Episode 76. Who should pay on a date? Money, dating & dealbreakers with Matthew Hussey
World-renowned dating and relationship expert, Matthew Hussey, sits with Ramit for an honest and wide-ranging one-on-one conversation on love, money, and the many layers of raw emotion and hidden messaging shared between them.
Tools mentioned in this episode
Ramit Sethi: [00:00:02] Welcome to this very special episode of the podcast. Now, normally I get the chance to talk to couples in committed relationships about money, but there are a lot of aspects that I haven’t been able to tap into, and I’ve been reading your questions and your comments, and I want to talk about money and dating.
How do you handle money if you just met? Or what if you’ve been dating for three months and your partner invites you to Tahiti but you can’t afford it? How do you navigate that situation? What do you say and how do you handle the emotions that naturally come up when you’re first starting to talk about money?
Well, what I wanted to do today is to bring on my friend Matthew Hussey. I happen to think he’s one of the best minds on relationships out there. And on a professional level, my team, we really admire the work that he does. There are a very, very small number of people who we admire in the self-development world, and Matt is on that list.
Personally, he and I are good friends. He came to my 40th birthday party, so just get to sit down and talk to him for hours was a blast. And I think you’re going to hear that in today’s episode.
By the way, he and I recorded two episodes. One is this episode that you’re listening to right now or watching on YouTube, and another is an episode that I recorded for his podcast, Love Life with Matthew Hussey, where we covered all kinds of other material. So I would encourage you to check out his podcast. Check him out on Instagram @thematthewhussey and you can find his programs at howtogettheguy.com.
Now on today’s episode, we talk about money in dating and relationships. We also cover things like why is it so hard for men to connect with their feelings. What are some of the common money questions that Matt hears from his clients who are primarily women? And I’ll also share some things that I’ve never shared, like what would be an instant relationship deal breaker for me?
Now, I joked with Matt, that it’s just two bros talking about gender issues, but I want to acknowledge that this can be sensitive material. And he and I always try to be as respectful and thoughtful about different perspectives as we can be. And I hope you hear that in our conversation today. So feel free to listen or to watch this on YouTube. I can tell you that I had a blast talking to Matt. So here we go.
Okay, Matt, there’s this famous video of you that’s gone viral like 10,000 times. And every time I see it going viral, I go, “God damn this guy, how did he get this video to spread so much?” You know the one I’m talking about, right?
Matthew Hussey: [00:02:44] Who Should Pay on a Date?
Ramit Sethi: [00:02:46] Yes. I want to walk through what happened on that video. I want to know the behind-the-scenes. So there you are on stage. How many people were in that audience?
Matthew Hussey: [00:02:57] It must have been about, I want to say 200 or 300.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:00] Okay. And is it primarily women?
Matthew Hussey: [00:03:03] Mostly yeah. Almost all.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:05] So you’re on stage, you’re doing your thing and you have a Q&A portion. And this question gets asked. Do you remember how she asked the question?
Matthew Hussey: [00:03:17] Yeah, she said–
Question: [00:03:19] During the dating period, after four or five months of dating, I’m just wondering at what point does it get that the women have to pay when they go out? The guy is asking if they should be half and half at that point when you are ready.
Matthew Hussey: [00:03:40] At what point?
Question: [00:03:40] When you are already been dating for four or five months.
Matthew Hussey: [00:03:44] Right. How do I get him to go back to paying for everything, was essentially the question.
Ramit Sethi: [00:03:52] Okay. When you heard it before you started to answer, there’s always that moment where you’re like, “How am I going to answer this?” What went through your head?
Matthew Hussey: [00:04:00] Well, the thing is, I thought she was going to go in a different direction with the question itself. I almost thought she was going to say, he’s been paying for everything for a while now, but I want to start contributing because it would make me more comfortable. And it just went completely the opposite way. It went a shocking way to me because I didn’t know how to–
It really was like a slightly haunting question because it was like, are you really asking me that– especially in front of an audience, there was no shame about that. It was just, how do I get him to keep paying for everything?
Ramit Sethi: [00:04:34] Yes. So then I waited to see the audience’s reaction. Do you remember what it was?
Matthew Hussey: [00:04:40] I remember the audience was quiet. And I laughed before I even answered because I remember thinking, I’d need to bite my tongue a little bit here because I could tell immediately, oh, the question itself– I was so incredulous that that was the question. There was some part of me that was like, “This is insane. Why would there be this expectation?”
And then that was probably why it was funny because I recently did a Red Table talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, and they said for the promos they wanted to use the video from Who Pays on a Date, which is hilarious that we’re bringing it up because it’s like–
Ramit Sethi: [00:05:27] The fucking video haunts me.
Matthew Hussey: [00:05:28] People keep going back to that video and I watched the video again because they were like, “We need you to sign a release to let us use this video in the promo.” And I watched it again, and I saw cringed and laughed at myself because I was like, “Why am I so angry?” Because it was like I would never answer a question in that much of an angry fashion these days.
But I think that there was a part of me that was almost affronted personally that why is there this expectation? It’s one thing to say on a first date, I expect the guy to pay, right? I have my own theories on that. But that’s to me a whole different thing than three months in. He’s been paying for everything and your question to me is not how do we even up a little bit? The question is he’s now asked me to start contributing and this seems wildly inappropriate. So I let the audience have it a little bit on that one.
Ramit Sethi: [00:06:27] I love that you did it. So I remember watching this. I told you, I’ve watched it hundreds of times because it was a masterful answer to a question that, as you said, was surprising. But also the audience was not really on your side, not at the end. They were not on your side. And I thought you handled it really well. You told the truth. It would have been really easy to say something that would have been crowd-pleasing.
But I thought you were very honest about it.
And I think that in money and love topics, there’s a lot of material that is beneath the surface. It’s not written anywhere but is nonetheless real. And it’s very easy to all sing Kumbaya and say, why don’t we just figure out a way that works for us? Okay, fair enough.
But when you talk to couples and you talk to people, you realize there are some real questions in ways that we need to navigate. This is not always easy. So I love the video. I’ve made fun of you for your dirty shirt in that video, the stained shirt.
Matthew Hussey: [00:07:30] Which I have explained, was I didn’t go to my tour event in front of an audience of hundreds in LA with the stained shirt.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:38] Disgusting stained shirt.
Matthew Hussey: [00:07:40] People hug me before the event, and I got many faces of makeup imprinted onto my white t-shirt.
Ramit Sethi: [00:07:48] You tried to make us feel sorry, “Hundreds of people hug me to show their affection, and that’s why my shirt looks so ratty on this viral video.” I was like, “Am I supposed to feel sorry right now?”
Matthew Hussey: [00:07:59] If a video is going to go viral, you’d rather it be a video of you in a nice clean shirt.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:04] It’s like going viral– well, my equivalent would be me having a unibrow. It’s like, I really don’t need to be filmed on that day. Just give me till Tuesday. That’s what a unibrow is.
Matthew Hussey: [00:08:15] Your audience isn’t capable of giving you a unibrow right before you go on stage.
Ramit Sethi: [00:08:22] Okay. You got me there. Damn, you are good. All right, well, this is why I get to ask you the questions today. Oh, my God. All right, so you speak to many, many of your clients who are almost all women. And what I love is the topics are visceral, they’re real. They’re about dating, they’re about attraction. And naturally, at some point, money comes up.
So what I want to do is I want to get your perspective on how money plays a part in dating and attraction and relationships. You see some of the similar things I see, but you see them through a totally different lens and your audience is different. And I love that. It’s like we’re so much complementarity here. So I have a few questions for you. Who knows where the conversation takes us? First off, what are the most common questions that you get from your clients as it relates to money and relationships?
Matthew Hussey: [00:09:18] I suppose there’s those early questions of who should pay. There’s the insecurity or fear going into a situation that whatever my emotional money baggage is, is going to create problems for me in dating. Any time we go to a date, we’re buying and selling at the same time. So interesting–
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:44] Meaning what?
Matthew Hussey: [00:09:45] We are deciding whether we want a person, but we’re also simultaneously trying to be someone they want.
Ramit Sethi: [00:09:53] Yes.
Matthew Hussey: [00:09:53] So there’s this simultaneous thing of I’m trying to, on some level, be impressive and attractive, and that’s the leverage. I’m trying to create leverage. And at the same time, I’m trying to see if I actually want what they have to offer. The reason I say create leverage is because if you get after a date, there’s no point discussing how right for you someone is or isn’t if they’re not asking you on a second date. The leverage is, do they actually want to continue seeing you?
Ramit Sethi: [00:10:26] What about when people say to you, why do we need all this artifice? Why don’t we just be ourselves?
Matthew Hussey: [00:10:31] Well, we should absolutely be ourselves, assuming we have a clear sense of what that means and who that person is. For a lot of us, being yourself is an interesting concept because it’s a bit of a moving target, isn’t it? We’re always in discovery mode with ourselves at the same time as looking in the rearview mirror and saying, “Who have I been until now?”
I once asked my mom, “How do you know who you are?” And she said, “Well, I know who I am because of what I’ve done and what I’m comfortable with.” I said that’s a pretty good definition. We look in the rearview mirror to see who we’ve been so far. And now what we associate with ourselves is really in huge part down to the way we’ve been living, what we’ve been doing, and what we perceive to be within our comfort zone.
And so it’s not always a good predictor of who we will be in five years or who we will be in 10 years based on how we expand our comfort zone. And I do things today that I never knew I would enjoy until I did them.
In the same way that there are foods we like that we never knew were our favorite food until we tried them. So who we are is an evolving thing. Be yourself if we’re not careful. Be yourself rather than being a mandate to step into your own skin confidently and be true to yourself. It can end up being an excuse for not developing or growing or doing whatever is the path of least resistance for you.
Ramit Sethi: [00:11:56] I agree. If somebody asks me, “Who are you?” To me, I don’t even know if today I would have a good answer. I might naturally resort to, I’m a husband, I’m a son, etc. I’m a teacher. I might say I like travel, so now I’m getting into my likes. But when we say be ourselves, it’s not really clear what part of myself means. I might say I’m generous, but how does that show up on a date? And so it’s interesting this is our self-concept, which is simplistic maybe.
Matthew Hussey: [00:12:31] It’s a hard thing to latch onto. I suppose people like Eckhart Tolle and people who spend their lives talking about mindfulness and the self-being and illusion anyway, it starts to get really meaningless when you get to that level because you go, “Well, all of these things that I’ve decided I am are just constructs anyway. They’re just an ego that I’ve created. I am, as they say, The observer. I’m not the thing that I think I am. That’s not me. And identifying with self people who are experts in that world will say is the problem.
Ramit Sethi: [00:13:08] So when your clients ask you questions about money, it starts off with, who pays for the first day? It’s a very visceral moment. What are the most common ones?
Matthew Hussey: [00:13:21] It might be, I deal with a lot of women who make more money than the men they date. So it might be, how do I deal with a guy making less money than me and the insecurity that can come with that or the emasculation that can come with that?
Ramit Sethi: [00:13:35] Very loaded, vivid words. That’s what I really enjoy about this topic because of the word insecurity and empowerment and he doesn’t feel masculine. That’s real. That’s very, very vivid. Okay. What are the most surprising questions you get? The questions where you go, “Wow, I would have never asked that one.”
Matthew Hussey: [00:14:02] I always struggled a bit with how much the people that come to me talk about being intimidating. And I want to preface this by saying that there are many, many, many, many women– there is a genuine problem with strong women intimidating men. There is a real problem.
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:27] I agree.
Matthew Hussey: [00:14:27] So I don’t want to gloss over that. It’s a real thing. And there are plenty of men out there who have no concept of how to deal with a woman who does not need them in what they perceive to be the traditional ways.
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:43] Do you know what my friends used to do? My friends from Stanford, they would tell me when they would go out to bars. People would ask them, “Oh, where do you go to college or where did you graduate from?” And they stopped saying that they went to Stanford because the minute they said it, the guy would walk away. I was like, “What?”
Matthew Hussey: [00:14:58] It is so interesting. Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:14:59] Then when some of them became doctors, they were in medical school, when they would talk about being in medical school or being doctors, same exact thing happened. I don’t think a lot of guys realize that. And I think probably every woman listening goes, duh, that has happened forever.
Matthew Hussey: [00:15:16] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:16] So it’s really good to share that side of things that many guys don’t realize is actually happening. It is so intimidating.
Matthew Hussey: [00:15:23] Is a real thing. So that intimidation factor is a real thing. But I would always be trying to juggle that with what I saw as the other side of the argument, which is saying I intimidate everybody can be a bit of a cop-out.
Ramit Sethi: [00:15:40] Why?
Matthew Hussey: [00:15:40] There were plenty of successful people in life, and anyone who is in a position of power or success or has money has the potential to intimidate a lot of people or to make them feel uncomfortable. And yet we all know people who are in those positions who don’t make other people feel that way.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:02] What do they make them feel instead?
Matthew Hussey: [00:16:07] Interesting. Impressive. Equal.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:15] Love it.
Matthew Hussey: [00:16:16] You always have to ask yourself, “What are the weapons I have gotten really comfortable using?”
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:22] Like what?
Matthew Hussey: [00:16:23] Well, for some people, it’s looks. For other people, it’s the amount of money they have.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:28] Mine is my wit on Twitter when I crush these trolls who have no chance of intellectual parody. I go, “Why do you bother? Just come to me after you studied for the next 25 years and you know how to try to troll on Twitter? You have no chance of winning this game.” Do you think that that counts?
Matthew Hussey: [00:16:45] For me and Ramit, we always have this in-joke that I want you to have a special account like a Matthew Hussey-endorsed account where I basically hire you to deal with our trolls.
Ramit Sethi: [00:16:59] No, no, you don’t have to hire me. I’ll do it for free. You don’t understand. I love it.
Matthew Hussey: [00:17:03] Where was the phrase from the Bond movies, they say send in the asset? I like the idea that you’re the asset, and I don’t need to worry about any of the ridiculous comments. I just send you in and you just handle it. But not even as me, you handle it as Ramit.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:23] I go, thank you for your email to Matthew Hussey. I’m Ramit Sethi and I’ll be addressing your complaints from now on. We have three things we need to discuss right away. First of all, who made you think it was okay to send this email? That’s how I will begin.
Matthew Hussey: [00:17:36] That’s already my favorite line, is we have three things we need to discuss right away. It’s already the greatest way to start that email.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:45] It just comes so naturally.
Matthew Hussey: [00:17:46] We have three things we need to discuss right away. That doesn’t sound Tweet-length.
Ramit Sethi: [00:17:53] And then the next time you see me, you’re like, “Oh, what’s been going on?” And I just pull out 300 pages of emails that I’ve been sending back and forth to people.
Matthew Hussey: [00:18:00] Yeah, yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:00] All right.
Matthew Hussey: [00:18:01] Everyone says, wait, wait, everyone at I Will Teach You to Be Rich says, “What’s happened to our CEO?” Well, he’s handling some important matters over at Matthew Hussey’s company.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:10] Okay, so I told you my idea for your business. Do you remember what I told you and Audrey to do to start a business? I said if I sounded like you two, I would literally start a competitor to a headspace where I would just talk and I would use my fucking British accent and I would just say random words. I would say, “You are beautiful.” Can you say that into the mic, please?
Matthew Hussey: [00:18:33] You are beautiful.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:35] All right, throw that on a loop. I’m going to charge $4.99 a month for it. And I actually did a little preparation for this because I would like for you to read a few things off the screen. Again, I think that you could come up with a very large business of just talking and I put those headphones on and listen to the two of you and go to sleep every night.
Matthew Hussey: [00:18:54] All right. We’ll call it, I Will Teach You to Be British.
Ramit Sethi: [00:18:57] There’s a little something I found on the Internet, which I was very excited for our conversation today. It’s a meme. And the meme goes, “British people having sex be like” And then they have a few words I would like for you to read off the screen. Just tell me if this is accurate. Just read them slowly into the mic.
Matthew Hussey: [00:19:17] I see how accurate this is. Oh, these are unbelievable.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:23] Let’s hear it, please.
Matthew Hussey: [00:19:24] So we’ve got. Oh, heavens.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:30] Keep going.
Matthew Hussey: [00:19:31] That’s like that’s unbelievable. Scrumptious.
Ramit Sethi: [00:19:39] Keep going.
Matthew Hussey: [00:19:40] Hmm. Yes. Splendid. This is a great one. I’m arriving!!! Three exclamation marks on that one. I’m arriving!!! I feel like this is more of, you have to know British accents for this one. But this one is Tuesday in it. And Tuesday is spelled with chew C-H-E-W in it. I-N-N-I-T. It’s chewsdayinnit. That’s like in British. Americans don’t know what innit means. Innit means like, isn’t it?
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:29] Yes.
Matthew Hussey: [00:20:30] So it’s chewsdayinnit.
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:31] So out of all of those, is that all of them to be missing?
Matthew Hussey: [00:20:35] I would say probably the one that’s closest to me is chewsdayinnit, because that’s more where I’m from in the UK. We’re all from the east of London, my family. So we’re all the Cockneys, the chimney sweeps on Mary Poppins represented us famously. And also I realized a lot of villains, have Cockney accents.
Ramit Sethi: [00:20:58] Oh, yeah.
Matthew Hussey: [00:20:59] If they ever want to make someone seem grubby and conniving and dark and evil, they give them a Cockney accent.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:08] So thank you for–
Matthew Hussey: [00:21:10] Chewsdayinnit.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:11] Giving me the audio. And just to finish this whole thing off, we actually have the privilege of having your fiance here in the room. Audrey, can you confirm that Matt has indeed said in a British accent, “I’m arriving.”
Audrey: [00:21:28] In what context?
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:29] I think we all know the context.
Matthew Hussey: [00:21:31] That’s too upper-class for me. She’s much more posh than I am.
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:36] Okay. I agree with that.
Matthew Hussey: [00:21:37] She is slumming it with me because she’s from a part of England where they talk with a much more–
Audrey: [00:21:47] We’re going to say they talk nice. They talk nice–
Matthew Hussey: [00:21:48] They talk nice. So proper, didn’t they?
Ramit Sethi: [00:21:51] By the way, every American is like, what are you talking about? There’s different British accents?
Matthew Hussey: [00:21:55] I know, if you hear Audrey’s accent, she’s much more upper middle class. I sound like, well, the chimney sweep from Mary Poppins. I remember when we first got together, I thought, this is posher than anyone I would have expected myself to marry.
Ramit Sethi: [00:22:14] Do you think that the company of the two of you speaking both affirmations as well as x-rated comments, do you think it would be worth 50 million or $500 million?
Matthew Hussey: [00:22:25] You have business valuation, I leave that firmly in your corner. But I have thought we should do some bedtime reading for people just like a bedtime story.
Ramit Sethi: [00:22:35] Bedtime reading for PG-rated, and then perhaps bedtime reading for the more British X-rated thing?
Matthew Hussey: [00:22:41] I assume that would be the upsell. There would be–
Audrey: [00:22:45] [Inaudible].
Matthew Hussey: [00:22:45] Yeah, exactly. There’ll be a freemium model.
Ramit Sethi: [00:22:48] I’ll take 10%.
Matthew Hussey: [00:22:49] On Harry Potter-level sort of innocence. And we finish on some dark, sordid Cockney porn.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:04] All right. Love it. Gosh, I feel like I accomplished everything I wanted to with this interview.
Matthew Hussey: [00:23:10] Yeah, we could go there.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:11] This is wow.
Matthew Hussey: [00:23:12] I’m going to top that.
Ramit Sethi: [00:23:13] I’m stunned you took it in a direction even I didn’t anticipate. Thank you. Let’s talk some scenarios. You’re going on vacation with your partner you’ve been dating for six months. And your partner says, I would really like to go to Tahiti. You can’t comfortably afford it. How should you have that conversation?
Matthew Hussey: [00:23:37] You say that sounds like the greatest thing ever. And oh my God, that would be an absolute dream. I’m not in a position to be able to have a trip like that financially, which makes me a little bit an authentic emotion there. I don’t want to be the one letting the team down on something that you really want to do and of course something that would be awesome. But that’s really hard for me. What do you suggest?
And they can say– because what you need to know is you need to establish terms first. And the terms are, I can’t come into this as an equal partner financially, I can’t come into that trip as an equal partner. And if that means that it’s off the table, then that’s important for you to know. I could never afford my half. You can even be more specific like I could never afford my half of that trip. And then you see what they say because they may say, “Oh, that’s a shame. Okay, well, no worries.”
Or they may say, “I’m really mad because I really want to do that trip, but I want you to be able to do it too. But you can’t. So wow, that’s annoying.”And you say, “Well, there’s lots of things we can do that we can both contribute to and something I can do. I would hope that that trip to Tahiti isn’t the only way we can have fun.”
Ramit Sethi: [00:25:13] Yeah.
Matthew Hussey: [00:25:13] So then you’re showing your versatility that you can do other things. Now they may say, “Well, it’s okay. I don’t need you to pay. I just want to do it as my treat.” Now you have two ways that you can respond to that. You can either say thank you very much. Oh, my God, that’s wonderful. I never would have expected you to do that. But if you feel comfortable with it, I don’t want to get in the way of a really fun trip for the two of us. And if you genuinely are comfortable with that, then I’ll do my best to enjoy it without worrying that I’m not able to contribute.
My preferred option, which I think is the best one objectively, is to say that’s unbelievably kind and generous. And I feel really fortunate that you treat things that way. But I want to be able to contribute what I can. And it is not going to be a lot in the context of the trip, but it will be a significant amount to me.
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:18] I love that.
Matthew Hussey: [00:26:19] And therefore I’d like to get X. You can even compartmentalize what you’re going to get. I want to get the–
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:28] The airfare, the Thursday night dinner. Whatever it may be.
Matthew Hussey: [00:26:31] Make it something that’s instead of it’s just a monetary value, which you can do. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s nice sometimes to be–
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:39] Connected to the trip.
Matthew Hussey: [00:26:40] Yeah, let me get the flight, or let me get this and or let me at least buy my own flight. I can’t afford the hotel, but let me at least get my own flight.
Ramit Sethi: [00:26:48] And when you say that’s your favorite, why is it your favorite?
Matthew Hussey: [00:26:52] Because it goes back to something that I know you believe in which is– I’ll tell you a story. I was in New York once and there was a night out in my mid-20s where everyone got a table that apparently no one could afford apart from this one guy.
And by the time the end of the night came, I was a tag-along on this evening. It wasn’t my friendship group. So I felt a bit uncomfortable anyway because I was like, well, I don’t want to be that person at the table in the club who’s the freeloader. That makes me deeply uncomfortable.
The bill came and everyone deserted. And this was a $3,000 bill for a table in New York. And all the people that had been there enjoying it or the whole time, out of embarrassment, out of awkwardness, out of fear that they would somehow be roped into being in over their head, they just deserted. And this person was left with this three-grand bill.
As it happens, the next night I was at dinner with that guy who paid the bill and a couple of other people. And I had left a little earlier. And I went the night before. And I went up to him and I’d heard that he’d paid the whole bill. I went up to him and I said, “Listen, here’s $300. I wish I could do more, but I can’t. But I wanted to at least do something.”
And it was never something that he would have expected. But he turned around and said, “That is really, really nice.” He said, “My own friends didn’t even throw their card in. You don’t even know me and you’ve decided to do something. I’m really touched.”
Ramit Sethi: [00:29:00] It speaks to the character, your character.
Matthew Hussey: [00:29:02] And $300 off a three-grand bill didn’t make a lot of difference to him.
Ramit Sethi: [00:29:06] But the gesture really did.
Matthew Hussey: [00:29:08] But the fact that his actual friends didn’t help. And I was just the guy that felt that was not appropriate for us just because we couldn’t spend that much money, it wasn’t appropriate for us to not do anything. And there was lots of situations in life where when someone has money, there is a natural awkwardness and embarrassment a lot of the time among other people in the room.
And they don’t know how to deal with it and how to handle it. And I chose long ago that my approach would be to, and by the way, when people are embarrassed or when they’re awkward in a situation like that, even their gratitude tends to go out of the window. So it’s an interesting thing because to come up to you and say– like that night, to come up to that guy and say thank you so much is to acknowledge you haven’t paid anything.
Ramit Sethi: [00:30:08] Yeah. Yes.
Matthew Hussey: [00:30:09] But to just disappear is to cover your eyes and ears and just go, oh, someone’s got it. You really know that someone had to pick up that whole tab. But you’re just like, “Oh, what happened? This is where we roll on the night out. I don’t know what happened.” To say thank you is to acknowledge that someone has done something.
So what I’ve noticed in a lot of situations like that is people don’t even really say thank you because they’re embarrassed. I made a decision long ago that I would either, genuinely and face-to-face, acknowledge someone and say thank you and make sure they knew that I knew that they had done something, even if it was easy for them.
A friend of mine said to me once, a friend of mine who was much more successful than me, older gentleman, he once said to me, “Two things are always true when it comes to money.” And he was talking about when you have money. He said, everyone thinks you have more than you actually do and everyone thinks you won’t miss your money as much as they’ll miss theirs.
Ramit Sethi: [00:31:15] That’s interesting.
Matthew Hussey: [00:31:16] I always made a decision that I wouldn’t ever just disrespect the fact that it might be easier for someone because the person that can still go up and say thank you, or say thank you, and here is what I can do. I know it’s nothing, but it would mean a lot to me to be able to contribute something, that’s the person you want to keep giving to.
Ramit Sethi: [00:31:41] Totally. In your Tahiti answer, the thing that stood out to me, which you did so naturally, but I don’t think it would come as naturally to many people was your first part of your answer, gosh, thank you. That sounds amazing. I would absolutely love to be able to go on a trip like that. And then you got into the rest. That part, you just rolled over it because it came so naturally to you.
But there is something very powerful about taking a second, slowing it down, and expressing your gratitude. This partner of yours just invited you on a trip. That means they’ve been thinking about it. They’ve planned it. They want you to come along. The money part of it, of course, you need to address that.
But the feeling that your partner wants you to be a part of this international trip, incredible. I find that when it comes to money, we are so nervous, this frenzied, hurried energy, that we immediately jump to things like, well, I could never afford that. And I just love how you slowed it down, and you started from a place of gratitude, very powerful.
Matthew Hussey: [00:32:58] Thank you. And you should never also be afraid to show someone that you don’t need to do something like that. That would be amazing. But by the way, if you wanted to because I know that’s a lot of money, we could always take a trip, two hours away on a flight, and go somewhere and still go and have an amazing vacation, but do something different.
Trust me, Tahiti, My God, that would be incredible. But if it’s too much, we could go here and do this. They can still come back to you and say, “Oh, my God, no, I want to do this. I’ve been wanting to go there for ages. You’re the person I want to go with. Let’s do it.” But just saying something like that is a beautiful thing.
Ramit Sethi: [00:33:43] I agree.
Matthew Hussey: [00:33:43] It shows someone else that you’re a team player. It’s almost like you’re watching their wallet for them. You’re not even asking me to, but there’s a part of me that I’m a team player and I want to support you. And when someone hears that, it’s a very powerful thing because you go, “Wow, they’re looking out for me.”
Ramit Sethi: [00:34:03] They’re with me. And life is going to present a million opportunities where there’s going to be some price disparity or something where one person says, “Oh, I want to do that.” And the other goes, “I don’t think it’s valuable enough or I don’t have enough money, etc.” To be that versatile and to remember that the point is not Tahiti, the point is for the two of you to create an adventure together, that is powerful. I had to be reminded of that. I tried to plan a trip for my family. It was a very exotic trip. I think I told you about this and it was a little too much. I learned. I was like, “Guys, it’s so cool. I’ll do all the travel planning.”
And then we talked about the travel and the budget and all kind of stuff. And even though, the money part of it I would have been more than happy to assist with was a little bit too much too soon. And I was really down about it because I had planned and I had prepared. I presented a PowerPoint and I just got blown out.
Everyone was like, no. And I was telling a friend about it. And she said, well, you have a couple of options. You can be resentful or despondent. Or you can remember that the point of your trip was to have a family reunion. And it could be there, but it could just as well be in other places.
And sometimes I think when we talk about trips or even relationships, we have a vision in our mind of what we thought it would be. And when life throws us a curveball, it’s really hard to grapple with that. I was fixated on this place, in fact, this hotel, this lodge, this that.
And my friend, very savvy in her right, had to focus me on reconnecting with what’s the actual purpose of this. Is it the glitzy stuff? That would be nice, but it’s really about finding some quality time.
Matthew Hussey: [00:36:03] That’s exactly right. And you want to be someone who helps people connect to those truths. Be the person that helps someone else connect to those truths. When you’re that person, they realize that they get better with you.
Ramit Sethi: [00:36:18] Yeah. It’s inspiring.
Matthew Hussey: [00:36:20] It’s inspiring. And you realize, oh, this is what it’s about.
Ramit Sethi: [00:36:24] Okay. When I was thinking about some of the questions that your readers sent you, and I listen to some of the questions that they ask on video, too, there’s one that really stands out to me and I want to get your take on it, this question is about how do you have money conversations in early dating stages without coming across as rude or aggressive.
And as a guy, I thought to myself, that’s an interesting question because I’m not particularly worried about coming off as rude. Well, I should be. I can be aggressive, but it would never occur to me, oh, I need to not be intimidating or rude or aggressive.
So I asked my wife. I said, what do you think’s behind this question? She just looked at me and rolled her eyes. Okay, I can see it in your eyes too, that you know, I didn’t know. She goes, “Time might be an important component.
Women often don’t want to waste time if they are dating. Makes a lot of sense. Women might not want to scare him away.” And I said, Keep going. I was asking her, what else? What else? And she said, “Sometimes women aren’t used to saying what they want and being rewarded for it.” I said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “Well, think about how we’re raised and socialize. Be polite, don’t speak too loudly, etc.” So suddenly that question took on a whole new salience for me, the idea of how do I talk about money without being rude or intimidating, or aggressive. Have you gotten that question and what is your take on what that question really means?
Matthew Hussey: [00:37:59] Well, firstly, you could take out the money part. You could just leave that space blank and take that exact question and ask it a thousand different ways for women, which is, how do I ask for promotion without seeming rude and aggressive? How do I talk about the fact that I want a relationship without seeming over the top and aggressive?
There’s so many things that if, women have a fear of asking that men don’t. Men boldness, and even then look at the language shift. I immediately shifted it to boldness when it was men. There’s this natural kind of, well, if it’s a guy doing it, then it’s bold. It’s assertive.
Ramit Sethi: [00:38:46] I never worried about being bitchy. Let’s put it that way, ever.
Matthew Hussey: [00:38:50] You actually see it as a quality that you admire in yourself is your ability to be no-nonsense and ask for what you want. It’s very often the moment it becomes a female question, it gets accused of being all sorts of other things. Difficult, high maintenance, crazy–
Ramit Sethi: [00:39:17] Totally.
Matthew Hussey: [00:39:17] Over the top, aggressive, bitchy, all number of words that are designed to bring women back to a place of acquiescence and being passive and just going with the flow. And men to a large extent indicting not every guy, but there’s a lot of men who rely on that. They passive state because that passive state is actually how they get what they want.
If I can convince you that you’re being too aggressive or moving too quickly or asking for too much, then you might let me have my cake and eat it for longer. What I want to do is keep seeing you with minimal cost to me and for it to be as easy as possible and for it to be on my terms. And the moment you start asking for things, you make my life less convenient.
And I want it to be as convenient as possible. And the greatest trick I can play on you is making you think that what you’re asking for is unreasonable. Because the last thing you want to do as a caring, nurturing, kind human being, is be unreasonable.
So if I can convince you it’s unreasonable, then you’re going to go back to a state of acquiescence. I will have won that battle securely because now you’re associating, talking about your needs, talking about your future, all things that men do all the time.
They may not talk about their needs as much, but many men are really good at going out and getting their needs met. When it comes to the future, men plan well into the future about what they want. Look at any guy with a business goal or with a–
Ramit Sethi: [00:41:08] Fitness goal.
Matthew Hussey: [00:41:09] Fitness goal. Men are quite capable of looking into the future and delaying gratification and planning and making a vision for themselves. And then a woman comes along and says, hey, what do you think about these things? And building this together or how we would discuss finances together or whatever? And he’s like, “Whoa, enough with the planning.” This is a lot of future talk.
Ramit Sethi: [00:41:31] Yeah. So let’s talk about how to have those conversations. From your experience, whether it is about finances or I like our connection and I’m interested in a relationship, how would somebody say, “How do I have this conversation without coming across as rude or aggressive? If one of your clients asks you that, how do you respond to that?
Matthew Hussey: [00:41:54] You always have to go into a situation, any negotiation really, or any statement of what you want from the fundamental framework of this is about me. It’s not about you. And I don’t need you for it. All I’m really doing is seeing if you’re the person I do it with. So now I’m not coming from an aggressive place with you. I’m just stating what I want for me.
I’m talking about the relationship I would be really excited to be in. I’m talking about the values that I think are really attractive when it comes to how people approach money. All I’m really doing is seeing what your reaction to those things is and that doesn’t have to always be done in direct ways.
It can be done in very indirect ways. I saw an interview with Anthony Bourdain later in his life where he communicated that he’s at a stage in his life now where he doesn’t want to go and do 12-course tasting menus.
He said, “For me, where it’s at right now is a great bowl of noodles on the side of a street somewhere if you feed me that, I’m happy.” He doesn’t need to tell you his relationship with money and food for you to know his relationship with money and food from that little story.
And so what I think we all need to get better at is rather than asking someone a question that they don’t know how to begin answering, like, what’s your relationship with money? Is there a way that I can communicate through a story?
I told you the small thing about like when I was 26, 27, I bought a nice watch because I’d always wanted a nice watch. And these days I wouldn’t go and buy that again. I’m not even wearing it now. I still own it and I’m wearing a watch. This is a $150 watch because it’s just not where my head is at anymore. And if I tell you that, you already get a sense of what my priorities and my values are around money just from me saying that.
And so what I think we need to do is go in telling stories, expressing values through just expressing our likes and dislikes, and then see how people respond to that and you’re going to very quickly learn who they are from their response to those things.
Ramit Sethi: [00:44:24] I love that. I take two big lessons away that connect with me from that. First, personally, I hate playing from a position of weakness. I just hate it. I would rather play my own game and then when the time is right, play from the top. And I remember something recently happened. My publisher was talking to me about a deadline. When is this thing going to be ready? Do you know what I said to them? I said, “At this point in my career, I don’t do deadlines.”
They were like hahaha, my agent got involved and all this stuff, and they’re like, “We need to–” I go, “Do whatever you want. It’ll be done when it’s done.” To me, that is the ability to play from a position of strength. But when I started off, for example, my podcast, I knew I didn’t have strength. I was a nobody. And starting the podcast, yeah, I had my own community, but I didn’t know anything about podcasts. So I was like, “We’re just going to do it our way.”
When I hear your examples if you play your own game, you’re naturally playing from a position of strength. This is who I am. This is what I like. You’re just playing your own game. The second thing I learned from what you said and I love is people are really attracted to a powerful vision. Someone who’s really confident has vivid ideas of what they love in their life. So when you say, “Hey, this is what I love in my life, I would like to travel to these continents. It gets me really excited when I’m able to do X and bring my family to Y.”
Gosh, whether the person agrees or not, I think a lot of people get inspired by that. So when you share that advice with your clients, what would stop someone from walking into a date and saying, this is who I am. It doesn’t mean it has to be you, but this is who I’m.
Matthew Hussey: [00:46:12] Feeling like you have no leverage. Let me put the question back on you for a moment. When you were able to say that to your publisher, like at this point in my career, I don’t do deadlines. And what you’re really saying there is I’ve built my own life. I’m not about to suddenly have someone from the outside dictating to me in this way. What leverage gave you the confidence to feel like you could say that?
Ramit Sethi: [00:46:39] I do have leverage. It’s true. I have written books. They’ve been successful. There’s a track record. And the worst case, I just don’t need to do this project.
Matthew Hussey: [00:46:50] And I would say that someone can’t necessarily replicate the first couple of things you said because that comes from I’m in a bit of a power position and I know you want this book. But the last one is free.
Ramit Sethi: [00:47:07] Totally.
Matthew Hussey: [00:47:08] To anyone.
Ramit Sethi: [00:47:09] If this doesn’t work out, I don’t need to take it.
Matthew Hussey: [00:47:13] It would be a great thing, but it’s not your lifeline. And when people go into dates, there is this sense for so many people of having no leverage.
Ramit Sethi: [00:47:25] So you think they have leverage, but they just don’t realize it.
Matthew Hussey: [00:47:28] You can create your own leverage by how you see life. One of them could be kids. I really know I want to have kids and I know I have a certain window to do that biologically and that makes me feel like I have no power because the next person I’m on a date with, I’m like, “It has to happen and it has to happen soon.”
So I’m not in a power position. I have no leverage because I really want something from you. I need a person to have kids with and I, therefore, need you for this. There’s getting to a certain age and feeling my leverage is disappearing because I’m becoming invisible. And at a certain point in life, at a certain age, who’s going to want me?
So there’s that feeling of I need to say yes to whoever comes along now, because every day that goes by, every day I get older and lose my looks, I lose my body. I have the stigma of being older, even psychologically, and in people’s eyes. So I’m losing my leverage.
People have the opposite feeling of gaining leverage. They feel like especially women who feel like they’re in a world that does not value women who get older. It only values women of a certain age.
Ramit Sethi: [00:48:40] So how do you respond to that?
Matthew Hussey: [00:48:41] You have to take case by case and say, let’s look at these individual things and say, “What relationship are you going to have with dating in general? What relationship are you going to have with another person if it’s kids?” I was walking down the street in New York with my publisher, Karen Rinaldi, who is an incredibly independent, fierce woman, and strong feminist.
When I said to her, this is a real problem, that women are giving up all their leverage when it comes to dating because they feel like they need a man to have kids. What do you suggest? And she said, “Why on earth would you rely on someone else for something that is a life goal of yours?” If it’s that big of a life goal, not saying if it’s nice to have and you’re now going into the world of potentially single parenthood when it’s not something that was like an absolute must-have life goal in the first place.
But if it is, then her view was, why would you give that power to somebody else? You can take all that power back. If you say that, you know what? Look, my opinion on this is really evolved to a point where I think to myself, what’s the plan B, that if that happens, I’m absolutely ready to make the new plan A?
If I don’t meet someone and have kids by a certain age with someone, I am going to do it myself through a surrogate or I’m going to do IVF myself, or I’m going to look into freezing my eggs because at least that might buy me some time and some options. There might be a certain point in my life where I say, If it hasn’t happened by now, I will do it myself.
And that’s my plan B, and there’s a plan C after that if that can’t happen. If I find out I can’t have kids, what’s my plan C? Am I going to adopt? Am I going to see this in a different light altogether? You always have to have– in any part of life, you have to have a plan B that you’re willing to make the new plan A. And that’s not a cop-out. That’s not settling.
That’s your way of saying I am invincible because I can be happy if this doesn’t happen. I know I can take Plan B and invest in it to the point where it absolutely is the new Plan A and it’s better than my original plan A ever would have been. I was watching the South Park documentary Six Days to Air, where they talk about South Park has the shortest production run of any animated series, and they have six days between coming up with the concept and literally delivering it to the network, which is extraordinary for something that not only has to be storyboarded but then animated.
And it’s funny because Trey Parker and Matt Stone were talking about the fact that they have a show that we live in a cancel culture where you would think that South Park would have been canceled 1,000 times by now. But they joked that they’re grandfathered into the status of being able to say whatever they want. But they said they’re always ready to be canceled. And Trey Parker said we love fishing. The fishing rods are in the car.
Ramit Sethi: [00:51:54] Plan B.
Matthew Hussey: [00:51:56] If it ever goes wrong, if we ever get canceled, if they ever say, hey, guys, you went too far, we’re pulling the show, they said the fishing rods are in the car. We’re always ready to go, move out to the lake and fish and be happy doing so. So in dating, the way you create leverage is that you can start with the leverage of, it doesn’t need to be this person. I’m not the luckiest person alive that I found this one attractive person who likes me.
Ramit Sethi: [00:52:21] Yep.
Matthew Hussey: [00:52:22] There are going to be others. If one person thinks you’re attractive, by definition, many people are capable of finding you attractive because no one’s that individual and that unique you just happen to meet in a world of now 8 billion people, you happen to meet the one that could have been attracted to you that you’re also attracted to, that is insane. There are other people.
Your leverage is not only that there are other people, but also that your leverage is, I don’t want anything that doesn’t feel right. If I was in a relationship with someone who tramples all over me, who can’t meet my needs, who doesn’t care about my needs, that’s worse. Anyone who’s been in that situation for long enough or ultimately always comes to the same conclusion that it’s worse than going out there and trying your hand, finding something better, even if that’s something better, is holding on to who you are and your friendships and your own identity and not obliterating yourself in the name of staying with someone who doesn’t respect you.
Ramit Sethi: [00:53:28] I think about feelings. You said it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right. I’m not sure I would have known what felt right when I was younger. Actually, I’m not even sure if I know now. I wasn’t really taught how to feel. In fact, if you ask me, what does that feel like to you?
I would have given you, I think, blank, blank, blank. A lot of men do that when they come on my podcast. I go, “How does it feel?” They go, “Well, I think dah, dah, dah.” I go, no, no. I said, “How does it feel?” It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to train myself a lot. I’ve had to learn a lot. I find myself I have to rely on crude guidelines sometimes where I go, “Remember, it’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling, and I have to try to physically tap into it.”
I look at my wife, it’s just she’s operating on a different level. It’s just so natural. And she can connect things that would take me 25 years to do. So when you say it doesn’t feel right, can you just explain? 1. How do we know if it feels right? And 2. As a guy, how do you connect to your feelings? Because as I said, it did not come naturally to me.
Matthew Hussey: [00:54:50] Yeah, it’s a great question. It didn’t come naturally. Well, it came naturally to me in some ways. I’ve always been an emotional person, and sensitive person but–
Ramit Sethi: [00:55:01] You cry when I text you sometimes.
Matthew Hussey: [00:55:03] Yes, I do. I do. But not for the right reasons. I can cry easily. I can cry–
Ramit Sethi: [00:55:12] Really?
Ramit Sethi: [00:55:13] Can you cry on command?
Matthew Hussey: [00:55:14] No, no, no, no, no.
Ramit Sethi: [00:55:15] Fuck. I wish I could do that so much. I saw this video. It’s around on the internet somewhere. They have a filmmaker. He puts somebody sitting down there on an oddly enough, beach, and he turns on a clock and they just try to start crying. So there’s a man and he’s squinting, can’t cry. Two minutes go by, nothing. Another guy, another guy, the fourth person is a woman. She sits down, and she just shrugs. And then like seven seconds later, she starts crying.
Matthew Hussey: [00:55:44] Wow.
Ramit Sethi: [00:55:45] This is one of my favorite videos on the Internet. So then I said to my wife, “Can you cry on command?” And she was like, “I don’t know if I can cry on command, but sometimes you just need a good cry.” I was like, “Say that again!” What? The last time I cried, it’s probably got to be one of those movies, at the end of the movie where the general is saluting and there’s rain coming down and there’s all this military brass in the back. Why am I crying? I don’t know. Just a single tear.
Matthew Hussey: [00:56:17] One tear.
Ramit Sethi: [00:56:18] One tear. And then I go, “Oh, stop it, stop it.” She goes, “Sometimes you need a good cry.” I was like, “What?” So you can’t cry on command?
Matthew Hussey: [00:56:29] No, I can’t do that. But it doesn’t take a lot to make me cry.
Ramit Sethi: [00:56:33] And the feelings, the part about what feels right, how do we know if it feels right? What does that mean?
Matthew Hussey: [00:56:39] If we’ve not ever really know how something should feel, then we have a problem because we don’t even know what feeling we’re supposed to be looking for. We don’t necessarily know that anything is wrong.
Ramit Sethi: [00:56:54] Sometimes for me, the feeling was getting an A-plus in school.
Matthew Hussey: [00:56:58] Right.
Ramit Sethi: [00:56:59] Honestly, that’s what feeling was an achievement. And I think that’s actually quite good. I think it’s great. That’s why we dominate in grades, but you miss an element of the emotional connection.
Matthew Hussey: [00:57:15] Yes. And that can be hard to connect to if you’re out of practice.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:21] Yes.
Matthew Hussey: [00:57:21] And there are people if you take relationships, there are people that have been in toxic relationships for so long that how a relationship should feel is a distant memory or it’s not even one that they relate to.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:35] It’s more habits. Like, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to start sniping at each other and arguing, and–
Matthew Hussey: [00:57:39] That’s what they know.
Ramit Sethi: [00:57:41] Yeah, I see that a lot.
Matthew Hussey: [00:57:42] People who have grown up in a certain environment, in a certain household, that’s also all they know. If it can be hard to tap into, even just to believe that a different feeling or a different relationship is possible can be hard if you’ve been in a certain situation for so long.
And it’s really important to build relationships, to build friendships, to have mentors that are different to you and who experience different things or in different kinds of relationships. Because one of the gateways out of our little prison of thought and feeling is to see that the world is bigger than our experience of it.
And the other people are, you always have to have a curiosity that says, Why? Why is that relationship less fraught? Why is my friend’s relationship not one of constant exhaustion?
Ramit Sethi: [00:58:42] Why do they never complain about the things that we always complain about? Do you know what I think the beautiful thing about feelings is? And I say this again as somebody who is not really raised, to talk about my feelings. But now I feel much more connected than I was before. And I also see how much work I have to do.
When I talk to couples where one person, usually the man, is disconnected from his feelings. And he’s just armed across, not into it. What I find beautiful is that even he who has not practiced connecting to emotions has probably not had a good experience in the last 10 years. When we go through a role play and I encourage his partner to say something really nice, all the caveats aside, all the comments aside, just something really genuine and what they appreciate about their partner almost always, he smiles.
And he’s connected. And what that tells me is deep down, we all have this ability innately to connect to our feelings. We know when something feels good. We know, we all remember a teacher we had that made us feel inspired, that made us feel supported. We all remember when maybe we saw someone who looked at us in a certain way and we felt good. But gosh, it is hard to stay in that practice.
Matthew Hussey: [01:00:05] Everyone has something they connect to. And they may not be good at going there, which is why every time you notice something that makes you feel something, you should take a moment, pull out your phone, pull out the notes, and just write down what’s happening right now that’s making me feel something. Everyone has it, is a bit–
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:25] What is it for you? Let’s do good and bad.
Matthew Hussey: [01:00:28] Oh, my God. So many.
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:28] Let’s do emotional.
Matthew Hussey: [01:00:30] I write them down all the time. Any time something makes me feel something, especially if I want to feel it again, I write it down.
Ramit Sethi: [01:00:36] Really? So you just have a note to yourself. What would be an example?
Matthew Hussey: [01:00:39] I call them emotional buttons. Recently I was doing my virtual retreat and there was part of me beforehand, is always like, “Oh my God, this is a marathon.” This is so much. And then I had a thought where I was like. “Do you know what’s really cool? I’m on stage for like 30 hours of speaking more or less over the course of these three days on the virtual retreat.
And really speaking as my craft. If anything is my craft is speaking and, I thought, Oh, this is so cool this weekend. And I thought this naturally. I didn’t even try to think it. It was a thought that popped into my head. I went, “Oh, this is 30 hours logged of practice for my craft.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:01:23] That’s amazing.
Matthew Hussey: [01:01:24] And when I heard that internally, I felt something. I was like all of a sudden I got excited about doing it instead of seeing it as this giant like, Oh my God, I have this huge thing coming up. And as much as I love it, it’s so much work. And so I went, I’m going into the Dojo this weekend and I’m logging 30 hours of training.
And that became an emotional button for me that connected to me, to my feelings. So it was a way of PFA physiology-focused action. That in the F column, it became a way of orienting my focus in order to create a feeling that I wanted to be able to access again. And then the third one is action. The ritual has a great phrase which is mood follows action. And there are certain things that if you do, you will reliably create a feeling. And when–
Ramit Sethi: [01:02:22] That’s why I tell couples to start their rich life review with a compliment about money because it is so unnatural to be positive about money. But when you start it, the feelings follow, and then it becomes a habit.
Matthew Hussey: [01:02:38] And that, by the way, is a really important role in life. Any time something does that for you, you have to remember it. You have to write it down and keep a record of the things that when you do them, they worked and you’re glad you did them because you can trust that. What you can’t trust is you before doing it.
I left jiu-jitsu one day and that’s become my hobby outside of work. I left it one day and I felt so good. I was walking down the street and I remember saying to myself, Oh, I have to do this every day. Now, I don’t do it every day, but I do it around three times a week. But I remember leaving thinking I have to do this a lot because this made me feel so good.
Now, I can tell you, rarely do I feel like going to jujitsu before I go. Rarely. But I can’t trust that guy. The guy who wakes up in the morning and has to put on his guy and drive to jujitsu, I can’t trust that guy because he will say anything to get out of having to do this thing.
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:53] Even though he likes it.
Matthew Hussey: [01:03:55] Yeah, but he’s not even connected to the fact that he likes it right now.
Ramit Sethi: [01:03:59] It’s just an obligation.
Matthew Hussey: [01:04:00] Just an obligation. Every time I do it, afterward, I lay on the floor and everyone lays on the mat and does a five-minute meditation, which, by the way, is orienting our focus if you look at it in the PFA model. But every time I lay down for that five-minute meditation, I feel like, “Oh my God, I’m so glad I did this. This feels so good,” I feel so good.
So it’s really important to recognize, it doesn’t have to be something as obvious as exercise. It could be, I remember sending a really positive note to someone in my life who had just gone through a breakup. And I sent her a note saying, I just want to let you know I’m here for you and I know how hard this can be. And she was so grateful.
And it made me feel so good to have sent that message. And yet so often it feels like one more chore to add to the thing, to reach out and check in with someone or whatever. That’s another one of those things where mood follows action. Showing up for someone in my life isn’t necessarily something I want to do before I do it. But after I do it, I feel so much more connected in life.
Ramit Sethi: [01:05:10] Well, you and Audrey did that just the other day, and it meant a lot to me. I was doing my book talk here in LA for my journal. Two of you came out. You had to drive to get there. It meant a ton that you came out. And I remember that. I think we all remember what it feels like to be supported.
Matthew Hussey: [01:05:27] 100%. A friend of mine– someone said to me, Jesse Hartzler said to me, if someone loses someone, if someone dies in their life and you don’t reach out to them, they won’t easily forget that you didn’t reach out.
Ramit Sethi: [01:05:45] Yeah, I remember about– you remember the positive things, but you also remember the negative things. And hopefully, over time you can focus more on the positive. But just as the recipient of that support, it meant a ton.
Matthew Hussey: [01:05:59] I love that. And it’s beautiful to hear it because you never know how much it means to someone, and unless they tell you, the gift of it is that it also made us feel connected because we’re showing up for a friend and we’re there and it’s not our event. And we’re sitting in the audience like everybody else and watching you do your thing. When we left that event, we felt more connected.
And I think that Audrey has really helped me with this because I know that since being with Audrey, I’ve invested more in the people in my life because I watched the way she invests in the people in her life. And I think that as men, we’re not always– Some men are much better at it than others. I certainly have men in my life who are much better at it than me and always have been. But I fall into the category of it wasn’t something that I was a natural at.
Ramit Sethi: [01:06:53] It’s not taught to men, right? When you look at who’s doing the emotional labor of staying in touch with families and organizing holiday travel and birthday gifts, it’s almost never the man in a heterosexual relationship.
Matthew Hussey: [01:07:06] Right. And look, it gets really complex because you can say is that because men just naturally are not geared to do that stuff? Or have they been socialized that way because men have learned that they’re not rewarded for how connected they are in life? They’re rewarded for how much they achieve or their ability to go and get things and make things and build things and make things happen in their life and be dominant. And I think–
Ramit Sethi: [01:07:35] The word they use for money is provide.
Matthew Hussey: [01:07:38] Provide.
Ramit Sethi: [01:07:38] I ask them, what makes a man? And they always say, provide, I provide and I take care of my wife or my family.
Matthew Hussey: [01:07:46] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [01:07:46] And I go, well, if you’re not doing that, sometimes they get laid off or something happens. I go, “Who are you then?” And they are stumped, but not they. I shouldn’t say they we, because if I was not providing, what would I be?
Matthew Hussey: [01:08:00] And that becomes for men especially often becomes an existential crisis when they lose their career. Weirdly, guys who do go through that actually might have a shot at being happier because it forces them to reassess their weapons because the old weapons are no longer going to work because they can’t walk into a room now and feel like the richest guy in the room.
It makes you turn to the things that don’t cost money as a form of connection and valuing things differently. At that point, you actually get a shot at connecting more. This is the thing that is a real problem for men in general, is that so many of us, we walk through life completely disconnected. And–
Ramit Sethi: [01:08:42] Like if I were to ask, what is your three friends who you go to when times are tough, I would say 75% of the guys I talked to would be like, “I don’t have three.”
Matthew Hussey: [01:08:56] And even if they had them, they’d be like, “Yeah, but I wouldn’t have that conversation.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:09:00] No, I would text them and send them a funny link. But it wouldn’t be that.
Matthew Hussey: [01:09:04] And if they asked me how I’m doing, I might say I’m going through a tough time right now, but it’s all good.
Ramit Sethi: [01:09:07] Yeah.
Matthew Hussey: [01:09:08] Do you know, they’re not having the conversation of, “Let me call my friend tonight and sit on the phone for half an hour and tell them that I’m really struggling and I’m feeling insecure right now, and I feel like I’ve lost my confidence.” The old ways that I used to feel good about myself are no longer working and I feel lost. They’re not saying that stuff.
And so there’s plenty of ways that you could argue it’s better to be a man than a woman, Right? When even by women’s reasoning, there’s plenty of ways you could say, men have it easier. Men have it better. But I don’t think this is one of them. I think the disconnection that men feel and the loneliness that men feel and the way that they drift from anything that–
Ramit Sethi: [01:10:03] Is not transactional or tactical.
Matthew Hussey: [01:10:06] It creates a hard existence for men in their head.
Ramit Sethi: [01:10:09] This example of men being emotionally disconnected, I think is a very powerful insight for men to understand how hard it is to go against how we’ve been raised. So, for example, I know a lot of guys who go, I don’t understand why it’s so hard to just talk about money for women. Why don’t they just bring it up? Why are you worried about being aggressive? Just talk about it.
And my wife will go, “Well, we’re raised to not talk about money. We’re not rewarded for being as assertive as you are.” And a lot of guys are like, “Well, that’s your problem. Just talk about it.” But when you flip it and you say, Well, why don’t you guys just emotionally connect with your bros? They’re like, “What the hell are you talking about?”
I think what we need to understand is we are raised in a context. We are raised with certain cultural values rewarded. There are also many differences, biologically, etc. And it’s not enough to simply say, “Just do that,” it’s not enough. It’s really hard. And I think this example of men disconnecting is accessible for us because I bet every guy I know would agree to some extent that it’s hard to emotionally connect.
Matthew Hussey: [01:11:24] And for most people these days, I would argue everything in their life is pulling them away from that emotional connection because it’s trying to get you to care about shit that doesn’t matter. I have plenty of stress in my life right now, and I have things that I’m trying to figure out. And I’ve got a lot of different things happening at the same time.
And this week I’ve been a bit overwhelmed and us sitting here and having this conversation, which feels for me very connected, is a way out. That’s all of that.
Ramit Sethi: [01:11:59] The solution for all men is to start a podcast. That’s pretty much how men connect these days.
Matthew Hussey: [01:12:05] I didn’t know everyone’s already done that.
Ramit Sethi: [01:12:06] I know. Who else is left?
Matthew Hussey: [01:12:08] Every human is–
Ramit Sethi: [01:12:09] I was the only one left, and then I even started one. I was like, “Shit.”
Matthew Hussey: [01:12:12] It gives me a moment of access to something deeper, which is you and I felt like it was a great idea to do a podcast together, but now I’m in it and I’m having a conversation. I’m like, “Oh, this feels meaningful and this feels like I’m accessing truth.” And I don’t feel that when I’m scrolling through Instagram. I don’t feel that when I’m worried that I’m not doing enough or I’m not getting enough or the numbers aren’t enough, or it is connecting to those truths, and we need more things in our life that make us do that.
Ramit Sethi: [01:12:41] Yeah, there’s this running joke that men need an excuse to get together. That’s why they golf. And I find it to actually be quite true. I rarely take a guy’s trip. Rarely. And we’ve talked about this like we should do a guy’s trip. But it rarely happens. And so what I have observed and my solution is, okay, of course, I would love to take more guy’s trips. We definitely should.
But at every occasion where I can get together any excuse, I’m going to take it. Birthdays. Let’s do it. Anniversary. Well, not the anniversary. We’re not going to all bro out on that one. But other examples where we can, totally. And so sometimes I think, no matter how independent or assertive you are, it’s hard to fight against culture sometimes. It’s difficult to get a bunch of guys together unless there’s an excuse. Okay, fine. Let’s find an excuse. That’s been my solution.
Matthew Hussey: [01:13:41] I think that’s a good hack. And look, you said something important, which is it’s hard to fight against culture, right? But what you have to do is be brave enough to just almost empirically just go, “What works for me, what makes me feel something?” And then even if it’s not within my culture, let me just listen to that.
Ramit Sethi: [01:14:07] I totally agree.
Matthew Hussey: [01:14:07] What makes me feel something? Because I can be guided by that instead of the insecurity of, but my culture doesn’t do that. You almost just want to forget the insecurity. Just tap into what makes me feel a thing that I like feeling. It sounds so simple, but when you pay attention to those things and then you make a note of them, you can almost trust in repeating them.
You don’t even need to know why. Just repeat them. Me and Audrey left your birthday, and we’ve felt really lucky to be invited to be part of that weekend celebration. And you asked me for what’s an example of, like, an emotional button. I wrote down, and I know this because I read it two days ago. I went back, I have a whole folder of emotional buttons.
And two days ago, I sat in front of my computer and I was feeling quite down and overwhelmed. And I said, let me just return to my emotional buttons. Let me just return to the things that make me feel good and under the things that make me feel really good, I put Ramit trip.
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:14] Wow.
Matthew Hussey: [01:15:15] And that, by the way, that trip came at a very busy time for me and Audrey. It wasn’t easy for us to get there and to do it. We had to change a lot and in changing a lot, we were like, “Holy shit, we’ve got a lot going on and by the time we get back, we are going to be overwhelmed. We felt all of that.
But we did the trip and then we left. And we’d spend quality time with you. We met your amazing family. We got quality time with the people you love. And we both left so filled up like really filled up. We felt, connected. And I had that same feeling I got after jujitsu. I went, “Oh, I need to do this. This is important.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:15:59] Those things are so rare, aren’t they? Those feelings you get, unless you engineer them–
Matthew Hussey: [01:16:04] They have to be.
Ramit Sethi: [01:16:05] They don’t have to be. You can engineer them. And when I hear you sharing that, you keep a list of emotional buttons, first of all, I realize I have that too. I bookmark my favorite inspirational articles or videos, and sometimes when I’m feeling down, I go back to that. Sometimes when I need to write something moving in a way that I’m not psychologically there, I connect through that.
It also makes me realize that the best people I know, the people who are really masters of their craft, they just take copious notes on whatever’s important to them, right? Whether it’s emotional buttons, I have a story toolbox technique. I’m keeping great stories that I hear from people and I use them in other places.
And so when it comes to money, what would the equivalent be? What should couples be thinking about in terms of keeping notes of what matters to them or what moves them? How would you apply it to money in a relationship?
Matthew Hussey: [01:17:02] Oh, it’s perfect for that, because the one thing that doesn’t get us out of bed really is a number. And the clinical going and working hard just to add zeros to the bank account. But when you’re connected, look, there was a guy that once came on my retreat years ago. His father had died in a tragic accident. He worked in the countryside on a farm in England. He had a tool business, a power tool business. And the barn collapsed in on his father, and his father died.
And when this son came to my retreat, he was grieving his father. But on top of grieving his father, he had inherited this power tools business that he had absolutely no interest in. And he felt that it would be dishonoring his father to simply sell it in a fire sale or just liquidate it because he felt like his father had put years into it and that it still had potential.
But he also wasn’t passionate about it. And I said to him, “Well, what would actually excite you?” It’s funny because now that I remember this story, it feels like something you would have said. But I said to him, “What would excite you?” And he said, “Well, I don’t know. The truth is, the business just takes up so much time and it requires so much of me. And I would need to automate it in order to be able to actually step away from it and so on.”
And it was all sounding so clinical. And I said, “Okay, I get that you need to automate it. That’s part of the strategy. But what actually excites you?” And he said, “Well, I really love California.” This was a guy living in England. “I really love California, and I would love to be able to work in California in the sunshine.” And I said, “Okay.” But he kept feeding excuses like, I don’t even have a visa and I couldn’t do that.
So I said, okay, just rewind for a moment. And by the way, this is very personal to me because I used to dream of living in America when I was a teenager, long before I ever knew how the hell I would get here. And I learned very early on that you have to just crowbar your way into your dreams and into the things that you want more of in your life.
And I said to him, “Well, look, what if we just could get you two weeks in California, six months from now where you’d be working?” I said, “Describe to me where you’re working.” And he said, “Well, I guess I’m in a cafe. I’m outside.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:19:47] Very vivid. I love this.
Matthew Hussey: [01:19:48] Yeah, he said, “I’m close to the beach and I’m on my laptop.” And–
Ramit Sethi: [01:19:53] Guys living in Venice, California, I know exactly where he’s picturing.
Matthew Hussey: [01:19:57] And he was like, “I can still do stuff for the business, but I’m doing it from my laptop in this cafe.” And I said, “Look, why don’t we book those plane tickets?” Six months from now, you don’t need to automate the whole business in order to be able to do that. All you need to do is automate it to the point where it buys you two weeks not to be where you normally are.
You can still do things for the business. You said to me, You don’t mind that. So we’ll still do things for the business, but from a distance. I said, “Can we get you two weeks?” And he said, “I think I can do that. I think I can make two weeks happen.” I said, “Great. Let’s book the flight today. And every time you’re working, every time you’re doing those, what are very boring things to have to automate the business, I want you to think about the cafe in California, and that’s not some pipe dream of in years from now, I’ll be in some cafe in California. No, no, no. In six months, you’re going to be doing that. And everything you do right now is contributing to those two weeks.”
And by the way, if you can get yourself to. You can get yourself four. Once you’ve done the two, everything that you will have done to get yourself those two will be in service of the next time you do it, where you get yourself three, or three and a half.
So to me, what we did was we took a situation which was I’ve inherited a company I don’t want. I have to do the boring work of trying to automate it. This is not my life. I don’t want it. I’m working in some dreary place that I don’t want to be working in. All of which was never going to inspire him. We created an emotional button.
Ramit Sethi: [01:21:41] Yeah, I love that.
Matthew Hussey: [01:21:44] Out of this scenario that was very real.
Ramit Sethi: [01:21:46] You created you helped him visualize his rich life. You lowered the stakes. You’d have to move to California, in just two weeks.
Matthew Hussey: [01:21:53] Exactly.
Ramit Sethi: [01:21:53] You had him by the ticket taking action, and then you gave him a why. Now when you go back to work on Monday, you are working towards something. It reminds me of a principle one of my mentors, Jay Abraham, taught me of how to turn a weakness into a strength. It seems like a simple concept, but I’ve found it to be very profound.
And if I think about dating, sometimes I just think about how to reposition something. People come to me and they talk about their money and I and sometimes they have a lot of money, but they feel bad about it. And one of the questions I asked to turn a weakness into a strength is what would it feel like if it were easy? What would it feel like if it were easy?
So sometimes if they have money, they go, “Well, I wouldn’t agonize over the price at Safeway.” Okay. What else? “Well, my money would be invested automatically.” Okay, What else? “We wouldn’t fight.” And notice they say we wouldn’t do X. I say, “What would you do?” We always want to focus on affirmative behavior if we think about the dating world.
I remember a frame, a way of thinking about going on dates, I didn’t do it intentionally, but it just came to me. And I just remember this thing I used to tell myself. I was living in New York, I was single. And I would say. “I’m going to have fun tonight. One way or another, I’m going to have fun.” I hope that my date has fun. I think if I have fun, they’ll have fun and I get to go to a cool cocktail bar. That was it. I knew I was going to have a great time.
And I think that attitude can be infectious. If you’re going to have a good time, they’re going to have a good time. I remember a Navy SEAL. He wrote this thing where he said when other people do pushups, they get tired. When I do pushups, I get stronger.
Matthew Hussey: [01:23:42] Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it?
Ramit Sethi: [01:23:44] I just think, wow, what would it look like if it were easy, if I have to do 200 pushups? I need to get my mind right because it can’t be something that I go, “Oh, if I have to go on 100 dates. It can’t be something where I go, “Oh, because that’s infectious.” So what would it look like if it were easy? What would it look like if I were really enjoying this? That reframe can be so powerful.
Matthew Hussey: [01:24:08] I think what’s important about that is it’s not some fake reframe that you’re trying to sell yourself on, but your brain is going, “Yeah, okay.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:24:17] Yeah, you know it if it’s a fake one.
Matthew Hussey: [01:24:19] The ones you just said, they both resonate with me as well because they’re real.
Ramit Sethi: [01:24:24] Yeah, yours was I’m going to get 30 hours of time on stage. Log it. You even had the word, Log it. That’s real. Now, to someone else, it would make no sense. They’re not trying to log any hours, but to you is intensely personal.
Matthew Hussey: [01:24:38] That’s what makes emotional buttons, that’s what makes them work, is that they’re very personal. And it’s not to say that your emotional button wouldn’t work for somebody else. It might work for someone like you. But often, like if you were to read my Emotional Buttons folder, it would be embarrassing for me because they’re very specific and they’re very weirdly nuanced towards me and my association. But that idea of when I do push-ups, I’m getting stronger, that’s real.
Ramit Sethi: [01:25:12] That’s real to that person.
Matthew Hussey: [01:25:13] Yeah. And even your dating one, it resonates with me because you’re not selling yourself on some nonsense. If you just looked at it that way and said, “What is the worst that I get from this?”
Ramit Sethi: [01:25:31] I get to go out, tell some jokes.
Matthew Hussey: [01:25:33] I like New York, I like going to cool venues and checking them out. If every date I picked a new venue that I didn’t know before then I even just tick the box of getting to know my city better. On top of that, I’m getting a night out in the city and I’m going to interact with someone–
Ramit Sethi: [01:25:54] Have a great conversation.
Matthew Hussey: [01:25:55] Exactly. That really is a win. And the fact that you took it, that it doesn’t surprise me that you’re able to recontextualize dating through that lens because of that. There’s something that Tim Ferriss says that I really liked, which is if you can create multiple wins, for one thing, then you can’t lose. If what you did there was you created multiple wins to be had out of going on dates. I get to know my city better. I get to go to a cool cocktail bar.
I need a break from work. So, hey, whatever happens, this is a break from work. You can find multiple wins. Then if the win that I’ve made someone I really like doesn’t happen, you’ve already had four wins out of it anyway. I think the same way about writing my book right now, I’m on book two. I know that there’s some part of me ego equally that wants it to do really well, but I also have multiple wins that I’m getting out of this.
I’m getting to be a better writer by writing a book, I am able to pull more of myself into this one than ever before. That feels like a win. I’m ingraining a ritual that’s making me more disciplined. Being forced to get to know my own content better by writing it because it’s forcing me to go back to videos I haven’t watched in a long time and reconnect with them and be like, “How true is that still? Do I want to adapt it? Do I want to amend it?”
So my speaking is on fire right now because I’m so close to the content, so it’s actually making me a better speaker. All of these things are wins, regardless of whether that book goes on to be a bestseller or not.
Ramit Sethi: [01:27:34] Exactly. The outcome is independent.
Matthew Hussey: [01:27:36] Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [01:27:36] Let’s take that principle of recontextualizing and let’s take a couple. Let’s say in your case, she comes to you and says, “We fight about money a lot. Every time we talk, it’s a fight. It’s never positive and we both walk away resentful.” What are some ways that you can recontextualize that relationship with money?
Matthew Hussey: [01:28:03] I think it’s essential to understand why is this happening this way?
Ramit Sethi: [01:28:11] Let’s just do a role-play. I’ll be that person and you be you. And I’m saying that my partner, every time we talk about money, we fight. And I just hate it. And I don’t want to talk about money, but I know that we need to because I don’t feel good.
Matthew Hussey: [01:28:24] When you talk about money, what creates the fight? Where in the conversation does the friction begin?
Ramit Sethi: [01:28:31] Right away. Immediately one of us will bring something up, and it’s about how my partner spent too much. Or my partner will say, “Why did you do that?” And I just feel this tension in my chest.
Matthew Hussey: [01:28:42] So the tension can come from both sides. It doesn’t just come from them, sometimes it comes from you?
Ramit Sethi: [01:28:47] Usually, it comes because my partner will ask me a question and I just feel put on the spot. I feel I’m being interrogated. Sometimes I feel like a child, I have to answer what my partner asks.
Matthew Hussey: [01:29:01] Is that because right now you feel a lack of independence when it comes to your money? That you feel like a child because you feel like you have to answer for everything all the time?
Ramit Sethi: [01:29:16] I feel like my partner doesn’t trust me. And I’m the recipient of that lack of trust.
Matthew Hussey: [01:29:27] And when you go to that place where you don’t feel trusted, which can be an infantilizing position to be in, in the first place, is that I’m not trusted–
Ramit Sethi: [01:29:39] It’s like, did you clean your room? I’m an adult.
Matthew Hussey: [01:29:42] But in your reaction to that is actually a beautiful opportunity to step into that adult role. But right now, your reaction to it, you’re actually stepping into the child’s state by your reaction to it. So when they don’t trust you and all of a sudden you tighten up and you start yelling, that teenage state that they’ve put you in, you’re playing the role.
Ramit Sethi: [01:30:12] So how do I change it?
Matthew Hussey: [01:30:14] This is actually a really interesting opportunity to see what your relationship is really made of and what it’s really worth by changing the way you react to it and playing with the way you react to it. But asking yourself, what would an adult that I really value, I really respect, pick a woman or a man that you think is awesome. That you think would handle this very differently.
Ramit Sethi: [01:30:43] Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Matthew Hussey: [01:30:45] Done.
Ramit Sethi: [01:30:45] Okay. I keep trying to get my wife to watch StarTrek, and she’s like, “I don’t need to watch that Chewbacca stuff.” I’m like, “Oh, my God.” Okay.
Matthew Hussey: [01:30:53] All right, that’s a problem.
Ramit Sethi: [01:30:54] We have a larger discussion. We’re going to do some coaching on that after this. But go on.
Matthew Hussey: [01:30:57] I want to come back to that because that’s important.
Ramit Sethi: [01:31:00] Captain Picard, guide me.
Matthew Hussey: [01:31:02] So you’re Captain Picard. Well, how would that person react? How would Captain Picard first react?
Ramit Sethi: [01:31:10] First of all, anyone listening, I know everything about Captain Picard. Captain Picard would cross his legs, pull down his uniform, and he would be sitting with his Earl Gray tea and he would say, “I would really like to understand where you come from when you talk about money with me.” Captain Picard would not wait. He would not react.
Matthew Hussey: [01:31:36] He wouldn’t yell.
Ramit Sethi: [01:31:36] He would never yell. He would be calm and he would be the one initiating the conversation because he’s a leader. Wow. I never thought of that. I guess I just assumed that. If it’s about money, I have to be the one answering the questions instead of being the one initiating the conversation.
Matthew Hussey: [01:31:58] So the leadership that you want to be given credit for is something you have to model in the way that you respond, and that they will teach you whether your partner is just responding to a teenage energy that you’re going into. Or whether they’re not willing to allow you to stay or they don’t think they want you in that adult role.
And that’s a whole different conversation. If you are coming as the leader, if you’re coming from a strong place, and then they still try to infantilize you, that’s now an opportunity for a secondary conversation, which is. “Hey, the way that you’re speaking to me is not appropriate, given the way I’m coming to you.” I’m meeting you as an equal. Neither one of us want to be in a relationship where we don’t trust or we’re not trusted. So how do we get to a place where there’s real trust? Which is a straight-up Pickard line.
Ramit Sethi: [01:33:08] That’s right. I love this.
Matthew Hussey: [01:33:09] The point is that, if you were able to reframe this situation with your partner as, oh, this is actually a like the Marcus Aurelius phrase, the obstacle is the way. This is a chance to make this obstacle. The catalyst for growth in your relationship and to actually use it and to become a social experiment in your own relationship.
What happens if I react in a new way that my partner isn’t used to? What happens if I speak from a different place? What happens if I’m more curious? What happens if I lead instead of just react? That’s a chance for you to grow. It’s a chance for you to step into the very role that you’re accusing someone of robbing you of. And it’s actually a chance to see whether your partner really can respect you, because right now you may not be giving them the behavior that is creating that respect.
But if you give them their behavior, that creates that respect in the dynamic, and they still try to put you down in certain ways or control you in certain ways that you shouldn’t put up with, well, now you have a bigger conversation to have in your relationship, but now you’re going to see what your relationship is really made of. And that’s an important thing to know.
Ramit Sethi: [01:34:41] I love the questioning and the curiosity you brought to that in that role play. How are you reacting? What does it feel like? Does it feel infantilizing? And it allowed me the person in that example to really connect with it and also to realize I play a part in that as well. I play a part in the way I’m reacting. And for you then to connect with me and say, “Who would you like to be?”
Sometimes it’s as simple as just asking, “Who do you want to be? What is your rich life? Where do you want to go? What would you like your dynamic to be?” I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we don’t want to do that we forget about what we do want to do. So that was a very powerful reframe. Thank you.
Matthew Hussey: [01:35:24] I had a little phase in my life where because I had a little bit of money in my pocket. I was like, I always wanted to do the best version of everything. It was always about, even if it was tough to do financially, I was like, “No, no, no, but I don’t want to go unless I do this version.” And then I would see certain people that I knew and loved and they were having so much fun doing their version of it, which wasn’t even anywhere near my version of it. And they were having so much fun and they were so connected.
And it was a real lesson for me because I was just like. It’s not that I don’t think it’s ever worth doing the best version of things. You and I both were the same way in that we really value when people do things at an exceptional level. You and I think very similarly in that way. But I’m always careful these days not to confuse that with knowing that I can also have an amazing time doing a different version of it.
And it’s one of the things I love about my partner, Audrey, is that, I can say, let’s go do this thing. And she’ll be like. “Yeah, but there’s so much we could. Why don’t we just go and do this? It’ll be so much fun. And it’s like she almost presents me with an option. Just not that I need it anymore, but in case there’s some part of me that thinks that I need to do this over-the-top thing, she’s like, “No, no, no. But we can have all of that by doing this thing.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:37:00] Yeah, connecting with the purpose. And if you want to do it in this level, great. But–
Matthew Hussey: [01:37:06] We can still achieve all of these things without that. And I may still and there are plenty of occasions where I still to her rolling of the eyes go, “No, we’re going to do this.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:37:16] I want the best one.
Matthew Hussey: [01:37:18] I’m like, “We’re going to do this crazy thing.” And she rolls her eyes and she’s like, “Okay, fine.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:37:23] But that’s also a beauty in and of itself, right? Because that is what you are looking for.
Matthew Hussey: [01:37:28] Yes. And what she doesn’t do is go, “Well, I think that’s a really bad use of– She doesn’t then fight me on that because she’s like, “Oh, I get it. In this moment for the right reasons, he values doing this thing.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:37:40] To be able to have conversations like that, especially over the course of a lifetime, with questions like what car should we buy, where should we live, what housing? Private school or public school for children? Pay for their college travel. There’s so many big questions. You have to be pretty savvy. You can wing it. You can talk about how you feel, and that’s okay.
But from my perspective, talking about a rich life, you also have to be pretty skilled with your numbers because these are big questions. You can’t just buy a house on feelings. It’s got to be, “Hey, do we know our ratios? Do we have our conscious spending plan?” And so to be able to master all of these things, it’s almost like a chef. It’s not enough to know how to cut a vegetable.
That’s great. You need that. But you also need to know the heat on the stove and how are we timing this and do we have the right plates. It’s this beautiful ballet of everything coming together. And when you finally do it, you both come up with a vision that is your perfect dish made for the two of you. And you look at all the work that went into cooking that dish. All the skills necessary, the tools you brought. And you look at it, and maybe it doesn’t look the most appealing to somebody on the outside, but it’s perfect for the two of you.
Matthew Hussey: [01:38:58] Yeah, and that’s what I’ve always loved about what you teach, is that it’s very, very focused. In the same way that I talk about emotional buttons as being very personal. You talk about a rich life as being a very, very personal, intimate experience. And knowing as a couple what does that mean to you, it can be completely different to what it means to anyone else. At its core for me, I know I can live with the downsize in where I live. I know that if I had to, I could strip most things back.
Ramit Sethi: [01:39:38] Wait. What could you not strip back? That expensive watch?
Matthew Hussey: [01:39:42] No, I don’t care. I could sell all the watches. I have two nice watches. I could sell them tomorrow. I don’t care that much. I think the freedom to eat what I want to eat.
Ramit Sethi: [01:39:53] Oh, that’s a good one.
Matthew Hussey: [01:39:54] My food is so important to me. I love it so much.
Ramit Sethi: [01:39:58] That’s a really good one. What about your gym?
Matthew Hussey: [01:40:00] I’d be very sad if I couldn’t eat delicious food. The gym? Yes, but I’d be happy to just do a version of it that was free. I could work out my own circuit and do it that way, so I could give up that if I had to.
Ramit Sethi: [01:40:18] I’m trying to think of what I would not be willing to give up.
Matthew Hussey: [01:40:21] If I didn’t have the freedom to travel, that would bother me.
Ramit Sethi: [01:40:29] Like if you had to really make compromises on when to go or how often to go somewhere?
Matthew Hussey: [01:40:37] Well, there’s always the excite– I love travel and I love food. And I love the idea that, let’s go to New Orleans this weekend. Even if it’s for two days, let’s just go see a new city. Let’s go and experience the food in Charleston. I live for that. That’s my idea of fun. So I would want to still be able to do that. But–
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:06] Materially is like?
Matthew Hussey: [01:41:07] I have accumulated over time when I really strip it back. I actually don’t need that much. I really don’t.
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:15] It’s illuminating to realize that.
Matthew Hussey: [01:41:19] Very freeing.
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:20] We moved to New York for a couple of months just to live there, and we took a couple of suitcases and I was like, “This is a simple life.” I had my little laptop and my little rice and–
Matthew Hussey: [01:41:37] It’s so freeing. I always resonated with that. Did you see up in the air?
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:42] Yeah.
Matthew Hussey: [01:41:42] I always resonated with that backpack thing.
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:45] I know.
Matthew Hussey: [01:41:45] Just putting down the backpack.
Ramit Sethi: [01:41:47] It’s interesting, though, I have a wealthy friend of mine. She’s older and she has a mansion in Malibu. I’ve seen pictures of it. It’s one of those houses that has its own name. So you know it’s really big. And she lives in a small apartment now. She also has that house. They go there sometimes, but she lives in a small apartment. I said, why do you live in an apartment? She goes, “It’s a lot to take care of that place. And I like the simple life.”
And I go, “Yeah, I think at some point I would like a bigger place.” And she said, “You want that now until you have it, and then you realize you might not need it.” So the lesson I learned was sometimes you have to go through the process of spending on something only to realize, I didn’t really need it.
Matthew Hussey: [01:42:38] Yeah, I think it’s almost, I don’t know, because as you were saying that, we have the same instinct. The word that occurs so much in my life these days is a simplification.
Ramit Sethi: [01:42:49] Totally.
Matthew Hussey: [01:42:49] I just want a simple life.
Ramit Sethi: [01:42:50] You have to fight for it, though. We talk about it with personal finances. You have to fight for simplicity. Just a few credit cards, just a few accounts, just a few line items you track because otherwise you follow– the tail wags the dog, and you wake up in one day, your entire calendar is filled of stuff you didn’t make decisions about five years ago. Fight for simplicity.
But then the downside of that is that people go, “Well, you’re just an old dude who’s not getting rich off crypto. Like literally people in this group, they have this asset allocation, it’s all fucked up. I go, “What are you talking about? You own 30 different asset classes?” And they look at me, they go, “Wait a second, your asset allocation is basically nine to 10? What are you talking about? You only own this diversified, low-cost portfolio?
I go, “Yeah.” And we both look at each other like we’re each from a different planet. But in my opinion, I’m right.
Matthew Hussey: [01:43:46] To avoid the mimetic trap, you do just do it or want it because someone else wants it. There’s very easy traps to fall into. Me and Audrey went to Hawaii for the first time this year, and we were instantly in love and we didn’t ever want to leave. Your brain goes to some, wouldn’t it be–
Ramit Sethi: [01:44:13] Oh, man.
Matthew Hussey: [01:44:15] Imagine having a place here. And sometimes I hear you in my head and it’s just like, if you want to go to Hawaii, just go rent a place and then give the keys back and leave.
Ramit Sethi: [01:44:28] Yeah, it’s the best. But it’s so unglamorous. For whatever reason, we just love, I got to own this place.
Matthew Hussey: [01:44:35] Yeah, but very much of it is ego, right?
Ramit Sethi: [01:44:37] It is so ego. And my ego is, well, first of all, I’m like, financially speaking, that actually doesn’t make any sense. But secondly, I love the simplicity of I get to pick my favorite place. I get to pick an absolutely amazing property or hotel or villa. I go in, everything is ready. I’ve got my perfect food in the fridge, my clothes are unpacked for me. Love the convenience. And then when I leave, goodbye. Here’s your keys.
Matthew Hussey: [01:45:06] And by the way, you also now don’t feel like you are a prisoner to Hawaii, where if next time, a year from now, you fall in love with somewhere else, you go, “Well, we really have to justify this place we have in Hawaii by keeping going there,” even though you now have another place that you really want to go to.
Ramit Sethi: [01:45:24] It’s so–
Matthew Hussey: [01:45:25] It’s freedom. It’s not making yourself encumbered all the time by these things. And I’ve learned some hard lessons in that department. Simplification for me feels really good. Maybe there’ll be a time in my life when I want to expand again. I don’t know. But for me right now, I love the idea of less.
Ramit Sethi: [01:45:49] You call me when you want to spend the next two, four, or $5 million. You know I have some suggestions. Okay. I got a couple more scenarios for you. I just discovered that my partner has $75,000 in debt, and I’m worried how that’s going to affect our lifestyle. How do I have that conversation?
Matthew Hussey: [01:46:07] I think the first conversation you have to have is with yourself. You have to start by saying, What are my reasons for being with this person? My reason for being with this person wasn’t that they had no debt. My reason for being with this person, even when I didn’t realize they had this debt, was for any number of qualities that they have that I think are really special.
And I think it’s important to start there because otherwise you just start focusing on the debt and going, “I don’t want to be with someone with this much debt.” But you have to start by going, “No, why am I here?” If it just an average relationship, and I’m like, “Well, I’m just here because I had nothing better to do. But now that I’ve realized there’s this whole debt inconvenience, what’s the point?”
If you’re there because you go, “Oh, no, there is something truly special about this human being, and there’s something I’ve really value about this person, or there are many things I really value about this person,” then you have to keep that firmly in your mind. Because everyone’s going to come with something. Everyone’s got something. Some people’s baggage is debt. Other people have a kid already, and you have to deal with those circumstances.
Ramit Sethi: [01:47:25] Some people are paying 1.25% to Prime America, getting fucking ripped off. Don’t do that.
Matthew Hussey: [01:47:31] It wasn’t an example I was going to use, but, yeah–
Ramit Sethi: [01:47:35] That’s why we make a great team.
Matthew Hussey: [01:47:37] Someone may come with an illness. There’s always going to be something. No one comes perfect. And you have to then go, okay, well, if I really value them and I want this person in my life, then this is their thing, okay? This is their thing. Let me remove money from it for a moment. Most people have something. This is a thing that they have. Okay.
So now that I’ve established, I really value them and they’re important to me, what does this actually mean, and what am I most afraid of here? And then you start looking into that. Am I afraid that this debt that they have is a sign of a much deeper recklessness?
Ramit Sethi: [01:48:27] Right. And have I seen evidence of that?
Matthew Hussey: [01:48:29] And have I seen evidence of that outside of this debt? And can I voice that to them in a way that communicates with them and shows them that, hey, look, the debt we will figure out. And over time, if you say you have the plan to pay it off and you’ve shown me that plan and I feel confident that you have it in hand, the thing that still concerns me is that there were certain decisions made along the way that seemed to reflect different values than the values I have. And now that we’re a team, whatever is behind that decision-making is now a part of my world, too.
And if they then are able to talk to you in a way that you feel confident, “Oh, okay. I’m able to contextualize this. I’m able to see who you were then versus who you are now. I’m able to see that this is a historic thing, but it’s not a present-day thing. But it’s a historic thing you have to solve.” That’s a different thing than worrying that this is now a trait. This isn’t a circumstance that’s entered your life. It’s a trait that’s entered your life. And that trait now is going to ruin my life because of all of this recklessness. That’s what’s behind a lot of fears like this.
Ramit Sethi: [01:49:49] Yeah. It’s going to be with us forever.
Matthew Hussey: [01:49:51] Yeah, you’re going to be with me forever. And whatever recklessness created this, you’re bringing into my world now. That’s a fear we have. It’s almost like you’ve got really explore what’s behind what I feel about this thing. Am I worried this person’s never going to pay off this 75 grand and that it’s going to become my responsibility? If so, let’s talk about that. Or am I worried at all is what’s really behind this contempt? I see this 70 grand debt. And–
Ramit Sethi: [01:50:23] I can’t believe that you’re the kind of person who would do that.
Matthew Hussey: [01:50:26] And I had a completely different level of discipline than that financially in my life. And behind what I’m really feeling is contempt. I have contempt for that quality in you that has led you to this place.
Ramit Sethi: [01:50:41] Okay, wait, hold on. Before we go on, what would you have contempt about in a partner?
Matthew Hussey: [01:50:47] In that circumstance?
Ramit Sethi: [01:50:48] No, just in you.
Matthew Hussey: [01:50:48] Oh, like me personally?
Ramit Sethi: [01:50:50] You. Like I would have contempt if I met someone who is paying 1.5% to a financial advisor. I’m not going to lie, I’d break up with them on the spot. I told my wife that last night, if I ever find out you’re paying 1.5%, we’re going to have a real difficult conversation. And she was like, “Okay, I know. I would never do that.” Fuck, I love you. What would it be for you?
Matthew Hussey: [01:51:11] Oh, gosh.
Ramit Sethi: [01:51:13] I think it would be if your partner just wouldn’t talk about something that was bothering them at all. And you tried everything you could and they were just like, nope. Because for me, the 1.5%, even though it’s a joke, it’s not really a joke. It reflects on my ability to talk to them about money and a rich life, and it’s just a fundamental values difference. You like to dig in and communicate, you see that as a way to do it. If they just were like, “No, I don’t want to talk about this.”
Matthew Hussey: [01:51:40] Maybe it would be for me if someone was just all about themselves.
Ramit Sethi: [01:51:47] What does that mean?
Matthew Hussey: [01:51:48] If they had that heavy streak of narcissism in them where there was just a lack of authenticity and a lack of empathy for other people or for me.
Ramit Sethi: [01:52:05] So example would be like, I want to go here. I don’t care that you don’t want to go. I want to go. And if you don’t go, I’m going to be mad at you.
Matthew Hussey: [01:52:12] Yeah. And if someone on top of that gaslights your needs by reducing them to not like you’re being unreasonable or makes you feel like you’re having those needs is a problem. And that you’re the one being too difficult or you’re being too needy or you’re expecting too much, that maybe could send me towards that feeling.
Ramit Sethi: [01:52:39] That’s a pretty good one. I still think that mine might be–
Matthew Hussey: [01:52:44] The 1.5?
Ramit Sethi: [01:52:45] Yeah, 1.5.
Matthew Hussey: [01:52:46] I don’t even know what you mean by that. I now have contempt for it.
Ramit Sethi: [01:52:53] Spread the word, everybody. If they’re paying anything above 0.45%, we got a real problem.
Matthew Hussey: [01:52:59] I love the idea that this is secretly why you got me on the podcast. Just to feel me out on this issue.
Ramit Sethi: [01:53:08] Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Matthew Hussey: [01:53:09] Like, this is the Trojan horse.
Ramit Sethi: [01:53:10] Okay. Do you know what it is, I watched Jerry Seinfeld, that coffee in cars or whatever, and somebody said to him. “Could you ever be friends with somebody who you didn’t think was funny? He thought about it for a second. He goes, “No.”
Matthew Hussey: [01:53:28] Yeah. He’s real when it comes to comedy.
Ramit Sethi: [01:53:31] I love that. I agree. And then I thought to myself, “Could I ever be friends with someone who has digital programs that they sell, which I think are shit?” My answer is no. I’m telling you the truth because I take it personally. I spend a ton of time and money with my team building these things.
We take a lot of pride. My name is on it, and for someone to come up with some bullshit and sell it on TikTok, and just be like, “Oh yeah, buy my thing 1999, blah, blah.” I’d be like, “I can’t be your friend.” Do you think that’s too petty?
Matthew Hussey: [01:54:05] No, I think that’s all right. I will say that I’ve got friends who believe in things that some part of me–
Ramit Sethi: [01:54:14] Flat earth?
Matthew Hussey: [01:54:17] Well, flat? No, I don’t have any flat earth friends.
Ramit Sethi: [01:54:20] Okay. Politics?
Matthew Hussey: [01:54:22] Do you know when someone says like, I’m a witch?
Ramit Sethi: [01:54:28] No. What the fuck are you talking about?
Matthew Hussey: [01:54:30] When someone believes they have psychic abilities or they–
Ramit Sethi: [01:54:34] Oh, let’s have two people in LA. Oh, is it Mercury? Some bullshit. And then you have to pretend that it’s real.
Matthew Hussey: [01:54:40] You have to just nod along and just wait for the conversation.
Ramit Sethi: [01:54:44] I’m inspired by my nieces and nephews. It is like I’m 10 years old. When you ask a kid something that they don’t understand or like, this is what they do, they go like this. And then they just get up and leave. They literally just walk away and I go, “These kids know something that we don’t.” If you don’t like it, you just leave.
So some annoying person wearing those wide-brimmed hats talking about mercury and all this nonsense and stuff and “Oh, yeah, it’s because you’re a Scorpio.” And what I deeply, deeply want to do is just get up and leave. But instead, what I do is, “Oh, yeah, it’s really interesting. So what are you watching on TV these days?”
Matthew Hussey: [01:55:24] You just have to fall in love with the 80%. Some people are 80% smart.
Ramit Sethi: [01:55:31] Oh, that’s good.
Matthew Hussey: [01:55:33] And good.
Ramit Sethi: [01:55:33] You’re always so positive. I need this.
Matthew Hussey: [01:55:36] There’s people that I listen to. Have you ever been listening to a speaker–
Ramit Sethi: [01:55:40] Just tell me who you’re talking about so we can get specific here. Who is this person who’s 20% stupid?
Matthew Hussey: [01:55:45] You’re two hours in and they’re saying really insightful things, and you’re just like, “Whoa, this person’s on fire.” Every time they speak, you’re just like, “This is great stuff.” And then all of a sudden they drop in something that–
Ramit Sethi: [01:55:59] Yeah, yeah. They say–
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:02] Hang on.
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:02] They say some nimby bullshit or something, and I go–
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:04] You realize all of a sudden that there is some area of what they believe where you are planets apart. And it’s tempting at that point to go, “Oh, I just can’t deal with this person. I want to write them off.”
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:19] Wait. What if I do that?
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:20] Well, will you do that?
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:21] Yes. Is there a problem? Wait, is this a problem? It sounds good to me.
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:27] The problem I have with it, do you want to know?
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:29] Yes.
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:31] It’s actually not that easy to find people who don’t believe some kind of wacky shit–
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:36] Fuck. You might be right.
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:38] So the problem is if you don’t find a way to love 80% of them and make your peace with the 20%, then you end up hating 80% of people.
Ramit Sethi: [01:56:50] Wait, I’m trying to think this is getting very deep right now. It’s supposed to be me asking you questions.
Matthew Hussey: [01:56:55] You at best can have 10 friends. Because the rest of the world believes something insane.
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:05] I think you might be right. I think you’ve made me a new lens on the world. And I don’t know if I like myself after this conversation.
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:14] Well, I’m certainly going to make you less entertaining. If I have my wife–
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:18] Someone’s going to be saying some bullshit, and normally I would just verbally eviscerate them.
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:22] Now you’re going to be old school version–
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:23] Oh, it’s really interesting. Tell me the 80%. I really love this. Fuck, you ruined my entire career.
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:30] I miss the old Ramit. I miss the old Ramit that would tear people apart. I don’t want it to go away.
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:36] But what, am I supposed to be more compassionate?
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:38] No, just–
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:39] I got married.
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:40] Just hang out with me more because that’s like a yin-yang scenario.
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:43] I know.
Matthew Hussey: [01:57:44] We complete each other.
Ramit Sethi: [01:57:46] Well. Let me just say what I loved about our conversation. I talked to couples. They’re typically married or they’ve been married a long time. The thing that I heard over and over today is you reminding me to connect what I’m doing to the North Star. So if I’m trying to think about why I love somebody, connect it back to this. It is not about their debt. It’s about why did I find this person attractive in the first place?
If I am having a conflict about money, we can talk about money, but why am I feeling this way? Do I feel infantilized? Why? What do I want myself to feel like? And that is something, it comes much more naturally to you. I know you work at it, but I love hearing your perspective on how to talk about money because deep down, the rich life is not just about money, it’s about how we talk to each other and how we create these experiences.
And I can think of nothing more powerful than remembering what is the rich life. And then let’s use money and love to live it. So thank you very much.
Matthew Hussey: [01:58:52] You’re very welcome. It’s a pleasure. I love our conversations. Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: [01:58:57] Awesome. All right. Thank you, man. All right. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. It was a special one for me. I think Matt and I both had a blast. Of course, I recorded another episode on his podcast called Love Life with Matthew Hussey. Go check it out. You can also find him on Instagram @thematthewhussey, and check out his programs and his videos and howtogettheguy.com. I will see you back next week.