163 - Inspiring Relationships - Part 2

Can you think of any relationships that inspire you? Perplexed by this question, the Multiamory crew investigates what truly makes for healthy, stable, and inspiring relationships, inspired by the research and writings of Esther Perel. Be sure to check out part 1 first!

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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we're picking back up with Part 2 of "What makes a relationship inspiring?" In last week's episode, we started this conversation talking about some writings from Esther Perel, about how to maintain a sex life in your relationship, and also some stuff from Simone de Beauvoir, as well about autonomy and the importance of that in your relationships.

If you have to listen to that episode, go back and check that out from last week. In this week, we're picking back up by talking about two incredibly important things in relationships. One of which is mutual respect and the other one is a sense of self.

Emily: I'm excited to delve back into this.

Dedeker: I'm really excited. It's been a long time since we've had a two-parter episode.

Jase: I know, yes, it has been a while.

Emily: Yes, it's very rare for us, but we just kept talking and talking, and we're like, "The hour is almost done, and we have not finished even remotely, so maybe we need to do more of those." Again, last week we were talking about Esther Perel and Ira Glass on This American Life when they were discussing that it was very difficult for them to find relationships that inspired them. Esther Perel was going to write an article on inspiring relationships but ended up not doing it because she really didn't know what that was.

Dedeker: She just gave up.

Emily: She was like, "I couldn't do it." Nobody figured out what that was, so we decided to do it for her, and here we are.

Jase: Yes. Let's just jump right into it, I guess. Our first topic to talk about today is about respect. I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with Mark Manson. He's a writer. He does a blog. He also wrote the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I'm a big fan of his writing. I actually haven't read his book, but I like his blog quite a bit. He got married a few years ago. Right before he was about to get married, he put out a question to anyone who's been married for over 10 years and is still happy in their relationship.

What lessons would you pass down to others if you could? What's working for you and your partner? If you're divorced, what didn't work previously? What would your advice be? It's funny actually that when I was in college, one of my first really serious college relationships where I was thinking about marriage and all that sorts of stuff.

Emily: Marriage.

Dedeker: [laughs]I just love it. That's like a punchline of a joke for Emily.

Emily: Marriage is great for people who want to do it and who are in it. Good. Good for you.

Jase: Yes.

Dedeker: It is really funny to me to think of you getting married, Jase.

Emily: Oh my God. You were engaged at 23.

Jase: I was, yes, I know.

Dedeker: That's so nutso.

Jase: What's interesting is the question that I asked of my dad. My parents have been divorced since I was around nine or so, eight or nine. I asked my dad, I was like, "Dad, this is the relationship I'm in, and these are the things I'm thinking about. I just wanted to know what's your take on what not to do?"


Emily: "You screwed it up before, dad. Tell me how to not do that."

Jase: Kind of, yes. It was interesting that part of his answer was just about, "Just wait a little bit longer than you think you want to before doing something."

Dedeker: He's like, "Don't be 23."?

Jase: Yes, basically.

Dedeker: Wait, wasn't your dad 23 when he had you?

Jase: Yes. I was conceived when my parents were 23, and then they were 24 when I was born.

Emily: Can you imagine, Dedeker? We'd have like a six-year-old, right?

Jase: Yes.

Emily: If you and I collectively had a child at 23.

Jase: My kid would be 11 or 12 right now.

Emily: Oh my God.

Jase: That's amazing.

Dedeker: Jase, you're so old.

Jase: I know, but God, he or she would be the cutest kid ever. Anyway, whatever.

Dedeker: Yes, it depends on who you procreate with really.

Emily: I'm sure it would be an adorable child.

Jase: Yes. Anyway, we want to talk about what it was that Mark Manson found from these responses that he got for this.

Emily: He goes over a lot of different things in this blog post on what people need to do in their relationships in order to have long-lasting, awesome relationships, and it's interesting. I think over a thousand people actually wrote back to him. The thing that he said was that he started to see a lot of themes come up. Obviously, even over a thousand people, there were things that kept coming up over and over and over again.

One of them, and I think that he cited it as the most important thing in a relationship even before something like communication, was respect. He says, "Respect goes hand in hand with trust, and trust is the lifeblood of any relationship, romantic or otherwise. Without trust, there can be no sense of intimacy or comfort. Without trust, your partner will become a liability in your mind, something to be avoided and analyzed, not a protective home base for your heart and your mind," which is really interesting.

Dedeker: That's interesting because there's a part of about that seems to contradict some stuff Esther Perel talked about.

Emily: That Esther Perel said. I know. I hear you.

Dedeker: Which is this idea of-- It was like, "Yes, trust is important. Of course, that comfort is important, but if that's all that's there, you're not going to have sex with that person anymore, essentially." It's the argument that she makes.

Jase: Well, yes, if we want to get super text analytical about this. What he says here is that without trust, there can be no sense of intimacy or comfort. Essentially, saying that you can't even find that middle ground because if you don't have respect, you don't have any of that at all. Especially since learning a little bit more about this, more and more I see is such a big difference in relationships that I've had. That I've been happier in compared to ones that I haven't been. As well as other people's relationships when I see them being happy or not, that respect is such a big part of it.

I've just like, "Do you trust your partner to make good decisions? Do you trust them?" I guess I'm using the word trust, but I feel like it comes down to respect. "Do I respect you enough to be someone who is in control of your own life and your own mind, or do I think of you like a child who can't make your own decisions, and they need to be made for you, and you need to be controlled?"

Dedeker: Oh my God. I've definitely noticed a pattern in myself. This is mostly my pre-polyamory days, but I noticed that definitely in long-term relationships that as soon as I lost respect for the person, as soon as I started to get into that of like, "I don't respect the decisions this person makes. I don't respect what is it they're doing with their life." If I do start to see them as a child who can't take care of themselves, that's pretty much always been the turning point for me in a relationship where I'm just like, "I'm checked out."

Emily: You also don't want to be that person's mother. I'm sure that your parents can respect your kids, but it's a different thing there. You don't necessarily trust them to make good decisions for themselves. In that same way, if you start losing respect for your partner, that's really not a good thing. How can you want to have sex with someone that you don't respect, in my opinion?

Jase: Or who doesn't respect you.

Emily: Yes, totally.

Jase: That's interesting to think about parents. I do think there has to be this transition at some point in a relationship between a parent and a child. Where you move from that person who you need to make their decisions for them to transitioning to "Okay, now, I respect you as someone who can make your own decisions even if I don't always agree with them." That same thing can be true in relationships.

We also talked about one of the conventional pieces of wisdom is that if you want to see how someone's going to be in their relationships, look at how they are in their relationship with their parents; how they're going to be in a longer-term relationship. There may or may not be truth to that. There's definitely things that contradict it, but what's interesting is just to see how many parallels there are, and we make the parallels a lot when talking about polyamory, that you can love more than one person just like a parent loves more than one child, and it's not like having a second child makes you love the first one less.

We use that parent-child analogy to talk about love. You bring up a good point by mentioning the parent thing. It does have a lot of parallel there of like, "Is this someone that you feel you need to control or shelter from things or that you don't trust them to make good decisions?" That if they make a decision you don't agree with that means they're wrong, rather than they just made a decision you don't agree with, right?

Emily: Yes, because you can still respect someone who makes decisions that are different from those that, perhaps, you would, but if it comes down to a point where you're like, "I have no respect for this person. They are wrong, and I am right. They need to learn something or whatever," that's a different story.

Dedeker: Definitely.

Emily: Dedeker, you have an interesting story about this, correct?

Dedeker: Gosh, yes. The first ever meditation retreat I went on, it was right when I was in the middle of a turning point in my life around vulnerability and being vulnerable in relationships. I have this epiphany about opening myself up to my partners and not being so self-protective and stuff like that, but I swung way into the opposite direction of being way vulnerable. I was just raw and just really having a really difficult time and feeling too vulnerable, so I brought this to one of the teachers on a meditation retreat.

We talked about it for a while, but the thing is, the piece of advice that came out of that always stuck with me. She mentioned that when you love someone, it's not that helpful to think about your heart becoming one with that person. Or your heart opening up and then that person comes in, and then it all melts together and all that kind of tired Judeo-Christian narrative about relationships and sex.

She said that when you fall in love with someone or when you love someone, it's two hearts that have learned to respect the other heart's solitude. This idea that there's always going to be the separation, that's not actually a good thing, and it's good to respect that with your partners. Yes, that always, always stuck with me because it relates to a lot of things, it's not just the respect thing, but it's also about giving each other space. It's also about letting each other be independent, autonomous, individuals. That's just always something that's really, really stuck with me since then. About the way that I look at relationships, the way that I look at loving another human being.

Jase: Something to realize about this too, and I'm going to go back to the parent metaphor here is that-- Dedeker, you talked about how you've had relationships where you felt you lost respect for that person at some point?

Dedeker: Yes.

Jase: What I'm thinking about though is something that I see happen very often. That's a little bit of the other side from that is that people will, especially once a relationship becomes more serious but maybe even earlier on, will have kind of a lack of respect for their partner that might be just born out of what their role models were, for how relationships go. A lot of times, I see it tied up in gender, and this can go either way. We've talked before about the pop culture narrative of the husband being barely smarter than a dog essentially that--

Dedeker: The myth of male incompetence.

Jase: Right. The myth of male incompetence.

Dedeker: When it comes to particular tasks like child rearing, house cleaning, and stuff like that.

Jase: Right. He's got to be an idiot, and so we're taught that narrative and that you could come in with that. On the other side, we see this a lot with things like how much more often men will interrupt women just in general, or similarly, those cultural narratives about women not being good at certain things, whether that's mechanical things or something. Actually one of my favorite moments in Life is Strange: Before the Storm which is a wonderful game. I love it.

Emily: Yes. Go play it now.

Dedeker: You're not going to give any spoilers, are you?

Jase: No spoilers but there's a scene early on in the game where the main character goes out. Her mom's new boyfriend, who she doesn't like, is giving her a ride to school, and she's unhappy about this.

Emily: God, I hate it. Oh my God, I hate that scene so much. I was so angry.

Jase: She goes out, and he's working on getting the car running so that he can take her to work. He's like, "I think the problems is with the spark plug. You know the spark plug does--" and she says, "Yes." He's like, "You see, the spark plug does this," and she interrupts, and she's like, "I said I know what it does." He's just like, "Okay. Can you go get me this tool?"

Emily: Then she puts together the car herself.

Jase: Yes, which is awesome. Anyway, it's a good example of that type of thing while in that case, it's like, "It's this guy we don't like," but I feel like I, looking back, have seen myself do that thin. I see it a ton with other males that I know with how they treat their girlfriends or their female friends or coworkers or whatever. The point here is not about those specifics so much but that we may come in with a certain lack of respect that's just been taught to us culturally or by our parents or by other role models we've had.

It's not like in Dedeker's example where it's like you've lost respect for a person because of something you had it and then it's been lost. Whereas this is you're coming in without it, and that is a much more hopeful place to be because if you can realize that, you can start to change it and very actively do that. In something like polyamory, it can even come up not so much about gender roles but just about relationship roles.

This idea that you might decide to date someone who I don't think is attractive or who I don't like that much. I don't think they're a bad person; I just don't like them. It's like it can come up there not just having this respect of, "Okay. You're going to date differently, then I will." Anyway, this is a thing that you can learn, and becoming aware of it, at least for me, has been hugely important and also just how someone else lives their life.

Emily: Yes.

Jase: Especially when you're polyamorous in your lives, you gain more of that autonomy that we talked about in the last episode.

Emily: Which we're going to talk about in how to cultivate respect in a relationship, and I actually added on some stuff about the Gottman Institute. We can talk a little bit about it now, but it will come up again later on in--

Jase: Let's talk about it then.

Emily: Okay.

Jase: Let's get into "How to cultivate respect in a relationship?" The first one is to have respect for your partner's different hobbies and interests. Allow them to have different friends and different perspectives on things.

Emily: This is a big one because, again, you may like fixing cars, and I may like dancing on the weekends or something, and the two shall never meet.

Dedeker: Do either of you two do either of those things?

Emily: I had my clubbing phase and, back in the day when I was like 22, I, definitely, did dance on the weekends a lot so, yes, once upon a time.

Dedeker: Jase, did you have your car fixing phase?

Jase: I've done maintenance on cars. I haven't ever fixed a car from death to life.

Emily: No, but you have changed an oil and stuff like that.

Jase: It's not that impressive.

Emily: It is though. To me, it totally is.

Jase: The most impressive thing I've done was actually changing the brakes on a car.

Emily: Wow, that is crazy. Well done.

Dedeker: That's okay. You gained some instant points for sure with that one.

Emily: That is awesome. Totally

Jase: For anyone out there who actually work on cars, I know there's so much more to it.

Emily: Completely pull both of those out of my ass, it does.

Jase: This one comes up maybe even more often with hobbies. Again, going back to this cultural narrative, it's the idea that one of them has a hobby that the other one finds annoying, right? One of them likes to collect and paint D&D miniatures, and there's the cultural narrative of like "I have to hide this from my wife or whatever because I'm embarrassed about this nerdy thing that I'm into, and she couldn't love me for that."

Emily: For all of you D&D people out there, I'm laughing because my partner is actually the "head of the D&D miniature company." I'm not laughing because I find that not cool; I find it very cool.

Jase: Yes. Anyway, that sort of thing of having respect for their hobby even if it's something that you don't have an interest in rather than-- I almost feel like we're taught to put down those things if it's not something that we also like ourselves.

Emily: Yes, why is that? That's shitty.

Jase: I guess because it makes for funnier sitcoms? I don't know.

Dedeker: Yes, there is that. We can never-

Emily: Sitcoms are mean.

Jase: They are.

Emily: They are really mean.

Dedeker: -discount the influence of the things that we see in TV and movies. I know so many people try to be like, "Whatever, I don't watch TV, movies. It doesn't affect me," but it's like it's such a lifeblood of our culture. We get so many cues from that and especially, like we were talking about last week, in the absence of actually getting to see a lot of relationships up close and personal other than, basically, our parents maybe?

Jase: Yes, that's true.

Dedeker: Those things do affect so much of how we feel we have to be in our adult relationships.

Emily: Yes.

Jase: Yes.

Dedeker: Moving on to the next one, another way to cultivate respect in your relationship is to come to the relationship with a sense of being a team and allowing each other's voice to be heard. Of course, this is also true of multi-partner relationships as well. Something we've come back to on this podcast a lot, particularly with metamours, with your partner's other partner, the idea like you don't have to be best friends. You don't have to be in a relationship together, but it is important of this to maintain this idea that everyone is at least on the same team. Really, it's like that you work in the same office at the very, very least.

Jase: At least co-workers.

Emily: That's a cute metaphor.

Jase: Yes, I like that.

Dedeker: That we're generally going through the same goal, that we're not trying to beat each other down, and trying to compete with each other. That sounds so simple and fundamental, but particularly when it comes to couples negotiating or working through conflict, being able to get to that sense of "Hey, there's an issue, and now it's us versus the issue. It's not me versus you. The faster that you can break out of 'me versus you' and into 'us versus the problem,' the faster the problem's going to be solved."

Jase: Yes, that's great. For our next one here, we want to talk about actually a couple things from the Gottman Institute. What I want to start with actually is talking about-- We've mentioned the Gottman Institute in the past like in our episode about the science of happy relationships. This organization does a lot of studies and things about relationships. What makes relationships last, what makes them more likely to break up, what are the key things that actually, statistically, affect that rather than just the hearsay of like, "These five things are sure to doom your relationship. Number four will blow your mind."

I'm really into making everything into an Upworthy headline right now like a Buzzfeed article. Anyway, I remember the first study of theirs that I remember reading about was that they could listen to a couple have a conversation, and based on the words that they used in that conversation about whatever when talking to each other could determine, with this startling amount of accuracy, whether or not that couple would still be together within a couple of years or however long it was.

Dedeker: I thought it was like it only takes them essentially a minute and a half?

Jase: Right, didn't even take that long.

Dedeker: Seeing the couples talk about a particular subject or maybe an issue that they fight over often, and in a minute and a half, they can tell whether or not a couple’s gonna stay together.

Emily: It was with 94% accuracy.

Jase: I'm pretty sure it actually wasn't even about a fight or anything. It was just like having an actual conversation about something. Maybe it was something where they had a--

Dedeker: Are you sure because I could sit down and have a conversation with you about some pretty ridiculous and inane things that I don't think would carry any--

Emily: Then contempt and things would come out?

Dedeker: Right. If I brought up something that we've argued about in the past, then that would be more likely. Sorry, I'm arguing with you via you to the Gottman Institute, and it doesn't make any sense.

Jase: You are. We're also nicely reversing gender roles by you interrupting me. [laughs]

Emily: She's the alpha. She's the alpha.

Dedeker: I'm so sorry.

Jase: Someone did comment on one of our episodes where we're criticizing the red pill that said Dedeker was the alpha.

Dedeker: Because, apparently, I interrupt the both of you all the time I guess?

Jase: I don't know. Their comment was hard to understand.

Emily: It happened on the last episode. He was like, "I can wait."

Dedeker: I'm sorry. I'll try to be better.

Jase: What I was trying to say is that I don't think it's about a specific argument that that couple has had, but it was about some kind of discussion that involved some amount of debating about something. It wasn't just talking about what we did last weekend. Anyway, what they found is that the thing that was the main marker for whether that relationship would last was the kind of language they used about each other, about whether it was respectful or not. Essentially it's what it comes down to that did they use dismissive language when talking to each other, did they use disrespectful ways of referring to each other, and things like that.

Emily: Can you quickly say what the four horsemen are again for our listeners?

Jase: I haven't gotten to that yet. Sorry, I want to set that up about respect. Then they've also talked about these things that are "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in relationships. They're basically four things that can happen in a relationship that basically once these things start happening it's over. There's not a lot you can do to salvage a relationship at this point.

Dedeker: Definitely contempt which are things like rolling your eyes, or it could involve talking over a partner or mocking them, being sarcastic, making fun of them. Contempt's one. Criticism and not constructive criticism or constructive feedback but as in picking out a partner, criticizing the way they dress, criticizing the way they've done a particular task or a chore something like that so just nitpicking at them all the time.

Defensiveness/blaming. It's two sides of the same coin. As in never taking responsibility for your own emotions, never taking responsibility for your own actions, maybe that means never, ever apologizing for anything, coupled with blaming as in always putting the blame for that on either another person or the other person that you're with or some kind of external circumstances.

The last one is stonewalling as in shutting out, ignoring your partner, giving the silent treatment things like that. The sad thing is that all of us have done this to someone that we love at some point in our lives. It's not great, but the idea being that if any of these become a regular feature in your communication in your relationships, it's just going to continue to be destructive probably until the relationship ends.

Emily: Yes, and the four horsemen within the Gottman Institute, they also talked about the often problems that are just systemic, and they last for a long period of time, and they never really resolve. That's also a big issue that one, a problem can't be resolved, and it's always there within a relationship, that that can be something that potentially ends the relationship. Within all that, they also speak about how to combat that. One of the ways coming back around to respect in a relationship and cultivating that is a way to combat the four horsemen is to appreciate your partner.

Appreciation really shows that you have a deep respect for your partner and that you value them. It also allows you to cultivate this gentleness and gratitude when times get tough. When a difficult situation arises, it can allow you to not do all those things like stonewalling, having contempt for your partner, name calling, anything along those lines and instead have more of a gentleness when you get angry with them. I appreciate that the Gottman Institute talks about that because I think that also says you respect your partner enough to be able to do those things for them in the moment.

Dedeker: They do talk a lot about that doing, essentially, the opposite of the four horsemen can be really helpful and positive for your relationships. For instance, instead of criticizing, just be more gentle and not using eye statements, talking about your feelings, framing things that you need in a positive way rather than in a negative way that's critical of your partner.

Emily: Don't use always or never statements.

Dedeker: Right, things like that. Like Emily was saying, the opposite of contempt is appreciation. They even go further, and they say you should build a culture of appreciation in your relationship so that it's a thing that constantly happens. There's constantly a back and forth of appreciation. That that's something that happens quite often. The opposite of defensiveness, quite obviously, being just taking responsibility, owning your own shit like we've talked about on this podcast.

The opposite of stonewalling is actually interesting it's not what I expected. I would think that it means just open up to your partner and don't shut them out, but they actually recommend taking time to self-soothe. As in if you do need some time away from an argument or some time away from your partner, use that time to build yourself back up. Be respectful in asking for that time from your partner instead of just cutting them out which I thought was really interesting.

Emily: I appreciate that. My partner is very good at that because he's able to leave a situation, do something to make himself feel better, and then come back to it with a more open head and a better understanding of maybe where I'm at or whatever. That is really important.

Dedeker: Another way to cultivate respect is to allow your partner to feel the feelings that they're having during difficult times that are in their life or in their other relationships or in their current relationship with you. Don't automatically jump to trying to just fix your partner's feelings, but instead focus on listening. Of course, that's why we created the Triforce of Communication, so go and listen to that episode because it's very useful for preventing yourself from sliding into that, wanting to fix things. Especially if you're someone, and I count myself among these ranks, someone who slips into that bad habit a lot of automatically trying to fix things.

Emily: Yes, that one's tough. It's challenging to not just want to be like, "I'm going to help you right now" or "Don't feel sad. Look at all these amazing things in your life." Whenever I would be really down on myself, my mother would be like, "I don't understand why you're so upset right now. You have so many amazing things in your life," and I would totally negate my feelings. I’d be like this is not helpful.


Jase: We see it with the way we treat kids a lot too. A kid hurts themselves or something it's like, "It's okay. I got it. I'll fix it all up, make it better." It's like, "I just need you to stop crying right now." [laughs]

Emily: That's the underlying thing. It's like, "This is making me feel awkward, so why don't you just fucking put a lid on it."

Jase: We can approach things when our friends or our partners or whoever approaches us with "This is something upset about." It's like, "How can I fix it? How can I make this go away, so I can stop being uncomfortable knowing that you're unhappy or knowing that you're uncomfortable."

Dedeker: That's interesting. That's an uncomfortable truth to recognize.

Emily: A good one for people to understand, but yes, the more respectful thing is to be like, "Hey, I hear you. I understand that you're having a moment, and I am comfortable with you feeling your feelings right now."

Jase: Offer them solutions if they want them.

Emily: Yes, exactly.

Jase: But not if they don't.

Emily: Our last one on how to cultivate respect in relationships is to tell your partner that you're proud of them, and let them know that you respect them not only in front of each other but also in front of other people. That's really cool because sometimes you do hear yourself maybe saying like, "Hey, baby. I think what you did today was really awesome when you--" I don't know.

Dedeker: Slay that dragon.

Emily: Yes, I was going to say something about animals, but I was like, "Save that wild panda," but if you did that in front of a bunch of friends, that might mean a lot to them. Also, show that you're not afraid to be really there for your partner and really complimentary of your partner in front of other people. I think that that's a nice gesture.

Dedeker: It's a little bit of a reaction to the opposite because we've all seen the couple that does the opposite of this at a party where they just-- Even if it's tiny things, just like tiny digs at each other.

Emily: Oh my God, yes.

Dedeker: Or tiny little passive-aggressive comments

Emily: I have some friends who do that.

Jase: Yes, it's uncomfortable.

Dedeker: That's the worse to be around. As bad as it is to be around it, it feels even worse to be on the receiving end of that.

Emily: Day in and day out.

Jase: I thought you were going to go a different direction with that because, for me, I feel like the opposite of that is something that I know I have done in some relationships before. I do this sometimes with my friends, and I have to keep aware of it. It's telling everyone else how great they are and not telling them enough to their face or telling it to them in front of people or whatever, that's one that I've found I fall into as well.

Emily: This maybe should come up more in the next one that we're going to do. I said to Josh, it was like, "You know, I used to Jase and like, 'Even Brad would tell me all the time how great I was at singing, or how good I was at acting,' and like, 'I don't really hear that very often from you. I think it would be nice'." He listened to that and he'd definitely-- We were at karaoke the other night, and he was like, "Oh my God, you sound so amazing." I was like, "Thanks. Thank you."

Jase: The power of asking for what you need.

Emily: Totally.

Jase: All right. Our last topic of the four is sense--

Emily: The Four great Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Jase: Of the non-apocalypse.

Dedeker: The four inspiring-- It can't be horsemen because we're used to associating horsemen with apocalypse. The four inspiring-

Emily: Lions.

Dedeker: - camel riders.

Jase: I was going to go with sprinters or endurance runners.

Dedeker: The four inspiring Usain Bolts of relationships.

Emily: Yes, if Usain Bolt was cloned three times, and he also was there. These are the four of him.

Dedeker: Four discreet Usain Bolts.

Jase: That he was also bringing you healthy relationships, inspiring relationships.

Emily: What more could one ask for?

Jase: This is the fourth Usain Bolt that comes across the finish line here.

Emily: The final bolt.

Dedeker: Is it Usain? I thought it was Usain. Is it Usain?

Emily: I don't know.

Jase: I honestly don't know.

Dedeker: I've heard it pronounced in many different ways.

Jase: I have too.

Emily: We're probably all wrong.

Dedeker: I'm afraid of offending him, and then he'll never leave us a review on the podcast.

Jase: Right. This is about sense of self. What this is is that this is from Pia Scade. I don't know if I'm pronouncing that correctly.

Emily: I don't know.

Jase: Scade? Scade? Do you know, Dedeker, which one it is?

Dedeker: I have no idea.

Jase: Anyway, I apologize if I've said it wrong. "An outstanding love doesn't come from two half-fulfilled people coming together to make one whole complete life. Outstanding love comes from two whole people coming together to share and enhance their already full and beautiful lives." I almost had a British accent for a second there.

Emily: Enhance.

Jase: Enhance.

Emily: I do that too though.

Dedeker: I just learned that he is Australian.

Emily: Then there you go.

Jase: I should go back and read it again. No, I'm not going to do that.

Emily: I can't do a fucking Australian accent. Good luck with that. Okay, and then we're going to go back to good old Esther, my fave. She says that "The idea that we lose ourselves in the presence of our partner is deeply ingrained in the modern perception of love particularly in the United States. As almost all of our communal institutions give way to a heightened sense of individualism, we look more frequently to our partner to provide the emotional and physical resources that a village or a community used to provide. Is it any wonder that tied up and relying on a partner for compassion, reassurance, sexual excitement, financial partnership, etcetera? That we end up looking to them for identity or even worse, for self-worth." Esther Perel.

Jase: Mic drop. Esther Perel.

Emily: I know she's like "boo the fucking ya."

Dedeker: I've been thinking about that particularly for a while now about this identity thing. Especially of my relationships that I had up until quite recently, up until just a few years ago, and how much I allowed them to shape my identity. I think we talked about this on our earlier podcast about how we even come to dating with a sense of figuring out like, "How good is this partner going to be for my status?" How good are they going to look for my status because we're going into it just anticipating that we're going to install this person into our identity a little bit?

Emily: What do you mean by status?

Dedeker: Social status?

Emily: That's intense.

Jase: It's interesting too because the book that I'm reading right now has a lot of time travel in it. In that, there's a lot of talk about marrying someone for how their wealth fits into the social status, and that's the only way to move through social classes and things like that. If you think about that in more less class focused ways of thinking about it, when starting to date someone, you might think like, "How well are they going to get along with my friends? Are they someone I'm going to want to bring places with me, or am I going to be embarrassed to bring them to a work function?" I think that's the modern day American equivalent of that.

Dedeker: I was going more superficial with it.

Jase: Really?

Dedeker: This idea of like, "I need to pick someone who looks very conventionally attractive so that other people would admire the partner that I have." That's what I was thinking.

Jase: Interesting. For me, I would assume it would be more about skills and impressiveness in other arenas than just how they look. Both could be argued to be equally superficial in terms of picking a partner that you're actually happy with. With all of these, it's incredibly important to maintain a strong sense of self within each of your relationships. One's relationship can bring fulfillment, but it shouldn't be the only reason for finding self-worth. Codependency, which we do talk about on this show a fair amount, can breed from needing too much validation and praise from your partners. It's interesting because we just talked about the importance of praising and appreciating our partners.

Emily: It is, but there's a fine line.

Dedeker: I feel like this strong sense of self is also related to the autonomy thing as well.

Emily: It is, but I do think that they are a little bit different because one is maintaining your own personal space and your own personal boundaries.The other is being able to find validation and self-worth by yourself as opposed to needing your partner to fulfill that. That's how I look at it.

Dedeker: I see it as the autonomy thing is more related to the actions that you take separately from your partner. This sense of self is more about your own identity. How you treat yourself separately from your partner; how you view yourself. Emily's distinction works too but not as interesting. Anyway, how does one maintain a strong sense of self within relationships?

Emily: We have a couple of ways to do that. The first one is going to be, "Look to yourself rather than your partner for your own needs. Have confidence that you know what is best for you within your relationship and within your life." Not saying like, "Shit, maybe my partner knows what's best for me. Maybe I need to look to them for those things." This may be a subconscious thing, but it's something to be aware of.

I know that in the past I've been kinda like, placative towards my partner and just say like, "Okay, well, we're going to do what they think is best in this moment." As opposed to me just being like, "No, I have a say." I have a decision that I can make for myself and that that is just as valid, and I have enough self-confidence to say that that is a thing that I want to go for in the moment.

Dedeker: At the very worst this can result in gaslighting, right? If you don't have the confidence of knowing that you know what's best for you or you know what it is that you want, that that can leave you really vulnerable. Doing something like that to a partner, either intentionally or often unintentionally, stepping in to be like, "Well, I know what's best. This is what's going to happen, and this is what's going on."

Jase: A way that this can look through on the other side is this idea that I'm unhappy, or I'm feeling unfulfilled in my life. It must be because my partner isn't giving me enough. It's very easy to fall into that trap as well. I know that I definitely have, where it's like, "Something doesn't feel right in my life. It must be because of my romantic relationship," rather than looking at other areas or looking at myself.

It's like, "Maybe there's something that I'm not doing that I could be." Maybe not even just like that I'm not doing what I should maybe it's not that simple but maybe there's a larger question going on about what I'm doing with my life that could be causing this. I do think it's so easy to blame a relationship for that. I think on both sides of this, right? This can either be something that unduly gets blamed or could be the thing that you're giving all of the power to and not keeping any for yourself.

Dedeker: Yes, that makes sense. Another tip for maintaining a strong sense of self. If there's one piece of advice that I feel comes up in every single coaching session that I have, it is to develop and maintain personal boundaries and uphold them in your relationship. I can't tell you like I have messaged Emily and Jase so many times talking about how I really want to create a huge high-budget, high-production value, full on Broadway-style, choreographed number about having boundaries that I could just perform in everybody's face to get them to get it.

It is so, so important because it affects so many things. Things like if you're not getting enough free time or self-time or self-care time away from your partner. If you're partner's insisting that you don't have any privacy. You're not allowed to have private interactions or private conversations with other partners or with your friends. So many things that's just so important for you to, like Em said, know what it is that you need, look to yourself for it, and then don't be afraid to protect that and maintain that. It's so, so important. We've done an entire episode already on boundaries. We're probably due to re-record that one pretty soon because it comes up so often, but, yes, boundary is huge.

Jase: Stay tuned for our Broadway number. If anyone has a connection to Lin-Manuel Miranda or someone put us in touch.

Emily: Don't even get me started, and don't get me excited.

Jase: Our next one here is to stay grateful and stay mindful of the wonderful things in your life.

Emily: This is a big one that you enjoy.

Jase: I do, and I actually have more things to say about this because I was just taking more of my class about positive psychology. As we said in a previous episode, gratitude is scientifically proven to bring you more happiness and fulfillment in your life. Actually, the wording that they would use in positive psychology is not happiness. Well-being is the word they like to use.

The great analogy that was made in the lecture that I was listening to today was that people get a little confused about saying it's all about being happy all the time. He's like, "That's somewhat absurd. It would be like if we train the dog to just wag its tail all the time that wouldn't be very useful because then we would never know how it's actually feeling. We wouldn't know what's going on, how it's reacting differently to things."

It's not about being happy all the time, but it's about having a sense of well-being which can look a lot of different ways but overall means more positive things in your life, more positive feelings, less of the negative ones. This exercise which I want to talk about for a second is about being grateful and finding ways to maintain that gratitude in your life in a very practical way. Did you have something you wanted to add, Dedeker?

Dedeker: I'm a little bit confused about how this connects to sense of self, honestly.

Emily: It does just simply-- No.


Emily: I don't know. Grateful gratitude comes from within, and you can't look to someone else for gratitude. You can't just be like, "Oh my god. I'm so grateful for that person or that person brings out the gratitude within me." Gratitude is a choice. Just like having a sense of self is a choice to a degree. It's something one can cultivate, but it's also something that you have to figure out for yourself. All of these things just fall under the umbrella of how to figure out how to have a sense of self. Gratitude is huge in there because I can't be okay with my life unless I am grateful for the things that are around me. You know?

Jase: Well, yes. Emily, I think that's exactly it. That with something like a sense of self, where we're kind of talking about the core of it as not putting all of your self-worth on another person, not getting all of your needs for why I exist in this world and putting those on somebody else. That in terms of talking about steps of how to maintain a strong sense of self-worth, increasing your wellness in your life, increasing your well being in your life, is absolutely a way to do that.

Emily: That's always been the big one for me is to not just find myself worth in another human. I think that's why I used to have a lot of really codependent relationships because I would get so wrapped up in them. Then nothing would be about me anymore in any way of any healthiness, any boundaries, anything.

Jase: Just real quick, this gratitude exercise. I know we talked about it before, but it's sometimes called the three blessings exercise, or the three good things exercise. It's just very simple. It's just every night before you go to bed, write down three good things that happened today and why. This isn't just like, "I'm grateful because everything's great." It's like, "No, what are actual concrete good things that happened today and why did they happen?" That's it. That's all it is. This has been shown over and over again to be proven to have long-lasting, positive effects especially as you keep doing it because it is also highly addictive to do it. It's just nice to do. It feels good to do.

Emily: For sure. Okay, how to maintain a strong sense of self within relationships? One of the other things that you can do is do not neglect things like personal health for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes, I've definitely had friends who say, "I'm in a relationship. I can just let myself go now." That doesn't make you feel great. Obviously, it can happen, and it's okay and understandable, but if you can maintain healthy habits such as a mindfulness practice or healthy eating, healthy exercising, then they'll make you feel sexier and better in the long run.

Jase: It's like wrapped up in that whole thing about putting on marriage weight or letting yourself go. Usually, it focuses around the weight and conventional beauty standards, but either way, the underlying belief for all of that is that the only reason why you were doing it was for other people.

Emily: Yes, and it's like, "No. Be sexy for you, man, because it makes you feel good."

Jase: Whatever that looks like, whatever that wellness is for you, do it for you and not for somebody else.

Emily: Even if that's just meditating or whatever. It's all awesome.

Dedeker: Yes, definitely. Yes, it's like still maintaining a sense of wanting to take care of yourself, I suppose. Not just relying on your partner to do that for you. I feel like the burden has fallen on my shoulders to end this episode on a really big inspiring note.

Jase: Inspire us. Go.

Dedeker: Just live your truth, man. Chase your bliss. No really, though, this idea of living your truth, speaking your truth. It's just that. It's just not being afraid to be yourself and of course, I think the best relationships are the ones where both the person that we're with helps us become a better person and also enables us to be ourselves at the same time. It's that weird paradoxical thing.

More often than not, it's more important for people to know that being true to yourself, whatever that means for you, is going to be the thing that keeps you going for the longest amount of time. If you think about it, you're going to be in a relationship with yourself till the day you die. The relationship you're in right now, maybe it'll last that long, maybe it won't, maybe it will be less. That's why it's important to make sure that you're maintaining a good relationship with yourself and that you're being true to yourself.

Continuing to take care of yourself, continuing to honor yourself, respect your own decisions, continuing to carve out the life that you want, take care of yourself in the way that you want, and that's going to make you the best possible partner and have the best possible relationships. This is such a broad topic, obviously. We spent a whole two episodes covering this topic of inspiring relationships.

Emily: We scratched the surface.

Dedeker: We only scratched the surface. Of course, these things always take balance. It's important to balance between autonomy and also having intimacy and having intimacy and also having desire for a partner. Just because one arena is not feeling so great, it doesn't mean that you have to throw the whole thing out. It just means you know what to work on and what to improve. It's always going to be a back and forth. It's always going to be a negotiation. It's always going to be a journey for you and for all your partners figuring out what's the best way that we can be human beings together for the time that we are together. There. Was that inspiring enough?

Emily: Yes, I think the most inspiring relationships are those that are balanced, that take a little bit from each of this and make them work for you in whatever relationship or relationships you're in. Go out there and be inspiring is what we're saying. It's difficult to find that in this world right now amongst our friends, amongst ourselves. It's challenging, but it's something to aspire to.

Jase: I will say, maybe I don't know all the ins and outs of the relationship, but I see some really inspiring relationships even just within our Patreon group on Facebook that we have. To me, what's inspiring is people who are constantly working to be better, to be the best that they can be. I see a lot of that amongst the people who are Patreon supporters and who are in that Facebook group—who are there because they want to always be learning and always be better.

Especially when both of them and their partners are all working together toward-- That is a really amazing thing. Like the synergy that you can see with a company or a creative project, how much more you can get done when you have a team working together on something if you're working really well as a team compared to just working on something by yourself. Having that and looking at that in a relationship is a really cool, really inspiring thing to see.

Emily: For sure.