Dr Alexandra Solomon shares how to build loving and lasting relationships from her popular course at Northwestern University: Marriage 101. We discuss navigating conflict in relationships, the changing views of marriage, and how to develop healthy emotional and sexual intimacy.
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Season 7 Episode 22 Marriage 101
00:00:00 - 00:05:00
The Dateable podcast is an insider's look into modern dating that the Huffington post calls one of the top ten podcast about love and sex. On each episode, we'll talk to real daters about. From sex parties to sex droughts, date fails a diaper fetishes and first moves to first loves. I'm your host Yue Xu, former dating coach turned dating sociologists. You also hear from my co host and producer Julie Krafchick as we explored this crazy dateable world.
The dateable podcast features real stories from real people of how they make modern dating work or not your host you a former dating coach turned dating Insider boss will on each episode. You'll hear commentary from my producer Julie kraftchick and other surprised co-hosts. This episode of datable is brought to you by 500 brunches 500 brunches connect like-minded people with similar interests to meet in real life over brunch. You answer a quick question are about your interest and how you spend your time and then they'll match you in small groups of six to eight at a brunch spot in San Francisco get a free entry in 2 a brunch Now by signing up at five hundred branches and using the code date able. Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of datable a show all about modern dating. So we were invited to be on episode of KQED is the Forum place where Kate Julian from the Atlantic human to talk about an article. She recently published about this sex recession that we're in and in her article. She talks about how young people are having less sex than ever and there's like a sex drought going on but in this conversation that we had a very interesting topic was brought up where she mentioned that one of the most popular choices at Northwestern University is this course called marriage 101 taught by dr. Alexandra Solomon. So we thought we gotta get her on the phone. We gotta get her on an episode. This one here what this is all about because of the most popular course when I went to college was like computer science, right or like computer science 101, but people are much more interested in learning about marriage and how to log Main largest last which is great. I love hearing that so we have dr. Alexandra on the phone right now. Hi. Hi guys. Thanks for having me on this coming on. I'm going to give a little background of who you are. She is from Chicago. She's been there for twenty-three years originally from Detroit. She's married in her mid-forties and she specializes in sex love and intimate relationships for the last month or two years. She does individual and couples therapy. She teaches and trains graduate students to do couples therapy and teaches a globally-recognized undergraduate relationship course at Northwestern University. She currently writes and presents to a wide variety of audiences and it's a huge love nerd. I've never heard of flame loevner. I love it. I want to be a love nerd and likes to turn other people into love nerds as well. Okay. There we go. We will learn about how to be love nerds ourselves. So let's first start with e Talking about this course marriage 101. What do you think it is about this course that makes us so popular. I think that the topic is inherently curiosity provoking, right? And we spend the entire quarter talking about attraction dating sex intimacy commitment marriage conflicts. Like it's pretty hard to resist Offspring. It'll be the 19th time. The class has been taught. So it's something that has been refined over many years and it's a hard complicated class to pull off but I'm teaching assistants and I work hard to make a really meaningful emotionally evocative thought-provoking experience for the students. I find this so fascinating cuz we always say that you should never learn these types of skills. Yeah, like school and education. They don't teach you how to communicate with others and you have relationships and build relationships. I feel like college prepares you conceptually birth. Workplace and in life, but then it pushes you out into the real world and you have no idea what to do like in terms of your human relationship. So yeah, how did this course even get created? Okay, so it got created when back when I was still a graduate student and two of my mentors and teachers aren't Nielson and Bill pins off who are couples like long-time couples therapist. We're feeling disturbed by the fact that they would spend hours and hours in their offices working with miserable couple after unhappy couple after discouraged couple and they started to think like, could we because there any way to prevent this like what if we taught people how to do love like before they even had chosen their life partner and what would that look like? What would what would we want them to know to a team got together and kind of just like create this class from the ground up, you know, we have a really solid body of relationship science available to us. So in the course, we we have together science clinical Very narrative and then a ton of self-exploration because there's actually a ton of skills and background and paradigms that if you know them and understand them you could just be more successful in love.
00:05:01 - 00:10:01
I was a graduate student. I was involved from the beginning as a teaching assistant and a guest lecturer and then maybe like eight or nine years ago. The class is sort of passed on to me and it's been really fun to kind of like make it my baby ever since I'm guessing it's pretty Dynamic content cuz it's probably changing all the time. So, how do you come up with your syllabus? It class is called marriage 101. It's a little bit of a misnomer because we really are also working on like it could be called hookup culture 101 sex 101. That's why it's so popular. Yeah college students. Yeah, because that's happened over twenty years, you know every once in a while. We still will have some engaged students but twenty years ago. We first started we had more engaged students. So the biggest you know, the modern dating landscape is you to know very well. It's pretty different wage. Watch our students parents and certainly with their grandparents dealt with so I really backed it up and we really start now with like, okay, let's break down hookup culture and let's break down dating apps and let's talk about what a good break up looks like and so we're sort of filling in some of the I'm a Gen-X person and my students don't get any older. You know, I come back through the class year after year and the distance between my walk in their world kind of grows. So I work really hard to try to stay as close as I can to their experiences and bring wisdom and experience but also compassion because it's really tricky. I think the biggest thing we're all trying to get our heads around is is the impact of technology and what that does to our human relationships. What is so one take away from that. Well, I think the one takeaway is when it comes to love and sex and hooking up you gotta Kick It Old School. Like I always think about love as like this sort of like entity like hanging off to the side like laughing at all of us who think we can get super clever and use technology. You to do something that is really about like how somebody moves their body and how somebody smells and what you feel like in the space, you know between you and them and so a dating app can be used I think to find somebody but then as quick as possible, you've got to go from screen to screen to face to face and just like let the magic and mystery and pull of Attraction can take you in right you've got to figure that out face-to-face and we can't like technology our way through love. I think the reason they're lots of reasons we try to do that, right? Cuz when Love Goes poorly it hurts like hell so the desire to be clever and cut Corners is so understandable. And so futile. I feel like a problem. We keep hearing on our show is that people don't give you each other enough time because there's that Paradox of choice they feel like if I'm not clicking with this person in five minutes of meeting them. I can just swipe for the next choice. Is that something you also address it totally is I've had students job. Did any like God forbid you get stuck with like an entree between you and this person? Yeah, right, but when we think about the thing that I'm always inviting and challenging are still need to do is kind of flip the lens and imagine what it feels like somebody else would decide that quickly about you. That's the big concept that drives the class and drives. I wrote a book a year and half ago that kind of addresses this it's this idea called relational self-awareness, which is a more important framework than ever what happens when we spoke as we think I just have to find the right person and then that mentality can come into a first date where we think I'm going to sit down and I'm going to you know, I can decide really quickly whether there for me or not for me and Mom that gets lost is looking at how we are showing up. Like what's the energy that we are bringing in to that date? How are we being experienced by the other person so we get into this sort of job? Consumer mentality, you know and so I think for sure attraction and chemistry they take time to unfold like you can't see my best self my deepest sell my mom, quirky fun funky self right away like that stuff takes a while for me to be able to kind of reveal and unfold and so I think that's a bit of a dangerous mind set and I do see that yes, very commonly, but it's also just about it's that exercising empathy and knowing that you're meeting a new human being who's going through their own journey. And sometimes I forget that you're right about this like consumer culture that were in is kind of like shopping on Amazon shopping for people. If this is not the product I want I'm going to look for something better with better reviews when we'd all deserve time to uncover who are many layers are so we actually have another guest a while back that asked the question like do Millennials actually even want to find a job. Of like are they willing to put in the work of a relationship kids are Generations have done? What are your thoughts on talking to students? Oh, I I don't have a doubt in the world that that may be of Millennials want to find love? Okay.
00:10:01 - 00:15:01
I think I think there there's a fear that they can't and there's a cynicism that sets in and there's a really deep I think oftentimes like lack of trust in their own resilience and there is a massive skill deficit but I don't have a doubt in the world that what people that people really do long for just that the sort of companionship a, c like journeying through life together. I don't I see that very commonly. I think there's a lot of longing and desire for that just it's just feels fraught complicated and hard which is loaded. So you think people there's more fear than on desire. Yes. So what are the skills that Millennials are lacking? I am always also super careful to not I'm not trying to come down at all on Millennials because I don't know that my generation of the Dead. Above me and figured it out any better. That's true. Cuz there's different challenges. Yeah different challenges and this whole this whole element of choice, like there's such an opportunity now to really kind of like buffet-style pick and choose what you want and what you don't want. So the degrees of freedom about what it is to construct a relationship. There are more of those it's not just sort of like like a plug and chug like a person in there and of course, you know partner a does this and partner B, does this there's a sort of like crafting from the ground up of do we want them to do we want this to do want monogamy not monogamy. Do we want. We live in the same place a separate places like all these different variables that are so cool because when you do create something that feels super authentic and super aligned it's something that's strong and Hardy and exciting but it just means that you have to have the skill of relational self-awareness which is like being able to basically look at what the relationship is stirring up in you right off. And feeling whatever I'm feeling trapped, I'm feeling afraid of losing myself. I'm feeling afraid of and a lot of times very often. What we what stirs in us in a romantic relationship is stuff from our passage stuff from my childhood stuff from the love. We saw growing up problems that our parents had that were terrified to repeat all that stuff comes up. And so we've gotta be able to like them to work with it. When it it's not problem if that stuff comes up cuz it's going to come up. It's just like can you work with it within yourself? And with that person that you're dating and how do you work with your students to come up with these issues that they may uncover pretty directly. I mean the major one of the major assignments for the class is that they go talk to basically like they're attachment figures, you know, the wage who raised them their Elders oftentimes parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles they're becoming ethnographers like trying to understand their own family system. And like how did my family do love him? My family handle emotions, cuz the more you understand the internal map that you bring into everything like from like the first date really expectations about gender expectations about touch expectations about how you navigate difference. All that stuff is there and so that assignment in particular is one where that's how you become a love nerd is you like change your life is just like infinitely Curious Thing like oh my gosh. Now where did I where did that belief of mine come from this you know, because anytime you're in therapy it usually Roots down to your attachment Styles, right and that usually comes down to family and the way you were raised or seen love in other instances show up exactly. And so once you uncover the for lack of better word of these issues, what do you do with them? I mean it really I think one thing is you accept that it's the work of a lifetime. So I'm in year. Let's see my husband. And I celebrated our twenty year anniversary in August. Congratulations. Thank you. We've been together since College how and we'll have a moment where I get triggered by something. He he's done and my knee-jerk reaction is to make it about him. What kind of a person does that how do you not know by now that that is a bad silly wrong disappointing? And so the question is can I pause take a breath and sort of like hold up a mirror and wonder like, okay. So what is it if I'm feeling critical of him what's going on inside of me? What's the unmet need? What's the longing? And how can I bring my concern to him in a way that Advocates from myself without putting him down. So what's an example it could you walk through like how you would say it how you spin it Julie and I are both like taking notes frantically like your students. Tell us right. Right, right. Yep. It's really awesome. Like whenever Todd and I have a fight I can pretty mean you know, when it's like super wrong. I can't bring it into the classroom. But I pretty quickly bring it into the classroom and okay. So here's what I you know, and it's always a learning experience like okay. I got another piece of this like really wild puzzle.
00:15:01 - 00:20:00
That is my relationship with this man you feel about that. I know he doesn't really know any other way back together. So darn long, he doesn't know any other way. So what's an example? Yeah. Let's say like I thought he ought to have done something and he didn't do it. I would feel inside of myself like a desire to let him know that like that's wrong and and I might even make it to like it feels like you don't even care about me or don't you see how busy I am. That's a very common one off a slip into don't you see how busy I am if I approached him like that. It's going to invite him to put his defenses up. Yeah, but you didn't, you know, you didn't tell me it was important or job. That you didn't do these four things that I asked you to do, right? So attack invites defense vs. If I could pause and just kind of like very often from what I have learned that myself is that if I become critical of him is because I'm somehow feeling guilty or something on a shame about what's going on in in my part of the relationship and often for me. It's a story about you know, I'm I I've got teenagers and I've got this like really busy career that I adore and so I'm more likely to be critical of him. If I've been having one of those days where all day long I've been kind of like critical of myself wage. You didn't get an Instagram post up today or you forgot to do something for the kids or you know, you didn't go to the gym this morning, whatever it is if I get if I'm getting lost in my own self critical story. I am much more likely to be critical of him interesting. So if I can pause and kind of like send myself some love like put my hand on my heart like song Have some love that will help me. It doesn't mean then that I take my concern off the table, but it but it means I say to him honey. I'm having a really hard time. Like I'm so disappointed of this, you know didn't get done. I'm having a really hard time and that's going to invite him to be more sympathetic. Yep towards my plight in the world and feel more like a partner. So what we want to do about it. Okay, let's let's figure out what we're going to do from here some more of a team effort in this relationship. Yeah. So what is the secret to a long-lasting marriage? It's a finding the right partner or knowing just how to communicate with your partner the thing we know with all this relationship science. There's no such thing as a conflict-free relationship think about all the romantic comedies that we've ever seen in our lives. They sort of end, you know with the sort of like walking off into the sunset and we don't get to see the real years down the road. Yeah. I think this is this time After the online dating is then lowers our frustration tolerance and we think the moment that there is one of those like pain points misunderstandings disappointment. The knee-jerk is just go back into the pool and find somebody else with the idea that it wouldn't that bad thing wouldn't happen. If I was with the right person, right? Yeah. Certainly there are things we ought not tolerate nobody ought to tolerate, you know, elect abuse violent. Certainly. Yeah. I'm not talking about those things. But when there's that moment of friction or misunderstanding, yep, the most successful couples are able to kind of navigate it with a sense of like, what are we going to learn from this and how can I use this to more deeply understand you and how can you more deeply understand me and how can I more deeply understand myself? So that's that's the wrong attitude that leads to a long and happy marriage. So you talked earlier that you believe that the younger generation Millennials really do want to find love and you also talked to the point that birth The way people approach relationships is more like based off. Your own needs opposed to like a set script that has been in the past. How do you think people feel about marriage do you think views have changed over the last ten years? I do and it's complicated. Some of it has to do something has to do with really big macro factors down our economy. I think in order to imagine being a married person and pulling off the kind of interdependence and resource commingling that's required of marriage. You have to feel like you can stand on your own two feet and that you can lean on somebody else and I think that we've got, you know with like with massive college debt and systemic inequalities that seemed to be only getting worse and worse and really big divide between Haves and Have Nots I think cultures countries governments have a responsibility to create policies that people can support themselves and imagine like wage And themselves to somebody else's wagons. So I think that any conversation about like what's happening to the institution of marriage has to always be put in that bigger framework of what's happening around social policy really sucks. Yeah interesting. I never thought about it.
00:20:00 - 00:25:28
That way. I have not either. I think there's been a lot of like discussions of people feel like it's like kind of outdated like the laws and all of that. Peace. Like I've never heard the pollen the end which is interesting if you had to make a prediction for ten years from now, do you think there would be more people getting married or less people getting married? It's so interesting. I don't know. I mean the trend line is certainly going towards less people getting married. But what I would love to see is us really creating family-friendly policies in this country and moving towards like I'm creating more even playing field for everybody and creating more inclusive cultures or lgbtq + people feel as woven into the fabric of everything as heterosexual people do home. So if we can sort of like course correct around some of that I think that marriage then becomes something really like beautiful and things that people get something that people can feel proud of and that it is there's to create in a way that feels good to them like but we've got to be inclusive about what that looks like, like what a family looks like and be able to like make policies that that family can feel really good about and that they are supported and held by their wage. So if we can do that then I think for sure marriage will start to like go back up again people will feel more optimistic and more hopeful about what's possible. Well, let's bring up the opposite end of this because some would argue that marriage is actually not a natural structure for us and it's a product religion or a product of fitting into of the way our economy Works. How do you feel about marriage? Is it is it something that's that we should accept as a natural course of human behavior. It's time to take a quick break so we can tell you about our current sponsor audible. What would it look like if we're dead? Listen more listening to audiobooks inspires us motivates us even brings us closer and there's no better place to listen than audible. We love listening to one of our favorite books from our past guests bouncing Perry called available A Memoir of heartbreak book of love and brunch hearing Madison's voice. Tell the story made it even more relatable comical and endearing and now is the time to get that audible membership for either yourself or someone on your list as it's that time of year when everyone is thinking about thoughtful gifts right now for a limited time, you can get 3 months of audible for just $6,000 a month. That's more than half off the regular price go to audible.com or text to the number of 500 500 today. Again, that's a u d i b l e 250 500 to get started off. Out back to the show. How do you feel about marriage? Is it is it something that's that we should accept as a natural course of human behavior. I kind of like bypass this whole is it natural and not natural but I do think that when people are talking about that what they're often talking about is sexual monogamy, we have historically tied together marriage and sexual monogamy. Those are one in the same and I think what's really interesting and important in life. I have had Millennials really pushed. My thinking is around like why would we why do we choose sexual monogamy and what are the consequences of that? So I would say in the last five years or so I had become much more intentional about saying that part of part of building a relationship with somebody like a new couple. Is there kind of figuring out okay. We're going to be a couple and what does it look like there has to be a conversation around sexual monogamy oftentimes. It is sort of assumed that it's the knee-jerk natural of course is what we're doing and that is a set up for 7 a.m. Boredom for infidelity for boundary violation versus a couple who is courageous enough to have a conversation about what is sexual monogamy mean to you. Are we choosing this month if for choosing it? What are we going to do to keep our sexual relationship really alive and dynamic and how will we ride the inevitable Ebbs and flows of sexual desire think the more we can start to put those conversations into voice and have people not be scared. Like I think it feels like that conversation feels like it's piercing this bubble that is romanticism change and I think in fact the conversations like that are incredibly romantic because they're like, what are we going to do? Like, how are we going to take care of ourselves and each other and what are we going to do about the fact that we're going to be having sex with only each other for a really long time. What's it going to look like for us? Well, we you know, so I love those conversations. I'm all about supporting people having those conversations. What about the conversation of someone who doesn't really believe in marriage birth? Who really wants it some you know, the people who really don't believe in marriage would say what's the point? Why can't we just be together forever not have that certificate and not have the recognized by law thought about that. I would be so curious to have a conversation with them about where how do they come to that belief? And and what are the experiences in that person's life that Feed and Fuel That belief and is it is a truly authentic belief system than I think they're I think it ought to be respected but I think oftentimes a belief system like that forms from a place of fear year and from a place of seeing people in your family, really really really screw up on Marriage.
00:25:28 - 00:30:15
Yeah, so it's often it's often times. What happens is when our parent when we see a really painful thing in the generation above us, we course-correct to a hundred and eighty degrees, which is really understandable. But what it omits is all of these Shades of Grey that are in between repetition and yep. Total opposition that's super interesting cuz I think one of the reasons to why people are getting married later and really trying to like hold out for that like by lack of a better term perfect partner, which is like what you brought up earlier to about like the first sign of things not working seeing if there's someone better is because our generation before us there was such a rise in divorce. Do you have any thoughts about how that affected this generation? Yes. Oh my gosh. So many thoughts about it. You're told. Yes, you're totally spot on the thing that I would say is that, you know, I'm the product of divorce my parents were divorced and remarried and and so yes being from a family like that does increase your chances yourself of getting divorced but it also means that you had like massive invitation to heal and learn and grow and and then in some ways people like that who do their work end up being far more safe bets to marry than somebody else. Who just kind of has their head in the clouds and this like super romantic idea that I really picked the right person and you you know Trot off into the sunset. So there's there's data from Harvard from a couple of years ago that shows that about 20% of young adults eighteen to twenty-five. Wish their parents had talked to them more about love and sex and relationship and marriage is a massive massive area of silence and families often times see parents silencing themselves if they went through a divorce and they're wound then becomes I can't do love I'm a failure at love. And so I love when I have the chance to work with those parents and talk about what might you want to share and how could you just rather than giving advice just make space to kind of stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your young adult and talk about all of it without a need to save do this or don't do this or don't be like me or any of that stuff. It could just be like, yeah, it's hard and here's the things I've learned and tell me what you're going through. And what does it look like for you? And what skills the hardest job? What feels most confusing that's such important healing and going back to the example of two people in a relationship one person really believes in marriage. The other one doesn't how would you address the other person who really believes in marriage and part of what we've heard from people from doing our show is that they you know, you almost have to question those people even more cuz a lot of people are just born with idea of marriage is the is their choice or is the only choice they have to because it's expected socially and culturally. So how would you address that person in helping them untangle what is actually socially constructed versus what they actually consciously choose. Well, yeah that I mean that's a beautiful way right there is just yeah, so I think I think I mean I'm obviously get a huge advocate for couples therapy and my students often laugh at like the biggest thing they got out of the class is like they're now in therapy dog. Really? Yeah, which I frankly feel pretty good about. I think we still have I think we've done a nice job reducing the stigma for individual therapy. But I think we have a long ways to go reduce the stigma for couples therapy and often times couples wait an average of 6 years before from the moment. They know they need help till they actually get help and I will tell you if somebody who's been doing therapy for a long time. It is so much harder to disentangle patterns that have been around for years and years and years. So when I have a chance to work with a young couple, I'm super excited and so I would love to work with a couple like this and I imagine a conversation with a couple like this goes something like this. If you love me, you wouldn't expect me to marry, you know, but if you loved me you would just get over your fear of marriage and marry me write their version of Push Pull and pain around you must not love me because you don't understand how important this is for me. And so it's through couples therapy. Can kind of find the threads and for the person who is right hell-bent that marriage is the only way I want to understand for them what that's about and very often it's this idea that I'm afraid of being afraid of being abandoned and so my idea is if we get married you could never leave me and so there's this like sort of false equating of marriage and safety a promise ring would never be left behind, you know, see that so another area that's changed.
00:30:15 - 00:35:02
I feel like dramatically is children. Like I think the generation before is almost expected if you got married you had children, what are your thoughts on that? I have noticed that just again like in the last five years. I have lots of I have more graduate students than I would have had ten years ago. I have more graduate students these days who say they're twenty-five twenty-six and you say like, I just know that I don't want to be a parent and that's different for me than you know, ten years ago or fifteen years ago knowing graduate students where they probably wouldn't have been as clears. Something they just don't Envision for their lives. I mean, I think a part of a ties what we were saying before like at least in the US, we're really lousy at supporting families with little kids. And so I think this generation thought their parents like Grambling to balance family and career and doing all kinds of I mean working really challenging shifts and making really elaborate Arrangements am not feeling like there was just it was really hard to get all the needs met. And so I cannot really imagine I can really imagine empathize with that sense of like I saw how hard every day at work and I don't know that I can do that and I don't think we're making much progress in that area around family family friendly policies. And until we do it's hard to blame people for not wanting to become parents. Well, I think there's a perception to that you're like giving up your own self if yeah, if sacrificing like what are your thoughts on that? I know well, I'm super biased because I feel like it cannot even imagine my life without my kids. I'm So glad that I'm a mom and I know I know that I have to breathe like take a deep breath again and again when I cuz if I get out of my lane and I start looking at other people in my field either who don't have kids or whose kids are grown or who had different, you know, I'm primary caregiver and my family system. So I know the ways in which my career is different and is smaller and is not as like quote unquote. I'm not as like far along as I would have been if either I wasn't the primary parent or if we hadn't have had kids so long I start to walk down that road of like imagining what if and what would be different. I just stopped because I stop and get focused again on like the beauty and Bounty of My Life Choices, you know, so I do think yes, it is definitely having kids requires a really different arranging of priorities and my gosh my I learned more from birth. I'm learning more from my kids than they will ever learn from me. Like they have taught me so much about patience and sacrifice and compromise and love so it's not a not a thing that I would bring it in and I think also there again like if it's a choice that is truly deeply aligned like I do not envision myself as a parent. I don't want that that's very different than somebody who maybe feels really afraid because they had super painful traumatic experiences as a kid for those people. I would want them to have a chance to do therapy and kind of reassess. Is it a choice being made from a place of alignment birth of a choice being made from a place of fear and wound. So if you had to give a very quick breakdown of everything you cover in your class for let's say a potential new students. What would that look like? What would someone take away from your course? Like well, they they would take away kind of an understanding of the Modern Love landscape and song. How it's different today that was before and how it's different today than in other parts of the world. So we kind of begin with like this ten thousand foot view. We spend a lot of time talking about sex and I feel like a lot of what I do is walk around out really really incomplete sex education because sex education our country is really pretty deeply inadequate and often times gaps have been filled in by pornography. So yeah we spend time talking about how do you come to know who you are sexually and where your boundaries are and what pleasure is like for you and how do you know that? How do you ask for that? We talk about conflict how to fight fair. How do you make an apology? How do you forgive we talked about expected challenges of relationship? Like what it is to create a home with somebody and some of the challenges wage there we talk we talk a lot about what happens when love Bridges cultural difference. What is it to be you know a white mid Westerner who marries somebody who is fog? Duration from Pakistan what happens there? And how do you work with your family systems and ways in which they're getting triggered what happens if you are, you know from a really wealthy family and you marry somebody where where they're really really really blue collar.
00:35:02 - 00:40:03
That's one of the biggest cultural differences that we don't talk nearly enough about is how socioeconomic difference shows up in an intimate relationship with each student's leave with a lot more language and Frameworks for how to face the challenges of love like it's not about making the challenges go away. It's just about making people stronger to be off that face the complexity. You know, I'm just so mad that I'm the age. I know and I did not have this opportunity to learn this in college because you know, I talked to a twenty-year-old the other day and she said, you know what? I don't understand about our education system. Is that for example in math? They teach you a structure and a framework for problem solving. Yeah give you a formula song. And you plug and chug and that's how you do math problems, but for sex education, it's all driven by fear and panic winces. And so she said something so fascinating. She said when I lost my virginity I realized I was only taught about safe sex, but not how to enjoy sex. Oh, it was mind-blowing for me cuz I thought how did I learn to enjoy life? I guess through pornography cuz where else would you turn to do that and then the pornography enjoyment of sex is totally different than when everybody experience or dating its like you learn these really terrible dating books that have been out there. Yeah, which is like the rules and like ship it's like not communicative at all. Basically, if you're not sent opposite of your entire life probably was yeah. So that was why that was the point I got to when I wrote loving Bradley was loving bravely as a book that is sort of like in response to the rules and the advice about dating and it's much more time. Inside out how to become, you know, somebody who knows how to navigate the dating World from the inside out not because you would like learn the rules in the structure and I'm now working on a second book and maybe we'll reconvene when that one comes out about which is all about sex because that's another I mean that story about the twenty-year-old losing her virginity is that's the reason that I'm writing. This book is dead. Yeah, they are that we do a really good job teaching people to be afraid of sex and associating sex with danger disease risk in sin. And the thing that we know from the data is that the quality of a couple sexual relationship has a really big impact on their overall relational health and happiness. Yes, where do people go to kind of have like adult sex education. So this is the book I'm working nowadays so fun and so like emotional for me. I cannot even wait for it to come I can definitely when you do this. Yes, please let us know which is really it's so long. Fascinating though cuz it's like like all the rules. It's like teaching you like a formula that does not work like across-the-board. Yeah, it's not for real life. It's for temporary. It's like it's a game and it's like being somewhat and like getting the upper hand. It's like how to be a scam. Basically. Yeah, and it does not and basically it reinforces the the idea that I don't know anything. So I'll need your system in order to be okay versus helping people just really be able to trust themselves. Yep. And it also reinforces the fact that like if someone did something wrong the next person out there. It's just not the right fit. There's right people out there because they don't they're not responding exactly how you want them to write. So if we're not undergrad students at Northwestern do you take their course, That's right. Well, I certainly have a lot of I've got a YouTube channel and I have an Instagram feed and blogs. I'm Psychology today and off. Books and so there's lots of ways in which the lessons from the course are, you know are out there in the world. There's lots of ways to kind of keep in touch and go a little deeper and some of these topics with them and give us your website. Dr. Alexandra Solomon, Yeah will link it as well. Let's definitely do some take away as well take ways of Julie and I have not to take away from the fact my biggest take away from this and I've been dealing with this for a while is accepting the fact that someone else is actions are just actions. Yes and my mind and my brain is just processes that action into a feeling for myself. So take that moment to set back and say why am I feeling bad way versus why is this person doing? Yep is huge? Cuz that's how my parents used to fight. It's pointing finger. Yes. That's what I grew up with that. He'll mention my family's has always been that's what I witnessed, but it off Me 37 years to realize that this is not the the most productive way of. Yeah. So unraveling those thirty-seven years of of witnessing that page and taking the time and effort to just pause is has been really great for me.
00:40:03 - 00:45:02
But also the most challenging things. Yeah. It takes a lot of effort. I think my biggest takeaway is a statement that you said that relationship has conflicts and like you just have to work through the conflicts and it's how to do that opposed to trying to find this dream relationship. That is completely Catholic free cuz I just doesn't exist. So I think like there is definitely that notion especially with the abundance of choice that's out there right now with apps, but I think it's doubling down and really just making it work with someone that supposed to like always looking for the next option. That's really not going to ever result in a perfect relationship either. That's right. I feel like what I really enjoy with my partner is talking about Out or past and not just like relationships. But also, how are you brought up? Yeah, how did your parents show love to Jazz and be loved nerds that you would call them because it really helps to understand how someone defines you have relationship with that involves what love is and how they like to receive it and these are the conversations we never thing but having cuz you just assumed everybody thinks the way the same way you do which is not the case. All of us are so different and it's been eye-opening to have these conversations with everybody. I've met because you start to realize that love is defined in so many different ways. Yeah. I mean this generation I think the one part that's really amazing about us finding love you could set your own rules. Like it's not like this page like this is what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to get married. I'm supposed to have kids like if that's what you want to do great and if it's not what you want to do, that's also great. Like there's like different things that work for different couples wage. Definitely way is so to wrap things up. What piece of advice would you give to people who are trying to figure out what they're looking for? Cuz this is a one thing Julie and I have really learned from all of our guests is that nobody really knows what they're looking for? So how do people get to at least a concrete idea of what they're looking for part of it is not letting go of the expectation that you have to know what it is you're looking for and just you know, the idea of mindfulness is so popular in the field of mental health right now. It's a well-researched wage concept. So I think that when we're in the dating World a lot big part of it is just to show up and just be really really present with this person and just rather than assessing evaluating future trippin, you know, the imaginings what's going to happen just be like let yourself really really dive into that present experience and so letting go home. Of the idea that you have to have chapter 13 figured out when you're only on chapter one. I think that's a really that would be my big piece of advice. So is this to purchase tickets? We've had other guests have other opinions of like having a set goal in mind i e marriage for example and kind of making sure that they're not putting all their eggs in one basket in like really making sure that they're driving to get to their goal of marriage whether that be like having multiple partners at once or dating around what are your take about the valence of your goals versus being Mindful and present in really letting the relationship unfold because right we all know it's hard to really get deep with a lot of people when you have work and friends and any other life a life basically wage, maybe it's so maybe it's the word goal that I'm struggling with. What about if it was I'm really open. I'm really open to intimate partnership. Like I do think I do think part of the challenge of hookups. Culture is people. I think women especially Sometimes women who date men can feel pressured that they have to act really chill and no drama and no expectation and so long I I guess maybe if what those thought leaders are thinking is helping women be like less apologetic or so. So I do I I'm not really Pro people just standing in their truth, which is yes. I really I'm super I'm really open to a relationship. So maybe it's a difference between openness and gold cuz I guess four-goal it again puts us in that energy of strategy plan and a little bit more like transactional consumer e but I am definitely supportive of of everybody men women and those who live beyond the gender binary being really comfortable with like, yeah. I I really do want to wake up on a Sunday morning next to somebody and just snuggle and I will not apologize for wanting to love and be loved I'm definitely down. That that is so refreshing to hear because you know on the app Bumble they have the section called looking for and you can choose relationship or marriage or if you don't know and I am hardly ever see anybody put marriage cuz I think people say yeah, it's like scary right now.
00:45:02 - 00:50:09
I'm looking for America. But if if they change the wording to open to yeah, I I'm open to these things off. Is there one or the other. What are the other then it makes a lot less daunting to say I'm open to be so that yeah exploring or open to like describing your dream relationship with mister like a relationship mirror like it's so that's so binary. Yeah, that's choices. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What about I'm open to I'm open to really sitting with you with my 100% full presence and getting to know you could just because that's where it starts from, right? Yeah. You know somebody and then everything else flows from there like I I've got intentionally, but I really like what you're about and I really like how how I feel dead. And I'm near you I really like that. Yeah, I really like that mentality too because like even if like, yes like marriage is what you want in the future when you're just meeting someone on Bumble. You don't get me wrong. I like who do you know who you are yet? I don't want to do what you just said. I wanted to sit there and get to know you. Yeah, and then you thinking then when you go to gender role socialization like we are, you know, really raise a generation of men who would say without apology. Absolutely. What I want is to be a husband and I felt like I think that there's there are ways in which we're kind of like stacking the deck against Iraq and because we've we've been quite shaming of men naming their vulnerabilities, you know, I have a I'm the mother of a teenage son who wants to read who's really interested in Reading Romance Books, you know, how hard to find a romance book with a male protagonist? It's like nearly 40 of possible. Yeah. I love this. I want to ask you before we wrap up one more gender-role question. I guess how have you seen dog? Shift with your younger students. I mean one thing is that the younger generation is their their reconceptualizing gender in ways that weren't possible a generation or two before right? So just walking around around being genderqueer and having different Notions of gender expression gender identity gender fluidity sexual fluidity. There's just a a pretty new interesting complicated Rich landscape young heterosexual gender Dynamics play out so powerfully around dating and so whenever somebody is stepping out with any kind of creativity stepping out of that like men are with them. Are it requires. It requires self-awareness. So often times my students who are lgbtq + are Miles Ahead of their straight peers around self-awareness and sexual awareness because they've just needed to be and my heterosexual students are often times. I think quite held back by the heavy heavy heavy gender expectation loadings that happen around heterosexuality. Do you find that like this Thursday? There's like as notion of like men having to like make the first move and pay and do all of that. You still see that? Oh my God. Yeah. I'm sure you guys get to oh, yeah. Yeah. No, I was just curious cuz it's like college student. So it's even like a generation below who were talking to so I was wondering if that was going away at all. Well the whole like asking people out on dates is tricky on college campuses that doesn't happen a whole lot. But the place I still showing up as a round-a-bout hookups where one of my students was telling me recently. She's a woman who hooks up hooks up with men and she was hooking up with a guy and they were you know, getting into it and she said to him. Can I talk to you a little bit about what gets me off and he was like really like flummox like, oh my gosh, no one's ever said that to me before because his script was he just needs and he knows what to do and he knows how to take care of himself and take care of her. And so she was in that moment busting up the script, you know and saying like listen. My pleasure is going to be Central and my pleasure is not going to come from birth. Penis to vagina intercorse. So I'd like to have a conversation about how I'm going to get myself some pleasure in this experience. It's been it's like that's revolutionary right that is bringing the, you know, feminist Revolution into the bedroom, which is where it is much much much needed. So one other last question around just the college students. You said they're not really asking each other on dates. Where do you see like the same thing and like dating culture going like in later generations? Well, I think that if we do relationship education, right it will come back around. So one of the assignments in my classroom as they need to ask somebody on a date nice amazing so good and it's and it really they just need a nudge like it's it just it's again. I think that fear of being awkward that fear of being perceived as drama or needy. It's really quite oppressive and so they just need there's just is a need to kind of like break through that and them People are able to kind of like ask for what they want, which is I'd like to have some time with you. I'd like to get to know you better. I want to hangout with you. I think that just wrap up. I think that is like one of the other practice takeaways on. This is like just putting out what you're looking for and not being so scared because if you really do scare someone away, they're not the right person, but you know what you're open to your loss.
00:50:09 - 00:54:24
Sure. Well, you're open to changing our language. You're like what you want in a relationship, huh? Yeah, definitely so good. I'm so getting a fix soon ID tomorrow. So I think about moving to Chicago and Northwestern my cousin does go to North Western. So I'm going to ask her if she's taking this class. Oh, yeah. I got it off. I'm going to suggest she gets in Toronto or we'll just take her spot. Yeah, we can go visit her for the weekend. We absolutely I said I always have I've got Mamas and Papas and journalists and all correct. People pop in on the class. So it's always fun and my door the doors are always open. We get a lecture hall bigger than what we need so that we can accommodate visitors awesome. So they're what is the waitlist look like you have anything around there? Yeah, it's not pretty it's it fills up. Yeah. That's my my least favorite day of the year is February 10th, cuz that's when registration opens. It feels quickly the waitlist fills. It's really hard to get into June the class. Yeah, just probably why you know, I've been writing books and doing all that other kind of stuff. So help the material get out there and other forms, but it's not a fun not a fun process. It's just so incredible because for one it is speaks to how great your classes but also to how much people are willing to learn about marriage and relationship mean this info but accepting the fact they Duniya that's great. That's so great to hear. Thank you so much. Dr. Alexandra Solomon for coming in our show. We looking forward to this episode for so long and it's just so refreshing. To hear you talk about marriage and relationships and this way I'm changing the way I speak about it and to speak to others about it. So this has been a really productive session. Can you just let us know what your website is again? It is. Dr. Alexandra salomon.com. All right for all of our listeners at home go on the website. There's so much knowledge to be learned. But also think about how you can apply to your everyday life instead of just learning the concepts, but we could have to apply and relationships in your life. Yeah in the relationship don't just swipe mindlessly home and we're also again I'm looking for guests on our show for future Seasons if you taken a marriage class before you want to share your experience, or if you've actually started with yourself to hear that as well definitely reach out to us. We would love to speak to you. Okay on that note. We're going to wrap this up dateable your action item for this week is to think about Your knee jerk reactions, you know those natural reactions you get when someone does something or says something next time pause you think about why you get this kind of reaction and how you can change the perspective of mindset. So you don't have these knee-jerk reactions. Next time this episode of datable is brought to you by 500 brunches 500 brunches connects like-minded people with similar interests. I took over brunch you answer a quick question are about your interest and how you spend your time and then they'll match you in small groups of six to eight at a brunch spot in San Francisco get a free entry in 2 a brunch Now by signing up at five hundred branches, and using the code date a bold. If you didn't know already, we have a revamped web site with articles videos and contacts all about modern dating. You can also find our premium y Series where we dissect analyze and offer solutions to some of the most common dating conundrums. We've had some great feedback about Actionable these episodes are so check them out on our website or iTunes music also visit the site today to see the latest about coaching where we connect you with dateable approved experts to help with everything from dating profile reviews coaching and even Gathering real feedback about your dating style in a personalized and affordable way to connect with us visit dateable podcast, You can also find us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram all under dateable podcast. Don't forget to subscribe and Auto download the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. So you never miss an episode.