Relationships – “What’s Love Got to Do With It”

In this episode, Dr. Todd Giardina, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Gabriela Reyes, MFT, discuss and dive deep into relationship questions. We will hear from the perspective of a man who has been with the same woman over 26 years and from the opposite perspective of a single woman who is out in the trenches dating. Regardless of what your current relationship status is, this episode is for you. Following are some blogs regarding love and relationships written by Dr. Todd Giardina, of Coral Gables Counseling Center and Ana Moreno, LMHC, of R&A Therapeutic Partners.

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Transcript

Episode 1 – Relationships – What’s Love Got To Do With It

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Gabriela: We’re supported by our friend, The Calm Cuban.  Spoiler alert.  She is Cuban but she says she’s working on the calm part.

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Emy: What’s the Calm Club?

Gabriela: It’s actually a team of wellness experts ranging from yoga and fitness instructors to nutritionits, health coach, therapists and doctors who weight in on featured topics.  We’re proud to say that we are Calm Club members.  We love to work with her.  Some popular topics on her site includes ways to train your brain, mindfulness misconceptions and my personal favorite, therapy is cool.

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Gabriela: Alright, hi guys, my name’s Gabi.  In a second, I’ll tell you who I am.  This is week number 2, welcome to week number 2 of The Counseling Corner.  I’m super excited about today’s podcast.  My name is Gabriela Reyes, and I am a marriage and family therapist here in Coral Gables Counseling Center, super excited to be here.  I’m going to be your co host so you’re going to hear a lot of me.  You met Emy last week.  She will be hosting as well so it’ll be a little bit of the both of us here.  You’re going to hear us a lot.  Get used to it.

And I’m super excited about today’s special guest, who isn’t really a guest, if The Counseling Corner were a home he’d be more like a brother, roommate, kind of deal than a guest.  This is Dr. G as I like to call him.  But he’ll give you the professional info.

Tell us about yourself.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, the fancy, full title is Dr. Todd Giardina, Licensed Psychologist, but let’s go with Dr. G.  And yes Dr. G is here to talk to our listeners and to talk to Gabi about relationships.  I have a couple of specialties under my belt but really, I work a lot with women and couples on their relationships and I think this is something people need to hear more about.  So, we’re here to discuss.

Gabriela: We’re here to discuss that.  And we thought Dr. G would be perfect for this because we happen to have a women’s group, we meet with every two weeks.  It’s called Pretty Tough.

Dr. Giardina: Pretty Tough.

Gabriela: And we’ll tell you a little bit about that group and why we thought to start it.

Dr. Giardina: Well, we thought to start it because women need a forum.  And we saw so many of our individual patients talking about the same issues so why not get everybody together and we can all talk together.  It’s not like Gabi and I have all the answers.  Right?  So, it’s nice to put everyone together in a room.  And our first two groups have been all about relationships.  So, let’s document this.

Gabriela: Alright, alright.  So, we thought we’d bring it to you guys.  That’s exactly what it was.  I mean, we see the same issues over and over again.  And it’s so good to have a group of people that like understand exactly what you’re going through and that’s kind of what we’ve seen in our groups where everyone is like “exactly” you know we hear that so often.  So,

Dr. Giardina:  And it doesn’t carry so much wait if it’s just your therapist saying it right?  Like you want or I might just be saying it because I’m paid to say nice things.  Right?

Gabriela: Exactly.

Dr. Giardina: So, but if a bunch of people in a room say it then we’re all on the same page.

Gabriela:  I know.  I wish I could bring in all our clients in there to say “You see I told you so.”

Dr. Giardina:  Right, right?

Gabriela:  But yeah, so it was funny because we started this group and Dr. G and I, aside from the obvious fact that I am a woman and he is a man, have very, very different relationship statuses.

Dr. Giardina: Histories, yeah.

Gabriela:  Histories as well.  So, I’ll let you take the lead with this one.  Tell us about your relationship.

Dr. Giardina: Ok yeah, I’ll go first.  Yeah, so single.  That is the one relationship.  That’s it. I have been with the same partner now for 26 years.  My wife and I have been married for 13 years this year and we were together 13 years prior.

So, she was a rebound.  If you can call it that at age 14.  I broke up with a girl on a Wednesday and my friend said, hey, I have a friend you should meet, and we got together on a Friday.  And 26 years later and a kid later, and many degrees and cities and states later, and it has been fun.  And it has been work.  It’s been both.  I’ve got that sort of one story to tell and that perspective of being with one person and making it work for a long time and Gabi’s got the other story to tell.

Gabriela: The other story!

Dr. Giardina: Well, It’s the other side of the coin.

Gabriela: It is, it is, it is.  And by the way we’re going to get into a lot more details about Dr. G’s story.  We’re going to ask some questions that I’m sure all of you are curious about.  And I’m curious about.

Dr. Giardina: The hot seat!

Gabriela: The hot seat!  Yeah, my relationship history is a little bit different.  I was in one 3 to 3 ½ year on and off complicated, tumultuous relationship about 8 years ago and I have relationshp PTSD.

Dr. Giardina:  Yes, I was gonna say.  You’re still getting over that.

Gabriela:  We joke about it all the time.  Like I’m over him.  Just in case he hears this.  We’re good.

Dr. Giardina: No, yeah, totally.

Gabriela: But I definitely didn’t get over everything that happened. And we’ll get more into that, but it was a pretty awful relationship.  We were very, very young.  And we have gotten a chance to sit down and talk about it again.  Which was nice.  But, since then, I’ve been anti dating.

Dr. Giardina: No well, I don’t know if anti-dating, I don’t know if anti-dating.  You’ve been trying on and off.  Yeah.

Gabriela: I’ve been trying as of recently.  But after that it was like “everybody’s in the friend zone.”  So, we’re trying to get me out of that now that I am surrounded by like 18 clinicians, 40 hours a week, every week.

Dr. Giardina: And you are a clinician.  So, you should know better.

Gabriela:  And I am a clinician.  But you know how that is.  You can give awsome advice, but do as I say not as I do.

Dr. Giardina: Exactly.

Gabriela:  So, to get a little bit into this, we’ll go a little back and forth.  See what we find here.

Dr. Giardina: Quiz each other.

Gabriela: Quiz each other.  I’m gonna start because ladies first.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah.

Gabriela: So, this is my absolute favorite part of Dr. G and his wife’s story. Tell me how you guys met.

Dr. Giardina:  Well, this is a silly thing to bring up now that…OK we were 14, like I said it was a rebound and I had terrible game and terrible moves and…

Gabriela: Understatement.

Dr. Giardina: Yes, yes, I’m not going to embarrass her by telling the entire story on air. But simply put if she were at this age now, my game and my skills would not have gone over well.

But it’s all about timing, and opportunity and fit.  We had a lot in common.  That’s the funny part of the story.  That we bonded over Red Hot Chili Pepper’s lyrics and cool, grundge fashion and stuff like that.

Gabriela: I hope you guys can see a picture of Dr. G right now, so you are able to picture cool, grundge fashion.

Dr. Giardina: It was never cool, grundge…and it was in hot New Orleans.  So, I was just sweating through flannel trying to look cool.  And actually, the night I met her I was wearing army boots that were three sizes too large, but they were cool looking, so I stuffed the toes with newspaper.  And I’m pretty sure I refused to take my shoes off because I didn’t want her to see the newspaper fall out, but…

Gabriela: Oh my gosh that’s amazing.

Dr. Giardina:  Yep, yep, yeah.  And I think she still will tell the story that I, I, hooked up with her 2 days in a row and then ghosted her for a week to play some kind of game.

Gabriela: You see that, guys?  Ghosting was around eons and eons ago.

Dr. Giardina:  We didn’t call it that.  It was just called being cool.  Don’t call her back right away man.

Gabriela: Make her miss you!

Dr. Giardina: No, we just gotta build the value.  Right?  Whatever, we were kids.  And that’s the important part, right?  Like the hope is that you mature, and you figure it out, but I talk to people who are my age currently, who are still playing some of these silly games to try to add value.

So yes, that’s my story, fine.  It’s not elegant.  But that’s important too, right?  Like it’s not…people like to tease because they see that we’ve been together so long and think that, oh that must mean something.  He’s got the secret.  They know what they’re doing.  They’re so cute.  But that side of the story isn’t particularly cute.  Like there’s nothing…it’s not a rom com.  It can have a ridiculous start and end well, so it’s OK.  You don’t have to make it fit nicely into a box.

Gabriela: I don’t know.  Sounds like a rom com to me!  You guys met at 14 and you knew…

Dr. Giardina:  But we didn’t though. That’s the key. We’ve made it work. I believe you mold the person and yourself to make it work.  And if you can’t mold the person, then it’s just not going to work.  That’s actually the biggest benefit that’s going to suck for people listening to this and they’re thinking “cool I’m not 14 now what do I do.”

But I think it has particulary helped that I didn’t know that I was meeting my wife when I was 14.  And I have a few questions as to what I was thinking then, but we have over time been able to make each other fit to each other, right?  Like we’ve made major life decisions together. So when you could have gone left, and I could have gone right, if we were adults, maybe we wouldn’t have met because we were in different places.

Gabriela:  So, would you say that’s the secret?

Dr. Giardina: I think that there are a lot of secrets and not all of them fit to everybody.  But I think a big part of it is communication and compromise and having those talks.  I mean we have…I could chart it out.

I’m visually kind of picturing it in my head and there are definitely many twists and turns we could have gone.  She gone left and I gone right.  And it’s always a choice.  Do I value this partnership enough to give up X to stay with Y.  And I actually tell people that even to this day, I’m still choosing her.  And I think that she’s still choosing me.  And that at some point it can still go sideways, and we can just say like we don’t choose this anymore.

I mean, it would be a hell of a lot harder now with a kid and a mortgage and everything that we’ve built together but I think there is always a chance that you could always make the choice that “I don’t value this person enough to give up the other things I’m giving up.”

Gabriela:  Right.  And I love that.  I love that you’ve always said that.  I mean in my opinion, that’s far more romantic than “I have tunnel vision and all I see is you.”  And like daily choosing another person is more romantic than “I don’t have eyes for anyone else.”  Yeah, “like that guy’s hot but I choose you.”  I think that’s more romantic.

Dr. Giardina: Well and romance, I try to distinguish “romance” from “passion.”  And I think a lot of us get that confused.  Right?  Like we were joking in the group the other day.  That I’ve never grabbed my wife in a rainstorm and kissed her while we got drenched.  Like that’s not practical.  We’re gonna catch a cold.

Gabriela:  You still have time!

Dr. Giardina: We could. Yeah. But you can be very practical and pragmatic and reasonable and have love and romance and I think it’s more sustainable.  Because the passionate things feel better.  You feel that racing heartbeat but you can’t maintain that high.

And if at some point you misinterpret the lack of the high for the lack of love.  Then this is where people…where women get accused of starting drama.  Because now you want to feel loved.  So now you’re going to challenge me and push me and pick a fight because you want to feel your heart racing. You want to feel passion.  But that’s not love.  Now you’re just creating excitement.  Right?  And that’s not gonna last.  26 years and it ain’t gonna last.  You’re going to burn out.

Gabriela:  Say it louder for the people in the back.

Dr. Giardina: Indeed! Yes.  Don’t confuse passion with love.

Gabriela: So important!

Dr. Giardina: Alright your turn.

Gabriela: Oh man…

Dr. Giardina: No, no, no, no.  We got a nice flow but…

Gabriela: Oh, I was ready, let’s just keep going here.

Dr. Giardina: No tiger. Alright.  Let’s get personal and then we’re going to move to the more clinicial.

Worst date.  What’s the worst date you’ve ever had?

Gabriela:  Oh man, worst date.  I’m a little, I’m a little terrified of dates in general. You know. But everybody else doesn’t.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, yeah.

Gabriela: For, for no reason, really.  So, a few years back I went on Tinder, I think it was at the time. And I finally decided to go on one date.  There was this funny, witty guy like you could barely see him in any of his pictures but, you know that really doesn’t matter to me too much.  And he was just so hysterical. And he really…he said the best pick up line in the world to me.  Which I’m going to tell you guys right now, I hate that I didn’t like him because this was the greatest pick-up line ever.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, yeah, this could be the story, yeah.

Gabriela: Yeah. He randomly texted me and he was like, uh, “Yogurt, Ice Cream and Gabi.”  And I’m like “What…” and he was like “three things I want to spoon.”  And I was yes, best pick up line ever…but yeah, I didn’t like it because I didn’t like him.

Dr. Giardina: And you’re lactose intolerant.

Gabriela: I’m not. That would be so sad.  I love cheese.  I don’t like sweets so…

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, I know.

Gabriela: But so, you know whatever. The pickup line would’ve worked.

Dr. Giardina: But why did it go bad?

Gabriela: Why did it go badly?  We went on a date, and it really wasn’t that awful at all.  Like I really have no great date story, I just really didn’t like him, and I was stuck there.  And he was actually a nice guy, but he was like trying to make it more than friendly, you know. Like he was trying to put his arm around me, his hand on the small of my back, and I was just not feeling it.

So, I was trying to hint without being rude.  It’s tough in those situations, cause we’ve talked about also in the group, how everything with dating and that beginning stage is so, um, suggestive, it’s all about “is she suggesting that she wants me to put her arm around her” and I was trying to suggest that I wasn’t.  So I put an elbow out really far, and…he wasn’t getting the hint.  I didn’t want to be rude and be like “please don’t touch me” so it was like that uncomfortable date.  Which in hindsight I wish I would’ve been more like “hey, don’t, don’t touch me” but he wasn’t being overly aggressive or disrespectful.

Dr. Giardina: Well, it sounds like he had funny lines if he’s texting you but in person there just wasn’t that chemistry.  That like initial…

Gabriela: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Giardina: And that’s so important right?  I think we can fall in love with the idea of the person that I read your profile, or I’ve seen you from afar, but you just gotta see if the two of you have chemistry.  If you click.  And that’s not a horrible date story.  It’s just that it didn’t land.

Gabriela:  It didn’t… “I didn’t feel it.” But I haven’t gone on very many dates because they’re terrifying.

Dr. Giardina: But what’s terrifying?  What do you think is going to happen?

Gabriela:  Absolutely nothing.  Isn’t that crazy?

Dr. Giardina:  Are you worried about how you’re going to be…

Gabriela:  I can’t pinpoint it.

Dr. Giardina:  OK, well we should work on it.

Gabriela:  I’m just like a little scared.  And I look back to the scene and I’m like “I was fine.” And I’ll look some flooding.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, yeah.

Gabriela: Which is a term we clinicians use to kind of like flood your brain with the opposite message.  Right, so I’m like, “Oh my God and what if he’s creepy and what if something happens and…” I’ll flood my brain with “You’re gonna be fine, you’re in a public place, your friends are on speed dial, parked outside the bar.”

Dr. Giardina: But it’s not a safety thing.  It’s a pressure thing. It’s a pressure that “I need to meet the future husband and father of my kids tonight at this restaurant.”  Or pressure that “I have to be his baby mama, dream girl immediately.”

Gabriela: I think I was.

Dr. Giardina: Which clearly, I wasn’t in my story, so…yeah, we put too much pressure.

So, on that, my follow up question is what do you think is the biggest mistake women make in their relationships or dating?  From talking to your patients, or girlfriends or just from your own experience? Where do you think women are going wrong and, what do we men need to know?

Gabriela: I think you mentioned you briefly touched on it a second ago, it’s that we get very used to that high.  Right?  That passion high.  And, that lasts, what at most 2 years.

Dr. Giardina: Maybe.

Gabriela: Maybe.  Usually less.  So once that’s gone right?  And they’re not being as romantic, and they’re not gazing into your eyes and you’re like, uh, he doesn’t love me.  So, there’s like this instant fear and need to bring that back up, right?

Like that racing heart. I think our bodies get used to that, and our brains.  And so, we start to question things when everything is ever changing.  Everything is shifiting all the time and changing. And I think we need to get into the mentality that this is the norm.  The norm is that nothing is going to stay the same.  Right?

Dr. Giardina: Right.

Gabriela: So, it’s more about like adjusting with the times and communicating, and like talking about how we feel and that’s what we lack. Like, when these things happen, we still play little games, like uh, “he didn’t text me back for 3 hours, I’m not answering for 6.

Dr. Giardina:  Which is a fatal mistake actually men and women make in relationships.  Why can’t we all just be upfront and communicative, right?  Why can’t you say, “hey dude, what the hell, why didn’t you text me back?” and he can say “oh, actually this…”. And it can all be the facts and not a sneaky, passive aggressive game.  Right?

Gabriela: It’s true, it’s true.  But I mean we’re…I mean we’re bombarded with this right?  If he doesn’t text, you back he just doesn’t like you. And if this happens it’s this and if this happens…it’s like these certainties that people throw out there are insane to me because every situation is so different.

Dr. Giardina: Well and every partnership or every person is so different, right?  Like, I definitely find that in my clinical life. That like it’s not cookie cutter and you can’t say “all women are like this” or “all men are like this” “all relationships are like this.”  However, you touched on something right there and this is a truth that everyone should know out there in listener land, that dating behavior is very different than relationship behavior.  And that’s the big screw up that you were just kind of summing up right there, right?  That like maybe you’re looking for “what does it all mean” or interpreting it or playing the game.  But if you’re 2 years into the relationship, now you’re in a relationship so we can stop playing the dating games.  Or expecting the dating reactions.  Right?

Gabriela: Right.  And it still happens.  I see it happen with my clients and with my friends, and it happens two years in for like 2 hours and you’re like “payback!” Which is awful.  You know.  Definitely not gonna build your healthy relationship.

Dr. Giardina: Right.  And I have couples in my office who are playing like who’s thing was worse game.  Like you did bad, and I did bad so who’s bad was the first bad and you threw the first stone so that means my thing…

Gabriela: Which bad was worse.

Dr. Giardina: Exactly. Yeah, well…you did this but at least I didn’t do this. And yeah, now we’re just huring each other.

Gabriela: And it’s so hard to get out of that because you always want to “one up them.”

Dr. Giardina:  Well, yeah, because this is where we get confused.  Am I trying to win?  Am I trying to protect myself? That was good.  I was going to give some ending adviced and maybe I’ll just jump in now and say, I think you need to choose if you want to find love or healthy relationship, do I want to be right or do I want to be happy.  And there’s a choice there.  Are we arguing, are we in a battle?  And do I want to say, “aha I won.”  And now my ego’s happy, I won, I beat you, I outsmarted you and now you hate me and you’re not showing me love and affection and so did I win, is that really what I wanted?

Gabriela: I love that.  “Do you want to be right or do you wanna be happy.” And some battles are worth it.

Dr. Giardina: Totally, yes, yes.  There are some things that you need to lay that, draw that line, right? But is this the fight you want to fight?  Does this matter in the long term?  And sometimes we fight the wrong fight. Right?  Maybe you’re supposed to say, “Hey Steve, you need to communicate with me in a shorter time span, don’t wait 8 hours to text me back, just like you always do.”  If there’s a pattern, let’s have that fight.  But if this is one time, and you’re just feeling a little insecure, then go handle your insecurity.  Don’t pick a big fight.  What are we doing?

Gabriela: True, story Dr. G.  I’m going to bring this back to you.

Dr. Giardina: OK.

Gabriela: If I remember correctly, there was point in time when you and your wife weren’t you and your wife yet, you were you and your girlfriend and you were long distance.

Dr. Giardina:  Right.

Gabriela: How did you make that work?  I feel that’s a common thing…

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, yes, so again, not cookie cutter.  So how did we make it work?

Gabriela:  Specifically, yes.

Dr. Giardina:  Specifically, was a big reason that that worked is that we already had a foundation.  I’m very reluctant to have people START a long-distance relationship.  If you don’t have that sense of trust or connection or whatever it is to start with then, it’s hard to trust someone because they’re however many miles away and he’s not with you.

Gabriela: Right, so how long were you guys together when you did this long distance?

Dr. Giardina: Right, so we would’ve been, I think we were together about, maybe about 7 or 8 years at that point.  So, there was a lot of history there.

Gabriela:  Yeah, so that is a think foundation.

Dr. Giardina: Right, right, abnormal, I know.  But then we were apart for like 4 ½ years and did the long distance for a little over 4 years or something like that.  And we made it work through constant communication, regular plane flights and just draining the bank account, and I wish we had facetime back then, that would’ve made things a hell of a lot easier.  Because it’s different to see somebody’s face, you know feel like you’re connecting with them.  But yeah, I think the biggest part is to have some sort of foundation of trust and then, to set the rules, right?  And not just the rules like it happened in a different zip code, or it doesn’t count, like not just fidelity, foolishness, but then also are we going to talk every night before bed, or can I tell you, hey, I’m gonna be busy at work or whereever I am and so I won’t be talking to you for the next 10 hours.  Like can we project out front what are your expectations.  And I think that avoids that weird anxiety of he didn’t text me back or what is she up to.  Or whatever.  Like, cause I told you, I told you, where I was, so you don’t need to wonder.  I gave you the map.  And I think people, especially guys, get freaked out about that because she can’t control me, or I don’t need to tell her anything.  And it’s yeah dude, you don’t have to do any of that but how is it going to play out? Right, and what do you have to hide?  Why are you playing this game?  Like what you’re going to be playing pool with the guys for like 3 hours, oohh, like why not just tell her that?

Gabriela:  Right, right. So, you would say, it’s more about having a strong foundation.  Like not necessarily 6 years, but maybe 2 years where you’ve built a lot of trust in each other.  If it was a 6-year relationship that was crazy and a lot of cheating and a lot of lying, and you know that would probably be very difficult for long distance.

Dr. Giardina: Right, right.  Because you already have that question in your head. So it’s not just about the years, it’s about, it’s about knowing each other well enough first, having established that physical connection that I feel like, like I can, I can spoon you, I’ve had that moment, but I think then it’s also knowing that, like why are you going to this place separate from me, and that’s part of the trust and the foundation.  Why did you choose that city or that job over me?  And then also, should I follow you?  And that becomes a whole other thing, and that’s a whole other podcast.  We can get into, but like should you follow your partner to whereever they’re going.  And it depends on the situation, right?

Gabriela: Right also so individual to the situation.

Dr. Giardina: Right.

Gabriela: I wanted to mention to, I love how you said Listenerland so I’m going to use it forever and ever, thank you.

Dr. Giardina:  Of course, yeah.

Gabriela:  Because I know that, they’re going to be like ahh, “we haven’t been together 6 years.” So it’s definitely not about the time, it’s about how strong that foundation and trust is and how good is your communication is what you’re getting at here right?

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, yeah.  I mean, I, I, it’s something I might talk about at the end, but I believe that we have to have our criteria of like what am I looking for in a partner.  And one of them really should be geography.  It matters.  What’s the radius?  Because literally, I was working with a patient, I won’t give too many details, so she doesn’t know I’m talking about her, but like she was like Dr. G I found the one.  Ad we have similar cultural histories and values and business interests, and I mean, she listed it and he was killing it, I mean he hit every mark and I’m like OK, where’s the but.  And she’s like he lives in a differetn country, and his work keeps him there and I would never move there, and he would never move to Miami.  And I’m like, that’s kind of a big problem, like if you see each other quarterly, and that’s how we’re going to start the relationship, uhhh, what are we doing?

Gabriela: That’s rough, that’s rough.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah.  Ultimately, she was choosing she didn’t want a relationship, she wanted space and safety.

Gabriela: Nice.

Dr. Giardina: Wow, I got out of breath there talking too much.  Take a minute.  I’m going to ask you the questions now.

Alright, flip it, so I asked you about where the women go wrong.  What do you wish guys would know?

Gabriela: Oh man.  OK…

Dr. Giardina: What do the guys need to know that guys keep screwing up and why they’re not landing Gabi.  Or the right girl.

Gabriela:  Oh man.  OK so that’s a tough one there.  So many things.  You do everything wrong! Totally kidding.

I think dating is so complicated which we’ve talked so much about in our group and all the women agree.  It’s really, really hard.  And I think, the most important thing we’ve talked about is communication.  And you know, over communication in my head sometimes, I’ll admit I’m probably wrong about this, but it feels like unsexy.  To leave it all out there.  Like this is what I need.  And I don’t want to be needy from the get-go. But for the men, I need more communication.  I need…I think everything needs to be laid out there.  When you’re dating it’s complicated.  Like if you go into it, like we said before, everything is suggestive, you go into it and you’re like ok, we’re going out on dates, I was actually in a very recent situation where this happened, so I’m still freshly frustrated, we went out on dates, we hung out, we got along, we talked all day, every day.  We have, my best friend and his best friend are together.  So, you know, what do you think when that happens?  If you’re going by suggestion, you think OK, we’re seeing where this is going, we’re dating, not necessarily that this is going to turn into I’m going to marry you or even a long-term relationship, but we’re definitely seeing where it’s going, right?  Cause, that wasn’t the case.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, that’s just the vibe you’re getting.

Gabriela: So, I wish I would’ve known, before it was like a month of this, where I’m starting to like this guy, you know, he met my friends, they liked him, and it’s just that awkardness, where we have…we unintentionally had a talk recently, where he’s like no, no, I’m trying to have fun. And I was like…What do you mean you’re trying to have fun? And I’m always, elaborate, tell me more.  And he did.  He was like you know, if someone comes up tomorrow, and I want to have fun with her, I’m going to do it.  And sio that left me in, ok well that’s not what I want.

Dr. Giardina:  Right.

Gabriela: I thought we were seeing where this was going based on what was happening.  So, I think what I’m getting at is communication and making it clear if what you want is “hey let’s hook up for a little while, and not really see what happens, eventually, let it die out.”  I think you have to make that clear from the get-go.

Dr. Giardina: So guys making their expectations or timeline clear.  That’s what you would like more of.

Gabriela:  Right.

Dr. Giardina:  OK, but then not making it so unsexy that we’re talking too much.

Gabriela:  Right.  So that’s where it gets complicated.  Cause, honestly, if we would have told me from the get-go like, “listen, I just want this to be super casual” I would have been like “Ok I’m out.”  I’m almost 30, gotta go.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, it was a game.  He gamed you to get what he wanted because if he would have been direct, he wouldn’t have gotten what he wanted.

Gabriela:  And you know what?  He was so honest and open.  We had a long conversation about it and we’re on good terms cause, he never said he wante a relationship.  Or that he wanted to necessarily see where this went.  But it’s like what were you suggesting with all this.  You know.  He’s also younger.  He’s like 4 years younger than me, which made me cautious.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, but what we’re talking about now, and this goes across the gender divide is projections and assumptions and expectations.  Right?  Like we were both looking at the same object and you see X and I see Y because of where you’re coming from, or what you want, or whatever. So, you saw his behavior as, “Oh this is going to a relationship.” And he probably thought, “Oh I’m being a nice guy to get her to like me.” But we both interpret the same thing differently.

Gabriela: Right, you won! You did it.

Dr. Giardina:  Well, it’s not won, I think that’s the unsexy part too.  A: I don’t know what I’m projecting and then B: if I tell you then it kind of takes the thing out of it.  I want it to just flow.  Right?

Gabriela: Right.

Dr. Giardina:  Because if you had said “What do you want?” and he says what he wants then, we’re not a “we”, so.

Gabriela:  And honestly, in this situation, it was better than it’s been in the past.  In the past it’s been like “I don’t know what I want.” I have been in situations where it’s “I don’t know what I want” for a long time.  And that keeps you hanging on even longer.  Like I’ve had 1 ½ of “I don’t know what I want.”

Dr. Giardina: The guy saying, “I don’t know what I want.”

Gabriela:  Right.

Dr. Giardina: Well, then, but then what are we waiting for? Right?

Gabriela: Exactly.  But it takes so long to get there because it’s so unsexy and weird in the beginning to be like, I definitely just want to be in a relationship, or I definitely just want to hook up.  Sometimes you really don’t know what you want.  But I think you have to be less selfish. I understand wanting to keep her there or me there for longer, when you’re still unsure, but that’s not necessarily fair.  Like this guy did it in a month.  You know.

Dr. Giardina:  But don’t put it all on the guy.  Like he’s keeping you there?  No girl, you’re staying.

Gabriela:  Right, no I’m staying but what I was getting at here is that this particular last situation he did it in like a timely matter.  It’s been a month. You weren’t telling me “I don’t know what I want.” You were like clear this is what you want, I’m not sure I want that so let’s stay friends.  And that’s what we did.  So, there’s no hard feelings there.  In the other case, it’s months and months.  And he’s not obviously, tying me to a chair…

Dr. Giardina: Right.

Gabriela:  But he is like I met his whole family, like he told me constantly how in love he was with me, he was amazing and all the time, but then he’d be like “but I don’t know what I want.”  And so it’s like OK.

Dr. Giardina: Yeah, definitely mixed message.  And that goes again with what I was about to say which is “don’t listen to the words, look at the action.”  But right there you got a tricky one, because the action said, yeah.

Gabriela: Exactly.  Most of the actions.  Cause, of course there’s still things.  You know.

Dr. Giardina:  But you know, I think that the romantic thing that I want all of us to hold on to is “I want you to want me.”  “I want to feel desired.” And that’s ok to hold on to.  If you ask a guy like “do you want me, do you choose me?” and his answer is “Like, I don’t know.”  Uh, that doesn’t.  That deflates everything. Right?

Gabriela:  I’m outta here.

Dr. Giardina:  My wife and I had a conversation this morning, and it’s a stupid example to make an important point, and she asked, what do you want to make for breakfast.  And I said, I don’t know, I’m good for whatever.  And then, I paused a bit and I said, but I don’t feel like making something big, like a whole, like pancakes from scratch.  And she said OK good, so we know we’re not doing that, so that rules out a bunch of things.  So sometimes we don’t know what we want but if you can say, I don’t want, whatever, that answers a lot of questions too.

Gabriela: True, it’s important.

Dr. Giardina: “So do you want to settle down with me?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you want to have kids one day in the future?”

“Never.”

OK well that answers a lot of questions. Maybe we’re not meant to be. Right?

Gabriela: Right.  Maybe we should come up with like a list of questions that would be useful to know before hand.

Dr. Giardina: Well, let’s throw that in right now, right?  My constant advises for people trying to get into the right relationship, is the list. Right?  What is your list?  What are your non negotiables? What are the things you want, what are the things that are fantasy, but still you want them anyway, and put them in category order.  And that’s kind of the questions you quiz at the beginning.  You sneakily work it in.  You don’t have to like, slide the dude a questionnaire at dinner.  That’s creepy.  But throughout dinner, you’re trying to pull for “so have you had those felonies removed from your record” or when are you going to get a job or leave your wife.  Or how many kids do you want.  If you can find out the things, then now we know am I wasting my time?  What am I even doing here?

Gabriela:  Right?  I love that list.  And I use it all the time too.  And I think it’s important to have that list and use it without having anyone in mind.  You don’t want to make the list thinking of your ex-boyfriend or the guy you’re dating.

Dr. Giardina: To prove that’s the one I have to be with.

Gabriela:  Exactly, exactly.  My turn.

Dr. Giardina: Go.

Gabriela: Ok, have you ever dealt with jealousy, either you or your wife and if so, how were you able to reassure each other or overcome it?  I’m assuming in 26 years this had to have happened.

Dr. Giardina:  You know, let me ponder that for a second.  We don’t deal with jealousy like traditional couples.  So, I will say that this is an anomaly.  No, we’re very rational.  I mean, my wife will say to me, and she’s saying this a little bit as a defense mechanism, but she’s also honest.  She’s like, “If you’re going to leave me for whoever, then just go ahead, and we’ll deal with the consequences.”  And she says it with like a little tone in her voice, to be clear, dude there will be consequences.

And so, I think that is something that too often we focus on the feeling of I’m jealous or I’m fearful or I’m but like, what are the consequences.  And that’s really, I mean I love my wife.  That’s not in doubt.  But one of the things that definitely keeps me more loyal or to avoid my eyes lingering on somebody else, is that feeling of what would I lose.

So often we get caught in that grass is greener, but listen, the grass is always greener, you now why, because you don’t know what’s underneath the grass.  You just see that top level.  Right?  And the fascinating thing about treating women and sitting across from beautiful, interesting women, all day long, is that I get to know all your secrets.  And so, there are so many women I come across in like my professional life, in my daily life, and I think, oooh, and there’s a moment of curiousity or interest or something sparks, and I see what’s beneath the surface and go well that’s a great person but that’s not necessarily for me.  That’s not necessarily the thing I would choose over my wife.

And so, so much of the jealousy and the flip side of that, the infidelity or the looking or the straying is I think we romanticize what we see on the surface, but you forget that once you get with that person, then it’s going to be a relationship and it’s going to be just like the relationship, you’re in.  And so why are you looking for something new?

Usually, at least from the male perspective, I can speak to, we’re looking for easy.  Guys will always, be tempted by the girl at the bar who says oh wow, you’re so rich or so handsome, or let’s just have fun, or I’m not worried about consequences or responsibilities, yes, that girl.  That’s the one that we want.  But that girl doesn’t really exist.  That girl exists for a few hours or days or weeks and then, you’re going to settle down and she’s going to complain that you didn’t take out the trash and she’s going to have expectations that you should come home at a certain hour, and now that girl is gone.  Because she doesn’t really exist.

And so, then guys are always pursuing that, if girls want the passion, guys are pursuing the easy girl that is always carefree and fun.  Who doesn’t want to tell you to do anything. Who doesn’t want to give you rules and responsibilities.  And I know that doesn’t really exist. And that’s part of what keeps me focused.

But then back to your question about jealousy, I think we are very communicative, and we can say with a sense of security in the relationship, but also security in ourselves, like, I can tell my wife, “Ooh I met this really attractive girl today.” and she can say, “Oh wow was she a model or was she…” There’s not like this “was she prettier than me?” Because that’s now what we’re doing.  It’s not a competition.  It can just be a fact.

The listenerworld can’t see me but you’ll meet me one day.  I’m a short guy. So, my wife, I got in her car the other day, no lie, and the passenger seat was way far back.  “Oh I was driving Kevin to this thing, and he’s like really tall, he’s like 6’7’’ and I’m like who’s this Kevin guy who’s so tall.  And I had this moment of jealousy.  But it’s not about she’s interested in this co worker that she drove, it’s the simple fact that, that’s one of my insecurities.  But they’re my insecurities.  I have to own my insecurities.

Gabriela: Keyword.

Dr. Giardina: Exactly, the jealousy is not necessarily about the other person, it’s about look at yourself and do you need to question, do I need to make peace with myself? And you bringing up as my partner, as my person, you just reminded me of my own insecurities, but it has nothing to do with you.  It has to do with me dealing with my insecurity.

And then the last part of the jealousy thing I should say, and this isn’t necessarily specific to my relationship, but Esther Perrel’s got some really good stuff out there about this.  Others do too in the relationship world, but that you need some jealousy.  Like, I need to feel like I could lose you or that somebody else wants you, so that way, I want you more.

It’s like take a kid.  Look at the toy their playing with, then go across the room and pick some random toy and say you’re going to throw it in the trash or start playing with it and that kid immediately, says, “hey, that’s my favorite toy, give it back.”  Because now that somebody else wants it, it has value.  And so, you need a little bit of jealousy every so often, just to be reminded that hey, wait, I could lose this thing and somebody else wants this thing and uhh that’s my thing.

And you need that little – and that’s where that passion gets reignited.  That’s where that spark comes back.  Because suddenly you’re reminded that the thing you take for granted every day, oh yeah, when that thing leaves the house, people would like to play with that toy.

Gabriela:  Yep.  That makes sense.  So, it’s all about no extremes.  A splash of jealousy.

Dr. Giardina:  OK. Let me take a shift in what I want to ask you here and say, has your dating life changed since you got into this field.  Now that you have this degree, now that you’re sitting on the coach on the other side, do you feel like you see relationships differently?

Gabriela:  God yes!  Absolutely.

Dr. Giardina:  Strong reaction.  Is that good or bad?  What does that mean?

Gabriela:  I think since I started, I’ve been working for Coral Gables Counseling Center for 8 years now.  I did it while I was in school, and I mean, being surrounded by clinicians, like I said at the beginning, and while studying marriage and family counseling, while seeing clients, all of that changes everything you think about.  I think even if I was in a relationship and I wasn’t dating, it would change it.  It would change the way I did things, the way I said things.  I think we can take preventative measures when we see our clients making these mistakes and we think, damn, sometimes I do that.  I’ve got to stop.  And when you hear it from somebody else, it’s a lot easier to see, these things.  You know, to see where they’re going wrong.  And so, it definitely has changes so much.  I know how important communication is, I actually work with Dr. Giardina all the time.  So, I hear all this wonderful advice you guys are hearing now, I hear it on a daily basis almost, so.  It’s awsome, it’s definitely changed the way I see dating differently.

Dr. Giardina: But dear, you see it differently, but do you live it differently, right? Like,

Gabriela: (Whispering) I havent’ dated.

Dr. Giardina:  Ahh, OK, fair, fair, fair.  Because I think that’s the hard part, right?  Is that I can see it in the other person, right?  My patients on the couch, right?  I can tell them all the things that they’re doing right or wrong.  It seems so painfully clear.  And then you get caught up in your feelings, and then suddendly all the knowledge and wisdome goes out the window and you go back to doing the same old thing.

Gabriela:  Right.  My very recent example, the one I just spoke about I think I definitely did things differently with him.  And I think I found out I could have easily been like alright.  Because he was like, we have one of two options.  Right?  We keep going with this casually or we stop and decide to stay friends.  I could have easily made the mistake I’ve made in the past and been like, let’s just keep it going.  With the thing in the back of my head, “maybe he’ll change his mind”.  And you know that’s not something I want to do right now.  And I was very.  We were communicating very openly, and I think that had to do with the both of us.  But I am definitely being more open in my communication.

Dr. Giardina:  And more conscious, is what I’m hearing.

Gabriela:  Definitely more conscious.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah.  I’m going to make a choice that’s a choice and not as a reaction.

Gabriela:  Exactly, exactly.  I’m feeling really strongly about this right now, give it till tomorrow, think about it, don’t react on your emotions.

Dr. Giardina: For those of you in listener world…

Gabriela: Listenerland.

Dr. Giardina:  Listenerland, pardon me.  It souds better.  Aliteration.  I think you need somebody to chec, you every so often.  And unfortunately, we have people in our lives who you think are giving you advice, but dude, like your friends who are in the same boat.

Gabriela: Scary.

Dr. Giardina:  The blind leading the blind. And it’s not to say that all therapists are equally effective, but I think that you find the right fit there, and if it’s someone you trust to guide you and to kind of hold you accountable and say, “Hey you’re doing the same thing you did in the last relationship.  Do we want to maybe think that through?”

Gabriela:  Yeah, I mean I went to therapy personally for 3 years and it was the best decision I ever made in my life one time, with Raquel.  She was great.  I mean I learned so much about myself, about being mindful, about being conscious, about everything.

Dr. Giardina:  Well, that’s key too right.  I should throw that it.  That OK been together with my wife 26 years, and I’ve been and out of therapy, basically that entire time.  Not because of her. To be clear.  But I think that certainly helps communicate better, be self aware heavy inside, because I’m always checking myself.  Right?  But instead of bringing the fight to my wife, I’m going to bring the fight to my therapist and be like, alright, should I react wierdly to this?  What is this?  Am I just being insecure?  And so somebody else filters it before it comes home to her.  Right?

Gabriela:  Exactly, exactly.  I did a lot of that.  And they also, you figure it out in therapy.  Right, your therapist doesn’t tell you that this is what you need to do.

Dr. Giardina:  Not a good therapist.

Gabriela:  No, not a good therapist.  Key word yeah.  So, I remember in my therapeutic experience, my therapist would ask me these questions that would be like uhh, mind blown.  She would phrase questions in a certain way that I was like whoa!  I know everything now.  Gotta go.

So, I’d have like an epiphany every week in her office.  I would be like nervous before I walked in. Because she was great.  Again, I got lucky.  I heard some horror stories with therapists, so its really, if it doesn’t feel right, ride out.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, we should just drop that in right now.  That finding a therapist is like dating.  Legit.  I have had therapists.  I had one that was such a bad first date, that I ended it before we were even done with the hour.  This clearly isn’t a fit.  This is not gonna happen.  So here’s your money.  Goodbye.  And there’s others that I’ve clicked with immediately, like my current therapist, wasn’t supposed to be my therapist, I was supposed to network and do business with her and I was like uh, can we switch gears.  Can I be your patient instead? Because that’s what I need right now.  So yeah, in Listenerland, try, try again.  Just because you had one bad therapist, it’s like one bad date.  You don’t stop.  You just keep looking.

Gabriela:  Yeah, definitely, so important.  You’re gonna click with them. If you don’t click with them, it’s going to be really tough to take.  What they’re saying, in a good way.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah.  This is not, this is not your dentist.

Gabriela:  Yeah, exactly.  Different kind of doc.

Dr. Giardina:  Different kind of doc.

Gabriela: So before we wrap it up, I have one last question for you.

Dr. Giardina:  Oh alright.  Shoot.

Gabriela: Do you still surprise each other.  I’m actually very curious about this.  I feel like it’s going to be tough to surprise someone that knows you so well.

Dr. Giardina:  Well.  I went right to the immediate idea of surprise when you said that.  Like, do I surprise her with gifts or things like that.

Gabriela:  That’s what I meant.  Literal surprise.

Dr. Giardina:  Oh, literal surprise.  Um, you know a patient once taught me this term that she and her partner would give each other what they called Wednesday Gifts.  And the point of that is, “Why did I give you this?  Cause it’s Wednesday.”  Not cause it’s our birthday or Valentines Day right?  So I think it’s important to maintain some level of it’s manufactured.  I’ll be honest.  But manufactured spontenaity.  When you’ve been together this long, every so often, I need to, I will literally put like a phone reminder that says “Say something nice to her this week” or “Buy her a present” or something. And because we’re very pragmatic people, like sometimes I will say, “hey I was gonna buy you this things would you like it?” and then she’ll go “Aww you know, that’s not really for me but thank you for thinking of me.”  So sometimes the surprise doesn’t mean I literally surprise her, because that can lead to some weird stuff.  It’s like why did you spend our money on that thing that you didn’t ask me.  Sometimes a surprise backfires.  But I recognize, and it’s maybe it’s because of the field I’m in, but I recognize that there is a need to constantly kind of reup on the relationship, remind her that I feel this way about her and she’ll do similar things for me.  And sometimes it’s stupid little things but sometimes the stupid little things add up.  Right?  Like she went out to a work function the other day and they had some yummy dessert, and she was like Todd would love this, so she brought one home to me.  And the thought was you need to have this.  This is something that just spoke to me and I thought, this is you, you need this.  So the gestures.  It’s not so much surprises anymore, because like yeah, we know each other and also surprises can throw off the routine and we like routine.  I tried to surprise her once for an anniversary trip and she’s just like somebody who likes routine and she’s like but where are we going and what should I pack and what time are we leaving?  I can’t just whisk her away and blindfold her.

Gabriela: Stress her out.

Dr. Giardina:  Exactly.  You gotta know your partner and does surprise really play.  But I think the thoughtful gestures matter and you need to be conscious of that.  I consciously, and she can tell when they’re conscious, first it’s like the guy gift, we talked about this in group the other day.  That like guy gift is that I’m at a checkout at CVS and I’m like “huh, she likes chocolate, I’ll grap a chocolate bar for her.” And its better than not.  But like dude you didn’t think this through.  It’s like clearly a convenience factor.  And I think the gift or the gesture of the surprise matters more if there’s a thoughtful effort behind it that you planned.  You didn’t just take the easy road.  That you took kind of the more difficult path to tailor it to me.

Gabriela: Right.  Take notes. I had an ex situation who would like have a note on his phone called Gabi and he would write things down that I would randomly say I loved. And then like on birthdays or random days he’s surprise me with these gifts that I said months ago that I wanted.  And it was really cute.

Dr. Giardina:  Yes.  I have the same note. I have her sizes.  I have no’s.  She’ll be I don’t want anymore of whatever.  And so OK, now I need to keep that on the list.  Yeah.  To tailor it.  Because it shows you’re listening right?  The surprise doesn’t matter.  Right?  She can buy her own damn whatever.  But the point is that I heard you and I thought of you at a separate time and I put in the effort to remind you that I heard you.  And let me also say though, the surprises.  We have changed so many times who we are in little ways over 26 years, and so sometimes the surporise is that we’ll be having dinner and one of us looks at the other one and goes, I want to change jobs, or I want to have a baby, or I want to…and so there is this like.  Oh, ok, so something’s been changing inside your head and I didn’t know it.  I can’t perceive it.  And now you’ve communicated it and it throws a little monkey wrench into what I thought about you.  Because you’ve been having experiences or thoughts or inner feelings that I’m not privy to.  And so no matter, how long you’ve lived with somebody, or how much you communicate, I can’t read your mind.  So that can sometimes be the surprise.  And they’re not always awsome.  Sometimes they throw you for a curve but if you’re together long enough and you allow for…This is something I was going to say in closing, so I’ll say it now, it is so vital to maintain your separate identities and your separate lives, like if you can help it, don’t work with your spouse or partner, even if you started working together, have your separate things or go to the gym separate or have separate hobbies and friends whatever, because then that allows for a little surprise.  It allows for me to have something that I did without you that you did without me and that individuality is part of the healthy jealousy I was speaking about earlier that like I need to wonder in a good way like “Where were you?” and not because “Where were you?” and I’m tracking you down and I’m so scared and I’m trying to control you but that “Where were you?”  Oh, well tell me about your day.  Tell me about this experience.  Tell me about this thing.  And there is this thing that you did separate from me and I need to see you as a separate individual and they can be surprised by you having that experience, it shifted something in your perspective.  And now you come home and you tell me that new angle, that new thing and it generates novelty and dialogue.  And now I get to look at you a little bit differently. Right?

Gabriela: Right.  And just to piggy back on that a little bit.  I see this a lot in the couples that I see is that I’ll get the, which I’m sure you get it too, she knows how I feel or he knows that.  He doesn’t.  It might have been 10 years.  Keep telling her how you feel.  Keep complimenting her if you feel that she looks good one day.  Don’t assume that she knows.  Because she knew when you told her 3 years ago.  She doesn’t know now.

Dr. Giardina:  Right. Right.  Yeah.  That constant reupping. And it’s the daily reaffirmation of I choose you or I choose this or I feel this way. And we all have that doubt. Guys have doubt they just express it differently.  But there’s that doubt and so you telling me…because it goes the other way.  Like literally, I have a couple I’m working with and the guy says “hey could you compliment me every so often? Could you say something nice about me?”  And it’s not necessarily that he wants his wife to say that “Man look you hot in those jeans.”  Like it’s a different kind of compliment that is desire.  But there is still that wanting to be desired.  That wanting to be seen.  And it’s not just solicited. It’s not just a pat on the head.  You know.

Gabriela:  Exacly.  So it’s important to keep telling them.

Dr. Giardina:  Yeah, keep talking.  Keep talking.

Gabriela:  So.

Dr. Giardina:  I think we should wind down right?

Gabriela:  Yes, in wrapping this up, advice for those of us still looking for our person and for those of us who have found our person, who are in relationships.

Dr. Giardina:  So for everybody what to do.

Gabriela:  Tell us all what to do Todd.

Dr. Giardina:  Well, I’ve given some advice already along this podcast but I guess some final thoughts that didn’t get covered, the unsexy truth, is that we all need to settle.  Settling is how you find your partner.  And it just sounds like a yucky word cause settling sounds like you didn’t get what you wanted.  Settling is not the…oh I settled for you. That’s not a good thing to say in your vows.

But realistically, there is that list that I told you about.  The Relationship List that I was talking about.  The Ideal Partner List.  And if we hold on too much to this fantasy, to the ideal, that person, that guy, that girl, doesn’t exist.  Like I said.  The guys who want the girls who is fun and playful and easy, that has no resonsibilities, that girl doesn’t exist because at some point she needs to come back down to reality, and she has that job or bills to pay or food to cook.  So, we need to let go of the fantasy.

And girls that dude on the romcom is made up.  He’s acting.  He’s not real.  It’s a script.  So, settling is important.  And not just settling for just the person you got feelings for but settling by saying, “I looked at my list, this guy, this partner, this girl, whatever, doesn’t have any of my deal breakers.  The red flags are not present.  That’s key.

And then, of the rest of the list, my bending points of the things that I would like, he or she has most of them. Enough of them.  And enough, and good enough.  That’s what settling is.  About finding good enough. Because if you hold for perfect, well then that may never come along.  If you settle for terrible just because he or she is here, you’re going to be miserable. You’ve gotta find that good enough point.  And so that’s tip 1.

Tied to the tip 1, guess what guys, it’s not about the ideal.  It’s about the fit.  We said this about therapists, but we should say it about relationship, love, life partners.  That you need to find a find.  I was watching this great movie the other day and one of the couples that ends up coupling up, neither one of them is pitched as the desirable person or character.  They’re both seen as a little bit odd.  But they find the odd in the other one and their little odd coupling works out perfectly.

So, what you’re looking for is somebody who fits to you.  And they may not be the one that your friend or or your mother would choose for you.  But that’s OK.  Your friend or mother isn’t married to them or dating them. So you need to find your fit and like ignore the haters and ignore the people who are like oohh.  I wouldn’t date him.  Well you don’t have to hate him, I need to date him.  So recognize that the fit can be very idisyncratic.  And hey, if you’re happy, then that’s what you’re going for.

Gabriela:  Important.

Dr. Giardina:  Important. And tied to that.  That person is not gonna be your everything.  Fact, this is not also sexy and romantic.  But I was saying earlier that you need a little bit of mystery, a little bit of unknown, a little bit of jealousy, but then also, you need to recognize that no one person can be your everything.  And so, we want our lover, and our best friend and our partner and our coparent and our business partner and our…that’s too much pressure.

  1. No one person can be all that. We’re going to burn each other out. And so there’s nothing wrong with having different kinds of love.  The sexual love, the romantic love, the life partner love should really be for your person.  But you can have someone else who you would rather go doing whatever with.  You can have someone else who connects with you on blah, blah blah topic level.

That’s OK and you don’t need to feel a sense of jealousy or insecurity or doubting your love or your relationship or yourself about that.  I think it’s healty to say that I get my needs met in a lot of different ways and you are my number 1 and you need to pick a number 1.  But y’all, like listenerland, get it together.  You can have lots of different relationships.  It’s OK.

And one last tip that I’ll say, is that I think that I’ll call the 10% rule.  That we are all settling.  We all find a good enough.  We are all recognizing you’re not going to be my everything.  And so, I’m not your everything, and I’m not perfect.  And I get that you don’t love everything about me, and so I’ll change 10% for you.  I will give up 10% of who I am or what I do but just 10%.

And vice versa.  If you’re asking me to change 60%, you don’t love me, and I feel it.  And that sucks and I want to be desired as I am, but I get that I’m not perfect.  And I hope you know you’re not perfect.  And so, we can all be willing to compromise and say, “You know I really hate when you blah, blah, blah.  And you can say back to me well OK well, I don’t like when you blah, blah blah. And then we’ll compromise and say I’ll stop X if you stop Y because I get that these two things are things that we don’t really…But I love you and I fully accept you.  Except for that one little, weird habit.  You know so.

It doesn’t mean that your partner is asking you to change.  It simply means that your partner is asking you to change.  Just like you would ask a roommate or whoever.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.  It just means a willingness to compromise and to communicate.

But you can feel that difference when you’re asking me to change a minor thing or you’re asking me to change the entire who I am then we have the red flags.  What are we doing?

Gabriela:  Right.  And change is always viewed as something negative. And it could be so beautiful and wonderful.  Like I’m changing this, and sometimes are bad habits.  I’m changing this bad habit of mine because it’s going to make me a better person.  And it’s going to make my partner happier.  So recognizing those.

Dr. Giardina:  I remember when I was at, this is how long I’ve been with my wife right, but I was at some kind of event near the end of high school and I was talking about my relationship then and  bunch of girls were listening and at some point I said something about, they were asking sometning about how do you make it work, and I said, well I’ve changed y girlfriend.  And before I could finish the rest of the sentence, I was like I was attacked by a group of rabid women saying like “How dare you change her and you’re an awful man.” And I was like “Let me finish, like I have pushed her to change things about herself and now she’s a better person.  Like she’s happier.

Gabriela:  So, you’ve known this since you were 18?

Dr. Giardina:  And she’s changed things about me.  Well, some of it.

I don’t know what I knew.  Right.  And remember I’m in this field right, so it’s anamoly.  Ok?  But yeah, I got seen as like this villafied evil, abusive, boyfriend who changed her. Like I made her be a different person, but the hope is that dude if this is a healthy relationship, we are both changing.  Like if I’m the same person 26 years later, what’s wrong with me?  Or why won’t I let her influence me.

Gabriela:  Exactly.  Change is important and positive.  It doesn’t have to be like “you’ve changed. It’s like a negative thing.  No man.  Thank you, of couse I’ve changed.  I would hope so.

So, Dr. G, thank you so, so, so much for being here today.  For coming in and doing this with me and spilling all your secret.  Thank your wife for me.  I’ll thank her personally when I see her soon.

Dr. Giardina:  Thank you.  Yes.  Will do.

Gabriela: For letting me dig into your marriage.  I think we got a lot of information out there today.  I know I learned some stuff like I always do when we talk.

Dr. Giardina: thank you for being genuine and open as well.  That’s how this works.  Good communication.

Gabriela:  Good communication.  Well look at that!

So thank you guys for listening in on week number 2 of The Counseling Corner and stay tuned because next week we will have Mirta Pont and she’s going to discuss EMDR, trauma and PTSD.  If you don’t know what any of those mean, they’ll be explained on the podcast next week. And you’ll be with Emy but I’ll talk to you guys soon.

It’s a wrap!

 Word from our Sponsor:

Gabriela: We’re supported by our friend, The Calm Cuban.  Spoiler alert.  She is Cuban but she says she’s working on the calm part.

Emy:  Ok.  We can relate.  It’s not easy being calm.

Gabriela:  She is the brain behind Calmcuban.com, a mental health focused blog with a Calm Club.  Think marketing meets mental health.  She promotes mental health with research and trending topics guiding her creative content.

Emy: What’s the Calm Club?

Gabriela: It’s a team of wellness experts ranging from yoga and fitness instructors to nutritionits, health coach, therapists and doctors who weight in on featured topics.  We’re proud to say that we are Calm Club members.  We love to work with her.  Some popular topics on her site includes ways to train your brain, mindfulness misconceptions and my personal favorite, therapy is cool.