When your significant other confessed his bisexual tendencies, you began to wonder: can you ever really give him everything he needs to be satisfied in a relationship? We’ll try to find answers 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- When your significant other confessed his bisexual tendencies, you began to wonder: can you ever really give him everything he needs to be satisfied in a relationship?
- Losing all your hair to Alopecia Universalis is ruining your confidence on a personal as well as professional level. What can you do to bring that confidence back?
- Your relationship with someone from a radically different cultural background has become more serious. How do you integrate respectfully and smoothly into the experience with as few hiccups as possible?
- Bad people taking advantage of the perks of your friendship in the past have made it difficult to open up to new, more deserving friends. How can you lower your defenses enough to make new friends without being a sucker to the undeserving?
- You love the feeling of being counted on and wanted by your employer, but you worry that you’re a little too accommodating. How can you draw healthy boundaries and avoid being a yes man?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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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- Glenfiddich: Find out more about the Glenfiddich #Richest25 here
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Miss our conversation with behavioral expert Thomas Erikson? Catch up with episode 465: Thomas Erikson | How to Protect Yourself from Psychopaths here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Steven Pinker | Why Rationality Seems Scarce | Jordan Harbinger
- Joshua Fields Millburn | Love People, Use Things | Jordan Harbinger
- The Psychological Impact of Alopecia | BPS
- The Psychological Impact of Alopecia | BMJ
- Bald Is Beautiful?: The Psychosocial Impact of Alopecia Areata | Journal of Health Psychology
- Support Group Network | National Alopecia Areata Foundation
- Alopecia | Smart Patients
- Alopecia (Young People) | Healthtalk
- Already Dreading Your Abusive Brother’s Wedding | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- 10 Things About Hmong Culture, Food and Language You Probably Didn’t Know | MPR News
- Better Help
595: My Bi Guy: Am I Enough to Satisfy? | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to our sponsor Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky. You've heard me talking about Glenfiddich and challenging traditional notions, commonly portrayed in culture, of what it means to be wealthy and live a life of riches. Glenfiddich believes that beyond the material, a life of wealth and riches is about family, community, values, and fulfilling work. Those same values that led Glenfiddich to become the world's leading single malt scotch whisky. On Feedback Friday, we're always trying to help solve problems that get in the way of you living your richest life. More from our partners at Glenfiddich, coming up later in the show.
[00:00:32] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the Rodman to this Jordan, Gabriel Mizrahi. Speaking to Rodman, we still got the Rodmanitis, both of us. I sound like I've been smoking cigarettes out of a comically long cigarette holder for the past week. And I can't seem to shake it.
[00:00:50] On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. And we 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.
[00:01:14] 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, authors, thinkers, and performers. This week, we had Steven Pinker on why now is actually the best time in history to be alive with some data about how we're safer and better off than ever before. We also had Joshua Fields Millburn on minimalism and the disciplined pursuit of less, which I thought was great timing, given the holidays spend way too much on plastic crap for the kids' season. So make sure you've had to listen to everything that we created for you here this week.
[00:01:48] I can't remember where I read this, but a friend of mine was writing something. He sent me a piece and he said, "Don't write to sound smart. Write to be useful." And if you're useful over a long time period, you will end up looking smart anyway, and it doesn't have to just be writing, right? It can be with anything that you're creating. If you're writing or creating or doing your podcast or your YouTube videos to look like you're some sort of genius or that you're smarter or you're trying to do it to impress, that's never going to be a long-term strategy. It's good for marketing. It's good short-term. You might get a couple of points from it, but really the same philosophy as the show: Be useful. That is the key. And luckily I'm just not in any danger of sounding smart. So I only have one choice, which is to be useful. Something to think about.
[00:02:30] Anyway, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, over the last four years, I've caught my boyfriend having overtly sexual conversations with other women. Eventually the problem became so extreme that I accused him of being a sex addict or having some type of behavioral problem. He finally confessed to me that he's compensating for the fact that he's sexually attracted to men. Now, I know he's definitely attracted to women as we have no issues in our sex life, but I'm concerned that he's never going to be satisfied with me if he hasn't fulfilled this need. I'm not saying bisexual people can't be with straight people, but he's never acted on his attraction to men. And it's clearly driving him to risk our relationship in other ways. Can someone who has never acted upon these desires stay in a heterosexual relationship without a problem? Signed, Stay in the Race When He's Playing for Two Teams.
[00:03:17] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. That's an interesting one, isn't it, Gabe? First of all, you're right, of course, bisexual people can be in happy relationships with straight people. I know some people that are married and happily sort of in these relationships, so I've seen it firsthand. And of course, you didn't have to look too far to find that this is totally possible. The idea that bi-people are inherently more promiscuous or fundamentally impossible to satisfy, it's an unfortunate myth. Fortunately, that myth is going away.
[00:03:42] But given that, I find your question interesting. You're asking whether your boyfriend can be fulfilled when he has this attraction to men that he hasn't acted on as far as you know, and I agree that's a complex part of his personality that he's still coming to understand.
[00:03:56] But the real issue here isn't that he's attracted to men, it's that he's been low-key cheating on you for four years. Now, I hear you that the two might be related. He's saying, "Oh, I'm texting with these other women to compensate for my attraction to men," which okay, maybe he is. But also, I don't really see the logic here. I mean, if he's so insecure about being attracted to men, couldn't he just throw himself into his relationship with you? Like you said, you know, he's in the women, there are no issues in your sex life. So why text all these other girls? That doesn't sound like compensatory behavior? That just sounds like cheating or emotional cheating anyway, or at least like sexting, which is somewhere on the cheating spectrum.
[00:04:36] I guess what I'm saying is, is this really just about his orientation or is this about his personality? Am I crazy, Gabe? I don't see the connection here. I feel like it's just like a freaking smoke screen.
[00:04:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Not at all. I'm having the exact same reaction. I mean, look, I guess it's possible that he's so freaked out by the prospect of being bi that trying to prove something to himself, by carrying on with all these other women kind of like, you know, "Look at me, I can't possibly have a crush on my fitness instructor. Like I'm talking to all these women. Look at my—" So maybe there's some connection there, but to your point, he still has to be the kind of person who would secretly sex with other women, right? So at a minimum, this is probably some interplay of his orientation struggles and his personality. Because again, he's texting women. So if he really is bi then, that means that he's into men and women, right? So these overtly sexual messages that he's been sending to these girls, they're not just for show or whatever, he probably has some sincere interest in them. Right?
[00:05:33] Jordan Harbinger: I assume so. That's, what's tripping me up here. He's pulling the "I think I might be bi" card to explain the cheating but, "I might be bi," is that really a good excuse? That's like saying, "Sorry, I keep eating all the banana bread in the fridge, but I also really love falafel," like, "Okay, thanks for the heads up but you still ate all the freaking banana bread. You just said you like both. How does that make things better at all?" None of this seems to connect for me.
[00:05:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. I mean, if he had said he thought he was gay and he was texting women to reassure himself that he wasn't gay. I might be more inclined to understand, although I would still say it's uncool to lie to your girlfriend for this long, at a certain point, orientation, not withstanding. I mean, if you're in a monogamous relationship, this is problematic behavior. Obviously, I empathize with anyone who's confused, anybody who's figuring themselves out. That goes without saying these things can take time, I get it.
[00:06:22] But in this case, it really does sound like the orientation thing and the cheating thing are two separate things. So my question for you is why have you been overlooking this for so long? This is not new behavior on his part. He's been doing this for four years. You've caught him multiple times. You've confronted him. His behavior got so extreme, you even thought he might be a sex addict. I mean long before he brought up his attraction to men, he was carrying on with these women and you knew, and you decided to let it go. So that's really what I'm curious about. Why you forgave him for cheating or some version of cheating so many times? Why you continue to put up with it? Why you didn't encourage him to maybe figure out why he had this impulse in the first place? Maybe help him work through that.
[00:07:02] I'm not trying to blame you here or make you feel bad. Not at all. I get that this is complicated, but if we're being fair here, we can't ignore the role that you played in perpetuating the situation if only by accepting your boyfriend's cheating for four years. And look, if it turns out that being bi is driving him to carry on with these women, then, of course, I encourage you to help him sort that out process, whatever feelings he has around his orientation. But if he's carrying on with these women, for some other reason, which is possible, maybe because he feels trapped or maybe because he craves the attention, or I don't know is unconsciously trying to end your relationship, or he's just not ready to commit, and he still wants to have fun with other people. You know, there's so many reasons that people do this, then he needs to work through that and he needs to decide if this is really the relationship he wants to be in. And the best place for him to do that, in my opinion, obviously would be in therapy. And if you guys decide to stay together, you might want to consider a couples counseling because there's a lot for both of you guys to unpack here.
[00:07:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, agreed completely, Gabe. There's a ton going on beneath the surface here. And I'm thinking individual therapy for both of them, but especially for him right now. And then maybe couples therapy, if they feel their relationship can and should be saved.
[00:08:11] So to answer your question, can a guy who's bi and hasn't acted upon his desire to be with another man be in a straight relationship without a problem? Maybe, maybe not. He would probably need to have some more experiences. I don't know, bang some more dudes. No. Do some soul searching. Get in touch with all these parts of him — but also kind of, yeah, maybe give it a shot, whatever. Get in touch with all these parts of himself before he can be sure that he's in the right relation. And he'll still have to be an honest partner for that relationship to work. He can't be hiding his personality or just like sexting with other random people online, which is true of anyone regardless of orientation.
[00:08:47] So the better questions to ask yourself are: who is my boyfriend really? What do I need from my partner? And are we both in the right place to have a healthy relationship with each other at this point in time? I would work on those questions. And I know that those will lead you to the right answer, so good luck.
[00:09:03] You know, who won't be sexting behind your back and then using their sexual orientation as an excuse, the products and services that help support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:09:13] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:09:18] This episode is sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. If you've ever wanted to make your home feel safer, there's no better time than now. This week, our friends at SimpliSafe are giving Jordan Harbinger Show listeners early access to their holiday deals 40 percent off their award-winning home security. We love SimpliSafe. It has everything you need to make your home safe, indoor and outdoor cameras, comprehensive sensors, all monitored around the clock by train professors who send the help the instant you need it. It was even named Best Home Security Systems of 2021 by US News and World Report. You can easily customize the system for your home online in minutes and get a free custom recommendation from SimpliSafe. These are SimpliSafe's biggest discounts of the year. You can get a complete home security system starting at just over a hundred bucks. No long-term contracts or commitments. It's really an easy way to start feeling a little bit more peace of mind.
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[00:10:09] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online therapy. We talk about Better Help a lot on the show. And this month we're discussing some of the stigmas around mental health. We've been taught that mental health shouldn't be a part of normal life, but that is wrong, definitely. We can take care of our bodies in the gym, the doctor and nutrition. We should be focusing on our minds just as much, if not more, because frankly they last longer, most of the time. And many people think therapies are for so-called crazy people but for me, especially therapy doesn't mean something is wrong with you. It means you recognize that all humans have emotions. We need to learn to control them and not avoid them. Better Help is customized online therapy that offers video, phone, even live chat sessions with your therapist. You don't have to see anyone on camera if you don't want to. You don't have to get out of bed. You don't have to drive. You don't have to park. It's much more affordable than in-person therapy, and you can be matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Give it a try and see why over two million people have used Better Help online therapy.
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[00:11:27] And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:11:32] All right, next up.
[00:11:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe. I'm 26 and I've lived with alopecia, an auto-immune disease that causes hair loss for all of my life, typically in the form of manageable bald spots. Recently, though, my alopecia has transitioned to alopecia universalis, which is total hair loss. My eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair, head hair, they're all gone. I found that this recent development has negatively impacted my confidence in my job and especially with women, where I used to have a ton of confidence, it's just not there anymore. I find that with the opposite sex, I can never really bring myself to put myself out there because I just can't fathom being viewed as attractive. In professional settings, I just don't feel like I'm taking a seriously as I once was. I recognize that most of these feelings are in my head, but that doesn't really stop them from feeling true in the moment. I know there were some steps I can take such as microblading my eyebrows, but part of me feels like doing that would be running away from my insecurity. Perhaps, I need to learn to develop an unconditional confidence in the person I am as some sort of lesson in self-love, but I don't know. Do you have any thoughts or advice on getting over this hump? Signed, Bearing the Feeling of Bearing It All.
[00:12:40] Jordan Harbinger: It's a great question. And I'm sorry, you've been struggling with this, man. It must be unsettling to see your body change so dramatically. I'm sure the transformation is really hard sometimes. You're right. Losing your hair, it's not something you can bargain with or control. And like any form of loss, this is forcing you to confront some really intense stuff, your appearance, how you perceive yourself. And most importantly, I think where you derive your source of confidence.
[00:13:05] And before we dive in, it's worth pointing out, you're far from the only person to struggle with this. We did some homework and the research shows that alopecia can often lead to depression, anxiety, social phobia, it's closely tied to stress in many cases. And one study actually identified a group of alopecia patients with an ongoing feeling of loss, which basically means that for some people coping with alopecia might be similar to the grieving process, following a death. It can also create some social paranoia. It caused people to withdraw, make them worry whether they really fit in.
[00:13:37] And I only bring all of this up to say that what your experiencing it's very normal. You're still working through all this. I mean, you're 26, you're super young. It's only recently that you lost your hair. So it makes sense that you're still in that sort of mourning process for the appearance you once had and that's okay. In fact, it's necessary. So the most important thing you can do right now is to fully accept your hair.
[00:14:01] Now, I think you've already done that mostly, but it comes in stages. As long as you have days when you wish things were different, there's still a part of you that hasn't completely accepted this change. There will come a time when you have to say, "This is the hand I've been dealt. I can't change it. I can only own it and decide how I show up." And if you struggle to do that, I think it would be really helpful to talk this out with a professional right now, somebody who can help you process all of the thoughts and feelings that are coming up around the hair loss.
[00:14:29] And we've talked about this on the show before any therapist should be able to help. But you might want to look for a behavioral health psychologist specifically. There are also a ton of alopecia support groups out there. I drop in on a few of them and see if you pick up any insights from other people who've been living with this for a while.
[00:14:47] As for the confidence piece, I understand that this has been a blow. I really do. I won't sit here with my full mane of luscious locks in these two thick caterpillars above my eyes and say, "Just be confident. Don't overthink it. No one cares about your hair as much as you do." You're the one that has to live with this. And obviously, it would be absurd to suggest that people don't notice some kind of difference in you. But what I can say is that your confidence, you can consciously decide where that comes. You might not have as much confidence that you look like everyone else, but you can still have the confidence in your talent, in your skills, in your personality. You can still be a hardworking person, a killer employee, a solid peer. You can be an awesome person basically. And that can be where you derive your sense of self.
[00:15:30] In fact, if you feel like you're not being taken as seriously at work now, which might or might not be true, but let's assume that you're right in certain cases, then it would be an interesting exercise to think about how to combat that perception. What would you need to know or understand to be invalid? What skills or qualities would you need to develop in order to be undeniable at work, figure that out, and then come up with a plan to get there. If people are judging you for your looks, then they'll be corrected pretty quickly when they realize how frigging great you are at what you do. If they aren't judging you, then at least you'll have applied your anxiety in a productive way, leveled up. And that's just one way you might be able to use this disorder to your advantage by using it to fuel your growth, rather than just obsessing over what people think.
[00:16:16] The same thing goes for dating. In the dating context, I really do believe that accepting yourself is like 80 percent of the battle. It'll be much harder for another person to be totally comfortable with your alopecia if you aren't. Over time, as you work through the feelings we've been talking about, you'll start to call it out in advance. You'll talk about it without being embarrassed. You might even be able to have a laugh about it, which will that'll put people at ease. Because the truth is there's nothing more attractive than somebody who knows exactly who they are and can laugh about it.
[00:16:43] I mean, that's what we love about comedian, right? That quality is so powerful. It's endearing, it's refreshing. It gives the other person permission to relax and be themselves too. And in a dating context where people are usually trying to hide their flaws and impress the other person, that's kind of a super power. I've had friends who were three feet tall and in a wheelchair and had great dating lives, simply because of the level of self-acceptance they were able to practice. It was really something.
[00:17:10] So my advice is to begin the process of accepting this change and integrating it into your personality. This might take some time. It could be six months. It could even be a couple of years. It could be longer. You know, if you're really dilly dallying here.
[00:17:21] In all likelihood, it'll probably be a process. There might be easier days and harder days, and that's normal. And sure, if microblading your eyebrows will help you feel a little better — and Jen did that by the way, and it looks great — that might be a great option for you. I don't think there's any shame in those solutions if they'd make you feel more comfortable or give you a little edge. I just wouldn't look to a cosmetic procedure to give you all of the confidence that you feel you're lacking. That confidence is ultimately going to come from your relationship with your hair loss and what you value most about yourself.
[00:17:52] So I dig into that ideally with a professional and trust that your new appearance is only leading you to something better. I think a clearer sense of self is on the horizon, an opportunity to level up. More empathy for other people struggling with themselves, which by the way, that's like another superpower and a new way to value yourself for the qualities that really actually count and not just whether your follicles be functioning properly. We're also going to link to a bunch of great resources for you in the show notes, including a past Feedback Friday episode, that was episode 538, where we shared some thoughts with the guys struggling to date with a physical disability. Obviously, a different situation from yours, but a lot of the ideas we talked about there would be super helpful for you as well. Just go to jordanharbinger.com/538. I love your attitude and willingness to work through this, man. Good luck.
[00:18:38] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line. That does make our job a lot easier. And if you can include the state and country you live in, that'll help us give you more detailed advised. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or if you just need a new perspective on stuff, life, love, work. What to do if you think you might be a psychopath? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:19:08] Alright, next up.
[00:19:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, I recently met and started dating somebody whose family background is Hmong.
[00:19:14] Jordan Harbinger: So this is Hmong, like people from Laos, right?
[00:19:17] That's right. Hmong, exactly.
[00:19:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So in Detroit, actually, there's a huge Hmong community. And it's spelled H-M-O-N-G as I'm sure you know, and people will say Ha-mong, but as we learned in Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood, it's Mong, not Ha-mong. Because Clint Eastwood, of course, being a crusty old cranky guy, can't pronounce it. And one of the main characters later corrects him while she's in his truck.
[00:19:42] Corrects him, got it.
[00:19:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So I'm familiar. I'm not sure if everyone, I don't think everyone in Laos is Hmong, I think it's like one of the many ethnicities that live in Laos. And a lot of them came over after Vietnam because they were persecuted by the state.
[00:19:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think there's also Hmong community in Thailand. So they're in a few different countries.
[00:19:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: So the letter goes on.
[00:20:00] I was wondering if you could share some personal experiences with integrating into a familial culture, much different from your own. What things surprised you or were unexpected? I'm open and interested in her family and home culture. If Jen has any insights, I would love to hear them as well. One last thing, the discussion of a dowry payment has come up and while I wouldn't mind, it does feel kind of low or like I'm making my partner more of an object. Have you or anyone else dealt with that before? Signed, Dating, Debating, and Integrating?
[00:20:29] Jordan Harbinger: Well, first of all, congrats on meeting a girl you actually like. That's amazing. What's even more awesome is how curious you are about her culture, especially given how different it is from yours. And I can tell you from personal experience, it is super fun to marry into another culture and adds a ton to your life. It gives your kids a very cool mix of qualities and languages and a unique identity that they'll take with them for their whole lives.
[00:20:53] So, sure, I'm happy to share a bit about integrating into a family with a very different culture. As most of you guys know my wife, Jen's family is Taiwanese. They speak Mandarin as well as English. That's part of the reason I got into learning Chinese. No, even though I started before I met her. And now we're raising our son Jayden with both English and Mandarin, which is actually pretty cool.
[00:21:11] So first things first, I realized early on and I'm generalizing here that Asian parents were going to be all up in our business all the time. And I just made peace with it. At first, it was like, maybe this is a bit much, but then I realized it's because they want the best for their kids and their grandkids. So I was like, "Okay, it might be a little unusual or weird that they come over every day, sometimes twice, but it's also really nice that they want to help. And so I just decided to take more of the "let's be a tight knit family" part of that, and less of the "tell everyone how to do everything" part even if — I mean, it's mostly to Jen anyways, so it's kind of like, fine, whatever. Jen's parents are way more chill though, than a lot of other in-laws. I know there are some in-laws out there from hell and Jen's parents are super cool, especially to me.
[00:21:55] That's also partly because I learned Chinese and they respect that. So I have an idea here for you. If you're interested in, you're willing to put in a little bit of work, I would take some Hmong classes. A little bit will go a long way, especially if you're like, "Well, we want to make sure our future children can speak and understand this language at least a bit. I have to lead by example." I can promise you that your in-laws will be thrilled. They'll probably be like, "Wow, our son-in-law, he's amazing. He gets it. He can speak basic Hmong, even though he's white." As a white guy who does this myself, I can tell you it's a really special feeling and no one's going to forget it. It's going to go a really long way. People are going to be blown away, especially the extended family. They've probably never seen it before.
[00:22:35] As for the dowry thing, I can understand your hesitation about it. It's definitely a patriarchal concept, but it still exists in many cultures. It probably has its roots in property law regarding women, which yeah, I mean, not a great look in this day and age, but I actually asked Jen about this and she told me a story. I didn't know, which is that apparently her dad had to pay — you could call it a dowry to her mom's parents when they got married, because her mom's parents had gambled away their money. And my mother-in-law apparently had quite a hard childhood because she's the oldest of the kids. And she had to go around and beg her friend's parents to borrow money at one point, which has to just be kind of humiliating. So they took the opportunity to get some of that debt paid off. They basically commoditized their daughter, I guess, which definitely kind of gross if you apply it to the American, sort of modern American standard here or the Western standard, but maybe the only way out of financial problems in certain parts of the world.
[00:23:31] Jen said the whole thing was very Joy Luck Club if you've ever read that book or seen the movie. So yeah, dowries are a little, little weird. It's up to you to decide whether you want to play along with that proposal. I do think it's well within your right to say something like, "Sorry. No, I love your daughter for who she is. I'm not going to pay you six grand or 60 grand or whatever creepy number you and the aunties have come up with for the privilege of marrying her. That's not how I think of her. That's not how I'm going to treat her so sorry, no." Your wife can back you up on that. If she agrees, hopefully help her parents see that they're imposing a custom that's at odds with you values.
[00:24:03] Unless she's into the dowry idea, then you guys just might have to work through that disagreement. Maybe you can do something that's more symbolic than expensive, but I'm guessing that your wife is a little sketched out by it too given this letter. On the other hand, if they insist or it's going to cause a massive rift, there's maybe a way to check that box without making it a whole thing that makes you feel gross. Maybe you pay for the wedding and that's the dowry, or maybe you take her and her parents on a really nice trip. Like you could go to Laos or Thailand where you can flex some of your new Hmong skills and then you create a great memory with everyone and that's the dowry.
[00:24:38] Or maybe you just pay it, but you find a way to think of it in a more positive way. Like it's a gift to them. It's a red symbol of the love you have for your. As long as her parents don't go to Reno and gamble it all away, or maybe they can use it for something important, like starting a portfolio or adding it to their nest egg or build a freaking deck on the house. But again, I think it's a conversation with your wife about whether you're both comfortable with this custom, whether you can afford it, what it means to you and your in-laws then make a decision that hopefully honors your values and theirs. And who knows? Maybe if you start spitting Hmong at Sunday dinner, your in-laws will be so impressed. They'll just drop the whole thing. Maybe there'll be like, "Forget the money. This white boy just asked us to pass the noodles in Hmong. That's the dowry." I doubt that's going to happen by the way. That is definitely not going to happen.
[00:25:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: But it might bring the dowry down a little bit.
[00:25:25] Jordan Harbinger: It might, it might. Yeah, it might be good leverage for you. Maybe you can say I'm spending the dowry in Hmong lessons and that's the bargain. I wonder what I would pay for Jen. I've been thinking about this.
[00:25:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ooh, good question.
[00:25:36] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe I'd have to pay in Bitcoin. Put it on layaway, layaway.
[00:25:41] By the way, if you're joining us for the first time, or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about the show, our episode starter packs are a good place to do that. These are collections of your favorite episodes, organized by popular topic. It'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:25:59] Also, we've been getting a lot of questions about adoption recently. People who have adopted, people who just found out they were adopted, people who are debating, whether to get in touch with their biological parents, navigating the family dynamics of adoption in general. We'd love to take some of these questions on the show, but we could really use some experts to consult with to make sure we're giving solid advice. If you work in the adoption world in any capacity, but more on the psychological side of things, rather than on the purely legal or logistical side, like an adoption counselor or a social worker or an adoption expert, and you'd be down to share some brief thoughts with us on questions from time to time, we'd love to hear from you, put you on our roster of subject matter experts here. Hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. That would really up our game in this department.
[00:26:43] All right, what's next?
[00:26:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, I'm a 29-year-old woman and a few years ago, all of my friends were going down bad paths in their lives, wrestling with addiction, volatile relationships, and generally just doing dumb sh*t. What they all had in common was taking advantage of me and my friendship. I was going through hell and back to support my friends during their darkest days while neglecting my own wellbeing, but they wouldn't do anything to actually change their situations. They would just use me to vent. One friend in particular was addicted to crack cocaine and heroin. She was homeless and she turned to prostitution to survive. And while she did try to get clean and stay clean, she would also make excuses for her situation by pointing to her abusive childhood and just leaving it at that. I would stay up late at night with panic attacks, worrying about her and whether I would get a call saying that she had overdosed or had been murdered by a John. So I finally made the painful decision to stop all contact with her and with all the other toxic people I had held close for so many years. The problem is I've now put up a wall to protect myself from further platonic heartbreak and I'm struggling to tear that wall down. All of my attempts to make friends now fall apart, either because the other person loses interest or because I start to get scared and put more bricks in the wall. I want friends again. I need friends again. I just don't know how to do this. How would you handle this situation? Signed, Checking Out of the Platonic Heartbreak Hotel.
[00:28:07] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Well, it sounds like you've come a long way in your friendships and in your personal growth. You're right. It does sound like those relationships were pretty one-sided. You are befriending people who are problematic in one way or another. It also sounds like it was hard for you to separate from them emotionally, I mean, internally. To the point where whatever your friends are going through, it's almost as if you were going through it too. It was that intense. So it makes sense that you finally had to pull away.
[00:28:32] I'm sure that being enmeshed in your friends' lives and feeling responsible for them, especially when they weren't doing the same thing for you, that must have taken a real. But now, you've put up this wall, this protective armor, to prevent this from happening again. And it's holding you back from new friendships. And now you're suffering because as you put it, you want and need friends again, but you don't know how to be open and safe at the same time. So it's interesting.
[00:28:56] I'm getting the sense that being in a relationship with another person, it's this kind of either-or situation. Either you put up a wall with people and you don't get involved in protect yourself, or you lower your defenses and get involved and fall into that messy pattern you experienced with your old friends, the fear, the panic, the caretaking, the self-neglect. And I can't entirely blame you for being so guarded. If those seem like your only two options in a friendship, then it makes sense that you'd put up a wall. It's just too damn risky to subject yourself to those volatile feelings. But there's a whole middle ground between these two poles where you can be close with people and care about them and not feel entirely responsible for their wellbeing. That sort of friendship where you can help someone through a tough time and then not stay up all night worrying that they're going to die, where you can be there for somebody, and then not abandon yourself in the process. And ideally where the other person has the same experience with you. That's what a healthy friendship looks like.
[00:29:52] That's why boundaries are so key. And I'm not just talking about external boundaries about what you will and won't put up with from people. I'm also talking about the internal boundary of, "I am my person. You are your person, and I can't be 100 percent responsible for your life and my life. So I have to recognize where my experience of you ends and your experience of you begins." That's the boundary that I'm sensing you struggle. The one that allows you to be close with somebody without overtly identifying with them without making them the center of your life.
[00:30:24] Like with your friend who was homeless and addicted and caught up in sex work. When you don't have that crucial inner boundary, the edges of your personality can become blurry. Your emotional state can become kind of porous. And that's when all these messy feelings start to spill all over the place to the point where you might not even know if the feelings you're having are your feelings or their feelings or whatever the hell is going. And if you suffer with that enough, the solution might seem to just put up a wall, stay the hell away from people, but that's not how we're supposed to operate as human beings. We need one another.
[00:30:58] And if you work on some of this inner stuff, then I think you'll be able to find that middle ground where you can be supportive without being responsible, vulnerable without being exposed. And the best place to do that, of course, is in therapy. The roots of this relational template go way, way back, all the way to your childhood, whether you know it or not, whether it was taking care of mom or being responsible for a sibling from a young age, or being emotionally neglected as a child, yourself, whatever it might be. So I'd find a therapist who specializes in childhood family dynamics, relational stuff, start on packing all this, and then hopefully start building a healthier model for your friendships.
[00:31:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's very interesting because when she describes these old friends, she talks a lot about their dysfunction and that's obviously playing a huge role here, but there's also a ton of stuff on her side of the street here. You know, how she responds to that dysfunction, how she seems to abandoned herself in the process of trying to help others? Which is the stuff that she can absolutely work on on her own. That said, I do just want to point out that this template that she's falling into, it's also being created by the people she's choosing, right?
[00:32:06] The friend she mentioned, who is struggling with addiction and homelessness and sex work, that woman is obviously going through a lot of stuff herself. And according to our friend who wrote in here, she wasn't interested in taking some accountability for her situation. She was just sort of using her to vent, chalking it up to a difficult childhood, "Oh, well, I can't do anything about it." Now look, I do have compassion for someone like that. She clearly deserves help. She clearly deserves support, but let's just acknowledge for a moment that you chose this person as your friend, and when she relied on you for comfort, and then she didn't do the same for you, you stuck around in that friendship and I'm proud of you for pulling away. It was probably the right thing to do. I mean, if this relationship was really as parasitic as he made it sound.
[00:32:45] But my point is this, the people you choose in the first place, that's just as important as how you show up in those friendships. You tend to take care of people at your own expense, but you're also picking people who need someone to take care of them, people who aren't willing, or aren't able to do the same for you. You're both participating in that dynamic. So yes, definitely work on the boundary stuff that Jordan just mentioned, but I would also start thinking more carefully about the types of people you really want in your life.
[00:33:14] If you gravitate to people who are toxic and self-interested and unwilling to take ownership of their, of course, you're going to end up feeling like you're a punching bag or a security blanket for people. But if you choose friends who are kind and thoughtful and willing to take accountability, you're going to end up in friendships that are reciprocal and enlivening and enjoyable. And the more that you invest in those kinds of friendships, the less you'll want to slip back into that old model of relating to the wrong.
[00:33:39] So that's my advice. Be very thoughtful about whom you're befriending and why you're befriending them, in addition to how you relate to them once you actually are friends.
[00:33:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Nailed it, Gabe. We choose certain people who make us behave a certain way, which enables them to behave in their own way, which makes us respond to them in a certain way. And before, you know, it you're caught up in this like toxic dynamic that makes you want to change your number and never leave the apartment because it's too painful to be close to people. And that's kind of where she is right now.
[00:34:07] Jordan Harbinger: So your job is to get to the roots of this pattern, figure out what role this wall is playing in your life. And hopefully over time, start to find a way to open up to people without tipping over into this old programming. You'll have to be super vigilant this time around to make sure you're not slipping back into the caretaking/self-abandonment mode. But if you can do that, you'll be able to catch it happening before it locks in and go, "Okay, actually, this is where I got to draw the line. I'm here to listen. I'm here to support, but I can't hold your hand and stay up all night, worrying about you if you're not willing to make some changes on your own." And that's being a good friend in a nutshell. I know you'll figure this out. Good luck.
[00:34:46] You know, who else has to prostitute themselves in order to pay the bills? This guy right here. We'll be right back.
[00:34:54] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show and this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
[00:34:58] This episode is sponsored in part by BiOptimizers. Who doesn't like free stuff? BiOptimizers optimizers' Black Friday deal starts now and along with huge discounts all month long. They're also giving away 200 bucks worth of free gifts. The entire month of November, you'll save up to 25 percent on BiOptimizers best-in-class products. Now's the best time to stock up on their best-selling Magnesium Breakthrough, which helps Jen's leg cramps and sleep. They've never offered a discount as big as this one, make sure you place your order by midnight, Tuesday, November 30th.
[00:35:24] Jen Harbinger: You can only get this exclusive deal through our special link, which you won't find on Amazon, or even the BiOptimizers website. Go to mag breakthrough.com/jordan and use code JORDAN10 to get your special discount and free gifts today. Get a full refund up to one year after your purchase. No questions asked. Again, magbreakthrough.com/jordan with code JORDAN10. Do it now while supplies last. And don't miss the November 30th deadline.
[00:35:47] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich breaks from the single malt scotch whisky norm, and helps redefine what it means to be rich. It is very easy these days, especially to get bogged down in material success and all the crap you can accumulate when the currency of the new rich is getting more time and enjoyment out of what we've already got. Now, Feedback Friday, we're always trying to help you level up here. We're always trying to get you to the next level, solve the problems that are standing in your way. I think, although this episode does seem to illustrate that you do need a little bit of material wealth, especially if you're going to pay that fat dowry in order to marry your wife, maybe you can't forego wealth entirely. However, when you're using your money to get something emotionally valuable in your life, like, you know, life partner, the mother of your children, that may be sometimes it serves a useful function after all. And while that guy might've outsourced getting a life, Glenfiddich doesn't outsource any part of their production process. They control the process from distillation to maturation to bottling ensuring the highest quality and integrity of their whisky. And I'm not saying anything about your wife, not trying to imply anything here, but solely speaking about Glenfiddich, all maturing casks are on-site Glenfiddich maintains an onsite Cooperage to ensure the highest quality of barrels. Glenfiddich even has onsite coppersmith to ensure the highest quality of stills. They even bottle onsite and use a single source of water at every stage of production. It's no wonder why Glenfiddich is the number one selling single malt scotch in the world.
[00:37:03] Jen Harbinger: Skillfully crafted, enjoy responsibly. Glenfiddich 2021 imported by William Grant and Sons Inc. New York, New York.
[00:37:10] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Ten Thousand. Did I tell you I've been working out? Three times a week in fact, in my garage doing some of those box jumps squats. I got to get those glutes going, mobility, of course, to keep myself limber and strong in my crusty geriatric age. If you're looking for great workout gear or something to give to a friend, Ten Thousand cannot be beat. What's unique about Ten Thousand is that they have a development team of 200 athletes professional runners and gym owners that live in Ten Thousand gear. So they are constantly improving on the product. And I've been put in Ten Thousand gear to work as well. They are the highest quality, best fitting and most comfortable workout shorts that I've ever worn. I even brought them to the Amazon to jump in the river. I highly recommend their session shorts and interval shorts. I bought a bunch of those. I also loved their tech hoodie. You can't tell I'm wearing it right now. It's a staple you need in your closets, so soft, so smooth. Ten Thousand has over 10,000 five-star reviews, not surprising.
[00:38:00] Jen Harbinger: Ten Thousand is offering our listeners 15 percent off your purchase. Go to tenthousand.cc and enter code JORDAN to receive 15 percent off your purchase. That's tenthousand.cc and enter code JORDAN.
[00:38:12] Jordan Harbinger: And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:38:16] All right. Next up.
[00:38:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a manager at a pizza restaurant on the east coast. I'm working about 60 hours a week, but I can't say no to getting more out of. I love the feeling of being counted on and wanted, but it's starting to take a huge toll on me mentally. My depression from high school is coming back and I don't know how to stop myself from being a yes man. What's your advice? Signed, Perpetually Punching In.
[00:38:40] Jordan Harbinger: Well, as a fellow workaholic myself, I'm not sure I'm the best person in the world to be giving advice on this topic, but I have done a lot of work on the unhealthier aspects of workaholism, and I've tried to lead with the fulfilling parts of it which are really about loving what I do, being curious, wanting to put out a great product.
[00:38:59] So first of all, I hear you that you love the feeling of being counted on and wanted. It's gratifying to know that people can rely on you. It's nice to feel that you're needed, that you're useful. I think we all want to feel that way, whether it's at work or at home or in our relationships. In that right amount that drive to be counted on to be essential, I think it's healthy. But that need can easily tip over into something else. Something more complicated. For example, there's a very thin line between wanting to be wanted by other people and needing their validation in order to feel worthy or to give you another example. That feeling of being the guy who will always show up and get stuff done that's great. But when it mutates into, "I have no idea who I am if I'm not fulfilling a certain function for someone else," then that's a good recipe for depression and burnout and probably some kind of existential crisis.
[00:39:50] And maybe that's where you are right now. And I feel for you, I have been there and so many hardworking people go through that. Whether they manage a pizza restaurant in Buffalo, or they're a freaking managing director at Morgan Stanley, when your whole lifestyle and identity is wrapped up in your function within a certain point, that will almost always bring up some complicated feelings. And probably put the kibosh and a bunch of other feelings that are actually trying to express themselves as well.
[00:40:17] So what I'm wondering is what's underneath this need of yours to be needed? What does this feeling of being counted on do for you? My hunch is that devoting your life to the restaurant is feeding you in ways that you probably aren't being fed outside of work. And I'm not talking about the pizza, which fair enough, work is a big source of gratification for a lot of people, including me. But what's your family life like? How are your relationships? Do you have hobbies or interests or goals outside of the restaurant or is the restaurant your way of getting all of these needs met? That's what I'd be asking myself if I were you. I think that'll help you understand why you can't say no to getting more hours.
[00:40:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Absolutely. And also, what are these 60, 70-hour-work week is allowing you to avoid at the same time? You said that your depression is coming back, but you keep taking on more work, which is very telling. That might be a sign that working as much as helping you sort of mute certain feelings, maybe feelings you had actually really need to acknowledge maybe anger or sadness or whatever it is. Something that the depression is serving to tamp down. I'd work both sides of that equation, Jordan side, which is what is being a yes man, helping you access and then this side of the equation, which is what does being a yes man helping you avoid. There's a lot for you to know between those two parameters.
[00:41:35] I also just find this term yes man, very interesting Jordan, because that could cut both ways, right? If you're the guy who's pumped about running a tight ship and increasing sales and making customers happy, and that's where you derive a ton of meaning. That's not really a yes man to me, that's someone who's just very passionate, very dedicated. But if the owner of the restaurant is throwing, back-to-back shifts to you and you're just absolutely miserable. And you know that you need a weekend off to see a friend and catch a movie and work out and take care of yourself. And you're too afraid to say, "I'm sorry, but I've been pulling 12 hour shifts since last Sunday. I need a couple days off to myself," then yes, that is a problem. That's a pattern that you do need to address.
[00:42:11] Jordan Harbinger: Good point, Gabe. Being a yes man, that could be good or bad depending on what you're actually saying yes to. So if all else fails, maybe try this. Try not being a yes man and see what happens. Take a long weekend off, give yourself a free day in the middle of the week. Try working 50 hours and see if those 10 extra hours make you happier. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. But then at least you'll have more data about what actually makes you really fulfilled. And if the depression persists, then I definitely reach out to a therapist. Betterhelp.com/jordan is a good place to start if you don't feel like going through the phone book and book it something local, and maybe even book a consult with a psychiatrist, you know, get a referral from your doctor or hospital, whatever it is. And see if maybe there's something chemical going on here. That's up to you to figure out, but there's zero shame in getting the support you need. It is out there.
[00:43:00] And whatever you decide to do, don't discount that part of yourself that's hardworking and reliable and dedicated. Those are such valuable qualities. You'd be amazed how few people actually have them, just make sure you're using those qualities the right way. And those qualities are not using you.
[00:43:19] Hope y'all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened to go back and check out the Steven Pinker and Joshua Fields Millburn episodes if you haven't yet.
[00:43:29] If you want to know how I'm booking all these folks, it's because of my network. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty and create those relationships, maintain those relationships in just a few minutes a day. It's our Six-Minute Networking course, the course is free. It's on the Thinkific platform. Just go to jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:43:45] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in those show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:44:00] The 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 am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on this show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:44:36] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, here's a trailer of my interview with Thomas Erickson on how to spot a psychopath.
[00:44:44] Thomas Erikson: Some people's telling me, "Do they have to be psychopath? Couldn't it just be they are evil?" But hey, for me, same thing. They are out there, regardless that we are talking about it or not. The stupid psychopath, he would go up to you on the street and say, "Hey, you, you got a nice watch," and then he will bang you in the head and take to watch. The intelligence psychopath, he will see your beautiful watch and he said, "That's a nice watch," and I know he will talk you into giving him the watch. That's difference. All narcissists are not psychopaths, but every psychopath is a narcissist. They think it is their right. They are entitled to act in this way. It is their birth right to use you and me and anybody else. The more you present yourself to the psychopath, the more understanding it has about you and the more dangerous it becomes.
[00:45:36] Love bombing is one of the most dangerous manipulation techniques that we can use. If you haven't experienced, let's say true love, let's call it. And then you think you have it within your reach. You're done. I get to know — I get shivers down my spine. Psychopathy is not an illness. It's a personality disorder. It starts at the moment in the woman's womb actually. You can never change a psychopath. How much value would you put in yourself? How much do you think you deserve in life? Do you deserve a good relationship?
[00:46:16] Jordan Harbinger: For more on how to protect yourself from psychopaths, check out episode 465 with Thomas Erickson on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:46:25] This episode is also sponsored in part by Fruit of the Loom. This is that time of year to get your loved ones what they really need. Hint, it is not a snow globe. It is not a pair of mistletoe earrings. This season show them you care with underwear from Fruit of the Loom. Take gifts from unbearable holiday ties to the totally wearable cool zone boxer briefs. Give the kids something they'll use every day, well, we hope, boys and girls' cotton underwear, instead of another ugly sweater, they won't want to put on. Give them something they won't want to take off like their ever soft sweatshirt. You see no matter who you are, underwear is something everyone needs. So before you saddle your loved ones with just another holiday gift, look into your heart and remember their bottoms. Show you care this season by going to fruit.com.
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