Welcome to Tuff Love with Rob Kandell. The inspiration for this show comes from the song 88 lines about 44 women by The Nails. So Rob decided to do 22 questions in 44 minutes. The order of the questions is random, the identities of the people who asked the questions has been kept private and Rob hasn’t pre-prepared these answers so they’re all genuine responses in the moment.
1. What is something you keep from your partner and why? (02:53)
This is something we’ve talked about quite a bit on the show. Rob’s answer is that he doesn’t keep anything from Morgan because when he withholds stuff from her, that’s what creates distance in the relationship. It’s a combination of being completely honest about every aspect of really intense things sometimes, and other times waiting for it to come out at the right time. We are so trained from birth to hide things that we have shame about and parts of ourselves that we’re not fully in alignment with, but it feels good to reveal those parts of us at the right time. There’s nothing Rob won’t talk to his partner about because he wants to be free, but sharing with wisdom and awareness is important.
2. What is the productive response, when I am experiencing my authentic *feeling state* because my partner is being ______ (distant, mean, withholding, insulting, etc.) Given the new age conventional viewpoint that “enlightened true love” would accept any and all behaviors with compassionate embrace of the partner’s inner wounding, etc. What is the proper response? (04:48)
This is a question from a masculine mind looking for a formula. And that is a dangerous thing to do because to base everything on masculine viewpoints means you’re going to create formulas where they don’t exist. For Rob, he feels it’s important for us to have fluidity. There is no proper response, it’s the response in the moment that matters. It’s not like there’s some rule or dictate.
Underneath this question is something more important, which is the question of, “how do I deal with all my partner’s behaviors?” Rob’s viewpoint on this is that your partner’s behaviors are an opportunity for you to grow. Often we want to dictate to our partner how we want them to be so we feel more comfortable, which is a load of crap. You want the opportunity for your partner to be free and to grow. When you set limits of what the appropriate response is, then you limit that. Here’s the thing: your response to her stimuli, whatever your response, is right. Don’t deny your own response to your own feelings. Let your feelings arise and come out, and then communicate that authentically to your partner. The opportunity for you to know yourself and be honest is the most important thing.
3. I have been hiding things my whole life and I want to be open and honest because I know that increases closeness but I still have urges to keep things to myself either because I don’t want to rock the boat or because I don’t want my partner to get sad. How can I get better at honesty and I know the default answer is “just be honest” but how do I get there from here? (07:26)
Like everything else, being honest and communicative is a practice and skillset like any other. You’re not born with it and we’re certainly not taught it in today’s society. In fact, we’re taught to be dishonest and withhold things. This question is a mimic of what’s going on in today’s society: you have an urge to reveal yourself but then you have a fear that when you do, you’ll get your ass kicked. People don’t really like honesty! We say we do, but we really only like it on our own terms. We have lots of conditions. To get better, you practice, take risks and say to your partner that there’s a part of yourself you’ve withheld and that you’re sorry. We always have the opportunity to be honest and when we minimize ourselves out of saving our partner’s ego, that’s when we go to mediocre relationships.
4. How do we make decisions that broaden our horizons, or maintain a broad horizon? (09:34)
Take chances, take risks and do things that scare the shit out of you. Be honest and be willing to step outside your comfort zone. If you actually want to expand past your narrow focus, take risks to look beyond the scope of your emotional small-town views to expand and take risks. Do something every day that scares you. What else do you have to lose except your own boredom?
5. On the surface it always seems like letting go of someone is the “strong and correct” thing to do and holding on is “weak and clingy”. But I know that some of my strongest moments were those where I held on and fought for something, discovering strength I didn’t know I had in the process. And I know some of the moments where I just let go and didn’t look back, I actually ended up missing out on a great deal of self-discovery and relationship goodness. How do you reconcile it and where or when do you draw the line? (11:24)
You will not know if you did the right thing until you’re on your deathbed. That’s when you will think about which were the right and wrong decisions. But then again, that’s actually fiction, that’s just the story you’ve built around your life. When you think that way, you’re in this world of mental masturbation. Everything you’re doing is just based on your interpretation of the experience. The book The Dip by Seth Godin answers this exact question. You really won’t know ever because there’s nothing to mark it against. Learn from your mistakes, have faith in the future, be willing to say ‘ok last time I had this feeling I stayed too long, now I’m going to speak up, be honest and do something.’ Go against the grain of your own habits and see what gets created.
6. How should we go about unwanted thoughts during intimacy? Specifically people that have been in our lives in the past, but are no longer in our present nor will they ever be in our future. Needless to say there is ZERO desire or want for them to be in our lives (there is hate and resentment towards them), but they pop up in our minds in that moment while we are with our current partner. (13:38)
The first thing is that your mind is crafty. It is a little mischievous imp on your shoulder whispering ideas at the most inopportune times. Rob always asks ‘what‘s this story, this experience trying to say? What do I want to learn from this?’ We have a lot of stuff that we repress and push down and don’t look at. Often, when these things pop up in our mind, there’s some lesson that wants to be learned. If you’re making out with your partner and an ex-lover who was an asshole pops into your mind, what was the lesson you wanted to learn? Maybe there’s something you want to pull from that. Maybe there’s something in the way you felt with that person, that you want to bring into your current experience. Is there are part of you that has shunned that part of yourself? Maybe you want to feel like that person with your current person.
7. How do you show up to relationship without needs, wants or expectations? Is that possible? What are healthy needs, wants and expectations? (16:13)
If you show up to a relationship without needs, wants or expectations, don’t show up to a relationship. How boring! Are you a blank slate without any emotions? Of course you want to show up with wants, needs and desires! You want someone emoting and having the full range of expression and you want to give that back.
The healthy needs, wants and expectations are the ones that expand you and who you are. We’re in relationship to struggle, to expand, to find different parts of ourselves and to know who we are. So show up with a boatload of wants, needs, expectations and speak about them. The difference is in holding onto them. If an expectation isn’t going to be met, either leave the relationship, or leave/modify the expectation.
8. I find that some men repress their emotions to the point that they cannot get turned on in a committed relationship because they rely on lust over love for sexual stimulation. I am wondering if there is a technique other than the ones I’ve healed my own sexuality with (mostly tantric practices and neuropsychology) to help men? Or what a woman might be able to do to encourage change or improvement? (17:43)
This is part of nature, and we’ve heard all the stories about the decreasing sexual desire in relationships over time. You do have the ability to spark it up, through your honesty and your willingness to be real and true. Most people aren’t willing to do that. If you’re in a situation where the intimacy is rising and the man is not connecting to his sexuality anymore, have some honest conversations about it. Life happens and it affects us. But the ability to speak the truth to each other is the only key we truly need to improve our relationship. Once you start speaking the truth, then you can change it and take steps. The worst thing you can do is sit in silence and mediocrity, from there not have what you want and then blame the other person for them being themselves. Take the steps to create what you want.
9. How do you navigate connection and touch around invisible boundaries? Do you just know? Do you ask and potentially affect the organic intimacy? Or do you just go for it and potentially fuck it up and deal with the consequences?
First, let’s shout out and focus on consent. Consent is the overt agreement. You can get thrown in jail or kicked out of school these days if you don’t practice consent, so do pay attention. Everything is situation based. If you’re at a party or club, and want to touch someone, if you don’t have consent you can cause a lot of problems. So no, don’t potentially fuck it up and deal with the potential consequences!
There is a level of consent where you can go slow. For example, the long, lingering lean in for the kiss which gives them a chance to say no or push you away. You can actually also ask the question! Say ‘I’d really like to kiss you now, how do you feel about that?’ And if you do it with a mischievous grin, it can be really sexy. There is a way to do it and give them the opportunity to say no.
Remember, if they’re rejecting you, they’re just rejecting the offer.
10. How do we KNOW we are loved? What comes up is ‘I won’t change because everything will fall apart, I have nobody, I am not loved’. This is a non truth- but how do we KNOW we are loved? For me this is part if the catalyst, the ingredient for change. (20:04)
Here’s the truth: you don’t know. You don’t know about anyone else. They could be lying, they could have their own degree of love, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that someone loves you. What happens today could change tomorrow. External love is like betting your life on a tech stock: some days you’re in the money and other times not.
But you do know 100% of the time if you love yourself. And this is the most important thing you can find out. Do you love yourself truly down to the core? Every single part of yourself, every nuance, every fetish, every mistake, every imperfection, every aspect of yourself? Can you love yourself through your ordeals? That’s the only thing you can be assured of. Don’t trust anyone else to love you but do everything you can to love yourself first and foremost, and then have faith and belief that the love will come through and you will find yourself.
The only way to feel loved is to love. When you feel that love come out of you and you pour it on someone else—a pet, a child, a purpose, a belief, your partner, parents, a sibling. Love someone else without reservation.
11. What phrase can we tell ourselves to soothe our jealousy when it shows up? (25:33)
Here’s the best phrase: “I’m jealous. I’m so jealous.” Just say it until you stop feeling jealous. Just sit in your corner in a pile of your own jealousy. The point is that your feelings are right and it means you care about the other person and yourself. Just basically say “I’m jealous and I’m ok. I’m jealous and I love myself. I’m jealous and I’m so glad that I care about someone so much that I feel jealous. I’m jealous and I’m going to do something else besides feeling jealous. I’m jealous and I’m going to go about my day.” Feel the feelings, and go onto the next thing.
12. How to break up with someone well? (27:11)
This is a vague question, and the vague answer is: be honest and communicate. This is the thing we don’t often do. We decide we want to end this relationship or morph this relationship. We have a black and white idea in our society about relationships. There’s so many forms of relationship possible, that if you have the willingness to speak the truth, if you have that sense, that little voice in the back of your head that says ‘I think I’m done’ then you want to start speaking to yourself first and foremost to be sure. Analyze that, look inside, journal about it, talk to your coach/therapist/12 steps group/men’s group/women’s group.
Why do you want to break up? What do you want? Maybe there’s something in the relationship that can be tweaked to have it? It’s an evolution. You have to be willing to say, “this is what I want” to yourself first and foremost. If you do your internal research and dialogue, and you still want to break up with that person, tell them as soon as possible. The worst thing you can do is delay it or hold off. They can feel it. Be honest, be true and then speak plainly about it. Also say thank you so much. Even the worst relationships will teach you some of the most important aspects of your life. You should be grateful.
13. How can you tell the difference between turn on and hurt feelings? (29:35)
With exquisite attention. We’re in the world, interacting and impacting other people, in relationship with our partner, something happens where they’re doing something and they get affected, they get mad or disconnected. You take your attention off of yourself, off the result, and put it on the other person. And then you get really curious. You give them the opportunity to give you feedback and be honest with you. Put your ego and desire for results aside, and let them inform you so the next time that situation arises, you can do it better. If you don’t allow your partner to give you the honest answer then you’ll never know how you can get better.
14. If my lover/partner feels hurt by something I do, when is that my fault or my responsibility to change? (31:09)
The basis of this question is about trying to protect yourself from doing something wrong, but if you’re in a relationship, you’re going to fuck up, you’re going to make a mistake. Your partner’s feelings will get hurt, they’re going to get mad at you. Just know that in relationship, if you’re actually in relationship and actually intimate, you’re going to do things that infuriate your partner. You’ll also do things that really turn on your partner. It will be the spectrum.
If you live your life trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, you’re withholding a part of yourself. Live life to the fullest, take the feedback from your partner and also know that you’re willing to change. Be so overt in your desire to be malleable and to learn that when you do make a mistake, you have the relationship and communication conduit that you can speak your truth.
It’s not your fault or responsibility to change if your partner feels hurt by something you do. It’s your opportunity to change if that’s something you want.
15. How you help with lingering regrets? (34:30)
What Rob hears from this question is that you have an experience from your past that some part of you doesn’t feel satiated and solid with it. Some part of you is worried or still playing over that. To Rob, if he’s still thinking about something from the past, he’s still learning something from that experience, still pulling from his soul something that wants to be noticed. So, if you have a lingering regret, there’s some lesson that’s not complete. Perhaps it’s an apology to someone, or something that still wants to be healed. If you’re willing to look at the regret and play with it, there might be a lesson that you need in your current time. Don’t push away the lingering regrets, don’t shun them or shame them, accept them, be grateful for them and then learn from them and improve your life.
16. What is Rob’s take on the difference between fantasy and desire? (36:14)
Fantasy to Rob basically describes something you want but that you’re not really sure you want. Maybe you don’t think you can have it, or maybe it’s something you don’t want in real life. Fantasies and desires are synonyms. There’s parts of ourselves that we don’t accept. Maybe the difference is that a desire is something you actually want to have in your life, and the fantasy is the extrapolation or expansion of it. E.g. a woman’s rape fantasy. Rob says that sometimes the fantasy is a lot more fun than the actual thing. Our fantasy is our creative voice inside of us that wants to be heard. Pay attention to your fantasies and find the balance of what you want to implement in your life and what you want to keep in your imagination.
17. What is Rob’s take on the relationship between our desires and our insecurities? (37:57)
Insecurities basically mean there are some parts of ourselves that we have question or doubt about. Insecurities are the part of ourselves that want to be free but we don’t know if it’s socially acceptable. For Rob, the insecurities are parts of ourselves that are un-potentiated, that need attention, that want to expand and grow. Love your insecurities, because it’s a continuing exploration of where to put your attention to expand. Insecurities can motivate you and drive you. Insecurities and desires can also be synonyms. A potentiated insecurity is a desire and you can use it to expand your life. Desire is the motivating force of your life and the insecurities are our drivers.
18. Explain to me why men think all they have to do is say “hi!” or give one word answers and expect to get a woman’s attention on various social media platforms. (40:10)
The answer is that men are lazy and social media, the internet and smart phones have made us even more lazy. We used to be hunters and now we are lazy hunters. What it comes down to is many things. We don’t take the time to check out the profile and give a customized approach. We’re not that interested in you but thinking, “from a numbers game, if I say hi to 100 women, somebody will say hi back.” We don’t feel like we’re original, we have insecurities about our ability to communicate. So there’s all these different reasons, but basically it’s because we’re lazy and it’s not working. So cut that out, guys! Take some time, read the profile.
19. What makes you, men, disappear? For example, I tend to disappear when I don’t know how to say “no” because of fear of hurting the other person’s feelings. So, what makes men withdraw and disappear without a trace? (41:51)
We disappear, we ghost, because we’re lazy and we don’t want to bear the brunt of the feelings of the person we’re disconnecting from. We’re not willing to sit in the discomfort of uncomfortable feelings and the world of smart phones and social media has made it very easy for men and women to exit situations and start over. There’s so much quantity of possibility, where in the past there wasn’t, and we’re not willing to sit in uncomfortable feelings. So we ghost.
20. How do you practice self-love, and how do you recommend others find ways to love themselves? (43:10)
Rob finds self-love, which he likens to self-esteem, by doing things that have him love himself. It’s simple: when you do things that are loving to yourself then you feel better about yourself and when you do things that are contrary to your integrity and goals, you start to dislike yourself. So do everything that has you feel good about yourself. Find out what that is. In order to love yourself, you have to be honest with yourself and this is something people will surprisingly not do. They will do the things that will hurt themselves. It’s a practice like everything else. Find a partner who will hold you accountable to your goals of practicing self-love.
21. What should a woman do if a man tells her that he loves her and it’s too soon? And what exactly is too soon? One week? One month? (44:40)
This is another request for a formula answer. If a man says ‘I love you’ he means it. Just say thank you. You don’t have to say that you love him back if you don’t authentically love him. Just be grateful that he’s willing to share this really tender moment of his vulnerability. Be willing to say ‘I appreciate you telling me the truth.’ And there’s no right time, you either feel it or don’t, say it or don’t.
22. Why do friendship and sex have to be mutually exclusive? (45:48)
Friendship and sex don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have anything you want, the whole spectrum is possible. But it’s about being honest with yourself, being honest in your communications and being forthright about what you want and what’s available. You can ruin a friendship by not being honest. You can ruin a friendship by bringing sex in if they’re thinking it’s a romantic relationship. Be forthright, let them know in the beginning ‘This is what I want and what I don’t’ and give them the choice to have their response. Be honest. Be bold. Don’t play with people’s feelings. If you know you want something, just say it and then let them choose. There is enough abundance in the world that everyone can have what they want.