Couples’ Therapy: Issues, Trends & Advice

  • What are the most common issues in therapy today?
  • Should new couples go to therapy?
  • How do you know if you’re a good fit or if you’re forcing it?
  • How do you invest in the relationship without overanalyzing it?

April Grigsby joins us to weigh in with insights from her practice. She is a licensed clinical social worker based in New York City and is focused on empathic listening and building up her clients’ strengths so they can solve problems. She empowers individuals to manage anxiety, depression, life transitions, and identity challenges. She also works with couples to improve relationship dynamics.

April attained her BS from Yale University and her MSW from Columbia University. April is currently a candidate in the NYU Silver School of Social Work DSW program. You can learn more about her work, research, and practice here.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

Couples’ Therapy: Issues, Trends & Advice

Participant #1:
You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, Sex and relationship advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your co host, Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. Hey, I’m excited for today’s topic because we’re going to be talking about couples issues in therapy, talk a little bit about couples and how we interact online. We’ll be discussing Privacy, empathy, Fidelity, and I’m sure a whole lot more with a really brilliant, brilliant therapist, Aprilgriggsby. And before we get started, I want to talk about something that I’m promoting because I’m running a sale on my mindful sex course, which I cocreated with my friend and fellow sexologist and sex therapist, Dr. Reese Malone. We are offering 25% off of mindful sex, deeper connection, intimacy and pleasure. And this is video, audio and online course in cognitive, physical, behavioral, and really just practical exercises to be more in the moment, to slow down, to enjoy sex in new and more pleasurable ways. So if you have trouble getting in the mood, if you lose focus during sex, if you feel pressure to perform in any way, or if you just want to experience something kind of new and exciting, more deep sensations and more pleasure across the entire body, this course is for you. It really can help with everything from premature ejaculation to full body orgasms. And mindful sex is@happiercouples.com and you can save 25% with code. Dr. Jess, D-R-J-E-S-S. Once again, the website is happiercouples.com, and I’ll put that in the show notes as well. All right, let’s get to the brilliance that is our guest today. April Griggsby is a licensed clinical social worker based in New York City. She is focused on empathic listening and building up her clients strengths so they can solve problems. She empowers individuals to manage anxiety, depression, life transitions, and identity challenges. And she also works with couples to improve relationship dynamics. So good to be chatting with you. Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me. All right, let’s start with empathic listening. What is it and how can we get better at it? It is very nuanced and it takes practice. And in general, when you think about the difference between listening to understand, empathy is centered in these types of exchanges because it’s more so listening to feel, not just have the story, not just have the data, not just be able to give the sequence of events, but rather understand what that experience felt like for the person. And when people are logical and they kind of stick to the facts and they would like to A, B and C define it for them. Powerpoint Slide It’s oftentimes difficult for them to get inside of the feelings that motivated the behavior, which is often anxious to them, which is often hurtful to them. Why would you do this to me if there’s this logical reason you should not have done it to me. And so empathy really requires us to give more and not just be able to regurgitate what was said. That makes sense. So how do we put that into practice? Like, what can I do when I’m listening in order to practice more of what you’re describing? It’s making your partner relatable to you.

There’s some scenario, there’s some challenge that you faced in the past that if you could tap into the emotions of that situation would probably make you more empathetic. And so you’re trying to focus on what they were going through before you get back to how their behavior affected you. So even when you have couples who have children and you bring up an example of the prom, right, that there is this excitement for a teenager to go to the prom. Imagine if your daughter was stood up for the prom. The fact that you could still drive her to the prom, the fact that the money that you spend on her dress and her grooming isn’t that significant in your budget is not more important than she’s feeling humiliated, she’s feeling less desired, she’s feeling abandoned. And that is what you want to focus on before you’re like, okay, he didn’t show up. Let’s get in the car. Let’s go to the event. You’re not going to miss it. We paid for that ticket. That isn’t what’s most salient there. And so when your spouse has spent money that you clearly do not have in the budget, after a real explicit agreement about how you would save moving forward for your shared goals, what triggers them to spend on designer goods to keep up with your friends, or to decide that because it’s Black Friday, you’re going to get a TV the size of our wall. Those are the moments that empathetic listening is required of you, because what’s going to resolve this is not just a detailed understanding of what happened. It’s more so understanding what they were feeling that led them in their behavior. That makes sense. And this brings me kind of to another piece, which is that we tend to focus on how we feel in response to behavior, but not what motivated the behavior. Right. We kind of divide people and we tell ourselves these stories. They’re a bad person. They’re violating our boundary. They don’t care about saving for our kids education because they bought that TV. Like, we start to tell these stories. And so what I’m taking out of this is that it’s really rooted in a slowing down and then be the emotional literacy piece of really thinking about, okay, so how do you feel? How do I feel? How does that show up in our bodies? And are we given permission to even feel those things? I’m sure our identity. Right, whether it be gender or age or social economic status or race. Do I have permission to feel what I’m feeling? And if I don’t, am I acting in ways in response to that lack of acknowledgement of the feeling that is causing problems for me and my partner. So maybe that’s a little bit theoretical, but I’m thinking, okay, so I don’t feel good enough. I don’t feel like I fit in. I feel like an outsider. And maybe that relates to really core elements of my identity, like, not things that I can change. So when I go buy that designer bag, it makes me feel like I fit in. It makes me feel like one of them. It makes me feel like less of an outsider. So I’m not an ass. It’s not that I want to throw caution to the wind. It’s not that I want to disrespect the budget that we put together that didn’t include a $1,500 bag. Now, I know bags cost even more than that, but 1500 sounds like a lot to me. I’m like, I’ve got a good plastic bag from the grocery store right here, taking carrying my stuff around. And so it goes back to the emotional literacy piece, the identity piece, and being able to even acknowledge those things. But if I can’t acknowledge those things, like, if I’ve never been given the space or the Grace or the language to say I feel like an outsider, I feel like no matter what I do, I’m not one of them. No matter what I do, I’m never good enough. I’m just going to buy that bag and say, it brings me joy. And I want to be clear, if you buy designer bags, that doesn’t mean that you’re missing something. Some people just like a designer bag, right? It’s a different function. The bag serves a different function. So I don’t want to say, like, bags are bad. Bags are your thing. Let bags be your thing.

So empathic listening rooted in all of these things that you’re describing in emotional literacy, that’s very interesting, especially to have in your kind of line of your bio why I had to ask about it. Now, as a couple of counselor, I’m curious, what issues are you seeing arise as of late? Outside of COVID? There are so many more intrusions into our Privacy, and so there are so many couples who, because one of the persons is active on social media, if not both, people are becoming keenly aware of not just who you are, who the partner is, but that the relationship is an entity that exists between the both of them and that they have to have a kind of a shared agreement about what the brand of their relationship will be now that your choices are being publicly broadcast in these social media spaces. And this is not just for influencers who are wealthy because of their presence online. This is for regular couples, just where your whole social circle is aware. Everyone in your town, everyone in your high school, in your industry is aware of you’re being married, how you spend your time, your money, the spaces and places that you go into. There’s a consequence now, because when you choose quotes that you may cosign on, and then people say, oh, is that related to how you feel about your spouse when you discuss division of labor, when you discuss what an empowered woman is, when you post a picture of someone else who’s quite a beauty, and by liking on that picture, they’re like, oh, is that an indicator that you’re attracted to that person? And now your Fidelity is being questioned because you like the picture that you didn’t realize because it was provocative in some level. Now there’s an accusation on the table. And so that which feels very modern, and it’s definitely not where we started off in terms of what Freud was advising, has become a far more salient dynamic in relationships. Oh, my goodness. And that’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? I mean, as someone who is somewhat in the public eye, I feel so much pressure and I think so much about stepping back from it often. Right. Just the vulnerability of putting out this podcast every week, having to post on not having but as part of the brand, feeling like I need to post on social. It is the most emotionally draining part of my job. More draining than talking to people one on one, more draining than hopping on planes every morning and being physically exhausted. That piece is a lot, but I choose that. And that’s a part of the work that I do. And it won’t always be like there will be a time when I step back. We know that. But for regular people who didn’t kind of opt into this, like, yes, they’ve opted into social media, but there is no warning label. There is no ingredient list as to what signing up for that Instagram or TikTok or Facebook account Entails, that feels very heavy. And it’s got to be heavy three fold in relationships. So one, it’s you as an individual, that’s one layer. Then there’s you as the couple, as you described, and then there’s you as the brand, right? Like people looking in. So not only am I liking a photo, but then Brandon is looking at my liking of a photo and maybe having concerns about it. And so we’ve got to kind of talk that out. But then there’s also the third eye on it, which to me is the hardest. And that’s probably partly cultural, like coming from a culture where you care what people think. You keep your problems in your family, you don’t air your laundry. But now, as you said, it is the modern norm. So you see couples coming in, I presume, with all those layers, like perhaps leading to tension or conflict and not being aware of that that dynamic was going to apply to them. So oftentimes we are presenting and without any ill intention, the parts of ourselves that we want our partner to access because that’s where we want to be loved, we want to be confident. It’s very obvious that you want romantic getaways.

For example, I know you and Brandon love a good beach, right. And so you are saying, hey, I wouldn’t match this person because they don’t like to travel. And so you’re using it as kind of a criteria. Then you find your person and you’re like, oh, we’re so aligned in all of these ways. And you are offering them the parts of you that you want to be loved and invested in, that you are very clear about. That’s what a partner does, that’s what they’re there for. But when you participate in what you feel is like your solitary self, the parts of you that goes on spring break with your friends, the parts of you that interfaces with your family and then post as a result of that because it’s Thanksgiving and everyone’s sharing their holiday photos, you don’t think about how that part impacts your partner because I didn’t develop that part for you. If I’m still a friend, as an identity, I’m still a mom, I’m still a sister. Those are not necessarily identities that you developed for your partner. And that way may be where the flag is. So you wouldn’t make that mistake on Valentine’s. You would understand that in Valentine’s, anything I say about love, people are going to assume it’s directed towards my partner. But if I am discussing power in the workplace and how men and male privilege might be impacting me, but I’m with a man, then do I put a Disclaimer, oh, this is only directed towards men who do this to women in the workplace because we don’t have equity yet in terms of maternity leave. No. You just made a statement about men in power and you’re with a man. And now your partner has to go back and say, although this was about your work self, it has implications for your private with meself. And so it doesn’t seem that obvious to people. And that’s where the mistakes come from. How much can you cultivate the identities? Because everyone’s dynamic, everyone has many cells. And when there’s a congruency, it means you’re not nutty. And so we have to think about what sells. We give over to our partners and what sells, we’re giving over to the public. And when we’re not conscientious about that and it’s too much division in between that it’s incongruent. That’s when you could really see those tensions build. And that has to lead to some really heavy and personal conversations. Right. I know where I stand on if I post about men, if I post about white people, if I post about straight people, I think Brandon knows that he’s all of those things. Right, man? Yes. And so I look at it as like, if you’re going to personalize that, maybe there’s an opportunity for some learning, for some growth. Right. Like if I post about dynamics in the workplace. My thought would be, well, I hope Brendan doesn’t get defensive. I hope maybe he even learned something from it. Because by virtue of embodying that identity and the privilege that comes with it, you have to work hard to be a better version of yourself. Does that make sense? Yeah, it makes sense. I mean, I think when you make statements or posts like that online, I use it as an opportunity to question my own actions and motivations and use it, as you said, a learning opportunity. And if I’m feeling triggered by it, I have to question why. I think that’s where I start maybe digging a little bit deeper and trying to understand, would that be right? But I think a lot of people will come at me and be like, well, why did you say that about me? Or that hurt my feelings? What I’d like to say is that obviously we just go back to the beach. We haven’t known each other for forever. Right. And one of the things that struck me about you and Brandon’s dynamic is how intentional it is. And it just wouldn’t have lasted this long if Brandon wasn’t so open to introspection. Right. And he wasn’t so open to. Okay, someone else in his life is triggered because they hold the same identities that he does. Jeff says something and they’re also a white, heterosexual male, and they’re just like, well, that’s not who I am. That’s not fair. That Brandon strikes me as very calm. He strikes me as the type who could listen and hear that person but also defend you and or engage in that difficult conversation, because at this point, your relationship is clearly about the both of you learning together. Right. You’re always on some adventure together, and there are other people who that’s not what’s central in their relationship. And so this idea of we don’t think about difference so much in terms of gender when it goes wrong. There’s enough difference between you and Brandon and also how you participate in the world in various worlds that you manage. Jess, that’s, like, not typical for people. Right. So it isn’t until that comment slaps you in the face that then you’re like, oh, let’s have a conversation about it.

But you’ve already been triggered. And when you and Brandon were forming this Union, I get the sense that you’re like, here’s my values, here’s my priorities, here’s how I’d like to explore. Are you comfortable with this? What do you feel about being with a person like me who thinks in these ways and engages in these ways? And so he had to make a deliberate decision about whether or not he was down for it. And I don’t think that for most of us, it’s so deliberate. Right. I think that you both have kind of, at this point, got in that rhythm maybe the first year you would have got, I know you were still in College and then at a bar. Right. But at this point, that’s definitely normative in your relationship. And I think there are lots of couples who get along well. They love each other. They aren’t going to meet you and Brandon on the beach and think, oh, they’re in a better place. They’re healthier than us because they’re just as happy. But when that happens, that hasn’t been the soil that they’ve cultivated the most. And so it hits them almost like they’re a brand new couple despite the fact they’ve been together just as long. Right. And I think that over the last few years for mixed race couples and this is something we’ve talked about as conversations around race have come to the forefront for white people because they’ve always been there for the rest of us, there’s really been a reckoning, like a looking in the mirror, new conversations, meaningful conversations, hurtful conversations. Even, I think among some of us where we didn’t realize we were being hurt, we weren’t aware of our own trauma because we’re just trying to survive. And those are conversations that luckily we’ve been having for years and years and years, I don’t think 20 years ago. And I’m mixed race, too, which makes navigating that a very it’s going to be a lifelong process for me. I think it is for all of us. But I’m glad that we had been having these conversations intensely and intentionally long before. I think it kind of bubbled to the surface in mainstream media, in mainstream conversations, because I was too, I think, angry and hurt at that time that if it had been the first time, I don’t know how we would have managed that. You mentioned that we know each other from the beach. So we met in Jamaica through a mutual friend, Jay James, also a social worker, a professor, an all around lovely, brilliant guy and activist. And one thing you brought up when we were just chatting on the beach was the fact that so many young couples are trying to perhaps force things. So if I recall correctly, and you can correct me, you reported that folks who had just been dating for a few months were running into these serious compatibility and value misalignment issues and then coming to therapy and being like, fix this kind of under the impression that they just need tools to make things work. And you’re saying I mean, you had some thoughts on this, including the fact that sometimes people just aren’t a fit, but their life experience, their experience of privilege, has taught them that, like, oh, no, we can make anything work, like anything is possible. So I want to talk about this. Maybe I’ll let you first correct any of the paraphrasing that I’ve offered here. No, I think you described it as such. And I think that each successive generation is more and more open to the benefits of therapy, whether it’s psychotherapy, micro dosing. There are just so many ways that people are open to self exploration and discovery. And it isn’t as if as individuals, we can’t rally our energy to evolve ourselves in the direction that we need to that can do attitude, service. It serves us as a country, right? America has always been about pulling yourself up by a bootstrap and entrepreneurship and so on. But there’s something to be said about the timeline for which they’re engaging in these conversations. And if it wasn’t so entrenched in their mind that this process could fix what you rightly described as misalignment, then they would be far more open to the possibility of the work is actually the exploration that you’re cutting off from doing because now you’re working with the goal of making it work as opposed to the goal of the exploring to understand whether or not it could work investment through experience with each other. And the tools need to be in service to the relationship being healthy. It’s not in service to making this relationship continue no matter what. So it’s almost like the attitude I would expect if someone were in an arranged marriage that we culturally have decided that we are going to stick with our parents.

Let’s say they’re Indian professionals and 50% of marriages are still about half of them are love matches. In India, people choose their own partner, and there’s still a lot of people who are allowing their parents in the traditional cultural matchmaking and norms to choose their partner for them. But when you make that commitment and you say, okay, I’m going to go with this, I’m going to trust my parents to make a great choice for me, then they’re just like, we’re not opting out. So help us do this work that being in a matched couple didn’t allow us to do organically because we have to be very purposeful about making this marriage work. We are already married. We’re going to stay married. What do we need to basically customize this house to love? And that is understood. It’s a part of the consequence of this cultural arrangement and the willingness because both of them accepted being in an arranged marriage feels like, okay, well then let’s go ahead and labor in this way. It makes sense that you need these tools because taking a journey down an arranged marriage, but when you’re meeting people on Instagram, they’re sliding into your DMs, you’re on Tinder. There are a couple where we got to the point where we had been in therapy working on this process longer than they had dated when I met them. They met on Tinder three or four months and then come into therapy. And I am not suggesting by any means that you can’t be wowed by a person and just feel the first love at first sight and just feel like this person is your destiny. Sometimes people are very aware of the trauma that their life has already given them in terms of divorce, in terms of trust issues and communication barriers that they are saying. I would like to learn how to customize these skills to this person that I’m in love with because I’m sure about this choice. But the couples that I’m describing that they weren’t sure about the choice. They were just still enamored with each other. They were still building and wanted to make sure that all we have to get on the same page in terms of what our values for our children would be. And you didn’t actually make a decision. You would have a child with this person yet. So it felt premature in a lot of senses and not that they didn’t gain, but it was almost exploration work that when they were then able to focus on asking each other the questions, you’re moving from assumptions because you don’t have that data yet, right? You haven’t actually explored that in a conversation of what it was like to be popular in high school versus not popular in high school. And so when you’re engaging socially and your butterfly very adept at socializing part, that kind of floats away from you to work the room that they normally do, how that might trigger you because you weren’t popular in high school, because you’re more of introverted. And it’s natural that introverts will be attracted to extroverts. It doesn’t mean every introvert is socially awkward per se. Some of them are just reserved. But now you’re learning the hard way that this person is socially anxious and had you spent enough time and spoken about it, you would have gone in there kind of with the game plan of like, okay, is it okay when my friend calls me over to the bar, like, do you need me to come back in like 1015 minutes to check on you? Should we text each other throughout the night even though we’re in the same room? What do you need? And so oftentimes I am recommending to them two strategies that would have emerged had you just dated long enough.

That’s so interesting to me. Is it a fast tracking of understanding in the relationship to go to therapy? Like, is it a good idea to go to therapy together right? When you meet two months in, I think you gain ultimately from the level of introspection that therapy offers. You’re going to walk away from the process with any learned therapist understanding self way more intensely. The same way, working out with a personal trainer helps you get to a more efficient working out process. But we should all start off with a healthy lifestyle, getting in the habit of walking instead of always taking a cab. And what activities do you like to get your heart rates going and partnership in terms of can you join a running club to help you motivate? Do you need to pay this individual trainer this very expensive fee in order to be your motivation buddy when really what you need to do is just get up off the couch. Now there are people who have neglected this. They get into a space where they are now pre diabetic. They’ve already had a heart attack. And you have to get really serious about this personal trainer because you need change now. So that would be the person who they’re not actually interested in being single and being out in the dating game for that long. And that’s the decision you can make. No matter your age. You can make the decision you’re a Nester and not a dater. And so therefore, with them saying, I hear you, but I didn’t have parents who taught me that I don’t come from a religion or a culture where I was allowed to date. And so I do know I want to choose this person. And I do want that accelerated help in getting to understand myself and our dynamic because I want to commit. And it doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed marriage or whatever level of commitment they’re willing to do, but that they are being purposeful because they’re afraid that organically approaching it won’t give them a proper opportunity to overcome some of the deficits that their early childhood or young teenage life created for them. And in that sense, it can be a win win because you’re going to both gain from understanding yourselves better. It’s going to make you a better partner and maybe the next person benefits, or maybe the person you’re with benefits. But consider carefully whether or not there are some of these questions you could answer if you were introspective. Sometimes we do very specific work in therapy that professional does need to help you through. Somebody has some rape, trauma, sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect. Those are things that you can’t casually manage on your own. But in understanding, like your attachment style, your love languages, those are books you can read on your own. Those are meaningful conversations that you all can just be purposeful about sitting down and like, so you read the book. I read the book. Okay, so what’s your love language and moving forward in that way. So I think that when you’re trying and you’re not building understanding or you’re feeling hopeless at your possibility for changing and evolving to be prepared for love and engage in healthy love. Yes. Then come on in and see the professional. But when you are just knocking down walls and barriers in your relationship by just spending very purposeful time trying to get to know each other and trying to get to know yourself, then that probably means that you’re in the right path and you don’t need a therapist yet. All right. That makes sense. And it must be hard for people to figure out whether they need those skills and they need the support or if they’re just not a good fit. How do we help people to kind of figure out? Because I often talk about the fact that compatibility isn’t something that you find it’s something that you create and you can be compatible with multiple people. You can’t be compatible with every person, especially if you’re looking for a lifetime monogamous love. You’re probably going to need somebody whose values align with yours.

What we were talking about earlier with regard to our dynamic and it being intentional, it also really is about shared core values because there are some values that I can tell you that I absolutely, positively will not compromise on in an intimate partner. And so there’s no amount of therapy, there’s no amount of skill building, there’s no amount of work that I’ll tell you I’m willing to do for somebody else. I think that when I’m talking about values, I’m talking about values related to justice and identity. So it’s not like values like I need to save 10% of my income or I want this. I want to make sure we pay for our kids or imaginary kids education. We want our dog going to the best possible post secondary institution. I’m talking about core core values. And so how do you as a clinician, help people to discern between those, I guess, core values that are non negotiables versus compatibility issues that you might be able to overcome? Let me use what you said as an example. You said that there’s a limit to the willingness you have to work on certain dynamics once you discover them. Core values being an example that if there are problematic understandings of social justice and identity from the other person, you don’t see that as your job. Operative word is willingness. And out of the enthusiasm for love and kind of what people feel in the beginning, we overestimate our willingness. And that’s really where the problem lies in that when they are exhausted and tapped out, the enthusiasm makes them want to give a little bit more. And so the desire to make it work and to win with the person and win in this love is what’s being offered up. They come in very willing for this process, and everyone is not as clear about their goals. And there are just a number of excuse me, they’re not clear about their values, but there are a number of values that don’t come up until you are trying to make a commitment. Right. There are plenty of 20 year olds, 25 year olds, and you say, oh, do you know yourself? And they’re like, of course, but that has been their identity as a daughter, son, students, their early work life. Say, for example, they went straight to law school, so they’re 25, but they’re already a lawyer. And the values, some of them won’t be revealed until you are in that commitment. Right. That who’s going to make that sacrifice? Who’s going to take that opportunity? Cost? Are you going to make choices informed by what your partner needs when you’re three months in because you get a great offer in California? That’s a different conversation after you’ve been invested for the person to be a military spouse, for example, versus a long distance relationship. And so that probing is where you start to find and identify not being blame oriented and being comfortable with the fact that when you hit that wall of, no, I’m not willing to go any further up that road. That doesn’t make you a bad person. That doesn’t mean that you’ve quit on the person and it doesn’t render obsolete all the enthusiasm and passion and that you feel the love that you feel. The assumption is that, oh, well, if I don’t want to do it, I’ve reached the end of love. I don’t love you as deeply as I thought that I did. And you can deeply love the person, still be enthusiastic about it and get to the point where what they need is not something that you can provide or you’re willing to provide. And that’s a difficult space for people to get into when they’re not ready to give up on the person. And I think that really speaks to the idea that a measure of a relationship isn’t necessarily its longevity, too, or the type of relationship, because we like to box things in in terms of this is a friendship, this is a romantic relationship, this is this type of relationship. I hope that friendship and companionship underlies every type of relationship, but maybe you transition to something different because your willingness matches a different type of relationship. Or maybe you shift. And this is why mononormative, heteronormative, longterm, committed relationships in a specific way can be so limiting because maybe you can still have that capacity to, as you said, love and feel that enthusiasm and even passion, but it’s in a different way.

Like, I think about if all of a sudden, if Brennan wanted to join the military and I don’t know if we have much of a military here where you’d be moving around. And I were to become a military spouse, what a challenge that would be. Now I’m 20 years in and I’m wild about this person here and just feel like he’s the most amazing person in the world. So it would definitely be something I’d consider. It’s not the life I want, but I can’t say that it would have been the same two weeks in as much as I was. I felt just as wild about you. But that was just the initial feelings and that the love has deepened over the years. Like, I come home and I’m like, I cannot believe how much I still love you. Right. It’s magic. The timeline counts. And that’s sometimes the hardest part is to say that there’s no villain here. There’s no one who was uncooperative or resistant to this process. And when you have people who are also Additionally well educated and so they’re coming out of the hegemony of grades in school, they’re just like, I’m going to get an A because I studied and I did my paper early, and they approached love the same way. And sometimes the stars aren’t aligned in terms of the timeline. And it would have made a difference if they met five years later and so on. So that part can be that’s the heart wrenching part of it. To see people kind of have to throw in the towel. And then, of course, there are people who they don’t learn that lesson. And I’ve had clients come back with new partners every three months where that becomes their Mo. And I’m like, oh, so your intention really is to just customize this human to your needs, and you see me as capable of doing that. And that’s also happened that’s tough, like the robot builder relationships where I’m going to insert here, remove here, build it up so much here to really think about. And I think you have such unique insights. I’ll ask one final question. Do you think people are overanalyzing relationships kind of over investing, and how do we find that balance? So I would parse those out separately. I think that the overinvestment can be dangerous if it’s not the time. I think that there has to be some equity and an equal pace in terms of investment, because then that’s how you get to understand what that person sees as investment. Because definitely in some pragmatic examples, financially, for example, someone that has the expectation that the person with more resources in the relationship will meet their needs to survive or to thrive and see that very literal loan or let’s move in together, but the rent is going to be 75, 25, and they don’t feel comfortable with that. Then why do you want to live in this very expensive Shishi area? Those types of investments, they can be literal, they can be identified. You can see it. And that’s different than the willingness and the compatibility and the emotions involved. And so just this idea of being purposeful is the best way that you can approach it, because when you’re purposeful, then you’re willing to do that introspective work on yourself and then think about what partnership would mean to you. And that’s the only real safe way to approach it. That idea of getting to know yourself better, it just serves you and it serves any relationships that you’re in. So I don’t think that there’s any such thing as being too overthinking in terms of if that means you’re going to be self aware. But in terms of too quick to invest, that can be dangerous because it may not be the right person to invest in. It may not be the right time to invest to this degree, because there are some pragmatic considerations, such as you don’t necessarily know what your career is going to look like when you’re 25. You don’t necessarily know whether or not you want to be a parent. If someone says they don’t want to be a parent at 25, they’re allowed to change their mind and not have been fraudulent in that regard just the same way, sometimes by default have children and realize, oh, yeah, I’m not really cut off of parenting, but that kid is already there, right. So I would say more introspection, more looking at self, more understanding of self. And the relationship is great, but investment should be secondary to that after assessment and setting. Yeah. And it sounds to me like it might be useful to go to therapy on your own in the early stages of the relationship as opposed to kind of going together. You bring up so many important, I think, reflections for people here about being purposeful but not necessarily making it about status. We’ve really put relationships, especially intimate relationships, partnerships up on this pedestal. Even we think about, like, the hashtag relationship goals and people sometimes tag us and stuff like that. And I’m like, I don’t know, man, I feel happy in life. I feel blessed. I feel so incredibly lucky. And I don’t know that having this life would make anybody else feel exactly what I feel. Right. So you can look and say, I want what they have. But if you had this, you might hate it. Like you might hate you wouldn’t want to be maybe my partner because I’m running all over the place. Maybe you wouldn’t want to be Brendan’s partner because he’s very focused on the relationship and you’d want more space. Everybody’s different. So I think that being thoughtful and intentional and purposeful, as you said, is essential, but not with that custom designed status of relationship in mind. And there’s so much nuance to this conversation. So I really want to thank you for adding so much value for me, at least I have a lot to reflect on, and I’m sure Brandon does as well. Yeah. I mean, there was so much that I saw you taking notes. I was taking notes. I won’t lie. I was getting a little choked up at times thinking about things. There was just a lot of great quotes I’m going to go back and listen to from this podcast for sure. Well, thank you so much. I believe you are on a beach. We met on a beach. I hope we get to meet on another beach. Folks don’t know, but April has become a little bit of a beach snob. So you tell me the best beach and hopefully I will see you there next time. It’s like asking me to pick one of my kids. It’s the eldest.

So one final note I’d like to say is that there is nothing wrong with centering the desire for love. It’s actually a developmental norm. This is the reason why wedding planners and the industry is swarming around 20 year olds. Right. There’s nothing wrong with being active and searching for love and wanting love in your life. Don’t love starve yourself because you just feel selfconscious about having that traditional value and it’s okay for Marriage and Commitment to be Important to you. It’s okay for you to Say, you Know, I’m 25 years old. I’d like a spouse. I don’t want to date every woman on the block. I want to get out of the bars. That is great. That’s the self and Awareness that we’re asking for. And so therefore, when you approach that Person, that can be a learning. Are they in that same space where they want to make that level of commitment, or are they still enjoying themselves? So certainly there’s a lot to love about love, and some people are relationship People. And what is important is that when you are purposeful and intentional and then you get to the point where it just cannot Fit that circle into a square, then you go look for a square, another square. You don’t drop this idea that you should get a good fit or that relationships are important and that you don’t allow the difficulties of making Love Work, make you quit on it. But being very clear about both of you are coming to labor and that emotional labor is in the pursuit of a healthy relationship, not just an existing Relationship. And Mike Drops, thank you so much. So fabulous. Really appreciate your Work, and I’m so glad I Met You. So I have Jay to Think there where can people learn More about you? I am listed on the Alma Alma Website, and My Full name is April. Last name G as In Girl, R-I-T-S-B. As In Brooklyn, y. I am not on Social Media. If People Would Like To Contact Me, they have to go To Hello, Alma. It’s just better for my peace of mind and Mental Health. I am not in that Space, and I know that there are people who very Adeptly navigate Social Media, and I don’t find it to Be safe, so I don’t do it. So if you’d like to Reach Out On Me Through the Hall Alma Network, you’re welcome to oh, my Goodness. One Day We have to Have You back to talk about not Being On Social media because that’s a Whole other Thing. Thank you again for your Time. Bye, Brandon. Bye, Jesse. And thank you for Listening. Once Again, Head On Over To Happyarcoples.com click on The Mindful Sex Course For 25% off With Code Doctorjeffiercouples.com. Well, 25%, that’s a steal that’s Folks. You’re Listening to The Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast. Improve your Sex Life. Improve your life.

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