I Do Podcast Interview – Q&A With Jasbina Ahluwalia – 5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Relationship
She is the Founder & President of Intersections Match by Jasbina, the only Premier Full-Service Personalized Matchmaking, Dating / Relationship Coaching & Online Dating Support Firm – For Indian Singles.
Jasbina is also the host of Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina Lifestyle Show, a monthly holistic lifestyle show – conversations with published authors/experts on relationships and health and wellness.
(0:45): We’re very excited to introudice our guest today, Jasbina Ahluwalia.
(0:51): Hey, Jasbina.
(0:54): Hey, Sarah and Chase. It’s a pleasure to be here, and congratulations.
(0:56): Thank you so much. We’re excited to be here today with you.
(0:59): Jasbina is an attorney-turned-entrepreneur happily married, second-generation, Indian-American dating and relationship coach, matchmaker and radio show host. She is the Founder and President of Intersections Match, the only national elite personalized matchmaking and relationship coaching firm for Indian singles.
She has received worldwide press including Business Week, Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, Live TV and radio. Jasbina previously practiced law in San Francisco and Chicago. She earned her BA and MA in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University and JD from the University of Michigan Law School.
(1:46): We’ve given our listeners just a little overview, so tell us about yourself and why you enjoy helping people improve their relationships.
(1:56): As you mentioned, we work with Indian-Americans. I come from a culture where many of us were told, “Don’t date, don’t date, don’t date. Alright, now get married.” These men and women have parents who were a part of arranged marriages. They’re not extremely experienced about finding a life partner. I wanted to be in love and have feelings for my partner on my wedding day as opposed to having love after marriage exclusively.
I made it my mission to go on what I call my “dating adventure” as well as check out what’s available out there with love, relationships and gender dynamics. After finding my life partner, I realized that really sustaining an incredible relationship would likely involve continuous evolution and study. I decided to try to make it my mission to share my learnings with others navigating the dating world in order to help them keep happy and healthy relationships.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent in me as well. I wanted to create a venture where I could focus on having high impact on people. I’m a big fan of lifestyle design, so I knew that having a family was down the road for me. I thought that running my own thing would be more aligned with raising the kids the way I wanted to. It all really fed into doing what I do today.
(3:33): Awesome. Your journey sounds amazing and we can’t wait to listen to all the amazing things that you found out along the way.
(3:41): Wonderful. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
(3:44): Our topic today is Five Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Relationship.
(3:50): Sometimes we do certain things and we don’t realize that we’re sabotaging the relationship. A point that you mention in one of your articles is that the answer may not lie with your partner, but with you.
(4:06): Yes. I’m a big fan of looking internally before you go externally. There are two points on that matter that I want to touch upon. One is the ability to look inward and identify what I call your “stuff,” including the stuff you may be projecting on your partner. That is crucially important. By “stuff” what I mean are the stories we all create based on things on our past, whether that past be as far back as our childhood or as recent as our last relationship.
We create stories about what it means when a partner says or does something. It’s not so much about what they do, but it’s the stories we create and the meaning we give to that. That becomes a problem for us. An important point to keep in mind is that the only person who we can truly control is ourselves. When we make changes to improve ourselves, the relationship will likely start to reflect those changes in a positive way.
However, we might decide that the route to changing our relationship is changing our partner, which a lot of us tend to default to. We think, “The only problem is that he/she is doing X, Y, Z. If I could just fix that, or if he/she could just fix that, it’s all good.” I think that’s a dangerous road. Instead, we should start looking at how we are contributing to this and realize that the only person we can change is ourselves.
Making the change in ourselves is going to reverberate in the relationship, even if the other person is not consciously making those same changes. He/she will be reacting to the changes we make. Starting with ourselves is one of the most empowering realizations that we can make, which I love. It’s really effective.
(6:08): Yes, it’s huge. Naturally, you want to point the finger, whether it’s at work or in a relationship, at the other person involved, but so many times we need to look introspectively at ourselves.
(6:20): Absolutely. We do contribute in different ways. Identifying the ways we’re contributing sometimes takes a little while. It’s not always immediately evident. If we really look inward, we will be able to find it.
(6:36): One of the things you talk about a partner doing is looking for mistakes in someone else. You mentioned if someone is washing the dishes, you’re just waiting for them to put the dishes in the wrong place or maybe not scrub them the way you would like. Looking for mistakes really can be a problem.
(6:57): Absolutely. I do believe that what you focus on does expand in your consciousness. If you’re thinking, “I know he/she is just going to screw up and I’m just looking for the evidence of that,” it’s going to be very easy to find. I believe we walk around as little evidence seekers. We have our lenses and we’re using those lenses to ascertain our world. If we’re looking for the screw ups, we’re definitely going to find them, no question.
We’re all fallible so I’m sure all of our partners are going to have those screw ups and it’s the way our lens goes. Instead, you can look for, “How is this person really trying their best when doing X, Y, Z?” There are evidence seekers who will find that as well. If we can focus more on that, as opposed to finding the ways our partner is going to screw up, we’re going to find ourselves faced with being confronted with less of those screw ups and more realizing what’s going well.
(7:54): Do you have any advice for the person who may be tempted to lash out at someone for their mistakes? Do you have some advice to address the issues versus attacking them on what they’re doing?
(8:09): An objective person would say, “Okay, that’s a little incident.” But we find ourselves reacting almost out of proportion. We say, “I can’t believe he/she did that again.” That tends to be a story we’re creating. For example, let’s use the example with the dishes. Your partner puts the dish in the dishwasher the way you asked them not to because, when he does it, you’re most likely to drop it when emptying the dishes.
Let’s say that’s the scenario. You notice it again. You just had that conversation last night or last week. Again, you open the dishwasher and what do you find? It’s that same thing placed in the same way. You may react out of proportion. You’re really burned up about that. You get really explosive about that. What’s going on there is that the person who finds the dishes stacked incorrectly again is likely ascribing some meaning to that. They think, “Wow, he obviously doesn’t care about me. He obviously doesn’t respect me.”
There’s some meaning they are ascribing to that. Maybe he was thoughtless or careless. You would have to give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s unlikely that he meant to really hurt you or disrespect you. Again, that has to do with identifying your stuff. When we react out of proportion, it generally has to do with the meaning we’re ascribing. You need to step back if you find yourself reacting that way.
Of course, we’re all infallible. No one does this perfectly. We should try to catch ourselves and develop enough self-awareness to realize, “I’m getting burnt up about that. I need to step back.” Before saying or doing anything, just take a moment. Once you practice doing this, you can make it a habit, as opposed to defaulting right away to reacting. Then you’ll likely identify the story. You might journal about it or do some meditation. We need to figure out what is really going on.
You might be thinking, “To me, it’s my partner disrespecting me again.” That kind of hits at the core. If you really feel your partner completely disrespects you, then that’s a big issue. You step back. You calm down. Then you can address it with your partner. You can even share the meaning you can ascribed to it.
Your partner can then let you know, Okay, now I understand why you feel this way.” Then maybe they’ll make an even greater effort not to do that anymore once they understand what it is for you. Again, you have to own that for yourself. You need to realize that when he/she says it to you, this isn’t what it’s about.
You can think, “Yes, they’re being careless, but it’s not about them disrespecting me.” If you have a level of self-awareness, you can catch yourself. You can stop yourself from defaulting to that immediate reaction and then really figure out what’s going on. Then you can express yourself with your partner. When you’re in a partnership, you want to make the other person aware of that. I think it is our own personal responsibility to work through our stuff and identify our stuff versus something else.
(12:05): That’s great advice. There are lots of great key tips in there for our listeners to take home. Another one that we’re going to talk about is backing down to avoid conflict and how that built up resentment can end up creating problems.
(12:22): Like you said, that resentment is the biggest drawback to backing down. The ability to resolve conflict in a win-win way is one of the most important relationship skills a couple can have, develop and further develop as time goes by. I believe conflict is a natural organic part of relationship, especially in a healthy relationship where you have two people who are comfortable expressing themselves. Regularly giving in just to avoid conflict creates a breeding ground for resentment.
I don’t believe that’s sustainable for the long term. What gets suppressed tends to get expressed eventually. It doesn’t go away. It does get expressed. The way it gets expressed is often in relationship compromising ways. When you’re resentful, you are also less likely to be accurate about what your needs are and also less likely to give your partner what they need. It’s counter-productive. No one is getting what they want here. This creates a counter-productive cycle for both people to feel satisfied in a continuous, consistent way.
Backing down to avoid conflict is really counter-productive. Instead, you want to work together to resolve conflict in a way that is win-win so that no one feels that they’re always on the short end of the stick. It can be done in a way where everyone is expressing themselves. You need to be able to work through it and not see conflict as something negative, but rather something that gives you the opportunity to grow stronger by working through it.
(14:21): Absolutely. Also, you need to move on from always having to be right and not having that self-awareness to realize that sometimes you are wrong and accepting that. Always being right is another thing that can sabotage your relationship.
(14:39): Absolutely. I say, “Would you rather always be right or have your partner feel heard and understood?” Having your partner feel heard and understood is really winning the war instead of the battle. Assuming that you’re right may feel satisfying in the moment, or self-righteous, but it can send a counter-productive message to your partner that being right is more important to you than their viewpoint, and more important than resolving the conflict.
I think if you go that route, your partner is more likely to feel undervalued, defensive and less open to giving you what you need in the relationship. Again, feeling heard and understood is something we all want. What a gift it is if you can give your partner that. It’s hard to get that from everywhere in the world, but your partner can be that oasis for you. You may not always agree. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything unhealthy in not agreeing. But feeling heard and understood is a whole different thing. I think that is something to strive for.
(16:02): Yes. You mentioned that a big key of a relationship is solving conflict with a win-win situation. If you always have to be right, that means the other person is losing. It’s not going to work.
(16:17): Another way of sabotaging your relationship is that you expect your partner to be a mind reader. To all the psychics out there, you just can’t do it. Can you elaborate on that?
(16:32): Sure. I am interested in gender dynamics. As a woman, I do feel that women are more likely to be the psychics. There are always exceptions to this, but I definitely feel like women are more likely to express that than men are. Let’s set our partners up for success rather than failure. The way to do that is with women and men alike expressing ourselves openly and honestly. When partners expect the other to know what they want without saying it, it puts their partner in a situation where they are actually more likely to fail.
I don’t think that’s setting up someone else for success. No one likes to be set up to underperform. I hate to be set up to underperform. I think that may lead to resentment. You’re not helping them succeed. If you’re a team, presumably you’re both in this together. Both of you are invested and you want everyone to succeed here. I really think expressing yourself openly and honestly is the anecdote to a lot of these issues that come up.
(17:54): Probably one of the biggest ways to sabotage your relationship is ignoring your partner’s needs, whether it’s not supporting them or always thinking you’re right. In the end, it’s not being considerate of your partner’s feelings and ignoring what they really want out of the relationship.
(18:12): I think the golden rule is truly golden in that sense. Let’s treat our partner as we would have him or her treat us. It’s a very basic universal principle. If you don’t listen to or prioritize your partner’s needs, it can be difficult to set up a scenario where they feel like doing that as well. Sometimes, people can get into a “wait and see.” They wait to see if their partner will take the first step before they go ahead and follow suit. Then you can get into a stalemate. Who should ask first? In my opinion, this is not approaching it as a team.
Be the person to make the first move, to give your partner what he or she wants. This goes back to truly believing that you’re together and you desire to be on this team together. The other person is going to treat your needs reciprocally in that sense. Again, you’ll notice it circles back to creating a cycle that is likely to self-generate into a positive cycle. Needs are being met by both people. Resentments are minimized.
Again, it’s about making your partner feel heard and understood and really listening and respecting their needs, especially when they’re not exactly what ours are, and still creating a win-win. That’s when you are truly mastering this.
(19:56): Yes, and this is great advice for all of our listeners. I just want to recap the ways that we talked about being aware how you might be sabotaging your relationship. If you’re aware of it, you can act on it.
The first one we talked about is when you look for mistakes in your partner. The next one is backing down to avoid conflict and how that creates built-up resentment. Again, it is important that the answer may lie within us and not with our partner. These are things that we want to looking at introspectively.
The next one we talked about is always wanting to be right in conflict and expecting your partner to be a mind reader. No one’s a psychic. Then we discussed ignoring your partner’s needs. It’s really important to take a look at ourselves, not at our partner, and try to fix these. This is great stuff to take home.
(20:53): What do you find is the most common reason couples struggle in their relationship?
(21:00): I think what Chase just articulated are some of the most common ones. I think ignoring general gender dynamics and expecting us all to think and act the same can be a bottleneck also. I come from a family where I’m one of three sisters. I didn’t grow up with male cousins. I had a loving father, but for someone my age, guys were sort of a mystery for me when I was younger.
When I took on my adventures in dating, I was also studying guys. It sounds funny, but I was between the, “Don’t date, don’t date, don’t date. Okay, get married.” I was surrounded by great women friends. I really grew up more with girls than with guys. Now I have a son and a husband. It’s really interesting for me to see that.
(22:13): Now it’s all guys.
(22:15): Now I have a son and a daughter, so it’s really interesting. I find gender dynamics very interesting. With men and women, there are more similarities than differences. The differences we have are quite interesting. I think they can end up playing out and leading to struggle in relationships if we’re not aware of them. Generally speaking, there is a lot of overlap in the way we approach things.
(22:53): Absolutely. Speaking of gender differences, now we are going into the “his and her” round where Sarah and I each ask a different question that’s on our minds. Sarah, you’re up first.
(23:06): My question goes to the one point of you always wanting to be right. What if you’re dating that guy that you feel always wants to be right? How can you talk to him and tell him your feelings so that it doesn’t hurt his feelings, but that he understands where you’re coming from instead of always thinking that he’s right?
(23:32): This really touches upon expressing ourselves. I think it is really important to be able to express that. The key to this is to be able to express it in a way that doesn’t make him wrong. If he feels like you’re pointing the finger and he’s clearly wrong, then he will react quite defensively. It’s not going to get through to him and he’s going to have his defensive barrier up. Anything you say will not get through.
To remove those defenses or minimize him putting those defenses up, it’s not about, “You’re wrong, I’m right.” It’s about what no one can argue with, and that’s your feelings. Again, it becomes not about, “You’re doing X, Y and Z.” It’s about, “When this happens, I feel this.”
You can say, “When this happened the other day, this is how it landed on me. I felt like this.” Remember, you’re a team. In terms of dynamics, guys tend to be problem solvers. You can say, “What do you think we could do about this? You’re the one with the great ideas.” Let him look at it from that angle and let him come up with ways.
Then he’s going to have more ownership of what he comes up with. Whatever he comes up with, I would say, “That sounds like a great idea. Let’s try that out.” Let him have ownership. Let him run with it and see how that plays out. If it doesn’t quite work out, you go back to the drawing board and do the same thing again. The key here is to express it, but not in a way that’s making him wrong. You’re making it about your own feelings. Involve him. Recruit him for the problem solving. I think that is a great win-win way to go about this.
(25:59): Excellent. We talked about how you’re really into gender roles and gender identity within the relationship. I was wondering what you think the most prominent part of our modern society and culture is. How is that effecting gender roles in a relationship? Maybe it’s television or reality shows that you find to be effecting gender roles in a relationship today in our culture.
(26:33): In terms of gender roles, I’m more so into the dynamics between men and women. That’s a great question. I think to some extent, with reality television, it doesn’t reflect what’s going on for us. One of the most historically unprecedented situations is what we have with more women than men earning college degrees. I believe more women than men are earning master’s degrees.
I think a lot of the med schools are filling up pretty much 50/50 at this point. Women are no longer a minority in any of those areas. In the workforce, women and men are both doing a lot of the same jobs. As a former practicing lawyer, historically these jobs were had by men. They do involve more of the masculine dynamic in terms of the competitiveness. They’re more masculine than feminine traits.
You have a lot of women who are in that situation and they weren’t a generation or two ago. It wasn’t as prevalent. That does lead to situations where it can be hard to figure out. There are women who want to be or need to be that way professionally. Then in their personal life, women say, “I’m in charge of everything. I’m in charge of my team at work. I want to let him make the decisions. I don’t want to do that at home. I want to lay back a little bit more. I don’t want to do that 24/7.”
That’s fine if that’s the decision and someone wants to do that. If someone wants to do it, you have to let him do that. That can become difficult for people who are used to being the same way during the nine to five. You’re bringing that into your personal life. Again, if someone wants to, then it’s sort of the yin and yang. It’s okay if someone wants to do that, but then it’s difficult if the person wants to do that and not lean back.
I think that self-awareness is key. First, identify it. Say, “Okay, this is how we want to be at work. How do we want to be in our personal life?” If it’s the same, then there’s no problem with that. Men and women both have alpha and beta in them and that is cool. Then you find a guy who can balance that out. That happens all the time and there’s nothing wrong with it.
However, if your awareness is that you want to lay back more in your personal life once you’re done with that, then you need to act accordingly. You need to truly relinquish control.
(29:54): Excellent. We could do an entire podcast on gender dynamics. It’s certainly an interesting topic. Thank you for your insight on that. Now it’s time for our favorite part of the interview, the lasting love round.
(30:11): We’ll ask you a series of questions and you’ll respond with great information to help set the foundation for a lasting relationship.
(30:18): We love it, our listeners love it. Jasbina, are you ready to help us build lasting love?
(30:24): I am.
(30:26): What’s one thing couples can do on a daily basis to help improve their relationship?
(30:32): One of my favorite things is what I call the gratitude practice. We all want to heard, appreciated and understood, especially by our partner. Take time each and every day for each of you to articulate something your partner did or said that day that you really appreciate. That is golden, in my opinion.
(31:06): I love it. Express gratitude. Is there a book or resource you can recommend for couples?
(31:14): I think there’s tons of great stuff out there. If I were to just pick one or two as a starting point, I would say anything by John Gray. I’m sure you’ve heard that name tossed around a lot. When you consider gender dynamics, look at Alison Armstrong’s work. It could be really helpful in terms of raising awareness about gender dynamics.
(31:42): That’s great. We will have those authors and lists of some of their books on our website on your show notes page on IDoPodcast.com. They can go there and check out your awesome recommendations.
(31:57): We’re getting married this year. Is there any advice you would give engaged couples or newlyweds?
(32:06): Thank you very much.
(32:06): Thank you.
(32:07): Our mixed market is Indian Americans. We tend do so some multi-day grand wedding affairs involving the extensive involvement of family.
(32:23): We’re not doing that.
(32:24): You’re not doing that. You are bypassing that. When this happens, it’s possible to lose the forest for the trees. People tend to focus on the wedding and being attentive to the pressures and sensitivity to family and family friends. It’s kind of to the detriment of the couple’s relationship.
I think it’s important for engaged couples to really keep foremost in mind that the wedding is a special day, or days in our culture, while the marriage itself is worthy of the utmost caring attention. Just keeping that in mind during the whole whirlwind and exciting portion of the days that are leading to the wedding is a really great way to start.
(33:22): Awesome. Thank you for that advice. If you could give just one single piece of advice for a successful relationship, what would it be?
(33:30): It takes a commitment to each other and to team Sarah and Chase. It’s really about holding that relationship sacred by doing a lot of the things we talked about and side-stepping a lot of the things that sabotage. That is really the best piece of advice that I have, which is multi-layered. Pretty much everything we discussed falls into that.
(34:04): That’s great information, Jasbina. We’ve really enjoyed hearing all of your advice you’ve given our listeners today. Let’s finish by having you tell our listeners where they can find you and then we’ll say goodbye.
(34:19): You can find me at www.IntersectionsMatch.com, which is our company. There are tons of complementary resources for people from articles, to radio show interviews that we have with distinguished authors and experts in the field. Everyone is welcome to hop on and check out what we have to offer.
(34:43): Perfect. Our listeners know they can find all the information and links of today’s episode on www.IDoPodcast.com. Go to the podcast tab and you’ll be in the archives.
(34:54): Thank you so much for all the generous knowledge and for taking the time to come on our show today.
(35:01): It’s been a pleasure. Sarah and Chase, I wish you the best, warmest wishes for an incredible life together.
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