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Dating Coach Bela Gandhi Helps You Avoid Dumpster Fire Relationships

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating. In this episode, I talk with Bella Gandhi, the founder of the Smart Dating Academy.

Bella was in business and finance for many years, but she was always obsessed with romance and she was known among her friends for fixing people up and having a lot of success with that. She finally honored her calling and founded Smart Dating Academy, where she became what she calls a personal trainer for your love life.

She's not a matchmaker. She doesn't bring the candidates to the table. She actually [00:01:00] coaches clients through the online dating process. She helps you get your photos and write your profile and manage your responses and dates until you've found someone who's what she calls the lid to your pot. She has so much insight about love and relationships from family of origin stuff to why always having butterflies when you see someone is not a good sign.

I always thought it was. She says it's not. I think you'll love this conversation with Bella. Here it is. Bella Gandhi. My guest today on Hotter Than Ever is the founder of Smart Dating Academy, which we will learn all about. Bella has described herself as a date coach and consultant, like being a personal trainer for your love life. I love this. Bella, welcome to Hotter Than Ever.

Bela: I could not be more excited, number one, to be with you. You are Hotter Than Ever, and to be on anything called Hotter Than Ever, oh my god, isn't it everybody's dream? Mm hmm. [00:02:00] To be on this show.

Erin: Well, I certainly hope so. That's what we're trying to build here. Thank you. I've so much to ask you, but I'd love to start with your personal story and how you came to realize that you have a gift of helping people to find love because this isn't what you studied in school.

Bela: No. Oh, well, it's not what I got my degrees in, but it's what I was obsessed with in school.

Erin: Oh, I love it. I love it.

Bela: So, yes, I was the kid that only wanted to read romance novels through high school. I loved self help and romance, right? And what do I do now? Self help and romance. But, you know, my parents are great. Good immigrants. And you can be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a business person. So I was like, no, no, no.

Okay. Business person. So went to business school. And during that time I started to realize, Oh, I started matchmaking people like, Oh, you should go out with him and you should go out with him. And I was. Really good at that. So in fact, my [00:03:00] first match was, uh, my roommate and sorority sister, who's now been married for 24 years.

They have three kids. My next roommate, I did the same with her, fixed her up with a childhood friend of mine. And so I knew that I was supposed to do this, Erin, and nothing gave me more. Giddy, delicious pleasure than setting people up and watching them find love. And in the meantime, I liked dating every bad guy on the planet that wasn't good for me, had red flag dating patterns.

But while in college, I put my own little model together that showed, wow, the common denominator in all of the messes. Was me I wasn't attracting the wrong people I was picky about the wrong things and I was accepting the wrong people And so I was like god, I gotta fix my picker And so I made a list I love lists and I love process and [00:04:00] procedure.

This is the nerdy finance side of me and it Made me look at my male best friend in a very different light who I had been friends with for six years and we started dating after I made these lists, right? There's more to that story, which is irrelevant, but let's just say that there might've been alcohol involved.

So in any case, we started dating after that and we were engaged three years later. We've now been married. 26 years. And he's kind of the poster child for what a high GHQ guy is high in good husband qualities. I figured I picked the perfect husband for me. And so he's kind of the role model. And I started this company in 2009 after a great.

Corporate career sold a company and everybody in my life told me you've got to go do that thing that you love to do and you've taught all of us how to do every time I stood up in a wedding, Erin, they're like, Bella is my dating Yoda. She's my [00:05:00] wise owl. I wouldn't be here without her. And so everyone's like, go do it.

So I had to get over my own inner BS, all of my own fear. And in 2009, I started this company and it's been 14 years, holy smokes, and we've had zero divorces and thousands of happy couples in the process.

Erin: Oh my god. I just love that you took a thing that you were doing naturally, I think this is the secret of success in life, is to find the things that you're organically doing and then figure out how to turn that into what you do for money.

Because obviously you're being practical, you're in school, you're doing all the things your parents said you're supposed to do, you're following society's guidelines, but the things that you were doing automatically, the matchmaking, and the being involved in everybody's love story, that is so... Amazing.

Bela: And think about it. We were never taught how to do this. Did you take dating 101 in high school or college? Or did we all miss that class? Oh, we missed it cause [00:06:00] it doesn't exist.

Erin: Oh my God. I mean, really like what I watched was my parents breaking up with people over and over again. Like they split when I was little and then I watched them fall in love and fall out of love and get married and get unmarried and fight and fight.

And I just felt like, well, I'm fucked. I don't have role models that can teach me how to do this. My parents. would never give me advice and we never talked about marriage. There was never a white dress fantasy. There was never a, when you get married or your husband should be like, or your partner, or this is how someone should treat you.

There was none of that. I think because it was the seventies. And my parents were figuring themselves out and they didn't feel like they had anything to offer. And certainly when I looked around me at my friends families, they looked so different to what my family looked like. I was like, everybody has a secret but me. I don't know what the secret is and I don't know what love is and I don't know how to do this at all. And I didn't think I would ever get married. [00:07:00]

Bela: First of all, I love you. And it's not just you. Look at the statistics. 40 to 50 percent of first marriages in this country end in divorce. Wait for it. I'm going to get a little geeky.

There's another 10 to 15 percent of couples that permanently separate that never make it into that statistic. So if we add up 50 plus 15, we're at 65%.

Erin: Wait, they permanently separate because they want to. keep the economic stuff going or the health insurance or they're just too entangled and it's not worth the money to actually get divorced or whatever?

Bela: 100%. I know couples that have been together living together for 12 years and one of them is married to somebody else. Different strokes for different folks. So. You see what I'm saying? So now it's 65%. That's two thirds. If one third of couples are left, that start off at the gate, two out of three go down.

Boom. Right. One's left. How many of those are [00:08:00] happy? Even if you give that heads or tails odds. That's one in six couples. Those are pretty sucky. These stats are terrible. Okay. They're terrible. And so now, that's why I exist. I want you to find that juicy, happy lid to your pot that takes the knot out of your stomach that makes the relationship easy and fun.

Is it possible? Hell yes. Is it easy? Hell no. Do a lot of people do it? Yeah, they do, but it needs intervention, usually. Okay, tell me And it's not therapy.

Erin: Tell me about that, because I... I know so many women who have found a partner, had kids and the relationship didn't work out. And then after that, they really keep themselves off the market.

They really don't want to risk getting their hearts broken again. They want to focus on raising their kids. They can't see how [00:09:00] something else could come in and be a priority in their lives other than their kids and their careers. And I see a lot of people resigned to, you know what, I'm good. I don't need.

What I have known before, I don't need the pain and suffering and the hardship of an intimate relationship. I don't think they see it from a, I need these wonderful things that a relationship can give me that can bolster the rest of my life. Which it sounds like you believe in.

Bela: Yeah, absolutely. And if you're telling yourself, there's nobody out there for me, all the good ones are taken. My picker's broken. I'm just going to focus on my kids. Nobody's going to fall into your lap, right? Because you won't even see it. It'll knock you out and then you'll wake up and go, was that a brick? You won't know it if you're not looking for it, if you're not open to it. So the first step is Wow. If this resonates with you, like shit, I've been focusing on my career.

I've got all the money. I've got all the success. I've got the kids, but guess what? [00:10:00] Our DNA as humans, we're wired to want one partner, right? And whether we admit it or not, or whether we've resigned ourselves. To it or not, we can say, I'm good. I've got girlfriends. I've got family. I've got my GBF. I've got my kids, right?

But for most people, if you really strip that away, they would tell you, you know, it would be nice if I had someone and what that partnership means later in the game. It's totally different. Some people are like, I want someone to be with three days a week. I don't need to live together. I don't need to get remarried. I don't need to blend finances, but most. People want their person in whatever that looks like.

Erin: Yeah. I think that when I was young, I was so like tough and defended that I would never have admitted that I would never have allowed the softness that you need to really be [00:11:00] vulnerable to look for love. And for me in my twenties and in my thirties, I was like, fuck, I have to have kids.

And so I really forced myself to be open to love and made a marriage last for 16 years. But, Now I think about everything so differently now I feel like more secure in myself in my life and I feel like okay I think I do really need that softness. I do really need that touch. I really need that kindness that affection I need a sweetie. I need a sweetie.

Bela: Imagine if we knew that in our 20s and the kinds of partners that we would pick because now, you know Once you have kids with somebody, that person is in your life ad infinitum, divorce or not. That person is in your top texters, right? Like it is what it is. They will be at every birthday, at every graduation, at every wedding, right?

And so no one talks to us about these things.

Erin: No, I have already had. Six text exchanges with my ex husband today, and I [00:12:00] have seen him today because he came and took my son to lunch. We're in it forever together, right? Whether or not we're lovers, whether or not we're co mingled in our finances, whether or not we're untangled in a thousand ways, we are infinitely tangled because we have children.

Bela: Exactly. And, and I think. When people are getting into relationships, it's so hard to get out of them, right? It's hard to get divorced. It's hard to extricate ourselves. If we made getting married so much harder and more hoops to jump through to make sure you were with a partner that actually made you happy, right? And then divorce was easy. Imagine how different society would look.

Erin: I mean, I mean, I'm in the middle of a mediation and separation and divorce process right now. And Complicated. And when I was married, I really liked the closed door nature of being married. I really liked how much it required us to dig deep and go, well, it's gonna be real fucking hard to get out [00:13:00] of this. So we should probably solve this argument unless we want to have it over and over again for the rest of our lives.

Bela: And it's so funny. So many of my clients at Smart Dating Academy, especially those over 45, 55, 65, I want to get married again. And then they meet the. best, most peaceful, happiest love of their lives.

And guess what? They get engaged and they get married because they're like, I like what that commitment signifies for both of us. It's not the half an hour ceremony. It's not the bridezilla industry that we've all been sold, but it's what does marriage mean? And so many people that think they don't want it. I love when they do it.

Erin: Yeah, I don't currently in the tail end of my separation and dating and seeing someone I like, I, I can't conceive of getting married again. Yeah. Like I cannot, I cannot [00:14:00] conceive of it, but I'm not. You're dealing with mediation. Yeah. Yeah. I can't conceive of it, but is it like outside the realm of possibility?

Bela: No, anything could happen. Anything can happen. And when the dark cloud of divorce. Vanishes, because you will get through the tunnel. Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that. You find the right lid to your pot. You'll be surprised, right? I see couples, a lot of my clients are like, I'm good, we don't need to commingle all of that.

I'm going to keep my house, he's going to keep his house, and we'll live with each other seven days a week, but we're going to keep stuff separated, right? You can do a, uh, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Great, who cares? You do what's right for you, but it's fine. Finding that person and understanding what it should feel like.

So often, Erin, you know this, I know this, we're all looking for quote unquote good on paper. And sometimes good on paper ain't worth the paper it's written on. [00:15:00] Mmm.

Erin: Because that person... Or that person is just not everything you need them to be, right? I heard you say that people have a checklist and the top thing on women's checklist is that they want their partner to be tall. And when I hear that in a vacuum, it sounds like the stupidest thing I've ever heard. However, 10. It's important to me that someone is my height or taller.

Bela: Stupid!

Erin: Stupid! I know it's stupid, but it means something to me.

Bela: And you know why? Because it's built into our DNA. It's that XX chromosome, right?

Because men are there to protect and provide. And so if he's bigger than me, look, humans have been in this form for the last 200, 000 years before we even had language. And so we still prefer people that are bigger than us, more triangular shape. There's reasons when we [00:16:00] preference triangular. Oh, right.

When they have broad shoulders. Why? Because they can Fight off the attacking cavemen, right? And kill the damn buffalo and drag it home. And so we still preference these things. Why do men preference women that are younger, that are hourglass shape, that have longer hair? These are things that are built in to our DNA.

So it seems like visceral responses, but when you look at the science, there's reasons why we want what we want. Why do guys not care about height? Why do women say it's the number one thing that they want? And now. We may not need protect and provide, but now we're a culture obsessed with physicality and vanity.

So I want someone who's bigger than me so I can wear my three inch heels and he makes me feel petite, right? Because I don't want to feel fat. I don't want to feel big next to my guy. So there's so much of this that goes on also.

Erin: So tall is not the perfect criteria for a relationship. I'm guessing that you think that.

Bela: So [00:17:00] let me, let me leave you with this thought. Everybody is the same height lying down.

Erin: True. I had a lover in the year after my separation who was like five seven We didn't really ever go anywhere, but didn't matter in bed. Didn't matter in matter. Not at all. Nope.

Bela: Okay, and that's the thing. So I used to date guys that were Six, six, two, it didn't matter. And I'm one of those, you'll probably be like, Oh God, you're like five, two. Why did the short girls take the tall guys? Right. Right. And I, I had that for a long time. My husband now is five, six on a big hair day. Right. And when I wear my tall heels, I can look a little taller than him and he doesn't care and I don't care.

I've seen many. Couples that are like, you know what? I don't really care if I'm taller than him. So there are women that will continue to be heightists and that's fine. Then all we know is that it just narrows the pool a little bit because the [00:18:00] average American man is five eight Right only 12 of men in this country are over six feet tall and they all

Erin: Get laid. Sorry, they might not all get laid.

Bela: It's an asset with online dating where we can make a checklist, right? And we can filter people in for that. But in real life, these guys that are 5'6 I tell my clients, look, if you're smaller or you don't care. That's where a lot of the gems are. These are great guys.

They get a lot of play out in the real world. Online may skew against them. So if you're a female and you're online dating and you're open to the height thing, girl, go lower and go lower in height. You'll find so many gems. It's like finding that unbelievable designer find at Nordstrom Rack that was originally 10, 000 and now it's a hundred and you're like. Like, what is this doing here? Yeah. What is this [00:19:00] doing here? Right.

Erin: That's what happens. That's amazing. So I want to ask you, how do you help people find, figure out the difference between what we think we want and what we actually need to make a long term relationship work? Cause I think a lot of us think we have real clear criteria in our heads about what's going to make it work with us and our particular foibles and whatever.

Um, but I don't think that we're great at this as a, as a gender, as a species at this moment in time, like when we have infinite choice and we have our own money and we have our own freedom, you know, how do we, how do we, how do we figure out what we actually need to make something work?

Bela: I mean, it really comes down to looking at what's going to make you happy.

In a relationship. Right? And so we have a total [00:20:00] process to do this with each person. And so it looks a little bit differently, but it's looking for your elevator people in your life. Why do they make you happy? Looking at those characteristics.

Erin: Wait, what's an elevator person? What's an elevator person?

Bela: An elevator person is, it's our trademark for thinking about the people in your life that elevate you. They make you happy. Who are your elevator people, and why do they elevate you? What do they give you in these relationships? And then you look at the theme, and we have a whole way to do this. And Looking at the theme in those things and then finding dates that slowly start to reveal themselves to be an elevator person.

They have no red flags, and you want to sleep with them, right? It's like the holy trinity. That's what we help people to do. And along the way, what are the grenades? Family of origin shit, wanting a narcissist again, wanting somebody who's emotionally avoidant, being avoidant, being anxious, blowing it up. So what we do along the way is protect our [00:21:00] clients from themselves and protect them from partners that aren't good for them.

Erin: Talk to me about family of origin shit. Oh. Because I feel like I'm the only person who really, I mean it's not true, obviously I'm not the only person who anything, but in my marriage, my family of origin shit and my ex's family of origin shit, it took us down.

Bela: Yeah. A hundred percent. And Erin, think about it. Trauma is intergenerational. Your grandparents had shit done to them. And then when they had kids, they did it to their kids. Your parents did to you what was done to them. And if we're not careful and we don't do the work, guess what we do to our kids? Same, same, same. The same thing. It goes on down the line.

We don't just get blonde hair, blue eyes, or black hair and brown eyes from our parents. We get a whole lot of other stuff, right? And so if. We don't see great things at home, [00:22:00] coupled with the fact that maybe our personality just doesn't attach well either to either of our parents, there can be a lot with family of origin stuff to work through.

It's one of our superpowers at Smart Dating Academy. And if you would have told me this. 14 years ago that we'd be deep into attachment and family of origin stuff and protecting people from themselves from blowing relationships up because we never learned how to manage conflict growing up, right? Our parents criticized us and sent us to our rooms and said, just shut up.

I don't want to hear what you have to say. So what did we learn how to do? Take it and shove it down to our hip bone. And we never ever talk about the things that bother us. And one day, somebody hits the hip bone in just the right way, and it all comes out in a scathing volcanic mess. And then we blow up the relationship.

Erin: Yeah, that, that was a grunt of recognition on [00:23:00] my part. You're like, God, you just hit my hip bone. Yeah, a hundred percent. But I guess for me, and maybe it was because I was so, there's this Irish word, brody, which means like ready to have babies. I was so brody when I met my ex that I looked at his family of origin stuff and I looked at my family of origin stuff and I said, yeah, this is all real familiar.

I can handle this. And maybe it should have been a red flag that it was so familiar and so raw and unresolved for both of us. That we weren't going to be able to overcome it without supernatural intervention, you know?

Bela: And we trauma bond over that. Oh my god, you came from that, Chu. Me, too. Oh my god, we can conquer the world together.

Is that wrong? To trauma bond? It's interesting to trauma bond, right? And it gives us a connection right away. Oh my gosh, my mom was a narcissist too. Yours too. Oh wow. And it can [00:24:00] build this false sense of connection. Because if you think about what are we bonding over? Wow, the fact that we both had a lot of bad stuff happen to us.

But have we processed it? Have we done our work? Right? And if we haven't done our work individually and as a couple, It's going to be hard. It's hard for two people that come from relatively healthy households to navigate a successful relationship and stay happy. Now you take two people that you couldn't pick your family.

We can't pick what happens to us. So I tell my clients, if your pickers are broken, it's not your fault. fault. You were delta hand. You were, little you ended up in your mom's uterus, right? Okay, great. You didn't pick that uterus. You ended up there. Yeah. Right?

Erin: Yeah. That's what happened. Is it true that more people have this stuff than don't have this stuff? I mean, when you say like two people from relatively happy households growing up, [00:25:00] I'm like, who are those people?

Bela: There's not a lot of them when you think about it. Right. And sometimes I have clients that are like, my parents had an amazing marriage. They were hugging, kissing, they went on date nights, but I never felt like I was a priority to either of them.

Erin: Right. Cause they were each other's priority. Right.

Bela: Wow. So if you look at that on the books, Oh, they had a great marriage. Okay. But they didn't prioritize the kids. And sometimes you have kids that can come out of a divorced home with no trauma because the couple was smart enough to go, this is really bad.

And let's. End this so that our kids can have at least one healthy, safe space to be in. Studies show kids need one good parent. Yep, yep. And we can break those patterns.

Erin: Yep, I believe that that's true. And hopefully, I feel like in my situation, we're both trying to be that [00:26:00] parent. Which. Yeah. Yeah. I'm grateful for.

Bela: Sometimes we're better parents on our own than we are together. I am.

Erin: Right? I am 100 percent because I'm not running interference.

Bela: You're not running interference and you're not battling your ex, right? You can just be present for your kids and having kids is rough enough. Right. And it just gets taller and messier when they get older.

I've got 15 and 19. So. It's hard to parent in the first place and it's really hard to parent with someone that you have consistent conflict with.

Erin: Yeah, very hard. Almost impossible. Almost impossible. Well, pivoting to one of my favorite subjects, which is attraction and chemistry. And, you know, part of the reason why this podcast is called Hotter Than Ever is because I think women over 40 are sexy as shit.

And a lot of them don't know it and don't feel it. And. We are, we all should give ourselves permission to feel good in our bodies and [00:27:00] experience pleasure. But what role does chemistry and sexual attraction play in finding and building a, building a relationship that will last? Because I think any one of us can go out there and find hot sex.

Bela: Like in five minutes.

Erin: I mean, you can go find bad sex in one minute, but maybe five hot sex in five, you know.

Bela: Exactly. So chemistry is a very interesting subject. I think, let me start out by saying chemistry and lust is nature's way of tricking us into attachment. And so now chemistry, when we feel great sparks with somebody right away, when I hear my clients go, Oh my God.

I love this guy. Win. There was so much chemistry, I was like, red flag, red flag, red flag, because what is this? This person feels familiar to you. It reminds you of an [00:28:00] ex that probably wasn't good for you. When somebody activates chemistry, activates your attachment system, a lot of it is anxiety, fear that we're misinterpreting as excitement.

When you come from tough backgrounds, whether it's family of origin, or you've had really tumultuous relationships. Chemistry can be activated when we feel like, Oh shit, I'm getting on the roller coaster, I'm strapping in. This is gonna be good. Let me tell you what, nobody needs to get on a roller coaster to be in a happy relationship. I want you on a merry go round.

Erin: I think that's mythology that's so deeply, deeply entrenched in our society. You're right. That you feel a spark and then you fall in love and then it makes for lasting whatever. How do we unwind that?

Bela: Do you feel chemistry for your kids? No. Like, we don't [00:29:00] think about it this way. Like, no. With your best friends that you love, adore, you're elevator people, do they give you butterflies in your stomach? No. No. They take the gnat out of your stomach, right? And so, this chemistry, there's so much fiction around this. Butterflies in my stomach are good. No they're not. It means run the hell out of the room.

It means your body is telling you something. Stop and listen. Butterflies in the dating process after the first date are bad. And I'm not talking about the little butterflies you might get, like before I'm going to get on the Hotter Than Ever podcast. I'm like, Oh, I want to do a good job. This is exciting.

I want to be a good human and a good conversationalist, but it's not fear and anxiety. I'm not going to get off this podcast and go, Oh my God, when I think of Erin, my stomach flips over. No, I want to think about Erin and go, gosh, what a great [00:30:00] person. I wish she lived in Chicago so we could get a glass of wine together because she's.

She doesn't give me butterflies. Butterflies are bad in the dating process. And you're right, we are acculturated. I know you guys are just listening to this, but I'm waving my pen like the professor. We're acculturated to preference the wrong things.

Erin: I don't know how to not preference that. I think also because I'm coming out of a marriage where there wasn't sex in the last 10 years. And so for me, I feel like I'm just filling a deficit and I want to be wanted. And so that, that is a huge priority for me. I'm not in a looking for a husband moment in my life.

Bela: And that's okay. But I'll tell you what great sex for women. Usually, is only fueled long term by emotional intimacy and a feeling of safety.

Erin: I think that's right.

Bela: Right? Yeah. And if it's just exciting, but he's a bad boy and kind of a jerk, that's old [00:31:00] patterns again. But the way to great physical chemistry long term, especially in a marriage, is keeping that safety. Friendship, really robust.

Erin: Mm. Yeah, I think that's right. I think that's healthy. I'm hoping to do it the inverted way, where it's like, the chemistry leads to a closeness, and the relationship builds from there. And that is what's happening for me right now, but with no intended destination, right? Because I just need to be in real time, in my life, because I'm untangling things while I'm building this new thing that God knows where it's going, right?

Bela: Right. And on a key is When you feel those little things a lot of times as women we talk ourselves out of I don't really love him It's just good for right now. Whatever. I just need this and we shove that. I do want you to love me I do want you to want to be with me more. We shove that down to the hip bone.

Mm hmm because we don't want to be needy [00:32:00] We don't think we want that. And at the end of the day, it's having some really candid conversations with ourselves. Like when I feel that, how it might make me feel vulnerable and am I sharing that with this person? And can that person be the person I need or am I doing this out of fear?

Erin: Right. I'm so slow coming out of this marriage. I'm so slow to be vulnerable, but I'm doing it. I'm doing it. I'm willing to be vulnerable because I feel like I won't be happy if I'm dishonest in any way in my life. And I think part of what leads women to feel sexy and hot and vital and self possessed, especially in the second half of their lives, is this sense of like, I'm living my true self.

I'm living my true authentic self and I'm not bullshitting myself and I'm not bullshitting other people. And Exactly. You know. Just to be wanted. Just to be wanted. Yeah. Exactly. For who you actually are. Yeah. So Bella, do [00:33:00] you give your clients advice about when to get naked with the people that they're dating?

Because if I like someone, I want to sleep with them. But it's probably not a formula for long term success. But I also hate the like, why would they buy the cow if they can get the milk for free business? I'm curious if you have any wise counsel on people looking for successful long term relationships.When do they start putting out?

Bela: Look, I'll say there's rules and there's exceptions to rules, right? Everybody knows that one exception to the rule. My best friend from college met a guy in a bar day one, freshman year of college. They slept together. She was like, Oh my God, I've never done this before.

They're now happily married with three kids 30 years later. Right? So that's the exception to the rule. Typically I'm having my clients wait. 15 plus dates until they're actually like doing the deed together. And this is not from any [00:34:00] chastity purity. It's not from any religious basis. It's just to keep our minds more objective.

Once you start sleeping with somebody, it's hard to be dating other people. And I want my clients to have fun. Okay. Because once you start, once you start Doing the deed with one person as women, especially we just want to nest. We want that one person and you've got oxytocin flowing through your veins now, which is the attachment hormone.

And so what do we do? We tend to ignore a lot of red flags when we're prematurely oxytocin bonded, right? It's like when people will tell me, Oh my God, my mechanic's so hot. I just want to hook up with them and just like do an equipment check because I haven't had sex in 10 years. Well, you go out, you bang your mechanic. What happens? You want your mechanic to call you tomorrow?

Erin: Mm. Or you want your car fixed for free? ?

Bela: Usually both. Yeah. And that's just what happens. And I'm an ardent feminist, and so what I say here is, this is not about, [00:35:00] men are more, more powerful. They can have casual sex. They're wired to do that historically.

Right? They have way less oxytocin de mini. Compared to women and we're supposed to be at home and nurturing and bonding. We have babies know your power as a woman. This is what I will tell you and know that your power is attachment. And are you going to just give that up to any Joe Schmo that you made at the bar and think about it from that standpoint is that is your power. Your ability to attach and want to attach to one person stand in your power. This is not a weakness. It is a strength. It is a superpower. Because romantic relationships are always conditional.

Erin: Yes, I agree. Talk more about that because I think a lot of us are taught to not have conditions.

Bela: Marriage is a condition. It's a contract. [00:36:00] Being exclusive with somebody is an agreement. And when we talk about unconditional love, I will not love you if you are sleeping with 15 other people. That's a condition. Right? Love me as I am. Love me for my warts, for me, but we will be faithful to each other. So it is conditional. Right.

The only unconditional love I believe that exists is literally parent to child. As shitty as our kids are, we still love them. We may not like them in the moment, but we love them, right? With no conditions.

Erin: Yes, that's definitely true.

Bela: And so often we think about, I want unconditional. Most relationships are contractual, even friendships.

Erin: Yeah. If you don't treat me right, I'm, we're not going to stay in this.

Bela: Exactly. If I ask you to go out with me five times and you say no every [00:37:00] time and you don't text me back. Okay, you're telling me I'm not important to you. There's only so many times I can hear no or hear silence before I'm gonna move on.

I'll be sad, but I'll move on. For sure. I think people don't think about relationships in this way. And you have to treat people with kindness. Come from a place of love, even within family structures. Family is not unconditional love. How many parents and kids don't like each other and they don't speak siblings the same way because we don't have.

Those contracts with each other. I will speak to you from a place of love. We won't let our words paper cut each other.

Erin: I think things are evolving in that way where people are starting to treat family relationships. A little bit more intentionally, but certainly that's a new phenomenon.

Bela: You can tell your kids, it's like, I love you, but I don't have to like you. Like is earned. My kids are [00:38:00] like, what do I have to do? I'm like, be kind. You can say anything to me, but from a place of love. Right. Not from a place of anger and hurt because words hurt, right? That stuff counts. Yeah That stuff counts I tell them and we have a code word in our house for any of us my husband me My kids with each other when somebody starts when words get escalated and we're just humans living in this house I'm like, I put my hand up.

I'm like you're going hard. Mm hmm. That means your words are hurting my skin Mm hmm. You're going hard. Is that your intention?

Erin: Mm, I love that. You have to have a lot of love between each other to be able to do that, to call it, and then to have the other people respect that.

Bela: It's a lot. And these are strategies that I say put together in peacetime, not wartime.

Erin: Yes, one person that I interviewed on the podcast said that she started going to couples counseling with her [00:39:00] husband, like very early on in their relationship, just to have a place to go for tune ups and talk when there was nothing wrong. And I'm like, well, then you pick the right husband because a lot of husbands are not going to do that.

Bela: Oh, it's so, it's so interesting. When my clients meet somebody, I will give them books to read together. I will have them talk about attachment and a lot of them will say, look, I have a relationship coach who wants us to do this. Anybody who's like, Oh my God, you have a dating or a relationship coach. I'm like, that's a red flag.

Right there. I want someone who's committed to growth of your relationship. And if they're not committed to your own personal growth or the growth of your relationship, what kind of partner is this going to be long term?

Erin: Right. If you can't actually figure out a way to talk things through.

Bela: Yeah. And does this person want what's best for the relationship? If they're not willing to book club a book with you to get better and talk about things, how are you really going to know who this person [00:40:00] is?

Erin: It's a high bar, lady. It's a high bar.

Bela: This is it. Nobody's setting the bar high. Right? It's like, measure three times, cut one.

Erin: And so many women have been burned by love. And so many women are cynical and despairing about finding love in their lives. And they give up, and they shut the door, and they shut themselves down, and they, Mmm, how do you help them turn a corner and find the love that they really want underneath it all? Cause I feel like everybody wants to be loved. Everybody has love to give.

Bela: Everybody has love to give. You have to be the best version of you in a relationship and come from a place of love. And then pick a partner. That isn't a red flag. And so there's two things to this process and that's why we're like the personal trainers for people's love lives.

If I tell them you're signing up to work with me for a year and our goal is to get to the top of [00:41:00] love mountain. Okay. Whatever that means. We're on a journey together, right? And so if you're going to find love in that year, I don't know if you will, we're going to help you build a dating funnel, date people.

Well, get rid of the red flaggers, keep the green flaggers in. But along the way, the most important thing is where your love guides. And we know where the grenades are along the way. So what we're going to do is prevent you from relationships that are going to be dumpster fires and burn you. And disappoint you and dig those neural pathways even deeper, reinforce those negative beliefs because anything we do from a place of negativity or fear, how does that end up?

Twisted. So we protect people, not only while finding love, but also I tell them we wrap you in pink sparkly bubble wrap to protect you from bad, hurtful relationships.

Erin: Oh God, everybody needs you, Bella. Everybody needs that. How do we wrap ourselves in pink sparkly bubble wrap to [00:42:00] keep ourselves protected? And you need someone with some perspective to help you through this process sometimes.

Bela: Yeah. Someone that knows we'll call you on your stuff. Like this is a you problem. This is not a him problem. I have these conversations with people on a daily basis. I'm sure they love that.

Erin: Oh, I'm sure they don't feel confronted at all.

Bela: Right. I'm like, this is what you sign up for, but this is how we help them to keep their relationships from going sideways. Cause a lot of times they'll pick good partners. I'm like, now you need to. Be the right, right. Don't fuck this up. And when you come in with this torrential downpour of lava, because you don't know how to navigate your own feelings and self regulate, you will cause collateral damage.

Erin: Yeah, totally. Bella, in your own life, this is a question I like to ask people on the podcast, in your own life, we talk about relationships being [00:43:00] contracts. Are there any deal terms or contracts that you want to renegotiate for yourself in terms of How you handle a relationship, or how you handle something with regard to work, or your time.

Bela: I think when I started my business, I come from a big business background. I sold a business, had a hundred people working for me, and I thought in this act of life, and I was like 30. Five at the time, like I'm so old and I'm starting a business. I just want it to be me. I don't want anybody else. I don't want to have employees.

Mm-hmm. . And so I am renegotiating this with myself. We now have three coaches that work with me, and so now I need to build a team on my backend. I don't have a virtual assistant. I don't have people that help me. with marketing. And so I'm renegotiating these terms with myself with regards to [00:44:00] scaling a business.

The good part of this is we have a process. It works. It's helped so many people. We're on a wait list, right? And along with that comes, wow, what is the impact you want to have? If you want to continue to have great impact, then you need to renegotiate the deal with the devil that you made with yourself in 2000, right?

Erin: Which is that you have to do everything alone.

Bela: Which is that I do everything alone. And I'm, you know, the queen of getting shit done. Right. Right. I got eight plates, octopus, like we all are spinning up in the air. Yep. Kid one year old five year old started business. Absolutely. Parents that live down the street. Yep. Fine. Husband. Great. In laws. And we just do it all as women and you can have it all, but not every day. And something's got to give. So I have now hired someone. To hire me people.

Erin: Oh, good. Good. Because if you can't help yourself, maybe you can hire someone who can help you help yourself. Yeah. I love it.

Bela: Exactly. I was like, wow. Best decision ever. And for so many of you listening, this might [00:45:00] be, you know what, I think I'm not lovable. I think I'm too damaged. I think there's no good people out there. I think I'm not worthy of love. I need you to sit down and think about if any of those have resonated with you, you need to renegotiate that contract with the universe in yourself.

Erin: I can't think of a better place for us to go out. I think that's the perfect message. You know, everyone deserves love and sometimes you have to renegotiate your self talk and how you think about what you deserve in life in order to get it. Bella, you're amazing. People can find you at

And also you have a podcast, which you'll be on, which I'll be on. And there's so much stuff on YouTube. There's so much great content and tips available online already. And also if you want a hands on approach to finding the love of your life, please reach out to Smart Dating Academy and Bella Gandhi. Thank you so much for taking the time today. [00:46:00]

Bela: Thank you. This was amazing. So awesome.

Erin: Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. If you found yourself nodding in recognition at this conversation, or having personal revelations that you're going to take forward into your love life, please follow the show on whatever podcast platform you're listening to right now.

Tell your friends, and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Like, go to Apple Podcasts right now before it's too late, slips your mind and rate us a, it can be brief, but rate us a glowing five star review, which really helps other people to find Hotter Than Ever.

Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Gerard and pod kit productions. Our interim associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez. I hope you're having a super sexy and inspired summer. If not, it's not too late to change that. Come back next week for another great episode.[00:47:00]


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