The Key to Great Relationships with Psychologist Dr. Abby Medcalf

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Romantic relationships… Aren’t they a widely fascinating topic?

Many people will come to have tons and tons of questions about them throughout their life. But relationships aren’t only endlessly fascinating to us, they also can be quite confusing and challenging to navigate.

The much-coveted key to great relationships, proves to be hard to find. 

Luckily, there are those who may help, such as our guest in this interview. Dr. Abby Medcalf, a relationship expert with more than 30 years of experience on this topic, counseling individuals and couples. She might help us find this key and unlock insights into building the healthy relationships we yearn for.

Dr. Medcalf is also the author of the highly-rated book ‘Be Happily Married: Even If Your Partner Won’t Do a Thing’. She also did a TEDx talk in 2020 titled ‘The Real Reason Relationships Fail’ and is the host of the popular podcast ‘Relationships Made Easy’.

I truly appreciated Abby’s lively presence and energy in this episode, as she so readily shared her knowledge. So be prepared to be blasted away, in a good way, by lots of insights and information on the fascinating topic of romantic relationships.

Videos:

  • The Real Reason Relationships Fail | Abby Medcalf | TEDxOneonta (Nearly every couple Abby meets tells her this one concept is a complete game-changer. After just one session, they’re able to get rid of their habit of keeping score and, instead, adopt a new mindset of seeing themselves as a shared, collaborative resource. This shift in perspective results in a deeper connection and a happier, more fulfilled relationship (even if their partner won’t do a thing.)


Websites:


Podcasts:


Books: 

  • Be Happily Married: Even If Your Partner Won’t Do a Thing (Over the last 30 years I’ve helped thousands of people like you create connection and happiness in their relationships. Combining my hands-on experience and the latest research, I’ve created a proven system to transform any relationship into a connected, communication machine. My goal is, above all, to provide practical, usable tools that WORK — not unproven ideas or pie-in-the-sky theories that sound good but do little to help you in your day-to-day life. You can create the relationship of your dreams, even if you’re partner won’t do a thing!)
  • – The IPS Academy 00:0000:50
  • – Intro 00:5003:27
  • – Studying relationships for more than 30 years 03:2706:26
  • – What got Dr. Medcalf so interested in relationships 06:2608:58
  • – The different approach Dr. Medcalf working with clients compared to other psychologists 08:5813:37
  • – Wrong mental health advice that is being shared on TikTok 13:3719:35
  • – The IPS Academy | Online Courses 19:3520:52
  • – Modern-day dating 20:5231:50
  • – Personality traits and qualities to look for in a partner 31:5049:47
  • – Relationships topics Dr. Medcalf would teach in school 49:4758:10
  • – The importance of having boundaries 58:101:05:26
  • – How to negotiate in relationships 1:05:261:09:15
  • – The final end question 1:09:151:10:29
  • – Outro 1:10:291:11:31
  • – The IPS Academy | Online Courses 1:11:311:12:58

The transcription is, for the most part, AI-transcribed and is currently 85% accurate. We are still weeding out some minor errors.

The IPS Academy
Before we go on to the interview, have you already taken a look at The IPS Academy? The IPS Academy provides online courses from some of the best instructors out there on mental health, personal development, lifestyle, nutrition, mindfulness improving your life quality, etc. Each course we offer has been made in collaboration with an instruct who has also been a guest here on The IPS podcast. Have a look to see if there’s a course to your liking. Read the full course descriptions and check out the thousands of positive reviews from students who have taken the course by going to TheIPSProject.com/academy. Or check the description of this episode to find the link. With that, let’s dig into the interview.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Most people have poor boundaries, and then they don’t hold their boundaries, and then they’re mad at other people for not holding their boundaries. And it’s like, you won’t even hold your boundaries. Why should you expect someone else to hold your boundaries? That is your job, not theirs. It’s nice when people honor our boundaries, but I hear people, well, they won’t respect my boundaries. They’re trampling my boundaries. It’s like, but you’re not holding. It like, if I had a fence and a bunch of cows on the other side, and I said, oh, the cows keep trampling the fence. What would I do? I’d make a better fence.

Jellis Vaes
This is episode 035 with Dr. Abby Medcalf. Welcome everyone, to The IPS Podcast. It’s really good to welcome you to another episode. Now, if you’re new to the podcast and to the project in general, The IPS Project is an educational platform on life. One way we deliver that education is through this podcast, where I talk with different experts on a variety of topics such as mental health, the body and brain, the mind, money, and relationships, such as what we will talk about here in this episode. Now, for this episode, I invited Dr. Abby Medcalf, a psychologist and relationship expert who has been studying and counseling couples for more than 30 years. So, yes, she does know quite a few things about relationships. Dr. Medcalf is also the author of the book ‘Be Happily Married, Even if Your Partner Won’t Do a Thing’. And in 2020, she delivered a TEDx Talk called ‘The Real Reason Relationships Fail’. She’s also the host of the very popular podcast ‘Relationships Made Easy’. Be ready to be Blown Away with a wealth of information and insights from Dr. Medcalf as we discuss modern day dating, the right personality traits and qualities to look for in a partner, what she would teach if she taught a class, or relationships in schools, and so many more interesting topics to come. To find all the resources mentioned by Dr. Medcalf in these episodes and ways to connect with her, take a look at the show notes which are in the description of this episode, or go directly to theipsproject.com podcast and search for Abby with that. Please enjoy this episode with psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Abby Medcalf.

Jellis Vaes
Dr. Abby Medcalf, a warm welcome here to The IPS Podcast. It’s truly a pleasure to welcome you here on the show.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Thank you for having me. I’m very excited. I couldn’t wait. I did my hair this morning.

Jellis Vaes
Well, you look incredible. So I’ve been wanting to talk with a relationship expert for quite a while, so I’m very excited about this episode. Romantic relationships, they are a fascinating topic. A lot of people have so many questions about it, and I do as well. So it was actually very hard for me to select out some questions because, man, there were so many questions that I had. Now, you’ve been studying relationships for more than plus 30 years, and that’s quite a time. That’s quite some years.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s my whole life, right? All of us are studying relationships, right? Like, our whole lives. We have a lot of good research now showing that having connected relationships is the secret to a happy life. There is not money, not anything else. Harvard’s been doing this very long study. There’s books about it. The research is out there. It’s the longest study on human happiness that we have, and it has become diverse. It used to be just a bunch of white, educated, rich men, which obviously would not really give us a good indicator of the general public, but that has changed in a large way, and we have international studies that say the same thing, that it’s really about our connections to others. So I always call myself a relationship maven because expert, I’m like, I don’t know, is anybody an expert at this stuff? But a maven in Yiddish is someone who has a deep understanding of something and who really goes deep on things. And I go, I’m the person who’s in front of you in line at the grocery store talking to the checkout person, like, oh, how are the kids? And tell me, and I want to know everything. I love to hear about people’s lives. And it fascinates me. It’s been a minute, and I’m a Jew from New York, so I have a lot of schooling because that’s what we do. We go to school nonstop. So I have a ton of degrees also. But it’s also been this life experience. And my working with clients, I think a lot of kind of expert kind of people just do research or really don’t have the schooling and just have talked to people. I have both, and I still see clients. I love working with people. That’s what I love to do. My information is very up to date. Let’s say that I’m literally in the trenches all the time.

Jellis Vaes
So I’m actually very curious. What motivated you to be so interested in this topic of relationships to eventually do now, like, so many years of work already around it?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Well, I shared with you earlier, I’m a recovering heroin addict, and my childhood was really fraught with lots of stuff. We were that family that looked perfect on the outside, but we were not, so there was a lot many of my siblings are recovering all kinds of stuff, and so yet I had parents who were married 53 years when my dad died. It’s not like I came from some horrible, broken home or something else. People, I think, equate with addiction. And when I was trying to get clean many, many times and rehabs and other things, I was so miserable. I was so miserable, and that’s why I kept using drugs. I was like, what is the point? What is the point of getting clean if this is what it feels like? And I did est with Werner Earhart back in the day, and I walked on hot coals with Anthony Robbins back when there was 250 people in the room. And, I mean, yeah, I did it. I was all about it. What do I have to do to get this? So I’ve been studying that since I was about 20, like, just going deep on all these programs and trying to figure that out. And what kept coming up over time was it was my relationship to other people. That’s what I would think of the best belly laugh you’ve ever had. It wasn’t alone. You weren’t alone in a room having the best belly laugh of your life. You were having that with other people. I know. Even if you can masturbate and have a great orgasm, it’s not like it is if you’re with someone else. It’s just not right. It doesn’t feel as good as doing that with someone else. That’s really what it all comes down to at the end of the day. And so I’ve just been fascinated. And as I shared with you earlier, I love people. I really like to hear about their histories. And I was talking to you earlier. Where are you? What’s going on an hour, just asking you questions like, how did you start doing the podcast? What happened? It’s something I really enjoy. I find it really interesting.

Jellis Vaes
So I’m sure that over the years, you’ve met, like, many other professionals and other psychologists who also work in the same field of relationships. How would you say when clients come to you, for example, are there any complaints they have about other psychologists or other professionals that they didn’t like that you do differently?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yeah.

Jellis Vaes
How is your approach?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yeah, how is it different? Because it is, I think, because my background is so different. I have a master’s in counseling psychology, and I worked in all that, but I also worked in business, and my PhD is actually in organizational psychology. My PhD is not in clinical. I know, and I do have that on my website. I don’t try to hide it, but sometimes people are like, oh, it’s right there. In business, you can’t say to somebody, oh, I see this problem. We’ll tackle it in a few years, you’re going to get fired. And I was a consultant for so long. You have to problem solve, you have to figure things out. And the amount of money that’s spent on the psychology in business and selling you things you don’t need and all that, it’s tremendous. So most of the tips and techniques I’ve learned were from business, not from counseling.

Jellis Vaes
So I the practical sites.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yeah, I’m very practical. I don’t see people. I mean, I have some clients that have been with me for years, but that’s more rare. I really like to be solution based. Sure. So when I work with couples, for example, they have to do an intensive first. They have to do an all day with me first, because if you’re not willing to do that, then this is probably not going to work if you’re not willing to prioritize your relationship, if you’re too busy in every way. I also don’t see couples at night. I don’t see people at night. You’re exhausted at night. You’ve worked all day. You’ve given everything you have to give. You’ve put the kids to bed maybe, or made dinner or all the things, and now you’re going to come and talk about your world. No, I stopped doing it years ago. I stopped doing it before the pandemic. I was like, this is not working. People have to put themselves first. Mental health has to be first. You would never say to your MD if you had cancer, like, oh, I can only come at 07:00. I can only come when and you know what?

You’ll be just as miserable in a bad relationship as you are with cancer, I’ll tell you that right now, and it’ll kill you just as quickly. I’ve seen it happen. Or even worse, you don’t die, but you just feel miserable and lonely and frustrated and resentful, and I don’t know what kind of life that is to live. So until people put that first and I make them do that, I’m at a stage where I get so much working with people. I want to be excited about my clients, I want to be excited about who’s I want to be excited with you that we’re going to get there. And I can’t do that if it’s 07:00 at night and I’m exhausted and I’ve had a long day. You don’t actually want me as a therapist at 07:00. I’m not very good at 07:00. I’m getting ready for bed. We’re meeting early in the morning here. I’ve got lots of energy, I’m ready to go. And this is usually when I’m with clients, and I have a lot of international clients and people on other time zones, and it works really well for me because I’m up early and I like that energy.

So I think that’s what’s different. It’s very solution focused, and I use research from both fields and I combine it, and my podcast is sort of known for that, like, the five steps to this and the three ways to do that. And it’s very solution based. And I think the other thing that’s different is I give my opinion a lot. Not first, I’m asking questions. I’m figuring things out with people. And on the podcast, I give the what and the how. A lot of people give the what, oh, here’s what you got to do. And then pay $12 and buy my book. And then you’ll learn how. And I give the how on the pocket. I give it.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, you give the actual steps?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I do. I’m like, here’s the step. And if you want to buy my book, go for it. If you want to buy some things, you can, but it’s accessible to everyone. Everybody in the world. I think this is my world peace thing, needs to know this information to be happy, and I’m really about that. And so I’ll make money. I make money. It’s fine. And so here you go. Let’s do this thing. I think all of those things are what’s different and having a lot of experience. Sorry. Of course, it really helps to have a lot of experience. I will say, like, sometimes I’m on I lurk on TikTok. I’m the worst. I like lurk. I have, like, a fake account. I don’t ever post. I don’t ever anything. But I look at some of these younger counselors and what they’re posting, and it’s just wrong stuff. It’s wrong. I mean, it’s, like, wrong. And it’s because they don’t have experience in a lot of ways. So, for example, like narcissism, let’s say, right? Everyone likes to talk about narcissism. The problem is that there’s what we call differential diagnosis in psychology, meaning that and MDS have it too, right?

Somebody comes to them who has a fever and whatever, that could be a diagnosis for 50 things, right? You have to figure out what it is. You have to differentially diagnose and figure out in psychology, it’s the same. You have to differentially diagnose. So if someone can look like a narcissist but they’re not because they’re actually a drug addict and you didn’t ask about their alcohol use and they have all these issues, or someone dismisses the alcohol use because they think alcoholism is only if you’re drunk every day, they don’t realize that you can have one martini every day and be an alcoholic. You can have one martini every day and not be an alcoholic. But again, so when you have a lot of experience, you get a feel. I can feel when I’m looking at, like, a personality disorder versus a mood disorder. And I’m not saying I can tell right away, but trust me, I’m in a consulting group where we have a lot of very experienced therapists, and we help each other. We meet every month, and we talk about cases. Another good thing is to get supervision always. No matter how good you think you are because that’s what keeps you good.

So I do this supervision group every month, and we’ve been meeting for years and there’s psychiatrists in there and social workers, and there’s a really great mix of us and we trust each other and we staff our cases and it’s in there. Sometimes I’m stuck on something and I can say, I don’t know, this person kind of has this but I sort of see this. But I see these 20 year old, very beautiful, usually very attractive sort of therapists on. And I can tell. I’m like, oh, my God. They are making these sweeping statements that are really hurtful and God bless them. You know what? Everyone has a place. So maybe if I listen to this person and even though it’s wrong, maybe at least I’ll start to investigate this area and then maybe I’ll learn the truth, right? So I’m not bashing them. I think everybody has a place in the world for different kinds of people who are ready for different kinds of information. And it makes me sad that it’s been distilled into a 32nd shot or a five minute, two minute shot. And that’s why I’m not on social media much, because I don’t have much to say in 30 seconds. As you can tell, I can’t shut up.

Jellis Vaes
Podcasts are great for this, right?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
These are complex issues. They’re not so simple. My podcast episodes are 45 minutes to an hour because it takes a minute to really talk about something, you know what I mean? To really delve in and say why and where and how you can tell the differences, right? Oh, my God. Just the other day I heard someone talking about suggestions for what to do when you’re stressed, when you’re anxious, and they were giving suggestions for what to do when you’re stressed, which don’t work. Anxiety and stress are two different things. And the things you use, the tools you use for them are different. And this is why a lot of people with anxiety can’t they go, what’s wrong with me? I’ve been using all these tools and nothing works. It’s because they’re using tools for stress. Those tools don’t work when you’re anxious. Matter of fact, they can make anxiety worse. And if I’ve had a history of trauma, telling me to meditate is the very worst thing you can tell me to do. So do you know what I’m saying? But people are on there giving these tips and because they’re not grounded in anything and frankly, they’re misinformed.

They haven’t been in it long enough to know how you tell the differences. They’re saying things and matter of fact, I ended up doing two episodes on the podcast not long ago on what to do when you’re anxious and what to do when you’re stressed. I separated them out because I was so upset by the information I was hearing, and I thought, I got to set the record straight here, at least on my podcast. But anyway, it’s stuff like that. I think people you would not try to get a medical diagnosis in a 32nd shot in a million years. So why you’re doing it with psychology? Because people think it’s a soft science that doesn’t really matter, especially here in the States. Mental health is like and other countries too. It’s not just the states. I have quite a few European clients, people from different areas of Europe who you don’t go to therapy. That’s just a crazy thing. And so they’re kind of some Indian clients, all kinds of people who are like, this is not something my family has ever talked about because it’s really dismissed, right? And so there’s a way that we dismiss it in the culture too, by giving it such small little sound bites.

Jellis Vaes
So for everyone listening, I can truly recommend your podcast, Relationships Made Easy. So I will also link it up in the show notes for everyone to find. Because like you said, these topics are complicated and complex and it’s so awesome that you actually truly take the time to talk about them and also give actionable steps. So, again, yeah, definitely.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I’m really proud of it. It feels good.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

The IPS Academy
Before we continue with the interview, I just like to take a moment to mention if you feel that you’ve gained some insights and lessons from this interview and you’re curious to see what else we offer at The IPS Project, I recommend that you check out The IPS Academy, where we offer online courses taught by guests here on The IPS Podcast. Learn more about essential life topics such as mental health, relationships, the mind and the body and brain through fun and interactive courses. Simply go to theipsproject.com/academy or check the description of this episode to find the link. Each course has a few lessons to try for free so you can get a taste of what the course is like. We have countless reviews from other students so you can see what others think. And there is a 30-day-money-back guarantee. If you end up not liking the course again, check them out at theipsproject.com/academy or by clicking on the link in the description of this episode. Having said that, let’s return back to the interview.

Jellis Vaes
So if we would sort of start with the first step, where most relationships kind of start. And that’s for most relationships dating. That’s kind of where things begin. I sort of grew up in this interesting, I would say bridge between where I still had to go up and talk to someone in Real and where dating apps like Tinder became okay to use socially actually accepted. I’m just very curious, what are your thoughts on modern day dating? Because we have this whole ocean of options at our fingertips, like, is this good? Is this bad? And I’m sure it’s more complicated than just good or bad, right? But what are your thoughts on modern day dating.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
First, I’m so glad I’m not doing it. That’s my first thought. I have to tell you back because I’m pushing 60. Back in my day, when you broke up with someone, you never had to see them again. That was it. I never had to see the person again. And maybe if you were in college still, you’d see them on campus, but you could avoid them. You could change your class or live in a different dorm or something. Now you can’t escape. And the way our brains work, where we’re so linked to exes anyway, I did a whole podcast on this, but episode on this, but the way that we get attached, even if we’re the dump e, it doesn’t matter who dumped who. We get a little obsessed with our exes. That’s just part of the brain chemistry. So it’s so easy now to stay obsessed. I could create a lurking account. I could go find them. I’m looking. I could still kind of date them and maybe just have friends with benefits and have sex or I’m still kind of hooked up with them. I mean, there’s so many ways to not leave, so I feel bad for folks.

I just want to say that first, it is harder and don’t let anyone tell you differently. The other thing is that the options are so many, and I’ll say this for, again, kind of the biology of men in general, and I’m being sweeping, so I apologize. But in general, men having so many to choose from and you do, there’s all these people, so there feels like there’s always something else. The grass is always greener. Why would I get off at this exit? Maybe the next exit is better. Oh, maybe there’s something down the street and you just keep the next thing you know, you’ve been on the highway for 40 years, you know what I mean? You haven’t taken an exit. And so you’re kind of past where you wanted to end up. And so that happens. I have a lot of men in my practice, so I always ask a lot of questions about this. And there is again, back in my day, you met people at work or school, maybe a family friend introduced you. That was the other way. You met somewhere, right? But you met in person. You knew if there was chemistry or not right away. You didn’t have to guess. This whole I have people and I have to sometimes stop my clients because they’ll say, oh, I was talking to this guy for the last few weeks. And I’ll stop and go because they say I’m talking and they mean texting. That’s to me, not talking.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, very different.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
That’s what talking. You’ve been texting with someone, you need to change the language because that language is different. You think you are. And that worries me, that you think that’s talking. It’s not. It’s not at all. It’s so distanced. So there’s a lot of that of actual distance in the beginning and all this investment, and then it’s gone. And then he ghosts or someone’s breadcrumbing you or whatever, right? Excuse me? And it’s gone. All that investment over and over and over. We used to just not do that. You’d go on one date with somebody, you’d meet them. There was or wasn’t something, and that was it. That was it. That was the whole interaction. Or you met at a bar somewhere else, or at a dinner, and again, you had that interaction over a minute or an hour, and you’re done. Not for weeks, not all day, every day. I mean, it’s such a crazy thing, right? And what also happens is that people get so interested so quickly, people that kind of desperate sort of feeling comes out, and nobody reacts well to that. Men or women. That’s not just men. Women don’t either. So there starts to feel like, why is this person valuing me so much? We’re just texting. Why is this feeling so intense all of a sudden? There must be something wrong with them. Like, I don’t even know them. And then there’s an old I think it’s groucho marks. It’s attributed to it’s something like, I wouldn’t want to join a club that would want me as a member. And that’s what happens. That’s what happens to people. They’re like, Why do they want me so bad? There must be something off and then you know what I mean? So the person’s kind of falling it. So there’s that going on where you don’t again, have that if you’ve met at a bar or you’ve met at a party or you’ve met at work and you got to know this person for a while, or at school. You saw them in class all the time, and you got to kind of hear them, and you got to see sort of how they interacted with people. Right.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I remember going on a first date with someone who I had, and it was a blind date, actually. Someone had set me up, and I go on this date with this guy, and right away he was rude to the server, right? He was rude to the server. I literally just excuse my I said, you know what? We’re not going to work. And I walked out. I knew I was like, I am not, but if I could have been texting him for I don’t know how long, he was very nice on the phone when we were setting up the date, he was fine. But I could tell from that interaction that this was not my kind of person, you know what I mean? So I got to do that right away. But if I had been texting him for three weeks and then we finally went out, and maybe we don’t even go out to dinner. Maybe we just hook up or whatever, or just binge something on Netflix, he comes over, I’m not going to see it. And so there’s a lot of investment, and what I hear a lot is people are so tired of dating. Like there’s so much effort all the time with very little reward. And so you get tired of it and you’re like, do I even need this? Or you get tired of it and you start lowering your standards.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, that’s true.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Right? It’s like, oh, I’m being too picky. I want too much. No, you don’t. No, you don’t. So that’s going on. And then, of course, there’s a whole other piece with women now have more economic power. Right now the rate of women going to college is so much higher and graduating than men. And I mean, there’s all kinds of other sociological things going on with that, but women have more power now. We have more choice. We have the biological clock still, so that’s the toe, but we can also freeze our eggs. Now there is a lot more choice for women than there used to be. And so now we’re asking men to sort of be a better choice, and then men end up hating on women. This is like heterosexual, obviously. And then men are kind of blaming women for being too, I don’t know, bitchy or something. And it’s like, well, no, we’re just like if I have a penny for every woman who has said to me that she feels like her partner is another one of her children, over and over. And we know again from the research, men who get married live longer than men who don’t. Women who get married live less long than women who don’t.

Jellis Vaes
Wait, is that true?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yes, that’s true. Pew Research Center.

Jellis Vaes
What’s the reason for that, though?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Because women have an average of seven more hours of work a week when they’re married than when they’re not.

Jellis Vaes
Okay.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I have to work in the home seven more hours than I did before. Men have it made in the home. Like, again, heterosexual relationships in the house. That is still a very true thing. Women do more. It’s a lot of how we’re socialized all the things. Right. Again, like you said with the dating, how you’re at this weird bridge. Humanity is at a weird bridge. Yeah, I mean, it’s just so different. So there’s a way that we talk about weaponized incompetence and we talk about all these things with men. And I think men have become very confused, like, what am I supposed to be doing? And I get it. Sorry.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, you’re right. I mean, that’s of course a whole other topic in a way to talk about men, but I actually did a podcast with a person who founded Men’s Group. It’s basically like an online men group for guys to come together and talk about things, about life.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Love it.

Jellis Vaes
But it’s true. A lot of guys seem to be quite confused in their role in. Society, like what they have to be and what they have to do, what’s expected of them. It’s become a bit vague and unclear.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I know, because, again, a lot of my practices, men, I think men are very attracted to the way I do therapy. Right. But what’s interesting, even there is I often when men call, I try to send them to other men to work with. Yeah, because right. Women don’t routinely find men to work with. That’s not matter of fact, that, again, can be really harmful. It can be great, too. I’ve sent women to men. I’m like, you need some redoing your relationship with men. But even that is like sexism the other way, right. Kind of reverse sexism, where men’s mental health is kind of seen like it’s not that big a deal.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
So you can just see a woman, you’ll be fine. They know everything. You guys are kind of stupid, so you need to catch up so women will help you. It’s like, that’s not cool. So even that is there, I think when they try to get help, it’s hard to know. Yeah. It’s like fish who don’t know they’re wet. There’s so many layers that we’re not even aware that are in our consciousness about it. Anyway, I feel bad for men, too.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, well, it’s a complicated topic, of course.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yes.

Jellis Vaes
If we would move back to dating, let’s say that someone who’s listening has an upcoming date. A lot of the success in finding a good partner is by selecting personality traits and qualities like good ones. I feel, for example, that we over focus on looks and on money and undervalue emotional stability, for example. Or someone who’s just kind what personality traits or qualities determine the highest chance in a good long term relationship? And which ones, like the ones that I gave as an example, which ones do people over focus on?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I think what they really over focus on, it’s interesting because, again, women have more economic power now, so there’s not as quite as much with the money as it used to be. But what I find is things in common. People think you have to have things in common to have a great relationship. And so, for example, I have a couple I worked with a while ago who they met doing marathon training, right? And so, boy, they were like, oh, my God. And they had this strong physical connection. I think people rely, like you said, too much on that chemistry, which is great to have chemistry. And if you don’t have in the beginning, it’s going to take a minute, but sometimes it grows. But regardless so they had all this fire. I was saying, they end up getting married, they end up having kids and buying a home. And when that stuff started happening, they fought nonstop because none of their values were aligned. It was only their interests that were aligned.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
So I hear people all the time. You’re like, well, he doesn’t like to do this, and he doesn’t like to do that, or she doesn’t want to go here. And it’s like, that’s fine. You’re not looking for a best friend. You should already have best friends. You’re looking for something. This feelings of that this person has my back no matter what.

Jellis Vaes
Sure, yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I talk about something I call the trust triad. You have to have three things to really trust your partner, to really trust them. And this goes in with the kind of values or whatever that you want to have the same values, but one of them is that they have goodwill, that they have your back, that you feel like your best interest is their top interest. Two is this integrity, honesty. They’re honest with you. There’s a lot of red flags, often in the beginning of a relationship where someone’s dishonest and people kind of let it go because they’re having so much fun or because the sex is so good or they’re little things, so they feel like they said this, but it was really that it’s okay, and then competency. Is this person competent in their life? It doesn’t mean that they make a lot of money. It doesn’t mean but it means that they show up when they say they will. If they commit to something, they do it right. That competence in the world that they go to work. And to me, I’m working with a client now, and she’s dating someone, and he hates his job, so he’s always trying to figure out how to and he has all these rationalizations for this, but he rips them off all the time.

Like, he doesn’t go to work. He says he’s working, he’s not. He does the bare minimum that he can. It’s beyond quiet. Quitting. It’s like something else. And to me, if you’re accepting a paycheck, that’s the deal. I’ve committed to you for this money that I’m going to do A, B and C. Now I don’t have to go over that. That’s okay, but I have to do A, B and C. But he was actively not doing any of them. And I said to her, he doesn’t have integrity. There’s no integrity here. Like, what’s going to happen if he’s in a relationship with you and decides that it’s okay to maybe date someone on the side, maybe just have sex. It’s only sex. I’m not emotionally attached to this other person. So they’re going to rationalize in their head, they’ve made this commitment to you, but they’re going to decide, well, it’s not hurting you. I’m not taking away from you. I’m using protection. I’ve heard these stories, and so I’m going to go have sex with this other person. You do what I’m saying. People, for some reason, separate these things, and they think they don’t think they connect.

And you get a lot of warning signs generally about what’s going to when people say it’s out of the blue. I’m like it’s out of the oblivion. You had warning signs for things, but you weren’t choosing to see them as such. And that’s okay. I don’t want to blame the victim here. I’m not talking about that. I’m just talking about really being self aware. So I would say self awareness and mindfulness are the absolute, positively top two things you’re looking for when you’re talking to someone. Are they at all aware of themselves, of how they come across? One of my favorite dating questions I have my clients ask is, what’s going to bug me about you later? That’s a good question. I’m just going to be like, oh, my God, I got to get past this and do it lovingly and kindly. It’s not an interrogation. What do you like best about yourself and what are you struggling with? Is another way to say that, right? You can ask both, but be interesting to hear what people think is their best thing and what they’re struggling. And by the way, when you ask those questions, we connect with feelings, not thoughts.

So when you’re on a date, the thoughts are all there, right? Like, I do this and I went here and I went to school here, and my parents say this and whatever, right? But the feelings is when you can get there on a date, is when you’re really connecting with someone, you know, and when you start asking them about what they’re struggling with or what do you really like about yourself, tell me a time that you felt the most proud of yourself recently or ever? What are you most proud of in your life? I love those things.

Jellis Vaes
They’re good questions.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I asked Gary those things. I was like, what are you most proud? And his answers were amazing and beautiful. And Gary and I, by the way, my man, we have zero we like to do in common except watch the Mets play, which we’re going to do tonight. Have fun, mets. We love baseball and we love the Mets. Other than that, gary I’m a foodie. My dad was a chef. I love food. Gary can’t stand food. He would rather have a pill every day. He’s the opposite. He eats, like five things. We have nothing in common with that with a passion of mine in my life. Like, I bake, I cook. He doesn’t even like my like, he could care less. Gary lives to work out. He does Spartan races and, like, triathlons. And he like, I don’t I like, you know, I get to the gym in the morning because I have to and I hate it every time. And I’m bitching and moaning the entire time. I mean, I do not want to exercise if I don’t have to. We are just so different in how we are, but we laugh and we love each like, there’s this very deep I feel so safe with this man.

He has my back like nobody. He looks at me like I’m magic. I look at him like he’s magic. We’ve been together a long time, and we get it. We’re like, wow. And it’s not like it’s perfect, and there’s never a thing. But we fight fair. When we disagree about something, we’re really listening. And if one of us gets stuck, the other one can kind of say something like, are you okay? What’s going on? There’s this gentleness there, too, with each other and our feelings. What happens in most relationships is competition is the end of relationships, and that’s what most people get into. And I know I did my Ted Talk about this, and I have talked a lot about this.

Jellis Vaes
Sorry to cut in, but also for listeners, the TEDx Talk will also be linked up in the show notes. Please go on. Please go on about competition, because it’s a very interesting topic.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s really what it’s all about. Our whole lives, we don’t realize it again, we’re fish that don’t know we’re wet. We’re trained. My better half, my other half, we think about these two halves, and what happens is we end up you should be a whole person, and they should be a whole person. Let me just say that first. We’re not looking for incomplete people, right, to complete us. But beyond that, there’s a way that we keep score in relationships. You spent money on a watch, so I’m going to spend money on a nice bag. You went out with your friends on Friday, so I’m going to go out with my friends on Saturday. I took Sophie to baseball practice on Monday, so you have to take Jack to piano on Wednesday. Do you know what I mean? Like, when you have kids, especially when you have kids, it gets really bad. But it gets bad before, too. I cleaned this, so you have to clean that. It’s tit for tat all over the place. And if you’re competing like that, it means think about competition. Somebody wins and somebody loses.

And I’m not going to want you to win. I want to win. I want to win. So I’m going to be comparing everything you do to what I do. And trust me, it’s not going to be as much as me, and I’m going to be calling it out over and over, and I’m going to be feeling resentful and angry about that. And that is the demise of relationships. You can’t build a relationship on fear. No love relationship was made better by fear, and that’s a fear based emotions, resentment overwhelm rage, helplessness, hopelessness. That keeping score. Like watching nitpicking stuff. That is fear based, because and that’s what I always hear from people, like, well, what if they take advantage of me? That’s what you’re worried about. You are building a life with this person. You’re going to buy a house and have kids, and you’re worried you’re going to get taken advantage of. Seriously, you’re in the wrong relationship. What are you talking about? And what does that even mean? I don’t even know what that means. What does that mean? That your partner sits on the couch eating, I don’t know, potato chips, and you’re, like, vacuuming under their feet?

Is that what it means? It might. And in that case, get some boundaries. Figure it out. Or hire someone to clean so you don’t have to do it. So neither of you has to do it. What couples do generally, because of this competition thing, if something has to happen in the home, let’s say you live together at this point, right? And something needs to happen. Something needs to get fixed or whatever, everybody looks within the couple to do it to the resource. The resources are only in the couple, right? Someone has to take Sophie to baseball practice. You look at each other. Someone has to fix the back door. You look at each other. The problem with that is that everybody’s overwhelmed. Everyone is full, and people have different capacities. Not everyone. My capacity for getting shit done is, like, unbelievable. For whatever reason. I don’t know why I’m like this this energy all the time. Imagine living with me, right? Everyone’s feeling sorry for Gary right now. They’re like, oh, God. But Gary’s the same. Gary’s got ton of energy too, but I’m getting stuff done. But if I’m always comparing to what my partner’s getting done and I’m deciding about this equal tit for tat thing, I’m not giving credit where other credits do Gary.

Once might I’ll say this really quickly? My tires were low in my car. He says to me, you got to fix that. You got to fix tires in your car. You got to get air in them. I don’t know what that means. I thought, I have to go to the mechanic. I thought, I have to take a day off of work. I think I have to drop off my car and Uber. I’m like, oh, my God. I’m, like, overwhelmed, right? I also don’t really know about cars. I don’t know. It’s dangerous to drive with low air in the tire. I don’t understand. So, like, two days later, he says it again. He goes, oh, my God. The air is really low. That’s dangerous. You can’t drive around that way. You got to get that. You got to get air in your tires. I’m like and I’m just like and I’m overwhelmed, and I’m not fast forward. Two days later, he’s driving in. He’s put air in my tires, and I said to him I acted like he split the atom, okay? I was like, oh, my God. Thank you so much. I’m doing this whole thing.

And he goes, you know, I realized, number one, that the time it was taking me to tell you to do it, I could just go do it. He said, Two, I realized you’re like, the most competent person I know. And for some reason, you couldn’t figure this out. And I realized, you’re like a city girl. You don’t even know what it is to put air and tires there’s a gas station, by the way, like a block from our house. It took him minutes. But for me, that’s feeling like someone’s taking care of me, someone’s watching me. So if I’m comparing the amount of time it took him to do that versus the amount of time it takes me to cook dinner, do you see the problem? I’m going to be like, you’re not doing enough. So when we compare time, that’s a problem. When we compare just the task itself. I did these three things and you didn’t do these three things. Do you see what I mean? Because things take different amounts of time. They take different amounts, more importantly, of bandwidth. And for me, the bandwidth of figuring out my tires and where I had to go and looking it up on Google and probably doing a YouTube video on it and everything else was huge like that.

He did this thing that he cared about, that he thought about it. He took a minute and was like, Why don’t I just do it? And that’s the attitude I have when I’m cleaning the whiskers out of the sink, because he does rinse, but it’s not to my specification.

Jellis Vaes
Okay? Right.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
There’s a few little whiskers left there. And I used to get crazy about it. I’ve asked him. I’ve told him, this is important to me, because our other issue that we do is we decide that means something. We define things our partners do and define it. It means he doesn’t love me. It means he doesn’t care about what’s important to me. Right? I’m defining it. No, it doesn’t mean any of that. Talk to Gary. Are you kidding me? He thought he did it. He thought he what? And I’ve timed it because I am that crazy and anal and nutty. Like, this is what’s when you have a Jew in your life, this is what happens. I timed how long it took me to rinse the sink because I was going to yell at him about it, like, I’m wasting all this time rinsing the sink after you. And it was 4 seconds. I was so mad. I typed it, like, seven more times. It was 4 seconds. So I’m really going to go. At some point, we just have to give our partners, like, a mulligan. And if really it was that big a deal to me and for some reason he just can’t seem how to figure this out, then maybe I have to hire a cleaning person to come in every single day and wipe out the sink. But the real thing is that people think they’re right when really all it is, is a preference.

Jellis Vaes
That’s well said. Oke.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yeah, right. I’m not right that the sink should be cleaned to my specification. Yeah, it’s a preference I have. It’s the same thing. If Gary wanted more sex than me, let’s say, right, he’s not right to want more sex, and I’m wrong because I don’t want to have sex as much or vice versa. I’m not right to want sex less and him to want sex more. But we think that, oh, this person’s not doing what I ask, so they’re wrong. But it’s a preference. I have a preference for more sex than my partner does. So what do you do with that? Right? What do you do with that? You don’t just go to them and go, I want more sex. We’re not having sex enough. Because that’s telling your partner they’re wrong. It is. You’re defining it. You’re stating, right, what this is my favorite thing to ask, by the way, if you have different the sex drives are different is to ask your partner, what would you like to see more of in our sex life? Such a great question. You’re going to have the best conversation. You have the best conversation because you need to just talk about sex.

What does it mean to them? What happens? How is it showing up? Let’s just talk about it. Let’s just see what we can come up with together. Not some number that either of us thinks is correct, right? Like, are there other ways to connect? And maybe my partner can ask me, well, what does sex mean to you? What does it mean when we have sex? What does it mean? How do you feel when we don’t have sex? How do you feel when we do have sex? When you can understand your partner’s feelings about this stuff, you’re usually more motivated about it.

Jellis Vaes
That’s true.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s like, oh, I didn’t realize this meant so much to you, or, I didn’t realize that I was doing this thing that was really upsetting you, that you don’t want to have sex, whatever. But when you come to, it like, I want you to understand me and to do what I’m saying. We get into the power struggle, and we get into the teams, and we start keeping score.

Jellis Vaes
So let’s say that, hypothetically speaking, if you would teach a class of 16 to 24, 25 year olds for a year about relationships, what would be the topics that you would actually focus on?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Oh, I love it. I would focus on their self awareness.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Then I would focus on mindfulness, because these are two different things, how people put them together a lot. They’re two separate items.

Jellis Vaes
Okay.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I am very self aware that I’m controlling. I’m super controlling, but I’m not always mindful that I’m doing it. Do you see the difference? So you can be self aware about something but not be in a moment and realize it’s happening. And here’s what happens a lot. Your partner comes to you and says, I’m feeling neglected. Okay. I don’t know something. I’m trying to think of something I’ve heard recently, and if I’m not being mindful in a moment, I’ll probably get very defensive, neglected. What do you mean? I cooked dinner last night. I gave you a blow job yesterday. Right? You’d get a list of all the reasons that they’re wrong. Do you see the problem? And trust me, people right now are nodding their heads, going, oh, my God, I do that all the time. But when you’re in your moment, that’s what mindfulness is, is being present in the here and now. I’m noticing, like, OOH, oh, that hurts. I really want to react. I really want to say all this stuff. Let me take a breath. And your answer is always to ask questions. Yeah, always to be curious. I say a lot.

Don’t sack your relationships, sac. This works anywhere. Don’t offer suggestions, give advice or criticize. So I will also say that the coming to your partner saying, I feel neglected isn’t the best way to go. But at least one of you needs to be mindful to not let that devolve into an argument. And so you got to be curious and truly curious. Don’t be afraid. Lean in. Take that breath. Okay. I notice I’m feeling a little defensive, and I don’t want to be. I really want to hear what you’re saying. Tell me more about what feels neglecting to you. Tell me more about what you’d like to see. How would you know I’m not neglecting you? What kinds of things would I be doing? Saying, what kinds of things would we be doing? Right. Find out what the target is, what you’ll often find. I get this a lot. Is that because I’m saying, well, I’m not neglecting you because I’m doing all these things, but that’s not what my partner thinks. That’s not what registers for them as what they’re needing. So it doesn’t matter. I can cook dinner every day. Like for Gary, cooking dinner for him doesn’t mean anything.

It really doesn’t. It’s not important to him. It’s important to me. It’s how I feel good taking care of my family, but it’s not what he would need. So when you ask, you get to hear, and you really want to help people get there. You really want to encourage them to give you real not what not to do, but what to do. Well, stop nagging me so much. Does that mean I can still nag you? Just not so much? I don’t know how to not nag or nag less. I don’t even know what that looks like. Tell me more. Would you like again, try not to make suggestions. Try to ask. Tell me more. What does that mean? If I’m not nagging you, what am I doing? Help them. People tend towards the negative, tend towards what they’re mad about. And really, if your partner comes to you and says, I feel neglected, they’re feeling they think about it. When you feel neglected. You feel alone. You feel rejected. You feel scared. You feel kind of hopeless because you can’t seem to do anything about it. So that’s how that person feels, this person you love.

So let’s talk about that. Even ask, what are you feeling right now as you tell me this? What else are you feeling in our relationship? And by the way, is there anything good you’re feeling? Tell me anything I’m doing right when I do things right when you don’t feel neglected, what am I doing? You know what I mean? Get good at that. It’s okay. But if you’re not aware and if you’re not mindful, you won’t do any of that. And that will devolve into a nasty argument where you feel more and more apart instead of more and more together. So that would be my first class and followed closely by this class about asking questions and really focusing on what I call collaborative questions. Tell me more about this when I do this. Give me examples of that, but from a curious place, not from a well, tell me exactly when I do that. I don’t remember that. Tell me when I do it’s.

Jellis Vaes
More of an excusing kind of way.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Exactly. So really be really again when you’re mindful and self aware, you’re in your body, noticing that you feel scared, noticing that you don’t feel like enough, noticing that you feel overwhelmed. And by the way, don’t rebut. Well, you don’t do it to me either. That stuff. It’s like, we can talk about you later, but right now, we’re right here. Right now. We’re doing this right here. So those would be my, I think, almost all the classes. I mean, all the rest of communication rests on that. And really, the very bottom line is coming from love, not fear. You got to get yourself into a place where you feel calm and loving and kind. It’s funny in parenting literature, they say it a lot, don’t punish your kids when you’re angry. You’ll hear that? Even non parents usually have heard that. Like, don’t punish your kids when you’re angry because you get crazy. But for some reason in love relationships, we don’t say that, and we should.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, right.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Don’t come at your person when you’re angry.

Jellis Vaes
But what do you do then? Do you go away? Do you take a moment to come to yourself? Like, what is the suggestion?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yes, you do on your own. My book is called Be Happily Married even if Your Partner won’t do a thing, because that’s the point. You being different creates something different in the relationship. But you have to do some preemptive work. Work on yourself first. I say a lot. Whoever’s in the most pain needs to change first, and anyone listening is the one in the most pain. Your partner. And you might look and think, well, they’re in a lot of pain. They’re not working. They’re not doing what I it’s like, no, they’re not. They’re fine. They’re not listening to every workshop. They can listen to or listening to 90 podcasts and reading 40 books. They don’t have 40 books on their nightstand. You’re in pain. You’re the one who’s in the pain. So you’re going to need to change first. And once you get that shift, like, this is about me, not them. Because you can be happy in any situation. That’s always your choice. Your partner’s job is not to make you happy. Your job is to be happy despite I think I heard it from Deepak Chopra, but I’m not sure if it’s his line. He says, happiness is always for a reason. Joy is happiness for no reason.

Jellis Vaes
That’s nice.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
So good. I know. I wish I said that because we think our partners make us happy or something outside of us makes us happy. But that’s the point. It needs to come internally. We need to be okay in ourselves. And yeah, it’s wonderful when things are good, of course. And I think all of us get a little off track when things don’t feel good. But to get fully off track and to blame other people for our unhappiness is the problem it comes back to. And then the next class I would give would be on boundaries.

Jellis Vaes
On boundaries? Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s poor boundaries. Yeah, it’s huge. It’s everything. My next book is on boundaries. It’s everything. Most people have poor boundaries and then they don’t hold their boundaries and then they’re mad at other people for not holding their boundaries. And it’s like, you won’t even hold your boundaries. Why should you expect someone else to hold your boundaries? That is your job, not theirs. It’s nice when people honor our boundaries, but I hear people, well, they won’t respect my boundaries. They’re trampling my boundaries. It’s like, but you’re not holding it like if I had a fence and a bunch of cows on the other side and I said, oh, the cows keep trampling the fence, what would I do? I’d make a better fence. I wouldn’t try to train the cows. I wouldn’t try to train 2000 cows not to come across a line. Right. That would take a long time. Right. I’m going to train this thing on the other side. Not to do it somehow. Just build a better fence. Not a wall. There’s no walls keeping cows out, right? You never see walls around farms. You see fences that you can see through. So don’t build a wall.

Build a fence, build a boundary. Build something that you can stick to. And I always say a boundary is not really a boundary unless you have some way you enforce it. So when people say their boundaries, they’ll often say, well, respect, someone needs to respect me. I’m like, okay, that’s not a boundary. That’s a standard. That’s a standard you have. I deserve respect. What is your boundary around that? The boundary is the action that you. Will take if it’s not right. So if I’m in a conversation, someone’s not respecting me, my first thing is to tell them I’m going to say something. This is not respectful. I can’t stay in this conversation like this. Can you change your tone or you’re yelling? I don’t talk to people who are yelling at me. Right. And if they continued, I would do the next level. I would make the fence electrified. Now. I would walk away. I would leave the situation. I would do something. This really comes down. People act like victims. Oh, I’ve left the room, but he chases me out. Okay, then leave the house, then get in your car. This victim thing, I have zero tolerance for.

We are not victims in our lives. Nobody is. Unless you’re an indentured servant right now. I mean, literally getting Caldia will okay, everybody else, I don’t want to hear that crap. I have zero tolerance for it. Zero. You are not a victim in your life. This person is not doing something to you. There are things here for you to learn about yourself. Aren’t you lucky you’re getting this beautiful learning experience. I like that line from the Stoics. Life is happening for you, not to you.

Jellis Vaes
Yes.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Right? So what is here for me to learn? Like, wow, I got crappy boundaries. Because that’s from my childhood. Because that’s something I was taught. I’m supposed to say yes to everybody. I was taught that I was never I was supposed to people please. That’s what I was taught, so right. That’s always my hardest thing is that I people please too much and I don’t hold a boundary. But what happens for people is that they do this all the time. They’ll say, okay, here’s my boundary right here. Wait, I’ll give you so my daughter’s got a curfew, right? She’s a teenager. She calls at 10:00 this is a few weeks ago and says, can I come home at one instead of eleven? Because she’s telling me what they’re doing. Stupid me. Says, okay. Right. So see what happens here? So here’s my boundary, but I don’t hold it. No, your curfew is eleven. You got to come home at eleven. Certainly not. Why is it up for grabs at ten at night? That’s a mistake right there. What are you doing at 10:00? Right? So what happens is people collapse their boundary and they get nice.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
They’re like, oh, they’re being good. McCartney, my daughter, she’s been really good lately. I’m just going to let this I’m going to collapse this boundary a little, right? So was my daughter home at one? Take a guess.

Jellis Vaes
Properly not.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Yeah, of course not. She comes home later and then I’m furious, right? I let you have this. What I should have been saying is I collapsed my boundary for you. I was nice, and now you didn’t appreciate my niceness. So now I’m going to take my boundary all the way on the other side and I’m going to slam the door, right? You are punished the rest of your life. I’m taking your phone. I’m taking everything. I’m going to lock you in your room, right? This is when people block people. They cut them off. They say they never want to speak to them again. This is what people do. They go from one end of that boundary continuum to the other. Instead of holding the boundary, they think they’re being nice. And then the person doesn’t appreciate you enough for how wonderful you were. And you came early to help clean for the party even though you said you couldn’t. And then you got someone to babysit your kids and you changed your whole schedule around and you got there early to do this thing because they asked so nice and they really needed you, but then they didn’t appreciate it.

They didn’t say thank you or not enough or whatever. And now you’re so mad. I don’t ever want to talk to my mother again. I’m so sick of my mother. Next time I am not saying, yes, I’m done. This is what people do all the time, every day. This is on you. But you want to yell at your mother. I want to be mad at my daughter. I’m not saying these people don’t have responsibility in our lives, but we have the primary responsibility, right? We have the primary. And I’m not saying I would never let my daughter outpass to have a different curfew, but not at 10:00 at night. Our rule is very clear and we’d already had the rule and again, I broke it. There were times where there was something special and I talked to the parents and we set it up beforehand to have a later. They’re going to a show in the city. They’re not going to get back till this time. I’m like, okay, sure. It’s not like you can never change the rule. But I knew at 10:00 I was tired. She was begging me and I didn’t want her mad at me.

I didn’t want my teenage daughter mad at me. I knew she was going to have a little fit and I didn’t want to deal with it. So I did the not smart thing. I’m human too. I mean, this is just it. So that would be my next class for everybody. In relationships, you’ve got to create your bound, really create real boundaries where there’s a real I don’t want to say consequence because they’re not a punishment, but a real response when someone isn’t holding, when you feel like your boundary isn’t getting being held by another person.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. Well, those will be a fantastic year for people to actually follow classes from you.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Now I want to do that. I’m like, oh, dating, I’ll make a class.

Jellis Vaes
Because you had to leave like in about 20 minutes, right? Yeah. So there’s a whole bunch of more questions that I have, but I fear that we might have to do another round. Maybe at some point we can easily I’m happy too, so let’s see. Maybe I’ll ask maybe I’ll ask one.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Go ahead. You want to ask one more? Or I can give one more class that I think is really important.

Jellis Vaes
Otherwise, share me the one class, and then we can slowly round up the view.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
I would say the other thing I would say about people is when you make decisions with someone when you’re dating and as you’re dating and you’re making decisions, make sure that they’re not along a line. So usually it’s like, I’m here at A, you’re at B, and let’s say we disagree. And when you’re dating, it could be kind of nothing, but they can be bigger. Are we going to move in together? I don’t know if you’re married, should we send our kids to private school or not? Whatever. Right. You’re making decisions, and often people are at one pole or another. I say yes, you say no to whatever this thing is. And what happens is people try to negotiate along the line. They’re trying to convince the other person that their way to come to their side. And what happens is both people end up giving up more than they wanted. And we know from the research that in negotiations, both sides generally almost always think that they gave up more than the other side.

Jellis Vaes
That’s true. Yeah.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Right. So you end up with resentment even though you’re doing this thing that neither of you now wants. Okay. Isn’t that lovely? Yeah. This is the base of a great relationship. Yeah. So instead, I want you to think of relationships like decision making, like a triangle, where you’re at point A in the base of the triangle, right. And then along that line, your partner is at point B. Yeah. But you’re both trying to get to a point C at the top of the triangle.

Jellis Vaes
Okay.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s an idea neither of you has even maybe thought of before. And you might land on one of the quote unquote sides that one of you wanted to begin with. But because of the way that you’re discussing it, you’re brainstorming, you’re opening things up, and this is where all those questions come in. You ask a lot of questions like, let’s talk about are we going to move in or not together. What else could there be? What if we moved to another country? What if one of us went on a spiritual quest? What if just get crazy all the way. Things that this relationship could do or be or have. Right. Maybe we should do, like, a couple’s workshop, tantric workshop in India. Let’s go do that. Let’s see what we think after that. Anything. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s directly online with moving in or not, you’re opening the conversation to brand new horizons. And that is when two plus two equals ten. That’s when that synergy happens and that energy really starts to flow and you’re coming to a new place that neither of you has even really maybe thought of before or in this way.

And that is how you come up with better problem solving as a couple as opposed to along the line where it’s a constant battle. And again, the teams, the two different teams, opposite sides, that’s setting up that competition again and winning and losing. Well, we got to do what you wanted last week, so we need to do what I want this. And again, we’re right back to it. So there’s my other class. Go ahead.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, great. Abby, you shared so many incredible and wonderful pieces of advice about relationships. Like I said, I had more questions, but, yeah, maybe another round at some point. Yeah. Before we end this interview, I have one final end question that I like to ask all my guests. But before I ask that question, what is the best place for listeners to connect with you and to check out your work?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s really the website which I know you’ll link to, but it’s Abbeymedcalf.com.

Jellis Vaes
Okay.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
It’s just my… Abbymedcalf.com And that’s got everything. The blog, the podcast, social media, everything is linked there.

Jellis Vaes
your YouTube channel. Yeah, like you said, I will link it up for everyone listening in the show notes. So the final end question that I have for you, and you can make it as long or as short as you want from everything that you’ve seen, experienced, lift and learn in your life, what is the one thing you know to be true?

Dr. Abby Medcalf
That love always wins.

Jellis Vaes
I agree. Yeah. That’s beautifully said, and I 100% agree. Abby, thank you so much once again for this interview.

Dr. Abby Medcalf
Thank you for having me. You’re wonderful. It’s great talk.

Jellis Vaes
Thank you. And that includes my interview with Dr. Abby Medcalf. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, talking to her. And of course, I hope that you found some actual practical takeaways from the episode to help improve your romantic relationships. To find any resources Abby mentioned in the interview, such as her book ‘Be Happily Married, Even If Your Partner Won’t Do a Thing’ and her TEDx Talk ‘The Real Reason Relationships Fail’, take a look at these show notes which can be found in the description of this episode. There you can find them all linked up nicely, as well as links where you can follow Dr. Abby Metcalf. If you can’t find them there, simply go to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Abby with that. Thanks again for tuning in to The IPS Podcast, and I hope to welcome you again soon on another episode, another journey here on The IPS Podcast. This is your host, Jellis Vaes, signing off.

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Before you take off, if you already feel like you’ve gained many lessons and insights from this episode and you want to continue your journey of personal growth, be sure to take a look at The IPS Academy, where we offer in depth, quality and fun online courses from experts that have appeared here on the podcast. Learn from a two time world record holder how to master goal setting and confidence. Learn from a certified stress educator how to manage your stress and live a more balanced life. Learn from a therapist how to heal past wounds. And learn from a neuroscientist to master your mindset. These are but some of the course topics you can find at The IPS Academy. Each course we offer is made with fun animations and stunning illustrations. There are also a few lessons to try for free so you can get a taste of what the course is like. We have countless reviews from other students so you can see what others think. And last but not least, there is a 30 day money back guarantee if you end up not liking the course. If any of this sounds interesting to you, you can check out our courses by going to TheIPSProject.com/academy or by clicking on the link in the description of this episode.

If you feel that you’ve gained some insights and lessons from this interview, and you are curious to see what else we offer at The IPS Project, check out The IPS Academy, where we offer online courses taught by guests here on The IPS Podcast.

Learn more about essential life topics, such as mental health, relationships, the mind, and the body and the brain, through fun and interactive courses. Simply go to TheIPSProject.com/academy.

What is also interesting to note is that all the courses are quite affordable, as we at The IPS Project do not want money to stand in the way of bettering one’s life. Each course has a few lessons to try for free, so you get a taste of what the course is like.

We have countless reviews from other students so you can see what others think, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you end up not liking the course. Again, check them out at TheIPSProject.com/academy.

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