Ep. 364 Forming Healthy Relationships: Insights on Commitment and Partnership with Jillian Turecki

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Today, I am thrilled to be connecting with Jillian Turecki, a renowned relationship coach, educator, author, and host of the Jillian on Love podcast. 

Sought out for her empathetic approach, Jillian has guided 1000s of individuals over the past two decades, driven by an unquenchable curiosity about what makes a relationship thrive. Through her compassion, directness, and authenticity, she has helped them transform their relationships with themselves by focusing on self-growth. 

In our conversation, we explore the societal expectations for women and how improving our relationships with ourselves allows us to become more authentic in our other relationships. We address loneliness and trauma, unlearning parental conditioning, and dealing with situationships, and get into the difference between sexual chemistry and a real connection, narcissism, and warning signs in relationships. Jillian also shares her perspective on marriage and the importance of self-reflection. 

Join us for the invaluable insights Jillian has drawn from her extensive experience over the past twenty years.

“Narcissistic people are going to manipulate you, gaslight you, and make it seem like you are the problem. They are not just self-serving. They are cruel.”

– Jillian Turecki


  • How women internalize narratives of weakness due to societal expectations
  • How self-esteem impacts relationship choices
  • What people can do to empower themselves and avoid feeling alone
  • The benefits of self-validation
  • What we can do to heal past wounds and foster healthy relationships
  • The challenge of distinguishing lust from love
  • Why self-awareness is essential within relationships
  • Red flags to look out for in relationships
  • How to deal with communication breakdowns in relationships
  • Tips for moving on from a broken heart


Jillian Turecki is a certified relationship coach, teacher, author, and host of the Podcast, Jillian On Love. Fueled by an insatiable curiosity about what makes a relationship thrive, Jillian has helped thousands over the last 20 years through her teachings, courses, and writing to revolutionize their relationship with themselves so that they transform their romantic relationships. Jillian is sought out for her compassionate, direct, and very authentic style of coaching, teaching, and writing.

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

Connect with Jillian Turecki


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:00:02] Welcome to Everyday Wellness podcast. I’m your host, nurse practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent is to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives.


[00:00:30] Today, I had the honor of connecting with Jillian Turecki. She’s a certified relationship coach, teacher, author, and host of the podcast Jillian on Love. Fueled by an insatiable curiosity about what makes a relationship thrive, Jillian has helped thousands over the last 20 years through her teachings, courses, and writing to revolutionize their relationships with themselves so they transform their romantic relationships. She is sought out for her compassionate, direct and very authentic style of coaching, teaching, and writing. 

[00:01:00] Today, we started the conversation centering around some of the societal expectations of us as women, how our relationship with ourselves allows us to show up authentically in relationships, the role of loneliness, the impact of trauma, as well as unlearning and conditioning we learn from our parents. What a situationship is? Differences between lust and sexual chemistry versus real connection, red flags in relationships, marriage, as well as self-reflection and narcissism. I know that you will find this to be an invaluable conversation. I really value this connection with Jillian. She is a wealth of information. 


[00:01:49] So just to give you some context, most of my community are women, middle aged, so like perimenopause and menopause. And so, as I was kind of thinking about where to start, what really struck out to me is kind of societal expectations around relationships that impact us, not just the imprinting of parents, but the societal expectations about what we should be doing. You should be getting married. You should be doing this. You should be doing that. It’s the shoulds that I think in many ways can get us derailed. So, I would love to kind of start our conversation there because I admittedly probably haven’t talked about this on the podcast, but I had Italian parents, and Italian mothers tend to provide their unsolicited input with great frequency, well intentioned, and I can remember being 28 years old and wasn’t in a serious relationship. I was in grad school and my mother looked at me in front of my entire very large extended family and said, “If you don’t hurry up and get married, your dad and I, my stepfather, are not going to pay for your wedding.” And I just about fell out of my chair. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:02:51] Wow. Wow. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:02:53] So very large statement, one of which, there was a tremendous amount of like shame, like, instead of being excited about the fact I’m in grad school and I’m thriving and I’m happy, there’s these parental expectations.

Jillian Turecki: [00:03:06] Were they immigrants? Are they immigrants? No. Interesting.

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:03:09] No. It was almost like my mother was projecting her own insecurities onto me. Like, somehow if you don’t get married, you’re not successful. And so, when you’re working with men or women, talking to them about how we have these societal expectations of the shoulds instead of leaning into what resonates or what works for us. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:03:33] Yes, yes. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:03:34] So I’m happy to start the conversation there. Because I think that this is something that for many women, irrespective of what life stage they’re in, at some point along their journey, they have probably felt that. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:03:46] Yeah. I think women also these days get a lot of conflicting messages. And I think that one of the big messages that a lot of women, I think it’s going to be changing is, “You’re not really safe in the world unless you have a partner.” Specifically, that was very heteronormative thing for a while. Like, if you don’t have a man in your life protecting you, you are not safe in the world. And by the way, “You also better work because you have to have that level of responsibility too.” And so, I think that there’s just been a lot of where– So, I’m supposed to achieve at a high level. I’m supposed to get married, and I’m supposed to be a mom, and I’m supposed to excel at all of these things. And number one, that’s not necessarily what someone wants. And number two, that’s a lot of pressure. 


[00:04:43] And like you said, your Italian mom, there was like, “If you’re not going to get married soon, we’re not going to pay for it.” And it’s important to understand where that actually comes from, because where that comes from in the parent is fear. It’s literally saying, it’s feeling powerless over the– Parents, I think, can realize at some point that they can’t really protect their kids anymore. And I think that that’s a very difficult thing for parents to come to terms with. And a lot of that sits in their unconscious. So how it comes out is, “You better get married, otherwise, I’m not going to pay for it,” which is basically saying, because if you’re not married, we’re not going to live forever, so how are we going to protect you? How are you going to feel stable in the world? How are you going to be seen by society? Are you going to be shunned by society? Because you’re living in their own blueprint. And like you said, like the Italian-American family, the hypnosis that they’re in, the blueprint that they live in is like, “You get married, that is part of what you do.”


[00:05:52] And so, when there’s that coercion there, I always will tell parents not to do that, but it’s also understanding that where they’re coming from, the sense of fear. And so, the messaging that we get, that so many women get is “If you don’t get married, you’re actually not going to be stable. You are not going to have stability in the world.” And that feeds into this narrative that women are– Because we’re already very well aware of the fact that, generally speaking, women are physically weaker than men, we just are, we’re not as strong. And we’re all very well aware that because of that, we’re more vulnerable in the world. We are going to be the target of violence way more than men are. And so, we’re already walking around with this understanding that in one way we’re weaker than men. 


[00:06:45] But then there’s this narrative, like, “Well, also you need to be protected by a man in all ways in order to be safe in the world. And nothing could be further from the truth.” And so I think that this idea of weakness is so internalized for so many women, and so what they think is unconsciously, a lot of it is unconscious. It’s not just like, “I want to mate. I want a partner.” It’s “Who am I if I don’t have this partner? How vulnerable am I in the world? Can I take care of myself? Can I be financially stable on my own? Can I be happy on my own?” I’m all for partnership. I think that we are social beings, and I think that being in a stable relationship, the data is out, adds years to our lives. 


[00:07:32] But being in an unstable relationship or just being in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship or feeling so incomplete because you’re not in a relationship leads one to choose terrible partners, and those terrible partners can take years off your life. So, this is sort of, I think, what women really need to think about and also to understand, to give some context around if they’re feeling that pressure from family, recognize that it’s coming from their own blueprint of what safety in the world looks like for you, and they feel powerless to protect you. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:08:15] And I think the point about it’s well intentioned, but is a clear distinction because I think I even knew at that point, I kind of laugher my mother’s comments, but even for girlfriends of mine who have been through divorces, or friends of my husband who’ve been through divorces or people that have remarried, there are these kind of societal expectations that somehow, if you’re choosing to be alone, that you must be empty, you must be lonely. And I think what I hear from most of my friends is that at some point, we have to be comfortable being by ourselves. Like, if you haven’t learned that either before you get married, you certainly, hopefully, will learn that as you’re getting older. Because I think for me, being single throughout my 20s, into my early 30s, that was my greatest kind of gift that I figured out I was able to be happy by myself. And as an introvert, I didn’t need like tons of social stimulation, although I was very social. For me, it was getting comfortable with the idea of being by myself. And I think for a lot of individuals, maybe projection from my mom or other people from different generations, the message being, “You can’t be satisfied by yourself,” and so I think that that is such an important distinction to make as we are navigating dating. 


[00:09:36] And, one thing as I was preparing for our conversation is a large message of your work, is that the internal work that we do allows us to show up in our relationship. So if you’ve done some personal development or your talk therapy or anything that we do to try to evolve as individuals or identifying areas that you need to work on, and I’m certainly not perfect, there have been things I’ve gone to therapy throughout my lifetime. But how does our self-esteem impact our ability to make good choices with partners? How does that show up for us? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:10:10] Yeah, it’s huge. Well, I mean, we will often allow relationships into our lives that reflect how we feel about ourselves. So, the lower our self-esteem, the more– it’s not a guarantee, but it does pose a pretty high risk for choosing people who are at best just good enough for you, just enough, but at worst, abuse you. And there’s a big spectrum in between there. 


[00:10:40] Look, if you don’t see that you are valuable enough to protect, that you are valuable enough to be loved, if your self-esteem is low enough that you don’t see that. And the thing is, a lot of people rationally know that, and they don’t recognize how low their self-esteem is until they’ve experienced a relationship in which they are repeatedly treated like shit and they don’t leave. And that’s a huge wake up call for a person to say, “Wow, I wasn’t walking around as this stereotypical representation of what low self-esteem looks like. I don’t particularly hate my body. I have confidence in my friendships. I have confidence, you know, areas of work.” So, it can be a very shocking thing. But, yeah, self-esteem is an important thing because if your self-esteem is too low, then you just think everyone is better than you, and you just don’t think that you deserve much, so I think it’s important, but I wanted to go back to another point that you made that I think is so wise and so important, which is that it is really important to know how to be alone. 


[00:12:03] Now, there are some people who’ve mastered the art of being alone, maybe too much, right? And they would really benefit from being in a relationship. But there are a lot of people who go from relationship to relationship or just feel so uncomfortable being alone. And it really is incredible leverage, because one of the things that keeps people in relationships that are not good for them is the fear of being alone, is the fear of starting all over again, and that’s not good. So, when you can really learn to be alone and not just tolerate aloneness, and that doesn’t mean that you never feel lonely sometimes. I mean, again, we are social animals, but if you don’t know how to truly enjoy your own company and to feel stable as a single person, that’s not good, it’s very important, because then you’ll just start accepting anyone’s company because you’re trying to just not be alone versus being in the position of, “I’m choosing this person.” 


[00:13:14] The person who’s always afraid to be alone is always waiting for someone to choose them. The person who has confidence in their ability to be alone, even if it’s not their preference all the time, but they still can actually access joy alone. They can still have a good time single. They can still smell the roses when they’re single. They are going to be in a position where they’re going to want to choose someone rather than just wait to be chosen, and that’s very empowering, and very important. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:13:47] Yeah. what do you think drives the inability or the discomfort of being alone? Is it primarily a byproduct of or self-esteem? What are some of the things that clinically you’ve seen in clients that you think contribute to that? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:14:05] Yeah, so there’s a couple of things. Well, one I will say is like, I don’t want to pathologize wanting to be in a relationship. I think it’s healthy to be in a relationship. We are social animals and we thrive as a species more in community. So, there are some people who don’t really feel the need to be in a romantic relationship because they are so supported by community. So, we need other people, that’s very important. What I’ve seen, people who are really afraid to be alone, there’s a number of things. One is self-esteem. One is, they saw their parents maybe in codependent relationships where one person stayed with their addicted spouse for years and years and years and very unhappy. There are those who have had some childhood trauma, maybe an absent father, for example, which makes it so that they feel very incomplete unless they are having consistent validation from a man or from a woman, if they date women. The reality is that it always points to the relationship that we have with ourselves. I think it’s important for people to know how to distinguish between feeling a little lonely versus feeling unable to enjoy life while single. I think those are two different things. Or like, needing the constant validation from someone who you would date in order to feel whole within themselves. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:15:44] I think that’s so important because I reflect back on my 20s as the example. I was in grad school. I had this amazing group of friends. In many ways felt like we were just so happy as friends, all being together, having a social network, being able to get together outside of work. And when I talk about my 20s, living in Baltimore, I always say it was some of the best memories up until my lifetime because I felt like such a tremendous amount of support with these women, all of whom were in graduate school and, trying to navigate our 20s, which are just full of all sorts of like fun life experiences, both good and bad. 


[00:16:25] And you touched on relationships with parents. And I think that for so many of us, that’s our first insights into how men and women may interact, women and women, men and men. And so, I feel like in many ways that our first insights into relationships are how our parents interact with one another. And if we grew up with addiction or abuse, I mean, that can then be embedded in us in terms of our perspectives of what’s normal. How do we navigate finding what’s normal? Normal behavior, what’s healthy, developing abandonment issues if maybe you had a parent that was inconsistently providing love and support to you. My parents were divorced at a young age. And I know that attachment styles can be rooted in our relationships with our parents, and so how do some of these things show up for us in our dating lives? Because I think that it wasn’t until I fully understood that my relationship with my father was providing a blueprint of my perception of A, what was normal and B, what was acceptable. And until I figured out that was neither healthy or normal, that I was able to do some of that internal work to put myself in a position where I could accept healthy relationships and not just what I would distinguish as non-pejoratively, not receiving what I was in a position to receive from a healthy perspective. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:17:52] Yeah. So, there’s a lot we can kind of jump off from here. I think one of the things that helps us heal our past, this is specifically with our parents, is understanding our parents’ blueprint and their belief system and then being able to identify the beliefs that we’ve adopted from them that maybe we don’t want to have, that maybe we don’t really believe. Like, we were conditioned to believe certain things by observing them. I always tell men who have daughters, like, if you want to teach your daughter how to value herself, she has to see you valuing all the women in your life. And then mothers, if you want to teach your daughter how to value herself, then she has to see you valuing yourself. And she also has to see you valuing men, because a lot of times we’ll have very limiting beliefs about men because that’s what we observed when we were kids, and that can really screw us over. So, I think it starts with first understanding that, like, what you observed in childhood was a result of just two people doing the best that they could based on their belief system and their understanding of the world, and that you giving yourself permission to have different beliefs and to have a different map or roadmap or blueprint of how you think life should be for you, that’s very important, to give yourself permission for that.


[00:19:30] Look, so much of becoming healthier in relationships is unlearning all of that conditioning and learning what a healthy relationship is. And you got to do that by surrounding yourself with people who are content in their relationship. And I say content because it’s not about bliss all the time and it’s not about perfection, but it’s really about someone who is overall content. And this sense of contentedness is a balanced nervous system, basically. It’s not someone who’s constantly in fight or flight and constantly talking shit about their spouse and complaining all the time. It’s like, hang around the person who is overall pleased with their relationship and take notes. Don’t look at someone’s partner and say, “Oh, I would love to be with that person.” Look at the person who’s in relationship with them and see how content they are and then pick– because that’s what you want to feel in a relationship because you will go through hard times, but overall, you want to feel relaxed, at ease being in the relationship, and you don’t want–


[00:20:51] It’s so interesting. The paradox is that in order for a relationship to really deepen and to grow, it has to be a priority. But I also think that one of the biggest signs that someone is actually in a stable relationship is that they don’t have to think about their relationship all the time. There’s actually space in their psyche to focus on them, to focus on work, to focus on their day. They don’t have to be constantly obsessing about their relationship and that’s a very important sign. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:21:25] I think that as someone who grew up in a bit of chaos and drama, I, at a very young age, told my parents I was never getting married at a very young age because for me marriage meant chaos and drama. 


Jillian Turecki: [00:21:38] Yeah. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:21:39] And so, I met my husband when I was 30, he was 32. And I credit him on many levels because I had a lot of those dramatic relationships in my teens and 20s. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that the first person I ever dated who made me feel safe was my husband. And when I think about just how the past 22 years have been being married to him, it’s stable, it’s happy, we laugh. Things aren’t perfect. There are no relationships that are perfect, and that’s okay. But we’ve been able to weather so much just by being calm and cool and collected and having conversations and being open and honest with our kids. 


[00:22:30] But I agree with you that when I was a teenager and young adult, I thought things had to be dramatic and you had to have that spark, which is not to suggest I’m not attracted to my husband, but there’s something to be said when you’re in a relationship that feels comfortable and safe and healthy and allows you to fully show up as the person that you are, knowing that you will be loved and saying that, in a way, I don’t say that to be quaint. But I think for a lot of individuals, we were taught that we have to have tons of sexual chemistry, tons of lust, all these sparks, and this is very different than a real soulful connection. And I know you talk about this in your work quite a bit. How do we differentiate between what lust represents and tons of sexual chemistry versus a real connection? Because I think for some people, even at the stage of life I’m in, I think there are still some people who struggle with this. I even have older family members who admittedly share things with me, and they’re still struggling with it. So, I think that we don’t always get the right blueprint of how to figure this all out. But I think now we’re in a position where, between social media and podcasts and content, there’s so much ability to learn and unlearn bad habits. I don’t want to sound pejorative, but habits that do not serve us well. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:23:59] Yeah. So, lust is not the same thing as love. And there’s stages to love. And one of the stages to love is the falling in love stage. And the falling in love stage is intoxicating. It’s intoxicating because it feels like we’re being rescued from our problems. Feels like someone has come into our life to complete us. And where people get really screwed up is in the transition from the falling in love stage to the more committed, comfortable stage of the relationship. And a lot of people don’t realize that’s the good thing, that’s what happens. 


[00:24:37] Like you said, a lot of people will think that relationships are supposed to be dramatic. A lot of people are also very– Haven’t learned how to meet their needs, so what happens is that they look to a relationship unconsciously to fulfill needs of adventure and uncertainty and all these things. So, they’re looking for novelty constantly in the relationship, but they’re meeting their needs in unhealthy ways. So instead of looking to co-create a relationship with someone where maybe adventure is a focal point, like, you meet someone who likes adventure, you like adventure, and so you do a lot of new things together, so that’s one thing. But a lot of people don’t know how to meet that need, so they’re looking for something that’s very stimulating and they think it’s going to be all in this drama and they haven’t learned how to communicate and they haven’t learned how to regulate their emotions. So again, it’s all that they know, and they’re just trying to get their needs met. So big part of the unlearning is learning how to meet your needs in healthier ways, how to actually find novelty in your own life rather than trying to find it in a relationship. 


[00:25:50] And there’s so many different dynamics. There’s also the dynamics of not getting– You don’t want to get involved with someone who you think the person needs to reform, so that’s their pattern, right? And then there are people they think that because of movies and everything like that that feeling of– I mean, look at Romeo and Juliet, it’s the most influential love story of all time. And what is it really? I mean, it’s the most unhealthy relationship story of all time. But this is lodged into our subconscious that love should feel forbidden, that it should feel like that it’s all consuming, that it should feel like you can’t live without this other person, and that’s a big thing that people have to unlearn. So, it’s that and also getting more comfortable with the fact that, like, that lusty falling in love stage just does not last. And so, what you have to make space for is what comes after that. And that requires a level of maturity that not everyone has. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:27:05] Yeah. And it’s interesting because I think that, you know, little girls grow up with this very romanticized fairy tale existence. And I think that there are many people, even as adults, who still have this very romanticized idea, which I think it’s great if someone’s romantic, I think that’s fantastic. But there are a lot of people I’ve met over the years, patients included, who’ll share things with me and they’ll say, like, it was great for six months. And then, you know, I realized they weren’t perfect. I’m like, but that’s not a bad thing. Like, you’re not. We’re all perfectly imperfect, but helping people understand, like, that’s normal. At some point, the dopamine and the oxytocin, all those things, those neurochemicals, neurotransmitters that make us feel very connected and bonded. All of a sudden, it’s like a little bit of a switch. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:28:00] Mm-hmm. Yes, on the flip side, it’s also at six months where you start to really understand who this person is. And sometimes the mask and the rose-colored glasses come off and you’re like, oh, this is not actually a good person for me. And that’s why, I tell people it takes time to really unearth a person’s character. But, yes, also to the point is, you know, we project a lot of– A big sign of immaturity is– and I’ve certainly been there, so this is nothing to feel ashamed about, but it’s something to come to terms with in oneself, is when you are projecting an idealized version of what a woman should be or what a man should be onto someone else, and you put them on a pedestal, they will eventually become the fallen hero. 


[00:28:58] A very strong sign that you’re beginning a relationship with someone who’s very immature, is that you feel like they put you on a pedestal. And then as soon as you start to show the signs of being a human, so you’re not perfect, and then they start to get critical and mean and resentful. That is a very clear sign that you’re in a relationship with someone who is not mature enough to be in a relationship yet. And we have to have that self-awareness, am I projecting an idea onto this person? 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:29:32] And I would imagine, I mean, I’m certainly guilty of it when I was younger that I would have a perception of someone, and then you’re four, five, or six months into a relationship, and you realize, “Okay, this isn’t what I thought this was,” and that’s okay, but I think a lot of people will just stick it out knowing that they’re not with a partner that is serving their own best needs, or mutually, you may not be serving one another’s needs. Is that a situationship? I know that that’s a term that you use, is that an example of a situation? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:30:05] A situationship is actually a relationship that’s undefined and it involves one person who wants more and another person who doesn’t want more, so there’s a big imbalance of power. And so, the core of a situation is power and the imbalance of it, and it really comes from a communication breakdown. People are not communicating what it is that they want. You’ve got the person who wants more, who’s not communicating because they’re afraid that by saying what it is that they want, they’re going scare the other person off. This comes from low self-esteem. This also comes from the fear of losing the other person rocking the boat, and it’s the fear of being alone. So, this is where the fear of being alone can be very detrimental to a person’s romantic life. 

[00:30:55] And then the other person who is, for whatever reason, either they’re emotionally unavailable, whether they are really just not that into you, in the same way that you are with them, but they find the relationship, it’s convenient for them and so they’re not being asked to step up, it works for them, but the other person, it doesn’t work for. So, then it’s like someone asks you, “Are you in a relationship?” And they say, “Oh, it’s kind of complicated,” and that’s a very bad thing. You don’t want to be doing that. That hurts people’s feelings, that hurts people’s wellbeing. And so many people are falling into these traps because they’re not communicating about their sexual boundaries, they’re not communicating about their expectations. They’re not communicating about what they want. And then the other side of the coin, the other side of the spectrum is like people wanting to have the, relationship talk two dates in, which is also ridiculous. Like, you have to give it some time to evolve. But that doesn’t mean that from date one you should be communicating, like, this is what my intentions are for dating. Like, this is what I eventually want something to develop into. I’m not looking for something casual. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:32:17] Well, I can remember years ago when I was dating that there were a couple of people I dated that from date one were very clear, I don’t want to be in a relationship. I want to be able to date other people. And I always respected that because I say, if they’re telling me that out loud, that’s for real. And then I would have other girlfriends that would be in similar situations and they would say, “But I’m going to change his mind. I’m going to make him– 

Jillian Turecki: [00:32:39] Well that’s exactly. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:32:40] “I’m going to change his mind.” I’m like, “But he’s already told you.” And I think especially with guys, if they’re directly sharing something with you, you have to take that seriously. I mean, even if a woman were saying that to another partner. 


Jillian Turecki: [00:32:53] One of the biggest mistakes that women make, “I think I can change them. Challenge accepted. It’ll be different with me.” And then they enter this whole game and that’s where they’re putting the person on the pedestal, and they’re thinking– And it’s not even about the other person, it’s about how can I get validated by this person? And the way is that they’re going to change and want to be with me. It’s one of the biggest fatal flaws that I see in most women who are in the dating world. Don’t ever put yourself in that position. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:33:27] Yeah, ultimately, you’ll lose. What you think are some of the bigger red flags that I know can compromise our wellbeing. So, things that we should never negotiate on, these are certainly things that we have to be looking out for? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:33:42] So the first one, which is the lowest hanging fruit, is violence in any way. So, if someone is violent with you, if they’re violent with their words and, like, really put you down and devalue you, like, “Oh, my God, you’re such a fucking whatever,” like anything like that. If they are physically violent with you in any way, that’s a huge, huge obviously red flag. You’re not going to reform the abuser. And I don’t care what happened to that person in childhood, and nor should you. You just got to get very, very, very, very far away. 


[00:34:20] But the less obvious red flags are and this is where it gets tricky, is you’re in bliss for two months, which typically happens. The first month or two is bliss and then something changes in their behavior, something that appears out of character based on what you know of them, but really what they’re doing is revealing who they really are, and it doesn’t feel good, it actually feels really off and it’s actually quite disturbing, this is when you have to bring it up to this person and how they respond to it is huge. Like, the only response that would be an acceptable response maybe is, “Wow, I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I totally had a mindless moment. I will never do that again, and I’m really sorry.” And then you wait a little bit and you see that they never do it again. Like, oh, my God like that was coming from this, like full responsibility, but you can’t ignore that intuition of, like, wow, that was like really strange what they just did. That wasn’t a kind moment. Something just happened, and that was really unkind. The way they treated someone else, the way they treated me, and it disturbed you in some way. You better pay attention to that, very, very important. 


[00:35:34] Other red flags are the way that they talk about other people. Are they constantly talking negatively about women or men? Are they putting down? Are they constantly talking negatively about their ex? And then another red flag, which is something that’s not necessarily universal, but it is something that a person needs to figure out for themselves if they can tolerate that. If someone is emotionally tied or financially tied to an ex, because maybe they share children, maybe they’re paying child support or whatever it is, you need to figure out if you’re okay with that. That’s something we all have to figure out, we all come with baggage, and we have to be realistic in the baggage that we’re willing to accept and not accept. After a certain age, you might have to accept that someone has, an ex-wife or an ex-husband, but everyone has to figure out what they can and cannot tolerate. 

[00:36:35] And if you are feeling physically unsafe, if you’re feeling devalued, if you’re questioning, “Huh, I think I’m being manipulated right now, like something doesn’t feel right, they’re not respecting a boundary of mine, they’re dismissive.” These are big things. These are big, big, big things. This isn’t the once in a while they weren’t paying as much attention to you kind of thing. This wasn’t the once in a while, like, oh, they were being a little bit, like I said, inattentive or a little distracted. This isn’t the once in a while, like, they came home and they were kind of like in a crummy mood and just didn’t feel like talking about it, this is much more serious. You’re feeling that pang in your belly and your chest because of something that they said to you. They said something to you that you would never, ever, ever say to a friend, ever say to them. That’s something to pay attention to. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:37:31] Well, I think a great deal of what you’re saying and alluding to is trusting your intuition. 


Jillian Turecki: [00:37:36] A 100%.


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:37:37] That if you’re feeling something is off, especially early on in a relationship, pay attention to that. Like, I used to oftentimes say, when someone shows you who they are-

Jillian Turecki: [00:37:47] Yeah. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:37:48] -pay attention. Sometimes it’s retrospectively, you look back and think, “Oh, yeah, they were showing me who they were at month two and it took me until month six to figure it out.” But I think trusting your intuition is something that we probably don’t emphasize enough. And I got several questions about dating and dating apps, and I think I probably know your answer to this. I know that things like Tumblr, which that wasn’t even around when I was dating, but, when people can just swipe, it’s like dating has become very transactional. But what are your thoughts about dating apps? Because I think there are things like Match.com, which maybe that’s still around, I don’t know. But these apps that are designed to make it easier to connect with other people, do you think that they are harmful, hurtful? Can there be a place for them? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:38:40] Look, I have clients who have met the “Love of their lives,” on dating apps. I also have had clients who have met really questionable people online. So, I think it’s really a matter of just being discerning and going slow with someone and maybe doing a Zoom date first. And really what I can’t, what drives me nuts that I try to help people stop doing is, don’t develop a texting relationship with this person. They’re a stranger, and then you’re getting all involved in the texting. It’s too sophomoric. That’s what teenagers do. Adults will make a plan and get together and then figure out if it’s a match or not. So, I really want to even the people who are in their 20s, like, don’t get– Because what’s happening, then you’re getting all caught up in some person who you haven’t even fucking met, and that is the biggest waste of your time. And I think that we do this because we get excited and it’s whatever, we live in an age of technology and whatnot. But have the Zoom date, and then if you like each other, meet in real life, and then see what happens. But, remember, the thing is that these people on dating apps, they are complete strangers. You’re not meeting them through community, you’re not meeting them through friends. You’ve got no one who can vouch for them. So, you should have your antenna up. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:40:09] Well, there should definitely be some type of a vetting process, even if it’s, you meet during the day in a place where there’s lots of people, you make sure you let your friends know where you are in terms of best practices, because I’m sure most of the people that are on these apps are probably well intentioned, but there are probably–


Jillian Turecki: [00:40:27] Some who are not. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:40:30] Correct and being able to navigate, meeting people. And as you said, you’re not getting the opportunity to have your brothers, friends, son-in-law. I mean, years ago, there was a whole vetting process that went on, and now so much of that has taken out, which I think for some people is probably exciting, but maybe for others, they miss those more traditional modalities. What are your thoughts on ghosting? Now, this is a fairly new kind of term for me, but it seems like this is definitely in the dating world, this is super common. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:41:06] Yeah. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:41:07] What are some of the things people can do to vet their partners or to be conscientious so that they’re not. The communication piece just gets completely cut off. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:41:15] Look, if someone doesn’t contact you after one date, I don’t see that as ghosting. Do I think that it’s more mature to say, “Look, I thank you for the date. It was nice to meet you, but I don’t feel a romantic connection.” That’s what I want to encourage people to do, is to be the most mature, conscious versions of themselves and not be, running away with their tail between their legs because they’re so afraid to have that kind of conversation with someone. So the people who ghost overall are incredibly fearful and avoidant and immature, and that’s just really basically what it comes down to. I think the first thing is, if you’re dating someone, it’s going really well, and they disappear, I think the first thing is to assume that maybe something happened, there are emergencies that happen. So, you can I think first go to that. But then if they’re just literally just ghosting, they did you a favor, because you don’t want to be in a relationship like that. You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who is that incredibly immature. So that’s what I have to say about ghosting. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:27] Yeah. I’m embarrassed to admit that question came up multiple times, and so, I thought that. Despite the demographic that I’m speaking to, I think that it’s helpful to at least be familiarized with this terminology.


Jillian Turecki: [00:42:37] Absolutely. Oh, 100%. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:40] And the fact that I’m sure it can occur at any stage of life. 


Jillian Turecki: [00:42:42] Exactly yes. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:43] I’m sure there are middle-aged people that are too uncomfortable having those conversations that they’d rather just pretend that they don’t need to have that conversation. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:42:52] Exactly. And they need to not do that anymore. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:53] Yes, absolutely. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:42:55] You don’t have to go like, it’s not about therapy, stop doing it, stop doing that, because you want to be able to look in the mirror and you want to be able, most of the time, be okay with what is reflected back to you, and so that lies in the decisions that we make. And the person who is ghosting and living his or her life that way is suppressing a whole lot of stuff that’s just eventually going to make them sick, so just have the conversation. I hear really sad stories where people are in long-term relationships and then their partner just disappears. Usually when I get under the hood of the car more, there’s a lot more to it that was leading up to that, but it’s still is a devastating thing. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:43:38] Oh, absolutely. I think that, especially if someone has a long-term relationship to get to a point where you have no communication, it’s like the oxygen is shut off and it’s hard to manage or to breathe. Now, I know for many listeners are married, they’re in long-term relationships. Do you think that as we’re kind of looking at societal norms, do you think we’re moving into situations where we’re seeing less people getting married and people are partnered, but not per se going through the process of getting married? Do you see the change related to shifts in societal norms that are ongoing? 


Jillian Turecki: [00:44:14] Yes, that’s what it is, it’s a shift in societal norms. I think people are starting to think that marriage, it’s just a piece of paper, what’s really the point of it? And they don’t want to be another divorce statistic. But, I think part of me understands that for sure because marriage is not a guarantee that you’re going to stay together, and divorce is pretty damn harrowing. On the other hand, there’s something important for society, for people to partner up and to have families and to create that. Definitely, that does solve the loneliness epidemic, is when you do partner up with someone and you create a family. So, I think I’d like to see more data as it’s starting to come out, but yes, I think it’s just change in society and change in just seeing really people starting to question the sanctity of marriage and is it really as sacred as we once thought it was? 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:45:11] Yeah. When you are working with clients and helping them unpack an unhappy marriage, what are some of the more common reasons from your perspective that you see? Are people like ill-suited for one another to have they had maladaptive intercommunication skills? Are they living in that fairy tale where they think things are perfect and they don’t actually have to work at their relationships? What are some of the more common reasons people come to you that are unhappy in their marriages? Like, kind of big themes.


Jillian Turecki: [00:45:43] Communication breakdown that leads to a lot of resentment. We’re not taught this in school, so people are not communicating. Then, as a result, they get in their heads and they start creating a bunch of stories and meanings about the other person. And then what happens is that then they start to build a resistance to the other person. So, it starts off like, it’s like physical and a mental resistance to them. And then they’re no longer open to them. And then that’s when resentment starts to build, that’s when attraction starts to fade. But at the core is usually some sort of communication breakdown. I think that people also stop being curious about each other. They stop trying to really understand each other. 


[00:46:30] And people who are unhappy in their relationship, they’re unhappy because they feel misunderstood, they feel unseen, they feel unheard. And so that’s sort of part and parcel of the communication breakdown, but they feel there’s a disconnection there. It’s not a lack of love, it’s a lack of connection. And they don’t feel understood by each other. And that’s usually because they’re not putting in the effort to truly understand each other anymore. They’re not communicating on a deep level. 


[00:47:00] And then another theme is, stress and mishandling stress and sort of bringing home stress to your partner, and not– Where people start to neglect their relationship with themselves. And what I mean by that, they neglect stress management. They neglect the fact that they need to expand and grow and try new things to be an interesting person to be in a relationship with. They get stuck in a rut, and so then they start taking each other for granted. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:47:32] Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because it’s been my experience, both clinically and then just personally seeing family and friends that have gone through hard times in relationships and some that have weathered it and moved beyond and others that decide that divorce is the next step for them. Do you think that people are capable of working through that resentment once that started, or do you feel like it’s toxic and poisonous and it’s very hard to turn it around? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:47:59] It depends. It’s oftentimes people, it’s gotten so complicated that it’s like trying to unscramble an egg that’s been very well scrambled. And sometimes it’s just like there’s so many layers to unpack, and then it might just be time to part ways. Other times, it can be worked through. So, it really just depends how deep that resentment goes? Is there contempt? Are you looking at your partner and even the way that they chew makes you nauseous? Usually if you’ve gotten to that point, it’s over. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:48:33] Yeah. That would be hard to recover from if everything that they do is annoying or perceived as being annoying. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:48:39] Yes, exactly. So, even if you get to that point and that couple decides that best course of action is to split up, the thing that people don’t do often enough that they need to do is once that is over, and they can think, “Okay, I’m not with that person anymore where everything they do is bothering me,” Is what they need to do is self-reflect, because they think they’re the annoying one, when really there’s something inside of you that also made it so that they’re very annoying to you. 

[00:49:16] And so we always, it’s very important after a relationship, like a long-term relationship ends to reflect on you, your part, what was going on inside of you that contributed to what was not working in your dynamic with someone else, because that is how we raise our level of consciousness and make it so that we go into our next relationship better than were before, and we don’t repeat the same patterns, but a lot of people don’t have that level of self-reflection after a relationship has ended, and that’s part of what I feel very called to help people or to encourage people to start doing. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:49:58] Yeah. Because I would imagine if someone, whether it’s a marriage or a long-term relationship, if they’re not taking that time, and I’m sure for everyone, it might be different if they’re not taking that time to do the internal work that they just then bring all those issues, problems to the next relationship. We talk about baggage, but you’re just bringing it with you to the next relationship. Do you think that there’s a timeframe? And obviously it’s very bio individual. But let’s say someone’s in a long-term relationship, that relationship ends, is there a period of time in which you feel like people can consider getting into another relationship? Because I know there are the serial monogamous who will just jump into the next thing. But in terms of being mentally and emotionally optimized, if they’re doing the internal work, is there a timeframe in which when you’re working with your clients, you suggest they give themselves a pause? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:50:53] Yeah. So, it really is client and case specific. So, there are some people, this is the smaller majority, but where they really got their hearts broken, let’s just say this isn’t a long marriage, where it’s complicated, there’s two sides of the story. They’re just dating someone, they really got their heart broken, they get maybe got a little too obsessive about this person. And honestly, for them, the best way to get over them is to get underneath someone else. Like, it actually would best for that person to just get back in the saddle again. 

[00:51:29] More times than not, I do suggest that people take a time out and process. And it really just depends if the relationship was highly dysfunctional, like, if it was very unhealthy relationship, that person might have to do some inner work to learn the skills to be in a healthy relationship. But, just some time to feel– Statistically, men move on faster because they repress a lot of those feelings, and then they’ll feel it later on. They’ll feel like stuck on an ex like a year later, because they didn’t process, whereas women typically take maybe a little bit. Same thing with like men will be known to leave a relationship too soon and women stay too long. Typically, women maybe spend a little bit too much time healing their broken heart and men not enough time. So where is that golden amount of time? It really, it just so depends, but I think it’s about taking time to reflect, taking time to feel your feelings to process, and you just want to have an understanding of why it didn’t work and where you fall into why it didn’t work. So, the more you can understand your own psychology and your own patterns, the better. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:52:53] Yeah, I think one of the things, as I was preparing for our conversation that really stood out when I was listening to you and reading your work was taking it slow. So irrespective of where you are on the trajectory of being in a relationship, wanting to be in a relationship is taking things slowly and making sure you’re communicating really as effectively as you can. Because I think, especially for women, and I can only speak as a woman, that when I was in my dating years, that if I got involved too quickly physically, it would cloud my judgment. And so, I think for a lot of women, if they get involved with someone too quickly physically, it then ties them in emotionally. And I think for a lot of women and certainly girlfriends of mine that have shared things and patients over the years, helping them understand that going slow, if you’re with the right person, they’ll be patient, and it will allow you to have the judgment and clarity to ensure you’re making a good choice or the best choice. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:53:57] Yes. And really for women, that boils down to when you’re going to have sex with them. Because a lot of times when women have sex that get– I want people to have more conversations around sex because for some people, they think, “Well, once we have sex, there’s an expectation we’re in a relationship,” or “We have sex, that means they really like me,” not necessarily. It could mean that they just wanted to screw you, and they didn’t actually feel particularly emotionally drawn to you. So, taking it slow is not playing house with a stranger. This is not a judgment I really understand, but this is also why I can speak so clearly about it, which is that, it can feel really good if you’ve been single for a while and then you meet someone and you have a connection and all you wanted is a relationship. Like, it feels so good and you can just so easily be doing like relationship things like one week in, and I get why people do that, but it’s a trap because they’re stranger. And then you’re having all these expectations and it’s starting to complicate feelings, and then you’re no longer seeing the person who’s really in front of you and you stop being discerning.


[00:55:22] And you’ve got to be really discerning. And so, I think that waiting to have sex, if you’re someone who you know gets attached once you have sex, which, by the way, has nothing to do with anxious attachment, I think that it’s perfectly natural and normal to have that, it’s biological, then you should go slow and wait. And anyone who’s actually really into you and doesn’t just want to sleep with you is going to be fine with that, period, end of story. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:55:51] Why do you think it’s so hard for us to talk about sex? We live in a culture where we’re inundated by sexuality, either on social media, access to porn, all these different things, but yet we all struggle, and I say we all, I’m just going to say pejoratively, like as a society, I think people really struggle with talking about their sexuality and their needs. Why do you think that is? Is this again a cultural like expectation? 

Jillian Turecki: [00:56:19] I think it’s mostly women. I think mostly women have a really hard time talking about it and asking for what it is that they need because we’ve been conditioned to think, they’re going to like me more, if I put out. I have to be like a porn star in order to be good in bed. I have to use my body to seduce them because that’s what I’ve been taught. And so, I’m going to be sex forward as opposed to trying to build a more emotional bond forward, because that’s what I think, again, is going to actually get them. And if I ask for what I need, then I’m being difficult. Or if I ask for what I need, then maybe I’m going to hurt their feelings. And so, I think women and sexuality is a very big thing, and part of that is feeling comfortable to actually discuss your boundaries around that and not falling into the trap of trying to fit into a mold, because that’s another thing like you know you’re with an emotionally immature man when he’s expecting you to be like a porn star. Like, you’re totally in a relationship with a man who doesn’t know shit about women and has learned about women through pornography. So, I think that these are some of the things that women have to unlearn and girls have to unlearn. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:57:44] Yeah, it’s interesting, the concept of the man child as they talk about it. Like these are the signs that you’re not with a mature, well-evolved adult is. These are one of many things I’m sure you could probably speak to. One last topic that I just wanted to wrap up the conversation because again there were a lot of questions that came in. I think narcissism is having a moment. 


Jillian Turecki: [00:58:05] Yeah. [chuckles] I know and indeed it is. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:58:08] Yes. And I think in many ways it’s good that there’s greater awareness to narcissism, but not everyone is a narcissist when they advocate for themselves. How do you help your clients differentiate selfish behavior from narcissism because they are very different. 

Jillian Turecki: [00:58:23] Yeah, there’s a spectrum. I think what I help people to understand is that the diagnosis is almost irrelevant, that if you’re with someone– There’s a difference between being in a relationship with someone who’s having a selfish moment versus being in a relationship with someone who is selfish. So selfish people, they have a hard time being in a relationship because to be in a relationship, you’re a we, you’re not an I, and you have to sometimes put your preferences aside in service of the relationship. And there are selfish people who are just not, they don’t want to do that, and so you never feel like you’re a priority. You never feel like the relationship is a priority. 


[00:59:15] Now, narcissistic people are very selfish too, but it goes step further. Narcissistic people, they’re going to manipulate you. They’re going to gaslight you. They’re going to make it seem like you’re the problem. They’re not just self-serving. They’re literally cruel and making you feel crazy. And then, every conversation, every argument leads to them being the victim and you being the villain. Yeah, you don’t want to be in a relationship with a selfish person or a narcissist, obviously, yeah. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [00:59:48] No, and it’s interesting. I feel like there is so much awareness around narcissism. It’s kind of like there’s certain themes on social media in books that have done really well right now that clearly are bringing greater attention and awareness. And in many ways, I think that’s helpful. But that distinction I really wanted to make sure we wrapped up the conversation with. This has been so enjoyable. I so appreciate and value the work that you do. Please let listeners know how to connect with you on social media, how to get access to your website or to work with you. 

Jillian Turecki: [01:00:18] Yes. So, I would go to Instagram, @jillianturecki and then my podcast, which is Jillian on Love. And then through my website, I have courses, and I have a membership for women called the Conscious Woman, and that’s at jillianturecki.com. So those are right now, the best ways to find me. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [01:00:37] Awesome. Thank you again for your time. 

Jillian Turecki: [01:00:38] Thank you so much for having me. 

Cynthia Thurlow: [01:00:42] If you love this podcast episode, please leave a rating in review, subscribe and tell a friend.