Is It Time to Kill Sacred Cows In Your Relationship? (#77)

Danielle Teller and Astro Teller on the Tim Ferriss Show

[Preface: Would you like to sponsor The Tim Ferriss Show, the #1 business podcast on iTunes and one of the iTunes “Best of 2014”? Click here for details.]

Dr. Astro Teller is a computer scientist and entrepreneur who currently oversees Google[x], Google’s moonshot factory. Dr. Danielle Teller is a physician specializing in intensive care and lung medicine; she has trained doctors and run research programs at Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Together, they are the authors of Sacred Cows.

In this conversation — my first podcast with a couple — we cover a lot of my usual questions (favorite books, routines, philosophies of living, etc.) but focus on something I haven’t personally figured out: relationships.

It’s important to note that the Tellers are not “for” marriage but, rather, “for” the freedom to decide how to live most honestly and happily, whether as part of a couple or as a single person.

Combining the rigor that has established them as leaders in their respective fields, Astro and Danielle walk me through how they think about relationships, and how they survive and thrive as two driven people.

Sidenote: Want to see me tackle dating experiments, struggle with live “cold approaches,” and optimize online dating with a computer hacker? Be sure to watch my “Dating Game” episode of The Tim Ferriss Experiment here.

Enjoy the podcast below!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#77: What Do Google X, Medicine, and Great Relationships Have In Common?

This podcast is sponsored by LSTN Headphones. LSTN Headphones are gorgeous headphones that I use. They’re made of real exotic, reclaimed wood. Proceeds from each purchase help a hearing-impaired person hear for the first time through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Here are some of the headphones I wear and travel with: that page, use the code “TIM” to get $50 off orders of $99 or more!

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for the 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive resultsClick this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run and share your results!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Are you pursuing monogamy? Why or why not? Have you figured out other rules that work for you and your partner? Please (seriously, please) let me know in the comments! I expect this thread will have some great suggestions.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.

Non-iTunes RSS feed

Selected Links from the Episode

Get the Book on Amazon | Google Play || | TEDxBoston

Recipe for a Monogamy Cocktail

  • 3 Parts Rosemary-Infused Vodka
  • 2 Parts Vanilla-Infused Cognac
  • 1 Part Lemon Juice

Show Notes

  • A little bit about the work of Astro and Danielle [6:30]
  • Thoughts on the usefulness of a long-term plan [11:30]
  • Deconstructing how Astro and Danielle approach challenges and plans [12:35]
  • Exploring the “soulmate” concept of one true love [15:50]
  • Differentiating between true love and society’s view of marriage and divorce [19:30]
  • New ways of seeing marriage and creating space from social pressure [22:45]
  • Why Astro and Danielle decided to get married for a second time [28:44]
  • Thoughts on fear factors [31:00]
  • The reasons for getting married in authentically happy couples [34:20]
  • The most common mistakes type-A men make in large relationship decisions [36:20]
  • How Danielle and Astro first met [39:35]
  • Exploring my own fears of losing at the game of marriage [41:45]
  • How Danielle and Astro view conflict resolution in their marriage [46:30]
  • Family rituals of Astro and Danielle [50:35]
  • How Astro and Danielle think about managing spouse and children relationships [55:35]
  • The worst advice for “significant other” relationships [56:50]
  • Do you know single people older than 40 who are authentically happy? [59:55]
  • The most impactful $100 for Danielle and Astro [1:08:50]
  • Favorite/most-gifted books [1:13:35]
  • Who is the first person who comes to mind when you think “successful”? [1:19:30]
  • If you could ask anyone from all of history 100 questions about anything who would you choose? [1:22:05]
  • Ways in which medical/scientific training has helped with family relationships [1:23:15]
  • How Astro Teller thinks about death and how to live life intensely every single day [1:31:30]
  • How Danielle Teller measures the success of a day [1:40:15]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

118 Replies to “Is It Time to Kill Sacred Cows In Your Relationship? (#77)”

  1. Hi All

    Thank you Tim for another great podcast. I just found a way to download the podcast straight to my Android phone in Chrome. Just hold you finger on the play button and it should ask you to save the video. That simple. Hope it helps someone.

    1. or might wanna install the app called “Podcast Addicts” which is free, or any other free podcast apps and just add “The Tim Ferriss Show” to your feed

  2. Hi Tim, I think of monogamy as the label we give when we’ve completed our pursuit – like receiving a Bachelor or Master degree after years of education, personal growth, and hard work etc. There’s much more involved in earning it that to simply chase it.

    Having been cheated on before, I look at what level of personal accountability I had in those situations in order to grow. Often, it’s that I held on for too long to someone who didn’t know what they wanted for themselves, either in life or in a partner.

    So rather than pursue monogamy, I pursue a “whole person” – someone grounded enough in his own idea of himself after years of education, personal growth, and hard work. If our two wholes add up to one solid couple then I hope to be awarded with monogamy. What I’ve learned now, is when to recognize that person – similar to how Astro is trying to help his brother.

    But hell, haha, nothing’s worked out yet so keep these talks coming, every little bit helps!

    1. I really like that view.

      Being cheated on seemed to completely change your perspective.

      Pursuing a whole person. I’d define that as someone who is very self aware in themselves and who they are.

      Can you tell immediately whether someone fits that mold? Do you have that intuition or does it take a couple of separate meetings?

      Personally, I feel like I can tell pretty quickly.

    2. It’s as good an approach as any but still comes off as shopping for a partner, and if what you want is a relationship, you can’t go into it seeing the other person as an object you’re buying. That’ll guarantee that you fail. Even couples that stay together with that mindset are not going to be as happy in the long run.

      Relationship may be a noun but relating is a verb, just as love ideally is.

      And just because a person thinks they know who they are and what they want today doesn’t mean that won’t change tomorrow. For some people all it takes is a major life crisis–and anyone who lives long enough will run into at least one of those eventually.

      I think people wind up being unfaithful and unhappy because they are willing to be flexible in their sex lives but not flexible anywhere else. To be successful at monogamy it has to be almost the opposite–yeah, willing to try new things with your *existing partner* but no more flexible than that, however willing to adapt to new situations and overcome them everywhere else in your life.

      I cannot point to a successful relationship on my end and say “look, it worked for me” but I CAN look back and see how not being willing to adapt and meet someone halfway killed a lot of my relationships or ensured that one would never start. And on some subjects you have to be all “my way or the highway”–one guy I left because he had some serious personal issues that would have involved the cops sooner or later. (Hell, my marriage ended because I had *that* one arrested. No, I didn’t see it coming, and neither did anyone else he knew.) But most relationship “crises” aren’t going to be that serious. And yet, also in other people’s relationships and not just mine, over and over I see people falling apart because they won’t work together and can’t cope when stuff changes.

  3. Been your fangirl for a long time – congratulations on all your hard work and success. I was hoping for you to cover the topic of relationships: something I haven’t figured out for myself either… for a variety of reasons, perhaps overlapping some of your own. So, thank you for doing this!

    It’s 2am now, but I look forward to listening to this tomorrow.

  4. Hi Tim — here are two of my top relationship principles:

    1) “Love is appreciation, not possession.” –Osho

    2) Responsibility is split 100/100, not 50/50.

    This orientation helps to eliminate blame and hypocrisy and encourage togetherness and understanding.

    If two people are making soup together, and one person puts something nasty into the soup, it is the other person’s responsibility to remove it, as if he himself had put it in. In a relationship, both people have the capacity to act proactively and responsibly with respect to any behavior on the part of the other. We are all responsible for our own actions; however, we are also responsible for the effects our actions have on others, including the atmosphere we create as a context for others’ actions. If your partner does something objectionable, how can you contribute to reducing the motivation for that behavior? No matter whose action it is, there is always something you can do. We are not responsible for others actions, but we are responsible for eliminating our own participation in actions we condemn.

    3) BONUS: — A thorough website on healing through sexual relationships, which explains the science behind porn addiction and side-effects of frequent orgasm, and teaches how to achieve the “valley orgasm” through karezza (most people who try it never go back to normal orgasms). I think this alone could save Western Civilization.

  5. I think Mike Elias really hit some great insights in his comment above.

    Hoping not to simplify it too much, in my marriage (11 years on Friday) monogamy has gotten easier and easier over time as we’ve chosen not to feed the wolf. Conversely, I’ve got friends in open relationships who admit their addiction to the chase and novelty rush, so I think it’s a matter of what you prioritize.

    Here are a couple keys that have helped along the way related to staying monogamous:

    1 – Being vocal about our desires and how the other can help meet them. This has only grown as we’ve continued to make a safe environment for each of us to share our thoughts, regardless of how crazy they might sound.

    2 – Verbalizing when we’ve felt jealous or insecure by something the other did. I’ve never been the jealous type, but it cropped up out of the blue recently and letting her know about it helped diffuse it and prevent a wall from forming.

    3 – Knowing how much it would hurt the other person if we crossed that line is always a great reminder. Flipping the situation in my head helps every time the thought arises.

    4 – *This is going to make us sound like elitists, but we’ve both come to realize that no matter how attractive someone else might be that we could have a fling with, the drama and chance of being a headcase is really high, offsetting whatever fantasy we think we might be fulfilling.

    In the end, we have worked so hard to create a spectacular relationship that we wouldn’t ever want to jeopardize it by feeding some selfish whim that crops up. It really is the greatest gift in the world and I wish every marriage the same joy and fulfillment we have!

  6. I am on my second happy marriage. I can’t say what will work for others to find Mr or Ms Right but I know what worked for me.

    First is to know yourself very well. This will go far to help you avoid doomed-from-the-start relationships.

    If possible, be friends first. That way you will can judge a person’s character rationally. Once you are in the heat of passion, common sense goes out the window.

    Don’t sleep with anyone crazier than yourself. And never sleep with anyone you don’t actually LIKE .

    Once you are committed remember that LOVE is more than something you fall in and out of. Love is a verb. This means acting loving even if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve fallen out of love and that’s OK. It happens to everyone and will probably pass. It’s unreasonable to expect to keep up that “in love” feeling 24/7 for a lifetime.

    You WILL have conflicts. Try to make them productive. Use them to learn more about each other. This means really listening to each other and finding the underlying meaning behind the words. When you fight over who takes out the garbage it’s probably not really about the garbage.

    When my husband and I got married we wrote our own vows. We did not promise to love each other forever. We promised to use our relationship to send 2 better people out into the world by bringing our best possible selves to the table every day and to help the other person do the same.

    I hope this helps someone. I’ve been married a total of 32 years and hopefully have learned a few things along the way. 🙂

    1. love it. even better than the podcast ;). with only one mention. Usually when we are just friends for the start if you are too rational it is very possible to lose romance. Difficult to keep the balance.

  7. Riveting podcast, Tim. I’m in my late 30s and struggling with many of the same questions ricocheting around in your mind as well – very therapeutic to hear the group discussion on these topics with enlightened minds. This one has definite replay value here for me. The search to define my path continues.

  8. Tim – sorry for the double posting. In addition to George Clooney, after divorcing early in life Anthony Bourdain (who would make an amazing podcast guest) just happily explored his passion for food and travel until his 50s. Only then did he get married and have a child. Had a recent interview in Wine Spectator which was tremendous.

  9. Lived in a unilateral monogamy for 7 years. Wich means, that I was monogamous and my girlfriend hat several partners. I strongly belive, that relationships don´t need to be “tit for tat”.

  10. Tim, I feel you should be clearer with your definitions. You have taught me this lesson multiple times over. In the 4HWW you told us to look for what would make us “excited” as opposed to what would make us “happy”. Because “happy” has such a poor definition. I loved this advice!

    You already know that you can find “happiness” with a bottle of Malbec and good company over a nice meal. So can you really use the word “happy” in the context of a relationship?

    In the the interview you asked about couples being “happy”. What does that actually mean? They are “in love”, they are “excited” to spend the rest of their lives together or they are “comfortable” not being with other people.

    I think if you are looking for “happiness” in a relationship you won’t find it. Happiness is an emotion that changes moment by moment regardless of how much you love someone. I think you need to ask a better question if you want find a better answer.

  11. Hi Tim Fans,

    Growing older and being single for awhile now. My goals have changed from my older friends and I have started to become isolated. The fact I listen to Tim Ferris and to many of his past guests I struggle with meeting liked minded people. Any suggestions on meeting like minded people?

    1. Hi Greg! I feel the same: as I age (51) and explore myself further during my 5-15 years of single-hood (depending how you count), I find fewer and fewer people I can relate to on a deeper level that fulfills me. So I’ve learned to stop expecting that I will, I enjoy my own company, I stop needing another. I don’t stop WANTING another, a good match is a fantastic experience. But I won’t put myself in a bad partnership just for its own sake. Read Osho’s “Love, Freedom and Aloneness.” Its truth seems frightening but freeing. (I am only guessing, I’m not fully “there” yet!)

  12. Astro actually seems incredibly obnoxious, and hypocritical.

    So this dude completely failed in his first marriage. Then he suddenly realized to just be respectful and loving and open towards his new wife. Good job Einstein!!!! This isn’t rocket science, which is something Astro is really good at, ironically. Just be a good person, have empathy, and care about another person’s goals when entering a relationship with them.

    He just had one successful relationship and now he wants to write a book about it. Dude just loves talking down to people, and its clear that not him or Danielle were able to sleep at night knowing that had accomplished so much in life but failed at love. Just admit that you need the validation of marriage so you can fit in. That’s why we all want marriage, to find a partner to rely on and solidify our contract to the structure of society. He claims to not stand for anything in particular except for standing against hypocrisy. WTF??!! He claims that he doesn’t care about “being married” he just couldn’t imagine not marrying this woman. uhhh….I think that’s called caring about marriage. What an ego this guy has……..I’d much rather hear this guy talk about tech, not his one successful relationship.

    Tim on the other hand is great. And his openness and humor keeps the conversation light, instead of just being an hour long ego stroking rampage for these two goons.

    1. Also:

      “I feel sorry for these people who can’t accept death. They need to get over it. We’re NEVER going to solve these problems.”

      Seconds later:

      “Having better internet connectivity is the BEST THING THAT COULD BE DONE FOR HUMANITY.”

      Makes me disappointed in how “big” these GoogleX concepts are supposed to be.

    2. Thanks for writing this. I agree completely.

      He was so angry at the “hypocrisy” of society being OK with people changing their minds about a relationship up until the very moment of marriage. Dude. That’s the whole point of getting married – you’re deciding to commit forever.

      All the references to love being an “emotion” and something that you can’t control, and marriage actually being more of a promise of “I hope I love you forever, but if I don’t, I’m going to leave, and you should want me to” … but then at the same time acting like that could never happen to THEM because they were lucky enough to find “TRUE” love … what? I couldn’t even get through this whole podcast because half the time I felt like I was listening to a couple of teenagers.

      Clearly they’re brilliant and much more successful than I am professionally, but being successful one area of life doesn’t make you an expert on everything. This is an important topic, but surely there are better people out there to look to for guidance on relationships.

    3. Completely agree, this guy is beta to the core. He doesn’t even let the ink dry on his divorce before he jumps right into the next relationship. But this time it’s different because…he is a full believer in love now. Ok…got it.

    4. Good to know other people got that impression also. I thought it was just me. I thought she was interesting especially when she described her work in the medicine but marriage experts. I didn’t get that.

    5. Totally agree, this is the first of Tim’s podcasts I couldn’t get through. I felt early on that I could learn nothing about relationships from these two, just starting out on their married lives after previous failures. Good luck to them, but allegedly having big brains means nothing when it comes to having broad hearts.

  13. Hey! I like the term monogamish. I have tried variants of non-monogamy but it’s definitely difficult. It’s difficult because we don’t fully understand attachment, and the neuro basis of love. A great book on this is ‘a general theory of love’. Also see a post called ‘navigating non-escalator relationships on a website called ‘polysingleish’.

  14. It’s ironic but I think the paradox of choice comes into play when it comes to finding a partner and being happy. Most of the people I know who are truly happy in their relationships adjusted their mindset from finding the “perfect” match to satisficing, and then got on with building a real union/team.

    If anything, finding someone you believe to be “perfect” puts you at a disadvantage, because when life brings hard times your way, you’re totally unprepared to deal with things. I think you can build a much better foundation to fall back on when your expectations are tempered and you’ve accepted that not everything is or will be perfect.

  15. Tim, this is random I know, but I was listening to a previous show and you mention zero drop shoes. You started talking about how you had a pair of vans that passed as dress shoes. What type were they?

  16. The best advice I have practiced in my relationship is “Wake up every morning and do one thing that will bring the other person’s dream one step closer.”

  17. You asked if there were any single people out there over 40 who are happy. Having a successful partnership can be a wonderful thing, but it is certainly not the only key to happiness. In fact, if one seeks to derive his happiness based on a relationship with another person, it is surely a recipe for disappointment. Also, being self-sufficiently happy usually makes one much more attractive to others.

    To be single, especially in your 40’s has enormous benefits of freedom and choice. Everything has trade-offs, but it is perfectly possible to be single and still have a rich, fulfilling and happy life. For most of human history marriage has been primarily been an economic relationship. People’s needs for friendship, sex, support, intimacy, etc. were not expected to only be fulfilled by their spouse. Life is full of valuable and important relationships.

    Thanks for all the great podcasts. I appreciate your nerdy curiosity, constant self-examination and search for excellence.

  18. Totally related to this podcast. Being on my second marriage I feel like I learned so much going through a failed one maybe everyone should do a trial run (just kidding). Here are a couple of my reflections:

    1. For me, knowing my wife was the right one was as simple as asking if I would want to have children with her. I think we are much more likely to tolerate a shitty partner than a shitty kid. Kids are 50/50 of the two people putting in the DNA. You can’t walk away from your kid (hopefully we are on the same page on that one), so when you look at a mini version of your partner: the way they handle stress, the way they get angry, are they cool or are they bat shit crazy? you really look at then differently. You don’t look at the job, or the money, the looks (but who wants an ugly kid?), you look much more intently on who they are on a day to day basis because 50% of your kid is going to be that, whatever that is.

    2. Being on the same sleep schedule. When I was in relationships where she was a night owl I loved it! That’s not a good thing. Peace and quiet in the morning is great, but when its because she’s asleep and not being a dick, that’s not a great recipe for a lasting relationship…. a good one at least. Some of us need to be hit in the head to realize we are in a crappy relationship.

    3. They have to be someone that can go everywhere you go. This does not mean that they go everywhere you go, but when they do, they can blend in, be a part of the group or the scene or whatever it is you are doing. I’ve found this quality to be huge! I can take my wife anywhere and it’s like she is an extension of me. It’s awesome.

    To address the idea of “novelty” I think it is important to point out that it is an easy avenue to take when really it’s not the problem. Novelty itself is not a problem, it’s that novelty is usually someone else’s bed, or backseat or whatever. People need to look at that need for excitement and address themselves, especially if you DID marry the right person but you find yourself wandering anyways. There are healthy novelties and unhealthy ones. You just need to make sure you are not doing the backseat novelties.

  19. Tim, I’m wondering if you’ve looked into the hormonal and psychological basis of the novelty seeking (NS) personality trait. I have a lot of similar fears regarding relationships and have found the literature on PubMed etc. on that pretty relatable. It partially helped me figure out that my chronic life-long anemia may have messed with my dopamine receptors due to a lack of oxygen saturation (my body sucks at storing iron). Wondering if either extreme (too little or too much) could affect fears vs motivators regarding relationships.

    Regarding my thoughts/rules relating to the podcast, I feel that if someone is in a relationship and the idea of a super long-term relationship with the other isn’t a HELL YES on a somewhat regular basis, then it’s reassessment time. Otherwise, you risk waking up one day kinda feeling like a lobster in a Pizza Hut. Asking yourself whether it is or not though can be a brutal internal dialogue to have, so the best rule I’ve found is…have balls. This applies to men and women. Don’t give in to feeling the need to keep up with others, don’t fear fuck ups and follow what makes you regularly happy and fulfilled. Nothing and nobody will make you happy 100% of the time but he/she should be a regular beacon of happiness and not a chronic source of pain in your ass (unless you’re into that) or feelings of responsibility for the other person. Really agreed with Astro’s advice to his brother @ 33:16 (don’t be with someone unless you have to be with them) just because passion is number one for me, personally. I do, however, disagree with their approach of going to bed to forget or get over an argument @ 49:07.

    If you are arguing or talking for 4 hours and it just gets worse or nothing comes of it, it’s not the strategy that’s sucking…it’s just shitty communication abilities because you or the other or both are too pissed off to be level-headed. Take a 5 minute walk or shower or splash cold water on your face and then talk. But we don’t do that when we’re busy being mad. We word vomit. So don’t miss out on an opportunity to understand the real source of conflict just because it’s easier to forget about it when you’re angry. That same dumb thing you argued about could keep causing mini arguments every few weeks or months till finally the other person snaps. The stupid thing you argued about could’ve just been a trigger of a deeper resentment or insecurity within the relationship…and that’s worth exploring.

    Dag nabbit! I rambled too much.

  20. Tim, I’m wondering if you’ve looked into the hormonal and psychological basis of the novelty seeking (NS) personality trait. I have a lot of similar fears regarding relationships and have found the literature on PubMed etc. on that pretty relatable. It partially helped me figure out that my chronic life-long anemia may have messed with my dopamine receptors due to a lack of oxygen saturation (my body sucks at storing iron). Wondering if either extreme (too little or too much) could affect fears vs motivators regarding relationships.

    Regarding my thoughts/rules relating to the podcast, I feel that if someone is in a relationship and the idea of a super long-term relationship with the other isn’t a HELL YES on a somewhat regular basis, then it’s reassessment time. Otherwise, you risk waking up one day kinda feeling like a lobster in a Pizza Hut. Asking yourself whether it is or not though can be a brutal internal dialogue to have, so the best rule I’ve found is…have balls. This applies to men and women. Don’t give in to feeling the need to keep up with others, don’t fear fuck ups and follow what makes you regularly happy and fulfilled. Nothing and nobody will make you happy 100% of the time but he/she should be a regular beacon of happiness and not a chronic source of pain in your ass (unless you’re into that) or feelings of responsibility for the other person. Really agreed with Astro’s advice to his brother @ 33:16 (don’t be with someone unless you have to be with them) just because passion is number one for me, personally. I do, however, disagree with their approach of going to bed to forget or get over an argument @ 49:07.

    If you are arguing or talking for 4 hours and it just gets worse or nothing comes of it, it’s not the strategy that’s sucking…it’s just shitty communication abilities because you or the other or both are too pissed off to be level-headed. Take a 5 minute walk or shower or splash cold water on your face and then talk. But we don’t do that when we’re busy being mad. We word vomit. So don’t miss out on an opportunity to understand the real source of conflict just because it’s easier to forget about it when you’re angry. That same dumb thing you argued about could keep causing mini arguments every few weeks or months till finally the other person snaps. The stupid thing you argued about could’ve just been a trigger of a deeper resentment or insecurity within the relationship…and that’s worth exploring.

    Dag nabbit! I rambled too much.

  21. As a 40yo male who has been bouncing around the globe and playing capture the flag for the last 7 years, this topic was quite on point for me, so I just wanted to say thanks. Also, as a native CA boy who is a bit of a wine snob, how could you possibly serve that plonk to guests? I spend the bulk of each year in Argentina and can give you some great recs on Argentine wines if you are interested (from Patagonia to Salta).

  22. Soulmates ≠ Life Partner

    Our society is obsessed with the idea that we have to find our Soulmate and marry them. Soulmates can come in different forms (ages, genders, etc.) and do not necessarily have imply a romantic nor sexual relationship.

    Soulmate+Life Partner=You (Self)

    As a Divorcée at age 28, I had to figure out my life, and in the healing process I learned that the best Soulmate and Life Partner was me. Now at 33, I have no rush to get into a Life Partner relationship. Yes, I see babies sometimes and I think “someday”. Perhaps I remain single because I am in the process of focusing on executing my master plan a la 4HWW, so I don’t want a “distraction” (hee hee). All kidding aside, anyone that continues to grow in personal development will find that happiness is simple and comes in different ways. For me it’s daily rituals to receive #grace #gratitude #grit.


    Tim! Kudos for interviewing “misfits” in this podcast. Usually Type A personalities and Divorced Peeps get a bad rap. You’ve given voice to a different perspective, and I look forward to listening to more podcasts on relationships. There’s definitely aspects of relationships that affect and interest your listeners. Consider: forgiveness, relationship “rules”, and self care.

  23. As a 20 year old this was really great to listen too. To hear perspectives on love, relationships and marriage from those much more experienced and older than me is invaluable. I’m curious, Tim what were your thoughts on marriage and having children at my age?

    I feel like I am too selfish for children and I would not have them in my current state of mind. And marriage is something I don’t see as a key factor if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone.

    As someone who has believes women can be a big distraction to success the comment Astro made about Tinder and his brother was really interesting to counter that belief.

    I know relationships can be amazing, and personally I’d much rather meet a woman in person and create a connection from there. But Astros’ right. We have this image of this ideal person in our head we think we would want to be with. But more often that’s a fallacy and using an app like Tinder is a great way to fast track that process and really see what type of woman we really bond with.

  24. Tim,

    I share the same fears about marriage.

    I’ve hesitated for years to jump into relationships. I always felt there was more to life than “finding a soul mate”. I don’t have a lot experience with a line of boyfriends. But in theory, observing relationships, and reading about relationships, I get it. I’m happy for my friends that are married, but marriage for me is a inside job; finding peace and the right kind of happiness within myself before merging with someone. It would be nice to have a husband one day – that loves himself for the man that he is. But it’s so much nicer, to walk into a marriage, where two people are compatible partners, and happiness is about each fulling their life purpose, finding balance, and sharing that experience.

  25. Great podcast once again Tim. Semi-interesting how they both were unclear when you asked them why they got married (instead of forgoing the “formality”). Marriage is obviously a hot topic as of late but I think this conversation was more proof that it is actually something (and something that can be figured out).

    1. I noticed that too Joe! People get married typically because it’s what society says to do…but the idea that you can put a contract on “together forever” isn’t really workable.

    2. I think Dr. Astro was pretty clear that he couldn’t imagine not being married to his true love.

      1. And that still doesn’t answer why he got married. I can’t imagine not living in the city I do, but that says nothing about why I DO live in this city.

  26. Secret to a great relationship. Bids. It’s crazy. This guy has a house in which he watches couples. And with a 90% accuracy rate of predicting happily married couples

    Married have always surveyed happier Does not mean you can’t be happy single Life is easier with help with a partner. We are social creatures we crave connection.

  27. Hi Tim,

    The Dr. Tellers made a lot of great points. I related to everything being discussed. In the end, this podcast left me with more questions than answers. I know it might be hard to find more content like this, but it would be very helpful.

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

    P.S. I’m curious… why are there only a few comments on this podcast.

  28. Hhahhahhahahahahhahahhahahahah1 Good one Tim!!!!

    Trying to figure out r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p-s. Uh huh. Sure. I am retired bud, and have never figured it out. I gave up a long time ago. Let the ladies work on it. I will take the dog for a walk now.

  29. This was a decent podcast. Tim’s openness on the topic made it interesting, but the guests definitely came off like “Love Amateurs” to me. I may still be one myself. I’ve been monogamous for the last 10 years, and married for 5 of them (Yes, all the to same woman).

    Their discussion of love and the falling in and out of love with your partner seemed like a young person’s view of love. I recognize the saying “Love is a verb” gets thrown around a lot – but for me and my wife, it’s proven itself true.

    Love the feeling comes and goes in waves. No human can sustain such profound levels of human emotion for such a long time. Recognizing this truth is very liberating as it allows you to feel what you’re feeling without the guilt. (They did mention this in the podcast separately, but not in the same context)

    The actual act of committing to a person carries it’s own weight that propels a relationship forward. When you recognize that you can’t just leave when things get hard,it changes your perspective on relationship problems. From “Maybe I should leave” to “how can I work this out”.

    In regards to finding the right person, I am a complete contradiction. My marriage has taught me that I might be able to do this with more than one person – but I also believe I was meant to be with my wife. We’ve grown so much together. Our relationship has aged and gotten better as we’ve gone along – just like a fine wine.

    My wife and I have also been through marriage counseling – for a specific issue in our relationship. We went in looking to fix one problem, and came out of the experience with so many more skills that would help us in the future. I believe that every monogamous couple should go through some form of relationship counseling simply for these benefits. Even in the relationship is great at the moment, it’s still worth while.

    – Side note: Our therapist was thrilled to work with us because our questionnaires (that we took separately) were almost identical and showed us that we had a strong relationship. It might do our psychiatrist/psychologist friends some good to see some more couples in counseling before things get bat-shit crazy 🙂

    Tim, my advice to you is to focus on friendship and companionship that comes when you commit to another individual. Obviously that person has to be the right fit which I realize is the crux of your current problem. Remember this: A relationship is not about winning, it’s about growing with another person. It’s ok to wait for that serendipitous moment, but don’t throw away a good thing because you think you might be missing out. Commit and grow – you’ll be surprised at the results.

  30. This was a decent podcast. Tim’s openness on the topic made it interesting, but the guests definitely came off like “Love Amateurs” to me. I may still be one myself. I’ve been monogamous for the last 10 years, and married for 5 of them (Yes, all the to same woman).

    Their discussion of love and the falling in and out of love with your partner seemed like a young person’s view of love. I recognize the saying “Love is a verb” gets thrown around a lot – but for me and my wife, it’s proven itself true.

    Love the feeling comes and goes in waves. No human can sustain such profound levels of human emotion for such a long time. Recognizing this truth is very liberating as it allows you to feel what you’re feeling without the guilt. (They did mention this in the podcast separately, but not in the same context)

    The actual act of committing to a person carries it’s own weight that propels a relationship forward. When you recognize that you can’t just leave when things get hard,it changes your perspective on relationship problems. From “Maybe I should leave” to “how can I work this out”.

    In regards to finding the right person, I am a complete contradiction. My marriage has taught me that I might be able to do this with more than one person – but I also believe I was meant to be with my wife. We’ve grown so much together. Our relationship has aged and gotten better as we’ve gone along – just like a fine wine.

    My wife and I have also been through marriage counseling – for a specific issue in our relationship. We went in looking to fix one problem, and came out of the experience with so many more skills that would help us in the future. I believe that every monogamous couple should go through some form of relationship counseling simply for these benefits. Even in the relationship is great at the moment, it’s still worth while.

    – Side note: Our therapist was thrilled to work with us because our questionnaires (that we took separately) were almost identical and showed us that we had a strong relationship. It might do our psychiatrist/psychologist friends some good to see some more couples in counseling before things get bat-shit crazy 🙂

    Tim, my advice to you is to focus on friendship and companionship that comes when you commit to another individual. Obviously that person has to be the right fit which I realize is the crux of your current problem. Remember this: A relationship is not about winning, it’s about growing with another person. It’s ok to wait for that serendipitous moment, but don’t throw away a good thing because you think you might be missing out. Commit and grow – you’ll be surprised at the results.

  31. Tim, my ears pricked at about the 42.30 mark when you mentioned Sex at Dawn and said monogamy is like putting your psyche in a straight jacket. I have no doubt one of your goals is to self-actualize and be fully integrated.

    I also have no doubt that you are not monogamous by nature. Most of us are not.

    And for that couple to suggest you haven’t met the right partner yet to feel like one person can fulfill all your needs and desires – including novelty – is misguided. Maybe they can rock the monogamous lifestyle, but most people can not.

    I’m 42 and a sex worker and have been in an open relationship with an amazing man for over 7 years. We are extremely fulfilled and have the best of both worlds – comfort and security, as well as exciting novelty, not just when we travel and dine out and watch movies, but when we explore other lovers. Every time we taste someone new, it brings us closer and allows us to appreciate what we have even more.

    You are one of my role models and I admire all that you do. I’m excited that I’m an expert in something you’re not – relationships! I recommend you read the new book “The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love,” by Franklin Veaux. Or my blog, or many other resources about non-monogamy!

    You, too, can have your cake and eat it, too! Partner with an amazing woman and not be in a straight jacket! Don’t commit yourself to an insane asylum like so many Americans do!

    – Kendra Holliday, The Beautiful Kind

  32. People who are complete have thriving and mutually beneficial relationships. There is a high level of independence for both people. People who are incomplete will always latch on, make the other responsible for their happiness, and seek fulfillment in the relationship rather than themselves.

  33. I never used to want to be married, but I did it for the respect for my parents. But now, I do wanna be committed to a monogamous relationship. I used to think that marriage means restrictions of freedom.. Now I see it as the foundation of true freedom

  34. I’m pretty lucky. After years of drama with some less than good matches and some truly unsuitable men (think small claims court, lock changes, restraining orders) i finally got tired and decided it was better to be alone than to be with someone who was not exactly what I wanted: kind, smart, funny, respectful, good at conversation, reasonably attractive, liked some of the same stuff I did and didn’t expect me to support him financially. I figured this person did not exist and I was fine on my own (I’ve lived all over the world and have tons of friends and a wonderful extended family) so I forgot all about it. I gave myself 100% permission to be “an old maid” by choice and felt relieved that I could stop looking and just live my life. A few months later I met Jim, who answers all my above criteria and then some. We were both in our mid-40s and never married; now we’ve been married 8 years. We are each other’s biggest fans/best friends as well as lovers and I can’t imagine either of us ever cheating. Once you’ve been around the block a million times it’s nice to come home. I’m grateful to the “bad” people in my past because they taught me very clearly what I didn’t want and shone a spotlight what I did. I’m not judging anyone who feels they need something outside the marriage as long as you are both ok with it. All relationships are different. But if it constitutes betrayal…i’d wonder how i could live with myself, let alone the other person.

  35. My husband and I have been in a monogamous relationship (in this case, married) for the past twenty-two years, and counting. Still happy with each other, still in love.

    Are we deliriously happy? Not like we were when we first married, but we know how to recapture that ‘in-love’ feeling periodically. We love each other more deeply now that we did when we first married.

    Have we never thought of anyone other than each other? Of course not. We have eyes, and hearts and hormones. But we made a promise to each other twenty-two years ago to be absolutely honest with each other about how we felt (about each other, and about other people). It’s not easy to hear that your spouse is attracted to someone else, but it paradoxically helps us to draw closer to each other and be better friends when we do.

    Do we ever get angry? Oh goodness yes. Screaming fights? Occasionally (PMS makes life really interesting every month). But he sacrifices some things for me, and I make sacrifices for him. He helps me become better, and I help him.

    We’re not perfect, but we work at our relationship consciously. It’s a major priority for both of us, because life just doesn’t work as well for either of us when the relationship is sick. He picks me up flowers every week when we go shopping. We’ve continued to ‘date’ each other every week for the past twenty-two years, and

    I think that marriage is like a game.

    It has rules (like, be as kind as you can, be honest and talk to each other freely, give to each other, take care of yourself, spend time together).

    You can either follow the rules and enjoy the game, or not follow the rules and upend the whole gameboard.

  36. I’m 45 years old. Been married 19 years. Monogamous the whole time. Will stay married to my wife as long as we live. Will stay monogamous.

    I have said that when I reach the end of my life, my marriage will be my greatest accomplishment. Because it will have required the most effort. Marriage and monogamy are really difficult at times. There are many factors that can affect the people in a relationship (and therefore the relationship): diet, sleep, childhood experiences, the way the person interpreted those experiences, physiology (depression, bipolar, etc), life events (loss of career, career pursuits, death in the family, accidents, and on into infinitum).

    Plus… there are emotions. Which can be the cause of the relationship. But which are terribly fickle. That said, however, love is everything. A romantic relationship initiated and sustained by love is the most fulfilling, life-giving experience a human can have. Which is a stuffy way of saying: falling in love and being loved back is the greatest thing ever.

    Fortunately there are enough examples of those kind of relationships, and there is enough advice, that we need not stumble through the dark in our marriages or relationships.

    Related: This article just posted today. Might be useful:

  37. Hey Tim

    Have friends son looking for broadcast / media internship. I know you were looking at one time for summer interns .


  38. Love the Patrick Rothfuss mention. He’d be a great one for the show. Not just a fantastic writer, but he also has a real life wizard beard and is very actively involved in charity

  39. Hi Tim,

    I see what you are trying to do.

    You love re-construct everything, trying to discover certain pattern, trends, methodology and tactics so you or anyone who learn from you can master the skill quickly. I really admire that.

    But I want to share my opinion specifically on relationship. This is probably the only thing CAN NOT be formulated.

    Every opinion about relationships or marriage is very subjective, I don’t think there is no one pattern you can subtract from it. It is like computer can mimic human brain doing certain things like playing chess, driving a car, but programs can not mimic human EQ. Because it is very unpredictable. Same circumstances same person can have different reactions at different time, a person’s character can always evolve based on the situations and life path he/she has been through.

    With that, I hold my reservation on lots of opinions the guest speakers shared about true love. You might find someone perfect today but 10-20 years after, you can not predict if the person you love is the same person, or yourself also developing with changing environment, social status…

    If you are looking for a true love that never change , static, I believe that is not going to happen.

    True love is not pure romance, it has lots of elements including responsibilities, compromise, commitment, restrains..of course, romance is the big portion of it.

    Sorry writing too long.



  40. My two favourite relationship quotes:

    “What you FEEL only matters to YOU. It’s what you DO to the people you SAY you love – that’s all that really counts.” from the film The Last Kiss.

    “Se rencontrer en couple c’est tout simple: tu regardes les filles, t’apprendes un peu comment elles s’opére… et t’en choisis une!” said a very insightful and generous ex girlfriend of mine.

  41. Tim, I’m so happy you are tackling the subject of relationships. I listened to this show and have a lot of empathy for you in some of your comments- it really seems like you badly want to figure this stuff out, and it amazes me that someone with your intellect and curiosity levels has not “figured it out” yet.

    I certainly have not, but have learned a few things along the way.

    I’m curious why you would consider marriage as an option, besides the fact that it’s the norm in society. What is it about marriage (not long term relationships in general) that you think would add to happiness in your life?

    I for one do not understand how “together forever” in a contract is a rational or intelligent thing to do, since we all know that is impossible to predict (as you pointed out on this podcast).

    Also, I’m curious why you think there is a “one” or a soulmate. I have found over the years that actually not believing there there is one person for me has added to my happiness levels and allowed me to experience some relationships more fully. What if there are 10? Or 20? Or 30? Limiting it down to just 1 person seems a bit…limiting to me, and not in line with your lifestyle, where you could experience all kinds of interesting people on a variety of levels.

    I sense that you may have some fear about being “single and 40 something”, but I can assure you, it’s not bad at all, and in fact, I wouldn’t want it another way. But this fear translates into scarcity mentality, and causes bad decisions to be made…i.e. “she’s about the best I could do, and I’m 37, so better lock her up and put a ring on her before I get too old and my options dry up!” I, for one, saw my options actually expand by a large degree AFTER 40, as women tend not to care as much about a man’s age (unless it’s online where they don’t know anything about you), and my market value actually went up instead of down.

    Anyway, I’d love to hear more podcasts like this one, perhaps getting other perspectives from different people in different types of relationships. Cheers!

  42. I wonder if we over-value the romantic partnership and under-value community, resulting in all this anguish over finding the right partner (a very Western idea) as opposed to creating healthy communities in which the romantic partner relationship is just one (equally, not more) important aspect of relationship. The journey to a deeper love between myself and my partner has come not from seeking to meet all of each other’s needs or anguishing over ‘our relationship’, but from creating a small interconnected community which doesn’t only include biological family members but operates like an extended family. It gives us a deeper purpose, and a much higher motivation for making our relationship work than just our own happiness. We have three informal foster children, and fill a parental role to many other young people who face challenges. Our eldest son has severe/complex disability, and we have had to learn how to create strong (unpaid) community around him in order for him to have a good life. He lives in his own house with three friends and a bigger group of supporters who love him are all part of this too and help out. Dinner at our place on Friday and Saturday nights typically involves 16+ people. (PS thanks Tim for getting us onto legumes…they are not only healthy but help economically when you regularly feed big crowds!). I love my partner and our relationship but hate the way single people often feel marginalised, and I think our excessive focus on romantic partnership contributes to this. When we look at the bigger picture, of being part of something bigger than ourselves, then it is much easier to find a common purpose with your romantic partner, the motivation to work on ourselves, and – I can tell you – experience a profound and deep level of love which is mind blowing in intensity and meaningfulness. When we all recognise that we all need each other, in all kinds of ways, thats something else altogether. So…let’s ask different questions…not just who is the right partner for me, but also where is my community? Who are the people who also share my values, who will support me, who I will contribute to? If you aren’t already, include some people in there who are vulnerable or marginalised – people with disability, young people who are have challenges, children who are in foster care, people with mental health issues, older folks who are isolated to alone….these are the guys who will help you connect with what is really important.

  43. I have been married to my wife for 26 years. We have an open marriage and I typically have one or two other girlfriends. I deeply love my wife and I love my girlfriends. It works for us and is a lot more work than a monogamous relationship but the rewards are there as well. When I first met my wife I told her I was not monogamous and she was not either.

    Good Books The Art of Loving – Eric Fromm-,Tanra- OSHO, The Female Brain, The Male Brain- I forget the author on these

    I think that fining a mate is mostly chemical- You really like the way they smell. This explains why you can fall in love with some one that is not suitable. I fell in love with a drug addict rock star chick from a stoner metal band and she totally broke my heart.

  44. Enjoyed your interview. The authors make a cogent, sufficiently free of dogma, argument.

    Not sure what I’m pursuing these days — perhaps I’ll know it when I find it. Some not-so-novel, yet valuable lessons/rules I’ve learned/adopted in recent years (not an exhaustive list):

    Don’t look for someone to give meaning to your life.

    Don’t make your relationship(s) into a problem; you’ll likely end up trading one problem for another.

    If all else fails, resort to Cold War tactics, until there’s nothing left but dust. (This, if you’re into games.)

    And don’t be cynical about love.


  45. There was a very authentic moment here – around 1:05, where I really heard the frustration. Tim sounds almost like a deflated balloon . . . This is after Astro talks about how some entrepreneurs end up treating their companies as a surrogate family. Something about this statement really haunted me and I felt my own frustration/despair, as well. There is a sad irony here that all of the life hacking smarts in the world cannot tackle this one tricky matter of the heart.

  46. I’m a 62 year old woman who’s happily single. If I’m never in a relationship again, my life will still have purpose, and I have many cherished friends and rarely feel lonely. I used to have a list of what I wanted, and what I got were people who looked good on paper, but actually weren’t very good matches. So now my criteria are much simpler. Rather than focus on education, accomplishment, income, physical characteristics, etc. (i.e., “my type”), I look at whether someone is happy in and of themselves, appreciates their friends and family, takes good care of their health, loves what they do, communicates well, and shares some mutual interests.

  47. How do you know this person is “the one?”

    I treat relationships like I do friendships. In friendships we look back and say “Wow, we’ve been friends for 10 years! How time flies.” We never questions it, we look forward to sharing our life, our good news, our tragedies, our meals with our friends. We are very protective of them as well. We care about them unconditionally and are secure in our relationship with them.

    in relationships traditionally we ask “Will you still love me in 10 years?” We feel insecure, we pressure to stay together (wise when having children) but the enemy becomes the person who is sneaking off, cheating, lying, abusing, yelling, arguing and our stress level increases.

    I prefer organic relationships. Not planned, not plotted, no end game in mind, simply having enjoyed my time with that man so much that I look forward to the next time we are together. An intellectual, social, and physical closeness that is not forced. No ‘rules’. I have literally woken up one day and thought to myself ‘ I think I’m in a relationship and for the life of me, I have no idea when it started, when we went from dating to relationship’. It takes it’s natural path until an outside force puts a wedge and staying together becomes too painful (midlife crisis, ex girlfriend, mother-in-law). Rather than be and feel stuck, setting the other person free and reacquainting myself with me for a while is healthy .

    It’s also the key to happiness. To share the best version of yourself and not try to change the other person. Que sera, sera.

    Lastly, the stress you put on yourself about marriage and kids at your age is cute, lucky for you, your biological time clock is longer than that of a woman. If you are worried about healthy sperm, freeze your sperm and take your time.

    When you stop looking is when you find love.


  48. Thank you for talking about this subject and for being willing to put yourself out there to ask the difficult and honest questions!!!

  49. This podcast has convinced me to NEVER get married. Brutal! Btw, you must never broach the topic of marriage ever again. Every other episode has been awesome though 😉

  50. I echo so many here, another great podcast! To answer one question about people over 40 and their happiness…..Deliriously happy being single!! I am able to co-create shared awesome adventures with others (while it would be great to have a partner to create/share/experience these memories/stories/adventures with, not having one special person doesn’t stop me), and the fact that I do create/experience/live happiness…is awesome to me!

  51. Imagine having all the doubts and anxieties you have about relationships and then add to that being a single 36 year old female, who wants to have children. Welcome to my world. I have a REAL timeline lurking over me. After a certain, near approaching age, it’s a no go for me. So I have to find my needle in the hay stack, date them to make sure they’re not crazy, and get knocked up in a relatively short amount of time. The pressure!! Options to be a single mother have crossed my mind.

    For you Tim, what about the idea of being in a committed relationship but not having the pressure of marriage as the end goal? Can you be in a 5+ year monogamous relationship and not get married? Have heart to hearts with your partner every year to assess how each party is doing, be very open, and collaboratively make adjustments to the expectations. Marry only if it’s as clear as it was for Astro and Danielle.

    In the end, it is a numbers game. The more people you date the better the odds. Sites like tinder make it very easy to date rapid fire.

    I worry about about not finding with that special person but then I fall back on my belief that everything is playing out as it should. I also have tremendous gratitude for how fortunate my life has been so far and I have every reason to believe that it will continue in its awesomeness. And…… it’s way better to be single and wondering verses married and unhappy.

    It’ll happen when it should. Putting yourself out there will help.

    Best $100 ever spent? commercial free Pandora.

  52. G’day Tim

    Thanks for the podcasts – they have been great. Any chance of getting some guests from outside of the US?


    Dave in Australia

  53. Really good one. These topics are rarely tackled to so openly. Kudos.

    And random goodies:

    I read “Ready player one” and loved it. Now in mid of “Snow Crash”. And gathering a team to write some VR experiences. This medium will change everything.

    And my “first person what comes to mind when thinking successful” is also Elon Musk. The way he opened the possibilities of what we imagined to be real, is something compared to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. He will be in history books as a man who brought humanity to space age.

  54. Dear Tim, I think you are overthinking it. I love overthinking, and usually I support it. But as to relationships–of course you can be happy and single. Forever. Of course you can be unhappy and married. And of course you could get married and feel like it sucks and you want novelty.

    I’m not sure this–love, marriage, relationships– is something you can think your way around, at least not exclusively.

    I am not sure this is what “makes” people happy.

    Or it is, and then you get hit by a bus.

  55. Oh man. I was really into this until she said that people in loving relationships don’t ever fight ugly. They have so much to offer, but really missed an opportunity to talk about what’s going on with intense conflict and how people can and do get through it; how people do indeed change. That’s such an important message and they really alienated the majority of their audience at that mark.

    Everyone has their shit and most people’s’ shit is really bad. Then there’s crisis situations where people consistently fail at partnership. She could have talked about the hindbrain(s) and learning to practice living in and making decisions from your prefrontal cortex. What about people who come from abuse and don’t have healthy relationship patterning in their brains? Those people can absolutely learn how to resolve conflict in a loving way. But it’s haaard and takes a lot of work. For many people, this is a cornerstone of long-term monogamous partnership: the willingness to stick it through discomfort and learn new ways of relating. Like, an option for Tim’s fear of getting bored would be to cultivate a curiosity about that. Look at it. Stick through the discomfort. See what’s up. If it really is part of his authentic expression, then he knows it’s always going to be there. But maybe he has a choice about it.

    Asprey was just talking about the stress and resistance the brain feels when being asked to learn new things (like his Zen program that makes people completely insane, then doubles their working memory). How does that not apply to love? Love can change your brain, and for some people this is a spontaneous transformation. But not for most.

    I’m really impressed that they didn’t have to learn that. But they are extremely privileged in that way. I didn’t trust a word out of her mouth after that. There’s an idea that you shouldn’t take advice from someone unless they’ve been where you’ve been and gotten to a place where they have what you want. Bummer 🙁

  56. The most pivotal long term study (25 years of following children of divorce!) gets shoved under the rug for people want to “self-actualize” by pushing past the limitations of the marital vows they shouldn’t have taken.

    The seminal book no one who advocates divorce knows about or, (of those who know of it,) wants others to know about is “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce”

    A 25 Year Landmark Study


    As a child of divorce, I will try to avoid it at all costs. The pain is so substantial. Not because it’s easy. God, it’s NOT…. but because children thrive most when parents are together…says the science. I signed up to be a parent, so I accept that this means I provide for them in every way I possibly can: domestic stability is my highest priority for them.

    1. Great pespective ! .. Divorce creates so much havoc on children, and proponents of it never want to address that honestly. . They also never want address the serious potential effects of issues like parental alienation. .

  57. As usual, I really enjoyed this podcast.

    However, there was one error I thought that the Tellers made. I think it is important.

    Love, for many ancient cultures, was not identified as a “feeling”. Instead, they were identified as actions. So “to love” was not to FEEL love, but to DO it.

    The Tellers identified a concern about being unable to control your feelings of love. But if love isn’t an emotion but something greater, doesn’t that fear change? If the depth of your love for someone isn’t defined by how deeply you FEEL that day but how you act – doesn’t that allow for a more radical love? Doesn’t that eliminate the fairty tale romance?

  58. Great, insightful interview. Be great now to hear reflections from a “soulmate” couple who’ve been practicing healthy, mutually beneficial marriage for 20 or 30 or…years.

  59. Is the pursuit of monogamy really the question? Or is it, I’m looking down the barrel of 40, seeing my friends taking the plunge with marginal success (happiness) and wondering if this is what I have to look forward to? Really, marriage and straight-jacket’s don’t mix, even if they are just for your psyche. #1 rule: be honest with yourself about your needs SO that you can be honest with your partner. When the right partner comes along you can both make up the rules as you go, including marriage, monogamy, and the rest.

    1. This may be presumptuous so one assumes Dr. Bell must be referring to “soulmate” couple or his or all parents who have or exemplify healthy, mutually beneficial marriage for 20 or 30 or…years. So, what about those whose parents may not fit this category? And, for the next person’s replied, Leah’s, I agreed! (P.S. Mr Ferriss, pls feel free to edit my sentence to read better for your readers); and a side note there is this ‘invisible line’ if one crossed it one is sure to get a disease that is incurable and the only only solution aside from death is a spiritual solution. I wish I had know about this but no one really know nor speak about it. I ‘only’ share this with you because i sense you may deserve to know…shoot, i got side tracked again.. got to get some sleep now… (please be selective, feel free, cut short or not publish this reply) Thank you. P.S.S. In fact, a reply with real content for you needs editing so i m unable to send it to u at this time..Your patience is greatly appreciated. I confess I am not a fluent/good writer nor read much at this time… sorry.

    2. Hi Leah, I resonated with your comment and wondering if you can elaborate a bit more. Have you been able to successfully make the rules up as you go with a partner? It sounds great but I’ve never had success trying to do that. Cheers.

      1. Hi Kevin, my perspective comes from an amalgamation of observing friends relationships, personal experiences and realizing my own views on marriage, monogamy, etc. have evolved. Without question, being honest with yourself about what you really need and then communicating that to your partner trumps everything else.

        I’ve have friends in a 15+ year open relationship that is stronger then ever, but the relationship is totally dependent on honesty and maintaining the boundaries they both agreed to. [interestingly after the freedom was established, it has rarely been acted upon]. I also have friends who go from long-term relationship to long-term relationship, none lasting more than a couple years primarily because they are settling for companionship even though they want more.

        For me personally, with the exception of treating each other with honesty, kindness and respect, I just don’t have set rules anymore. Perhaps that comes from being married and divorced–the pressure is off. Marrying again might be nice, but it’s not an end goal. I don’t have a desire to have more children, but previous mates have had children which is great–the more the merrier. I value and prefer monogamy and have picked partners that prefer it as well.

        Ultimately, what someone else might view as rules I probably see them as preferences. Rules can elicit fears. You hear it in Tim’s questions: fears about picking the wrong person, investing time and energy only to have the relationship end, or worse not having the freedom to fully be yourself. Again, focus and be honest about what you want in a relationship. If you have a strong connection with someone, share what you’re really looking for. If they are looking for the same, the rest takes care of itself.

  60. Please interview Athol Kay. Or at least read Married Man Sex Life Primer. Very interesting insights on monogamy.

  61. I think in our trying to make sense of it all we are starting to go a bit overboard in hacking, phrase coining and labeling all aspects of our existence, and worse, we are subjecting ourselves to the opinion of self-proclamated gurus looking for a buck. I believe it all comes from our both conscious and unconscious desire to control our surroundings and further our personal goals. In other words egoistic behavior. Maybe we should try and focus more on investing into somethig that transcends our own person and put a halt our “personal growth” and maybe start giving something without demanding in return. Marriage is labeling and an attempt to control the future. Freedom is just a concept, and relationships are subject to each participants point of view, and thus subjective, and anyway highly influenceable by outside factors. “Freedom to decide to live honestly and happy…” – dios, man, everybody’s writing self-help books nowadays. Emphasis on the SELF.

    PS-Comment in no way intended for the work of Tim Ferriss.

  62. Hi Tim,

    I really have to ask what planet this guy is on when he says there is a stigma in our society about people getting divorced because they’re not in love anymore ..

    In my experience, no such stigma exists today. . People think nothing about treating marriage like it’s an old pair of shoes that they can just toss in the trash when they don’t want them anymore. . There’s no stigma attached .. People think marriage is disposable and they don’t care anymore..

    As to monogamy, marriage is supposed to be about more then love, it’s about integrity, patience, understanding, caring, and working together. . That’s where things have gone wrong in this society, nobody cares about those things anymore. .

    Keep up the great work Tim..

  63. Hi Tim,

    I’ve followed your podcast and blog for awhile now, but I felt compelled to respond to this particular interview about love, marriage, and relationships. I resonated the most with the part about “losing” in the long-term relationship game. I’ve been married to my husband for four years now (together for 12 years), and we both come from divorced families. The fear of divorce, of some day falling out of love with him, continually scares the shit out of me. While I do believe that divorce is a viable option for people (I know that my parents are probably happier people now), I am most afraid of the unknown future —my future self. Hopefully, no one enters a marriage or committed relationship with the desire to lose. I don’t think my parents did, my husband’s parents did, or many other divorced couples.

    The truth is, the fear hasn’t gone away. We got married in spite of it. We don’t take for granted that marriage is a high-stakes and high-risk situation. We also don’t fool ourselves by thinking that we are above the possibility of divorce or falling out of love with each other. We also know anything in life can be a game-changer, whether it’s having a baby, a death in the family, losing a job, or even infidelity.

    We know all this, and yet we are still hopeful. We put in the work on a daily basis. We are building a foundation now, when we’re young and in love, because we know there will come a time when we’ll be tested. And when we do get tested, we hope that our relationship will be strong enough to bear them. I’ve had to humbly accept that this is all I can do and hope for and that it will be enough to make it work.

    Your fear of boredom and craving novelty after marriage is normal. It’s human nature. You probably will get bored. Or maybe your partner will. But waiting for the day that this anxiety or fear goes away doesn’t seem realistic. It may never go away. There will be no “perfect” time or “feeling 100% ready.” When has there ever been such a moment in life period?

    In her amazing TED Talk and book, Brene Brown believes that in order to live wholeheartedly, we must be willing to dare greatly and step into the arena, especially when we are afraid. Living and loving wholeheartedly means doing so with the risk of losing. It’s counterintuitive, but maybe grappling with that fear is not the problem. Maybe the problem is believing that love has to be fearless and flawless.

    One of the best pieces I’ve read about love and marriage is from Dear Sugar’s column, written by Cheryl Strayed, called “A Bit of Sully in Your Sweet.” In her wise response to a new bride-to-be, Dear Sugar addresses the illusion and unrealistic expectations that we often place on “perfect couples.” Essentially, they don’t really exist as we believe them to be. And even the strongest couples are the ones who’ve faced failures and found the strength to rise beyond them.

    “A perfect couple is a wholly private thing. No one but the two people in the perfect relationship know for certain whether they’re in one. Its only defining quality is that it’s composed of two people who feel perfectly right about sharing their lives with each other, even during the hard times.” – via Dear Sugar

    I wish you the best of luck in finding that real, wholehearted love – the kind that would be worth the risk of losing.

  64. Wow. This is the gnarliest topic you’ve taken on, by a very long shot.

    Apart from the obvious observations that marriage and kids are not for everyone, and that one should not succumb to societal pressures, the perspectives in the podcast are interesting but they seem far from generalizable. Their example look and feel like a local optimum.

    Personally I’d rather talk to 100 people who are introspective & self-aware and try to triangulate what resonates with me, than rely on a handful of people –no matter how successful and eloquent.

    However, if I were to trust anyone’s approach on this, it would be Tony Robbins. He’s helped people with relationships for decades and is a real pragmatist. His sample size is likely unbeatable. Since you know him, I would try to score an hour 1-on-1 with him as a favor.

    One big problem with relationships is the lack of reliable performance measures. Anyone can convince themselves of anything they want, including being happy (or the opposite). Do you truly feel happy/in love, or do you want to feel that way –and bury every piece of evidence to the opposite? Unless someone has spent time peeling the onion of why they feel a certain way, or why they made certain decisions such as to (not) marry or to (not) have (more) kids, they may provide you with sincere but misguided insights.

    Some of the personal concerns you share seem tied to fear of failure. I don’t agree with the response they gave you, apart from the necessity of transparency to your significant other. You may not be able to hedge all of that risk away through waiting, logical analysis and planning. However there is beauty and growth in failure, and the pain is survivable if you’ve got a good support system. At least that’s something you can reliably set up! And then again, there are good odds you may not fail. Some of this is in your control and you can set up mitigation strategies to maximize your odds.

    I’d be happy to share my personal experiences on this privately, not as an expert but as one of the above 100 people. With two marriages and three kids, I’ve been through seriously tough times and years of internal probing, and came out of the tunnel with a few battle scars but ultimately stronger and happy.


  65. Think about the greatest achievements that you’ve had in you’re life. They have taken lots of work, patience, and perseverance. At times, it seemed totally hopeless, like the results you want will never come to fruition. Other times, you seemed to take steps backwards that make you think that you could never recover. But hopefully, you persevered, and did something truly great and awe-inspiring.

    This is Monogamy to me. It seems to get a bad wrap by a lot of people these days, probably because marriages can fail so easily. This is especially true because it takes the same type of effort described above by both parties. But the results are a relationship that is worth every effort. I truly believe that a (healthy) monogamous relationship is the most beautiful and meaningful relationship that a person can have.

  66. Story time: I stayed in a relationship for too long with a guy who said to me once, “I never thought YOU would be the one who broke up with ME!” … and that’s how I knew I was doing the right thing by breaking up with him.

    I have been a serial online dater since 2003 or so. I’m 33, but even after all that experience, I still have no idea what I’m looking for — and I don’t seem to be any closer to finding it. I figure I’ll trip over it someday… or I won’t. Either way is ok. I treat my friends like they’ll be around for life because if I have anything to do with it, they will.

    I was listening to the way you talked about relationships and it stuck out to me the way you talk about the people you date: You lamented getting restless and having to suppress a part of yourself, but you never really pondered whether or not the other person would go through similar emotions or tradeoffs. I hear an imbalance. I think the recognition of the mutual experience is really important to being able to enjoy someone else’s company. The closest way that I’ve been able to really explain it is by telling people to read The Little Prince.

    “What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”

  67. Tim! You asked great questions about relationships. I can FEEL how much you want to learn about what makes a relationship great.

    Two things:

    1) I would have loved to know what caused them to fall out of love in their first marriage… What were the learning lessons from their first marriage so as to have a better marriage a second time. I wonder (hypothetically speaking) if they had NOT gone through their first marriages and had just been single all their lives up to the point where they met each other…I wonder how different their current relationship/marriage would look like.

    2) My boyfriend has the same fears as you do! I also had the fear of…could I be with someone, just one person, sexually, same person, F O R E V E R. It freaked the fuck out of me. I think that is why we were able to connect and I can understand where he is coming from. We made an agreement to always be honest with each other and to allow ourselves to feel how we feel and to communicate those feelings. Unconventional uncomfortable conversations here we come!

    …ok three things:

    3) I think being in a relationship is a series of agreements. Understanding what each others needs and wants are and agreeing on meeting those needs/wants. The hope is that there is mutual growth in the agreements. I believe your relationship doesn’t have to look like ANYBODY elses. As long as you can be Romantic-Partners-In-Crime and the agreements work for the BOTH of you….then you are doing it right!

    Love you, mean it!!!

  68. Tim — IMMENSE clarity on relationships if you combine these two resources:

    1. SCIENCE: Your Brain at Work, by David Rock. Explains the evolutionary neuroscience of emotions (among other things). Everything goes back to survival: Emotions are the unconscious brain’s way of trying to get the conscious part of us (pre-frontal cortex and executive function) to comply with what it thinks is best for us, evolutionarily; this includes several important social domains (because we evolved socially), which trigger reactions as strongly/viscerally as primary needs do.

    2. PRACTICAL: Living Non-violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg. Practical and accessible application of what to DO based on the science concepts explained by Rock. “Feelings” are generated not by what others do, but when our “needs” are either met or not met. This recognition and distinction vastly improves our capacity for self-compassion, compassion for others, and offers an extremely clear model for blame-free communication that maximizes the chance that everyone’s needs will get met.

    With that knowledge, we can approach relationships without ANY preconceived idea of what they have to look like — and determine, as we go (and with utmost understanding and respect even when someone changes their mind), what the right ways to meet each of our needs are (monogamy, non-monogamy, marriage, etc.).

    I have had a number of long-term relationships; each one has had a better outcome than the last. After studying and practicing with these and other resources during the last 5 years, my longest relationship is back to being as good as it was in the beginning, now that we’re finally moving apart. I have never felt so comfortable as now at how to move forward into future relationships with no preconceptions about what the final outcome has to look like.

    Now if I could just press pause on the biological clock, everything would be perfect. 🙂

  69. Having gone through several divorces and marriages I have some experience with do’s and don’ts. Figuring out who I really was helped me more than anything. Also, age and maturity have been a real benefit for me. It’s a lot easier to find a woman with common sense over 40 than in their 20’s. I’ll admit I’m a lot easier to be with as I mellow out as well.

  70. Holy Cow Tim – this format sucks.

    Ditch the wine and kitchen table format.

    Feels like we’re eavesdropping a private conversation 🙁

    That’s not to say I don’t love different formats (Rick Rubin’s sauna cast – hilarious!) it’s just there’s something of a spectator/voyeuristic feel to the wine conversations which leaves me cold and wanting to switch off.

    A bit like arriving stone cold sober to a party when everyone else is well on their way – feels exclusive rather than being welcomed in! Particularly if listening in stages or first thing in the morning.

    Anyway, after listening to these two, I’m off to make up my own cocktail, which I think I’ll call “Debauchery”

    LOVING your work though!



  71. I think that there is a certain portion of people who are inclined for monogamy, some for polyamory and some are variable. People are complicated, I think there are biological and psychological inclinations either way—for example I’ve read that individuals inclined to monogamy often grow up in households with many siblings and a scarcity of resources…. I know happy polyamorous people as well as joyous monogamous couples who married their first significant other (SO).

    Personally, I am (sigh) very monogamous. Annoyingly so, after living joyfully on the road for a year and half, I am now staying put to either learn the skills to be freer with my affections or find a bf. I know myself. . . if I live the rest of my life and it is (and it is  ) utterly amazing, I would still be disappointed if I didn’t have an SO to share my life with. Someone to rush into and babble and talk like a crazy person to, spouting off my insane ideas. I have friends for that, but it is nicer when you have a stubbly neck to nuzzle and lips to kiss.

    To be truly happy you have to have a certain level of ruthlessness, to know yourself. Why do you get restless? Is it that you lack the biological/psychological inclination for monogamy? Is it because of your partner choice? Is the restlessness due a question of power (a lot of people seek out new partners due to personal insecurity mistake novelty for validation). Life is tough, Marcus Aurelius and the Stoics, offer a lot of advice about reliability and steadfastness.

    I travelled the world upping my charisma stats, but now I’m puzzling over this clear weak spot. I love how you try to deconstruct the issue, I am doing the same thing, from a female perspective. I’m a value added target, dudes dig me, why do I suck at this!? (sweet interobang)

    But why do I suck at dating? I’m afraid that a partner would limit or hinder my joy. I live out loud and I have a hungry soul. I’m faithful but a wanderlust compels me to travel and look in ruined churches and talk to old blues singers. I once compromised my very being for love. And for a long time the mere idea of a relationship filled me with revulsion, now I just get a vague wave of Nausea (St Nausea the true patron saint of Romance). So I go on one or two Tinder dates a week. . . luckily I like hearing people’s life stories (side note dudes: It is SUPER unattractive if all you do is bitch about your life and co-workers and how much better you are than everyone and whilst I would like a banjo, no you don’t need to buy me one, but thanks for the coffee).

    One of many reasons that you are a stellar teacher and fantastic podcaster and all around cool guy is because you see a weakness and try to improve. It is gratifying to hear someone with the same analytical brain and a child-like enthusiasm struggle and kick ass. I’m sure there are lots of high quality ladies around you as there were are some great dudes who around me, but it doesn’t matter if the best possible person heads around, if one is busy looking quickly askance identifying the nearest exits (there are two behind you and one overhead).

    Perhaps you do the math in your head and wonder if you will have the chance to teach your children how to wrestle. But remember even if you ‘win’ you lose. Death and loss is inevitable. When I think of love, I think of La Mar by The Beautiful Girls: “Sturdy up, Sturdy up your heart, for the road is long.”

    Good Luck all ye who enter….something something battlefield.

  72. Awesome podcast! I really felt a connection with you in this episode as I am struggling with a lot of the same issues that you raised in this episode so thanks for asking the questions that I have been wanting to ask someone myself (have you been reading my mind) 😉

    The Tellers sound like they have a great relationship and family! Hopefully one day both you and I will have the same thing!

  73. Hey Tim, thanks for this episode. I love the wine noises in the background:) I’d love to hear more on this topic. You were asking about soul mates…if you’re interested to explore the idea of soul mates and twin flames a bit more you might check out the work of Mali and Joe and their book, The Soulmate Experience.

    Interestingly, my TM teachers have been together for 40 years…there must be something to meditating together. I have found that all the answers are there for us if we just get quiet enough to hear them. Much Aloha

  74. Registering just to say: these people are *horrible* relationship role models.

    I’m okey-dokey with people thinking that love “just happens” – it’s their loss. Furious when they start writing books while still in the honeymoon phase of an affair-created relationship, then have people both listen to and amplify them.

    As many have said, LOVE IS A VERB. It’s the same as any other motivation – the surest shot of getting there isn’t to have it first, it’s to create it through action. Making love a practice. Does that sound familiar to this podcast?

    Maybe they’ll have a smashing success of a relationship that lasts their lifetimes. I hope they do! Either way, I’m dead certain that they will die laughing at the “advice” they’re doling out at this stage of the game.

    If you want to analyze success, start with people that are actually successful – on the subject at hand, not something else. A long relationship is completing the marathon. A long and happy relationship is winning the marathon. A short and happy relationship is – posting on Facebook that you’re thinking about registering for the marathon, and refreshing to count the likes.

  75. This is the first of your interviews that I couldn’t get through. This couple are obviously very smart, accomplished and thoughtful people. But they just seemed like the last people I’d ever take relationship advice from.

    Of the bit that I listened to, they did have an occasional good insight. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were academics researching a topic they would never be able to fully understand. I kept thinking they sounded like they were Ivy League sociologists studying the hip hop culture. Sure, they may have some insight from their years of academia, but they won’t ever really understand the emotional significance that brings true understanding.

    That being said, I always respect your willingness to push boundaries and explore new areas of interest.

  76. I’ve been listening to this episode on my walks over the past couple of days and can’t help but think such a philosophical discussions over marriage vs remaining single is doing nothing but f*cking with your head Tim. 🙂 IMO you either want to be committed to someone or you don’t. You want to have a family with kids or you don’t. Either is completely OK regardless of social pressures that say otherwise. If you really truly love the person and everything about them, including the “quirks” then you have most of what you need to know right there. Don’t rush in, but hesitating too long isn’t going to send the right message either. But if you’re still enjoying dating or just doing your own thing, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

    Personally I’ve been married for almost 17 years to a wonderful woman who has stuck by me during cross continent moves (Toronto to SoCal and back), financial ups and downs, and generally we have been to hell and back together. It certainly hasn’t all been roses but we’ve always stuck together through the tough times and always bring things back around. Tough times WILL happen in any long-term relationship. Doesn’t mean it all needs to end just because things get difficult. I think some people are often too quick to throw in the towel and call it quits. We were friends first and dated for years before we got married. One thing that was important for us was to have kids when we were still young enough to keep up with them! Didn’t want to be the old and gray dad at the little league games that could just as easily be mistaken for a grandfather rather than the dad!

    Marriage and family isn’t something to fear, it is something to enjoy. It’s fun, exciting, joyful, funny, sad, frustrating, enraging and basically brings the whole spectrum of human emotions with it. Do my kids frustrate the hell out of me sometimes? Of course. Do I piss off my wife by not doing something she asked me to do like installing a new shelf in a timely manner? Yes… Does she annoy me too at times? Definitely… But those simple moments like enjoying a dinner out together with just the two of us, having my daughter hold my hand as we walk to the park, throwing a football with my son or going for a run with my oldest daughter… Priceless.

    Communication is key. Don’t play head games, just put things out on the table and deal with them. I did like the idea in the PodCast where they agree to go to bed and discuss things in the morning if necessary to give each other a chance to calm down. I can’t even count the nights where we didn’t do that and as you mention, things just seem to get worse rather than better.

    I don’t think you can approach marriage as something you can dissect and “win”. It is a leap of faith, but if you’re with the right person you’ll both fly together.

  77. Good podcast.. I thought the conversation was really interesting towards the end about death. Fantastic book on the subject by surgeon Atul Gawande calling “Being Mortal.” I feel Danielle makes a comment about patients expecting them to cure everything wrong with their loved ones, but she fails to mention how many doctors think of themselves as gods and can, in fact, cure everything. It is this attitude that is often transferred to patients and can often create unrealistic expectations that go against the wishes of the patients themselves.

    As far as the romance goes, Tim, I feel like you beat around the bush with your questions. You’re very ‘out there’ in your go for it mentality, but I got thi feeling that you held out on your questions. I get the feeling that you really want to get deep with these two, but something is holding you back, maybe you’re trying to keep things private while still having a semi-deep conversation. If you want to know if you’ll be happy even if you’re single after 37, ask! Don’t couch it with, “Do you know any 40 year olds who are single and happy?” 😉 Direct questions such as these help us get to know your personality in a different way other than your very awesome business personality.

  78. Tim, just listened to this one. Based on some of the things you said during the discussion I think you’d enjoy the challenge of personal growth by reading two books and perhaps interviewing those authors too.

    The first book is: “How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving” by David Richo and Kathlyn Hendricks. This book, while perhaps geared toward the monogamous people, is great polyamorous too. I like the framework (5A’s) as a way to discuss needs with your partner(s). And the concept of a soul mate contrasts with the traditional idea of just finding “the one” person.

    The second book is: “More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory” by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. The book asks good relationship questions at the end of each chapter which are meaningful for both poly and non-poly people to sort out. I hope you find the time to read them and experience the personal relationship growth from thinking about the answers to the questions contained.

    Lastly, I think the podcast glossed some issues around emotional intelligence, in particular around conflict in relationships (business or personal) — for example, you can have combinations of people who, when issues come up, are conflict avoidant vs resolve things right now vs compromising etc etc. A mismatch or misunderstanding of the preferred approach can leave all people unhappy. Those issues have played strongly in my relationships and understanding my partner and business associates conflict resolution style, and accepting it, has helped me adapt and resolve things in my life without creating odd co-dependencies or bitterness.

    All the best, Ryan

  79. Hi Tim, For the last 18 years we have a monogamous relationship which we entered when we were both 16.

    If you want to take a look, we have put together a quick video response to the podcast summarising our thoughts on three points we thought needed a lot more detail and clarity: true love, conflict resolution and novelty in long term relationships.

    The reasons we both went into this relationship would be pretty similar now as they were back then even though we were so young: we both wanted someone to share our lives with, build a family, create a sex life and for both parties to love, support and challenge both themselves and each other.

    We think that having a successful relationship requires a certain set of attitudes and skills—all of which are learnable. We both came into this relationship having very little in the way of skills and we have had to figure out what it is we needed to learn and how to apply them. So although the first decade of our relationship was an intense stage and a lot of hard work while we were figuring this out, our relationship is now super easy and fulfilling.

    These are some of the main things which we find essential to our relationship:

    * Being very clear about the type of relationship you want and the reasons why you want it. The clearer you are about what your ideal relationship looks like, the easier it is to identify the type of partner who you could create that with. You will also be able to communicate with a potential partner what it is you want and are looking for out of a relationship.

    * Being emotionally available, if someone is not available emotionally and is not willing to be vulnerable with their partner it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to build the level of intimacy which long term, fulfilling relationships require.

    * Communication – being able to communicate effectively with your partner about day to day items, emotions, life direction, goals, dreams, personal growth and especially when resolving conflict is essential.

    One effective communication tool that we use especially with conflict resolution is to jump in bed together naked, cuddle up and talk through the issue. Putting yourself in this position ensures that your body language is soft, non-threatening and loving which makes communicating difficult topics so much easier. It’s too easy to fall into common body language habits (clenched fists, maintaining physical and emotional distance, striding, raised voices etc) when you are trying to resolve conflict which doesn’t help the situation and tends to exacerbate it.

    * Physical and Emotional Connection – building physical and emotional connection is another huge part of our relationship. One of the ways we do this through making sure we have lots of physical contact throughout the day. This includes sleeping together naked, showering together and lots of affectionate touch (sexual and non-sexual). The more physically and emotionally connected you feel to the other person the easier and more rewarding your relationship is.

    * Points of connection – the more interests/hobbies/activities/projects/ideas you can explore with your partner the better. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have interests independent of your partner but it does mean that you are spending lots of time doing things you both enjoy with each other.

    * Personal Growth – this point partly covers your concern about relationships losing novelty or becoming stagnant. Building a culture of personal growth into your relationship ensures that your relationship grows, is diverse and challenging.

    Again there are lots of other aspects to building strong relationships, but we will leave it there for now 🙂

  80. 1. Relationships (not only romantic ones) are about figuring out yourself, the other person, and two uf you together. So the more you have figured out yourself (and the other person him – or herself), the “easier” or fun it gets. I mean, “crazy” people have crazy relationships:) 2. I wanted to add something to this conversation every minute, because it lacks the basics of psychological knowledge about people and relationships. Of course, your interlocutors are intelligent people and they have some interesting reflections (on this and other topics), as intelligent people usually do… But, they aren’t any experts in the field. I mean – what “success rate” do they have? They are both in “a good marriage” now, which is one of two, which makes 50%, if the marriage lasts…

  81. Hi Tim,

    Really enjoyed this one, lots of eye-opening ideas. I’ve been reading another book lately that feels like a good complement to Sacred Cows. I’ve got no commercial interest, just find it effective: Too Good to Leave, Too bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum. She has an uncanny way of addressing almost every “what if” that was nagging at me without being dogmatic.

  82. What companies or individuals do you admire for excelling to a new level based on performance? I’m thinking not about start-ups but strong performers who accelerated to another level.

  83. hey tim,

    context: as a late-30s male i’ve decided to drop the idea of closed, pair-bonded, relationships for myself some 15 years ago, and live in mutually agreed-to-be-open relationships since then, most of them were/are 1+ year long, some 5+ years.

    i hope to have learned a few things in the meantime.

    however, i don’t currently see myself going for parenthood, which is definitely one big factor in relationship styles.

    from your comments in this podcast i get the impression that you’re struggling with where you stand and what you want out of life and relationships – and i wonder if your frame of reference includes positive role models for various styles of open relationships.

    it sounds to me like you might enjoy to find a good balance between dependable, long-term intimate relationships and some level of emotional/sexual openness, but might not have

    1) full clarity on what exactly you would like and

    2) the trust that whatever that might be is a valid and attainable relationship style

    from your comments in this podcast, it seems to me that the parts of the “polyamorous” subculture that your chanced upon were not to your liking – i wonder what exactly you’ve encountered.

    in my experience, the “polyamorous” subculture (here in europe) is very diverse, and a lot of it seems quite alien to me as well. the bits and pieces i hear from people who self-identify as “polyamorous” in the US, it seems to me like maybe some of that scene would be even more alien to me.

    i’m definitely not an expert by any means, but i do have some experience with non-traditional relationships.

    so if you’re at all interested to hear some more thoughts or pointers on (open) relationship styles, feel more than free to send me any questions you like, i’d be happy to try and send you my best effort at structured thoughts.

    and a final bit of context, to close: your 4HWW was definitely one input that solidified my (some 10 years ago) hunch that i get to define what types of relationships i want to aim for, and can shape my life any way i like.

    … over the same period of time i’ve also switched from an office job to freelance work, as well as throwing out the notion of “living in one particular place” (i am in some sense a permanent nomad since around 2009).

    either way, all the best with your path in this aspect of life!

    cheers from germany,

    🙂 heiko

  84. Not sure about these guys as they are experts in other areas yet self-proclaimed experts on relationships.

    However I just read a fantastic book on relationships by someone who has very much studied them in a research environment. The book is:

    The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

    It is one of the few secular books on marriage. It is also well worth a read even if you don’t believe in marriage but want to improve your relationship skills.

  85. Really appreciate your work, Tim, and also your gracious guests Danielle and Astro Teller.

    I have two basic comments:

    1) How did you record this? As an audio engineer, I wonder if there isn’t a more effective, higher quality recording setup for future podcasts. Feel free to contact me to discuss, if you wish.

    2) I was a bit disappointed that, given the subjects discussed, no grander, more personal questions were asked about the nature of love.

    Yes, being “in love” was thoroughly discussed, but what love actually is—how we define it—seemed to elude the conversation, especially in light of them both taking similar vows (“til death do us part?”) within the context of marriage.

    Where they in love before? Did they mean those commitments? And why was it never asked as to whether they think they will spend the rest of their lives together this time as opposed to the last time they took these vows?

    Granted, these are not easy questions, and I certainly do not mean for my statements to come across as judgmental: we are all human here.

    I simply would have enjoyed a more probing conversation that went a bit further into their views and their relationships beyond the magical experience of finding or falling “in love” “for real” a second time around.

    Of course, I have my own thoughts and questions on all of these topics (including the audio one), but that obviously isn’t the purpose of listening to your podcast. =)

    All the best, and thank you again, Danielle, Astro, and Tim.

    1. I think writing out a contract of expectations is the coolest, smartest and even the most romantic thing EVER!!! Many people just don’t understand how imperative that is for creating and preserving the beautiful connection you have found with your mate. I definitely want to do that when I meet my person.

      I’ve also listened to some really interesting lectures that have opened my mind, making me want to me more loyal to my “actual partner” than to an unquestioned idea of monogamy. I think any model with such low net success rate needs further consideration especially when its one of the biggest life investments emotionally and otherwise; one can make, even with a prenup.

      While polyamory or being a swinger might not be for me (I don’t know because I haven’t tried it) and it seems like it requires waaayyy too many conversations and compromise, and thats hard enough just between two people. A couple hall passes with clear parameters here and there, after the honeymoon phase levels off 3-5 yrs in, seems reasonable. But it has to to go both ways and I wonder if my future husband is going have harder time dealing with the primal jealously that is likely to arise, than I will.

      I also wonder how I would even begin to broach these topics without coming across as unfeminine. I also wonder how much speculation is worth it since when you “fall in love” the brain manufactures so many feel good chemicals I might feel different certain things…But then again this is where the contract comes in handy.