Unqualified would like to thank our presenting sponsor, Macy's, for over 160 years, Macy's has been known for their quality products, great prices and trusted service with curated fashion for the entire family and gifts for every important occasion. Macy's is your one stop shop. Go to Macy's dotcom today for all of your home and fashion needs. Hey, everyone, today's guest is actor, producer and podcast, our Sean Hayes, who I first came to love in Will and Grace.
He's been in the industry for a long time, so he's seen a lot and has some great stories. You should definitely check out his podcast, Smart Lists with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman. I know it's been a while since we've talked with you, our listeners. I really just didn't know what to say. These past months have certainly been a little confusing. But this week I'm really excited to have Dan Savage of Savage Love Cast join me to help answer your questions.
I've been a fan of Dan since my days in Edmonds, Washington, where I used to read his columns in The Stranger, the Seattle alternative newspaper that I loved so much. So I really hope you enjoy this episode. Now here, Sean.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to Unqualified with your host unifiers. So you just launched a new podcast, how are you liking the experience?
I am having a blast. You know, it's called smart, less smart, less like we're less smart, which is true.
And it's me and Jason Bateman and Will Arnett and the three of us have been friends for decades, always play poker together, hang out together, dinners together. And we just have a common bond through comedy and curiosity about the world. And Will is talking about doing some podcast. And then Jason and I kind of shoved ourselves in there and said, why don't we just all do one? It might be super fun and wouldn't you know it? We laugh so hard doing it and it's a great excuse to get together once a week.
Obviously, you do it like over Zulema or something, right?
Yeah, we were putting it together before this whole pandemic thing started. But what's really fun about the little kind of twist in our show is every episode one of us acts as the host and brings on a guest that the other two don't know about. So the other two get to be surprised like the audiences.
Are you feeling a little bit of the pilot euphoria? I am. I think I realized that work first and foremost. The only reason we're doing it is to hang out and talk to people and have a good time.
And can we do this like in six months? And will you recount these things? Can I be on your podcast?
Yes. I would love if you were on our podcast. Can I be like the old bitter person?
It's like, oh, you kids don't even know what you're getting into. Yeah, for sure.
Why? What can you give me words of advice. Like, what are you talking about? I have no advice.
Are you getting tired of it or. No. I think my stories are old, Sean.
Yeah, well, you know what Oprah would say, what Oprah would say, create new stories. So I have to lie. No, you same thing with goals and strategies. And I'm a huge goal person. Ever since I was in my early 20s, like just out of college, I got inspired by this one person to write goals. And so I still do it every year, but completely stream of conscious goals, like I should eat better, I should call this person.
I want to do this in business. I want to help this relationship, whatever it is it has to do with people, money, career charities, everything in your life that you've ever wanted to accomplish. So doing that gives me purpose to then once I've reached those goals to create other goals. And that's my long winded way of saying create new stories, not create them. But just like you're filled with tons of stories, you just don't know, you just need to be prompted.
I like the idea that you're the host of my podcast. Well, like, for instance, like you're wearing this ring right now. Yes. OK, so there's a story behind that ring and why that ring and why that style of ring and who gave it to?
My God, I am totally interviewing like a podcast host. It's true. But you're right. We can't stop being curious.
Right. So I'm curious about that ring and I'm curious about, you know, why you showed up in a robe. Well, with with white hair. I know. I know. So I am at a motel. I am here with my fiancee, Michael, who's right here. Oh, congratulations. I met him earlier. Yes. Thank you. And his son Daniel, who's about to turn 14. About my son. Who's about to turn eight.
You remember what I bought your son, Jack? No, I don't. There's a story. Yes. So when I first met you and your ex husband and your gorgeous, amazing son, Jack, I noticed that he had these really awesome, cool glasses on that had black frames. And I thought, oh, my gosh, she looks a little like Chicken Little. So after I met him, I met Jack, a Chicken Little stuffed animal and a book.
So he can feel like he could relate to a character that also wears the same glasses. Sean, I do remember that. OK, good. Are you a good gift giver? I'm pretty good. Yeah. I like to give lots of gifts and I like to be there for people. And I think one of my biggest faults and greatest things at the same time is a caretaker. So I feel like I constantly have to take care of people and situations.
But I like that this is fascinating to me. Oh, we hit on a story. Yeah. Yeah. I want to test your caretaking abilities. I love being tested.
So would you take me to the airport if I had like a five, 30 a.m. flight if all other options have been exhausted?
Yes, OK, that would be hard to believe because you are you and Uber has been invented.
OK, let's say for some crazy reason, I rented a cabin up like Mammoth Lakes, OK? And a couple of things have happened. I betrayed everybody in my life. OK, I'm in a friendless situation. Got it. But I broke my wrist. Oh God. What? I carry your groceries for you.
Well, is there any way you would drive up to Mammoth? Yeah, I could do that. And I'm craving blueberries. Yeah. And so I either pick them or I would. Oh, picking them would be ideal. OK, so I would pick them for you.
I would deliver them for you and because of your broken wrist I would feed them to you. Have you. Amazing. So did I pass or. Yeah but what about my armpit hair. It's getting longer. Yeah. You ever even asked why I betrayed up my.
I'm so sorry. I thought it was like a very personal thing and then I didn't want to go there.
I was like, hey, roll around in this poison oak to your friends. Yeah, OK. I said, it's not poison oak, OK? But yeah, for sure, you guys should roll down this hill. And so they all did.
But I have built up my immunity to poison oak.
This game makes me feel really good about our podcast. Can I give you some life questions. And I would love it. All right. Are you ready? Yes. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be and why?
You know what? I love San Francisco and I lived there for like three months when I was doing a play called it an Act of God. And I just think it's the most magical city. I mean, I'm from Chicago and I love Chicago. And Chicago will always be number one. But to live for a year, I just love everything about San Francisco. I love the weather because it feels like fall every day and I love the quaintness of it and the people.
Yeah, OK. What character in a play have you been able to, like, reinvent?
Well, night after night, you know, it's such a good question.
It's always hard to do the same thing every night, the same lines. But there's also something glorious about it in that you're like, you know, the audience might well, the audience wouldn't know because it's the first time seeing it. But like people in the cast and people in the production, they might not even know that you're trying something different. But that's, I find, tremendous joy in, like, you know, I've been doing it this way for the last fifty three shows, maybe the next twenty.
I'll try it this way.
And, you know, so was there a performance or character that made that easier?
Probably, yeah, probably when I played God in an act of God and the conceit of that show, it's a one man show was written by David Javerbaum who was the head writer of The Daily Show for thirteen years or something. He's a brilliant writer and Joe Mantello, who's directed it. He's a good friend, an incredible director. And every night it would change. I would ask if I could rewrite certain jokes or certain lines because of what was happening in the world at the time.
But it was a great role because the conceit was that God had grown tired of the Ten Commandments and chose Sean Hayes, the actor, to deliver the message of Ten New Commandments to the audience every night.
Oh, I love this. It's based on this book called An Act of God. Give us some of your commandments, if you don't mind, John. It was so long ago.
I don't remember. It was a 90 minute monologue. You'd think I'd have some of it memorized, but it all left my body.
And that was on purpose. Yeah.
You think like when you do a musical or a play, you think you're going to go batshit crazy because you're like, how am I ever going to get these songs or these lines out of my head? And you just need a month and you're like, oh, great. And anytime anybody says anything like, I got to go to Wells Fargo Bank to go to the ATM at the Wells Fargo, you go, oh, the Wells Fargo wagon is coming down.
I don't know how good does everything's related back to that. Whatever show you're doing, it's a nightmare and it's also glorious.
What actor have you counted on that you could look at, like during a stage performance that you're like, OK, this person has my back. Oh, God.
Well, channel with Kristin Chenoweth. I did promises, promises with for a year, eight shows a week for a year. She's the best. I mean, she's right there. For you, I was there for her was, you know, you have to have a solid relationship with the person or the people that you're sharing the stage with. And that's the great thing about theater, right? We were in theater. Weren't you in high school and college, maybe.
Yeah, we got into theater because it was so fun. Right. And you wanted to laugh. And at least that's my story. I wanted to hang out with the people that were so funny that reminded me of being on Saturday Night Live, which is all I ever wanted to do.
But with promises, promises like could you look at Kristen and think like if you're fumbling with a line that maybe for whatever reason, like, you know it it's right there.
Yes, absolutely. Well, one night, Tony Goldwyn, you know Tony Goldwyn, the actor. Yeah, not personally, no. But you know who he is. He was on Scandal. Yeah. Super, super great guy. Super great actor. Tony Goldwyn is the grandson or great grandson of the Goldwyn's of MGM Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Yeah, I was on stage one night with Tony and I could lean on him as well, and he's awesome. And I looked at him one night and I just completely blanked with any of my lines and anything I had to say.
Like, I don't know where I went in my head. I was on autopilot, massive autopilot. And I looked at him and I go, and another thing, Mr. Sheldrake. And he goes and he looked at me in silence. And the audience I look at the audience to silence and I go, What is it? I'd even say, like lying or like I even try to mask it, I just want the I go, what is it?
What I say. And he just said it on stage. You guys, your next line is like, OK, then I just kept going. It was awful. Did the audience pick up on it?
Yeah, sure. But they like when something goes wrong because they only have them. Yeah, but I have a worse story. An Act of God on Broadway. One night these two girls came in and I started the show and it's a one man show. There's two other angels who are great in the show, but it's focused on the one character. These two girls came in and you could just tell they were either high or waisted or whatever, and they were like in the fourth row right in the center.
And I started the show and all I did was like, I am the Lord, thy God. And they started laughing hysterically and I didn't do anything yet.
Right. And then like two sentences later, they screaming with laughter like because I said, these are my angels, my arc angels, if you will. And they just how I was like, what's going on?
Are the audience around them? Was like, this isn't that funny yet? And I'm like, yeah, it's not funny yet. So this went on for about seven minutes. And in my head, while I'm saying my lines in the back of my head, I'm going, can I do the entire show like this? I don't think I can. I don't think the audience can. So I stopped the show. I go, I'm so sorry. God will be right back.
And I walked off the stage and the stage manager was already on.
And she's like, what the fuck is going on with these people? I go, they're clearly under the influence of something major. I think we should stop the show. And he goes, I'm on it. And so there's like four security guards had to come down and pull them out of the seat. And the whole audience cheered because they didn't want to be like, shut the fuck up.
Right. And then they went into the bathroom and vandalized the mirrors, saying horrible things about Hillary Clinton. And then they were on the street just completely their brain screaming at signs. And then I came back on stage and I said, that's the power of God.
And I kept going and everybody clapped because the nightmare was over.
I don't know if I would have been able to reposition my brain back into performance without that nagging on me. But that's the thing about live performance, is that you do have those other things that are nagging at you that you attempt to dismiss.
Yeah, for sure. Like as long as you're in control of the role and the stage, when you're out there, when it's your time to control it, I think anything is fixable. It's kind of like I studied piano growing up and I was my major in college was piano performance, but with piano, Mozart and Beethoven and Chopin and Schubert and Schumann and Scarlatti, whoever it is, the notes are the notes. Right. So if you miss a note, it rings so loud and everybody knows he just messed up.
But in theater or comedy or whatever, if you mess up in a live show, you can fix it, you can improvise around it and then get back on track.
Do you think that your musical discipline was very helpful in terms of like doing a multicam?
For sure, yeah. The old cliche is true that music and comedy are the same because of rhythm and timing and the notation of your voice and all of that kind of plays in. It's very, very similar. So I think I learned a lot and I encourage any parent listening who has a child to even if it's for a year or six months to pick up any instrument, a piano, violin, flute, whatever guitar and learn something because it does something to you.
It's a language. It's just like learning Spanish or French or German or English or whatever. It's a language. And once you can absorb that, it kind of teaches you structure and it kind of teaches you goal setting. Because I would have piano lessons as a kid and my teacher would say, OK, bye. Next week I want you to learn these two pages. And she would never overwhelming say, learn these 20 pages of this Beethoven sonata.
So I just focus on these two pages and I think, OK, I can wrap my head around that. And so I think a built in me the kind of idea to achieve anything you can through realistic goal setting and baby small, tiny steps to get where you want. And a lot of people don't want to do those baby tiny steps. They just want the big thing at the end. But anybody can get that if you just work your way towards it.
Sean, if you could compare, let's say, the multicamera format to a sport.
Well, because I'm known for sports is what you're saying. I am, too. I'm known for my sporting ability to and agility. I think the sport I would compare multicam to is.
Tennis, maybe I'm going to hit this ball to you and you hit it back to me or ping pong. Are you a ping pong player on a Ferris wheel?
I hate anything with hand eye coordination. OK, but I would have compared it in my experience to baseball. Sometimes you're like on outfield. I didn't mean to ask the question, like to beat you in any way, but. Oh, I love it. Fascinated by the idea of like sometimes, you know, when you're up to bat and sometimes you have to be the pitcher. Yep. And hopefully you're all working for the same team. Yes.
I love that. That's exactly right. Yeah. So yeah, like on Will and Grace, we would follow that philosophy tenfold because all four of us had a theater background and so all four of us had a work ethic that we could count on. So through your earlier question about who had my back on stage on Broadway and I was Chenowith and Tony Goldwyn and the whole cast and crew and ensemble, everybody works together. And if you don't have that, it kind of falls apart.
So, you know, Will and Grace, we all had each other's back. And with the same theater background, we all understood that this is your moment to shine, not mine.
And now it's my moment to shine, not yours. So it was everybody can shine in all the moments anyway. You know, it's not like mine, yours all the time. But yes, to your point, everybody has to be playing for the same team. Yeah.
Have you ever done theater? Yeah, I have.
But it's been a long time and I think that doing mom has been the closest I've been to it. But it feels inaccurate in that the audience is there for free and they forgive you for all sense.
They enjoy it, especially when we fuck up. And you don't realize that, I think until you've worked in single camera stuff that there are places to hide. Yeah, it could be as simple as like we're doing this scene in the kitchen and even though the camera won't be on me in the final product or whatever, I'm still there and need to be reacting and still exposed. And there's still very much the idea of the fourth wall. Right. So still being very active in those moments, it feels really rewarding and especially if the material is really strong and you have a strong idea of who your character is.
But I do also think that what I find difficult about the multicamera format is the servicing of the plot.
You know, obviously, like I can't indulge in like my character wouldn't cross to the fringe right now because she's distressed about losing her job or the minutia of that.
Yeah. This episode of Unqualified is brought to you in part by Miller Lite as the original light beer Miller Lite has always been there to bring people together through Miller time. But spending time with friends looks pretty different right now. Maybe it's over. Zoome Maybe you're hanging out on a porch with neighbors. Maybe you're at home with your family sitting around a jigsaw puzzle. We are on our 14th. Staying connected is always important no matter how you do it and the best times are spent together with the people close to us drinking a few beers.
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To find all of your summer fashion in home needs. Visit Macy's Dotcom Slash Unqualified. You'll also find items handpicked by me and put on special discount for unqualified listeners. Again, that's Macy's dotcom slash unqualified. Thank you, Macy's. And thank you, dear listeners. Your support of our sponsors supports this podcast. OK, what is your favorite ice cream flavor? We're starting to have easy. I love it. Now, let me ask you something.
Yeah, I love it. I get in the ice cream because it matches my personality. Vanilla is the answer.
So I'm curious about the world because you're so successful in the podcast world and you always do this fun kind of thing where you do these one question, not always. It's just fun to do the rapid like.
Well, here's my theory. The theory was, is the idea like, OK, do we start out with sort of somewhat easy questions? Yes. And then get. Yeah, but I don't always do this. And I think that part of it was a little bit of exhaustion with podcasting, but I'm always surprised at what these questions reveal. Yeah, I hope that you take my honesty as like a compliment because I have the only one I exhaust.
I exhaust myself God, but truly like attempting to have meaningful conversations in an hour and a half. It's difficult and it's something that makes me feel like, oh, we're not just a couple of fucking Ding-Dong celebrities that are like, oh, yeah, what do we eat for breakfast today? Like whites or whatever the fucking shit is. What do you think you're about to embark on this journey?
Yeah, I think, you know, you reach a certain age where all bets are off and you can ask me anything and I'll be honest. And at this point, you know, your fans are your fans and doesn't feel like you're gaining new ones or losing the ones that really love you.
So we're both here because of the people that like us. So thank God for them and we wouldn't be here without them. So I don't have a problem exposing myself any more than I've already have through these podcasts or through interviews or through anything.
But I do think the celebrity thing that I kind of understand that. But at the same time, fame is now new. It's different. It's not everybody's famous. How do you mean you tumour's take Tucker's Facebook, as you know, Instagram.
Nobody's impressed with fame anymore.
So you're saying it's sort of the idea that fame has been redefined?
I think it's a different definition in the minds of the younger generation. Now, that's why I'm fascinated by actors who put things out or anybody, sports figures, actors, politicians, whoever in the public eye who believe that audiences are just waiting for their next move.
You know, like people who really believe, why can't do that? I can't be on that show. I can't do that movie. I can't do this play. I can't because I don't know if the audience is going to know. Nobody cares. The stars that drive projects are the ideas. That's my strong belief is that sure, it does take talent. You want talent to be in the movies and the TV shows and the podcasts and the plays and everything else that we're talking about.
You want the best talent to occupy it, but ultimately people are tuning in or buying a ticket to see the idea.
More than anything, I think I like the idea of conceit.
Like if you have a strong conception of something. Yeah, for sure. Or a strong point of view.
Yeah. There are like certain action stars that are global stars, but you could just plug in another action star and the movie would still make a ton of money because the movie's good.
Do you have theories on why some humor, like what countries will and Grace really translated to? For some reason, House Bunny did well in France. Do you have theories on Will and Grace? Like in what countries do you know?
I don't have that information or those files readily available. I know I did well in the UK. Australia did well, Canada did well. I was in Italy and I think it did well in Italy, which is weird. Yeah, and cool. And Russia work huge. I'm kidding, Russia. Scary movie, weirdly did huge in Russia. How about that?
I know and clearly like to be scared there.
I think it's like there's like the facial expressions or something that transcends language.
It's also called physical comedy, which I love. Right. Yeah. When you get hit in the head and or walk into a glass door, it's always funny.
That's why I'm a huge fan and tried to emulate it as best I could throughout my career because it does it translates all over the world everybody can relate to. It doesn't have a language. It just has a a feeling and a visual aspect that you can get right away.
But I think that also there's a safety to multicam and the format of the invitation, just that familiarity. That is interesting to me. Yeah, for sure. OK, what's the best or worst advice you've ever been given?
It's the same. The best and the worst advice I got was from Jeffrey Katzenberg, who I love. It was just be patient because you can't. And at the same time, I understand what he's saying. So it was right at the beginning of my career that you and I'm like, OK, this is what I want. I want to do this movie.
I wanted this movie. I'm going to do this show. Or this guy came in with, like, all these ideas. And because we slow down, just be patient. And I was like, oh, but if I'm patient and I wait for the phone to ring, it's not going to ring. So it's all about being self generating projects for yourself. Right. Especially now more than ever. I don't know how you can exist in the entertainment business without being a multi hyphenate, so I don't know what he meant.
But at the same time, you cannot be patient. You have to work your balls off. Thank God I'm still working that hard because I still have both of them. I love it. It's true, right?
Oh, completely. But it also involves like you have to fucking trust in yourself. Right.
But it's also like I understand these means like don't walk into a room and be like a crazy person and say, I want to take over the world, figure out how to warm up to people and have them warm up to you and create a relationship so that you can achieve the things you want. Just don't be desperate and don't come off like an asshole.
God, I had a meeting with Jeffrey Katzenberg not all that long ago, and I totally fucked it up by doing exactly that, like consumed with enthusiasm and like, how do I sell when I'm so fuckin, like, here I am.
But then you have to balance that with, like, what he's saying with don't come in like a crazy person, but also work hard and work fast. That's. You can't just come easy. Yes, hey, association, what haven't you taken the time to learn about?
Oh, God, patients filled the most impatient person in the world.
It's one of my greatest assets and biggest fault is that. And so I still haven't learned that taking the time to learn about, you know, connection. I'm doing really well with that now more than ever. But when I was younger, I was connection and anxiety for sure.
That's a great answer. Thank you. I truly care about you. Definitely those things which I haven't thought about. So I guess I haven't taken the time.
Here's a perfect example of going back to the gold thing. Right. So I believe that whatever is not in your life that you want, you can have you know, there's always exceptions and everybody's situation is unique. But for the most part, if you have your health and your brains and you want something in your life, you can have it. And if you don't have it in your life, that means you don't want it that bad.
I love it that you speak about that, because I think that I have so much that I want right now.
And that's part of like this whole the journey of what we've been going through as a community over the last six months has been a radical recognition on my end of like Buck. I have the things that I need and want. I have like my health so far. I have like the people that I love dearly. And I have, like, the stupid material things that I would like. I already have that stuff.
And so when I think about career exploration, it's been an odd idea. My head. Yeah, I think we're conditioned as actors, as entrepreneurs to drive, drive, drive, because that's all we've known is to be our own one person business. Right. So then when that train is kind of stalled, how we have it.
Yeah. And the pivot is what can awesome. Yeah. Truly like it felt so much like OK, how do I get the next job.
What do I do. Like what do I do. What do I do. What I would do. Right.
So for me there's been laid out, I've been adjusting to that idea of like, oh, the train has stopped unexpectedly because someone pulled the cord and it feels really good.
So when the train stops, take the car. If the car doesn't work, walk. Oh, completely.
Do you feel any of that to like? It's forced me in a beautiful way, I think, to just examine my own degree of ambition, which has been kind of great.
Yeah, I'm a very ambitious person. And again, I think it's all about the environment in which you grew up that dictates whether you choose to be ambitious because it's a choice. You can't teach ambition. Right? You either are you aren't Shonn.
You are the youngest child, right. In a family in the world. In the world. Do you have reflections upon how that like how that influenced you? Yeah, my father left when I was about five or six alcoholic mom raised five kids by herself and she was the best mom in the world, although she was, you know, working all the time. So she couldn't be around as much. But she was she just, you know, would work and and come home and cook and then be exhausted.
And but she was always at the football games or my piano recitals or whatever. I don't know how she did it. She was like a saint. But that environment, you know, having the car repossessed and the heat turned off in the winter in Chicago and having the phone turned off and your friends, like, I couldn't get a hold of you what happened and having to make excuses for all that because you were embarrassed and having your mom drop you off a block away when the car did come back.
But it's resting and you were embarrassed to be seen like all of those things make you you know, obviously, the number one thing is appreciate everything. I mean, when I have a blanket and I'm warm, I am so grateful. I'm beyond appreciative. I'm like, I remember being that cold in Chicago and I never want to go back. So that's where my ambition comes from. But how many stories you have to read about an African-American woman and we all are talking about Black Lives Matter and how much the cards are stacked against people of color in this country and have been for fucking ever.
And it's about time things changed. And I can't believe it's taken this long and I can't even believe we're still talking about it. But how many stories have to read about some African American woman who worked two jobs, put her kids through school? Everything was stacked against her and she did it. And it's like if she can do it, everybody can write.
Everybody can. You have to. You have to put yourself in the face of opportunity and the end all be all, you have to want it. I talked to some of the kids that I. I went to Illinois State University, which is such a great college and amazing theater program and music program. And I went back and spoke to them. And I say I always do two things I tell people to write down on a Post-it. What do you want?
What do I want? And then the next post say, what am I waiting for? And that's all you need. Those are the two things you need to get what you want. What do I want? It could be I want to be president United States and believe me now, anybody could be I want to be president. I says I want to do what I want to help my own ice cream shop. I want to have a baking business, whatever it is.
I want to own a pet grooming company, whatever it is. OK, so that's what you want now what are you waiting for? So then you just have to write down. Yeah. What am I waiting for. Yeah. Why do I keep talking about that thing. Why don't I actually do the hardest part, which is make the first step in pursuing the goal that I want to do. And that's what this woman I'm talking about did.
That's what I did. That's what you did. It just takes that first step to get to the thing that you want so you don't have to say, what am I waiting for anymore? You're actually doing it one hundred percent.
Can I get back to a couple other things, please? All right. My favorite color now, your favorite rainy day movie. Always and forever, Amadeus. I love that movie. What do you love about it? Mozart was my forte, no pun intended, when I studied piano, so I learned every one of his sonatas and a lot of his piano concertos. And so I was obsessed. Obsessed with Mozart. No, that movie came out.
I was 16 years old. I was like, oh, my God. It's just very comfortable to me.
That movie in those performances, I don't know much about music, but that sequence where Salieri is describing to the priest the beautiful sequence of like. Yes. Like as he's walking you through a cone frittatas from the Requiem.
And then through the window and reading the notes and it's like it came out of nowhere and then comes the oboe. Yeah. And I wish I knew more, but I know you know what I'm talking about.
It's almost iconic scenes in film. And for somebody who doesn't know anything about music, having someone just witnessing the appreciation of what we could perceive as minutia.
Yeah, same thing of like a tree afficionado being like.
Do you understand what's really special about this tree? This is why this particular Beatle can't infiltrate that or whatever like that. It's because this has developed this kind of Bach.
And I think we need that kind of you feel me on this as I have a thirst for.
I want to appreciate the minutia. I want to appreciate handcrafted things or like things that somebody has valued and why.
Yes, I think that, too. It comes with age, like when you're a kid, you just want to while I want to just play video games and practice piano and go hang out with my friends. But yeah, I think that comes at age. I'm with you. I think you're on your way though.
Thanks. You're welcome. Okay. Did you have a book that was particularly influential when you were younger?
There was a book as a child that I loved called The Figure in the Shadows. It was like a mystery. And John Bellairs wrote this book and the series of books with this character in it. Anyway, I love those books. Is that kind of a boring answer?
Probably is a little bit, but. But only because I'm not familiar for sure. OK, where the sidewalk ends. How about that? I read that when I was like, I don't know, six years old and probably over and over and over again. Over again.
Serious. Yes. I would not take the garbage out. No, that. Yes, yeah, yeah. Well, it was like sort of beautifully dark. Shel Silverstein was just incredible.
Yes. OK, in one word, how would you like to be remembered?
Oh, in one word I know.
Well, everything I'm thinking of sounds, you know, cliche and pompous and egotistical and or boring like such a good question. OK, present. Oh present is great.
I was going to say remarkable for you.
It isn't an easy question and if you had a quick answer, it would be egotistically you asked me how would I like to remember.
Remarkable, remarkable and absolutely incredible. I know it's two words, but they're both needed.
Generous, I would say generous.
I love that. I would like to be remembered as generous. You are, Sean. I can't thank you enough. Yeah, for sure. I adore you. I love you too. Thank you.
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Hey, everyone, I'd like to introduce you to Dan Savage, you might already know him from Savage Love, his internationally syndicated relationship and sex column as podcast Savage Love Cast or the It Gets Better movement. Dan has been doing this kind of thing for nearly 15 years, and he's really good at it. Hi, how are you? I'm good, how are you? Good, good, good. So we're going to call Julian. Hello. Hey, Julian, it's on affairs.
Hi, Ana, how are you? Thank you so much for doing this. And we've got Dan Savage here as well.
Hi, Dan. Hey, Julian. How are you? Really good.
Good. So, Julian, tell us what's going on.
Yeah, OK, so this is pretty much a question of how to end a relationship with someone who I really do love him. He's great, but I'm not in love with him and he is clearly still infatuated with me and loves me a lot. And the thing is, we've really only been together for about five months, which seems pretty short. But due to the pandemic and quarantining, we've been together pretty much 24/7 because we don't really have jobs at the moment because we both work in restaurants.
So it's been like nonstop hanging and it's been really fun. I've been some like rough fights, but really just a pretty serious, intense, committed relationship at the moment. And I think the issue I'm having is, since I'm pretty young, I'm twenty three, almost twenty four, he's thirty five. So there's a bit of an age difference and I feel like I still have a lot of things I want to do on my own and be independent and have the freedom to do things that I wouldn't have in a relationship really.
And I live in L.A. I've been here for like less than a year because I just graduated college. So I still have a lot of things that I feel like I need to do alone. And I also don't really see myself with in the future. I think to be like a great best friend to have because I truly do adore him. But it's just something I'm not really ready for. So I'm not sure how to. And especially during quarantine when he's like the only person I'm seeing.
Yeah. Do you do you live together at the moment?
So I have my own apartment with a roommate, but I've really been spending all my time in his apartment. I really don't go on my own.
And you're worried that he'll be pretty devastated? Yeah, I am.
I think going can be super hurt. I really worry that he won't talk to me again because it's just kind of I feel like the person that he is, I just feel like he's either going to hate me or just feel so sad and uncomfortable that he's not going to interact with me for like a really long time.
At least he gets to decide who's in his life on his own terms. And you can't stay with him for the next, what, five, six decades if you have an average lifespan because you're afraid of not being his friend or him not wanting to be your friend.
What is the complicating circumstance here? Is the pandemic. You know, you say you want freedom to do things alone, but right now you don't have the freedom to really do much on your own because of the pandemic. It's hard to date. It's hard to get a job. But what are you going to do with the freedom that ending this relationship in your head represents to you?
Yeah, exactly. It'd be so nice to have him during the rest of the quarantine, but I also don't really want to leave him on either and be disrespectful in that way. So I'm also scared to leave it at the moment. Yeah, that's a real problem.
When you have a relationship, when you know you want an end relationship, I always tell people they should end it promptly, especially if you want to end a relationship with someone who's a good and decent person and you like them, even love them as a friend.
The moment they realized that you wanted to dump them six months ago or a year ago or five years ago, however much pain that is built into getting dumped is quintupled multiplied by ten by the humiliation of knowing that there is this long period where you knew it was over, they didn't know it was over.
They were making a larger and larger emotional investment that now they know they shouldn't have made and they're humiliated by that. And sometimes it's not the break up. The people can't get over and get past to get to friendship. It's the humiliation of knowing that they were still going all in and you were letting them at a time when you had already decided it wasn't going to work out.
Julian, does he have an idea that you are pulling away? Does he have any inkling of this?
Yeah, I definitely think he does, because we we had a conversation a few weeks ago, and it was me essentially being like, I'm not sure this is what I want. I'm not sure I'm still in love with you. And then that's when we, like, really broke down. And he was begging me to give him a second chance. I was like, sure, really? Because I didn't know what to do. I was so heartbroken to see him so crushed, even though I don't think that, like, a second chance is what's going to fix our relationship, because it's not necessarily broken.
It's just I kind of want to be single.
What is it that you want to do that you can't do while you're with? Is it about needing to reconceive what the boundaries of the relationship or an understanding about the relationship? Is it sexual freedom that you won't get specific?
Yeah. So sexual freedom. I feel like I need to focus on my career a lot more. And I mean, overall, I'm just not in love with him. So it's not a relationship that I know I want in the end game.
And Julian, I bet you that as these thoughts kind of solidify, especially during this intense time, I think that Dan is right, that for both parties concerned, making the, you know, the gentle moves to break up is why sooner rather than later, this might not matter. But I'm curious. I've never. Ever really been in a relationship with much of an age difference? Dan, do you think could you weigh in on this? Have you been in a relationship with a significant age difference?
Yes, yes. Even a larger age difference and a successful outgoing relationship with a larger age difference. Actually, you know, my husband and I have been together twenty five years. We're seven years apart in age. We are open and poly. I guess I had to embrace that term, even though it sometimes makes me roll my eyes with the back of my head. And so I have a boyfriend who has a boyfriend, and there's a 20 year age difference in both those relationships.
What challenges does that present? Because I think after a certain age it becomes pretty negligible. But twenty three and having just graduated college and you move to Los Angeles, there's a lot of change in your life and then were in quarantine.
I actually don't think age difference. You know, I say this is the older partner in a relationship with a significant age difference. I don't think it matters that much if both people are on the same page emotionally and goal wise and what they want and there's, you know, that strong emotional and sexual connection. And often when there's a large age difference in relationship and things aren't working because there's not an emotional connection, because they don't want the same things, people will just lump that into the age difference and blame the age difference.
And it's not about the age difference necessarily. You're young. There's things you want to do, the things you want to experience, all that is true, all that you could have in the relationship if you could define the boundaries of the relationship to allow it. But at the bottom, what's going on here is you're not in love with him. And he could be your age. He could be born on the same day, in the same hour, the same minute, and you could still not be in love with him.
And then you'd have to blame something else besides the obvious glaring age difference, you know? I mean, it's usually a thing that looms large is that we want to pin the blame to when, you know, I don't hear you saying he condescends to you. I don't hear you saying, you know, he has retrograde 35 year old ancient attitudes that you as a younger worker person can't abide. You're just not in love with them. And that's not about to get fucked.
And you're good at this. But I agree with what you said, Dan, about what I interpret as honesty or, you know, being up front. There are mixed messages being sent. Julian has been going over there every day to so the actions maybe are not reflective of the. Julian, I'm sorry, I don't mean to speak about you is that you're not here.
So you know how people tend to grasp tighter, which can also be a turnoff to the partner who is, you know, questioning the relationship? I don't know, Julian, if your boyfriend is more I don't like to use the term clingy, but I guess or tightening his kind of his grip if he's expressing a lot of neediness, which can make you feel guilty if you you want to break up with him or and again, if you know you're going to end it and you have this conversation where you tried and he said, give me another chance and you gave him another chance knowing it was hopeless.
And now he's making this effort that is futile when you do ultimately dump him.
If he realizes that effort that you allowed him to make was futile, then, you know, on top of the humiliation, there's going to be some anger for you wasting his time and, you know, encouraging him to try when you knew that there was nothing he could do or try that was going to salvage the relationship, if, you know, it's over ended.
Yeah, I totally agree. But it is a crazy time right now. Are you really nervous to suddenly be alone in retreat and be in your own apartment with your roommate? Does that idea kind of freak you out? Is that why you're also putting this off?
Yeah, I mean, I definitely that's part of it. It's not like a huge, huge fear of mine. But I mean, yeah, I think I will say, like, at the moment he is my best friend and it just feels like a really heartbreaking thing to not be around him doing such like a lonely time. So, yeah, I definitely agree with that.
But your presence in his life is heartbreaking as it is to contemplate not having this best friend is founded on a lie, a lie you are telling him or encouraging him to believe it or allowing him to believe and that there's something more possible here or something more going on here than, you know is possible or is going on. And it's don't lie to your best friend if you want to salvage the relationship.
You know, there is some discourse out there. People are talking like it's OK to keep somebody in your life right now because they're your pandemic fleshlight, you know what I mean? Because they're giving you emotional sexual support. And replacing that person right now would be hard. But as this goes on and on and on, because this is America and we can't do anything right, treating somebody like that isn't like, you know, we're going to do that for six weeks.
We're going to do that for, what, two years and then end the relationship when the person's going to realize they were just your pandemic fleshlight all along. I don't think that that's the way you would want to be treated. And for me, it always comes down to the golden rule. You should treat other people how you want to be treated. Whether you can get a friendship out of the end of a relationship is usually about how you ended the relationship because it ends in a, you know, terrible way that makes the person feel like they were shoved through a meat grinder, lied to or misled or abused or used.
No friendship is possible. That ends even if it's painful in a respectful way. Maybe a relationship of friendship in the future is possible.
And I think your advice is great. I do wonder, though, practically like what happens? Let's say Julianne breaks up with his boyfriend then like the next week or whatever, and then he's back at his apartment alone with his roommate and then and feels kind of restless and lonely and misses this boyfriend. And then maybe they get back together. And the whole breakup sort of prolongs itself because of circumstance. Julian, could you see that world happening? Maybe it's already happened.
Oh, yeah. I mean, it hasn't happened yet, but I can because I have had a break him, but I can totally imagine a world, which it does. But I do think I have the resilience to give it space if I need to, like if I do break up with him. I do think that I am strong enough to, like, not fall back into the relationship.
Maybe a friends with benefits thing is possible after a short break up where you're both on the same page about that. And, you know, I think one of the things that may be giving you cold feet or giving other people in similar circumstances cold feet about the relationships there are now that have sort of been rushed by the pandemic is how much time you're spending together.
Because when you're in a relationship in a, you know, a normal universe or at a normal time, you go to work, he goes to work, maybe he's going to see some friends or has a family commitment and you're going to apart from each other for a night or a weekend, and then you get to come back together and you're happy to see each other again when you're together 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months on end.
That's not how any healthy relationship works. It's not good for any relationship. Even if you were madly in love with someone, you need time away from them and maybe you would feel more in love with him if you guys had made a conscious effort to build time apart into even pandemic time. But you're going for bike rides alone or something.
Sometimes I think, you know, this pandemic is just really warping our lives in ways that are distorting our own perceptions of our own relationships. I'm not saying that maybe spend some time apart, you'd be in love with them, but you certainly feel less pressured right now. Totally.
Julian, would it make you feel comfortable if you told him these feelings, but with the idea maybe this isn't fair to your boyfriend, but with the idea of let's try to spend four days away from each other and not talk, and then at the end of the four days, you can have some degree of assessment perhaps. I don't know if that is fair or practical, but I do think, you know, oftentimes break ups especially I can only imagine now, but it goes through those they elongated breakup.
You break up, you get back together, and then each iteration of getting back together shortens itself.
And then in like two years, eventually you're broken up and think of the people and the opportunities you missed in the two years. You were very slowly breaking up.
Oh, completely down. But during this intensity, Julian, I don't know if that is something that maybe your boyfriend would agree to. And truly, in like a week or two weeks, you can assess I mean, it sounds like you'll miss his company and but that's often what you're suggesting.
That is often a really good way. You know, if you're afraid of breaking up with somebody because they won't be able to live without you and they'll be so devastated to take that break often with that person that you're afraid is going to be devastated, realizes during that break it's they're not that devastated, that they don't miss you as much as they thought they would. And it makes when you come back together, you may find when you get back together after that break, that's two weeks or a month that they're the one dumping you, that they're ready to exit the relationship, too, that what they feared being alone was not as scary in the end as being in a relationship that they knew wasn't going anywhere and wasn't working.
It was in a relationship for like seven years. And after I ended it, I couldn't believe that he could make his own dentist appointments. I didn't know that I was in that relationship for so long because I would think to myself, he does not know what to do without me.
And that's a big youthful sentiment and it's a big burden to carry.
And it's a way for someone to control you. Yeah. By convincing you that, you know, if you left, they would fall apart. And so you hesitate to leave. And that's not I mean, sometimes it's a subconscious strategy on the part of the person he knows are about to be dumped or wants to ensure they might not get dumped by, like, upping their helplessness the longer they're in the relationship to to prevent you from exiting or making you feel like you can never.
Hey, Julian, can I ask how's the sex? Yeah, it's pretty good. I mean, they will say we are somewhat open, so we are able to, you know, get other people involved sometimes, which is fine. But the sex with him specifically is becoming less and less exciting.
All right. You know what you need to do as the Netflix watch? That was the networks.
You know, it's not what you want it to be anymore. I feel like I'm losing inches pretty fast. So I love the idea of taking time apart and hoping they like he can see that there maybe is not something he wants or that he's actually acting alone. I love that idea.
And Julian, you know, you haven't been disparaging at all towards him. It sounds like you do love him. And I don't know, maybe he would be open to that idea. And that eases the pressure on both of you guys for the time being or maybe the next month or whatever time period you guys can decide on. But I would be honest, you know, I think, like Dan said, maybe you can be friends with benefits, but you have to give them that choice.
And it sounds like you're a sensitive person, which is a good thing.
And that's often a problem when it comes to your relationship. Because, Julian, you sound like a good kind person. And to be a good kind person in a situation where you know that there's something you have to do that's going to cause this person that you have good feelings about a tremendous amount of pain, you hesitate because how do you reconcile that with yourself? Conception is a good person who's in this position where you have to hurt someone that you have feelings for, had feelings for.
Dan, you could have saved me a lot of money in my life.
And you can be a good person and a relationship that's not right, because the shitty thing to do is to allow it go on and on and on and allow that person to make what is a fruitless investment in you. That's not a good thing to do either. You know, you feel like it's not good to, like, hurt somebody. It's not good to let somebody believe something isn't true and believe in a relationship that is ending and invest in that relationship.
My mom always told me growing up to be selfish and love and I I grappled with that idea, but I really do believe it now. At the time, I didn't understand exactly what she meant. But I think that in protecting your heart, you're also protecting his heart, too, and his other organs and other organs.
Yes, that's true. Dan, that's why you're so good at this. Back to the deck. I'm really enjoying this.
I we enjoy doing this, but Savage Love cast my podcast. But we're going to love this.
A three way conversation about this from the three way it all forms we love is amazing to think Julian would be helpful at all. Oh, my God. Yes. Oh, good. Quarantine issues are pretty fascinating and intense right now. It's a time when I don't think any of us really know what we're doing, but Julie knows what he needs to do.
Julie needs to go break her heart. Yeah, sounds like it.
I know you guys are amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Keep us posted. OK. OK, I will. Thanks, Jillian. Right. OK, bye bye.
Good bye. Hey, Dan, what are you doing for the rest of the day? Well, just my my dumb podcast, Savage Love cast now in its 14th year or 14 years. That is crazy, isn't it? Well, you're amazing at it. Thanks. Let's please talk again. I would love that any time. All right. All right.