otherwise good relationship under constant attack by misfiring fight or flight chemicals (and how to get back on target).
- How to get over the end of a devastating relationship and on with your life.
- And much more…
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If you’ve ever tinkered with a chemistry set in the path of an oncoming tornado, deafened by wailing sirens and drenched to the bone with icy rain and cold sweat while relentless barrages of cruel lightning ignite everything you hold dear, you probably have an idea of what it’s like to attempt navigation through a relationship’s tough times.
Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love author Linda Carroll joins us — for the first time on this show — to help us understand what happens when the good chemistry in a seemingly idyllic relationship goes bad and how we can either work through it or commit to moving on when it’s time to call it quits. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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More About This Show
The brain chemistry that motivates us when we’re attracted to someone else informs the lenses through which we see reality. Sometimes these lenses are rose-colored and cause us to view the world — and the object of our infatuation — in a light that’s perhaps a bit more optimistic than how we’d see them without. In Linda Carroll’s book Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love, this is the state that accompanies the first cycle — The Merge.
Over time, it’s natural for this chemistry to acclimate within the context of a relationship, and the lenses shift again, depending on which of the next stages we find ourselves.
But what can we do when this good chemistry — that made us feel incredible and overwhelmed with affection for someone else — turns bad?
Falling in Love with an Incompatible Person
“Nature breeds for diversity, not relationship compatibility,” says Linda. “So we get attracted to somebody, which doesn’t mean it’s not a real attraction. But based on our cultural cues, the idea is ‘the stronger the attraction, the more we’re meant to be with another person,’ and that’s not true.”
So it’s clear that we can be extremely attracted to someone with whom we’re not necessarily compatible. But how can we know for sure? Linda advises, while in this first stage of attraction, to “just go for it. Have a great time. But don’t make decisions until you start to feel less of that chemical attraction.”
In other words, if we can move beyond these feelings of sexual attraction and still find qualities that keep us enjoying — and not annoying — each other, we may be compatible.
Falling in Love with an Inappropriate Person
Sometimes it’s not enough to fall in love with an incompatible person. Sometimes our chemistry really plays havoc with our emotions and makes us fall in love with a person who — in most circles –would be deemed inappropriate for us. This could be anyone from a best friend’s significant other to a boss in the workplace to a “kissin'” cousin.
“Falling in love with someone who’s forbidden? One thing we need to know about that is that makes the longing greater,” says Linda. “Helen Fisher talks about frustration attraction; I love that expression. That when something stands in our way between ourselves and the person we want, in some ways it amplifies the desire. We want it even more. So having that information is really important.”
So what can we do if we find ourselves in this situation?
“Stay away!” Linda says. “Know this information. Understand about frustration attraction. Understand that eroticism gets exaggerated when we move to the forbidden zone and that we have not lost our powers of judgment. We have not lost our discretion. But we have to navigate the chemistry.”
We have to be really careful not to trick ourselves into crossing the line in smaller increments that seem innocent on the surface but move us toward making big mistakes down the line.
A good rule of thumb: if other people you know would be disappointed, angry, or upset to find out about these minor dalliances, perhaps they’re not so minor after all.
The 90-Second Rule
A feeling lasts, on average, 90 seconds. We can use the chemicals generated at this time to take action, or we can start feeding that feeling with thoughts, essentially building it into something it is not. Recognizing this can help us stop such feelings from growing into something destructive.
“Sexual attraction comes,” says Linda. “We feel it. It’s not a bad thing — it’s a human thing. Here it is, it’s my feeling. But what do I do with it? Do I play with it? Do I keep it going? Or do I say, ‘Bad idea. This is the person I work with. I’ll get fired if I even mess around. Off I go in a different direction.’
Journaling about our feelings — and how we choose to act on them — is another way to keep ourselves honest.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about what to do when we fall in love with a fantasy — like an ex and who they (and we) were years ago, how we can use spot stopping with the 90-second rule to distinguish between craving and need, how to curb defensiveness in a relationship to ensure there’s a healthy channel for honest criticism (and forgiveness) for both parties, how to move on from a relationship that’s really over, and lots more.
THANKS, LINDA CARROLL!
If you enjoyed this session with Linda Carroll, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love by Linda Carroll
- Linda Carroll’s Website
- Linda Carroll’s blog
- Linda Carroll at Facebook
- Linda Carroll at Twitter
- Dumped! The Nature of Romantic Rejection by Dr. Helen Fisher, New Scientist
- 90 Second Emotion Rule by Janie, Finding the Peace
- My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
- Shawn Stevenson
- Social Rejection Shares Somatosensory Representations with Physical Pain by Ethan Kross et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Transcript for Linda Carroll | What to Do When Good Chemistry Goes Bad (Episode 42)
Linda Carroll: [00:00:00] Falling in love with forbidden people, takes us into a whole arena that actually is very erotic. Erotic is the forbidden arena in so many different ways. So I think again, it's being able to know that it may feel like it is amplifying my feelings that I should be with that person, but it's amplifying the chemicals that say I can't have that. Therefore I want it all the more.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 00:27] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFillippo. On this episode, we're talking with good friend Linda Carroll. She is a riot. Linda is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She's been working as a psycho therapist, teacher, coach for 35 years. She's the author of Love Cycles. She's been on the show before. You know who she is and if you're new to the show, you're in for a treat. She's just so sharp, so fun. I love having these shows with her today. We're talking about what to do when good chemistry goes bad, falling in love with an incompatible person, falling in love with an inappropriate person, falling in love with a fantasy person like your old girlfriend or your old boyfriend that you haven't seen for two decades, but you're having those feelings or worse, you're actually doing the Google stocking.
[00:01:14] Also, how we can damage a good relationship by our ongoing defensiveness and what this means about our fight or flight chemicals, how to short circuit that process and get things back on track. And last but not least, what to do when a relationship has ended and you just can't get over it and get on with your life, even if none of these apply to you. This is a fascinating exploration of some of the things that we do to rationalize bad behavior on behalf of ourselves or other people. Don't forget, we have a worksheet for today's episode, so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of all of these key takeaways here from Linda Carol. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:01:52] Alll right, here's Linda. Carol. Linda, thanks so much for coming back on the show. It's always so fun to have you come on and talk. And today, I'm excited to talk about when good chemistry goes bad.
Linda Carroll: [00:02:03] Me too. I love talking about this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:06] So when we say chemistry, what exactly are we talking about? When we say what chemicals are we referring to?
Linda Carroll: [00:02:13] We're talking about brain chemistry and how the chemistry in our brain, the drugs that get downloaded and all kinds of situations from stress hormones to fall in love chemicals, how they affect the lens through which we see the world. And therefore, a lot of what we act or act out or feel like we need to act out like the chemistry that goes along with feelings, for example, which is one of the things we can talk about how it seems like that gives us a perception of something being real when in fact it's simply a perception that comes from the chemicals that are getting downloaded due to lots of various situations.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:54] All right, so let's cut right to the sort of the practical scenarios in which happens. First things first, falling in love with an incompatible person. This happens all the time. I feel like my inbox is full of stuff like this. When I used to teach the dating and relationship stuff, this was one of the most common scenarios. I feel like I hear about it more from women than I do men. Not because women do this more necessarily, but because I think men are usually, I think maybe they care less about the compatibility at first than looking more for physical attraction. And I think they're also able to cut things off maybe a little more easily than some of the female listeners to the show. But what does it mean to be incompatible with somebody else?
Linda Carroll: [00:03:37] Well, I think, let's just go back to what you said, because what we know is that many men, most men, not all men, of course, but have about 10 times more of the testosterone. That creates the first hit, which comes from lust. Whereas women have a lot more for the romance. So maybe that's true, but here -- oh, there's so many pieces to this. When we talk about incompatibility, I'm talking about the qualities that make for a good relationship, which are not just sexual attraction because nature breeds for diversity, not relationship compatibility. So we get attracted to somebody, which doesn't mean that it's not a real attraction, but based on our cultural cues, the idea is the stronger the attraction, the more we're meant to be with another person. And that's not true. So let's just keep it at -- at first of all, make it really simple.The stronger the attraction, the stronger the attraction period. End of sentence. That's part one.
[00:04:43] Part two, is let's find out if this person is a compatible person. They are not necessarily connected. We want them to be, it's great if somebody who's compatible with me, I also have a strong chemical and sexual attraction too. But just have any attraction doesn't make that person right for me. So one of the things in my five stages of relationships, and one of the things I caution people who are in this first stage of feeling madly in love with is I say, just go for it, have a great time. But don't make decisions until you start to feel less of that chemical attraction, until you know some other kinds of things. Data, really good data about that person, which doesn't come with the attraction.
[00:05:30] Someone just wrote me this morning and said, “Here's the issue. Can you help me?” And she said, I met this guy after a week, he insisted on getting engaged. He said he'd never felt like this in his life. We've now been engaged for two months and he wants to get married. I've been married three times. I'm not sure I should. So I actually said, I think you should see a therapist and not get coaching for that one. But her drive was so strong sexually. But I mean, what do you think about this? After a week, get engaged, after three months get married, fourth time. I think it's not a good idea, but that's the power of chemicals, if we don't know it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 06:07] The problem with the chemicals is since they operate on the subconscious part, well they operate in our brain, but they're operating largely on the subconscious part of our brain here. Our mind, I should say, and so we use our logic to then rationalize what these chemicals are making us feel. So if we feel really good, I've never felt this way, this is so amazing. Our brain doesn't go well, you know, this is just chemicals going on here. This is probably not really a good situation. Our logic goes, well, you must be feeling this way because there's something really special. So even though you can't quite put your finger on it, you should definitely take action to solidify these feelings because like every feeling, they're definitely going to last forever, right?
Linda Carroll: [00: 06:50] Yeah, yeah. I think the secret of this is for people to learn about this before they have the feeling. Because we get a lot of all -- I think that most of us have a lot of feelings that come through and we learn how to manage them.
[00:07:04] We get feelings, a lot of impulsive feelings about I want to buy this, or I want to go off and have a drink with my friend, at 2 o’clock when I have to go to work at 3. And most of us know how to bypass those feelings. How to say, you know that's a strong feeling, but I really don't need to spend 300 dollars on a silk shirt. So we know how to do that because we understand in some ways, in some arenas that feelings are not necessarily truth. But when it comes to love, I think that we have a culture that promotes this idea that the stronger the chemical feeling, then the stronger the truth is. This is our quote, “soulmate”. I mean, think about the titles of songs and the first lines of songs. I saw her standing there and that was all she wrote. The first time I saw you, blah, blah, blah.
[00:07:53] And so all of that sort of creates this idea that the feeling is what tells us what's true. So one of the things that I teach people very strongly is to try to do a counter instinctive move, which is don't trust the feeling as being something you sign up for a lifetime relationship for. Trust the feeling for what it is, I'm attracted to you.
[00:08:17] Now is this a good thing to go on with? It's not necessarily based on feeling because we can be attracted to all kinds of really inappropriate people. So I mean that, we can talk about that in a few minutes. But I think that, that the strong feeling, we don't know how to recognize it as something to hold back from because everything or so much in our culture says go for it and feeling can mean big trouble.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:42] So what we should do then to counteract this, what our action points should be is when we're getting into relationships, recognize the feeling, maybe even write it down. This feeling is going to come. Don't make any big decisions, six months to a year in terms of life decisions with this person. And actually this is in retrospect what I did because when I met my wife, her and I were feeling very strongly about each other. And for a few months in, we were like talking about marriage and stuff and we both were like, look, reality check. We know that we're just feeling really strong feelings. It's fun to think about all this stuff, and we seem like crazy people so don't tell your parents and I won't tell him you know and friends. But we shouldn't make any actions based on these feelings. And her and I were both in alignment with that, and we didn't get married for years. In part because I'm a lazy ass and didn't plan very well for the proposal.
[00:09:30] But the other reason was because we definitely wanted to make sure, we wanted to make 1,000 percent sure, that our respective honeymoon phases were over with and that we had lived with each other for a long enough period of time where we went, okay, she leaves her bras on the floor and I don't like that, but I can live with it. And Jordan makes a mess in the shower every day and drips everywhere, and I can live with that.That kind of stuff.
[00: 09:58] We had to get all of those flavors out in the relationship and still be compatible even after the crazy you know fires of the feelings of love in a way that the passionate love died down. And a lot of people thought we were weird for doing that, because you're supposed to have this sort of passion phase and really enjoy it. And we enjoyed it, we just didn't get married based on the feelings we had during that time period. And I think that was extremely fortunate because I know a lot of people that do things during this period. Even if you just plan a vacation and it's during that period, except for the vacation or the trip is after that period. It's four or five, six months away, you can go, “Oh my gosh, how the heck did I end up?”
[00:10:39] And you hear these stories. So I've got to go on this trip with my ex fiancé. Why are you going on a trip with your ex fiancé? That's so strange. We booked it six months ago, eight months ago. Oh goodness. Yikes.
Linda Carroll: [00: 10:51] Yikes, yikes. But another thing about that is that if the feelings have sort of died down, this is a strange thing to say, but if the feelings have died down, you've booked the trip and you sort of don't feel that glow, that's a good time to find out if-- that's a better time to find out if you're compatible. Because in a long-term relationship, the feelings do die down. So what you want to know is how resilient we are. What you want to know is how good at we, are we both at recovering from fights, boredom, rainy seasons, times where things are not going well, and being able to trust the resilience of the relationship in one another. And in order to get resilience, you have to have things go flat, right?
[00: 11:43] So when things start to sort of calm down or even when they seem to fall apart, when you put it back together again, you have a lot more trust in the relationship, and that's the counter instinctive part. The counter instinctive part is if it feels great, go for it. If it doesn't feel great back off. But there's a difference between it not feeling great and bad red flags that say get out. Because we're one in that high all the time, I mean in everything because it feels so good. But when the high isn't there, it doesn't mean the relationship is over or bad. It just means it needs some juice put into it to get it back again.
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[00:13:41] Support for the show comes from our friends at Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. This is the mortgage company that decided to ask why. Why can't clients get approved in minutes rather than weeks? Why can't they make adjustments to their rate and term in real time? And why can't there be a client focused technological mortgage revolution? Quicken Loans answered all these questions and more with Rocket Mortgage. Rocket Mortgage gives you the confidence you need when it comes to buying a home or refinancing your existing home loan. Rocket Mortgage is simple, allows you to fully understand all the details and be confident you're getting the right mortgage for you. Whether you're looking to buy your first home or your 10th with Rocket Mortgage, you get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence to make an informed decision. Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently. To get started, go to rocketmortgage.com/forbes. Take it away, Jason.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00: 14:38] What about falling in love with an inappropriate person? Not just an incompatible person but inappropriate person. We hear this stuff as well. You see it news. Teachers and friends, significant others, or even sometimes people in their own family. We had a guest on the show a long time ago, wrote a book in one of the chapters was about cousin love.
Linda Carroll: [00:15:00] Oh my God.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:00] To be fair, these were generally cousins that kind of didn't know each other or they were like second or third cousins. So it wasn't that gross really. It was more like, okay, we don't lead with that, but some people in our family know it and it's more like a funny thing because they never grew up together and the people who, the parent, their parents didn't know each other, that kind of thing. But still, it could be considered inappropriate in some circles, of course, like our best friend's partner. That would be wildly inappropriate. What can we do about that? That's sort of our chemistry going bad as well, but it's not quite the same as the previous scenario.
Linda Carroll: [00: 15:34] So first of all, falling in love with someone who's forbidden. One thing we need to know about that is that that makes the longing greater. Helen Fisher talks about frustration attraction. I love that expression, that when something stands in our way between ourselves and the person we want, in some ways it amplifies the desire. We want it even more. So having that information is really important. Falling in love with forbidden people takes us into a whole arena that actually is very erotic. Erotic is the forbidden arena in so many different ways. So I think again, it's being able to know that it may feel like it is amplifying my feelings, that I should be with that person, but it's amplifying the chemicals that say, “I can't have that. Therefore, I want it all the more.”
[00: 16:27] So what do we do? Stay away. That's what we do, is to know, again, know this information. To understand about frustration, attraction. To understand that eroticism gets exaggerated when we moved to the forbidden zone, and that we have not lost our powers of judgment. We haven't lost our discretion, but we have to navigate the chemistry. Because when we have those big attractions, one of the things that happens is that the part of our brain that's very important for making good decisions gets flooded with the love drugs, flooded with the love chemicals. And so the powers of discrimination get reduced. Like the back of our brain has a part of it called the amygdala, which is like the 911 center of the brain. And that's where we get warning. Watch out. Those are red flags. This is a bad idea.
[00:17:26] And when we have those chemical feelings, that part of the brain gets washed over. So we're not as in touch with it. So knowing how this works I think, I don't know, it'd be interesting to see if 10 years down the road of people or any wiser because we do know so much about the brain now. But when people come to me and they are in love with a quote “forbidden person.” I first of all insist that they get all of this information before they do anything else, is understand what's going on. And often when people understand it, they're able to say, “Boy, what a trick that was,” and they can walk away. When they can't walk away, then that's a whole other issue.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:07] What if we can't walk away? Look, I understand that being cognizant of the chemicals is a great first step, but how do we start to enforce this? Because that's kind of what the chemicals are doing, right? As it's going, “Yeah, I know that I'm going to feel this way and I'm in love with my high school teacher or something, or I'm in love with buy neighbor's wife or something like this.” But the chemicals are making us do these weird rationalizations where they go, well, look, I know that these chemicals exist but this is real because I'm feeling it now in the moment. What week ago or two weeks before those feelings kicked in, it might have seemed different, but now that the feelings are in full force, how do we start to enforce this on ourselves? Instead of saying, yes, I know I shouldn't act on this, because we tend to rationalize what we're feeling even if we're aware that the feelings are really leading us astray.We understand this, right? It's almost like an addiction.
Linda Carroll: [00: 18:59] Okay, here's two. I'm going to give you two responses to that. One is that I think that anybody who is trying to make that shift from moving from reactivity to responding, and I think a lot of people are really conscious of that right now. And I think that that part of making the shift from how we react to responding is knowing ourselves, is understanding our own proclivities, where we make messes and we all do them in different ways. Some people, they do it by getting angry too quickly or not being vulnerable. For some people they do it because they have a high risk kind of, by the way, I'm just going to take a side cut right now and just say that I just read something recently that there is actually a genetic factor in high risk that some people are more risk adverse and some people like risky things. And that is it's genetic and that it's a genetic chemical that gets passed on from one generation to another or one part of the parent to the kid.
[00:20:00] So for some people there's a high risk genetic factor that the more high risk the relationship is, the more they're going to go for it. Whereas person B, who doesn't have a lot of those, that genetic chemical avoids risk. So if I know this about myself, I like risky things, then I have to learn how to manage myself, or else I'll just be doing high risky things all the time and making a lot of trouble for myself. So I think it comes back to where your commitment is to be somebody who moves from reacting to responding. And we have to know ourselves in a lot of ways in order to do this. And one way of course is where we're reactive in love, but there's lots of ways that people have to manage their reactivity. So you're saying, what do you do about it?
[00:20:49] I think you're looking at yourself knowing your history and saying, I've made messes like this before, or I ha I've seen messages like this before. I'm not going to go down that path. Sometimes we step over a line and it's really hard. Once we step over the line, once we start messing around other than our fantasy, when we actually start creating a relationship and moving into it with rationalizing every new step, like I'm just going to talk to that person. We're just going to have coffee. We're not really going to do anything. We're just going to not tell anybody, the steps are more subtle. They go more slowly, and then all of a sudden we're in it with them neck deep. I think that, that's a trick we play on ourselves, and gosh, I think you get to a certain age and you know your tendency to play those tricks, don't you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 21:38] Yeah, I mean, I feel like in college slash your early relationships, you start doing a lot of this stuff. And whenever I see adults or if hear adults doing it, I try not to be judgy, but I also go, “How do you not know that you're getting yourself into this mess?”
Linda Carroll: [00: 21:53] That's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:54] What’s wrong with you? I remember a long time ago, somebody that I know caught her think it was fiancé, or at least boyfriend at the time, cheating with the neighbor. And she had suspected something for a long time, walked in and then there he was on the couch, and they were like, “Oh, we're just talking,” but her bra was on the floor and stuff.
Linda Carroll: [00:22:14] Oh my God. So we're back to the bra on the floor again.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:16] I just think, what a bunch of idiots, not that you have these feelings, and I understand people do things, and the relationships are complicated. But the idea that you would go the extra step to sneak around and know that you're doing this wrong and then continue doing it and then rationalize that, it seems to me like when you do this, you're either a sneaky SOB to begin with or it's a slippery slope where it starts really small and innocently enough and then just gets worse and worse and worse. And then before you know it, you're like, how did I get into this situation over X number of months or years?
Linda Carroll: [00:22:56] Well, I think that the first case is where you're not paying attention. You have no moral compass.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:01] Yeah, you're cheating bastard anyway, right?
Linda Carroll: [00:23:02] So that's one whole thing. Right, but the way that it happens, it happens really slowly. You don't just see, what were some of the examples of your best friends has been and say, or your best friend's wife and say, “well, let's have sex today.” You say you do it slowly, you rationalize it bit by bit by bit until you're really over the line. And you know, sometimes people do fall in love with each other and they break up their relationships and they get into other relationships. But here's another piece of data.
[00:23:31] What it takes to make that work when you've actually done that is an enormous, enormous amount because after the-- we know that the love chemicals were out. We know that they have diminishing returns. Every time you fall in love, they last less and less amount of time. And so six or eight months into it when you've made a huge mess and the chemicals were out, sometimes people can actually make it work. I'd say one out of a hundred couples can do it. But what it takes is so much work and resilience and guilt and years of trying to mend and repair with family, with kids, with friends that if you can have any awareness of what you're getting into, you'll back off of it. So it's like, you know, I don't make these rigid lines. I think love is strange and that people can, lots of, I don't know about cousin love.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 24:27’ Yeah, that one really got stuck in your cry bank.
Linda Carroll: [00:24:30] Yeah. I don't know. Yeah, right, I don't know, you know. I've never dealt with people with cousin love, but I deal with people in all kinds of messes. And people can make messes work. But boy, what a schlep that is, that I think that the trick is don't go over the line to start with because the rationalization starts in ways that we can manage. Let's just take a walk and I'm not going to mention anything to my brother that I'm with his wife because I know it would upset him, but we're just friends. You know, that's how it starts. This little tiny kind of, I can justify this and then it moves to bigger and bigger. So again, this doesn't this all come back to your own self-awareness and being able to learn how to respond, knowing where your triggers are in your own particular, in your own particular psyche.
[00:25:19] Some of us are sexually charged people, we're attracted to everybody, and that's fine. It just doesn't mean that you're meant to be with that person.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 25:28] I think you just hit on something that is interesting where you said, well, I'm just going to go for a walk, but I'm not going to tell my brother because I know it would upset him. There are very few circumstances in which you should go on a walk with somebody significant other and not tell them because you know it would upset them. So for example, if somebody goes for a walk, my wife Jen, she has male friends. If they go on a walk and they go do something. I don't get upset, but I also know about it. It's not a big deal, right? So if you think I shouldn't go out with this person because somebody else would be upset by it, then you probably have a good rubric, a good sort of rule of thumb for deciding whether or not you should be hanging out with that person at all.
[00:26:07] Now I know what people are thinking, but what if the other person is always overreacting? Fine. How about this for a, what is the word I'm looking for? It's like a---
Linda Carroll: [00:26:17] For a counseling session. That's the word. If you have a partner that's always overreacting, you probably need to talk to someone about that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 26:23] For sure, yeah.
Linda Carroll: [00:26:25] That wasn't the word, but I just threw that one.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:27] No, I think you're right there. I think the word I was looking for was terroristic. So for example, if I say, “Hey, everybody that I know, I've got a date with this great girl that I met online.”Everybody who's in my friend circle for the most part, who has my best interests at heart will say, “Oh, that's really great.”
[00: 26:41] Now, if I'm married, which I am, and I tell a bunch of people, “Hey, I've got a date with this girl that I met online.” I think most of my friends and family would go, “That's terrible. You're married. What are you doing dating online?” Right? So this might not be a great rule of thumb for every single instance, but I think we can sort of take the lowest common denominator here, and say, look, if you think that people finding out about what you are doing would be bad for in the opinion of many people that are close to you, that generally have your best interests at heart, maybe you should explore that, you know? Yes, if it's an office romance, you might not want to tell all your coworkers because it's a little bit inappropriate. But if you tell your mom and she's upset by it and you tell your best friend and they're all upset by it, maybe it's not just because you're coworkers. Maybe there's something else going on here.
[00: 27:27]This episode is sponsored in part by Varidesk. I love these things, man. These things are built to last. The company's cool. The idea is cool. The build is great. The quality is great. Essentially Varidesk helps people reimagine their work environment. So you don't have to have the regular old desk. You can put these Varidesks on top of it. It turns your regular desk into a standing desk and you can readjust it whenever you feel like sending down. It'll boost energy and productivity. It adds a little bit of movement to any workday. And they've got this new ProDesk 60 Electric standing desk, which is commercial grade. You can assemble this thing. It's stable at any height. You can put it together in five minutes. Plus, like I said, built to last, built like a tank, if you ask me. And designed to be built, simple to set up and you can move it after you actually assemble it on like half the things that you build from other places no names mentioned. You can try Varidesk products including the new ProDesk 60 Electric risk-free for 30 days with free shipping and free returns if you're not satisfied. Learn more at varidesk.com/forbes, that's V-A- R-I-D-E-S-K.com/forbes.
[00:28:24] This episode is also sponsored by Travel Portland. I was so surprised when I got this show sponsor because I'd already planned a trip to Portland to visit Vanessa Van Edwards and her husband, and filmed some content for you guys and do the show, and it is an awesome place to visit. Jen, my wife was like, we got to move here, and she's been keen on Portland forever. I'd never been there. I thought it was awesome. They had great food. They have all kinds of great local beer if you're into that, they got wine, if you're into that. I have a friend who's kind of a self-appointed Portland tour guide because he's been there for so long and he is just really, really into it.
[00:29:10] We walked all over the place, really great nightlife. The summer in Portland, I got to say it's amazing. You hear all it's rainy and all this stuff. I didn't experience much of that. It rained for like five minutes and it just, I felt like I was living in an old growth forest. It was great. There's a lot of hiking trails. There's a lot to do. There's a lot to eat. The people are super nice. I can't speak highly enough about this place man. I can see myself living in a place like this. It reminded me of all the great things that I loved growing up in Michigan, but just turned up a couple more notches with the some cool Hills and old growth forest and stuff like that, and I just thought it was wonderful. So if you're looking for a getaway for the weekend or something like that or something close by, domestic vacation, visit travelportland.com start planning your trip because you can in Portland.
[00:29:59] If you're hanging out with your neighbor's wife and you tell a bunch of your friends, or you're afraid to tell a bunch of your friends because you know they'll disapprove. Maybe look into that as evidence that you should not be doing this despite what your feelings are telling you.
Linda Carroll: [00: 30:13] Here's a research piece, and I want to talk about feelings next because it's really significant. But the research piece shows that one of the biggest factors for people who cheat and people who don't, since that's what we're talking about, has to do with how quickly they disengage from the attraction. So for example, if you could have 10 people and they all see somebody who's not their partner and feel attracted, nine of them disengage from that thought immediately. The 10th person starts to play with it, and so it's right away. We're talking about right out as soon as the bell rings, if we can move away from it, we're not going to make a mess. The longer we play with it, the more of a mess we make. And this reminds me of the research that we know about feelings.
[00:31:03] The average feeling lasts 90 seconds. Did you know that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:08] I did not know that.
Linda Carroll: [00:31:09] It's really fascinating that the chemical that goes with the feeling is a 90 second hit. Anger, sadness, fear, attraction. It's a chemical, and the reason that we have that feeling is some kind of information that we need. So let's talk about anger for instance. Something happens and I get angry. If all of you listen to this, or who are listening to this, or if you guys think about when was the last time you got angry was, something happened that got in the way of what you wanted or frightened you and the chemical download gave you a hit that said anger. Okay, so 90 seconds later you have to do something with that. You can either use that hit to have the anger be a message that you need to take an action, or you can start feeding the anger with thoughts.
[00:32:05] Oh, it's not fair. People always do that to me. Who does she think she is, blah, blah, blah. I'm always on this freeway, and they shouldn't have people drive like that. You start to feed the anger. It gets bigger and bigger. Or you look at the anger and say, okay, I need to pay attention. I need to take action. So here's an example. You're driving along, there's the red light comes on in your car and it says put oil in. That's all it says. Pay attention. And you say to yourself, I don't like that. I don't like that red. I don't like that red light. I'm going to cover it with duct tape. I'm going to ignore it. So what happens? The car explodes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 32:45] Maybe not that.
Linda Carroll: [00: 32:46] And I'm working couples all the time with this. If you ignore the car, if you ignore the sign that says put oil in, what's going to happen? Something bad is going to happen to the car, and angers like that. If we don't pay attention, it gets bigger and bigger. But if we do pay attention, then we take action. It's the same thing with fear. Fear is a really important chemical. It says, I'm walking along the path. There's a rattlesnake. I'm freaked out. I stand back. I move away, done. Now, every time I go out for a walk, if I start to say, maybe there's a rattlesnake, I need to be careful. Oh my God, what if it comes and gets me? How many people survived snake bites, blah, blah, blah. I'm creating anxiety, and that is what started with the fear, and it's the same thing with sexual attraction.
[00:33:36] The sexual attraction comes, we feel it. It's not a bad thing. It's a human thing. Here it is. It's my feeling, but what do I do with it? Do I play with it? Do I keep it going or do I say bad idea? This is the person I work with. I'll get fired if I even mess around. Off I go in a different direction, so that none of the feelings are bad. There's no feelings that are bad. What makes the difference between somebody who's working on becoming conscious and someone who's willing to keep themselves in the same stew over and over again? They've always been in, is the willingness to look at those feelings and know we have a choice what to do with them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 34:17] That stuff's powerful, but I think the trick is always, always, always in the moment being able to catch ourselves. And I think so writing things down and journaling these things. I hate to sound like a broken record with journaling, but for feelings that are really good because you can look back at things you wrote about what you were feeling and it doesn't lie, right? It's in there in black and white, you don't have that right and you don't have to have a dear diary. I mean you can journal about specific things. If you have a feeling, okay, I want to make sure I'm keeping tabs on how I feel in this relationship. Just journal a few words each day about how you feel about the person or what you're feeling in the moment. And that can help if you're trying to get past cognitive bias and it can certainly help if you're thinking, well, I'm always in relationships and things go up and down and they're so dramatic and haywire. And you can journal this and if you find that Monday, you're so deeply in love and Tuesday you hate the person and Wednesday are deeply in love and Thursday you hate the person.
[00:35:06] You start to see a pattern over and over and over, and no matter what you're feeling on that Friday, good or bad, you can sort of look back at that journal, and go, this is an up and down pattern for me. This is something that's always happened. So you don't have to in that moment take those feelings any more or less seriously than before. So I think that's extremely important.
[00: 35:28] What about falling in love with a fantasy person like the ex-girlfriend. You haven't seen her for 20 years, but you dreamt about her once because of something, and this is an example that gave me. I don't want people being like, are you having dreams about your ex-girlfriend? You Google, or you look her up on social media and then you're starting to think like, oh she lives close to me or I have a business trip to Albuquerque, maybe I should give her a call. Maybe I should take her out for coffee. I get this in my inbox a lot. And this is an example that you and I talked about pre-show that I think is probably pretty common.
Linda Carroll: [00:35:56] Well you know, one of the things that happened, I mean class reunions are classic, aren't they? People go to class reunions and they fall in love with their girlfriend from high school or college. And part of that I think is, and I'll get back to your question, but I think another part of it is that part of what we're falling in love with is who we used to be. And what that first relationship, which usually doesn't follow through to all the stages that relationships go through. I mean we separate from that person prematurely. The love for whatever reason is interrupted.
[00:36:27] We never had a chance to see where it could go. So it's easy to have a fantasy about who we were, or what could be because we all want something easy and wonderful all the time. So people go back to their reunion, I had a client, two clients, they were 80 years old. 80 years old, and one of them had been in a relationship by the time they came to see me, they had been in a row, and I'm telling you this because this was a while ago and they both have died, alas. But one of them had gone to a reunion from, a decade before and fallen in love with a high school girlfriend and had kept it going, was driving between where this person lived and the state that the girlfriend lived back and forth, breaking up his family, going back, coming back. He shouldn't even have a driver's license.
[00:37:15] Coming back and saying, “Oh, I've made a mistake. I want to come home. Will you take me?” Then going back to the girlfriend, I mean, it was crazy and what he discovered in that was that he was willing to work on it. And what he discovered was it wasn't the girlfriend, but it was who he had been and the part, so much of him he had left behind. This was a guy that went to the war and went to the service, went to the war. He lost his whole adolescence, his youth, everything. And seeing her brought back that memory of himself. She was totally inappropriate, he had a whole life with this other woman, blah, blah, blah.
[00:37:53] I won't go into those story, but what you're asking about really is, is that part of what we fall in love with in the old obsession is who we could have been or who we were, because we don't know anything about this person really and who they were and who they are. So it's a fantasy, but fantasies can be so much more euphoric than a real live human being who's annoying, who calls us on stuff, who doesn't always show up the way we want them to. So again, it's lost in a fantasy, isn't it?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:24] Yeah. It's not a real person.
Linda Carroll: [00:37:26] No, it's not. It's a craving. It's a craving from the way we crave drugs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:32] It's really interesting that I, of course, I was going to say, yeah, you're chasing this idealized version of somebody that you met years ago, that maybe never existed or that existed 20 years ago. But really, you're right, you're not even chasing somebody as they existed 10, 20 years ago.
[00:38:49] You're not even chasing somebody that's idealized in your mind. You're doing those two things perhaps. But really you're chasing a feeling that you think you'll get from them. It's not even a person. It could be anything.
Linda Carroll: [00:39:00] That's exactly right. A fantasy feeling, so we have to know this happens. Be kind to our self and firmly stop the fantasy, because you have to practice something called thought stopping. Which is when you start to recognize it coming, it's no different than craving whatever it is that's not good for you. You recognize the craving and you just say to yourself, I'm not going to go down that path. It's the same kind of thing about 90 seconds it comes, it sort of takes over. You feel a chemical awash, that's the craving chemical. But we have to be able to distinguish the craving chemical from the fact that it doesn't mean that we actually need what we're craving. It's a craving chemical. It's not something in us and say I have to have it. It's a chemical hit. They're very different.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:56] So speaking of grudges or anger, a lot of relationships get damaged by this, right? The analogy that my friend Shawn Stevenson uses, you've got to handle this stuff before somebody leaves the cap off the toothpaste and somebody gets stabbed as a result, right? So because these things build up over time and people, we can really damage good relationships by becoming defensive. Explain how this process works and how we can short circuit it and maybe protect ourselves, and our relationships with other people a little bit.
Linda Carroll: [00:40:25] Well, defensiveness is one of the biggest troubles that go on in relationships. And the reason is that our good relationships are based on open communication, and I have to be able to protest what doesn't work for me to my partner. If I don't protest it directly, it goes underground and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So what it might start out is, you forgot the spinach. If my partner is very defensive and gets responsive to that in such a way that it's just becomes painful for me to do anything that's like a criticism or a complaint and I stop. Then what happens is that grudges build, the anger builds, defensiveness breaks down so many relationships because here's the other part of it. So much of the complaining that we do in relationship is meaningless really. It's just getting it off our chest. I just came home from being away for a week, my husband was in bed, he was watching something on his computer. And I went upstairs and he was sweet, but he went back to what he was watching and it really hurt my feelings.
[00:41:36] And I said to him this morning, you know, that really hurt my feelings that you didn't give me a better welcome. He said, “Honey, I'm so sorry. I really get that. You're right.” And it was over really over. I just laughed. We've been together for decades and I said, “I get that. I do it too.” Done, finish. But what if he had said, “You're always criticizing me. I can't do anything right.” Then what would have happened is I would have internalized that, and it would have grown and I would have started looking for and spotting evidence that he was always rejecting me, that I couldn't ever speak about it and it would get bigger and bigger and bigger, so that all he had to do with sort of a sigh at the wrong time, and it would be grounds for divorce.
[00:42:20] We have to be able to make complaints and hear complaints. So if you're vulnerable with, and this is something I write about all the time in my blogs and I deal with, I would say probably 40 percent of the couples that I work with. One of them has an issue around defensiveness so that the other person has a plethora of resentment, and it becomes the cycle that goes round and round and round. If I criticize you, you withdraw. If you withdraw, I get more upset, so I go after you, and we get into this whole loop. So what do we do about this? Is that we have to, again, it goes back to knowing if I'm a person who has a sort of a thin skin, or I feel highly defensive that there's a lot of things that I can do to manage that, but it's going to damage me in the long run and work relationships and love relationships.If I'm not able to hear what other people have to say, that's a complaint.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:14] Does this really just chalk up to our fight or flight chemicals misfiring? Is this something that tends to be limited to the relationship itself? I mean, it's cliché that stress outside of our relationship creeps into that relationship and causes problems. We know that happens. Is this something that we can short circuit early enough so that when somebody says, “Hey, you forgot the spinach, we don't then go, he doesn't love me anymore.” Right? Or how do we keep things in perspective because it's never about the spinach.
Linda Carroll: [00:43:45] It's not about the spinach, and here is again, the communication is the issue about relationship, isn't it? We've got to be able to talk to each other, and if I have a very low threshold, and I have to feel rejected, and if you forget the spinach, I think you don't love me.That needs to be something that I can say, and I can talk about it with about myself. I get so sensitive about those things and I know that we all forget to spinach. It just really triggered me. If I can own it as my trigger, then it's okay because we're not going to move to be these people that perfect people that don't have any kind of vulnerability or sensitivity, we've all got them.
[00:44:27] It's not, not having the sensitivities that creates, that is the optimum way of being because we wouldn't be humans. It's being able to know that about ourselves and have a conversation. I'm so sensitive that I hear a complaint as a criticism and I know I need to work on that, but right now when you said, did you forget the spinach? I immediately thought, oh, she thinks I'm a bad person, and to be able to reveal that about ourselves even sometimes do use humor about it and to, and to be able to work on it in our self. That's the step that we need to take. Not to be the way that we are, but to know it's just a part of our particular sensitivity, or particular strangeness and to have that be a conversation in the relationship, not something we don't dare talk about.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 45:13] All right, last but not least, here's another sort of common culprit in my inbox. When a relationship is ended and you just can't get over it. You can't get on with your life. You're depressed about it, you're sad about it. You're yearning for the person who's left you. I know that there's something going on here, I can't quite put my finger on it, Linda. A lot of times we're not necessarily yearning for that person. We're yearning for the feelings we got with that person, and there's a certain level of, okay, this relationship ended. I'm sad. That totally makes sense. But when, when it's going on for months and months and months or even years, it starts to become detrimental to all of our other relationships. Of course, we can't move forward, and frankly, our friends probably want to strangle us if they're still hanging out with us at all. What can we do about this? How do we get on with our lives if we are stuck in a negative thought loop or feeling loop after a relationship ends?
Linda Carroll: [00: 46:05] Okay, remember when I said that that feelings had a 90 second life? But it's what we do with those feelings that keeps them going and turns them into toxic responses. Well, one of those feelings is sadness. And when a relationship ends, we need to be able to grieve it. Grief is not one of those feelings, it's 90 seconds. Sadness is, but sadness sometimes points to the need to grieve. And so many people that I know and have seen in my life and as a therapist, a coach in my personal life are stuck in unhappiness because they've never grieved losses. And part of grieving means we have to accept that it's done. We have to accept that that person is really out of our life and not wanting to accept that a lot of times, we can continue the fantasy and the fantasy gets followed by anger, gets followed by hope, gets followed by Googling someone, or following them to see what they're doing on social media. Going back to the fantasies of rekindling it, and it's all postponing the grief. Because grieving is really hard, it is a final saying goodbye to something and so like putting that off is a way we can continue the fantasy.
[00:47:21] Another reason we continue the fantasy is because we're outraged, and it feels so unfair. We put so much this relationship, blah, blah, blah, that it's not fair that that we are feeling dumped, and we can hold onto the outrage and that's a way we don't move on. Being able to know that everything ends and saying goodbye. It's a life skill, and I think it is an evolved life skill and it means we have to mourn our loss and whatever that means, however, we need to mourn is a way that we do it. I'm thinking about people that have, I have actually met people who have said, I'm 62 years old, but I fell in love once at 20, and that person left me and I'll never fall in love again.
[00:48:06] I mean, their whole life has been the testimony to being hurt once. And if people get stuck in that because they haven't grieved it. They haven't gone through the experience of really feeling all of the fizzy, when we are feeling the loss of a relationship, when we felt dumped, when we've been dumped, there is a similarity to being burned physically. The physical sensations of a relationship breakup are in our body, not just our head. The research shows that when physical pain, where that goes to on our brain is the same thing that happens when a relationship is ended. It's a physical feeling that it's a terrible physical feeling, and we want to put off going through that physical feeling. So we go to hope, we go to anger, we go to something else rather than allowing ourselves to get awash in the sadness of it and going through it. And that is how we really can move on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:03] So what you're saying is we can really move on by allowing ourselves to go through it.
Linda Carroll: [00:49:09] Yes. We have to allow ourselves to go through it because if we don't, it gets stuck and it comes out sideways. It comes out as resentment, as anger, as grudge, as it comes out in all kinds of ways that don't allow us to continue into our life. We've got to experience what the feeling is under the way we're acting it out. Because if we don't do that, it's going to just keep recycling over and over. We'll call it something else. I'm still in love with after 14 years. So what have I been doing in those 14 years? Nothing but fantasizing about somebody who dumped me. So we've got to be brave enough. We need the courage to be able to say this is done, and I'm going to feel how sad it is.
[00:49:50] And by feeling how sad it is without blaming someone, including myself, by allowing those feelings to happen, it lets me move onto the next part of my life. Holding it back is like putting duct tape over that red light in the car. It's the same thing. It's going to turn it into a feeling that's not good for us. Grief is an important feeling too. It's an important process to know how to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:13] Linda, thank you so much. This is as always super enlightening. I think we'll have to have you back on pretty soon to answer some specific questions on an episode of Feedback Friday because everybody loves a little bit of brutal Linda. And I've got some tagged questions in there that are just going to throw you for a loop, and I think it'll be really fun.
Linda Carroll: [00:50:30] How exciting. Let's do it. Okay.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:32] All right.
Linda Carroll: [00:50:33] Thank you so much. Okay, I love talking to you guys. You're great, and you're saving people a lot of trouble and a lot of pain by the information you put out. So thank you so much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:43] Always such a fun show. She has so much stuff that we can use on this, this program. And I can't wait to do the Feedback Friday with her as well because we can kind of throw people under the bus ,and she does a great job steamrolling in a very helpful value giving way.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:50:59] But yeah, brutal Linda being on the show is always a fan favorite, so I cannot wait to have her back. She's one of my favorite guests that we've ever had.
Jordan Harbinger: [00: 51:07] Great big thank you to Linda Carroll. If you enjoyed this, don't forget to thank her on Twitter. We'll have that linked in the show notes for the episode, which as always, can be found at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Tweet at me your number one takeaway from Linda Carroll, or Instagram it on @jordanharbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. And don't forget, if you want to learn how to apply everything you just heard from Linda, make sure you go grab those worksheets. Also in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com.
[00:51:31] Oh, I want to do announce something. I'm going to this conference September 6 through 9, 2018, just in case you're listening to this in a random time. September 6 through 9 at Camp Walden, which is in Canada, it's called Fireside, and it's going to be a great time. There's like 400 entrepreneurs going there. You can join me. I've got 16 spots for my quote unquote cabin.
[00:51:53] Don't worry, you won't actually have to share a cabin with me, but your application will skip to the front of the waiting list, and you get a 500 dollar discount if you're accepted. So it ends up being two grand Canadian. Firesideconf.com/jordan, firesideconf like conference.com/Jordan. I think it's going to be red. I think it's going to be super fun. Fireside is an invite only all-inclusive retreat for top performing entrepreneurs, founders, innovators, influencers, media. That this cool camp at a remote location about three hours from Toronto. 750 acres of private green space on a beautiful lake. It's going to be fun. We're going to do water skiing, canoeing, rock climbing, yoga, fitness, meditation. There's going to be cool talks, events, lakeside keynotes, mastermind sessions. This really is for top performing individuals that want to take their business to the next level. You need to be willing to jump out of your comfort zone a little bit.
[00:52:47] There's no cell reception, so be aware of that. No tech. It's kind of like a digital detox. There's no VIP. There's no sorry, you're not cool enough to go to this. Everyone's cool enough. We eat together. We stay in these camp cabins together. We learned and had fun together. I think it's going to be super cool. I'm really looking forward to this. There's some great people coming, top angel investors, futurists, and like I said, if you land on my landing page, firesideconf.com/Jordan, we'll link that in the show notes too. You get to skip to the front of the application line, which is always nice, and you get 500 bucks off. So you ended up with two grand Canadian instead of 2,500 firesidecomf.com/Jordan, and I hope to meet some of you there.
[00:53:26] This episode was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes by Robert Fogarty, booking back office and last minute miracles by Jen Harbinger. And I'm your host Jordan Harbinger.
Throw us an iTunes review if you would. These are super helpful. I know people don't really know why. That's all right. I'll tell you later. Instructions on how to do that and make it stick. Jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. We're actually going to be running a contest for these soon and the people who enter now, or who write them now will have an advantage. I'll explain why later. Share the show with those you love and even those you don't. We've got lots more in the pipeline. We're excited to bring it to you. And 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.
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