Episode 15 - Dr. Debra Mandel: Searching for Love in all the WRONG Places!
Dr. Debra Mandel: Searching for Love in all the WRONG Places!
Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Chip August: Welcome to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host, Chip August. Today on the show, we're going to be talking about relationships. We're going to be talking about dead end relationships. We're going to be talking about relationship and intimacy problems and people who search for love in all the wrong places.
Chip August: Isn't it amazing how these... our relationships start out in joy and possibility and how quickly fear becomes sort of a dominant note, afraid that the person's going to change, afraid they're not going to change, afraid that you've made a mistake, afraid, afraid, afraid.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Isolated relationships I call them, you know you have that one-on-one time, but you don't really do anything outside of that box, and it's only later when you start meeting each other's friends and you do things with their families and you see how they are in a variety of contexts. Then you get the bigger picture of who that person really is. I mean I once dated this guy that, I swear to God, I thought we were a match made in heaven, because he loved to do all the activities I loved to do, he wanted to go biking and hiking and skiing and it was like “Oh, my gosh.” I was so in love with who I thought this person was, but, in the end, he was a jerk. He took me whitewater kayaking once with no lessons and I tore my shoulder apart, and he said “Oh well, that happens.”
Chip August: There's a way often that the person who is being abused really feels like the abuser is demonstrating love.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Because a lot of times what people do is speak in generality. The woman will say, “He's just not very romantic. I wish he were more romantic.” And I say, “What does that mean?” because that word may mean hundreds of different things to different people. Your guy may think he's being romantic if he takes your car out and washes it for you on a Sunday so you can sleep in and you may not feel like that's love or romance at all.
[Music fades out]
Chip August: We're talking with Dr. Debra Mandel. She's an author, a psychologist, a speaker. Dr. Debra is a pretty renowned psychologist. She's got more than 20 years of practice. She's the author of the soon to be released “Dump That Chump!” Also, a couple of other books, “Healing the Sensitive Heart” and “Your Boss Is Not Your Mother.” She's a frequent guest expert on TV and radio and welcome Dr. Debra Mandel.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well thank you. Thanks for having me. It's always fun to chat about relationships, isn't it?
Chip August: It absolutely... it's my favorite subject. Talking about relationships and talking to people about their relationships. I have to say that in a world of books that all seem very rosy and Pollyanna, I thought your title “Dump That Chump!” was very refreshing.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, well you know, I'd just like to get right to the point. If you're with a guy who you just don't belong with, then it's time to move on and, sadly, so many people think that if it's time to move on, that they're going to suffer so much pain for such a long time. For instance, if the relationship lasted two years, that they're going to have a year of horrible feelings, and it's just not true. There's so many things that we can do that help people move past that so that they can actually enjoy a new relationship much sooner than they think.
Chip August: Isn't it amazing how much our relationships start out in joy and possibility and how quickly fear becomes sort of a dominant note, afraid that the person's going to change, afraid they're not going to change, afraid that you've made a mistake, afraid, afraid, afraid.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, and that's generally when that honeymoon period wears off. You know, that first couple of months in a relationship, it's all rosy and lovely. You're projecting the most fabulous parts of yourself onto that partner and seeing a positive mirror. And then, the reality is that we all show our true colors eventually. Some of us are more close to who we originally presented ourselves to be than other people are and that's when a lot of the disappointment happens. That's generally where relationships get stuck, is in that power struggle phase, where people don't really realize or have the tools for how to move into the true intimacy stage.
Chip August: So, you're suggesting perhaps, then, that that initial love at first sight is not true intimacy?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Not... yeah! You know what, I am going to put myself out on a limb there and say it's not true intimacy. It's based on a lot of hopefulness and a lot of projection. Projection meaning that if I think that you're handsome and you're sweet and you're kind and you're those things to me and I really enjoy that and that feels good, and I'm really running with that. But then, over a couple of months I see you behave in different ways to other people, then everything that I thought about you from the beginning was really based on initial impressions and I filled in the gaps, but now I'm really going to see more clearly who you really are as we get to know each other and that does take some time.
Chip August: Well, everyone says relationships take time.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Takes time to build intimacy. It also takes spending a lot of time in different situations with someone. You have a lot of people who have “isolated relationships,” I call them. You have that one-on-one time, but you don't really do anything outside of that box, and it's only later when you start meeting each other's friends and you do things with their families and you see how they are in a variety of contexts. Then you get the bigger picture of who that person really is. They come more into focus.
Chip August: Okay, so you meet someone. You're feeling all the warm and fuzzy that lets you want to pursue beyond one or two dates, and then you start bumping into differences, and aren't all relationships about compromise around differences?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, but this is what I say to people. Right on the front end, we should be more discriminating than we often are at the back end, where we end up getting really critical of our partner after we've been with them a long time and we know they're really not going to change, but they really were that way to begin with anyway. And, that is because people do have general styles and they are in the world and you can't expect people to change too much. However, at the front end, if you do see somebody is so dramatically different than you in your actual core values, that's probably not going to work out to be a very good relationship. So, in other words, let's say religion is extremely important to you and you meet a partner where it's not important at all. That's going to be a pretty big difference to negotiate, because one person's always going to feel resentful, and like they're giving up something that's really, really important to them. So, on those kinds of huge issues, or, for instance, let's say somebody wants kids and the other one doesn't want kids. Those are going to pose tremendous difficulties later on down the line.
Chip August: And yet, I'm sure in your practice you must meet couple where they started out, the kids and no kids – I meet couples all the time who started out pretty far apart on that subject and then over time came to change.
Dr. Debra Mandel: That's true, but that's more rare than the norm in my experience, really, truly. We often don't know what we're going to want in five years or 10 years, and I don't know that if somebody is in their 20s, that has to be a deal breaker. But, if somebody's already 35 or so and they haven't had kids and they don't want them and you meet somebody who's aching to have kids. Probably not going to change soon enough – let's put it that way – before that biological clock is going to tick too long.
Chip August: Yes, clearly different answers for when you're in your twenties than when you're in your late 30s. Absolutely.
Dr. Debra Mandel: I think that.
Chip August: Alright, so, “Dump That Chump!.” How do you know he's a chump?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, I'm glad that you asked. I have lots and lots of checklists that help people understand that, but basically when I say a chump, you think of a chump as somebody who is maybe kind of a loser, they're a dork, but also, I mean chump in terms of somebody who's really just a jerk – somebody who really doesn't pay attention to your needs at all, who isn't thinking about you – somebody who always thinks about themselves first. They break dates repeatedly. They're not remorseful about it. They don't even take responsibility for their own behavior at all. All those things, when you add them up, if somebody's like that pretty much across the board, they're not going to make for a good mate.
Chip August: So you don't see this person as raw material that you're going to mold...
Dr. Debra Mandel: [laughter] You know. I know. We've seen more people get into trouble with that potential bug. “Oh, he has potential because, because we have so many fun adventures together, he's a great guy.” I mean I once dated this guy that, I swear to God, I thought we were a match made in heaven, because he loved to do all the activities I loved to do, he wanted to go biking and hiking and skiing and it was like “Oh, my gosh.” I was so in love with who I thought this person was, but, in the end, he was a jerk. He took me whitewater kayaking once with no lessons and I tore my shoulder apart, and he said, “Oh well, that happens.”
Chip August: [laughter]
Dr. Debra Mandel: That kind of attitude – not good. You're laughing.
Chip August: Sorry, it was the “Oh well, that happens.” I just took my children whitewater rafting this weekend and I had... nobody dislocated a shoulder, but definitely I'm sorry it was just...
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, there's lots of things that happen, that's true, but you know, you don't put somebody in the ocean in a kayak strapped in and they don't know what they're doing...
Chip August: Yup.
Dr. Debra Mandel: ...and then say, “Well, that happens.” Not a nice guy.
Chip August: Okay. So aren't... I hear this from men all the time, that yeah, that's all fine and well that you say that but women keep telling me I'm too nice, I'm too kind, like they want to be friends with me and then they seem to choose these bad boys, so aren't you, I mean, you know... It's great advice that you're saying about don't be a chump, but maybe the chumps are the ones who are actually getting some action.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yeah, well they're getting action and they're getting dumped a lot though too, especially with this new book coming out too, because I'm going to teach women how to dump those guys because they're not good for them in the long run and what is good for people is... Yeah, you want somebody who's nice. You don't necessarily want somebody without a backbone though. You want somebody who will stand up for you and be able to banter back and forth and I guess it's really important for each person individually to know what it is that they really are looking for. A lot of times we put so much stock in just physical attraction and we don't really think in terms of how am I going to feel with this person 20 years from now. You know, what am I going to see when I look at this person in ten years from now or twenty years from now. Those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking when looking for a long term mate and I don't think that's true that all the good guys finish last. I just don't. I think that good guys who recognize what's important... and, you know, sometimes may have to spruce it up a little bit, become a little bit more exciting, but it doesn't mean that nice guys finish last.
Chip August: Yeah. Often with my clients, I like to make a distinction between somebody who's sexy and somebody who's a bad boy because I notice those things get collapsed.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Oh, yeah.
Chip August: That you can be a very nice, sexy man and definitely that bad boy thing that women are looking for suddenly they're not looking for a bad boy thing. They're just looking for a little bit of enjoyment and fun and spice.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Exactly, the spice. That's the important part. You don't want a deadbeat. You don't want somebody who just says, “Yes sweetie. Yes sweetie. Yes sweetie.” You know, for most people that's going to get pretty old and boring and my experience of a lot of these good guys who are complaining about, saying, the girls only want, the women only want the bad boys is that they really don't have enough spark within them. They've got to develop that part of their personality as well and then I believe they'll get a lot more action.
Chip August: Now, are some of these chumps female?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, yes, but that's a whole other book.
Chip August: Oh, okay.
Dr. Debra Mandel: You know how publishers are these days. We do usually market books to women because we are the ones who are always working on improving ourselves.
Chip August: Yeah, that's too true. That's too true.
Dr. Debra Mandel: So, I guess what I'm really really famous – when I'm a Dr. Phil type, then people will buy anything I write, including the guys, but for now it's mostly geared towards women, but absolutely there are women out there who are termed other things that would be a definite equivalent of a chump. You know, women who don't care about your feelings, who are very selfish, drama queens, the ones who are always demanding attention, very high-maintenance. Those are just... hey guys, if you're listening, run from those.
Chip August: So, the phenomenon here, while the book may be very much about women identify if this is a chump and get away, the phenomenon is not particularly confined to one sex.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Exactly, the process of how to get rid of and move forward is very similar for both.
Chip August: And I want to talk to you about that process, but I want to take our first break. We like to stop every few minutes and show our support for our sponsors. You're listening to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host, Chip August. We're talking to Dr. Debra Mandel. Dr. Debra is going to come back and talk a little about infidelity and we're going to talk a little about how to actually end these dead-end relationships, and don't forget, at the end of the program, why, we're going to give you an exercise that you can do at home, but right now, we're going to take a short break.
Chip August: We're back. This is “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host, Chip August. I'm talking to Dr. Debra Mandel She's an author, a psychologist, a speaker, and we've been talking about dumping that chump. “Dump That Chump!” is the title of her soon to be out book and I'm just curious – how do you get out of one of these dead-end relationships? What do you do, just cut and run?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, I have several methods that I help people understand. You know, there is the classic “Dear John” letter. If you've repeatedly talked to somebody and they're not willing to change and they don't want to work on the relationship, I think that's a perfectly acceptable way to break up with a chump. It wouldn't be a respectable way to break up with somebody who you really are just moving in different directions and you still love each other. The relationship isn't really working out in terms of meeting your needs and you're moving on. That would not be acceptable. There's also the Houdini approach and sometimes people are not even worthy of one more phone call. They're not worthy of one more email. You said it all already – there's nothing else to say, and it's over. Now that is something that is particularly difficult for women to do because women tend to be a little bit long-winded, shall we say? They want to be understood and they want to be heard and make sure that their point of view is respected, but, hey, let's face it, if you're with a chump, they're not giving that to you anyway. It's really wasted breath.
Chip August: There are a number of women in this country... the number just seems to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Well, we're not really talking about chumps. We're talking about a level of abuse.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Oh, yeah.
Chip August: When does chumpiness become abuse?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, clearly if anybody is doing physical damage to you, threatening physical harm, is sexually abusing you... You can be in a relationship and still be sexually abused even if you're consenting to be in that relationship. You know, sometimes people become... guys become very, very pushy. Maybe you've just been sick for a couple weeks and you have a guy saying, “Honey, honey. I want sex and I want it now.” You know, that's abusive because that's completely annihilating and disrespecting what somebody else is experiencing. I think most people know when it's bordering on abuse because the red flags are just glaring. A lot of times those will be relationships where people feel they need to hide from other people because they're embarrassed. They don't want other people to know how bad their partner is. That's usually because it's an abusive relationship.
Chip August: Well, the other thing I noticed about this is, just from working with people who have been abused and been in abusive relationships, there's a way often that the person who's being abused really feels like the abuser is demonstrating love.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Oh, yes, classic. I do talk about that in the book a lot too... in my first book too “Healing the Sensitive Heart” because what happens is that a lot of times people have been mistreated in childhood...
Chip August: Mhmm.
Dr. Debra Mandel: ...and then they end up flocking toward relationships that they're familiar with in adulthood so it feels normal. You have a parent who is hitting a child – beating a child – and saying, “I wouldn't do this if I didn't love you. This is for your own good. I'm teaching you to have a thick skin. This is the way I demonstrate to you how much I care.” Children who grow up in those environments and then they get into adulthood and they end up being attracted to men or women who will say similar things and do similar things to them, really confusing the idea with love and abuse. Horrible phenomenon.
Chip August: And how does one find one's way out?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, I think one of the keys in all of this that we're talking about is identifying what you're dealing with. Right? You don't know how to get out of a relationship that you can't name it for what it is, so if you're in an abusive relationship, you have to admit that. You have to say, whether you're the abuser or the one being abused, to say this relationship stinks. It is not working. It's unhealthy and then, once you've named it that way, now you can take action. I know that taking action is difficult but it's essential and it may mean that one person first needs to see whether they're in a safe situation. You know, different relationships can be dangerous if you're trying to get out of them and you might need extra help.
Chip August: Now, I was saying “How do you get out?” and you were saying, “Well, you know, if you've communicated this pretty clearly over and over and again and it's just not really changing, maybe you do a 'Dear John' letter or you just disappear” and I noticed that what stuck in the back of my brain is how often people think they've communicated, but they really haven't.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well, that's true too, and there are certainly people who don't really know how to express their feelings or express their needs clearly and that's why a lot of relationships are not doomed if people did learn new tools. Some of them are but then again, those red flags, when you have a mate who basically says: You're wrong, I'm right, and this is the way it is. It's just not going to get better, but if you have somebody who's willing to kind of go at it with you when you keep negotiating back and forth about trying to figure this stuff out – if people learn better ways to communicate and I mean, when I say better, I mean specific because a lot of times what people do is they speak in generality. The woman will say, “He's just not very romantic. I wish he were more romantic.” And I say, “What does that mean?” because that word may mean hundreds of different things to different people. Your guy may think he's being romantic if he takes your car out and washes it for you on a Sunday...
Chip August: Right.
Dr. Debra Mandel: ...so you can sleep in and you may not feel like that's love or romance at all because the only thing that registers in your mind is if he brings you flowers. You have to say those things specifically. I think that's addressing what you're talking about, that sometimes people think they've communicated something, they're forever frustrated and disappointed because they really haven't given a clear picture of what they're looking for.
Chip August: Well, I hear all the time, “If this person really loved me, then they'd know.”
Dr. Debra Mandel: But you know what? Nobody's a good mind reader in relationships because as similar as we might be to somebody, we're going to be different and we're going to process things differently. Another key to a successful relationship also is not just looking at what the other person is doing wrong but thinking in terms of whether my expectations are reasonable. A lot of times people bring a bunch of baggage into a relationship where they want their partner to make up for all the things they didn't get in childhood and that's too tall of an order for a mate to have to fulfill those things.
Chip August: Reasonability. That's a tough standard there. You know, I think it's reasonable. My mother always gave us harmony, why don't you? I don't know how people even determine what's reasonable or not.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yeah, and a lot of that is determined by the actual relationship. If you hook up with somebody and you're together with somebody who tends to be more shy and maybe a little bit more introverted, is it really reasonable to expect that person to become the life of the party? Not likely. That would not be reasonable because you're not taking into account the person's character or their personality or what they're really like, so that's what I'm saying. Discriminate on the front end? If you want to be with an extrovert and you're with an introvert, don't start out that way.
Chip August: Absolutely. Absolutely. We're back to, you're not really going to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. If you have a sow's ear, you have a sow's ear.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Exactly, and then you end up being critical of that person. They end up feeling bad. He or she loses self-esteem and that vicious cycle starts too where you're in this kind of battering relationship back and forth verbally and nobody's getting their needs met because it's too much of a difference from the start.
Chip August: Now, I take a pretty radical point of view about all this. In my opinion, the only person I'm responsible for is me and the thing I try to coach couples all the time is you're already in unrealistic-land if you think your partner can make you happy.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Absolutely. Yes, that is one of the number one downfalls in a relationship is when people think that their partner should read their mind and be able to make them happy. Now, clearly if you have somebody that you tell... you tell your partner, “I really love it when we do this” or “Can we do more of this?” and “Let's try that” and “What would you like to do?” “Can we do more of that?” If the partner says, “Well, I don't care what you want to do. It doesn't matter to me.” That is a dead end relationship. You're not going to get your needs met there and that's not a good thing, so if you've been specific with somebody and they basically tell you to take a hike – not a good sign. But, you know, we do have to be reasonable about what other people are able to fulfill for us. In fact, it's funny because even you say, “Make me happy.” You know, I have a 14 year old daughter and a lot of times she'll say, “Mommy, I'm bored.” Well she doesn't call me “Mommy” anymore – only in my dreams but...
Dr. Debra Mandel: ...it's “Ma” or “Mom,” whatever or rolls her eyes, but she'll say, “Mom, I'm bored,” and I'll say, “Well then, you must be boring, because there's a million things for you to be doing right now. Find your own way. Make something exciting out of whatever this moment is that you want to be doing something.” I don't say it in a mean way. I just say, “Hey. Come on. You know, you've got books to read. You've got friends to call. You've got emails to write. You have homework to do.” Whatever it is. So, if you're bored, you're choosing that state.
Chip August: Yeah.
Dr. Debra Mandel: It's not like there's an absence of stimulation here. The same way, in a relationship, if we blame our partners for things that we're not getting when we're not taking charge of that ourselves, we're going to create the dead end relationship because we're going to make an impossible situation for our partner.
Chip August: The whole subject of boredom fascinates me. I mostly tell adults that I believe boredom is a symptom of suppressed emotion, that when we're alive and feeling good about the world and feeling good about ourselves, everything is interesting.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Absolutely. Good point. Good point. It's really... boredom is overstaying your interests.
Chip August: Yeah.
Dr. Debra Mandel: So if you're not interested in something, find something else that you are interested in.
Chip August: And if you're not finding anything that you're interested in, probably there is something else going on besides boredom.
Dr. Debra Mandel: I would say so. Maybe depression...
Chip August: Yeah.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Maybe anxiety. Maybe fear. All those things could be on, under the surface. Absolutely.
Chip August: I'm loving this conversation. I want to come back and talk to you a little bit about infidelity and how you deal with it and can you ever recover from it, but first I want to take a short break, so you're listening to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host Chip August. We're talking to Dr. Debra Mandel. We're talking about dumping that chump. We're talking about searching for love in all the wrong places and how to build healthy relationships. We're going to take a short break and when we come back, we're going to talk a little bit a bout infidelity and, don't forget, at the end of the show, why, Dr. Debra is going to give us an exercise that we can try at home. We'll be back in a few moments.
Chip August: We're back. Welcome back to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host Chip August. We're talking with Dr. Debra Mandel. We're talking about relationships and when we took a break, I said when we come back, I want to talk about infidelity. In many relationships at some point, particularly long term life relationships, at some point the subject of infidelity comes up, either people want to stray or they do stray or they're about to stray, so I think it's a great conversation to talk about. Tell me where you are around infidelity. Can we recover from infidelity? Talk to me about this a little bit.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yeah, and it's such an important subject because I do think that a lot of people really don't understand infidelity. We're always wanting to blame the unfaithful person as though they're really horrible and in my experience, most couples, when they come to me, when somebody's been unfaithful, they're generally loving, caring people that something's gotten in the way. There's been a crack in the relationship. There was a hole in the intimacy and the person found somebody else in an attempt to fill that, oftentimes in an attempt to preserve the relationship because they don't feel that that need can be met in the relationship so they go elsewhere thinking that if they balance it out that way, they'll actually be able to keep the relationship that they're in.
Chip August: Wow. So they're trying to keep their relationship together by cheating, huh?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yeah! Believe it or not. It sounds strange but I've also worked a lot with couples to help them overcome infidelity and I've come full circle around where I used to always think that it was the cheater who was really not cool and really did something horrible, but, oftentimes, really there is a big hole in the relationship that the person has tried to express and communicate what they're needing and the partner's basically said no or teased them for it or humiliated them for it or shamed them or laughed at them and then that person who really does love their partner finds somebody else who suits them or comforts them, whether it's emotional or sexual.
Chip August: Well how do we recover from this, because if you've cheated on me once, don't I then always live in the fear that you're going to do it again?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, and there takes a specific process for people to undergo for you to have a sense of security and safety that the person would not cheat again and that really entails that couples work, where the people together come to understand what was missing in the relationship and how to make it better. In some ways, infidelity has made relationships stronger, if you can believe that... because, like, the cat's out of the bag, okay, now we can really face – this is what can happen. I don't want this to happen again so lets really face the consequences of this and face what the underlying problems are so we can actually deal with them and heal them.
Chip August: Now, I noticed... I'm here in northern California and a subject that's just under the surface for a lot of people is this whole concept of polyamory. It's not really infidelity. It's more like, we want to build in to our relationship, that we'll have other lovers, that we'll be sexual with other people, and that'll solve all these problems.
Dr. Debra Mandel: My experience with that is 99 percent of the time those relationships fail because the truth is that human beings are possessive and jealous by nature, inherently, and if we love somebody, we don't want to share them that way, and in the 70's, swinging was a very popular method for couples to try to get their jollies with other people and most of those relationships ended up in divorce. I don't have the actual statistics but very few of them were able to sustain that kind of thing because again when we love someone, we are possessive of them and we don't want somebody else to get their sexual energy.
Chip August: Given that most of all relationships that started in the 70's, at least 50 percent of them, have ended in divorce, I kind of wonder if the numbers are higher or lower. I just wonder.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes. I don't know. I don't know. I do say though this too about infidelity is that it can really happen in some of the best couple situations too, you know, it's really, these are not just evil people going out, no. I would like to clarify, though, there is a difference between serial cheaters and somebody who has strayed maybe once or twice in a long term relationship. A serial cheater is more than likely not gonna change that behavior...
Chip August: Right.
Dr. Debra Mandel: ...but with somebody, you know, let's say one of the common things that happens is, you know, let's say there was a death in the family, a woman has lost her mother. Her mother has died and she's gotten depressed. She was very close to her mother and she kind of isolates and is lonely and she's not giving her husband the attention that he used to get from her because she's sad and depressed. He talks to her about it. It goes on indefinitely, you know, all of a sudden he gets lonely and he finds somebody else to comfort him. That would be kind of a classic scenario about how this crack developed where somebody then goes through it.
Chip August: And you're basically saying with good counseling, with communication, with really addressing some of the problems, there is a path back out of this.
Dr. Debra Mandel: There is a path back out of it. It's long. It's tedious. It's not for everybody, I mean, you know, some people feel just so betrayed. They just can't get over those feelings but a lot of times when somebody really understand that this did not happen in a vacuum, that they can do different things to help prevent it, and sometimes people get, I mean my experience is, people get lazy in relationships.
Chip August: Yeah. I have the exact same experience. Say what you mean by lazy.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Well I mean lazy. We get complacent. We think, “Oh. I know my partner,” sort of like the old jalopy on the street. I know how much gas it uses. It's kind of just old news and we don't really have to work at it but as we all know if you want to be in good shape, you have to work those muscles or your body is going to atrophy. The muscles are going to atrophy and you're not going to be strong, so the same thing with a relationship. You have to exercise the muscles of the relationship daily. And I tell people that every day you should be looking into your partner's eyes and telling them five things that they love about each other – five things that makes that person special.
Chip August: So, a great idea. I say the same thing you do in slightly different words, but I believe that relationships, long -term relationships, is actually the fast path to enlightenment, but I think people have this idea that it gets easier and easier and easier over time and my experience is that in many ways some things get easier but as you go deeper, you bump into deeper obstacles to intimacy and it actually requires more and more and more mindfulness and more and more and more communication.
Dr. Debra Mandel: That's true. I completely agree, Chip, especially because people change, right?
Chip August: Right.
Dr. Debra Mandel: I mean, are you the same as you... I don't know how old you are but I'm in my 40s and I know that I don't think the same way I thought in my 30s.
Chip August: Well, inside me, I'm seven, but chronologically I'm 54 so...
Dr. Debra Mandel: Okay, so you know what I mean...
Chip August: Yup.
Dr. Debra Mandel: I mean each, each decade we go through so many different changes. I mean I, even again, using my daughter as an example, I'll say, “Oh, honey. I got this for you” and she'd say “Mom, I liked that three months ago. I don't like that anymore.”
Chip August: Right.
Dr. Debra Mandel: You know, and so our partners too, as adults, we're ever changing, we're ever evolving and that's why it takes a lot of sitting down with your partner, talking to him, saying, you know, what do you like about politics today? What do you not like about politics? What do you like about this thing or that thing – and really getting to know on a deeper level because we're always evolving and changing.
Chip August: And, of course, this is the stuff of love songs and novels and poems and how can love stay the same when we're always changing is a very powerful question that people have searched for forever.
Dr. Debra Mandel: And the truth is, I think, that love doesn't stay the same. It evolves and it changes and it grows and it can get deeper and richer and more meaningful if we allow for that. If we're stuck on this idea that we want things to be the exact same way they were when we first met somebody, we're really living in a fairy tale. That's why all those fairy tales never tell you what happens after they get together.
Chip August: Absolutely. We're going to take one more break. When we come back from the break, we're gonna let Dr. Debra come up a little bit and hopefully she's going to give us an exercise that we can do for ourselves at home. You're listening to Chip August. This is “Sex, Love and Intimacy” and please listen to this message from our sponsors.
Chip August: We're back. You're listening to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I'm your host, Chip August. We're talking to Dr. Debra Mandel and Dr. Debra, you've been a terrific guest. It's been really a lot of fun talking to you. We've kind of focused a lot on the negative and I want to just turn our attention a little bit on the positive here. Got any coaching for people who are trying to find that love of their life, maybe have had a divorce?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Absolutely. I think one of the number one things that goes wrong in relationships is that we don't know ourselves. We present ourselves in a way that isn't really true to who we are, so we search for a relationship about somebody who's going to be a good match for who we want to be, but not necessarily for who we are. So you have to really think about what am I like? You know, if I'm a stubborn person, then I may need somebody who's a little bit more flexible – not that I can't grow in my stubbornness and become more flexible myself, but, I'm probably going to really bump heads with somebody who's as strong-minded as I might be or let's say, I'm more of an introvert and I would really do well with somebody who brought me out a little bit. Own those things about you and then you recognize the complimentary qualities in a partner that will actually fulfill you instead of make you annoyed.
Chip August: And then, where do you find this person?
Dr. Debra Mandel: So, I tell people that you got to get out there. There are so many ways that you can meet people these days and not to get rigid and stubborn and have to do it in the old-fashioned way. Yeah, it might be nice that you have a best friend who sets you up with somebody, but there's all kinds of avenues. There's online dating, there's matchmaking services, there's getting set up with friends, a good way that I know of is have some friends over and tell each friend to bring five people that you don't know, so you have a party with about 30 people and they're mostly going to be people that you don't know, that you've met new people and they may know somebody.
Chip August: That's a great idea. I love that. I love that. Have a party. Ask each guest that's a friend of yours to bring five people that you haven't met yet.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yeah.
Chip August: What a great idea.
Dr. Debra Mandel: And then people will get to meet each other and have a great... now, that could also be a disaster. On my 21st birthday, I did that. So it's a long time ago. People did not like each other, so my girlfriend and I who's birthday were ten days away, we just told everybody it was out on the patio. Have a good time. We're going dancing.
Chip August: [laughter]
Dr. Debra Mandel: A little self-centered at that stage, but you know, I've grown a lot since then.
Chip August: My big coaching I tell people, and because it's been true for me and I just think it's been true for as long as there's been people: Do the things that you love to do and then look around and notice who is doing them with you and that the place you're most likely to meet... If you like to, you know, if you like to be an amateur potter or you like to paint watercolors or you like to ride horses or you like to work out at the gym, when you look around and see the other people around you who like those things, you already know one thing that you have in common with them.
Dr. Debra Mandel: One hundred percent true. I wholeheartedly agree. That's right. Get out there and do the things you like to do and you're gonna be bound to meet people that you at least know you have one compatibility with.
Chip August: And, worst case, even if you don't, you'll be doing something you like doing.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Right. And at least you'll maybe make a new friend if not a love interest.
Chip August: You know, people say to me, “I don't want to go hang out at the bars.” Don't! Don't go to the bars if that's not what you like to do, you know?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Right.
Chip August: We are almost out of time and I just, as promised, I always ask my guests if they have a exercise that perhaps listeners can do on their own that, in your case, might help them with their relationship or might help them find the love that they want or might help them sooth their sensitive heart. Do you have something like that?
Dr. Debra Mandel: I do, and one thing that I like a lot is the “relationship vision exercise,” and this you can do whether you're single or whether you're in a relationship where you sit down and you define the number one top ten things that are really important for you to have in your relationship that are non-negotiable. Not 20, not 50, that's too many, and not just one or two because we all have more than that, but the things that are just so powerfully important to you and you define those and you say to yourself, I want to have a partner who can give these things things to me, and I can give these things back. Now, if you're in a relationship and your partner doesn't meet you on those needs, then the next step is to have a conversation with them to see how close you guys can get.
Chip August: So you would actually make a list?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yup.
Chip August: Yup. And then, if you're not in a relationship, then, perhaps post that list somewhere so you see it?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Post it. Take it. Read it everyday. Make that part of your daily exercise in building the aura that you want from the kind of relationship you want to create.
Chip August: And if you're in a relationship, both of you make the list and then compare lists and perhaps do some brainstorming on how to get more of the...
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, you could. Yeah! Communicate.
Chip August: What a nice idea. What a nice idea. I always am in favor of anything which creates communication and that sounds to me like it would create a really interesting conversation.
Dr. Debra Mandel: I think so too.
Chip August: Listeners, if you'd like to send me some email, you can reach me at [email protected] – that's all one word personallifemedia, all as one word, .com and I'd love to hear from you. One of our sponsors, iFrog.com – they make accessories for iPods and mp3 players – gave me a bunch of goodies and if you will email me an idea for a show that I use or an idea for a blog that I use, why, I'll be happy to send you a little gift from the folks at iFrog.com. Dr. Debra, you have been a terrific guest. I really want to thank you for sharing your wisdom, your insights, just, just, you're an easy person to talk to and I think you're going to have a lot of success with your new book.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Thank you, and can I send people to my website.
Chip August: Please do!
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yes, it's www. drdebraonline.com. I've got lots of freebies and goodies and downloads and also my products.
Chip August: Now I understand there are three books and also CDs?
Dr. Debra Mandel: Yup. Two CDs and three books. The third book out “Dump That Chump!” is coming out September 1st. Very excited about that.
Chip August: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. Listeners, just a note, I went and looked on the site and I have to say there's a really nice quiz. Those of you who are wondering all right, is my relationship the chump? There's a really nice quiz on the site to just sort of give you some insight on the things to look for and the kinds of things to be wondering about, so you might want to go and take Dr. Debra's little quiz.
Dr. Debra Mandel: Great.
Chip August: This brings us to the end of our show. I want to thank you for listening. For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at www.personallifemedia.com. I'm your host Chip August and I'll look forward to talking to you again soon.
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