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Jan. 24, 2022

Love Bombing: Khan Date 1

Love Bombing: Khan Date 1

Khan is good at falling in love. He's also good at wooing everyone around him. On this week's date, he questions the root of his charm.

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Khan is good at falling in love. He's also good at wooing everyone around him. On this week's date, he questions the root of his charm.


Khan Ep 1 Transcript

Khan: I definitely really enjoy falling in love. I definitely am really good at it too. 

Jesse: This is Dating: a series of recorded first dates.

Khan: A friend of mine gave me this advice. She said, you got to recognize you're the whole cheese pizza. 

Jesse: This is Dating. I'm Jesse Baker and that is our next dater. We're going to call him Khan. 

Khan: It's one thing to say to yourself: I'm the whole cheese pizza in the mirror with daily affirmations. It's another thing to actually feel that way about yourself. 

Jesse: There are stories we tell each other about what relationships are, or what they're supposed to be or how we're supposed to feel with someone. Stories we've told so many times that whether or not they actually still serve us, or really reflect who we are. We become this filter on how we see ourselves, and that's sort of what's happening with Khan. 

Khan: You got to know you're the whole cheese pizza, I'm like... other people can be your toppings and enhance you... other people can be your toppings and enhance you... a whole cheese pizza is great on its own, especially a delicious cheese pizza like you... but you're the whole cheese pizza on your own stop trying to make other people be slices in between... and stop thinking that you have slices in between missing and trying to make other people be those slices.... like you are the whole cheese pizza.

Jesse: Hiwote? 

Hiwote: Yes. 

Jesse: As a producer on the show, you've spent some time getting to know Khan so that we can set him up on a date. I've heard the cheese pizza thing. So besides that, what else do we know about Khan? 

Hiwote: Okay, so Kahn is in his early thirties and he's something of a Renaissance man. He's this corporate lawyer who also writes screenplays and he's learning guitar and teaching himself Urdu, and if you talk to him for more than 10 minutes, bell hooks will come up.

Khan: I have been in therapy recently, I've connected a lot of dots reading this book by bell hooks called, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love. I joined this book club and it's been incredibly transformative and insightful. 

Jesse: Interesting. So you're saying that Kahn is on this sort of quest of self-discovery.

Hiwote: Yeah, very much so. And actually it'll be really interesting to hear what Logan's take on this is, as both a behavioral scientist and a dating coach, when they sit down to talk before his date. 

Logan: Why don't we just start with, tell me a little bit about you. What do I need to know to understand your story? 

Khan: I think growing up in a slightly more conservative environment, I always had this vision of love as this epic monogamy. I grew up on Bollywood films and that kind of just eternal romance. And my dad had a more traditional patriarchal kind of view of things. And so I saw how that was really hurtful, to my mom and to you know, me and my brother. I think I always had this chip on my shoulder where I was very concerned with hurting somebody. There's a phrase in Urdu called "acha bacha," which is like good boy, like good kid. And so I think I was like the smart and well-liked kid. And so I think I did think of myself as this like good kid. And so I was always trying to play a really good guy. And I think that prevented me from always being honest. And that led to things like staying in relationships for far too long, just not knowing how to get out of it, not knowing how to establish boundaries until one day, I wake up and I'm like, wait, where am I? Who am I in this? I don't want this at all, actually. And suddenly getting out of things. And so I realized that was a pattern of mine. 

Logan: I like the term you used. "Acha bacha," am I saying it right?

Khan: Acha bacha.

Logan: Acha bacha. Yeah, it does feel like, as I'm getting to know you, that that's a big theme in your life. Are you the good boy? Are you the good son? Are you the good boyfriend? And that phrase is very much focused on how others perceive you and then you create a self perception around, are you pleasing them? But that now you're in this stage of your life where you're like, maybe it's not really about being like the good boy. 

Khan: Yeah. But then what is it? What is the vision? What does a genuine life look like for me outside of other people's expectations, other people's visions of what is good. It's like very validating for someone to like you and, and it's really fun to like them back and, ever since I was on my whole cheese pizza journey, I started meeting people and then I noticed that I would just like really want to text them a lot right away. That whole kind of like courting thing, texting really funny, witty, interesting things. That whole game is so fun. 

Logan: I almost want to push back on the cheese pizza metaphor, because, I haven't heard cheese pizza, but there's you're half an orange and find your other half. You're a whole person who needs to find another whole person. You're not half who needs to find a half. The behaviors that you're talking to me about, I feel like it's less that you don't know you're a whole cheese pizza. It's more like you are a delicious cheese pizza, but you really want everyone to tell you how delicious you are. Like you need constant reinforcement about how good the pizza tastes. You're constantly saying can I get this person to fall in love with me? Can I make my magical wooing courtshit work on this person? There's a sense of will this person also like the cheese pizza? 

Khan: Mm that's really interesting. Yeah. I could see that. I could see how once I get it, I'm kinda like, okay, like that purpose has been served. So it's a little less interesting now. I think I have felt that way about myself and felt really guilty about that. And I've also stepped away from relationships to not use people like that. 

Logan: Have you heard the term love bombing? 

Khan: No. 

Logan: It's someone similar to you who's dynamic, charismatic. And it's easy for them to make people fall in love with them. And they come on really strong. I think it's subconscious, but they do all these things that make the person really addicted to them. So it's constantly contacting them, so then you form a habit. It's talking about things in the future, oh, when you meet my parents, oh, when you meet my friends, and then the girl in her head is like, oh, he must really like me because he's doing all this future talk and you come on really strong. And then at a certain point, something happens, maybe the guy pulls back because he's not interested because it was all about the chase and he was able to get the girl or for whatever reason he cools. And then when he leaves, it feels way worse for the girl. And I'm using gender terms. It could, anyone could do love bombing. It feels really bad because the person just came on so strong. It felt like there was a promise of something much greater. Does that feel like something that you do? 

Khan: Yeah, I've done that. And then I think I've noticed that I was doing, it was like part of the recognition of the patterns. And then I've been trying to not do that as much, but it's still been difficult. It's still been a process of catching myself. Hey, don't text her more than one. To be honest, it's also been like something that happens when I'm not trying to do it. For example, like it's, it's come up with like married friends who I feel safe to be my loving, charismatic, friendly self around, because they're married. And not trying to draw any particular affection at all, just doing me and then getting this kind of, hey, maybe we should, maybe there's something here kind of thing. And I'm like, whoa, like I was not trying to put that energy out. Am I being manipulative with you? Like I don't think I was. 

Logan: I get the sense that I'm meeting you at a very interesting time in your life because you are definitely examining your life and your patterns. And I think that's the best way to grow. I feel like the change for you is you've spent the first 32 years of your life getting really good at making other people happy and making other people like you. And to get to where you want to go, you have to make a pretty major shift to figure out how to make you happy. And what's so hard about making yourself happy is that you have to figure out what you want. And that is just way harder than anyone tells you. It's going to be.

Jesse: What I hear Logan saying is that it's kind of tricky for Khan. I mean, the love bomb is happening even with his married friends. So maybe we need to find someone to set them up with who is love bomb proof?

Hiwote: I know, but it's really hard to think about who could actually be love bomb-proof Jesse, but what I wanted in a date for Khan is someone who could match him. And I think Joanna can definitely do that. 

Joanna: I have a lot of energy. I love to like run, ski, hike, climb, bike. I'm a huge book nerd. I also love writing. I love music. I have a keyboard. I'm not very good, but I very much enjoy playing, and then also I like going to concerts. And then just exploring New York, but without having plans. You can just walk to a neighborhood and find food or little like comedy places or fun parks. And so having that openness and curiousity. Something that I enjoy and value is like a bit of adventure and excitement. And so I think sometimes can be attracted to people who are a little bit unpredictable, that don't necessarily make the best partner. 

Hiwote: I actually think she is his equivalent in terms of being interesting, adventurous, like curious, I thought that they would really match each other on that level. I'm totally making the case that Joanna is her own cheese pizza, and I am so nervous and so excited to see what happens when they both start this virtual date from each of their respective apartments. And we'll be sending them prompts through the groupchat. Jesse, I think Joanna is here. So I will let him in. You might want to tell both of them to grab some water or a drink. 

Jesse: All right. And with that, here we go. 

Khan: Hi.

Joanna: Hi. Nice to meet you. 

Khan: You too. How are you?

Joanna: I'm doing well. How do I pronounce your name? 

Khan: It's Khan. I'm kicking myself because I'm zoom completely deficient, and I was not able to change this somehow. 

Joanna: Okay. Khan, very nice to meet you. 

Khan: Nice to meet you too, Joanna.

Okay, we're getting, prompted. Were you raised to be independent or rely on others? 

Joanna: I certainly am independent. I think I was raised to be independent, but probably too far on that spectrum. I've gotten feedback that I need to be better asking for help. One of my friend's favorite examples is I froze my eggs this summer. And it was like during a time when I didn't want to take the subway, I was like being a little bit more cautious and I really didn't want to get COVID while I was getting a surgery. And so I had to go get all my drugs at a pharmacy. And instead of asking a friend to drive me, I insisted on like CITI biking myself up every time. Cause I was just like determined to go through this process by myself, which my friends just gave me so much shit for afterwards. Cause like it was completely irrational and like strong headed and they told me not to bike, but it was like my way of solving the problem by myself. So that's my little example of maybe too independent at times. What about you? 

Khan: You had a friend that was like I'll totally drive you and you were like, nah nah nah?

Joanna: And I was like, I got this. 

Khan: You had to CITI bike back after your surgery? 

Joanna: Oh no, this wasn't, this was just to pick up the prescriptions. I promise I got like picked up from the surgery. I'm not that crazy. I should have taken the car ride to the pharmacy was the moral of this story. What about you, independent or rely on others? 

Khan: Pretty independent. I would like make my own lunch and bike to school myself and back, like starting in the second grade. 

Joanna: What were you making for lunch? 

Khan: Sandwiches. Turkey cold cuts. And you know what I, my thing was I would eat one bite. And then put it in a Ziploc bag and then take it and put it in my lunch box. 

Joanna: Oh so you would eat one bite, like when you made it in the morning? 

Khan: Yeah, because I just couldn't help myself. I just thought it was such a delicious thing that I just did. 

Joanna: Would you have failed the marshmallow test? 

Khan: Probably, yeah. Look, I only took one bite though. 

Joanna: That's why it's an unclear verdict for the marshmallow test. 

Khan: I reject the premise of the marshmallow test. There's other ways the cookie can crumble. But, yeah, I'm the oldest son, the older son of two siblings and immigrant parents, and that whole like mentality of take care of yourself, just handle your stuff.

Hiwote: Basically the marshmallow test was designed to see if kids could delay gratification. But more importantly, I love that Khan is revealing a little piece of himself. And since he's willing to do that, let's send them this question.

Joanna: Okay. What's the last self-help book that you've read, and what did you take away from it? 

Khan: Okay. Shit. The last book that falls in this category was The Will to Change by bell hooks. 

Joanna: Okay. 

Khan: Men, Masculinity and Love. Basically just her deconstructing, the patriarchy and how it affects all of us, boys and girls and how it, how boys and girls are raised in patriarchy and what that means for what they expect from themselves and from life and from each other and how it just destroys relationships and love and families. It helps me see so much that I can't unsee and it's fucked me up in the best way. 

Joanna: What can't you unsee or how did it positively fuck you up? 

Khan: This is such a big question. 

Joanna: Sorry. 

Khan: No, no, no, it's cool. You're really buying yourself time Joanna.

Joanna: I'm good at that. 

Jesse: What I hear in this, there are a couple things going on. I don't think she's buying herself time for her turn to answer. I think it's more that she is pushing him to explain himself and maybe not buying what he's selling here. 

Hiwote: Or she's just being a good conversationalist. And I want to hear how Khan responds.

Khan: Okay. Her main kind of like point is that she starts off by saying, a lot of people think that patriarchy is a system that just like benefits all men, and it's not exactly that. It's a system that benefits dominating men over other non dominating men and women and children. And, in order for this like alpha male, winner takes all, kind of like society that we've structured, to work, people have to raise their sons and their boys in order to be like a better dominator. That might mean like being more athletic or being the smartest and going to an Ivy league or whatever is seen as like the dominate, the dominant thing. The stakes are really high because as a man, your worth is determined by whether you are like a dominator in a patriarchal society. But when you raise your sons to be a better dominator, what you do is you kind of force the boy to sever parts of themselves that don't lend themselves to being a good dominator, i.e. access to your full emotional range, the ability to cry, the ability to empathize and connect emotionally. And those things are very things that you need for love. And so essentially what you're doing is you're raising a whole cohort of men that don't really know how to love and are scared to love because loving would mean being weak and being not worthwhile and not worthy. Yeah. It's just, it's a very valuable book, I recommend it.

Joanna: One, I'm glad you didn't try to mansplain the patriarchy, you didn't at all. No, I think it, it resonates particularly in this sort of the impact on women. Like my college experience, I went to a super male dominated school that didn't let women in until the seventies and the structure of the Greek system is such that we can basically only go to parties at fraternities. And so as an 18 year old, was very much I can just be one of the boys and to succeed had to adopt that like masculine energy. And I think it was after leaving college and growing up a bit to be like, oh, that was a pretty messed up dynamic where the answer was just be a guy and be masculine and be aggressive and drink like a guy in order to fit in here, as opposed to examining are these the, like the right social structures? 

Khan: Yeah. And even what does it mean to be like a guy, right. Like what we think about that is often just patriarchal motions, right? So there's no healthy alternative model for what masculinity looks like.

Jesse: I feel like we're in this well-rehearsed territory with Khan where he is sharing things that are part of his story, especially right now that he is telling about himself and who he is. So I wonder, can we steer the conversation a bit into some new terrain?

Khan: What's something you wouldn't normally share on a first date? Share it. 

Joanna: They're definitely nudging us towards vulnerability. 

Khan: Right, right, right, right. I feel it. I feel it.

Joanna: I see that.

Khan: This is like top of my mind all the time, so I'll just share it, but I never would on a first date, which is my parents are getting divorced right now. 

Joanna: Oh, I'm so sorry.

Khan: You know, it's funny because there's like a Louis CK joke. 

Joanna: Is that like the reaction he makes fun of? 

Khan: He's like, yeah. Like nobody, like when you hear someone's getting divorced, you should say congratulations instead of I'm sorry, because nobody who's ever been happily married is getting divorced is the joke. But yeah, no. Obviously it's like an extremely challenging thing, but it's also an incredible release and evolution in a lot of ways for both of them. 

Joanna: Yeah. Was it a surprise? 

Khan: No. 

Joanna: Do you think it will be better for the family? 

Khan: I think it will. I think it's scary because we don't know what it's going to be like. It has a lot to do with a lot of what I was talking about in terms of the bell hooks book and patriarchy and just a lot of those kinds of inherited things that I think have been plaguing people for generations. But yeah, I'm hoping it's also just a massive opportunity for growth and for a break in a long lineage of certain ways of doing marriage and relationships, so I'm excited to, obviously it's a mix of a lot of emotions, but I'm also excited. So how about you? 

Joanna: It would be something in the like relationship realm, which I would normally never talk about like exes or like relationships or insecurities on a first date. But I think, I don't know how this like insecurity openness of the last like serious relationship I had was coming up on four years ago, which seems like a very scary length of time as a person who just turned 33 this week. And so I don't know what the reveal is, but at times feel like insecurity around all of those things. And that is scary. And sometimes makes me wonder if it's like me. I would never normally talk about that, but that's an insecurity, I guess if that satisfies the question. 

Khan: I think so. So, well done.

Joanna: Yeah.

Khan: Oh, my God. Okay. 

Joanna: We went too deep. 

Khan: Bringing us back from the brink.

Joanna: Okay. Hypothetically speaking sex on a first date, why or why not? 

Khan: I feel like if I feel like a really strong emotional connection, I wouldn't rule it out on a first date. The chances of that very strong, emotional connection happening just like immediately are not super high, but it's not like something I have a rule against or something. 

Joanna: Yeah. I mean, we started this conversation with gray areas, so I agree. I agree, no hard and fast rules. Lean is generally, no. I think to your point, I just generally don't feel comfortable with, or like ready to do that with someone when I first meet them. I think there's also this like arbitrary line of shame around like sexual intercourse versus like the other stuff which like I don't buy into, but it was just programmed as a kid. But yeah, I'd say no hard and fast rules, but unlikely. 

Khan: I really enjoy other things like other physical intimacy besides just sex too. 

Joanna: There's something really fun about when you start dating someone, how you can just enjoy aggressively making out for six hours and stay up all night. And once you've been dating someone for a year, you're not going to stay up all night making out.

Khan: Yeah, I love making out. I really like it. 

Joanna: It's so fun. It's so bad. Like when it's, when someone's like a bad kisser though, and it's not like, oh, we just need to adjust our styles. But like objective really bad though, is bad. If someone's like attacking you with their tongue, it's really bad. So no really big fan of making out.

Khan: That's true, they've got to be good at it, because I'm really good at it, so if the other person's not, it's kind of awkward.

Joanna: I am too. I've gotten the feedback. It must be like, if you like it, then you do you know, like any skill. Okay. I think that is the end of our date. Khan, it was very lovely speaking with you today. 

Khan: Likewise, talk to you later..

Jesse: Hiwote, I'm really good at flirting.

Hiwote: I am too. I've been told I'm really good at flirting. 

Jesse: You've got you've gotten the feedback? This is charming. This was a great way to end a date. I have to say I feel pretty good about this one becoming a second date. I mean, what do you think? 

Hiwote: I think he's into her. I'm not sure if she's into him, but he was mirroring everything she said. He loved all of her answers. He was building on them. So if I were her, I would definitely think that he wanted to go out with me again.

Logan: Hi. How are you? 

Khan: Good. 

Logan: Great. Well kind of give me the debrief of the Joanna date.

Khan: Yeah. I had fun and I had to be quick on my feet. She, Joanna was like really sharp, but I think in my job, I'm already so cerebral that I think it's kind of nice in, in my like social interactions, interacting with people who aren't playing a game.

Hiwote: Whoa, I did not see that coming. 

Jesse: Too cerebral. I definitely didn't feel like it felt cerebral. 

Hiwote: You know, we spent a lot of time making sure Joanna was love bomb proof. I wonder if we got love bombed.

Jesse: I think we did. I know, I think, I think we did get love bombed. I think I did. I don't know. I just experienced that date as a really good time, including the flirting at the end. This isn't how I thought Khan would come back at the end. So I think this would be an interesting thought experiment. If we pulled a couple of moments from the date and Logan played those back for Khan, so he could hear how he showed up and explained to Logan what was going through his head during the date.

Logan: I actually have a good piece of tape that I can play for you around that, that I think let's listen to it together, okay. 

Joanna: Okay. The question is, are you ticklish and I've never done research on ticklishness, but I think it like, maybe just be like a mindset or I think there must be a mental thing because sometimes I'm ticklish and sometimes I'm not ticklish and it really is like the mood that I'm in and how I'm feeling with the tickler. We're really going to intellectualize this question. 

Khan: No, no, I think you should. It's true. It's not as simple as yes or no. If I'm pissed at you. I'm not going to be tickled by you.

Joanna: Absolutely. Hard pass. 

Khan: I tend to be ticklish though. I guess I will say I tend towards ticklish. 

Joanna: I would agree with that. 

Logan: Okay. So how did it feel listening to that? 

Khan: It's super awkward, oh my god. It's tough, like listening to yourself, but also I think affirms what I was also just saying, I haven't done research on ticklishness or like tickler/ticklee typically. That's literally stuff that I have to draft. You know what I mean? I guess not with that verb, but it's nice sometimes to just slip out of that. And I think I was like maintaining that kind of affect that I'm used to maintaining, like in other domains that I would love to not have to maintain. 

Logan: What's so fascinating is that you're kind of flirting and laughing and, it feels like you guys are connecting, but I'm curious, like what was happening internally?

Khan: Yeah, damn. I think it was again I think it does work for me on some level, because I'm good at that too, right? So like, it is still fun, but it wasn't, I guess like maybe my ideal, like dynamic. 

Logan: If I were giving somebody advice on. How to show up on a date, I would say be interested, not interesting. And I think you did a really good job at affirming her and making her feel interesting. But then the second piece is saying is this the type of person that I want to be with? How did I show up on the date? Do I like the side of me that they bring out? And for you, she emphasized like the cerebral, legal side of your mind that you don't want to be there. That's not how you want to spend your time outside of work. And so you said no, and I, I did feel like that was a growth moment for you. 

Khan: Thank you. I think so, too. I guess I'm struggling with really feeling like I'm like a deceptive guy or something. And I'm just like chameleon-ing in this situation. Like growing up in my household, it was like easier to like, try to read how people are feeling and give them what they're expecting kind of thing then rather than being completely honest, to be honest about what I'm really feeling at any given moment. 

Logan: But I don't think that your skill of being charming on a first date is deceptive. I think the more interesting thing to think about is because you're so empathetic because it is so easy to just basically become like an open channel that somebody flows into, how do you let that person flow into you so that you're present and you can connect with them while not losing sight of how you're feeling. I think that there's a part of you on the inside that feels like you're responsible for everybody having a good time and you walk into a room and you're like, I know what each person in this room needs. I know what each person in this conversation is looking for. I can give it to them and I will give it to them, and that's occupying a lot of energy. So you're constantly doing emotional caretaking. You're keeping the conversation light. You're making sure the other person's comfortable. You're yes, and-ing them, right? Like you are carrying the emotional weight of other people. And so there's a few things at play. There's paying attention more to how the person makes you feel, but there's also having the confidence to show up and say, I'm not responsible for this person's feelings, we're both going to have an experience. So the less that you perform and people please, the more you get to see how people respond to the favorite part of yourself that you have. Does that make sense? 

Khan: Yeah, that's really cool. I really like that. 

Logan: And I think that if you think a little bit more about what you want and a little bit less about giving people what they want, I think that you will actually feel that you are living a more authentic life.

Jesse: So Khan told us that he was really good at falling in love. But what I didn't understand is that Khan's a really good dater. I think we should have seen that coming. He does a really good job of appearing interested in what Joanna brings up, of asking follow-up questions, of showing a little vulnerability, of putting himself out there in a way that didn't necessarily translate into him wanting a second date. But I wonder if we're now looking for another date for Khan, where does this leave us? 

Hiwote: Yeah, I mean, I asked him exactly that. 

Khan: Honestly, it's like, someone with just a really great heart, which Joanna seemed like she had. Yeah. I think we've got some creative passions, that would be fun to just learn more about, brainstorm ideas, enjoy art and music with, you know, the energy is a little bit more fluid and less mind-heavy.

Hiwote: Okay, cool. And is there anything else?

Khan: Um, beautiful. 

Hiwote: Ok, noted. Beauty is a hard one because beauty is so subjective that I'm like this person is stunning and I never know, but yes, noted. 

Jesse, I don't know. I feel like I now have to look for a supermodel who is also a biochemist and an athlete and very smart, but not too cerebral and can be creative. 

Good luck with that.

Jesse: This is Dating. On Khan's next date... 

Khan: I was struck by your hair and by your shirt actually, your shirt is really, really beautiful. 

Next Date: It was actually struck by your hair too. Is that weird? I'm not copying you. 

Hiwote: Oh my God. These people are turned on.

Jesse: If you'd like to be set up by us on a future date, go to This is Dating is produced by Jesse Baker and Eric Nuzum at Magnificent Noise. Our production staff includes Hiwote Getaneh, Eleanor Kagan and Taylor Hansen. We also received help from Esther Perel, Courtney Hamilton, Robert Smith, Julia Natt, Julia Silbergeld, the Quarantine Love Project, Hayden Dawes, Lulu Krause, and Eva Wolchover. Original music production and sound design by Paul Schneider. Logan Ury is our consulting producer and the executive producer of This is Dating is Jesse Baker.