Hello, dear listeners, I am a big, big fan of today's guest, Malcolm Gladwell, if you're not familiar with Mr. Gladwell, he is the host of the incredible podcast Revisionist History, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker. And those aren't even the things he's really known for. Malcolm is the author of several very influential and insightful books, including The Tipping Point Blank Outliers, David and Goliath and Talking to Strangers. I have to confess, I was a little nervous to talk with Malcolm, but he could not have been more fun or more fascinating.
Later in the episode, I'm joined by social psychologist, marriage and relationship expert Eli Finkel with some qualified advice for our listeners. Lastly, I want to thank you again for all the kind reviews and comments. It truly makes me so happy to hear from you to get in touch with us. Please look for the link at unqualified dotcom. I really want to talk with you. OK, you ready? Here's Malcolm.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to Unqualified with your host unifiers. Hey, good morning. Hi, Ana, how are you? Hi, great, how are you, Malcolm? I'm good. I'm good. Hey, I can't thank you enough for doing this at. Oh, that'll be fun. I hope so. I hope it's fun. So, Malcolm, first of all, where are you? Do you mind my asking?
I'm in upstate New York. Hudson Valley. You right.
So you work pretty much in solitude. What have you learned anything about yourself during quarantine?
My life has not been that much different than it was before because I was living up here largely most of the time anyway. And my routine is pretty much the same as it was. I don't travel as much as really the only difference in my life and we've been relatively unaffected up here, so it's been pretty normal.
Malcolm, I meant to start this interview out by complimenting you. You can start. All right. I will. I will. Well, I'm a huge fan of yours. I'm a huge fan of the subject of curiosity in general. And I love your podcast. I think I picked up TippingPoint years ago at an airport and it comforted me in a way, I think that was unexpected and which I think a lot of your work does, which maybe goes back to what I've learned a little bit about myself, which is embarrassing during quarantine.
I was very dismissive of Puzzler's before quarantine at that puzzling was an idiotic waste of time. You're putting pieces of cardboard together. I've completed maybe thirty six puzzles.
Oh wow. Yeah, you've gone puzzle nuts.
I comfort myself because it does feel like a complete waste of time that frustrates some of the people that I love. They're like, what? What are you doing wasting your time with all this? But I like to think my justification is that I'm trying to make order out of chaos. And that's a very simplistic way to sort of frame what you do. But I love how you connect to seemingly obscure random ideas and find patterns within them. Would you describe that as kind of an accurate assessment of Malcolm?
Can you put these in your own words? I'm simply an actor. People give me words usually.
I had my first acting experience a couple weeks ago. You did? I did a TV commercial with Kevin Hart, which was first of all, I will answer your question, but I wanted to go into society, so I did, knowing that acting and if you don't have anybody acting, you think it's easy. And then I was like, oh my God, it's really hard.
And I realized I might even I was like two percent towards understanding how hard it was. Like I got a little tiny glimpse of because I was across this table from Kevin Hart. You were in a shot together and you would do his bidding? I would do my bit. And I was like, good Lord. Like in a million years, I cannot what he's doing is magical. And he could transform himself. I was like, I've never felt like such an idiot in my life.
So I was just countering a little bit of self deprecation. When you say I'm just an actor, people give me words.
Well, come on. Thanks, Malcolm. But wait, do you remember your lines from your act?
Course not now, but I haven't heard. He's like, let me leave you on a secret. I don't read the script. You said, I look at it and memorize it. And he literally took the script, look to the page for like five seconds, turned it five seconds, turned it five seconds. And then he knew it all. That blew me away.
I think that there is like, you know, when like being on a television show for seven years, it was pretty remarkable how my brain would get trained. I mean, it happened a little less rapidly than I would have liked. But I was towards like, you know, after you do a show for five years, you are able to maybe there's something that becomes lyrically patterned in your brain, perhaps. And then you have to get over the idea of just that fear.
I used to audition, but my neck used to shake so badly and I was told, like by casting directors, please don't be so nervous, you're good. And I couldn't get over this feeling of my neck like they're going to notice. My whole head is just trembling, not even in conjunction with my spine. It's just like this shaking head. And I think that I had to, like, mentally try to play a character within a character, a character who was not nervous, who was auditioning.
Yeah, that's like some very meta kind of.
But Malcolm, I just wouldn't have pegged you as somebody who underestimates anything. Were you always everyone does that, though, like this is the great problem that empathy wrestles with. And that is that when you look at someone from the outside, what you don't know is always greater than what you know. You have no idea what it feels like to be a doctor unless you actually put yourself in the shoes of a doctor. Right. Like deliberately, carefully, considerately, put yourself in that person's shoes that I can name that for every.
Every single thing that people do, the only reason I know anything about what it means to be a teacher is that my brother was a teacher. You know, he's a principal. And I have listened to him over the years talk about that profession and what it takes. You know, I used to be one of those people who was teaching. You know, you get four months off a year. How hard is it? And I'm now the opposite.
I'm now like, that is one of the hardest jobs. No demand. They deserve a lot more money, a lot more respect. But, you know, absent that kind of experience, you don't have someone like my brother in your life. How do you learn about another person's business or profession or, you know, day to day life? It's it's difficult. You have to experience it. I completely agree.
And I think that that is how we progress as a society with large degrees of empathy. Yeah. Malcolm, as I stare at your bookshelf behind you, do you have a book you're slightly embarrassed of? I have so many books. I know. I bet. I bet you divided them up. This is a very specific collection of books.
Has it been curated for these specific moments? You can be honest with me. I mean, this painting behind me has been curated for this moment, you know, curation.
I do different kinds of work in different kinds of places. So I've just written this long audio book which we're going to be recording, and it's all about World War two and the Air Force and what we're to. And so it's a longer version of the thing I did for my podcast episodes on this year.
So a lot of books behind our books about bombing this, maybe 50 books about bombing behind me.
Is the book mostly focus on the Pacific Theater? Yes. Hey, I know very nice use of military lingo. I'm impressed with it. You're not an Air Force brat, are you? No, no.
But my parents used to drag me to lectures at the University of Washington by this great history professor who would cover a war every semester, a different war. And you just a fabulous anyway, I think my parents enjoy history a lot. Yeah, but Malcolm, wait, can we get back to your guilty pleasures, like television wise or movie wise or book wise? Guilty pleasures. Yeah. Oh yeah. What are they. Well, I mean, I just finished heavily in Paris.
I thought it was fantastic.
I don't think that quality like if you said Keeping Up with the Kardashians, that would qualify. Mr. Gladwell, there is an awful lot of snobbery towards parents out there.
Let me just say this. Oh, really? OK, in the day, nobody was a bigger Melrose Place fan than I was. In fact, I used to. So this is before blogs. And I used to send out every week after the Melrose Place episode, I would send out this long email, which was a kind of comic summary of Melrose Place, and it would get copied and reset. And I'm pretty sure that by the end the writers on the show were reading it.
Oh, I bet you used to devote hours to this. I would spend the entire morning after the show crafting this like thousand words, synopsis of what had happened the previous day. I was place.
Malcolm, we have to see these sometime. I can't find them, I, I look for them once. I had a kind of grand theory of Melrose Place, which was Nyota when I was a show about teenagers who behave like adults. That's why it was interesting because it was like you think you're watching a show in high school. It's not about high school. Melrose Place was the opposite. It was adults behaving like teenagers. And that was the trick.
So these shows which got lumped together were actually polar opposites. And so understanding aerospace was all about understanding just how dumb could a functioning adult be and like survive in the world of mental space, like space had doctors like I remember. Yeah, Kimberly was a doctor. Dr. Kimberly, am I right? Dr. Kimberly Burns. I forget. Anyway, it's been so long, I got to know what she's a doctor.
Exactly. It was never clear. They were like, one minute you're a surgeon, one minute they're a therapist. One minute they're like it just would shift from week to week. It was hilarious. The kind of core of that show was so deeply hilarious and kind of brilliant and I was addicted. My point is, I've been addicted to this kind of stuff for a long time and I quite enjoyed Emily Paris.
Has there been like another series that has hit you in the same way that Melrose Place did, or was that just the perfect time in your life?
Well, recently in Pandemic, I watched on Netflix Black Ass, which I thought was really, really good, like first class.
I haven't seen that it took like three episodes to understand how good it was because they were doing something really, really interesting, I thought, which was subverting that kind of TV show.
And it's really kind of clever way and putting upper middle class black people in a position you never see them in television. And then, of course, it was insanely funny. And that's one of the better bits of TV I've watched in quite some time lately.
I've just been watching a lot of news and reality TV. Yeah. Hey, Malcolm, speaking a little bit about news and stuff. A question. And that I did want to ask you if you could pull the thread of somebody in the current administration, is there a character that intrigues you more than others in the Trump landscape?
If I could sit down and interview at length anyone after this is over, it would be Ivonka.
Oh, really? OK, you know, her husband strikes me as a bit of a dud. I mean, she's clearly the smart one.
I feel like deep down in her heart she knows better, but she's in an impossible situation. This is her father. To make a break with a family member is one of the hardest things a human being can do. And she threw in her lot with her dad before this happened. So that made it even harder. She signed on for Team Trump and she's the apple of her father's eye. And then she must have had some inkling as she got older about what kind of person he really was, but were never more blind than when we were looking at her parents, particularly when we have a strong bond with him and the whole psychology of someone who throws in their lot with their father.
And then over the course of their adult life, their father is revealed to be more and more of a monster and it becomes too late to jump ship. That's one reading of her psychology. I find that incredibly fascinating. I would make, I guess, the case that it's not too late.
I'm a little bit fascinated by William Barr at this point. Oh, God, yeah. He doesn't seem like philosophically a likely porn, but perhaps so it feels like there's definitely a deeper mystery there anyway.
Maybe you can solve it. Malcolm.
He's one of a number. Pompeo is the same way. These are people who had very kind of shiny establishment credentials and were respected by people in the kind of quote unquote establishment. Everyone thought that when Barr went to work for the Trump White House, he was going to be the voice of reason. Same thing with Pompeya. And then these guys, they get there and then they turn into something unexpected. That's also super fascinating. It's like this is forcefield around Trump and you get drawn into it and suddenly you're a different person.
That's also super interesting. He does have this kind of weird, dark charisma. I mean, no one gets drawn into the Mike Pence forcefield. Right. You know, but it happens with Trump. These guys just kind of like lose their marbles when they step in a room with them.
I thought Michael Cohen spoke about that seduction of the celebrity, of the glamour, the ladies, the parties, whatever.
But I don't see buyers being seduced by that necessarily. But who knows? Malcolm, I still want to get like to an embarrassing book. You must have them somewhere.
Oh, embarrassing book world. My point was they were in a different bookcase. I can reference them.
Well, I want to hear, like, do you have, like, Sweet Valley high quality look in this book? But you're familiar with three fairly high.
No, I have tons and tons and tons and tons of airport thrillers. Are you fascinated by aviation in and of itself or aviation in combination with weaponry in and of itself?
Because something that I didn't know anything about until in doing this season's revisionist history, I was telling the story about the bombing of Japan and I had known a little bit about the Air Force and about Wilbur too before, but not a lot. I went through this kind of crash course and started hanging out with those Air Force people and just found myself hooked. So it's a pretty new fascination.
I've always loved planes, but the idea of like bombers and fighters is a kind of new thing.
I wasn't one of those kids who was playing in those war games as a child, but I actually sort of fell in love with the airforce for a whole number of reasons.
And I sort of think of it as we see. And I think it's because particularly now the idea that there would be in American society an incredibly well functioning meritocracy is a kind of weird a novel when it's the institution like the last two secretaries of the Air Force have both been women. The current chief of staff of the Air Force is an African-American. The head of the Air Force Academy is an African-American. I could keep going.
If you look at the leadership structure, the Air Force, you will see more diversity than any other major American institution.
I think you're getting to the idea of like what set that precedent. I think it's because there are real meritocracy. Well, there's two things I will say. One is that the military is further along, that I think many other institutions in society in getting rid of the kind of biases and barriers that lead you to overlook talent.
They really think if you're good, we want you. And then whether you're a man or a woman or whether you're black or white or whatever is a secondary consideration. That's part of it. And two, because they've had that historic role that they have, you know, ever since the Second World War, they had to confront race in the Second World War II generation before other institutions did.
And a third thing, and I learned this more recently, I've had conversations with people high up in the Air Force.
Their level of kind of sensitivity over this issue is really high.
They really, really, genuinely want to do better when it comes to increasing the. The air. It's really high up on their list of things they care about, they're not doing it because it looks good, because no one's paying attention. Right. It's not like they're preening for the cameras. There's no cameras on this.
And I just found that in 2020. I found that so amazing and refreshing. Yeah.
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I don't know when the Air Force was established, officially established in 1947, and I wonder if in a progressive postwar environment, if that kind of set the tone for being a more progressive institution in terms of how we think about.
I think it's absolutely it was very much when they were starting the Air Force that were starting from scratch were building a modern military organization. And we're going to put all of this history behind us. That was very much a part of their ethos at the beginning.
There's a lot of snobbery towards both snobbery and contempt towards government institutions in our society. I think what I really got from this, my immersion in this is that there are profoundly important examples of how to do things right to come from government. And I don't know why in America we've decided that government is just kind of backwater because I think the opposite is true in many respects.
I want to believe, Malcolm, what you believe in. I do think it's interesting, like the implementation of, like Donald Duck as part of getting people to pay a federal tax or something like Smokey the Bear, preventing forest fires. And if we had a similar government idea around that built a sense of community, something with our current situation with covid like, I wonder how I guess the idea of government propaganda can be very useful. But Malcolm, I'm getting into territory that I don't know anything about.
Can we get back to bombs?
Sure. Can you tell us, like, three things that really surprised you about what you've learned about bombing during World War Two?
So here's one thing. Maybe the most important thing is so I did this for episodes of my podcast, Revisionist History this season on Curtis Island, made his famous Air Force general to win a Second World War. And about this decision he makes to bomb Japan, Tokyo and other cities at the end of the Second World War. And a lot of the show is quite critical of the conduct of this general in the Air Force in the Second World War. And I was expecting that people who are in the Air Force would be defensive or critical or react negatively to my show.
The opposite is the case. What I discovered was that in these kinds of institutions, the capacity for self-criticism and the willingness to go back and say, you know what, we screwed up there, I wouldn't do that today, or we learned that surprised me.
I thought if I criticized the institution, they would get back, would get up and didn't get up at all. They got really curious.
And then I discovered I was just in at Maxwell Air Force Base a couple of months ago talking to some historians. And you will find the greatest amount of criticism and self reflection on the Air Force can be found within the Air Force.
That is a really, really lovely trade. And if other institutions, again, can come back to what can we learn from institutions like the Air Force? But that idea of like if you internalize your self-criticism, you don't have an antagonistic attitude towards your critics.
They hire their critics like they employ them. I mean, I love that notion.
I'm reminded this is a tangent, but the first person we hired at a little audio company that I started with, my friend Jacob, was a woman named Mia Lobell. And Mia came we interviewed her for the job of producer of my podcast. We gave her a list of all the topics that I wanted to do my first season on. And she looked at the list in the job interview and she said, if you do these shows, no woman in America is going to listen to your show.
She's basically dissing us. She was like a middle aged guys and she thought she was ruining your chances of getting the job. She's like, that's your life. I've just asked them, they're going to go for someone else. And I was a little taken aback. But then I realized you no, this is exactly the person I need to hire. And it's that same impulse like I want my critic working for me. How much better off will be going to be in the long run?
It turns out to be this unbelievably smart, honest, she says exactly what's on her mind. She has incredible taste. She works really. I mean, she has made what we do twice as good. And it was all about us accepting the fact that you want that person. You know, if we got defensive, we'd be half as good as we are today.
Malcolm, not to embarrass you as we're zooming together here today, but part of your genius is that you weave a story, you make anything that you're interested in. Very, very interesting. And that is a wonderful quality in terms of the threads that you want to pull or the stories. I'm sure you must have a handful of stories that you pursued that have either been incredibly frustrating or haven't led to the conclusion that you've anticipated. Have you abandoned stories many times or at all?
Sure. But usually it's because it's not that I like it when it goes in directions I hadn't anticipated. That's not a reason to abandon. That's a reason to get even more invested. Usually it's because I don't know.
I can't figure out how to tell the story or what the story is. I just know this is a really, really dull, obvious distinction. But it was a good topic and a good. Good story and a lot of people who aren't storytellers, they'll give you a topic and say you should really do a show on, you know, Little League parents, and there may be tons of interesting stories about hyper controlling parents, but what you've given me is not a story.
But you give me as a topic. So you start with topics and you find stories and I start with a lot of topics and don't manage to find the story.
And now that I do podcast, mostly the story is different in a podcast than it is in a book. How do you mean? Because of podcasts are so emotional and there's so much more about feeling and about character and about this from my friend Charles Randolph says, We think with our eyes and we feel with our ears.
So podcasts, I'm inside your ears. I have a pipeline to your heart. You know, really hard to make someone cry on the page. Really easy to make someone cry comparatively if you're talking to them, so it just means that there are stories you can't tell on a podcast. They have lots of numbers are big, complicated ideas. That's for writing.
But a story where I'm trying to convince you to love someone or to understand someone or to believe in someone. Those are stories you could tell in audio. And those are the stories I want to tell now. So it was worked out well for me, but it's different.
I love that I started my podcast over six years ago now, and it was a reaction to my day job. To me, it felt like an avenue of connection in an idealistic version, I guess would be that like four strangers would listen and I would be able to have contact with them, have conversations with people having a completely different life experience. There was this thing called chat roulette. Do you remember chat roulette at all?
Oh, my God. Vaguely. It felt like the grandest international social experiment, and I loved it so much. You could log on just Chatroulette dotcom, and you would find yourself anywhere in the world with somebody you had no idea where you were going. And then you could immediately next them if you didn't care for the conversation. There weren't rules. You didn't know who these people were. They didn't know who you were. And you had the opportunity to opt out of the conversation whenever you wanted to and flip to somebody else.
I was intrigued by the idea of what does communication look like when the stakes are extreme, like they're high in one sense, because if you're having an interesting conversation, they're gone and incredibly low because you're not putting yourself out there in any kind of salesmanship form. And then it became just masturbators like quickly and it got shut down. But I really love the idea.
It felt to me like Internet at its best when it was at its best. I had a long conversation with a librarian in Texas.
I had like a fun night with some dudes in the Ukraine. I felt like I went to Brazil a few times. It was a fabulous social experiment that quickly, quickly got corroded. But anyway, I still hope for more of that kind of thing. So that's why I started this podcast. And I do believe in the intimacy of it, though it is kind of amazing.
I mean, it's totally unexpected. I started out thinking it was the same kind of storytelling that I've been doing all along. But the kind of connection you get, I'm mildly recognizable. So from time to time, somebody comes up to me and says, hey, I read one of your books. And what I've noticed is there's a different way that people come up to you if they've listened to your podcast than it is if they've read one of your books.
They use the word fan a lot more.
Hey, I'm a fan of your podcast, whereas they'll say I really liked your book, which is a different you know, if you think about quite a different reaction, what you're saying is I like you, whereas before they said I like that thing, you did the personal. And the other thing is it's always Malcolm. And they are reacting to me, not as they would to a real celebrity. They're reacting to me as if I was a friend of theirs.
Right. Super interesting. And I much prefer this. I have never wanted to be a celebrity. I think that's like a beer inside that cage. It's horrible. People's reactions are so weird. Your life is not normal.
My life is totally normal. These people who come to me, they're not like, you know, fanning out and doing jumping up and down like, hey, Malcolm, fan the show, keep walking. Right. You know, like it's so interesting. That's not a reaction I would have anticipated completely.
I love it that when I have podcast fans, it's a completely different interaction. Usually it feels like you said entombment. People won't ask me for a picture or anything like that or it feels wonderful.
Yeah, it's a different kind of intimacy. Right. Mr. Gladwell, what talent or ability would you most like to have to compose and perform music?
Would you like to be a singer? Well, I've been doing this project with Paul Simon where I spent hours and hours and hours with him, and we're turning it into an audio documentary. And as you know, he's a genius and I haven't spent too much time with him. And I feel like I understand. It's like but what we're talking about at the top, I now understand a little bit more about this world than I used to. And I'm more amazed than ever about the incredible power that music can have.
Like, I don't think anything I do ever has the kind of immediate emotional effect on people that are really wonderful song does and when I listen to him describe what he did, my sense was I could never in a million years do that.
It's like he has this gift that I don't even vaguely understand.
It just seems like it comes from another planet. I've just seen of it.
I mean, completely just that idea of like standing up on a stage and playing guitar and singing a song and having twenty thousand people be in rapt attention as you do, that does not seem like weird and fantastic, like crazy completely.
But Malcolm, do you have enough time or ambition to conquer this in your life? No, it's not going to happen. It's a concession. It's not happening.
I think to be good at music, you need to have some innate musical ability, you know, and then on top of that, you need to spend an extraordinary amount of time developing that ability. I have neither the innate ability nor the time. So it's not in the cards, which is fine. But, um, yeah, hypothetically, we could do this over. I would want this.
No, I don't know anything about football, but I was reading about this. I don't even know who he is, but who has developed a strategy for something called the stiff arm. The picture just looks like it's a push away, like just holding out your arm in a stiff position. But apparently he has three different brilliant strategies for deflection.
Derrick Henry is his name. Yeah.
See, Malcolm, you already know this stuff well, but I love the idea that there is a specific ability that seemingly easy, I guess, but of course, requires so much brilliance. OK, wait for what historical figure would you start a fan club?
Well, you know, it would be someone I'm going to give you the vague answer. Know, my mom is Jamaican and it always amazes me because I have that connection. And I grew up in Canada. So if you're in America, you're always struck by how little Americans know about any small country anywhere, any big country anywhere.
Do you? So I feel like I come from two neglected countries and I thought it would be fun. Jamaica is if it does punch above its weight, I mean, for a tiny little country to get a lot of the world. My grandfather was a politician in Jamaica in a very tumultuous period in Jamaican politics where politics was full of these characters like these larger than life is a guy named Bustamente. First of all, just such a wonderful name who was this kind of semiliterate, insanely charismatic.
And my grandfather knew him.
And I mean someone like that who played a really crucial part in Jamaican independence and in sort of the formation of the modern Jamaican state, someone like that who we've never heard of, you know nothing about it. But the politics universal about the country, just to kind of remind Americans that sophisticated political life exists outside of their borders and pick a place they would never no one thinks about Jamaican politicians. They always think about Jamaican athletes or Jamaican singers or I just think would be useful to pick someone like that and just learn about Bustamente would be a great choice, actually.
And he was a great looking guy.
Yeah, a big, huge kind of wild what we would now call an afro, which was called an afro back then. But I think that will be my choice.
I love that. All right, Buster. Buster means Buster used to call Buster. I love it. I've written it down. Maybe we can start this fanclub.
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Text up to unsubscribe. All right. On what occasion do you lie, when do I lie to lie a lot because invariably they come back to haunt you. But to the extent I do lie, I probably lie to protect my privacy.
So my mom said this thing to me was one of her child rearing techniques, which was you should never ask your child a question if answering it, your child is forced into a lie. Her idea was lying is a habit. The more your child does it, it be easy to do so. Don't elicit a lie. If you know that they came in at two a.m. and their curfew was midnight, don't ask them. What time did you come in last time?
Right. They're going to lie. You're eliciting a lie. Don't do that. You know what the answer is? I thought that was really good advice. So I think along the same lines that a lot of people invite lies because they ask questions where the truth is either too difficult or the truth is none of your damn business. Right? Completely. In those situations I would lie. You ask me a question you shouldn't have asked. I'm going to lie because it's none of your damn business.
Even if there's nothing at stake. I have sometimes done. This is a matter of principle. Like you don't have the right to that answer. You have no standing to ask the question. I'm making myself sound very defensive.
And no, no, Malcolm, I was just thinking, like, I need to steer this into my brain. So if a journalist ever asked, say, well, you know, I follow Malcolm Gladwell philosophy and you have no fucking right to ask me that question.
All right. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? Oh, wow.
What a great question. I thought about that a lot recently, and I thought about it because theoretically I could live anywhere. It's actually not an abstract question. Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, why? I want to go somewhere far enough outside my own culture that I that I'm really learning something new, but not so far that I couldn't integrate myself into the society.
I mean, I would like to go someplace where I would be forced out of myself. So I was in Johannesburg recently and I've been to Tel Aviv. And both times I've been struck by this thing that when you live in a country which has enormous challenges or threats or whatever, you live outside of yourself a lot. You have to right to engage at all with the act of being a citizen of that place. You have to think about things other than your own little parochial concerns.
And I think we sometimes forget how liberating and inspiring that can be.
You know, you mentioned you inspire people and they'll say, oh, credible social problems, crime list of all the negatives, but they've forgotten the positives, which is you're in the middle of a grand experiment, right. Trying to make a country from scratch and you're in your whatever it is now, 20 of that is really, really young. It's hard, but it's also kind of thrilling. And if you're in the middle of that experiment, you don't spend a lot of time worrying about some pathetic little problem in your own life.
Who's like stuff going on? Same thing in Tel Aviv. There's stuff going on, right?
Like you're forced out of yourself, particularly if I was younger, if I was a kind of typical, privileged, pampered 18 year old American teenager. That's exactly where I would go. Like, get out of your own head for a while, wrestling with something real. And I could give five other places like you don't want to go to a place. It's chaos, but just somewhere where there's something to think about that's big.
I love that. I think a lot of people in the entertainment industry living in Los Angeles, it can be thrilling with personal success and opportunity. But there isn't a sense of a larger community or idea or even a sense of community struggle in any way.
It's all very individual.
I've never been to a place that has a political strife or that much outside of my comfort zone.
Really. All right. What was your worst impulse purchase?
Yeah, so many Makana and I bought for way too much money this vintage Mercedes. And the minute I got it, I realized it didn't want to try and get rid of it. I'm quite self-conscious about some of the things that I own, my parents are exceedingly modest people and I'm financially successful in a way that I never anticipated and well beyond anything I grew up with.
And I'm very, very conscious of the kind of gap between the values I was raised to have and the kind of values I could potentially demonstrate to the world. I now, if I wanted to be like a total baller and live in a massive house in Thousand Oaks and drive a Lamborghini, I actually could. I don't want to, but I could do that. And once you're in a realm of you could do all the stuff, you have to formulate a difference between can't and won't, can't really easy.
It's really easy to say. I would never drive a Lamborghini. If you can't afford a Lamborghini once you can't afford a Lamborghini. Now, you have to say I won't drive a Lamborghini.
But Malcolm, I bet this Mercedes is gorgeous. If you least love to look at it like now, does it give you any joy? No. No, Joy.
No, it's not a fancy Mercedes. By the way. This is in very good condition. It's like a one of those old Mercedes sedans, you know, those from the early 70s. But I don't know, I just like look at it. And I think that's just not actually what I want to be seen in.
That's her. All right, Malcolm, what qualities do you look for in a friend?
Well, I mean, the obvious ones would be loyalty and generosity. But thinking about my friends and thinking about what they have in common, I guess they all have a kind of humility about them.
I realized recently that two of my closest friends are the children of Baptist and evangelical ministers, the preachers, kids, and they're not goody goody teachers, kids, but they got the good part of being a preacher's kid, which was growing up in a place where and going back to a point I was making earlier, where you're not the center of your world.
The wonderful thing about religion properly practice to me is that it displaces you from the center of your universe and it puts someone else much more important at the center. And that idea that your job is to serve something larger than you, not to arrange your life. So everything circles around you is, to my mind, absolutely central. And it's easier if you grew up in a religious household. That's just an easier thing to grasp if your whole kind of upbringing has been centered around God as opposed to around you.
Right. So I think that's probably why a lot of my friends, there are people who, by one means or another, have adopted that position on the world, that they are not at the center.
I like that, Malcolm. I want to diverge for a second to your podcast, Revisionist History in season five. You open your season, I think is the first to capture the second and third where you talk a lot about the art museum and Van Gogh. Oh, yeah.
I think it's maybe it's first and second. Yeah, it's brilliant in your curiosity about these massive art collections that are kept in storage at museums. Yeah.
And you link it to the idea of hoarding. And I'm a bit of a hoarder, probably in a different way.
I don't have art collections, but I believe you're advocating for free access to museums, essentially. And instead of like the Met selling off some of their valuable pieces, were you talk a little bit about this idea and like the economic idea of art?
Yeah, I got really intrigued by the fact that most major art museums in this country, 90 to 95 percent of their collection is in storage and you never see it and they never show it and they keep collecting stuff. And a lot of the stuff they collect goes straight into storage. So it begins to ask the question, well, what exactly are they doing?
I understand that museums think they have a responsibility to be the kind of repository for art. They collect art the way that libraries collect books or whatever. Sure. But like, if people are never going to see what you have, if you're this engine where you raise huge amounts of money in order to buy more art that no one ever sees, what's the point?
You know, Hollywood doesn't make hundreds and thousands of films every year that immediately go into a place where no one sees them. You don't mean like it's unusual for an artistic endeavor to think of itself as being distinct from its audience and its obligations to its audience. There are many museums I use as an example, would rather raise admission fees, then sell art if they run out of money, which struck me as totally insane.
You'd rather erect a barrier to people to come and look at things than part with something that no one will ever see.
Is there also an unspoken idea of like people will value an experience more if they have invested in it for an out of town or to go to the Met is now, I think, twenty five bucks.
If you're a family of five for two kids and two parents, you come to New York, you're from some small town somewhere. That's a lot of money for rich New Yorkers like, oh, I'm going to go buy myself.
I'm going to try to get a hundred bucks. Yeah. To show your kids to introduce your kids to the world of art so that all you're doing is you're saying, I don't want if you're the man you're saying I no longer want that person. I'd rather tell that person with four kids coming in from out of town, you know, why don't you just go to the Lion King and get lunch at Friendly's or whatever and call it a day into my mind.
That's like, sorry, that's bullshit. Yeah. You have a public obligation to show art to the world and to share in this extraordinary creative genius that you're sitting on. And the another thing is maybe it means that someone if you have a big feel like that, maybe they go once to the man instead of twice or twice instead of four times. Why would you want to do that? Like, that's just banal. Everything about that is just so offensive to me.
And it fits in with something that's going on in our society, which is that wealthy institutions are hell bent on getting even wealthier even when they have nothing to spend that extra wealth on. Harvard University does not need another dime. What do they do? They go out and they vacuum up as much loose change as they can, leaving less money on the table for people who actually need it. It's a crazy thing we do in a society that I understand.
Malcolm, I love to think that you could change things with the Met. Have you had any response? I mean, what a grand world it would be if your podcast shifted the entry fee.
We got some response in the Met and it was just defensiveness and huff puff to go back to what we were saying earlier. They're not inviting your critics in. Right.
They're like saying you have no idea of the blue. You kind of do have an idea, right? Yeah. It's not hard to figure out what you're doing.
Malcolm, I love this battle, though. It's a perfect microcosm in a perfect example of how we are approaching things incorrectly. So thank you for doing that. OK, wait more questions, if you don't mind. What is your favorite rainy day movie?
Probably four weddings and a funeral.
It's a great line because by the time you're, like, weeping uncontrollably and it's raining outside, you're wrapped up in a blanket that's just about like. That's ideal.
Yeah. What is a trait you dislike in others? The normal ones? Selfishness, probably narcissism. What is a trait you dislike in yourself? Oh, there's a no.
I wish I was less introverted. I think I retreated to myself a little too much.
Yeah, I think I do too, because I don't think I'm great at small talk somewhere where people were learning how to have banter. I don't know where, where I was, when or where. Are you happiest, Malcolm? Probably in the middle of a good book when the best parts are still to come, but you're in deep enough that you know you're on to something lovely.
What book did you read at like age 13 or 14 that shifted you? I was reading weirdly in those years about American politics.
Do you remember what time period you were obsessed with? Like contemporary like this was the 70s for me. So so like Nixon and Carter and stuff. Yeah, I was reading books about Richard Nixon when I was 13 or 14.
There was a book by Gary Wills called Nixon Agonises, which I remember reading that I probably understood half of it, but it had a huge impact.
All right. Is there a moment in your career or personal life that you're most proud of? Two years ago. I started this little company with one of my best friends, Jacob Pushkin, audio pushing industries, as we call it. I think I promise of that. It's like I've been a writer, a solitary person all my life, and now I'm part of this startup, this community of people and super fun. I had no idea it would be that fun.
Mind you, Jacob does most of the hard work, so it's doubly fun for me. I get to enjoy, you know, what we've created and not have to do any of the work of creating it. But I think I'm proudest of that.
That's amazing. Hey, Malcolm, we don't know too much about your personal life and you can lie, as you said. Do you mind my asking? Are you in a relationship?
I am, yes. OK, wonderful. Has it been for a while now?
Depends on your definition of a while, but a not insubstantial period of time. OK, and you can be equally as vague with the question, how did you meet tipping me?
I think just a kind of standard fixer. Nothing incredibly elaborate.
Well, I like it that you smiled a lot with the thought of this person. At least that's what I'm taking from it.
All right. What or who has influenced your career? The most early influences, perhaps.
I mean, so many people along the way, like, I always feel like it's unfair to name someone because I feel like it's 50 people and also depends on a stage. Like, for example, my neighbor, who's also my best friends, screenwriter Charles Randolph, a very successful screenwriter, has had an incredible impact over the last 10 years about how I think about stories and tell them and conduct myself in that realm.
But then before that, there was somebody else, you know, and before that there was somebody else and going all the way back to my mom. So, you know, it just depends on when you are.
So right now, I would say it's probably Charles. I love that answer. But, you know, it was someone else not that long ago.
You ran track in high school. I saw him, yes. Will you tell me what your reward in running and if you have other what I deem kind of solitary athletic activities, you get that runner's high that people talk about.
Yeah, I do. I mean, I never knew what that meant, but I get an enormous amount of satisfaction. It just feels really good. I like the sensation of your body moving like that.
You know, the great thing about running when you're in shape is it always feels like you're running fast, even when you're not. I just love that notion of feeling like I'm running fast. I liked it as a kid and I selected has never changed.
You know, The New York Times does is short documentary pieces. And I just saw one on this man. They call him SlowMo and he rollerblades for hours in Santa Monica and Venice every day. And he balances himself on his left leg and then he puts his right leg behind him and he extends his arm. So his head is like the first thing that's sort of cutting through the air. And he's convinced that. And he makes a compelling argument because he sure seems happy.
He used to be a doctor and married and he simplified his life and now he roller blades. And he believes that it's as close to flying as you can feel because it makes a connection between inner ear trembling and the force of gravity. And it sure seemed convincing to me. The idea that I don't know, moving through air like that can create a physical sense of euphoria. I just need to get out there. Malcolm. Yeah, I have an exercise to get you out there right now.
All right. What haven't you taken the time to learn about yet? Yes. Fukino languages.
I don't know any other languages, which is closed off a whole set of experiences to me that I feel like, you know, I would be a different person if I knew another language or two. So I will know tons of languages and they have access to things I'll never have access to. What language would you learn to be German?
Why? I love Germany. I go there all the time. Why do you love Germany? I don't know.
But they're going to Berlin for like fifteen years. Twenty years in other parts as well. I like well if you like cars, it's a center of car culture in the world. If you like order and fascinated by history, there's all kinds of just as a you know and. Utterly fascinating, weird, messed up, fabulous place, but I speak German, which is crazy here, I love a culture and a country and I don't speak the language.
It does feel overwhelming at this point in my life to attempt to learn a language, but that could be an excuse. All right. What was your first boss like?
Oh, he was lovely. His name was Vilardi Paul Vladislav Brezinski. And he was.
What did you do? Was this in Canada? No, this was my first job out of college. I mean, I had jobs before that. My first real boss boss was this guy bloddy was my first real job. And he was the editor of a magazine that I was working for. And he was the kindest, sweetest, funniest, gentlest soul. And he was a really wonderful boss. He introduced me to journalism, get to Kath's with Polish names, and he just was a lovely man.
I love how you speak and write about hiring assistants and hiring in general. I'm not quite sure if the conclusion is that it's kind of a gamble. It's a gamble.
And we should just accept the fact it's a gamble is my position and stop pretending otherwise. The idea that you can interview someone for an hour and have any meaningful information or insight into whether they'll be good working for you for over the course of many months and years is just ludicrous.
You might as well just flip a coin.
What is your favorite curse word?
If you have one, don't happen. Try to never curse opposed to it.
Maybe I should adopt this philosophy. My parents will be happy you just walk away. Yeah, so useful. All right. In one word, how would you like to be remembered. Hmm. Kind. I think that one works. I agree.
But Malcolm I truly cannot thank you enough. Can you tell us when your book is coming out, your new one sometime in the New Year.
We don't know when I'm having this audio book come out about Curtis LeMay and Second World War, but it'll be sometime in the spring.
Do you enjoy recording their tough days? Right. Yeah, it's fun. Now, I, I like the kind of craft of it appeals to me.
Do you ever think shit, I shouldn't have written that sentence that way, but who does.
Malcolm, thank you very, very much for giving my unqualified podcast a degree of legitimacy. Malcolm Gladwell, thank you. Thank you. Bye bye.
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I'm happy to welcome Professor Eli Finkel to the show. Eli teaches at Northwestern University and is the author of The All or Nothing Marriage How the Best Marriages Work is also the director of Northwesterners Relationship and Motivation Lab, a contributor to The New York Times and The Economist, and has published over 150 scientific papers. I, however, was in The Hot Chick. Hey, Eli, thank you so much for doing this today. Thank you so much for having me.
So first, we are going to call Tiffany. Hello, Tiffany. Hi, I am here with Eli Finkel and Eli, how would you describe yourself? I'm an academic.
I'm a researcher who studies relationships, including marriage.
Oh, OK. Awesome.
Tiffany's like does that mean we'll be a part of a study?
Tiffany, will you please tell us what's going on?
OK, so I have been married for the last four years and at the end of 2018, my husband told me that he cheated on me several times throughout twenty eighteen. And so I guess I was shocked really. And then I decided, OK, I'm going to try to make it work, I'm going to give him another chance and see if we can transform our marriage, that I took it as an opportunity to have a new marriage. So we saw two separate counselors, the first ones we didn't really like.
And so we started seeing another counselor and he was helping us for about a year. And then he said he no longer could really help us because we weren't making the progress, I guess needed. Tiffany, you guys got fired by your marriage counselor?
Yeah, basically, yes, man. Yeah, except you couldn't help us anymore.
Basically, that just he felt wrong to continue to help us and take our money when we weren't making the progress that we needed to make. And I guess the progress that he wanted to see was my husband kind of helping me build that trust again and making me feel safe in that relationship. And that just wasn't happening. So we saw him for almost a year. The counselor basically said people can, you know, exit the program like twelve weeks. I mean, everybody's different, but to be in it almost a year and still be at square one wasn't OK.
And so after we stopped seeing him, I called a temporary separation because as a final straw, I said, OK, I need to just leave clear my head and really see if this is what I want to do, if I want to spend the rest of my life with him. And so we have been separated the last two months. And so he just reached out to me again. We haven't talked the whole separation. My husband reached out to me about two weeks ago saying that he was off his medication and he felt like a new man and he wanted another chance.
So that's kind of where we're at. He wants another chance. And I don't know.
I want you to know, though, Tiffany, I so feel this. I so feel when you wrote about your husband being a bit depressed and the obligation to make a commitment work like in terms of our society and our family. But how did you feel just on a gut reaction when he reached out? Was that a relief to you or was that, like, ego gratifying? Like when an ex reaches out and is like, oh, you're the one that got away or was it frustrating?
Like, can you gauge, like, your emotional response to that moment?
Yeah, I think I was not relieved when I got that text message. And I felt like over the two months of being separated, I really was getting mentally strong and prepared honestly to like file for divorce. And so when he reached out, I was like, wait, like, you're putting up kind of a kink in my plans that I was already getting ready to move on and move forward. And then now he's all of a sudden ready to try now.
So it wasn't really moving. It was kind of frustrating. I was like I been waiting for two years to hope that this marriage would get better and we could work on it. But now I'm just at the point where I'm like, I don't know, it's seems like such a long time to go through that. And then. Just say he's now ready. And how have the last two months felt to you? The first couple of weeks. I was crying a lot, feeling like, oh, I'm never going to be happy, just like a pity kind of, you know, just being really sad.
And then after the first, like two or three weeks, I started picking myself back up again. And I almost I felt better because I wasn't stressed with is he going to love me like I need to be loved? Is he going to be there for me? Like I need I was just like, now he is not here, so I don't have to worry about that. And I was OK. I felt OK. I felt less stress.
So when he did reach out, I was like, I don't want to be let down again. I don't want to go through all these steps all over again. I've already felt strong and like ready to move on. And then he reaches out and then to me it's like, OK, it's my marriage. It's like it's not just a boyfriend. I feel like it's something serious or I can't just, like, acknowledge that.
Eli, tell us about the societal obligation in terms of marriage.
I've already failed you. You've had a couple of training marriages and now you're on your way to great success. I believe in love. Perfect.
So, yeah, I mean, if we're talking broadly, the sorts of obligations that you're talking about, we still certainly value them in our society today. They were much more valued in earlier eras. If you go back to the 1950s or eighteen hundreds, the idea of marriage as a permanent obligation that was much more sacred back then than it is today. Today we have a stronger emphasis not only on living up to those sorts of commitments, but also, by and large, people today think that people should also be happy.
And if the marriage is miserable, how much service are you doing to yourself or to your partner and perhaps even to your children if they exist by staying in a marriage that that's making you miserable and by changing these norms or expectations of how we're going to relate in our marriage, we have made marriage a little bit weaker. That is that, you know, relationships that might have been OK in the 1950s strike us as disappointing today.
But at the same time, because marriage is indeed more optional and we're less dependent on it, especially women who used to be financially dependent on it in a way that that is less true today.
Those were the days those. Yeah. Oh, to be nice.
You know, with with the freedom with these changes comes the opportunity to build a deeper sort of connection. The best marriages today are better than the best marriages of earlier eras. And in part, that's because when a marriage isn't very good, we believe that we have opportunities to leave it. I had a question or two for you, Tiffany, if you don't mind. One of them is, do you have kids in the marriage?
No, no kids, OK, which simplifies things a lot.
May I ask you a few more upset? It sounded like, again, the last two months have been interesting as you've been recuperating. I was interested in honest questions and your responses to them, but I'm also interested in understanding which elements were were so devastating to you. Was it the cheating, the lying or both?
That's so hard. Yeah, both to me hold equal value, the cheating and the lying, both her equally.
The reason why I ask is because along with these sort of shifting norms about what marriage is supposed to be, some people are experimenting with this idea of consensual non monogamy. But the idea that that we don't need to have some some people might decide for their own marriage, like, you know, there's lots of things we're asking of each other. But, you know, if there's a little bit of of romantic non exclusivity or sexual not exclusivity, some percentage of people can actually have a better relationship that way.
So I'm only asking because if the issue were really the lying, if you had said, well, I don't actually care much that he had the affair is really the lying about the affairs that would have put within reach of possibility that you could have a discussion or an arrangement. My guess from from your reaction is that does not sound very appealing to you, is that right?
No, that's correct. No, that is not appealing. Tiffany wouldn't be to me either. Yeah, not not your thing Onna. Not at all.
I believe it to be, you know, probably a bad choice for the majority of people. It is something that that can work for some couples.
So I was sort of asking the questions that would lead me to think this is definitely something you should keep pursuing. I haven't heard strong answers to that.
What would be your best argument for really working on this and trying to make it better other than aren't I obligated?
Yeah, that's a great question, I think that's what I'm struggling with right now, is am I just staying because I feel like a marriage is serious and I shouldn't just walk away so easy? I don't know. I should fight harder. And then also, does he deserve that chance? He's off his medication. That was apparently keeping him from helping me heal from the infidelity. So now that he's off of it, maybe that's something that I'm willing to explore.
But I feel the two months I got so strong and I was ready to walk away because I didn't think he was going to come back. He wasn't reaching out to me over the two months and he didn't seem to want to be with me. And so I just got mentally strong. And then now I don't know what to do.
Tiffany, I do think that if you're the only fighter in the relationship that's not only exhausting, but very rewarding. And I wonder, are there things that you miss about him in our short conversation? There hasn't been a ton of indication that you've missed him. That means that you're in a really strong place to be independent, if you would care for that.
I think the entire two years after finding out what happened, I really was fighting hard for us to work and I wanted it to work. And you're absolutely right. I mean, the last two months I've missed him, but I haven't missed the hurt and the inconsistency and not making me feel like I haven't missed that. So I am ready. But at the same time, I keep going back to. Yeah. An obligation. I don't want to I don't know, I don't want to be divorced and I don't want that on me.
I don't know. It sounds bad, but I just don't want that label of like oh she's just another, you know, divorced person and so many people in my family are divorced.
You know, Tiffany, it's not as bad as it sounds.
So, Tiffany, I admire all of those sentiments and I certainly would not advise you to get divorced or really I'm not offering advice either way.
One thing that I find really useful when I'm trying to think about whether a given relationship is beneficial is the metaphor of thinking about the way Michelangelo, the Renaissance sculptor, thought about the process of creating sculpture.
He talked about it not in terms of creating a sculpture, but in terms of revealing it.
That is the beautiful form was sort of slumbering within the rock already and that the sculptors job is just to like scrape and buff and chisel until you've really unearthed that beautiful thing that was in there the whole time.
You can sort of apply that idea to humans in the sense that all of us have our actual self with all of our flaws and rough edges. And we have our ideal self, something that's, you know, metaphorically inside us, some ideal version. And one of the considerations that we can take into account when we're thinking of what we want to do with our lives is, is this somebody who's helping to sculpt me toward my ideal self? Am I better with this person than I am without this person?
Am I better with this person than I likely would be with a different person? These aren't the only considerations. And the sorts of obligations you're talking about have real value, too. But I do think that that sort of Michelangelo metaphor is, is this somebody who's who's really helping to bring out the best version of me? Do I love me more because of what this person brings out is at least one of the considerations I'd keep in mind.
All right. That's so good, Eli. I love how you think about marriage as being intimate as opposed to the exterior forces that affect our relationship. And Tiffany's husband like confronting his shame and his cheating and infidelity and Tiffany having to deal with that pain and family knowing about it. And they won't be able to put it as eloquently as you would. But I think you advocate for the idea that marriage is also about personal growth and self-expression.
You're right that that I do praise those things, but my views are a little bit more complex than that because it's also nice to be 80 and have a partner, even though there were a few years in there that weren't very fun and nobody's going to have a marriage that is always good. You're going to go through periods when you're not thrilled in your marriage. You may well go through periods where you don't even like your partner and that's in good marriages.
And so this is what I think Tiffany is struggling with. And I think with good reason is, you know, how do you know that things are choppy enough and choppy enough in a deep enough way that I have to bail, even though, of course, I didn't get married with the intent to divorce. And so the idea that my book is called The All or Nothing Marriage, and the idea is that we've arrived at an era because of this increasing emphasis on making sure that we're in a marriage that's personally fulfilling and that allows us to grow into the sort of ideal version of ourselves which people just didn't talk that way in the fifties.
They weren't even trying. And so that puts a lot of additional expectation on the relationship. And like I said, because of that marriage, that would have been totally adequate in earlier era. Our marriages that we're leaving today, it's good and bad because it means that some marriages that are making people unhappy are ending and unbalanced, that's a good thing. It also means that the marriages that we really work at and stay involved with are more voluntary and therefore on average better than the marriages of the 1950s, the all or nothing.
Marriage is the idea that the best marriages today are better than the best marriages of the 50s, but the average marriage is worse. And so I have a I have a fairly complex set of views. And that's why I have the sympathy I have for Tiffany, because she's struggling here with a situation that's making her unhappy as far as I can understand it, and that as she thinks about the independence that she's able to garner when she's separated, she doesn't have to deal with this insecurity and vulnerability and feeling that is he cheating on me?
Is he lying to me? And that that's empowering in a big way. And yet she's made this commitment and she values and respects the institution of marriage or she wouldn't have done it in the first place.
So you are you are right on it that I very much value that people have this opportunity to really expect real fulfillment from their own marriage while at the same time acknowledging that the cost of that is that our marriages are indeed more fragile than they used to be.
I love that philosophy. I really do. I mean, I am the old school romantic where it feels like your partner should be your best friend and you should have fun and grow together. But Tiffany, that lingering pain and his sort of like a cheap exit strategy or testing those waters of like what you know, whatever he's going through, like, what would my life be like if it went on a different trajectory to me? It doesn't seem fair to you.
I don't know if Eli will agree with me. I'm totally going to agree with you.
I can't even imagine anything you could say I would disagree with. Really. OK, so did you respond to him when he recently reached out?
Because here's my hunch before you answer this question a little bit, is that I think that even if you say, like, I kind of want to give it some time, I want to think about things which is rational. I feel like he might pop into your life.
I'm imagining him maybe, I don't know, hanging out with his buddies at the bar like all of my ex is in reaching out again, like texting you and you feeling once again that obligation, if he's like, I miss you and I want to be back together, and where do we go wrong? It's more than a little bit selfish of him to reach out, which is why you're like, I don't know how I feel about this. Tiffany, if you want my support for ending this relationship, you have it.
Yeah, but having said that, if you want my support for staying in the relationship, you also have to you know, when people write to us about their partners having cheated or when there's been infidelity, usually there's more emotional attachment towards the person the partner had the affair with. Usually it's like my best friend or somebody in their social group. And the fact that you kind of in your email distance yourself from the people your husband cheated on you with, which is probably a childish term, Eli, but maybe that's a whole different subject.
I like coming together. Tiffany, you don't sound very bitter at all.
Yeah, I think because it feels like so much time has passed from when I found out like two years now, not that I've forgotten, but that's not even what I'm fighting now. It's like now I'm fighting the issue of like he doesn't spend time with me. He doesn't make me feel important. He doesn't make me feel loved. It's like I've been battling the cheating, like when it happened. And then now to year two and a half years later, I'm like, now it doesn't even feel like that's my issue anymore.
So I guess that's why it feels I feel disconnected from it because it's like, OK, I grieved the first year and I was in shock and I went through all the emotions with finding out. And now I feel like, OK, I passed it, but now I'm dealing with how does he make me feel safe and loved and how can I move forward with him if he can't make me feel like the most important person in his life?
Tiffany I'm not sure I care for him. I don't I care for you.
I want you to be happy because I think that you have been doing all the heavy lifting in this relationship.
Yeah, absolutely. Because cheating or infidelity creates these little scars within us that they'll always be there when we talk about moving on or even finding closure or like the memories, you know, happiness. To yourself and to people that you love, I just don't see the pattern, like if if you've done all the work in your relationship, maybe he doesn't know how to communicate whatever that is. Not sure. I don't want to totally prejudge him, even though I have Tiphanie.
I have. Right. But anyway, if you're feeling like I've put all of this in to this marriage and I'm not quite sure who I am anymore or what my goals are over the next few years look like, but what I do know is that I'm not sure you can convince him to be the husband that you would like in your life.
Yeah, I agree.
Let me just chime in briefly on this. I mean, like I said, I don't offer one to one advice. I'm a I'm a basically a social scientist who collects data on aggregate. But I will say that if you do decide to stick with this relationship and I certainly would respect your choice if you did, you'd better come up with a better narrative for why you're doing it than you've come up with thus far.
Oh, Eli, like, damn, that's harsh. What do you mean? Yes.
I haven't heard a story from from you, Tiffany, about why you want this thing to last.
And so if you are going to give it another chance and you haven't yet built a story about what's special about the two of you and why he's a person that you really might want to make your life with again and you really want to work with, I'm skeptical that you can actually make it work. And I don't know that there will be that much value in trying unless, like I said, if you're able to build a more compelling story for why that's so important to you, then by all means.
Right. I'm so sorry about the bill.
That's just for. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Tiffany, are we keeping you too late? And I do need to run. OK, Tiffany, thank you again. We'll be in touch. OK, thank you Tiffany so much. OK, thank you. OK, bye. OK, bye Eli. Thank you. It's been amazing to talk to you and I can't thank you enough for joining us. It was so fun. Thank you very much.