Q&A 1 Exploring Self-Worth, Trust in New Relationships, Levels of Intimacy and “Is My Picker Broken?”

Tony answers questions from his private Facebook group on everything from discovering your self-worth post-narcissism, how you can trust again in your new relationships, levels of intimacy, and more. 

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop. The cost is only $19. You’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

With the continuing “sheltering” rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here¬†https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ


WUTN Q&A 1-2022-07-19.mp3

[00:00:07] Hey everybody, welcome to episode 38 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I’m your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast. And one quick thing that I would plug, I guess up top is I am going to keep the marriage workshop on Tony over Baker slash workshop. And it’s a it’s a $19 hour and a half course. Not even a course. It’s a workshop. It’s a workshop that just I feel like is really explaining the things that we didn’t know, we didn’t know about relationships. And I do feel like the more feedback I get, especially on this podcast, that we don’t really understand, if we didn’t come from a necessarily healthy childhood or if we didn’t see the most idyllic situation modeled, which I don’t know if any of us really saw that with our parents and their marriage. And so I feel like so often when I’m talking, the more I realize that when I’m talking about becoming too interdependent people and then becoming more emotionally mature, and that the more that we are differentiated and interdependent and and autonomous and we’re two individuals and we’re coming together with curiosity and what an emotionally mature relationship that is. I feel like I’ve lost half or more of the people as I’m about halfway through that big speech. So I really do lay out from the beginning what abandonment looks like, what attachment looks like, why we fall for the people that we do, and how we show up early on in a relationship with just stars in our eyes.

[00:01:29] And even if we feel like some things are a little bit awkward, there are some red flags. I’m sure I’ll be better later. And so we just go assuming so many good intentions and then we don’t have the tools to communicate. And then we find ourselves in these unhealthy relationships where we kind of feel like maybe this is it. And so I really feel like this workshop is just a good way to get an idea of, Oh man, that is what a relationship could look like. I would like more of that or I would like that at all. And maybe that’s something that you can share with a spouse and then have a conversation about it. And if the conversation goes with who does he think he is and how does he think he knows everything? All right. Now we’re getting into the territory of, okay, why is that person why is my spouse not open? At least to say, huh? Let’s talk about that. Let’s have a discussion about that. That would be interesting. I didn’t have that in my relationship or we don’t have that in our relationship or I didn’t see that with my parents growing up. But anyway, go check that out if you want to. Tony over workshop. If you feel like it was absolutely not useful, then you just email me and I hit a little button and it refunds that right back to you.

[00:02:28] Okay. So today’s episode, I’m excited about this. I had envisioned doing a lot of these early on, but then the topics just keep coming and the questions keep coming. Can you do an episode on this or this or in my private women’s Facebook group, a lot of things will come up about different things that people would love to see episodes on, and so I had to miss. One of the group calls a week or so ago apologized. I posted in this group and I just said, How about just send me some questions and I’ll in essence do a private, private group call and just answer questions. But then the questions were so good, I thought, man, I need to do a Q&A here on waking of the narcissism. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. I’m going to read some questions from the group, and we’re just going to go off the cuff or just kind of riff on these answers. And then I have a couple of more questions that came in via email just in the last day or two. And so I just want to share my thoughts. And with that said, I would love to do a regular episode where I do questions and answers. I have an amazing assistant now, Naomi, that is helping me out. So please email me your questions, email me your story ideas or your yeah, your podcast topics, email me.

[00:03:34] Here’s the other things I’m looking for that if you are a woman who is in any type of emotionally immature, narcissistic relationship, whether again that’s with a parent or a child or a sibling or a spouse or a work situation or a religious institution or all of those things. Then reach out. We’d love to have you in the group. The group is amazing. If you are a guy that is starting to say, Oh my gosh, I yeah, maybe, maybe I got a lot of narcissistic traits or tendencies or I’m recognizing I’m pretty emotionally immature. I’m getting a nice, nice base of those together as well. So I love it. So send me an email. And if you are a guy who is saying, Hey, I feel like that I really am the pathologically kind person in a an emotionally immature, narcissistic relationship. I would like to hear from you, too, because I’m gathering more people that are that’s their experience. And then if you are a therapist, a professional, a coach, anyone that specializes in this, then I would love to hear from you and I’m on while I’m going here. If you handle financial aspects for people that are coming out of abusive relationships, if you are an attorney, then focuses on helping people out of relationships with people with personality disorders. I want to put together a nice directory database.

[00:04:45] I want to interview people that are in those positions. I would love to hear all that and I’ve got an amazing assistant who is organizing things. And so please send that my way. All right. Let’s get to the first question. The first question is, how am I supposed to handle times when my husband gets angry and leaves? And in this situation, she said that it had been several days. And when he leaves, she says, I am. Nonexistent to him. Am I supposed to call? Am I supposed to inquire about his plans to come home? She said. And then how am I supposed to act once he comes home? Do I ignore him? Do act like nothing’s happen? Or do I just say, Hey, I’m so happy to see you? And she said, It just leaves me wrecked and speechless. And it is such a good question because I feel like this is something that I see often. And we’re talking about emotional immaturity at its finest when someone is in essence going to this is where I say they take their ball and they’re going to go play elsewhere. But when we are in a relationship with someone, then that is given somebody the silent treatment or walking away for a few days and going zero, not letting in this situation, this guy not letting his wife know anything about his situation. That one is that is emotionally immature because they it sounds like they have kids.

[00:05:50] There are responsibilities there. And so, in essence, he creates the situation where now she has to be the one to reach out to him, which only feeds that supply or feeds his ego of See, you needed me. Well, no, I need you because we are in a relationship. This is what a marriage is, is that we do have things that we have to count on each other for, rely on each other. And so emotional immaturity is just where somebody can say, Well, I’m just happy now and I’m going to go completely silent and you’ll see how much that you need me. Because what I find so often, and again, I’m going to acknowledge all day long that it is not just men that are narcissists, but one of the things that I feel that I hear so often is a woman, whether she is a stay at home mom or not, that she doesn’t have a choice in this situation to just say, hey, you know what, I’m tapping out because there are the kids. And so when people say, No, I want to do what’s best for the kids, then what is best for the kids is to be emotionally mature and learn how to communicate so that we can take care of the kids. If you’re mad and you’re angry and you don’t want to go to counseling or therapy and you don’t want to look inward and you don’t want to work on yourself and all those things then okay, but if you can at least show up for your kids and take them the places they need to go and not throw the spouse under the bus, then that would be ideal.

[00:07:05] So back to her question, where I would go with this is no, I don’t feel like that. She needs to say, hey, when are you coming back? And those sort of things. And I know that that can sound really mean. And this is where I feel like when you work with this population so often that there is an asterisks on how you behave. Because, yeah, let’s say my spouse was really upset for some reason and she just said, I need a break and she’s going to take off. First of all, this is that concept where I don’t think that there would be any part of me that would worry that she wouldn’t communicate with me. But then if I hadn’t heard from her and I shoot it, hey, just check it in. You okay, then? I’m pretty confident I’m going get a response. Yeah, I’m just blowing off some steam. So the fact where somebody can just disappear for days and then now you have to say, hey, I guess I’m sorry, or are you coming home? Or What’s this going to look like? And then when they come home, I guess I better act really happy and oh, I’m so glad you’re here that in essence, what we’re doing is we’re creating a pattern, and so we’re rewarding the emotionally immature person for leaving and completely abandoning their responsibility as a parent.

[00:08:06] And who knows if it’s in the situation as a provider and now leaving this person who has no clue when is he going to come back? What is he doing? Where is he going? Is he going to is he going to pick the kids up from whatever practice that he normally does? Do I have to adjust my plans? Does he care that I have plans? So emotional immaturity, selfishness. That’s where the person is easily just all of a sudden making everything about them. Actually, someone answered in the group and I thought it was really good. I said not to diminish your pain, but focus on making it a time of enjoyment and fun for yourself. He can go rant, but you don’t need to carry his problems. I love that, she said. If I was worried about his faithfulness during this time, that might be a different story. I’d probably be done. But he said, if he’s just sulking, then please work toward raising your emotional baseline. And I love that concept. So if someone then in the situation is gone and as hard as it can be, if this is a pretty predictable pattern, then it is going to resolve itself. If you can in this situation, just be present, enjoy the kids, enjoy maybe your cortisol level lowering and just try to be present.

[00:09:08] And I feel like that could be some really healing time instead of this time of additional anxiety and depression or frustration. The next question, and this is one that I know that we start touching on in other episodes, is about kids. This person says, What are your thoughts on the impact on kids when the relationship is survivable and logistically functional? And I’ve worked out how to keep the fighting not in front of the kids for the most part. But things are largely emotionally barren versus the impact of divorce major drop, financially changing houses, possibly schools and friends, new spouses, girlfriends. And she says all the crap that comes with that. Somebody else had said, I second that when it’s not bad, but it’s not good either and boy, and I can’t help myself go a little bit of humor here but who got married when they were young and they dreamed of me and I can’t wait till I can be in a relationship that is survivable and logistically functional. Again, being a little bit facetious with that and it breaks my heart, obviously, that somebody is in this position. But this is the question of all questions. And I know this is something that Ross Rosenberg talked about. If you didn’t hear that episode a few weeks ago, it’s a little hard to hear at times. And it can sound harsh because what we’re talking about here is to the pathologically kind person that is found themselves in a position where they are trying to make the relationship at least survivable.

[00:10:25] And at least it sounds like she’s been able to work out that we’re going to not fight in front of the kids. I get that. Now we’re basically telling that person, okay, you have to make the decision what’s best for your kids. And so even when somebody like Ross jumps in or I’ve had a couple of episodes and I’ll talk about this here in a second, but then we’re saying, Here’s what I think you should do. It’s really difficult because I don’t know what that person’s experience is on their day to day life. I don’t know what relationship they saw modeled when they were growing up. I don’t know if they were a child of divorce. I don’t know if they have extra feelings around that. And so that’s really difficult. So the first thing I want to do is acknowledge that that is really hard, it’s really common, and this is what keeps people in relationships for a long period of time, much longer than maybe is good for their emotional health. I worked with so many people, women and men, both who their body is trying to scream to them to get out, where they will try to say, okay, in situations like this, let’s say that they’ve made it survivable, it’s functional.

[00:11:23] They don’t fight in front of the kids, but every time they are around their spouse, their stomach turns or they start to have a trouble breathing. That’s their body saying, I don’t know how else to get your attention, but this does not feel safe. So first of all, I want to say check in with that because your body is trying to tell you something. Your emotions are there for a reason. We are horrible about stuffing our emotions in general because growing up, even if our parents, bless our hearts, said things like, you know, the person didn’t really mean it or you just need to get over it or it’s not a big deal. We’ve been trained to say, okay, I just need to move past my emotion. Our emotion is trying to tell us something. My anxiety is trying to tell you something. It’s trying to say it’s a little bit scary. Anger is trying to tell you something in anger sometimes is saying, I have no control over the situation and the only way I can gain control is if I erupt. Our body is trying to use emotions to convey a message. If you are in a survivable and logistically functional marriage, what happens when you around your spouse? Do you go completely flat affect? Is it hard for you to get excited about anything then and you try then? Is that your body telling you? I don’t think this is what’s good for you.

[00:12:27] So look at that first. But then here’s the controversial thing. So Ross likes to say that I or I believe I’m summarizing. I think what he says often is that this is where it’s not best for the kids, because this is about you managing your discomfort, you know, almost in spite of your kids. And then I wonder if it’s then maybe trying to really tell yourself, convince yourself that this is the best thing to do, because I am afraid of all of the negative things that are coming. Like she says, the changing houses, the drop financially, the changing in schools and friends and new spouses being introduced. And because, boy, would that bring on emotion. And so those are a bunch of unknowns. And turns out our brain is not a big fan of the unknown because the unknown is really scary. So sometimes our brain likes to say, I know what I know right now, and so I can manage this, but at what cost? Is that a cost your mental health? Cost your physical health, the cost your kids potential success? So a couple of episodes a couple of episodes ago, I absolutely own the fact that I am I don’t have data around what I’m about to say, but I feel like if you really look at the fact that we develop our sense of self as kids from external validation because a kid has no idea who they really are.

[00:13:40] So if their parents are united and they are happy and they provide a secure attachment to the kid and the kid feels safe and they can talk about anything, their hopes, their dreams. And if that’s going on, then who does that kid become? Their sense of self is that I am okay. I am enough, I am good, I am lovable. But if they are viewing the relationship through this, my parents have no connection. They’re going to feel that emotion and they’re going to feel that just negativity or that flatness in the relationship. And too often that’s why I then a kid becomes a caretaker. So if the kid sees the parents both flat, sometimes the kid is in essence proverbially going and finding the juggling balls and saying, Hey, everybody, look over here. This is fun, right? Can I must be bad? Because when I walk in the room, everybody seems pretty down. Talk about a kid looking for external validation. And then if they don’t see that, they’re going to internalize that, I believe, and say, okay, this must be on me. I got to figure something out here because they’re a kid and that’s kind of the way it works. So what I threw out there a couple of weeks ago, I think what Ross kind of alludes to a little bit, and when you talk with people who have been through it, there is a messy, messy middle. But then over time, then if you are then out of an emotionally unhealthy relationship and you have raised your emotional baseline and you are being your very best self and when you are with your kids that they are now building their sense of self off of your positivity about.

[00:15:06] Your ability to show them true love about your ability to take ownership of things and empathize with things, then they are going to have a better chance to develop a sense of self around these positive traits than developing a sense of self around this cold, flat, survivable atmosphere in the home. Now, the hard part is when they go to in this situation, it would be dad’s house. But in another a couple of other situations I’m working with right now, that would be mom’s house. But if they go to the emotionally immature person’s home and they’re one on one and that person is playing the victim or the martyr, which they will often do and say, Man, I just never wanted this to happen. But your mom, if they’re pulling that vibe, then yeah, that is not going to develop a real positive sense of self for the kid in those moments. But then when that kid goes to mom or then now let’s say it’s Dad, that is the emotionally more mature, healthy person. Who are they going to start to gravitate to? Who are they going to start to look to? To really open up and gain insight on life and look to for problem solving? It’s going to be that emotionally mature parent because now that emotionally mature parent is thriving.

[00:16:11] So that’s a long answer. That is in essence saying, I hear you and I see you. If things are survivable and logistically functional when they have been nothing of the sort for years, if not decades, and so well done on the work that you’ve done to get the fighting from out, away from in front of the kids, and that you’ve been able to take a breather while things are survivable. But then now maybe just take a look at is this the best thing for my emotional health, my mental health, my physical health? And what impact does this have on the kids, maybe from this framework of what are they seeing, what are they learning about a relationship? And if I’m continually just trying to buffer and manage, then are they getting the best of me? I would imagine not. They probably. This is the part where, I don’t know. This is where we hear so often. I don’t know if you know who you are in that situation because you are continually the buffer, the peace giver, the solver, the fixer, the emotion manager and not yourself. So if you’re out of that situation now, all of a sudden maybe you’re the painter, maybe you’re the writer, maybe you’re the comedian, maybe you’re the dance party mom, whatever that looks like.

[00:17:13] And what is that kid going to feel there? Oh, I like this. Maybe I want to be this. Maybe I want to be the writer, maybe I want to be the painter. But if they’re they’re trying to manage their parents that now they need to be the fixer. They need to be the comedian. They or they may take on the role of a scapegoat, or so I think. Do you see where I’m going there? This is a good question, too. The next one is about a family member said my questions about my sister. I’d like to tell my parents that she’s a narcissist for a number of reasons, most of regarding their caretaking when they’re older, she said, I want to do it. If my sister was in charge, that would be bad and also for my own protection regarding sentimental items that I will want. And I’m imagining maybe at the point whenever parents pass and now we’re dealing with estates and we’re dealing with I’m drawing a blank on what it is called a will, things that are left, because I will tell you. It’s so fascinating the things that you start to see over and over as a therapist, and that concept of watching an emotionally immature person, a narcissistic person, show up in divvying up assets and where they just go for the big ticket items. The things are just about money and not necessarily about sentimentality. And even to the point of where if someone expresses, all I want is Dad’s college ring, that’s a real one from a few years ago where they’re emotionally immature.

[00:18:29] Member of their family just said, Oh, I’ve always wanted this ring. I mean, you guys even know that Dad used to say all the time, I just can’t wait till you have this ring and who can challenge that? But everyone else in the room knows that doesn’t even make sense, because actually we didn’t. No one knew about Dad’s ring. Dad didn’t know what is ring. We just found this. And that was that example, which was pretty interesting. But the bigger point here is it’s the old Do I tell someone that someone else is a narcissist? Now, in a perfect world, it would be amazing if one could bring a list of Here’s the emotional traits of emotional immaturity. And I really feel my sibling lines up with these. And again, in a perfect world, here’s the challenge, the problem, and I’m getting this feedback as a podcast literally called Waking Up to Narcissism. I get the eye rolls at times. I get the people that come into my office that have nothing to do with narcissism or emotional immaturity. They’re seeing me for other things fake crisis or overcoming pornography or that sort of thing. And then they’ll listen to Virtual Couch and they’ll say, Oh, yeah, no, I’ve heard of your narcissism. And you can tell that there’s just that that tone, because narcissism is such a triggering word in the world, in the universe and the zeitgeist.

[00:19:38] And so I feel like for the most part, when somebody says, Hey, I think this person is a narcissist, I feel like there’s just a whole big old sigh of, okay, have you been reading BuzzFeed or something like that and hearing the term? And but little do they know that, Oh no, you’ve been getting your PhD in personality disorders over the last few years as you’ve been trying to make sense of what’s wrong with me. But then that is really hard to convey to somebody. So I might go to is that you don’t tell somebody. I think someone else is a narcissist. I think that you go to someone. And here’s where when I talk so much about my four pillars of a connected conversation, I have a one person version of this. So if I go in and I say, Hey, tell me if I let’s say it’s the parents in the situation and I say, Hey, tell me what’s going on with your caregiving because you get as you get older, tell me about your plans. What are you looking forward to? What is the plan? And so now I have in essence, and it sounds as if I’m being manipulative, but I have walked someone right into my four pillars. Now they are communicating. I started with curiosity, which is such a key and questioning, and then they are going to say things in my first pillars.

[00:20:40] Now I could do some good intentions of what they’re responding to me with, or there’s a reason why they’re saying the things they’re saying. And then if they say in this scenario of It’s really, your sister’s been talking about taking care of us, and I really think that would be an amazing idea. You can’t then drink a glass of water just so you can do the spit take and say what really? You’re going to have her do it because now we’re going to put that person on the defensive. So my pillar to I can’t tell somebody, are you serious? Or that’s I don’t believe you or you’re wrong or that’s ridiculous, even if you feel all those things. So it’s really more of a mindset to get to pillar three questions before comments. So then no, tell me about that. Tell me tell me what she said or tell me about her plans. And then Pillar four is staying present. Don’t go into the bunker. Don’t go into don’t put it on a victim mindset. So in that scenario, then if you then are hurt because you hear these things instead of going, Yeah, I guess, I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter because now we want that person to come rescue us. So instead we stay present. Now that person that you just basically lured is such a manipulative word, guided into a conversation, a one person, four pillar conversation.

[00:21:40] Then at this point now they feel heard, they feel understood. And now you share with your I wonder if I worry that and I feel like statements not the you don’t understand what you need to do is and because now again we’re putting somebody on the defensive so in this scenario then it would be okay, man. I appreciate that. You know, I worry I worry that maybe I worry that my sister doesn’t necessarily have enough time or I feel like whenever we start talking about things that she seems to put a really large emphasis on, on the financial aspects of your care. I don’t know if you guys seen that. And so it’s really just approaching conversations from a place of maturity and curiosity and not from a victim mentality, not from you guys. Are you guys serious mentality? And then not from a just an attack mentality, she says. At the end of the question, I just wonder if it will backfire on me, even though and I appreciate this, she says. Even though, of course, they know she’s difficult. So that’s where I would start having conversations around Tell me about Difficult. Tell me, tell me your thoughts around what this looks like. Or so you really want to go into situations or conversations with curiosity. So then you can share experience and then you can propose your, Hey, what would it look like if maybe, maybe I was involved in the care? Or I’m curious if we’re talking about divvying up the assets.

[00:22:55] I don’t know. What would that look like if maybe we all just wrote out or if you had us all write out the things that really matter the most to us? Because now we can get to the things that we find sentimental and not just the things that somebody wants that are financial. Next question, and this is such a good one, she said. It’s been a year since I left my narcissistic ex and a bit. To my surprise, I find that I’m ready to date again. I want to meet a kind man who I can trust and who I can see when I don’t have my kids around. But she said, But my radar is way off. She said, I’ve done a lot of healing in the past year, but I have never been in a real relationship with a person that was not a narcissist in all of the relationships that sounds like she’s been in. It’s almost like she wakes up one morning and realizes, Wow, I’m in a serious relationship at this point without even meaning to and then without really being asked to. And so she said, My question is, how do I know people aren’t narcissist? How do I know what a real attraction is and what isn’t? Just familiarity with the person who has the bite that fits my wound so well said because she says, I think it can feel very similar and absolutely that can.

[00:24:01] So let me just go on my train of thought here. First of all, long ago on the virtual couch, I did an episode that said your picker is not broken. And because of the work that someone has done to get to this place, this is where I feel like I hope they can understand or see that when they were in those previous relationships and went from one to the other to the other, that they didn’t know what they didn’t know. So first of all, give yourself some credit. Give yourself a little bit of grace, maybe a nice pat on the back, because you do have additional information now. Now, it is true that and I think on back to the Ross Rosenberg episode when he talked about if you have not dealt with your self love deficit disorder, if you don’t know that you are good because you are you are okay because you are even with your imperfections, your mistakes, if you don’t know that that is okay, that you are not just a person who is whose worth is of the things that you do for others that yeah, if you have not started to work on that or become aware of that, then most likely you will then find yourself in a caretaking role with an emotionally immature person looking for that praise, for being a good person, for doing good things for that person.

[00:25:11] So this is where I feel like it’s really important to recognize that. All right. That is probably what got me into these unhealthy relationships, is this I am only as good as the things I do for others, not just I am enough. I do not have to prove to somebody that I am lovable and I do not have to work and earn my love that I am lovable. Matter of fact, a quick tangent and let me share a quote with you that I think is so good. And we’re going to this is going to sound like we’re going to take a little turn toward spirituality. But this is from a book called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brock. In the first part of this is going to talk a little bit more about the Buddhist mindset, and then we’re going to talk a little bit about the concepts around Christianity. And so I don’t want you to feel like I am about to tell everyone that they must be Buddhist. But I think you will see where this is going by the end of this quote. And it is beautiful. Tara Brock says that Buddha taught that this human birth is a precious gift because it gives us the opportunity to realize the love and awareness that are our true nature. And I really believe whether you are Buddhist, whether you are Christian, whatever your faith is, that at the core of your faith, I would imagine that our birth truly is it’s a precious gift because now we will eventually find or realize the love and awareness that our true nature, that whether we are we have the goodness within us, whether we are children of God with their unique talents and abilities, that I feel like the message is similar.

[00:26:38] But here’s where things get really interesting, she says. Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion. And she said, in stark contrast to this trust in our inherent worth is our culture’s guiding myth and the story of Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden. And again, please, I hope that you will not get defensive, because I believe that we have taken certain stories in our faith community, our faith traditions, and now we have maybe they have morphed over time. But I feel like the essence of faith community is built around this. I am a child of God. I am good. I have light within me. I need to lift myself so others around me can can also be lifted and let my light shine forth. Because here’s where she goes with this. She says that we may forget its power. Now she’s talking about that story of the exile from the Garden of Eden. She says We may forget its power because it seems so worn and familiar, but this story shapes and reflects the deep psyche of the West, she said.

[00:27:40] The message of, quote, original sin is unequivocal. Because of our basically flawed nature, we do not deserve to be happy or loved by others or at ease with life, that we are outcasts. And if we are to reenter the garden, we must redeem ourselves, our sinful selves. We must overcome our flaws by controlling our bodies. By controlling our emotions. By controlling or. Natural surroundings by controlling other people. And we must strive tirelessly working, acquiring, consuming, achieving, emailing, overcommitting and rushing and a never ending quest to prove ourselves once and for all. So that’s why I say that I think that her words are so amazing and beautiful because we have this view or this feeling that we have to earn our way into a relationship and that we have to prove that we are lovable. Where I really feel like the message of God, of the universe, of whatever your faith community is, whatever your belief system is, is that, no, you are a beautiful creature designed by a heavenly parents or whatever your belief system is. And so we don’t have to prove that we are lovable. We are lovable, that we have the goodness inside of us. So the reason I share that quote and I go off on this tangent is because when someone is now reentering the dating world, how does that fit together? When somebody is reentering the dating world that it’s that same concept of that I am enough, I am of worth, I am lovable and I don’t need to prove to myself, prove to someone else that I am worthy of their love.

[00:29:11] If that is a difficult thing that you are running into in your relationship, then that is an emotionally unhealthy relationship because you are wasting so many emotional calories and energy on trying to prove that you are of worth and prove that you are lovable. And so when you are in a healthy relationship or when you’re out of an unhealthy relationship, how much time and emotional energy does that free up for you to now? Go and explore and do and find out and create and be where those are things that when you are in an emotionally unhealthy relationship, you’re trying to manage and figure out and buffer and protect that. That is just this survival really, if you look at it that way. And so I don’t believe that any creator put us on earth to then say, okay, this is just all about survival and not thriving. Now, yes, we run into we have our challenges and that’s where growth occurs. You absolutely grow through your challenges. But that doesn’t mean that you are stuck in this pattern, this holding pattern of trying to just manage until you die and then hope that it will all be better next time. That’s what I feel like.

[00:30:15] Know every single time that you are being able to let your light so shine and explore and recognize your God given talents and abilities that then and you are not burying them, that they will multiply and that you will truly find your essence, your nature, and you will be able to lift and help others and your spouse. I oh, I promise you, your spouse should be someone that supports that, that if your spouse feels threatened because you are starting to find yourself, then that is control. You can have love or control and adult relationship now both. And God is love. God is not control. I feel that with every fiber of my being. So when she says, how do I know people aren’t narcissists? The great question, because I have worked with plenty of people that have gone into the dating world and it is some of the most rewarding and fun, for lack of a better phrase times. As a therapist, when we get to look at things like, okay, yeah, you’re going to you’re going to want to date because you’re a human being. And we do want connection. And so and this oh gosh, I got so many thoughts here. There’s another one where as a therapist, I used to say this often as well, that ideally, yeah, give yourself six months or a year and work on yourself and raise your emotional baseline and turn to your values and figure out who you are and take action on things that matter.

[00:31:25] And then you’ll reenter. You’ll enter a relationship and you will be on fire and you can’t wait. But the reality is, when people sit there and wait for the six months or the year, typically they’re just starting to come out of a fog. And so they need this time to to regroup. But then they also have this pathological loneliness. And they do they want the companionship of another person. So I remember when the almost a switch flipped is a therapist where I had to realize I can say the things I think would be ideal of you to work on yourself for give me six months. But then I feel like so often people are so down or lonely or just coming out of this fog that they don’t know what they don’t know. And they aren’t necessarily really engaged in the work on self improvement. They’re just trying to survive and get out of an emotionally unhealthy relationship. Sometimes I remember working with clients that would almost wait until it’s been six months. They were just waiting till the clock struck six months and then jumping on all the dating sites. Because they need validation, because they need to know I’m okay. They want to feel loved, they want to feel like they matter. And you can find plenty of that in the world. You really can. And that’s where the love bombing or the emotional maturity comes in.

[00:32:30] So in a perfect world, absolutely spend time and figure out who you are, what are your values? Come up with value based activities, meditate, mindfulness, find a community, find your people and you don’t have to prove yourself. Just find a place where you can be. And then if that doesn’t work, then move on to the next place and the next place and you get to explore and find yourself. That’s ideal. But if you feel like I just want to date and it doesn’t matter what anybody is going to say, I’m just going to date if that is where you’re at, own it. And if you are going to go on dates and then I go back to the how do I know that people aren’t narcissists? Here’s what I think is someone asking questions about you or are they just telling you things about them? Are they asking you a question so that they can now get to their story? Then that’s a red flag. But I have a bigger point here. I’ve been working with a couple of people right now, and this is back to my four pillars in my marriage therapy. I talk so often about we’re so afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. And tension is where the magic occurs. Tension is where the growth occurs. So here’s what that looks like in a dating relationship. I had a woman that was on a date and the person said something to the effect of that he had.

[00:33:38] Did it go, I don’t want to. If I get this backwards, the point will still be made. But I believe he went in. Oh, talking about how amazing his kids were and maybe the other way around. Anyway, let’s go with this one. How amazing his kids were as adult children. And he loves them and they’re so amazing and wonderful. So about an hour into the date now, he’s talking about how his kids just they they just are they don’t ever come see him and they don’t bring the grandkids by. And he’s just so frustrated by it. So this is the part where she said she realized this is the moment where I used to just give everyone just this just benefit of the doubt. And I know in my pillars I say pillar one. If someone has been for the doubt, we’ll address that. But she said, I would give people so much of the benefit of the doubt that I would think, Oh, I must have misunderstood at the beginning of the date when he said his kids are amazing and he has a great relationship with them. I must have not heard that because right now he’s telling me that he doesn’t have a good relationship with them and I don’t want tension, so I am not going to bring it up. I just I guess it’s not a big deal or it’ll make sense later.

[00:34:38] And that’s where I feel like this person says, okay, all of a sudden I’m getting further and further into relationships and I guess we’re serious. And it’s because I feel like people are not taking ownership of their own feelings and what they’re noticing in the relationship. So introducing introducing positive tension or introducing tension in general. So in that scenario she said, then I believe that she said, Hey, hang on a second. So earlier you said that your kids are amazing and it sounds like right now you’re saying that they aren’t necessarily there for you. So I’m sorry. Tell me more about that. Help me understand. And so in that point, she said she literally got to watch the emotionally immature or narcissist pause and almost feel like a witch, don’t you, to grab and then grab the mask of. Oh, man. Okay. No, I was totally kidding it. The fir when I met you earlier, I’m like, Oh yeah, my kids are great, but now they’re nightmares. So no, that’s funny. I didn’t realize you didn’t know I was joking earlier. And she said at that point, mentally, she just said, Check, please. Because at that point she said, okay, I know the story, so I’m not going to take ownership. I’m not going to take accountability trying to be the person when she comes. When we came into the restaurant and he was like, I love everything.

[00:35:43] You look amazing. My kids are awesome. Then that seemed like the right thing in the moment. But then as they started talking more, he fell into his old familiar pattern of, Oh, woe is me. And now maybe then she will say, Oh my gosh, I can fix this guy, right? So that’s how I feel. We start looking at is somebody narcissist, love bombing. Holy cow. I have a client that I’ve been working with that I just so enjoy. And she went from in essence, a someone who would say, Hey, let me pull up in my $200,000 car and let me take you to the $200 plate restaurant and this sort of thing, and then I’ll drop you off and then I will go interact with other women. But then you’re still the one that I really care about. And so this guy was managing multiple people, but he was doing the love bombing like nobody’s business with money and expensive things. And she said, I did. I like those things. That was fun. So she gets out of that relationship, moves on to the next one, and then this guy just says, Hey, what are you doing for lunch? I’m a pilot. Let’s fly down to LA. She’s like, That sounds amazing. So then doing that, right. And so then she said, Wow, okay, I’m starting to recognize that I love the love bombing. I really do. And this is where she said that in the social circles that she traveled, that she said, I guess I need to go look at the people that are not coming up and telling me that they can.

[00:36:56] You want to see my Ferrari or do you want to fly to lunch in Reno or that sort of thing? And that can be really difficult because you can see where Love Bombing is exciting, but then is it surface level or is it somebody saying, I know I’ve only met you for 5 minutes, but I feel this incredible connection like I never have before. And now let’s go do all these amazing things so that can be difficult. So I feel like those are the things that you have to watch out for. Those are the red flags. And when I’m working with someone directly, this is where I say, okay, you’re going to you’re going to go out, you’re going to date. Your picker is not broken. You’ve done a lot of work, but you need to be honest with yourself and me or your therapist, whoever you’re working with, and saying, okay, here are the red flags that I’m seeing. So help me understand. And I’ve watched some people do some amazing work of then now setting boundaries, introducing positive tension, recognizing love, bombing, recognizing when someone is asking a question, but then only to take the focus right back to them. So I feel like those are some great places to start. One of the other questions was about the short lived, intense happiness that comes during love bombing.

[00:37:51] And she said, Is it possible to experience something akin to that in a normal relationship? This is one of those things that we don’t know, that we don’t know, and I don’t know if I’ve talked about this on the waking up, the narcissism on the virtual couch. I’ve done a couple of podcasts. On these levels of intimacy that are phenomenal. I did a lot of betrayal trauma training under Dr. Kevin Skinner, and at one point he gave what I felt like was almost a throwaway training that was so good and gold and just amazing. But he talked about when we find our partners at first, when we’re younger or emotionally mature, we’re typically attracted to them physically. There’s a level of physical intimacy. This person is hot. I want to make out with this person. I want to be with this person, I want to touch this person, all those things. But then we get in a relationship and then he identify these levels of intimacy, almost look at it like a ladder. And at the bottom rung is psychological intimacy, which is honesty, loyalty, trust, commitment. Those are things they’re going to have to develop over time. But then where we start on this intimacy ladder is verbal intimacy. Can I just talk to this person? Can I talk to them for hours? Do we just love to talk like you did when you were a teenager and you had a long phone cord and you would close it in your room? And I don’t know, you just talk.

[00:38:59] And if you feel like you now have this basis of verbal intimacy, the next level up is emotional intimacy. So if I feel like I can talk to somebody for days, hours and it feels comfortable and right now I’m going to start open up emotionally, we’re going to start talking about some some serious things, emotional things. I’m going to feel safe enough to do that. The next rung up is cognitive and intellectual intimacy. And this is where I say, if we’re connected verbally, we’re connected emotionally, then this person can somebody one can have your PhD or you can have your GED. It doesn’t matter. We have verbal intimacy, emotional intimacy. So that cognitive and intellectual intimacy is we can have different interests. We can have different education levels because we’re verbally connected and emotionally connected. The next level up is spiritual intimacy, because if those first things are intact, it doesn’t matter if we’re from two different belief systems, face systems, because we are openly curious and safe and open enough emotionally and we can explore. And now we’re starting to get what the real essence of a relationship is. Dr. Sue Johnson, who started emotionally focused therapy that I base my four pillars off of, just talks about how we’re designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human.

[00:39:59] We only have our experience to draw from. So when we get into a relationship, it is beautiful. When we first become to to then become one, when it’s a Esther Perel quote, by the way, I love it. But when we can then say, Oh, wow, this is how this is my experience in whatever the situation is. Tell me about your experience. That’s the way we grow. Not someone saying, really, that’s your experience, that’s stupid. My experience is the right experience. That’s emotional maturity. So then the top rung is physical intimacy. Then if you are connected verbally and emotionally, cognitive, intellectually, spiritually, then that’s where the physical intimacy is the byproduct of that connection. So that is where I feel like that feels better than love bombing now. It takes patience, right? Love bombing does not. And the funny part about this is so now if you go back and look at those levels of intimacy or this ladder, this ladder view, if we go in and we find somebody, just they are hot, they are attractive, and now we try to talk to them. By the way, if you want to watch this on the YouTube channel, I’m going crazy with my hands and doing ladders and where we’re at here. But if you find the person attractive, excuse me, and then you start dating them and then you start talking and that is not going well. But then, oh my gosh, they’re hot now.

[00:41:08] We don’t care about verbal intimacy, or then we are so attracted and we start making out or we start being intimate or having sex. And all of a sudden I try to open up emotionally that person and they say, Are you kidding me? And here comes some gaslighting. But boy, they are gorgeous and we’re starting to have a physical bond. Then you can see how you start to overlook these things and say, We’ll work on the verbal intimacy later, we’ll work on the emotional intimacy later, but sometimes that later doesn’t come. And then our whole relationship then is dependent upon that physical intimacy. And that’s where I believe Dr. Skinner talked about. It’s almost like the ladder becomes inverted. And if the basis is physical, the basis is there hot. We have sex with each other and then but we can’t communicate on these other levels, then we’re not going to always be equally yoked when it comes to physical intimacy. And that’s where you start to see people turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography or affairs. Because if the basis is physical and then the other person is not showing up, then if that is the basis, they’re going to feel like, well, this isn’t working for me, this relationship is not viable if it’s flipped and the relationship is based off of verbal and emotional intimacy and physical as a byproduct, then we can be off.

[00:42:13] We can be in different places physically, but then we are so connected verbally and emotionally. And that’s the part that I feel like is the you don’t know what you don’t know if you’ve never experienced that because that is euphoria. Yeah, that’s not flying me to LA for lunch. But that’s a I spent the most incredible day with someone talking emotionally, opening up, spending time doing errands, having shared experiences, going to dinner or whatever. And then at night it’s, oh my gosh, we just want to be we just want we want to be physical because that is the byproduct of this amazing day. It’s not this day sucked, but at least we can get physical. I think that one is the big difference. I have gone for a long time and there is another question that has to do with so I’m going to do a teaser. So coming up next time, the person asked about the difference between borderline personality disorder and narcissism. And so I have an amazing article that I will tease that I will talk about next time. That is talking about borderline and narcissistic personality, the differences and the similarities. And then I also had a wonderful question and I love here’s why I’m going to be so authentic. Isn’t that cool? How authentic I’m being? Validate me, please, but just being very authentic. A few weeks ago, I talked about confabulation and that was something I was not familiar with.

[00:43:24] And now it is. It rules my world. The concept of confabulation makes so much sense in the world of emotional immaturity, narcissism. And if you haven’t heard that episode, please go. Listen. I also had someone asked me about white knight narcissists, and this one almost hits a little too real when I talk about my own emotional maturity and narcissistic traits and tendencies. As I’m reading about this, I felt like I was almost like turning my head and looking out of one eye going, Oh, was that is that what I was? So I’m more of a white night nurse, sister, emotional, mature until I came into my own or became more emotionally mature. So we’ll talk about that next time. So continue to send me your questions if you want to be involved in one of the groups that I talked about earlier, please, please reach out. And I really appreciate the emails, your experiences. I’m going to be sharing a lot more of those because I know that that’s what really resonates with people. And just wherever you’re at, you’re you’re right where you need to be. You’re on the path. You’re on the path to healing. You’re waking up to narcissism, whether it’s your your own emotional maturity or whether it’s the emotional maturity in your relationship. And you deserve to be happy. You do you deserve to not have to put so much effort into trying to be heard and understood and love, because you are lovable.

[00:44:25] You are worthy of being heard and understood because your story is amazing, whatever it is. And if somebody doesn’t want to spend the time to listen, then I am so sorry. And that breaks my heart. And relationships should not be that difficult. So I hope that you will then the things that you’re learning on this podcast and the books you’re reading and whatever you’re doing that they are going to drive change. And as you start to change the dynamic in your relationship, it will upset the apple cart, so to speak. But then that’s the opportunity where we’re going to find out, is this just a situation where my spouse I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So now does my spouse not know what they don’t know? And can I bring this up to them? And will they start to look inward? And if so, then maybe we can start to make some changes. So that’s my hope that that change is either going to be for the better for the relationship or it’s going to be what you need to do to survive because you have so much to offer the world your kids life. But boy, you have to find yourself first. And if you can’t find yourself in your own relationship, then that that isn’t the way relationships are supposed to be. All right. Have an amazing weekend. I will see you next time I’m waking up the nurses.

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