As you might guess, the legal protection for non-traditional relationships and non-nuclear families is insanely slow to progress. That’s why people like Diana Adams are so important. They dedicate themselves to fight for the rights of folks that may live outside your view. Diane founded her own law firm that’s focused on same-sex couples, non-nuclear relationships and families. She is very, passionately dedicated to helping form healthy, stable families no matter the love construct. Whether that’s co-parenting, polyamorous families, different same sex configurations— there’s all kinds of ways that love and families come together. In this episode, you’ll hear her talk about some very poignant and personal examples.
When you boil it down, all of us want super intimate relationships. But how do we get there? Especially with our loved ones? There’s not much out there to model from. Hard to learn from your parents. It’s not like there’s a class in school on how to have intimate relationships or even what to look for. Really, there’s not any kind of guidance. We’re all grasping at straws, feeling our way without much of a map.
And when you live in our culture, there’s some pretty strict rules about what relationships look like. We’re either watching movies like Love Actually, where a guy shows up holding poster-board that says “to me, you’re perfect” or we’re watching hardcore porn of people’s junk. When it comes to intimacy, there’s two types of trained professionals that people pay to get help: Either you’re droning on to a shrink about your problems or you might have some specific sexualized fantasies that you need to exercise. For that, you might turn to a Dominatrix.
Love is life’s biggest virus of the mind. We live and die for it. Make major decisions because of it. And completely don’t understand it. “It’s complicated” is an understatement. We’re handed a script about what love really means and should be from the time we’re children. Our fairytales are pretty clear: you’ll meet someone and be swept off your feet, have babies and live happily ever after. But by the time you’re in y our 30s if this hasn’t happened for you, people think you’re misdirected or in the closet. Then by your 40s, the jury is out and clearly something’s wrong with you. Even if you did get married, where the hell are the kids? Let’s face it, we’re all following the same recipe for love— even if it doesn’t fit.
It’s amazing when you stop and think about how much we’re told about what shouldn’t be lovable. So much is vilified. It could be our own feelings, other groups of people, different faiths, or distant countries. There’s so much that falls into this unlovable category— so many stories where, “those people are the bad ones.”
Now imagine you’re someone who decides to unravel those narrative containers. To build bridges to them and shine lights on the kinds of families, emotions, places in the world that keep us apart and keep us from understanding them. That’s exactly what this week’s guest, author Andrew Solomon, has done with his life. He’s a writer and lecturer on politics, culture, and psychology as well as a very important activist and philanthropist and behalf of LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts. He’s won The National Book Award, he’s a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and he was included in The New York Times list of 100 best books of the decade.
I have a wildly candid conversation about that with this week’s guest, In the Valley Below. Jeff and Angela share deeply personal stories they’ve never shared in any interview before for fear their big label or even fans wouldn’t understand. After a trip to SXSW in Austin, Texas, they fell in love, Angela left her girlfriend and they decided they needed to write music together. The band started as a studio project, and as you’ll hear, nearly walked away from music. Then, after a crazy turn of events, they made their television debut on The Late Show With David Letterman and have since appeared on Conan and tons of music festivals. LA Weekly listed their debut album among the 10 Best Albums of 2014 and The Huffington Post named “Peaches,” the song you just heard, the #5 song of that same year.
Ever notice how frequently the word “addict” is used? Just do a Google News search on the word and you’ll be shocked just how often it’s used in a headline. Articles are plastered with mentions of drug addicts, sex addicts, gambling addicts, food addicts, shopping addicts, work addicts and internet addicts. “These people” are painted as out-of-control and often menaces to society who need to be stopped, jailed, medicated or otherwise cut off. But what if those diseased people weren’t sick at all? What if you suddenly realized you were one of them? Well, that’s what happened to me. In preparation for this podcast, I realized I’m an addict. I’m an addict who comes from other addicts, who has passed it onto my kids, too. I’m constantly looking for a way to not be with myself, a way to avoid the pain I have of not having meaningful bonds. In this chat with physician and best-selling author, Gabor Maté, we talk about the shocking truth about what causes addiction and the things we can do to address the problem. What’s cool about Gabor is that he avoids quick-fix thinking when he tackles things like addiction, ADHD, sickness and the human spirit overall. Rather, he shines lights on the often uncomfortable truths that live at the root of these things.
All of us can relate to covering up something in our lives. For many of us, that can end up being a huge part of who we really are. We can find ourselves living as outsiders pretending to be something we’re not whether that’s at work, with our friends or in our relationships. These lies can literally destroy our life. “Coming out” isn’t something sequestered to the LGBT community. Coming out means bravely uncovering who you really are and it’s a practice that we can all learn from. In this case, Morgana did it in front of millions of people. In front of co-workers. In front of absolutely everyone she knows. And she did it more than once. When you listen to her story you realize just how much keeping secrets can hurt and just how powerfully becoming outwardly authentic can be.
Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever wondering what sex therapy was or who it’s for but after my conversation with somatic sex therapist, Elizabeth McGrath, I realized I could have saved a million sessions with my therapist and a lot of time and money if I just would have started with someone like her. Sure, there’s plenty of other non-sexually related issues you can chat with your Counsellor about like facing mortality, how your parents were total assholes, and your fear of meat but at least for me, most of my issues have had to do sex and relationships. If I would have spent time unraveling those, I would have known so much more of myself, so much faster and that would have leaf blown a million mental boxing matches. Just have a listen to this conversation with Elizabeth McGrath and you’ll see what we mean. We cover a massive range topics and really helpful advice that will, no doubt, lead you to the same conclusion I had: Sex-therapy is the new must have.
You may not know it, but loneliness is hard-wired to kill us. Long ago, sticking with our tribe meant staying happy and safe so it’s no wonder that loneliness and rejection developed into hard-wiring to try to force us back into the group in the event we left, got lost or were ejected. Today, there’s a loneliness epidemic thanks to enormous separation in our cubes, cars, and culture— horrifically accelerated by the last decade of “social” technology. Look on any playground, streetscape or living room and we’re all staring down at our hands. In this episode Dr. Winch doesn’t just point at the problem, he offers valuable solutions so hopefully, if you’re one of the nearly 50% of Americans suffering deep loneliness, his advice will help you escape its horrible and life-threatening grip.
There’s a lot out there about marriage. Recently, who has the right to marry whom, as been all over the media and, as we all know, there’s a massive industry focused on profiting from “that special day.” But what happens after that? The rest of your married life is not so clear. As you grow from young adult to middle age and, if you’re lucky, your golden years— what does marriage look like and what do we expect from each other? This week’s guest, Jenna McCarthy, is the author of many books on relationships and her TED talk on “What you don’t know about marriage” has almost four million views. She’s hilarious and a lot of fun to talk to, you’ll get a lot out of our conversation about what midlife spouses want from each other.