Relationships Podcast Post

Stop Being Bad at Love with Dr. Thomas Jordan

George Grombacher October 20, 2022

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Stop Being Bad at Love with Dr. Thomas Jordan

LifeBlood: We talked about how to stop being bad at love, why we make the same relationship mistakes over and over, the roots of behavior, and how to recognize our tendencies, with Dr. Thomas Jordan, Clinical Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, and author. 

Listen to learn a three step process for breaking bad relationship habits!

You can learn more about Thomas at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Get your copy of Learn to Love.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Dr. Thomas Jordan

Episode Transcript


Unknown Speaker 0:15
what’s up? This is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strung up off with Dr. Thomas Jordan. Dr. Thomas, are you ready to do this? Yes, I am.

Unknown Speaker 0:25
Let’s go. Thomas is a PhD, a clinical psychologist, a psychoanalyst, a postdoc, faculty member and author and the founder of the love life Learning Center. Dr. Thomas, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do. I, I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I’m a married man with one son.

Unknown Speaker 0:49
I’m a large practice,

Unknown Speaker 0:54
enjoy working on all kinds of stuff. But I tend to specialize in the unhealthy love life that seems to be drawing my attention more and more as we go along.

Unknown Speaker 1:06
wrote a little book back in 2019. And a lot of people liked it is getting a little bit of a buzz. So I’m, I’m here on podcasts spreading the word a little bit because I think there’s a very important message in the book. And it needs to be talked about. So

Unknown Speaker 1:23
here I am. I love it. And what is that message

Unknown Speaker 1:29
that people can work on their love lives. And there’s a way to do it that straightforward and produces oftentimes very dramatic results. I know this personally, because part of the reason I wrote the book is I changed my own love life. And in the book, I talk about that experience. And I drew some interesting understandings from it. And I wanted to pass it along to other people, because I don’t think you need to be in therapy for up to 10 years to actually make changes in your love life for the better. I also have seen a lot of people over the years, George that have very, very disappointing love lives.

Unknown Speaker 2:10
Part of my practice was just becoming aware of the people around me. And I realized that oftentimes they repeat disappointments over and over and over again, without a consciousness of what’s going on. And without that consciousness, you can’t make any changes. And it’s very tragic, because people can get to their 50s and 60s and reach a period of point of resignation, where they feel like love is too hurtful, can’t do anything about it, the string of disappointments. And I think that something can be done about that. We have an outrageous divorce rate that goes up and down, and it hovers around 50% can be lower, but I think it’s too high. And it indicates that there’s a lot of disappointing love lives out there that need attention.

Unknown Speaker 2:59
How very human of us to engage in the same behavior over and over again, oh my god, different result. You know what’s hopeful about it, though, what’s hopeful about it is that there’s learning involved. If we’re doing the same thing over and over again, there’s learning involved. And learning is a very user friendly concept. We learn from the beginning of life to the end of life. So if something can be learned, it can be unlearned. And something better learn once you know the process, once you know what to look for. I think the unlearning process can be talked about and implemented. And that’s what my books about helping people become aware of what they’re repeating. And and suggesting a three step method that’s very effective to promote change in what they’ve learned.

Unknown Speaker 3:49
Where do I get my relationship behaviors? My buy love behaviors? Is that the right term where where does it come from? Okay.

Unknown Speaker 3:59
I would say two things one,

Unknown Speaker 4:03
love is a unpredictable, uncontrollable, universal phenomena. We can’t control it. We don’t know where it comes from. It’s a beautiful thing. In the course of a lifetime, we can probably experience it multiple times.

Unknown Speaker 4:19
It’s wonderful. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Unknown Speaker 4:25
What I’m talking about is the relationships people form when they fall in love and look at the phrase fall in love George, it indicates we fall into a hole or something. You know, it’s it’s involuntary. It happens to us, unfortunately, people some people, engineer I’m going to call an engineer and unhealthy love relationship to contain that love and what happens is the love is not allowed to grow, not allowed to thrive. And unfortunately, it off

Unknown Speaker 5:00
And, tragically, for a lot of people, I never really get started in some instances, you know. So what I’m about is, I’m about the relationships people formed, because that’s something we can do and should do something about once you become conscious of the type of relationship you’re setting up, then there’s the beginning of an unsure of an unlearning process that can take place to, to answer your question in one more way. The family of origin is a very powerful first classroom for all of us. Unfortunately,

Unknown Speaker 5:39
the learning that takes place there is predominantly unconscious. It’s not like our parents, our family of origin, sets up a blackboard and says, George, this is this is what loves about when you fall in love, this is the kind of thing you should set up to contain and grow that love, unfortunately, and it’s not taught in schools, by the way, as well. And yet, it’s such a powerful experience that can create suffering when it doesn’t go well.

Unknown Speaker 6:09
But so we leave it to the family of origin. And in many instances, the family of origin can teach healthy relations, demonstrate them. But in many instances, unfortunately, it teaches unhealthy, love relationships, children learn them. And if they’re not on, they’re not conscious of what they’ve learned. And they usually not, then the repetition pattern takes place. There are people who become aware that what they’ve learned about love relationships is unhealthy, and they dedicate themselves on their own without any reading therapy, to do the opposite. I’ve met people like that. It’s an interesting manifestation of consciousness, who knows how it happens, I’m still looking at that. So there are a group of people that will get there. But there’s also a very large group of people who repeat unconsciously the same unhealthy patterns over and over again and their love of life.

Unknown Speaker 7:10
It makes sense to me. And I can certainly look at.

Unknown Speaker 7:16
And for better or for worse, our parents screw us up in, in, in most every way. So why wouldn’t why? Why wouldn’t relationships also,

Unknown Speaker 7:25
there’s, there’s, there’s more screwed up ways that love life is a big one, I think. I think that’s what percent.

Unknown Speaker 7:33
I grew up in a family where my mother really never left, left home, her parents lived upstairs, my brothers and I lived downstairs. My mother was one of six children that survived infancy and fetal life, unfortunately for my grandmother, so when she was born, my grandparents really held on to her, she was very unhappy about no freedom in that respect. And she was an unhappy, dependent, controlling, and self centered person as a consequence of those experiences. I learned in my family of origin, that women were dependent, controlling and self centered. And guess what kind of women I found, or I imagined I found between the ages of 17 and 35.

Unknown Speaker 8:27
Crazy, right, until an analyst here in New York pointed out to me that I was using my mom’s template to conduct my love life.

Unknown Speaker 8:39
And had he not done that I think I’d be divorced two or three times by now. Probably a resignation. Because dependent controlling, self centered people are not really prepared for the intimate relationship as needed in a love life, a healthy love life. So I made corrections. I spent time with female friends i i found independent women, no sex, no romance, just people to get to know because I didn’t have any sisters. And after about five years of that, and independent, not controlling, not self centered woman showed up. I married I’ve been married for 28 years. Congratulations are offices next.

Unknown Speaker 9:27

Unknown Speaker 9:29
i Is there ever been a more important time to be having these kinds of conversations? It strikes me that so many young people, we we are struggling with the tools that we’ve been given? Many of us struggle with the tools that we’ve been given from our family of origin, if not everything was perfect, and we as human beings have a tendency to grab ahold of bad stuff and not necessarily the good stuff. And then you marry that. It’s kind of a pawn right there with social media.

Unknown Speaker 10:00
and pornography and everything else that’s going on in the world. Ya know,

Unknown Speaker 10:07
a 1972 man by the name of Leo Buscaglia, in California, at the University of Southern California educational psychologist, I believe he was, he was teaching a class, one of his female students committed suicide because of a love life problem. He was so moved by that. He went to the administration, he said, Listen, you have to let me teach a love class. I wanted to teach love classes. My students don’t understand love, and they need to understand better. They laugh that Leo, don’t you have something better to do? Come on. And he persisted. And and so they gave him a classroom? No credit. He taught at George for four years standing room, only 100 Students could fit in the room. Now, I want to ask you a question. Does the University of Southern California still have a love class on their curriculum?

Unknown Speaker 11:10
Probably not.

Unknown Speaker 11:12
Hopefully they do. Correct. Right. But when 100 students

Unknown Speaker 11:19
get into a classroom, standing room only doesn’t that say something about what they need to understand what they need to learn.

Unknown Speaker 11:29
He was so moved in the first class, I remember reading about it, he, he started to tear up. And he said, Look, I don’t know if I can teach you about love, I might not know myself, we’ll learn together, he said. And so it became an exchange between the audience and himself. And that, really, and he wrote several books about it as a consequence, learning and love, it was fascinating.

Unknown Speaker 11:54
So, since 1978, or whatever the year was that up to 72.

Unknown Speaker 12:02
So Forever, forever, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. If it’s, you know, whatever new thing that will be happening in 20 years, we’ll still be having the same problems. And so, you know, I, I make the point, my book, George, that there’s two emotions, and I know this from my practice, I’ve been in practice for 34 years, you know, I’ve seen a lot. I’m very interested in the interpret. I’m an interpersonal analyst, by training, and I, I look at the interpersonal lives of people, I think interpersonal relationships can be healthy and healing. And I think it’s a personal relationships can be damaging, and destructive. So I’m very interested in that continuum. That process you know,

Unknown Speaker 12:44
and I just I, I wrote in my book, that there are two emotions that are so important in human experience, that we don’t teach anything about. Love is one and the true opposite of Love, Grief,

Unknown Speaker 13:01
grief, and love. When you lose love, you grieve. So that’s the true opposite, not hate, hates a sick form of anger. What we’re talking about here are two emotional experiences. Every human being will encounter at some point or another in their lives, and how to grieve, how to love.

Unknown Speaker 13:26
I can’t tell you how many patients I get on a, on a monthly basis who come to our practice to handle grief, a member of their family during the pandemic, it shot up, it was even more common. People who don’t know how to grieve. They’ve never learned how to grieve. They got the message that grief was sickness or weakness. As a consequence, they block grief symptoms occurring as a consequence of blocking grief because grief is an emotion that doesn’t go away. People have come into my office handling grief in unhealthy ways. Similar to what I’m talking about with love they, they extracted unhealthy messages from their family experience because the people in their family were unable to handle grief in a healthy way taught children that grief was a sickness, a weakness, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard of, you know, parents scolding children don’t cry, be strong. So that tears are discouraged. When grief involves tears. There’s a sadness there that needs to be shared. Same thing with love people learn these people learn how to handle these very powerful natural emotions

Unknown Speaker 14:48
in ways that are unhealthy and that’s that’s a part of the problem. You know, I was I was about to tell you about a person that showed up in my office years ago. I never forget her

Unknown Speaker 15:00
Early 50s, doing a bit of an intake with her. And she tells me that she grew up in a violent home with an alcoholic father who was physically abusive to their mother. And as children, she and her siblings witnessed this. She leaves home. She now as an adult person, divorces two men who are alcoholic and abusive to her. And she’s working on a third, who sounds like he’s emotionally abusive, and who knows where that will go. And I remember, I’m sitting in my office, Georgia and I, I, I looked at her and I asked a simple question, do you think that

Unknown Speaker 15:41
what happened in your love life now as an adult woman is related to what you experienced growing up, and she looked at me with a look on her face, like, what?

Unknown Speaker 15:56
And this is an intelligent, educated person. And what I realized in that moment is the link between those two experiences is not there. And that’s something that it’s human, it’s not a matter of intelligence. It’s not a matter of anything, not a matter of mental illness, I think. I think it’s a way in which people compartmentalize their experiences when they’re painful, perhaps. So linking those events together, is a step in the direction of inviting a person to identify. And that’s what in my book, I talk about the unlearning method as the way to correct what we’re talking about. Step one, in the unlearning method, is to identify what the unhealthy relationship experiences were, that taught us what we’re now unconsciously repeating what we’ve learned about love relationships, and that that’s step one, that identification process, that consciousness that focus and concentration is such an empowering a such a powerful step, it’s the beginning of the process of empowering ourselves to be able to do okay, let me I’m gonna go inside to fix my love life, not, you know, outside, even though people go outside quite a bit, you know, let me go inside to the psychology I’m carrying around. I call it the psychological love life, let’s go into the site. So step two, is to Label Label, what’s repeating as unhealthy? What that does is it messes with the repetition. Now, it’s not unconscious anymore, you see it happening, people have come into office into my office working on these things and said to me, you know, I met a very good looking person last night, who I think is just like the person, I gotta have this relationship. And the way she or he is saying, it is like, I’m attracted to them, but they’re not good for me, I’m attract.

Unknown Speaker 18:11
So it’s like, now there’s a challenge consciously in the person’s mind. And they’re able to, you know, have a therapeutic conflict between what they learning and what they’ve learned. So now there’s a bit of a disruption going on, it’s like, I’m not gonna let this unconscious pattern dominate my love life. I’m gonna think about it. I’m going to sit across a dinner table with someone on dating, and I’m going to listen to the stories. If I hit this honesty, if I hear abuse, if I hit disrespect of some kind or neglect of some kind, I might question that and say, Wait a minute, is this person ready for a relationship. So stage two begins to the unlearning process based on the fact that we’ve identified and stage three step three of this process is to move and I like to use the word opposite in the opposite direction. In my book, I list 10, unhealthy relationship experiences that kept showing up in my practice, abandonment, abuse, rejection, neglect, self centeredness, dependency, dishonesty, experiences, that when we’re exposed to them growing up, for example, we can learn lessons that are unhealthy. And people hang on to those lessons in the back room somewhere in terms of what they believe, how they behave, how they end up feeling in a love relationship. So it’s important to get all of that out to look at it to get it out of the closet to look at it, and then people can move in the opposite direction as I did independence.

Unknown Speaker 20:01
not controlling, not self centered when I started to find people in that group, people who were in a better position to be in a love relationship, because those qualities make it possible to set up a healthy love relationship when a person falls in love so, and people aren’t not everybody out there even though they might think they are ready for relationship.

Unknown Speaker 20:29
I might get a lot of argument and bad press about making that statement, George, but at this point, I’ve done too many podcasts to care.

Unknown Speaker 20:38
I think that, you know, if people look inside, check out the book, think about their love life as a consequence of this conversation that I I’m glad I’m gratified to Oh, believe me look in the mirror. Look at yourself. Take a look. If you see something in your early life and it stopped showing up in your current life. Maybe it means something maybe that’s something you can

Unknown Speaker 21:04
look at. Okay. I think that that’s all really well said and it makes all the sense in the world to me, we are creatures of habit we follow up predict to add or what a dirty word that is George habit. You know, that’s that word is the dirty word category. Another one right next to it is familia, family familia. Sometimes the familiars are unhealthy, as well as healthy. It could be unhealthy. It’s it’s a such a, it’s such a it’s a word that hides behind the little bit of a good kind of thought. So Amelia, oh, familiar. But if the familiar is unhealthy, and you’re gravitating towards the familiar all the time, it might be a problem. No doubt. Why is it? What Why is it controversial to think that there’s people out there who are ready for relationships?

Unknown Speaker 22:01
Because a lot of people out there, unfortunately, are acting like they are.

Unknown Speaker 22:09
We don’t know this even ourselves. Yeah, they don’t know they’re not.

Unknown Speaker 22:15
And if they know they’re not, that’s another category.

Unknown Speaker 22:19
That someone that is doing something intentional. That’s not cool. But there are people that don’t know they’re not ready. And they’re out there trying. And these are the people my heart goes out to. I say, wait a minute, man, if you buy a book for 15 bucks and sit under an oak tree, read it, get confused and have to think about your love life. what’s that worth?

Unknown Speaker 22:47
And you start saying, wait a minute, how come I’m always finding dishonest people in my love life? Oh, Dad cheated on mom and try to hide it?

Unknown Speaker 23:06
How can I always find people that are unavailable? emotionally unavailable? Or oh,

Unknown Speaker 23:14
I was abandoned as a child left with a single mom that brought us up great mom. But she struggled dad went away. Now I find people who go away.

Unknown Speaker 23:34
So invaluable.

Unknown Speaker 23:38
No doubt about that. For a 15 or $20, or however much it is. I don’t think I don’t think you could you were able to be feel if you are struggling to find a happy, successful loving relationship.

Unknown Speaker 23:57
I think that you’d be for lack of a better term nuts not to dig into this deeper.

Unknown Speaker 24:04
That’s not a medical term that maybe is is is is is is nuts. The appropriate term Dr. Knotts?

Unknown Speaker 24:14
That’s good, George. That’s a political one.

Unknown Speaker 24:18
I’ll use it occasionally.

Unknown Speaker 24:22
Guy or gals behavior is Matt’s Yeah. Dr. Thomas, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? Where can they pick up a copy of your book? Yeah. is the best place to go and have a website that talks about our work and I’ve got I wanted it to be an online library of real articles that help people with love life issues, the real stuff, not the hearts and flowers, the real stuff. And so I have about it’s been up since 2012 over 300 articles on it. The books on there my wife and I

Unknown Speaker 25:00
Do we offer love life consultations or telehealth by phone for people who might read the book and, and believe they need a little bit of support to get through those steps I talked about. So all that information is available at love life learning Excellent. If you enjoyed as much as I did share Dr. Thomas your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to love life learning and take advantage of all the great resources that Thomas has been working on and pick up a copy of the book and make the investment in yourself because you are absolutely worth it. Thanks good Thomas. Absolutely. Thank you, George. Thank you for inviting me. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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