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April 11, 2022

What I Hear Is Fear: Virginia's Session with Esther Perel

What I Hear Is Fear: Virginia's Session with Esther Perel

Loyal to the pattern. Everytime I love a guy, I love them more. And when I get attached, it's harder to say goodbye.

Loyal to the pattern. Every time I love a guy, I love them more. And when I get attached, it's harder to say goodbye.


Jesse: This is dating I'm Jesse Baker. Virginia has been a challenge and I don't think we know exactly why. She is a great dater. She's so fun to listen to on dates. From the very beginning, I think she was the one who made us laugh the hardest. Um, she's really hard to impress and she just is kind of a no bullshit kind of gal.

And after these dates, she just doesn't want to move forward. She's willing to say yes to a second date. I mean, she did say yes on both of these dates, but there was a lack of interest. There was a lack of curiosity and there was really a lack of desire was more, yeah, I could go out with them again, but do I need to? And I'm not sure we have the skills to solve that.

I called a friend. She's a psychotherapist, she's a couples therapist. And I thought if anyone could help Virginia feel unstuck, it would be Esther Perel.

Okay. So I don't know what this is Esther. I don't have any, uh, predetermined questions or outcomes. I just thought the two of you could talk and you could explore in a way that only you do, and we could see what happens. And the idea is to leave people in a better place than we found them. And she's the one I'm not entirely sure that we did that with.

Esther Perel: You go by Virginia, yes? 

Virginia: Yes.

Esther Perel: Do you know who I am? 

Virginia: I did my research, I did my research. 

Esther Perel: Good, good. So what I know is that the show doesn't promise you love ever after, but it promises you that dating can be more fun, more engaging, um, less tedious, less transactional. And that you've been on two dates. And, um, maybe we pick up there, it's like, um, what stood out for you, if anything that was either new or surprising or confirming of something that you already knew?

Virginia: Um, so I think something that I might, I wouldn't know if I would say a confirmation, but I think, you know how sometimes people are like, you're not the problem, you just haven't found the right person. I don't think I have a problem, but I do think. I see a lot of people that I date like, oh, you are not enough of, which I don't think it's necessarily the reality for people.

It might just be something that I'm bringing in, right? Like, oh, you're not tall enough. You don't have the job that I think you should have, you know, like things like that. So I think going into those dates, cause I think both of the guys, not that I had to like them, but I think they were, you know, like they were pretty good guys. For me, it was like, oh yeah, but I don't need to see you again. I don't, I could go without seeing you again. 

Esther Perel: And when you notice that you make sure to find something to disqualify them, is this something that you notice beyond these two dates? This is familiar to you? Yes, I know that I have a way of making sure that most of the guys I meet... 

Virginia: 100%. If I don't choose the wrong guys, I'm just choosing guys I'm gonna find something that it's wrong with them. And it is a pattern. I will say it honestly, because I've been thinking about this lately and I'm like, oh yeah, this guy had this, this guy had that, this guy had that. Like, it's just something that I do I guess. 

Esther Perel: And what does that tell you? 

Virginia: Uh, I've been alone for so long, like without, uh, what I would consider a serious relationship that I'm very comfortable by myself. So I feel like there's not a lot of space for me to be like, oh, you don't have this that I want, I'm going to still give it a try, because I don't know. I see it as settling, but I know it's not settling. It's just... 

Esther Perel: No, you know what it is? Not that I know what it is... When I hear you talk, what I'm hearing you talk about is fear.

You'll find a way in each person to justify why you shouldn't see them again, but not because of values and not because of attributes, but by staying stuck on the items. We're not asking, what does it do for you to systematically rule out anyone, you could get close to? 

Virginia: I don't know. It's a lot of headache and heartache.

Esther Perel: Okay. Let's talk about the heartache and the headache. Have you had heartaches? Have you had headaches? 

Virginia: Yes. Like a million. I feel like every time I love a guy, I love them more and more and more. 

Esther Perel: And when I loved them more and more, what happens to me? 

Virginia: I dunno, I get more attached and then it's harder to say goodbye.

Esther Perel: What happened when you got attached?

Virginia: It was fun. It was fun until it was not. It's, I don't regret them. I don't know if that's a way to, I don't regret having them then go, then going through the heartache, but I'm not sure that I know how to answer that question. 

Esther Perel: Do you enjoy allowing someone to get to know you?

Virginia: Yes. Yes. I have struggled with that because I have a very strong personality, right. Like I'm always like, oh, did I come off too strong? Did I make, did I take a joke too far? But I do think I am, not think, I know, like I enjoy that. Someone getting to know me, seeing who I am and me being myself. So obviously like everyone, I have a lot of baggage. 

Esther Perel: Can I ask you something? 

Virginia: Yes. 

Esther Perel: What would you say are some of the main items in your suitcase? 

Virginia: Of baggage? 

Esther Perel: What do you bring with you in terms of hopes, wishes, aspirations, fears, trust, distrust?

Virginia: Well, then I'm going to start with the good things. I think, you know, I'm very empathetic and I think I'm a person that I, I am like, I tried to understand you. I also think I'm fun. I think I'm funny as well. Think I'm responsible. I think I'm a good lover. I think I would be a good partner. On the baggage side, I think I have a lot of trust issues, which can really affect a relationship. You know, I have a lot of issues on like, I need to see to believe, I guess, I don't put much value on words. Uh, I guess that's a way to say it. I go more for actions, which is not great because some people use their words to explain themselves and to express what they feel. I just don't understand it. 

Esther Perel: You have experience with people telling you all kinds of things and not backing it up. 

Virginia: Oh yeah. Yeah. 

Esther Perel: Who do you think about? 

Virginia: So definitely my mother. And then I can think of like exes. 

Esther Perel: How did your mother or your relationship with your mother teach you to be wary of empty words?

Virginia: So I guess, you know, like telling someone, I love you, I'm here for you. I want the best for you, but then acting a complete different way. I think she has a funny way of showing her love. And then I think there's like several things to it. There's a cultural aspect of it, but I also think it's something that she is like that. 

Esther Perel: And the cultural aspect is? 

Virginia: So like where I come from, there's this whole thing about your parents being like very, I think the expression in English, like strong handed, like they're very strong with you and they expect you to always do things for them, just because they're your parents. And when you don't meet those expectations, uh, things are said, you know, but I also think like there are some other things happening with her. Um, maybe some mental health issues that I'm not going to get into, but there's that, you know, I expect you to do this. The second you don't do it, or you do them not according to what I want than what I think of you changes. 

Esther Perel: So love is very conditional. You please, me or else. 

Virginia: Yes.

Esther Perel: If you please me, I'll say nice things. If you disappoint me, I can curse you out. 

Virginia: Yeah. But it's never enough. So there's always something. 

Esther Perel: There's always something like on first, like on your dates. 

Virginia: I'm turning into my mother, my biggest fear, it seems. 

Esther Perel: Is it? 

Virginia: Turning into my mother...

Esther Perel: Is it that on the date there's always something? 

Virginia: Yeah.

Esther Perel: And do you ever tell her that she's not invited on the date with you?

Virginia: My mother? Um, yeah, that part of my personality. Yes, so I think even because of the podcast, I've started going on second dates with, uh, guys, even like, if I found something wrong on the first date. Putting that thought aside of, I don't think you are tall enough, I don't think you live in the neighborhood that I want you to live or something like that, and going on those second dates but. I am trying to not have my mother on my dates. 

Esther Perel: Yes, exactly. It's less about the items on the guys and more, I know the situation. I know the situation where it's never good enough. 

Virginia: Yeah.

Esther Perel: No matter what these men bring, I will focus on the one thing they don't. 

Virginia: Yeah. 

Esther Perel: And I will put myself in the various situation that I've learned to be with her.

Virginia: Yeah, I guess that makes obviously listening to you. I'm like, oh yeah, that makes so much sense. I don't think I would gotten to that conclusion.

Esther Perel: If this is the loyalty that you have, then every guy will make sure that there is something that you can point out so that you can stay loyal to the pattern.

Virginia: I'm not sure how to break that pattern. So, what do I do? I just go out and be like, I'm going to try not to find anything wrong with someone, or like, try to find better things? 

Esther Perel: You are going to find something. And instead of trying not to do your thing, find it, and then basically say to it and to you, I accomplished my mission. I repeated the same pattern again. But I know in what service that happens. So now that I've taken care of that, let me go back to the date. 

Virginia: Okay. I like that actually. Yeah. 

Esther Perel: So imagine on your next date, you're less busy itemizing the list and you basically go with a mindset that says. How can I be deeply curious this time? What are interesting things I could learn about a human being?

Virginia: Yeah. 

Esther Perel: And how do I make it equally interesting for you to get to know me? What would be some very fun questions? 

Virginia: Well, I thought a very fun question was what's the worst thing you've ever done? And people are like, no, that's a very personal question. I thought it was hilarious, but people don't like it. Um, I liked that one that, you know, like rule follower, rule breaker, um, like what is something that you've done that you will never do again?

Esther Perel: What's a dream you've never shared out loud? Do you like that one? 

Virginia: Um, yeah, I like that one. I would have to think about an answer to that one though.

Esther Perel: It's okay. You don't have to think in advance. You don't have to have a set answer and neither will they and it will be much more spontaneous and improvised.

Virginia: I used to like to ask, what do you, like if you only have one to choose for the rest of your life, would you choose bread or pasta cause I really love bread. 

Esther Perel: Beautiful. I wish I had spoken up when...

Virginia: Oh yeah, that's a good one. And I can know a lot about a person with that one. 

Esther Perel: And the goal of the evening will not be to learn the one thing that isn't good enough. The goal of the evening will be to learn the one surprising story that you heard. 

Virginia: Yeah instead of like emphasize what I did not like about that person. Just, you know, try to find something that I can remember that was a positive and then feel from that one. 

Esther Perel: Beautiful. 

Virginia: Okay. This is going to require like active thinking. 

Esther Perel: You are damn right. Very active, predetermined, because you need a conversation with her before you go out. 

Virginia: Yes. I think maybe I should keep first dates shorter too, to not give it the opportunity to find something bad right away. 

Esther Perel: Do you typically go and sit somewhere and talk to a person? Face-to-face?

Virginia: Yes. 

Esther Perel: Why don't you choose something to do to do together?

Virginia: Like a museum or something. 

Esther Perel: Like a museum, like a bike trip like a walking to a park, like a, going to a botanical garden, like a, whatever you enjoy doing, but do something together. So you don't... 

Virginia: So it's not just sitting down. 

Esther Perel: You're not static, face-to-face, in interview mode. 

Virginia: Okay, I'm going to try it. I always do the same. I always go to a bar and just sit there and like drink and eat for like four hours. I don't think I've ever had a first date different than that in years. 

Esther Perel: It needs, it needs movement. Movement will energize it and energy will change your perception. 

Virginia: Okay. I'm going to try that, I think, you know, going on dates from dating apps already awkward, so at least the alcohol makes it like less awkward. 

Esther Perel: But if you're not frozen face-to-face, but you're doing something together, then that takes care of what the alcohol is trying to do. It loosens you up. If you go play something, whatever it is, go play Frisbee, go play, go play, go be in motion. So then you're in parallel play. 

Virginia: Okay. 

Esther Perel: You want to go see an exhibit, go see an exhibit, because then you have something to talk about. You have a third element rather than talking about yourselves. 

Virginia: I like museums a lot. 

Esther Perel: And remember before that, before you go out, you have to tell your mom I'm going out tonight by myself. 

Virginia: I think I have to come up with like a good phrase for that, because I don't like the phrase of like leaving my mom behind. Cause that's not gonna work for me. 

Esther Perel: I leave that to you. 

Virginia: Yeah. I have to figure that out. 

Esther Perel: Everything I've said is a pick and choose. 

Virginia: Yeah. 

Esther Perel: None of it has to be done all at once. 

Virginia: Yeah, that one, I just have to find a way that doesn't make me upset or, you know, even have to think like, oh, it's mom, you know, like it's I want it to be more like, this is what I've been doing, this what I have to stop doing without mentioning my mother. 

Esther Perel: How would you say it?

Virginia: I don't know. 

Esther Perel: Go ahead. 

Virginia: Well to tell myself, like stop looking for the negative things. 

Esther Perel: I would probably suggest that you not leave with don't do something and leave with instead a sentence that says, do something. 

Virginia: Find the positive things? I don't know. 

Esther Perel: On the other side of there's always something wrong, there's always something missing. It can always be better. What lives on the other side for you?

Virginia: I don't know. 

Esther Perel: When mom finds the one thing you didn't do, what do you say to her or instead? 

Virginia: You're wrong. 

Esther Perel: You're wrong because? 

Virginia: Because I did this. 

Esther Perel: And if you turn that into a wish. What is it that you would want instead? 

Virginia: Um, I wish she would see reality. 

Esther Perel: And reality is what? That I do so much?

Virginia: Yeah, that I do a lot. I do more than enough and I think even if I do bad things or don't do certain things, it doesn't change everything else. 

Esther Perel: So that's exactly what you're going to leave with, even though this person will not be perfect, that doesn't mean that reality doesn't include lots of wonderful things. I'm looking not for what should be for what is. 

Virginia: So hard to date. 

Esther Perel: Well, it's hard to date when you have wrapped it into self-defeating missions.

Virginia: I guess so. 

Esther Perel: It's doing to yourself that which was done to you. 

Virginia: Yes. Okay. I have to work on so much. 

Esther Perel: It's all one thing. 

Virginia: Well, I guess to be honest with you, this is the first time that I'm having a conversation like this about it. So maybe now that I'm more aware, um, maybe I'll do things different? I'll try. I'll definitely try to do things different, right? Cause I can not continue going on date after date and then being so bored or so burned out that I don't want to do it anymore, but then complaining that I'm not dating anyone. So. I I guess like, yeah, yeah. This is the first time that I'm having a conversation. I bought it. So I'll take it seriously. 

Esther Perel: A big pleasure of mine is to see someone who is stuck, but doesn't know what you're stuck in. You think you're stuck into not finding the right guy and I see you stuck into something deeper and self-defeating and hurtful to yourself, and then to hopefully help you try something that could get you unstuck and put you in touch with the realm of possibility, which is what they think ought to be. 

Virginia: I'm definitely gonna try, because now that we've had this conversation, I feel like I can, at least I have a better idea of how to. One little thing can change something, right? Like I can change my attitude. Not, not just like, oh, you have to change your attitude, right. Cause everyone's like, you have to change your attitude when you go out to the dating world. But I think actually you know, finding the positive things and seeing the overall picture, I guess, hearing someone say those words might have an effect on me? To be determined. 

Esther Perel: Keep me posted. 

Virginia: Yeah. I'll keep you posted and I'll try some of the fun activities instead of just going to a bar. 

Esther Perel: Great. Thank you so much. 

Virginia: Thank you. 

Jesse: I'm not sure there's a better tool in our dating tool belt than what just happened with Virginia, so hopefully this unlocks what's been so stuck for Virginia. And the next time she goes on a date she figures out why she doesn't like the guy or she figures out what the imperfection is about the guy, she puts it in her pocket and then she turns the page and says, okay, I already have you sorted. Now, let's see what I do like about you.