BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
24th of October 2014

Dr. Heather Berlin Interview

Introduction:

Today’s guest is Dr. Heather Berlin, acclaimed researcher and neuroscientist, and Dr. Berlin and Tucker discuss exactly how guys can develop and retain good habits both in dating and in life. Dr. Berlin also talks about what it’s like to be an intelligent, beautiful, successful woman dating in New York City and the things she sees that guys do right and wrong.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • Our unconscious is foundational and fundamental in the way we perceive the world and in decisions we make. Basically everything you do is happening first outside of awareness and it’s only coming up to consciousness after the fact. The majority of attraction is unconscious.
  • Before focusing on talking to women, you need to make sure you’re attractive in other ways. How fat are you? What clothes do you wear? What do you smell like? How do you walk? You can be the best conversationalist on earth, but if the rest of you is unattractive, you aren’t getting anywhere.
  • One way to keep yourself committed to self-improvement goals is by keeping yourself accountable to other people. This can be done through group activities like CrossFit, using apps designed for this purpose, telling friends, etc.
  • Another way to keep yourself committed is to make sure you’re not around what you’re trying to stay away from. If you’re dieting, get rid of all junk food in the house. If you don’t want to drink, don’t be in places where there’s alcohol. You have a limited amount of willpower, it’s helpful to set up external structures to assist you.
  • Look out for girls who have extreme mood swings or girls who seem out of control – they may be fun at first, but it’s possible that they have BPD, and that can be a disaster.
  • With intelligence and personality characteristics, you’re born with a certain genetic predisposition to be within a certain range. By working on it, you can get to the top of that range. There are biological constraints, but everyone has the ability to improve. One thing that’s good to work on is your emotional intelligence – being empathetic, caring, kind, understanding. Women find this very attractive, and anybody can get better at it.
  • One way to get better at empathy is by being empathetic. If you want to be a better person, make it a habit. Every day, do something selfless. Over time that kind of behavior will become more engrained and more habitual, and getting into that thought pattern will be helpful. Another good thing to do is writing down what you’re thankful for.
  • Girls want someone who’s confident, not arrogant. The difference is that confidence is the authentic belief that you can do something or you’re capable, whereas arrogance is trying to persuade yourself by convincing others first.
  • You should focus on being the best in one or two areas that matter to you. This will make you more confident and more attractive.
  • It matters how you talk about girls with your guy friends. Be respectful. If you want women to like you, calling them names probably isn’t the best way. The attitude you have in private with your friends will come out in other ways, and it will reflect on how you treat women.
  • Money and status aren’t everything. A boring guy who makes four million a year is always going to lose out to a guy who makes forty grand a year and is funny and interesting.
  • Don’t show off, that’s not attractive.

Links from this episode

Dr. Heather Berlin’s Bio:

  • Dr. Berlin is a neuroscience researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, and was previously educated at Harvard and Oxford University.
  • Dr. Berlin’s research focuses on the neuroscience of compulsivity, impulsivity, and emotion, and is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness and dynamic unconscious processes, e.g. how unconscious or subtle stimuli affect behavior. Her current research is looking at the neuroscience of individuals with OCD
  • Dr. Berlin is one of the hosts of Superhuman Showdown on the discovery channel
  • Dr. Berlin is currently developing a show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Baba Brinkman which examines the neuroscience of creativity, improvisation and humour.

Further reading on Dr. Heather Berlin:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
Alright. So, Dr. Berlin I want to start with the unconscious because the unconscious is sort of a thing in our idea that I think people in psychology and scientists are very comfortable with but a lot of laymen, a lot of normal people, get confused when you talk about the unconscious. They kind of, I think that they think you mean subconscious like ‘Oh, it’s an idea something I have in my mind but I can’t remember specifically what it is.’ But I think a lot of people don’t really understand that sort of our brains work on different levels, you know? And, so, why don’t you talk a little bit about the unconscious sort of what it is, how it works, and like it, why it’s important for people to understand?

Heather:
Okay. So, I think there’s a lot of confusion with the term unconscious because it can mean a lot of different things, right? So, first, let’s just talk about what it’s not. What it’s not is consciousness. And how do we define consciousness? Consciousness is simply first person subject experience. So, I can really never know that you’re conscious. I assume that you are but all I know is what I feel personally and I sort of imply that other people are conscious because they act like me or they have a similar kind of neural structure. But everything outside of that, of that first person subjective experience and it can be very simple. You don’t need language. You don’t need self-awareness. It’s just let’s say smelling a rose or seeing the color red. That’s all you need. It’s raw, basic, what they call qualia, raw basic sensation. So, that aside, everything else that’s happening in your brain is happening outside of awareness. So, when we talk about the unconscious there’s, first of all, there’s things that you’re completely unaware of. Let’s say what’s happening in the room next door from you. You’re unconscious of that yet there’s no brain processing occurring with that thing that you’re unaware of. Okay? Then there’s the unconscious of processes that are occurring in your brain that are affecting how you behave, how you think, the decisions you make. That’s brain processes that are occurring, affecting your behavior but you’re completely unaware of them. And there’s the unconscious of, for example, when somebody’s in a coma. So, what we distinguish when we’re doing studies looking at the unconscious, we, there’s a difference between being the level of awakeness. So for example, you’re unconscious if you’re in a coma, if you’re in a deep dream or sleep, the brain is simply, you’re not awake. But let’s assume when the brain is fully awake then there’s going to be things that you are either aware of or not aware of. And that’s the interesting unconscious. That’s the things that are affecting our behavior that are going on while we’re fully awake, that sort of, you know, a clock that’s running behind the scenes.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So to speak.

Tucker:
Right. So, let’s focus on that because I mean, I know, I mean, I’m pretty well aware and most people have an idea ‘Okay. There’s an unconscious. I get it.’ But they don’t really understand how incredibly, it’s not even influential, how foundational and fundamental our unconscious is in the way that we perceive the world and in decisions we make. And you’re, you know, a pretty accomplished neuroscientist. This has been a big field of study for you. So, as, talk to me as a layman. Like what are some things that I do every day maybe, things I think about that I don’t realize how profoundly my unconscious mind impacts what I think?

Heather:
I wouldn’t say, I’d say basically everything you do is happening first outside of awareness and it’s only coming up to consciousness after the fact. And then what we do is we confabulate. We come up with all sorts of explanations about why we did the things we did. Even people who do horrible things, commit crimes, you know, really big transgressions, they never say ‘Oh, it must be because I’m a bad person.’ No, they’ll come up with a whole story of why.

Tucker:
They rationalize.

Heather:
They rationalize, exactly. And that’s what we do with our behavior. But there’s many studies which show from the simplest thing, decision making. We can predict, for example, by looking at your brain activation which way you’ll go, left or right within seconds before you consciously are aware of your decision to go left or right. We can manipulate people’s behaviors and choices. And, for example, there’s studies where you put like a faint little lemon cleaning smell in a room and then people will be more likely to clean up their crumbs if they’re given cookies after that, after an experiment.

Tucker:
Because, why because the smell triggers like the cleanliness sort of?

Heather:
Exactly. Exactly. Or even in like competition games. If two people are competing and one person is and there’s a briefcase in their view. They’re more like to act more competitively. There’s all sort of studies like where we can manipulate people’s behavior. There’s things called priming where you can even, you know, very quickly subliminally flash information on a screen and a person says they don’t see anything and then it’ll completely affect the choices they make.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, the point is that we’re really, much of what’s happening is happening outside of awareness first. We’re only being aware some of it and then we come up with explanations for why we’re behaving how we are.

Tucker:
Let’s talk about rationalizing for a while because I think that’s. Most guys are listening to this podcast to learn about women and about mating and dating and sex. And I think rationalizing is one of those things where so many guys, either they rationalize to themselves or they don’t understand how other people do it, right? So, how, like briefly, how does rationalizing work? Like, so, if I do something, I always have a conscious reason in my head like ‘Oh, I did this because of X,’ right?

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
But it doesn’t, for most things not all things, of course, but for most things, the reason I think in my head is actually not my reason. Is that what you’re saying?

Heather:
Usually. I mean, sometimes people get it right. It has to do, also, with a lot of self-awareness, self-knowledge. So, what people often ask is ‘Well, how can I access these unconscious programs that are kind of running in the background?’ There are a lot of different techniques in which you can do that. Some people, hypnosis, psychotherapy, you know, dream states. Even, I mean, Freud had it right in some degree. Freudian slips these kind of things.

Tucker:
Meditation?

Heather:
Meditation. Meditation, as well. Always and even certain drugs, right? But ways to sort of look under the hood. What’s happening under the hood? And try to see if what the story we’re telling ourselves is matching up with our real motives and desires. And it’s a very hard process because you have to look at a person’s complete history, you know? Maybe you’re attracted to certain women because they remind you of your mother or, you know, all these sorts of things. And it’s very, there are so many variables involved that it’s actually quite difficult to know the real reasons why people are let’s say attracted to certain people over others. And it’s not just things like, you know, people say pheromones or chemistry. There’s a lot of psychological factors that are affecting people’s behavior, as well.

Tucker:
So, in the sex and dating realm, I think, the big thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that attraction is unconscious. Correct?

Heather:
I would say the majority of it, yes. What’s motivating you and what’s attracting you to someone, a lot of it is biological factors, genetic factors, even.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
That are happening outside of awareness. Even this thing called, you know, – what is it? You know, immunohistocompatibility complex where basically they did studies and show that people who are in long term relationships, their immune systems are compatible.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Yeah, so, this is something that’s happening outside of awareness.

Tucker:
Well, Dr. Miller was talking about, I think, one of his grad students did some of the primary research on that where they had like women smell men’s shirts that they worked out in and they had some of them were their brothers. And they, obviously, didn’t know it and they ranked those as the least attractive smell which is, I think, exactly the same sort of thing you’re talking about.

Heather:
Yeah and interesting about olfaction because that’s something I’m actually doing some research on now is looking at olfaction, looking at people’s brain in the scanner basically when they’re smelling different smells. And that’s something that’s evolutionary very old, olfaction. And it goes, it’s the only sense that goes straight to the cortex without having to go through something called the thalamus first. So, it’s a very direct connection. It affects us unconsciously and, for example, there’s studies that show if you collect sweat from people who are highly anxious like they’re about the jump out of an airplane or take a big exam versus sweat of somebody working out at the gym and you give these two different sweats to a different person in this scanner who can’t consciously tell the difference between the two.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
But when you look at what happens to their brain when they smell the anxiety sweat a whole network in the brain becomes activated that’s the empathy network where they feel empathy for a person. And this is completely happening outside of awareness. You can only imagine what’s happening, what’s determining, you know, what’s attracting us to certain people versus others.

Tucker:
But let’s actually talk about smell because this is super interesting. There’s, as I understand it, we understand the basics of sort of how smell works and how smell interacts with the brain but there’s so much that we don’t really understand. How, so speaking from your perspective as like a research scientist, how important would you say smell is to attraction? Like if I’m a guy where should I rank this in terms of like not just basic bathing but paying attention to all the sort of things especially because it’s really hard to know how you smell outside of cleaning your body, right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, how important is it and then how do I deal with that because it’s very hard to directly deal with?

Heather:
Well, I mean, smell as I said is a very important sense of the senses and it’s having a very strong effect in terms of memory as well, emotion. It triggers all sorts of things. But there is some little, I think there’s something I heard about that if you put the smell of like baby powder on a man or something like that.

Tucker:
Yeah.

Heather:
It like triggers this, you know, in a woman to become attracted to that. But, I mean, obviously hygiene and cleanliness and –but there’s certain aspects of smell that are out of your control, you know, certain whatever kind of, you know, when people talk about pheromones or whatnot that you can’t really, you know, that are out of your control. There’s certain, you know, I’m working with perfume companies and they’re thinking about, you know, making synthetic male, female smells and if that will help attract the opposite sex, so.

Tucker:
How like you’re working with them? So, what do you guys?

Heather:
I don’t know that I can even talk about that.

Tucker:
Oh, you can’t. Okay.

Heather:
But there are being, they are looking at synthetic odors. We’re actually, we’re doing a study now actually on self-esteem and odor. So, this might be of interest. So, we’re giving people an implicit self-esteem task. It’s a way to measure a person’s self-esteem that’s happening outside of awareness. And we do this test with looking at, it’s like a timing task. And then we give them the task with different odors either no odor, neutral, or a sort of positive perfume or a negative odor and see how it affects the person’s implicit, unconscious self-esteem. So, I think, a large part to do with odor is not so much necessarily how it’s attracting or not attracting females but how it’s affecting the individual’s own self-esteem and that’ll affect their ability to attract others.

Tucker:
That’s super interesting. Isn’t it true that smell, the way. So, think about dogs. The way that dogs interact with each other, they smell each other’s butts because it gives them a huge amount of information about the health, the relative status, the diet, things like that of each dog. Do humans exchange information the same way? I know we don’t smell each other’s asses but I mean, do we exchange on an unconscious level the same amount of information?

Heather:
Well, I don’t, you know, I don’t know. I couldn’t say exactly how much is exchanged in terms of that with odor but I mean, we know from visual cues that a lot is picked up. For example, looking at symmetry and a person’s genetic health and well-being. So, or, you know, with this, genetic types. I mean, they say kissing is actually a way to exchange genetic information and seeing if you perhaps have compatible immune systems. So, all these subtle things, I mean, we are processing them outside of awareness. And then, you know, eventually you get this feeling of, the overall feeling oh, yes, I’m attracted to this person or not. And usually some people are attracted to, you know, the wrong guys. They can’t tell why they have these feelings, whatever they call chemistry and rationally, I think I shouldn’t be with this person. All these things are happening outside of awareness that are influencing our choices.

Tucker:
Right. So, but there isn’t, we cover in the podcast and the show a lot about unconscious signaling. Totally right. We tell guys all the time listen, a lot of guys will think that – they’ll ask us about conversation. How do I talk to women? And then we’ll start asking them questions like ‘Well, you know, how fat are you? What clothes do you wear? What do you smell like? How do you walk?’ And we’ll realize that they’re totally screwed up in every other way. And I tell them ‘Listen. I can teach you to be the best conversationalist on the Earth and you’re still not going to do well with women because so much else about you is unattractive.’

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
You’re totally right. We’re totally on board with that. But I’m wondering how much research there really is about how much unconscious cues people pick up from scent in addition to sort of like obviously, like genetic closeness, things like that? But for instance, like would my, does my sweat smell better if I’m in really good shape as opposed to as if I’m just some average Joe or not? Is there a lot of research into that or not?

Heather:
Well, I don’t know that there’s that much research into that. I do know that, yeah, like in the stress study. If you smell somebody else’s sweat and their under stress you’re going to have a certain reaction in your brain.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
To that. So, it would make sense that if a person is let’s say not under stress or in a very positive way of being but perhaps there is something in their odor that’s going to trigger that in the person who’s smelling it, in their brain. I mean, obviously, if stress can do it you would imagine there would be the opposite effect.

Tucker:
Yeah, the others. It’s crazy.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
I was actually talking to, we did one of these podcasts with Dr. Nicole Prause who I’m sure you know. And she was saying there’s so much, half the podcast we talked about all the areas of research that we don’t even know about yet that are actually really relevant to men’s and women’s daily lives that we still know. That’s kind of a cool area. Alright.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, I want to move onto the next subject that you’re an expert in which is sort of habits and self-improvement because I like one of the big things that Dr. Miller and I teach guys is that, you know, exactly what we just got done talking about. Attraction is very unconscious and that a lot of how women evaluate you are not conscious things. They’re based on, you know, your body shape, the way you talk, things like that. And, so, you need to improve a lot about yourself before you worry about other things and that’ll help you sort of be more attractive to women. But then what we hear back from a lot of guys is ‘Oh, it’s hard. Or oh, my life is this or oh, I don’t know how to change.’ And even if we tell them like it’s very easy to lose weight. It’s very easy to get in shape. The things you have to do don’t take much time and they’re not hard. Basically, the question is if I’m a guy and I want to change. I want better habits and I know what to do but I just can’t seem to change my habits. What should I do?

Heather:
Okay. So, first of all. If I knew the answer to, you know, how do you lose weight? How do you completely change yourself? You know, there’s millions of self-help books about this. Obviously, I’d be a multi-millionaire.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, I don’t think that there’s one clear answer. But I can tell you about what we understand about what’s happening in the brain and based on that, you know, some things that might help people improve. You know, I study a lot about impulse control disorders, people with also compulsive disorders, you know? They’re engaging in these negative behaviors and they just can’t seem to stop themselves. And the question is why and how can we help them improve their behavior or, you know, increase their ability to control their impulses. So, there’s two things. First, there’s, there seems to be there’s this subcortical structures in the brain which are just beneath that sort of gray wrinkly cortex that everybody knows of, of the brain. There’s underneath, there’s evolutionarily older parts of the brain that are driving us for immediate pleasure or immediate avoidance of pain. Things like, you know, I need food right now for survival or sex or, you know, whatever it is it’s immediate pleasure and reward or punishment. And that’s what it’s sensitive to. There’s things called like the amygdala or the nucleus accumbens that are involved in these things. So, you see a piece of chocolate cake. It looks really good. You get this immediate rush of dopamine. ‘I want it now. It’s going to feel good.’ Then you have this more, so we might call it the impulsive system in the brain or the accelerator. Then you have this evolutionarily newer part of the brain, the more recently developed part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex which is more reflexive. It’s like the brake system and it thinks about future consequences, future rewards. You know, should I withhold that chocolate cake now because wait, I want to go on a diet or I want to look good for women. So, you have these two interacting systems. Now, there’s people who either have too much acceleration so they can’t override those drives or there are other people with different kinds of disorders where they have a broken brake system so they just can’t control those drives either. So, it can either be neurochemical, neuroanatomical, genetic predispositions, all these things are effecting people’s ability to inhibit engaging in a detrimental behavior. Does that make sense?

Tucker:
Totally.

Heather:
So, what do we do? So, basically, they’re going to be, everybody’s going to be at a different place on a dimension here in terms of their ability to inhibit or have what’s called will power. So, some people it’s going to be harder than others but what you can do is make external structures to help you sort of remain on track, so to speak. Do things that, you know, whatever it might be, don’t put bad foods in your house so you won’t have the ability to access them. The other trick is that if you commit to things. So, we discount our future selves. We think that our future selves are going to be better than our current selves. We think that, you know, we’re going to, in the future of course, I’m going to be working out next month but right now not so much. So, what you can get people to do is commit to something that maybe they don’t have to start right now but they will have to start in the future. They’re more likely to commit to that because they’re going to think their future self is going to be better.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, you know, they have to sign up for the gym now but the membership doesn’t start until next month so they don’t have to worry about it until then. But then they are committed. Or I think they may even have apps now to keep you on track where like for example, if you committed to go to the gym and then you don’t go it’ll automatically take money out of your credit card and put it towards charity.

Tucker:
Right. Or it’ll post to Facebook or something like ‘Tucker didn’t go to the gym today.’ Yeah.

Heather:
Exactly. So, you know, that’s it, social embarrassment, those kind. So, you’re really looking at kind of behaviorism as like classic conditioning, all these kinds of things. Using operant conditioning, you know, rewards and punishers to get people to do the things because you know you might be limited by your own certain predispositions. And the key here is to know thyself, know what your weaknesses are. If your weakness is, I don’t know, alcohol, let’s say, you know. Really set up external structures like have a friend with you and they won’t let you buy that third drink. You know, they know that’s it. They have to stop you. Try to put things in place if you know that you don’t have enough within yourself to stop yourself.

Tucker:
Right. Set up a system so that I don’t have to use a lot of willpower or make a lot of decisions. It’s just automatic almost, right? So, right.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, if I’m fat and I want to lose weight an easy thing for me to do is take all the junk food out of my house like you said, right

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Or, if I want to go to the gym more an easy thing to do is maybe join some sort of program where there’s, it doesn’t even have to be an app like posting to Facebook. You can do Cross Fit where it’s like alright, these are 12 people that I’m sort, I know and I’m responsible to twice a week and I have to go to or something like that. Set up something where you, the decision’s not just about you. There’s actual consequences. Either it’s easy to make the decision because like if I’m going to eat junk food then I’ve got to leave my house like I’m too lazy to do that, right?

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
Or either it’s easy to make the right decision or there’s consequences for making the wrong decision that you actually care about.

Heather:
Exactly. Or, you know, and social pressure is good, too. Like saying, you know, you plan to meet your two friends at the gym and they’re counting on you to be there and you don’t want to disappoint them so it’s more about, you know, that than your own just oh, I just have to show up on my own, you know? People counting you or social embarrassment or like distancing yourself. Yeah, it’s going to be really a big pain to go out and get that junk food so I’m just not going to bother.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, these are all good strategies. And then eventually over time, theoretically, as your behavior changes then it’ll become more innate or it’ll become more implicit so you won’t, it won’t be as hard because after you engage in behavior over and over again your brain changes, you know, becomes different. It can wire itself differently and it might be easier for you then to resist in the future and you won’t have to have all these external structures set up.

Tucker:
Right. And another thing we always tell guys – you’re totally right – is that we always tell guys put yourself around people doing what you want to do because it’s much easier to eat healthy or to be healthy or to do whatever it is you want to do if those same people are around. If you don’t have to constantly. Willpower’s really hard and you only have a finite amount.

Heather:
Exactly.

Tucker:
There’s no reason to fight that battle, you know?

Heather:
Yeah. And there’s studies, you know, that show the more willpower you engage in the harder it is to engage in, you know, it’s a limited resource.

Tucker:
Exactly.

Heather:
But I think it’s also important just in terms of attraction that also, I mean, of course, try to be as fit and healthy as you can but also know, don’t, what I think is some people try very hard to attract the wrong people. And, you know, I think it’s also really important to just be who you are. Don’t try to change completely to be something else to get a person that you’re actually not really compatible with. So, I think there’s some push and pull there.

Tucker:
Let’s actually, that segues in perfectly with the next thing I want to talk about with you because you’re also an expert on sort of, I don’t know if abnormal psychology is the right way to phrase it but borderline personality disorder. I know you’ve done a lot of research on. And that’s one of the things that I think a lot of people in society don’t know much about. I dated one or two girls who had BPD and I was like ‘Alright. I’m not doing that again.’ They’re super fun at first and then you kind of get into their issues and like ‘Oh, my God. This is a train wreck.’ So, can you talk a little bit about what is borderline personality disorder? Explain it to sort of a layman and then we’ll get into specifics and how it relates to dating.

Heather:
Okay. Yeah, so I studied borderline personality disorder actually it was sort of my Ph.D. research. So, borderline patients tend to be, they have instability in terms of their interpersonal relationships. They have an unstable self-image. They have unstable affect. Their emotions are all over the place, very hard to control. They’re very impulsive in potentially self-damaging ways. They go on, you know, spending sprees, they’re sexually promiscuous, they take risks, you know, binge drinking, binge eating. They have often have recurring self-harming behavior or suicidal kinds of gestures not necessarily suicidal but the gestures maybe to get attention. Basically, it’s impulsivity affective or emotional instability and some anger and aggression. And they tend to go from extreme liking to extreme hating of the same person. And a lot of attachment issues, insecure attachments. So, they need a lot of reassurance and they often, if you have a small slight, they’ll exaggerate it and think it’s, you know, the end of the world and this person is out to get me or something. So, yeah.

Tucker:
So, the way you described that that sounds like someone who’s like a disaster. Like if I’m a guy I’m like ‘Why would I date a girl like that?’ But, no, no, no. I, like borderline especially, you know, this is a podcast mainly for guys so we’re talking about sort of females. And as I understand it, there aren’t a lot of borderline personality men, right?

Heather:
Well.

Tucker:
Generally, female or not?

Heather:
It’s generally female. There are borderline men but it just tends to be more prevalent in women so it’s about 75%, I think, is women.

Tucker:
Okay.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Makes sense. So, alright, so, what’s attractive about a borderline woman? So, in my experience. Let me tell you my experience and tell me if that lines up with what you think. Sexually promiscuous, yeah. Like you kind of nailed that. They are definitely girls who are down to party and have fun. And then extreme behaviors, right. So, normally you meet them when they are like ‘Oh, let’s go drink a bunch and do crazy things and like run around traffic and we’ll have sex, you know, in the bathroom and we’ll like.’ Especially if you’re a young guy and relatively inexperienced with women, that’s really exciting. That’s really cool.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
And it’s like ‘Aw, this girl!!,’ and you kind of, I mean, at least I was super arrogant as a young guy so I always thought when I met those girls it was about me. Like they were normal girls and they met me and then it’s like ‘Oh, they’re doing all these things because of me,’ which of course, is not true in the least bit, not remotely. But, of course, like I was an idiot. I probably still am but more of an idiot then. And, so, that’s what’s exciting about them. It’s you don’t generally see the other side until later though, correct? It’s usually how it works. They show sort of the good side and they kind of get you sucked in and then the bad side comes and like ‘Oh, you know, you looked at that other girl. I’m going to, you know, go crazy and stab you,’ or that sort of thing, right?

Heather:
Yeah. And, I mean, a classic case and this might be an old reference but, you know, some people might have seen Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close.

Tucker:
Oh, of course, yes.

Heather:
Yeah. She’s a classic borderline. And that movie has it just right. You know, the beginning, it’s this huge attraction. It’s great. Everything’s wonderful and then all of a sudden something turns. She finds the wife and she gets jealous and then it’s just all hell breaks loose. So, the thing about them, they’re usually, they’re very manipulative people. And usually attracted. They’re good at kind of emotional blackmail, you know? So, once they feel a small slight or maybe you’re looking at another girl they might be, you know, ‘I’m going to have a breakdown now. You have to help me.’ So, there’s a lot of, you know, emotional playing around there. They’re very, usually, needy. But, yeah, it’s true. In the beginning, it’s exciting. And men, I think, especially young men are attracted to borderline because they’re looking for excitement and they’re, you know, sensation seekers. And, so, these women are exciting until, you know, it gets to a point where things start to turn sour. But, I think, you know, to stay away from them you have to kind of be willing to, I mean, somebody said this term to me just today. It was called a rice wife.

Tucker:
I don’t know that.

Heather:
I just heard this today but apparently, it’s like you should look for a rice wife which basically means you want someone who’s like rice. Like it’s nutritious. It’s filling or whatever. But, you know, it’s kind of bland but it’s reliable, you know, it’s not going to, you know, run off and. I mean, I don’t know if you have to go that far but I think you should always be cautious when you start seeing some of these like women who are a little bit jealous. They’re getting needy, emotional instability.

Tucker:
So, what are some ways, if I’m a guy.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
What are some really quick obvious ways or are there quick obvious ways to identify a borderline personality disorder woman or not? I just kind of have to put this suite of traits together?

Heather:
Yeah. I mean, it’s hard and you don’t want to sort of over diagnose so to speak.

Tucker:
Of course.

Heather:
So, like, you know, a woman does something maybe a little erratic and you’re like ‘Oh, no, she’s a borderline,’ you know? You’ve got to, you know, take it with a grain of salt.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And, I mean, if their case is not like a severe case it’s even hard for clinicians to kind of make that diagnosis. But, you know, things to look out for are extreme mood swings, you know, going from really intense like loving and everything’s great to like intense anger and I hate you, you know, over something maybe very small. But you’re really looking for these extremes. Or just someone who seems to be a little bit out of control, you know, maybe it’s fun to go binge drinking with them here and there but, you know, they just seem to can’t stop and they never really get out of that cycle. So, you know, I think as a, studying these people I’m able to kind of detect them, I mean, right away I can see someone and be like ‘Oh, they’re sort of borderline.’ But extreme attachment, for example, you know, they don’t, they have to be in constant contact with you all the time. ‘Where are you?’ all the time, you know? If they don’t hear from you they’ll explode or get really angry, you know?

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
These are things to kind of watch out for.

Tucker:
So, are there, kind of turning that question around. Are there types of guys who tend to be attracted to borderline women or is it just like, you know, it can happen to anyone or is there like is there a specific sort of profile for a guy who likes that?

Heather:
Yeah. It’s hard to say, you know? And again, it’s an interesting question and I don’t think there’s been a lot of research on this sort of what type of guys are attracted to a borderline but it, I would say it tends to be people who are a little bit maybe insecure in themselves or maybe, you know, they can be easily blackmailed or persuaded into getting into this emotional cycle that the woman can bring them into. But also just guys who are looking for drama and excitement, you know? And I think there was some Chris Rock thing where he did a comedy skit where he was like ‘You don’t want to be looking for drama. They say ‘oh, she’s exciting’ or whatever, run!’

Tucker:
No, it’s totally right. I tell this to guys all the time. I hear this, young guys say this all the time, ‘Oh, crazy women, they have the best sex.’ And I look at them. I’m like ‘How many crazy women have you fucked?’ And they’re, you know, ‘Well, blah, blah, blah.’ And I’m like ‘Shut the, obviously, you’re lying. You haven’t hooked up with any. You’re just repeating what you’ve heard other guys say.’ And then I’m like ‘Let me tell you about crazy women.’ And I’ll tell them one or two stories about times that I’ve hooked up with crazy girls and almost all of them BPD and the disaster that it causes in my life. And it’s like. And they’re like ‘Oh, yeah, that sounds terrible.’ And I’m like ‘Right, but the sex for the first week was amazing. So, you think it’s awesome. It’s the worst. I can’t, there is nothing.’ Look, I don’t want to, you know, dump on crazy women. Guys with BPD are just as bad. Hitler and Stalin both had BPD, right?

Heather:
Probably. Well, actually there’s a theory. This is something that I’ve thought about a lot is that basically the different. So, I study the brain and when I looked at these borderline women is that they have decreased activation in that part of the brain, that brake system I was talking about, the prefrontal cortex.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Okay? So, the decreased activation in that part of the brain which causes them to like act out uncontrollably. They can’t control these passions, desires, whatever. But I think men who also have that dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, they also act out impulsively but you can have the same underlying brain dysfunction interacting with male or female traits. So, when you have impulsivity interacting with let’s say introversion which tends to be more a woman type of trait or female types of hormones that causes them to harm themselves, you know, to be.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Either physically like harming themselves or emotionally. Whereas if you have the same impulsivity interacting with say more testosterone and extroversion in men they tend to go out and harm others. And they’ll be classified as being psychopaths. But you can almost think of borderline personality and psychopathology as being the same underlying brain dysfunction interacting with male or female traits and manifests into two different disorders.

Tucker:
Wow. I hadn’t thought about, I didn’t. That’s amazing, yeah. It makes total sense. I never thought. I mean, obviously I don’t sit around and read the DSM-5 or anything.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
But like I’d never thought about it like that. That’s super interesting, yeah. Because most psychopaths like clinically diagnosed psychopaths are men.

Heather:
Exactly.

Tucker:
Whereas most clinical BPDs are women. Maybe it’s the same thing they’re just defined differently because they express differently.

Heather:
Right because when they finally reach their end point they manifest in different ways but when you pull it back down to the underlying brain dysfunction it’s a similar abnormality.

Tucker:
That’s cool. I had never thought of that. So, alright. Which is actually another perfect segue to the next sort of thing I want to talk about. So, you’re obviously very, very intelligent. Let me ask you. In your life, has that been a pro or a con in sort of dating relationships type thing? You know, is that better, worse? I mean, obviously, like it’s nice to be smart for professionally, no doubt, right? But what about dealing with men? Like what are the pluses, minuses, etc.?

Heather:
Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s varied throughout the course of my life. So, for example, in high school, you know, I was like in these advanced classes and whatever but obviously I was, you know, I was pretty socially aware and I didn’t want to be classified as a nerd so I kind of played down my intelligence so that I could be attractive. I thought that’s what, you know, men didn’t want these smart nerdy girls so, you know, the way to be cool was to act not so smart.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
You know, not act like stupid but just kind of downplay, you know? Okay, I’m in the advanced math class, you know, that wasn’t cool.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, at that point in my life, you know, I didn’t see it as so much of an advantage in terms of attracting the opposite sex. But as I got older, you know, I realized that the kinds of guys that actually were attracted to intellectually because the hot guys were great but they, you know, sometimes it wasn’t an intellectual match and I’d get bored. The guys that I started becoming attracted to intellectually usually tended to be more successful at the end of the day, you know, as I got older. Then the problem started being that the really successful interesting guys were usually married or way older. And that was the one problem. I’d say like in my 20s, it was the guys in my 20s weren’t quite as advanced yet and so I was always looking for these older guys but that wasn’t really practical.

Tucker:
Wait. When you say advanced what do you mean? I know what you mean but explain that.

Heather:
I think that, I don’t know maybe this is a myth or whatever but, you know, they say women are slightly more mature, you know.

Tucker:
No, they are. In my anecdotal experience women at the same age are much more mature than guys.

Heather:
Yeah. And, so, there was that. And I just had, you know, a lot of intellectual curiosity and a lot of guys my age especially like around college years they weren’t as interested in that kind of intellectual life as I was. But if I would have looked at guys, you know, 10, 15 years older than me they were.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And they could appreciate my kind of intellectual side. So, you know, there was always this attraction to people who are slightly older and more experienced who were, I felt, a better match in terms of my intellectual curiosity.

Tucker:
Yeah. No, I mean, you see that. That’s pretty common around the world as you see older men with younger women. And I don’t mean like 50 year olds with, you know, 16 year olds. I mean, you know, a three to six to eight year difference. And even aside social issues which of course in certain areas of the world dominate there’s an intellectual, emotional match. Like in America, there’s not, you know, there’s no arranged marriages or whatever but my girlfriend’s nine years younger than me and we’re about the same emotionally which probably says something bad for me but something good for her and bad for me that we’re about the same level emotionally and intellectually.

Heather:
Yeah and I also think that it takes, I think, on the part of guys a bit of confidence to date a woman who might be as smart or even smarter than them which is fine. I think it’s fine to date somebody who might be more intelligent but you have to have the confidence to do that. And sometimes the younger guys weren’t as confident about themselves to date someone who might be a bit smarter than them.

Tucker:
Wait which actually brings up. I didn’t realize this. Dr. Miller told me you’re married to Baba Brinkman, right, the rapper?

Heather:
I am indeed.

Tucker:
Like the Darwinian rapper, right. I totally know who that dude is. He’s hilarious.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, let me ask you then. When, how does, would you say, not to frame it with who’s smarter but I’m sure there are areas where you excel that he doesn’t. Like does that bother him or he’s? I’m sure he’s a pretty confident dude like from what little I know of him. I don’t think he’s real flappable. He’s pretty straight but is that like, is that sort of like how the dynamic works? Like you have your thing and he has his and it works or what?

Heather:
Yeah. It’s an interesting dynamic and it’s funny you used the word flappable because his main tagline is like ‘I’m unflappable.’

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Which he is. I mean, he is just really solid and straight which is great. And I think we both have our, we, I mean, he. When I was first dating him I was like ‘A rapper? I’m going to date a rapper named Baba?’

Tucker:
A white Canadian rapper.

Heather:
I know.

Tucker:
Get out of here.

Heather:
Like this is ridiculous. I can’t, you know, my ex was a corporate lawyer, you know, like Harvard Law School, whatever. But this was like completely out of my range of possibilities.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
But, you know, he’s actually brilliant and I have to say that linguistically I think he’s way advanced than me. I’ve always been a math and science person, I mean, that was my thing, math, science, spatial reasoning, that kind of stuff which was actually more of a male kind of a trait. Like when I was going through school, you know, I used to be one of the only Caucasian women in some of these courses I was taking. But, you know, spatial reasoning kind of thing. Verbal stuff, not so good, you know, I can hold my own but I’m not, I wouldn’t call myself a verbal genius. He’s masterful at that. So, he, I mean, he just wrote a play now in two weeks and memorized it in two days and it’s 10,000 words and it’s brilliant. So, I have to say we each have our own areas of expertise and it’s a really good match. And we just had a daughter. She’s 7 ½ months old and I’m, you know, hoping she’ll get a little of our, of each of us and she’ll have the whole thing covered.

Tucker:
Right. Have the whole package, exactly.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
No, I mean, people don’t realize just sort of like a side note. People don’t realize, like people think poetry is dead but it’s not. It’s alive and it’s doing amazing. It’s called rap now.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
It’s amazing. I’m like a rock chick. I was never a rap fan but, you know, it opened me up to this world and it’s brilliant. I can’t do it. I mean, and the freestyle rap stuff is brilliant too.

Tucker:
Oh, freestyle is amazing. Let’s actually talk. Did you ever go, when you were dating, did you go watch Baba like freestyle or maybe do rap battles or anything like that?

Heather:
Yeah. Well, I’ve actually. Yeah, two funny stories about Baba. He was writing a play at the time called Ingenious Nature which was basically about dating women and, you know, based on evolutionary psychology and biology. And he went through a whole series of dates and the play from OK Cupid and then he wrote me into the play as we were dating. It was kind of like Shakespeare in Love.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And he wrote this character in and then I met this neuroscientist from New York. And then he had the audience vote whether he should stay with me or continue like being single and, you know, on the road. So, it was an interesting.

Tucker:
What did they vote? Don’t leave us hanging.

Heather:
Well, there were different votes every night but on average, I won at the end.

Tucker:
Okay.

Heather:
I mean, it was like should I just stay single and keep, you know, playing the field or should I settle down with this like great amazing woman that I found. And it was. I used to sneak in, in the back and like text in because you would text in yes or no and I’d be like yes, yes, yes.

Tucker:
So, wait. This is actually super interesting. Let’s talk about this. So, your ex-boyfriend before, you mentioned, was like a Harvard corporate lawyer, right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, I’m sure the guy had a ton of money and a ton of status and work at, you know, whatever, Weil Gotshal, Cravath, or one of those, of course. I went to Duke Law School so I interviewed at all of those firms right? So, I know exactly the, I could probably tell you one of the six firms he worked at. But, so, anyway. So, that’s very high status and obviously lawyers are very intelligent and good verbally.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, you don’t have to go too far into details but obviously Baba was far more attractive. So, generally speaking, what was it? Was it that he was like, you know, a risk taker, an artist, that he cared about the things you cared about? What were the things that kind of, you were like man, this guy is so much better than? Even, not even your specific like ex-boyfriend because I’m sure there’s 50, 100, 1000 other corporate lawyers who are just as hot and just as smart and just as rich that you could have dated if you wanted. So, why Baba instead of them?

Heather:
Yeah. I mean, so, it wasn’t like a direct comparison. Okay I’m going to be with Baba instead of him but it was.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
It was, I tell you this. Growing up all through whatever high school, college, I always was attracted to artists, musicians, painters, whatever. They were but a lot of the time they didn’t really, you know, they weren’t going to be able to kind of support a family so to speak. It’s hard to make a living as an artist but I loved that creative mind and that thinking outside the box. That really attracted me. But when I finally went away to Oxford and graduate school I thought ‘You know, now I really have to be, you know, find a guy who’s going to be stable and we can raise a family and I need like the traditional kind of a guy.’ Which I found. And he, you know, he was great on many levels and we were intellectually compatible. I think the thing that was missing was a bit of the excitement and also the emotional warmth. That was something. Like artists, for me, at least they tended to be much more affectionate and, you know, passionate, – passionate, that’s the word.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, I always thought I had to make a choice. I either can be with like a financially stable, you know, guy who might be a little bit dry or an artist who’s really exciting but we’re going to, you know, be struggling.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And then I found Baba who’s just kind of like somewhere in between. He’s, you know, he’s making a living being an artist and he’s, we’re intellectually compatible and he’s really a warm compassionate person.

Tucker:
Right. I could not summarize it better. There’s so many guys who think ‘Oh, if I achieve this status and this money then that will take care of sort of my, you know, like me attraction for women.’ And I tell guys like ‘No. Like that’s not enough.’ If you’re a boring rich guy it will always lose out to an interesting fun, I won’t say poor guy. Like you can’t be living under a bridge or some shit but if.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
But if I’m making 40 grand a year and I’m funny and interesting and I can like think and make jokes I’m going to beat every dude who makes four million a year who’s boring and dry.

Heather:
Yeah and I tell you when I was dating, you know, Baba, I was dating other people who were like multi-millionaire, you know, offering me the world and, you know, fly you on private jets, all the, the whole nine yards. And Baba with his just, his personality and his ingenuity and everything. That won over. And, of course, he wasn’t a multi-millionaire but that wasn’t what, you know, that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough. And he’s someone if you fall in love with somebody who is intelligent, charismatic, funny, whatever, who has, you believe in them. They have the potential to be, you know? You can’t, in a sense there’s only so much you can do about your personality, right?

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
You can become rich by working really hard. That you can do but to change a person’s fundamental characteristic is harder to do.

Tucker:
Right. But you can change a lot of your attributes. I mean, like.

Heather:
You can.

Tucker:
Like temperament. There’s a lot. I mean, I don’t have to tell you about the research. I feel stupid. But temperament is sort of set basically at birth but where you fall within that range, I think, you can change a lot, right?

Heather:
Yeah. What I would say is this. I think it’s the same thing with like intelligence or personality characteristics or any of it. You’re born with a certain genetic predisposition, lets’ say with IQ to be within a certain range, okay? And your environment can either push you to the highest at which you’re possibly, the highest level at which you can get but you’ll never be able to even get higher, you know? So, basically let’s say you’re born with the predisposition to be in the range of like 100 and 125 IQ. You can work really hard and get to your highest level. You can gain a lot of information and. Or you cannot work at it and just be at your lowest level. So, I think there’s biological constraints but you have the ability to sort of be your best self, if that makes sense.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, let’s say you have a tendency for, you’re quick tempered and that tends to be your tendency. You can work against that. You’ll never be as calm and cool, as collected as like a Zen master but you can do the best within what you’re given.

Tucker:
So, let me. Actually this is pretty funny. Like you said something earlier. I didn’t actually pick up on it right away but I want to go back to it because it’s super interesting. I know, two different things. You said a lot of guys are intimidated by women, you know, who are more intelligent than them which I think is totally true but I think also a lot of guys, I know a lot of women who are sort of in your position who are very successful, not just professionally but also financially and they tell me they have a huge, like a really hard time dating because when guys find out how much money they make or even if they just guess ‘Oh, you’re a doctor so you must make,’ and they just make up a number. And then they assume that she’s not going to like me because I’m not way richer than her, right? And, so, like I’m going to guess that you don’t have to answer one way or the other. But I’m going to guess that you probably make more than Baba and it doesn’t bother you. You don’t really care, do you because he’s functional? He makes, he does really well. He supports himself. He contributes but that’s not why you’re attracted to him. Like money is just a number in a way — above a certain minimum, money’s really just a number, right?

Heather:
Yeah. I actually agree with that. I think that and you know I also have a lot, you know, my girlfriends are also, you know, successful, intelligent women and you know I talk to them a lot about, you know, their trials and tribulations with dating guys. And a lot of the issues that come across is that if you tend to be a really assertive self-made woman and successful and have all these degrees and have a great career, you’re also then looking for this guy who’s this perfect match who also has all the same, you know, big ivy league school names and big career, whatever. And my friends’ dated all these people. I’ve dated these people. And they sometimes just aren’t the best matches for you like. And that’s just what it is and you have to go with where your, you know, your feelings. It’s not about what’s on paper, basically.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And, so, if that person you happen to be just emotionally and physically and whatever connected to doesn’t happen to make the same amount of money or have the same career success, I think that is not a problem. I think people make the mistake of thinking they have to find their match or a guy who makes more than them and then they’re not happy. So, you know, a guy, as long as they’re holding their own, I mean, you know, obviously you don’t want to be, you know.

Tucker:
Supporting their ass.

Heather:
Yes. Supporting a guy.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And dragging him along but you know, I think there’s going to be in any relationship there’ll be periods where maybe they’re making more and then maybe you’re making more, maybe you fall on bad times and then they’re supporting. So, it’s a partnership in that way. But I don’t think it should be a determining factor.

Tucker:
Well, not but the point I was making. I totally agree. The point I was making was that you said, you know, you can adjust within ranges, right? So, clearly Baba was very gifted verbally, right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, instead of worrying how can I make the most money, how can I be good at everything, Baba said maybe unconsciously like we were talking about earlier, he said ‘Fuck it, I’m going to be the best rapper,’ right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
And I’m going to be amazing at this. I’m not going to be great at everything. I’m going to be like the best or one of the best at one or two areas that matter. And that, to me, and please correct me if I’m getting anything wrong because it’s clearly it’s your life. But that, to me, seems like what you’re most attracted about to him, he’s good at other things. Like he’s not poor, you know, whatever. He’s obviously not ugly but if you just met this dude and didn’t know like weren’t impressed with his rhetorical rapping, artistic skills, you’d be like ‘Oh, you’re a nice person. You know, have fun managing the Starbucks and I’m going to date somebody else,’ right?

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
But because he’s so great at one thing that’s really kind of the key, right or not?

Heather:
Yeah. No, what’s attractive in a person is not only, I mean, well, I think character, a person’s character.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
That they’re a good kind-hearted person, that’s key. I don’t care how talented a person is.

Tucker:
Yeah. Well, that doesn’t, anyone can have character.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
Character is a decision. That’s not a gene, right?

Heather:
Yeah. Well, it’s a predisposition of a type of personality trait. Someone let’s say who’s very generous with themselves, they’re not a selfish person, that kind of thing.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
They’re empathetic. They’re caring. But given that, yeah, I was very impressed with his talent and with his passion. I think somebody who’s driven and passionate about something – that’s very attractive. And then the other funny thing is that when we were first dating he was writing this show. He said ‘Oh, you know, I’m writing this new show and I want to actually put in IQ tests in the show.’ He was talking about dating and matching on IQ and that kind of thing. So, can I, do you run IQ tests in your lab. I said ‘Yes, I do.’ And he said ‘Well, can I come in and, you know, run one because I want to get my scores for this, you know?’

Tucker:
Probably did well I bet, right?

Heather:
Yeah, he did. So I’m like ‘Oh, sure’ I was like ‘I’ll have my research, you know, assistant run it for you.’ You know, and it was great for me because I’m like ‘Yeah, I’m going to see where this guy is at.’

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And, you know what? He was actually off the charts. We were, yeah. I’m two points higher than him, you know, specifically. Not that it really matters. These IQ tests, obviously, there’s a lot of variability.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
But he did better than. One of my researchers came up and said ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anybody do, you know, so well.’ So, that and he knew. So that was kind of a peacocking move on his part. You know, he pretended like it was part for the show. You know, I was impressed and I think.

Tucker:
I’ll tell you that’s pretty smart, the fact that he knew and did that. Like he’s like ‘Alright.’ That’s actually empathy if you think about it, right? It’s not just intelligence. It’s empathy because he’s like what does this, what does is this woman good at. What does she care about? What does she value? What do I have that overlaps? IQ. I’m going to go in and show her in her environment.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
That I can compete in her environment. Like that’s empathy.

Heather:
Yeah and the confidence it takes to put yourself on the line because he could have totally screwed up.

Tucker:
No doubt. No, you want to talk about honest signaling. We did, we just did a whole podcast about honest signaling. That’s one of the best examples I’ve ever heard. I might have to tell that story in a future podcast.

Heather:
Yeah, it’s a great story.

Tucker:
No, I want to go back to something you said about him though which is really important for young guys. So, I can imagine a lot of young guys listening to this be like ‘Okay. Well, I don’t have an IQ. I’m not a, you know, a rapper from Canada,’ whatever. And they look at the specifics and they don’t realize that Baba didn’t start there either. He worked hard and did those things. But let’s say, okay, I’m a normal guy. Let’s just say I have an average IQ. Let’s say I’m 100, right? So, you said, one of the things that you’re very attracted to about him is that he’s very empathetic and he’s very caring and he’s very like kind and understanding. He has a lot of emotional social intelligence, right?

Heather:
Yes.

Tucker:
That is something that almost any dude can get better at, correct? Like you might have ranges but it’s– Like there’s a great saying. It don’t cost nothing to be nice.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
You know?

Heather:
Yeah. Yeah. Actually Baba has a song Don’t Sleep With Mean People. But no it’s true. You can, you can always become better, more empathetic, more giving, more caring. I mean, that’s what women want. They don’t want a selfish, egotistical guy who’s arrogant and thinks he’s super cool. I mean, that’s not, you know, maybe that’s attractive in high school but, you know, women are looking for long term mates. They want somebody. And I believe that people can, of course, improve their ability to become more empathetic, caring, you know, less selfish.

Tucker:
Well, let’s. Maybe let’s tie this in with some of your other research. Can you think of habits guys can develop that can teach them maybe like some kindness, empathy, emotional habit? Let’s assume we’re not starting with autistic people. Just a normal dude who’s like. ‘Alright. I want to understand women better. I want to kind of like be nicer. Like I’m a nice guy. I just don’t know how to show women or kind of develop that skill.’ What are some habits that that guy might be able to develop or put in his life that would create, you know, the sort of behavior that you are attracted to in Baba or that type of behavior, generally?

Heather:
Yeah. That’s an interesting question. I mean, you’re really talking about how can someone engage in behavior that might help change their fundamental characteristics. You know, it sounds cliché to be like ‘Oh, you know, volunteer at a whatever old person’s home or something.’ I mean, that’s, you know, but I think that if you can every day do something for somebody else whether it’s a small gesture. You know, the guy in the street is holding a cup of change, you know, throw him a couple of whatever, quarters, you know? Every day try to just do one thing that is selfless, you know, selfless behavior even if it’s just, you know, talking to an old person who might be lonely for like, you know, 15 minutes, you know, just to help them, whatever it is. And that kind of behavior over time will become more engrained, more habitual but the idea of doing something that’s not about anything for your own personal gain but about helping someone else. You know, getting into that thought pattern will be helpful.

Tucker:
I don’t know if you know. There’s a ton of research in that area. You’re exactly right. That’s one of the best ways to build empathy is by being empathetic. And like, it sounds obvious like it’s one of those things where you think ‘Alright, well, how am I empathetic?’ What you said is actually the way to do it. The other big way is writing down what you’re thankful for. Like writing down gratitude is, it helps you be happier and helps teach you to notice sort of these sorts of things which makes you more emotionally intelligent. And then making it your goal to do one or two things even small things with the intent that they are for someone else.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
It kind of doesn’t matter how big it is.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
What matters is, is the intent behind it. Yeah, you’re exactly totally. I’m sure you already know that.

Heather:
Yeah.

Heather:
But I think also another thing is what we call cognitive framing, you know, how you frame things. So, let’s say you’re looking or dating a woman. It’s not about what can I do, I think. I think this is not the right way to look at it, ‘what can I do to make her like me more’, but it should be ‘what can I do to be more of a likeable person?’ But also think of that person not just as like, I don’t know, some chick or whatever or how can I get her in bed but more like, you know, what if that was my sister? How would I want a guy to treat her, you know? Or what if that was my mother? Whatever. You know, some woman that you’re very close with in your life, a sister’s a good example, your mother. How would you want a guy to treat her?

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And you think about it in that framework and that might change some of the behaviors, as well.

Tucker:
Well, so, that’s a super good point but I know what most guys are going to say to that. Young guys.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
Young, inexperienced guys are going to say ‘Alright. That’s great Dr. Berlin but when I’m a nice guy then women will walk over me or no one takes me seriously.’ What most guys will do is your advice. I get it. I know what you’re saying but they’ll code your advice. Like actually what you just said they’ll cognitively frame it to mean nice as passive or sort of obsequious, right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Which is probably the opposite of what Baba is or what any attractive guy you can think of is, right? Even though they’re very, like one of the defining things you said about Baba he’s empathetic and kind. But I bet you would never describe him as passive or obsequious, would you?

Heather:
Not a push over at all, no. Yeah. I mean, there’s a difference between. So, I think, that there’s a difference between confidence. You want someone who’s confident but not arrogant, right? Arrogant is sort of being confident with an ego, right? So, you don’t want that but somebody who has confidence, who’s not a pushover, who’s self, you know, secure in themselves, secure enough that they can be kind and caring and thoughtful but not a pushover, you know? And I mean I guess there are some subtleties there but confident and head strong and passionate about something and really like an individual who knows themselves and is not afraid to. Even they talk about, you know, guys even being a little bit feminine like a man who’s really secure in themselves can do something that might be interpreted as being a little feminine and they’re okay with that because they’re that secure. And it’s that kind of confidence that, you know, not arrogance but confidence that you can be kind and still be attractive.

Tucker:
Right. So, the way I always define the difference is confidence is the authentic belief that you can do something or you’re capable. Arrogance is trying to persuade yourself by convincing others first.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Like they’re very different if you think about. like if I want to feel like I’m tough and I have to flex on some small guy and make him feel small first that’s arrogance. That’s a lack of confidence which is displayed as arrogance.

Heather:
Like bravado.

Tucker:
Exactly. Whereas confidence is ‘I already know so I don’t need to show it.’ It’s just is.

Heather:
Right, exactly.

Tucker:
So, let’s end on this. This is really good. Let’s end on this sort of set of questions.

Heather:
Okay.

Tucker:
What do you think, in your experience, just watching guys interacting with guys. What are some of the big things that you see guys just really screwing up with women that they could easily change and like do differently and they would be far more attractive? Like what are some of the big things you’re like ‘Ugh, why do guys do this?’

Heather:
Gosh, there’s so many.

Tucker:
There are. I know that’s why we have a lot of work to do on the podcast. But what are some big ones that you think of?

Heather:
Misogyny is a big one.

Tucker:
How do you define that? I know what you mean. How do you define that so a young guy would understand?

Heather:
How do I define that? So, sort of a dislike of women and you can almost hatred of women and it can come out in different ways by insulting them, putting them down, treating them like lesser, you know, humans than men, so to speak. I guess, that’s.

Tucker:
So, misogyny is defined as hatred of women, right?

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
And right, of course. And, so, exactly what you said. And, so, I hear that from women a lot and I think there is. So, let’s put aside just the assholes who really just have venom and vitriol because they just have their own emotional problems, right?

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
I think there are a lot of young guys who do things that women interpret as misogynistic that they don’t realize a lot of times.

Heather:
Right.

Tucker:
So, what are some things that you see where you’re like, you know, you take them as misogynistic, you know? Like aside from the obvious.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
You know, having like, you know, Tom Leykis or Rush Limbaugh saying like all women should be barefoot and pregnant. Like that’s clearly misogynistic. That’s obvious. What are some other things you see that you think that really make you feel that way?

Heather:
Gosh, there’s so. Well, I won’t say. I can use an example of maybe.

Tucker:
Please.

Heather:
So, I was dating a guy who was, you know, this multimillionaire guy and had a lot of arrogance and, you know, and was sort of treating me like a lesser, you know, like the lesser being. And then one time I was actually dating another guy at the same time and I said ‘I have to leave early. I’m just going to walk down to my car,’ but I was really going to walk to meet this other guy on a date.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
So, he’s like ‘Oh, let me walk you to your car.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no. That’s okay, you know, I can go on my own.’ And it was really because, you know, I had to go straight to this other date. I was going to take a cab here.

Tucker:
Of course.

Heather:
This is probably revealing way too much. But anyway. So, he sort of was like ‘Well, what do you drive a shitty car and you’re embarrassed of your car so you don’t want me to walk with you there?’ It’s just like ‘What?’ And that was it. I mean, he was done. But I mean, you know.

Tucker:
What a douche.

Heather:
‘Are you embarrassed of your car?’. I was like. I don’t know. This is not really an example of misogyny but it was just such a.

Tucker:
No, but I can see why.

Heather:
Derogatory kind of yeah.

Tucker:
That’s a better example of arrogance, I think.

Heather:
Yeah, yeah.

Tucker:
But there is contempt in there and there is anger in there and I can totally see why like you think of that as misogyny. They map closely together, no doubt.

Heather:
Yeah. Yeah, you know, so it’s hard to. You hear guy talk. And I don’t know if it’s bravado or not just talking about, you know, bitches and hoes basically, you know, and it’s like. You know, and I can understand wanting to have a lot of sex at a certain age and that’s just part of it but, you know, when you’re looking to really have a real relationship with a person, you know, you just have to have a respect for women and not a kind of juvenile perspective in that way of, you know, women are all sluts and hoes.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
I mean, that’s. Yeah, right, that’s definitely a young guy thing is to.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
So, like definitely believe me there are plenty of young guys who don’t understand that the language that they use matters even. And like here I am like I’m not even saying it judgmentally. It’s just like ‘Look, dude, if you want women to like you calling them names probably isn’t the best way.’

Heather:
Yeah and it’s not even the calling them names. It’s the way like, you know, one time I was seeing this guy and I had, I got to see like his correspondence with a guy friend of his.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
And the way he was talking about women and the way they talked to each other about women even though they don’t talk to the face of women themselves that way it just, that attitude will come out in other ways. It will reflect on how they treat women. If that makes sense.

Tucker:
Yeah, yeah, no.

Heather:
The way you talk about women to your guy friends matters in a sense.

Tucker:
Absolutely. Alright, so, what are some other things. Can you think of any other things that you’re just like ‘Man, why do guys do that?’ Or actually better examples from your life are actually far more instructive because young guys can’t generalize. If you say something general they’re like ‘Okay. What does that have to do with me?’ And you have to like literally give them, spoon feed them an example. Any examples you can think of where a guy did something and you’re like repelled would be amazing.

Heather:
Okay. I just told one of them. There was, I think guys who, too much bravado, trying to flash money around like, you know, it shows that you’re actually insecure.

Tucker:
Yes.

Heather:
That you have to throw around money and do, you know? It’s nice to take a girl out, obviously, treat her very well but, you know, this kind of showing off thing. That’s not very attractive. I once had a guy believe it or not like he was also a very wealthy guy and he propositioned me. He said ‘Look, I want your genes.’ So.

Tucker:
Like your egg genes from your body?

Heather:
Yeah. Well, I don’t know literally. He’s like ‘I want to have your baby so this is the deal. Like I have money. I can take care of you.’ And which was almost in a sense refreshing because there’s a lot of underlying code in dating. But I was just like ‘Are you kidding me?’ And he really was like ‘I’ll take care of you. Everything will be great. I want you to have my babies and that’s it.’ And I was like ‘Okay. Good-bye.’

Tucker:
Like he thought you were breeding mare or something.

Heather:
Yeah. And it was just bizarre. It was very bizarre. But I think, you know, this is the thing. Either don’t rush too quickly into like okay, let’s have babies, let’s get married, you know, you’re the one.

Tucker:
Yeah.

Heather:
That’ll scare people away right? Right away, I think. And be genuine, you know? It’s not about attaining like the highest status women, per se. It’s about obtaining your best match.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
Some guys, I think, wanted to date me just because of like, you know, whatever, the degrees I had or, you know, like they wanted me because I look good on their arm or whatever and it was for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t just like they wanted me for me like being Heather as the person, despite my degrees and my career or anything.

Tucker:
So, what you’re saying is you want a guy to actually understand you and care about you as a person and not like you as an object even if it’s not like a sexual object, even you as a status object or any other sort of object.

Heather:
Yeah. Because I dated guys, it was more about, it wasn’t about me but it was about how I reflected on them, you know, what I. You know, it was for their ego.

Tucker:
Right, right, right.

Heather:
And it wasn’t so much about me. But you want a guy who’s like you know what? Let’s say I get sick, God forbid and I like, you know, I’m incapacitated or whatever. Like he’s still going to be there and help me, you know, if I don’t, if I can’t work anymore, whatever it is.

Tucker:
Right. And, so.

Heather:
You wanna have that feeling.

Tucker:
One of the reasons you feel like that that Baba will do that is because he’s kind and empathetic. He already shows that in times he doesn’t even have to, right?

Heather:
Exactly. And he’s a really, yeah, he’s just a good person and I trust him in that. And I don’t, he’s not just with me. I mean, maybe he’s with me because I’m physically attractive and obviously we have good chemistry but, you know, that’s not it. So, if my looks go away, you know, whatever, he’ll still be there. It’s not like that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what I always think like just being intelligent or even for anybody to improve upon their internal, you know, mind, their internal life because looks fade over time. And if you’re not an interesting person no matter how good looking or charismatic you are at some point you need to have substance because that’s what’s going to last.

Tucker:
How much of this did you learn from experience and how much did you learn from your research?

Heather:
I would say much of it is from experience. I think some of the reason I went into my research or trying to understand the human condition and the brain and the mind and how they’re related is because I always was pretty intuitive about people.

Tucker:
Right.

Heather:
I would meet people and for whatever reason I can read subtle signs. Maybe they were unconscious cues or whatever but I could just read a person right away. This is a good person. This is not. This is a, you know, little crazy person. Whatever it was. And I was like how is that? How does it work? And then what my academic life is just taught me about it in a more kind of factual way. But I learned a lot, I mean, a lot of it’s just life experience and gut intuitions. And maybe I went in this field because I was maybe better at reading people or understanding people’s mind and emotions. But this just taught me about it in a more factual way.

Tucker:
Yeah. So, it just gave you a language to talk about the intuitions you already had and stuff.

Heather:
Exactly.

Tucker:
Do you think that people maybe who don’t have your intuition can maybe not get your intuition but they can learn sort of how to apply this knowledge to actually improve the decisions they make in their own life? I mean I would assume so.

Heather:
Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of, I mean, not that everybody needs therapy but a lot of therapies are aimed at helping people improve what’s called executive function which is basically increasing the activity of the prefrontal cortex, that thing that helps you make more conscious, focused, better decisions, right, not just this impulsive decision. So, what people can do, for example, before deciding even a simple thing or whether to date this person or marry this person or that person. It’s not just instinctive. Sit back, you know, take time to think about things. Don’t just impulsively act on things. You have to really try to be reflexive if at all possible. And that’s not to say to sit down and write down all the pros and cons because that’s actually not the best way to make a decision. But take in all the information and then sleep on it and let it rest. Then usually your gut intuition or your unconscious which is a larger capacity, can process more information, that’ll give you the right answer.

Tucker:
Yep. No, that’s exactly right. Awesome.

Heather:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Dr. Berlin, thank you so much for your time. This was a fantastic interview. And tell your husband we’re going to ask him to come on later but we wanted you first because you’re way smarter and prettier. You can tell him that if you want.

Heather:
I will. Trust me, I will.

Tucker:
Alright. Thank you Dr. Berlin.

Heather:
Alright, thanks so much.

Tucker:
Bye-bye.

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