Top iTunes Marriage Podcast

12.5+ Million Downloads

hosted by Dr. Corey Allan

Selfish and Needy #440

On the Regular version of today’s show …

A conversation with Dr Laura Dabney, a Psychiatrist who works with clients by helping the deal with emotions better – especially the emotions we’ve often deemed as bad.

Check out her work here

On the Xtended version …

We continue the conversation with Dr Dabney about the next steps in dealing with your emotions within life and marriage.

Enjoy the show!


Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps!  If your review is chosen and read on the podcast (anonymously, of course!), you’ll win a very special prize!

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Corey Allan: Well, Pamela.

Pam Allan: Yeah, baby.

Corey Allan: We have entered into one of my favorite months of the year.

Pam Allan: Thanksgiving?

Corey Allan: Blow-vember.

Pam Allan: Blow-vember. Guys, he really does like the turkey, but-

Corey Allan: The Turkey, you can't ... Hey, Thanksgiving holiday, sitting around with family, lots and lots of food. That is one of my favorite holidays. It's our daughter's favorite holiday too.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: But here are Sexy Marriage Radio, we are all about trying to heat things up and add some variety to your life and your marriage bed.

Pam Allan: I like it too, I'll just say. I like-

Corey Allan: And so, welcome to Blow-vember. This is Sexy Marriage Radio where we're having straightforward anything, any topic, we'll cover, conversations here at Sexy Marriage Radio. And if you've got something on your mind or you just want to celebrate some season along with us, you can let us know what's going on in your mind and in your world by calling us at (214) 702-9565. You can also jump on the email inbox at where all the emails that come in, we answer them, we read them, they become shows, where we try to address some things that are off the air that are a little more personal with the people that are reaching out for thoughts and input or resources that might be available.

Corey Allan: And so because of Sexy Marriage Radio nation is involved, because they listen and engage with us, that's what made this thing all that it is thus far.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: So we're so excited that you join us each and every week. There's also a couple of little things to take care of before we jump into today's episode. One, we've added a new little service, if you will, new little aspect to the shows recently, in that over the last two months or so, each episode that's come out, there's actually now transcripts available.

Pam Allan: Right, right.

Corey Allan: So if you go to to that episode, whatever the number is that you want to find, if you are the kind that would rather read it, there's the way. And so, those of you that have been listening to this point and you're like, "Finally, I could just read it," you'll get to read from this. So I'm assuming you might just stop the playing here and then go read.

Pam Allan: Right, right. We didn't go back to episode number one, but we've been doing it here for a couple of months.

Corey Allan: We're testing it out because we've had several people email in saying, "Hey, we'd love it if there were some transcripts over the years."

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: So we finally decided, let's try this out and see if it does impact some people in a different way. Because we all learn in different ways.

Pam Allan: We do.

Corey Allan: And so sometimes offering a different medium can be a beneficial thing. And the other thing that just came down within the last two weeks, some new research has come out that says that the divorce rate here in the States has hit a 40-year low.

Pam Allan: Is that right? Okay, so I've got to guess on that. Well, tell us the percentage.

Corey Allan: No, what's your guess?

Pam Allan: No, I'm just guessing it's hitting a low because more people are just living together.

Corey Allan: So there's a couple of different factors and this is where research can be skewed to to say what you want it to say at times. Because this is the breadth of this research is just taking some census data and some individual data, that it doesn't necessarily apply to asking the question of cohabitation instead. So that's one of those red flags. It's like hold on, what about that? Because it's really incredibly difficult to set up a research project that's going to cover and encompass everything.

Corey Allan: But what it is saying is that millennials are marrying later. So it makes it to where the data skews in a more positive trend because of that, because more people are well established, have careers, have already been out on their own possibly. And so now there's this ... If you think about our generation in prior, you left your parents' home for a married home.

Pam Allan: Right, we did.

Corey Allan: And a lot of times millennials can possibly leave parents home and be single, although there is that aspect of millennials that leave parents' home and come back to parents' home.

Pam Allan: Yeah, we could throw that into any generation, right?

Corey Allan: Absolutely. But it's now showing that roughly one in three is the chance to get divorced now, rather than 50%.

Pam Allan: Wow, that's drastically low. That's good news.

Corey Allan: So it's a big shift. Yes, that's worth noting.

Pam Allan: We like that.

Corey Allan: That as the trends go through, because we here at Sex Marriage Radio are huge in favor of marriage and wanting it to thrive and to be vital because it helps just everything in the world.

Pam Allan: Right, that leaves a legacy. If you've got a strong marriage that leads to stronger kids, stronger families, and that goes on for generations.

Corey Allan: Right. And so that's what we want to try to do here at Sexy Marriage Radio, is speak to the nation that married sex and marriage in general are worth going through because we're all better when you're in a good marriage because it's a people growing machine. So coming up on today's regular free version of Sexy Marriage Radio is a conversation that I had with Dr. Laura Dabney, who she is one of the rarer, I guess you could say, people in the field.

Pam Allan: Why is that?

Corey Allan: That she is a psychiatrist that does therapy.

Pam Allan: Okay.

Corey Allan: So she went to medical school, became a psychiatrist, and now she does the therapeutic coaching rather than just the med management, because most psychiatrists, they're just pushing pills. Laura doesn't follow that. And so we have a conversation in the free version of the show today where we're talking about selfishness and neediness. And some of these emotions that we can often deem as negative, but in reality they're not. So it's a fantastic conversation.

Pam Allan: That's interesting.

Corey Allan: And then coming up on the extended version of Sexy Marriage Radio, which is deeper, longer, and there's no ads, you can subscribe at We continue the conversation with Dr. Dabney about, what are the next steps after recognizing these different negative emotions and dealing with them in a different way, what do you do then? And so we continue the conversation with a lot more practical, here's your next steps. So all that's coming up on today's show.

Pam Allan: Great.

Corey Allan: So joining me for this segment of Sexy Marriage Radio is Dr. Laura Dabney. and she's one of the ... I don't know if you want to use the word rare, Laura, but there's a little bit of an exception that your training is in psychiatry, right? So it's MD, doctor. Whereas my daughter talks about my PhD doctor, I can't do anything. But MD doctor, she can do things with, and we kind of laugh about that but that kind of still hurts at times. But you're also one that, you go the route of a lot of coaching and counseling too. And that kind of puts you in a little bit of a different category, yes?

Laura Dabney: Yes, yes. It's hard to explain myself a lot of times because people think MD, medications, PhDs, therapy, but I do both, so it is a little complicated.

Corey Allan: Well, that's good. I like complicated.

Laura Dabney: Okay, good. [inaudible 00:07:39].

Corey Allan: Good. So one of the things that I've come across with you in the work and the way you frame things is you have a little bit of a different take on, particularly with the way men come about things in the emotional arena and in marriage, but also with just this idea of intimacy, selfishness. There's a couple of different things that those can seem like they're not good together, but you don't really believe that though.

Laura Dabney: Right, right. So my big thing is trying to get people to accept all their emotions, because people come to me, I think close to 100% of the time, when anybody has an emotional or relationship problem, it starts with them not accepting some emotion in themselves. So they've tried to bury, shove, ignore, malign these very basic human emotions as if they're the problem. Okay, so those three tend to be anger, neediness, and sadness. Those three tend to be the most difficult for people who come into my office.

Laura Dabney: So I end up doing this whole trying to normalize those feelings with them. And that's where the whole ... So, I mean the other problem is they're throwing themselves at trying to change other people. So they push those down and my whole goal is to change, so you've seen this, right? Change the other person-

Corey Allan: Yeah. The human condition that if I can just get other people to change to my liking, it's going to be a whole lot easier for myself.

Laura Dabney: Exactly. Then they just, [inaudible 00:09:25] beating their heads against the wall, right? So I come back to, you need to go back to you, you need to understand you who in your feelings about what the person is doing, and then they'll go, "But isn't that selfish?" Like yes, what's wrong with that? When I tell them to take a vacation or take a break, "But he isn't that lazy?" Like yes, and what's wrong with lazy?

Laura Dabney: So it's all part of trying to normalize our times being selfish, where's that line of selfish? And as you said, self care, self esteem, self aware. They are putting the line away over here, it's bad to sit on the couch for an hour and not do the laundry at the same time. Or to think about what they're feeling and what they want as opposed to always investing themselves in the other person's thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

Corey Allan: Right, right. So it really then becomes just almost like the hierarchy of priority and where am I on that?

Laura Dabney: Well, yeah. Well, first it's all ... I mean you can't ... Okay, you have to dive into yourself to figure out where you're at. And that's where people get a little like, it just can't, the idea is so foreign and scary to them to sit in that space because they've been taught or they sort of brainwash themselves, "I always have to be thinking about you. I can never just think about me." Then the next step is to, how to, or if to express that. And then this next step is being empathic to what your spouse or significant other wants and needs. It is the compromise, but you have to start with, if you don't know exactly where you're coming from, you're not going to be able to get to a reasonable compromise.

Corey Allan: Right, right. Because you're just basically, you don't even know where the starting point is. And so the end point is going to be as nebulous as all the variables could be.

Laura Dabney: Exactly. It's not going to work out for you. And then you're going to be resentful on the subconscious level, and then that comes out in a negative way on your relationship because you're not really in it, because it's not really ... It's not your compromise, you're just doing what she or he wants.

Corey Allan: Okay. And so the three you mentioned; anger, neediness and sadness, that's kind of the three primary things you've come across?

Laura Dabney: I call them the enemy emotions.

Corey Allan: Enemy emotions, okay.

Laura Dabney: People, they're just like, okay they've made that the enemy as opposed to the feeling, because they don't or can't admit they're angry or upset with somebody they love. That's much that makes it feel guilty. So a lot of people think you can't do both. So they say, "Well, if my anger is the problem, if I just weren't angry I wouldn't have a problem."

Corey Allan: Which the stem of that is still, I'm trying to control other people, because that's what I hear a sense of like, well you make me so angry, rather than-

Laura Dabney: Exactly.

Corey Allan: ... Hold on, maybe they do, but let's own, it's not just them, right?

Laura Dabney: Right.

Corey Allan: It's a you-choice too.

Laura Dabney: Exactly.

Corey Allan: Okay. And then talk to me about neediness, because this is one of those things that at face value you hear the word needy, and I've even been, I'll own this, Laura, I have even been on the air, I will get into the conversations about talking about the difference between want versus need, which then leads to wanting versus needing. And neediness, to me, I've put under the category of leechy, which that's a negative. I'll own it, okay. I'm-

Laura Dabney: Okay, you own it, okay. I hear this all the time.

Corey Allan: So you come at it from a slightly different take though. Actually I think I should take the word slightly off of that qualifier.

Laura Dabney: [inaudible 00:13:18], right. Neediness is normal. Just like anger, sadness, any of that. So what I think what people ... So in fact, neediness is the cornerstone of all relationships. I mean, why are you in a relationship unless you need companionship or need a significant other, need sex. I mean, it's all about needs. So what people do, and I see what you're doing is they have linked neediness and cloying, clinging, which is really a lack of empathy, but not the neediness that's the problem.

Laura Dabney: Because, I have need, if I have need for you to help me, I need some help with moving my car or fixing my car. And you say, "I'm so sorry, I can't do that. I've got 10 other things to do today." Then it's not your ... And that's when the person who's healthy says, "No problem," and they take their need, which is fine and go somewhere else. So it's not linked, it's just like anger. I mean, I say, "What's wrong with anger?" People go, "I don't want to hurt anybody." They've linked anger and shooting somebody, like it's tied like this. I'm like, "No, no. There's a mile between neediness and being coyly, clinging and whatever.

Corey Allan: Okay, so you're basically trying to get down to the root of this, in the sense that the emotions in and of themselves, the fact that you're going to experience this feeling, this response, this reaction, all right, let's just keep that there, let's look at it while it's there, not necessarily how we can then add too close of a link like you're describing of, well it's the actions associated with it, that's the problem. Well, yes, but those actions are probably further down the road than just right now.

Laura Dabney: Exactly.

Corey Allan: Okay, which I like that. That's a good framework because if you think about it, emotions, this is one of my beliefs, emotions are largely kind of neutral if you put it and then we add the value structure, because what one person's anger could be something that drives them to something great. Whereas another person's anger is really, really destructive.

Laura Dabney: Exactly. I call that constructive or destructive aggression. There is destructive aggression, but there's also constructive aggression such as swerving out of the way of a baby or going for a gold medal or either. And so people have lumped them all into bad and I feel like I'm ... The first three months of therapy are untiring all those knots that people have created. So not all anger is bad. You're talking ,like you said, the action is totally separate, miles apart from the feeling.

Corey Allan: So it's basically how do I just give myself permission or room to experience the feeling in and of itself as it is.

Laura Dabney: Yes, exactly. And that's a very private thing. People also think it's all of a sudden going to be on their face or public. It's like, no, it's a very ... You have to give yourself that privacy to be able to feel and work those things out and know exactly what you're feeling before you can do anything effective with those feelings.

Corey Allan: Okay. And so once you kind of get to where, because the other one was sadness, which that's the interesting one too, that in appropriate contexts, sadness is one of those, I totally get it. But after like two or three weeks of a loss, it's like, yeah, you got to suck it up, you can't be sad anymore. Right? I mean, isn't that kind of what society kind of unspokenly is pushing towards? Which is not good, I'm not saying it's a great thing, but.

Laura Dabney: Well, society maybe, but you can't just suck it up. If you're sad, you're sad. For two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. I mean, that's what grieving is. Now, if you're unempathic and miss that somebody is tired of hearing about your grief, well then it's not your grief that's the problem, it's theirs, you need to move on and express that with somebody else. not to turn around and say, "I shouldn't be sad because your society is upset about it."

Corey Allan: Because my sadness is making you upset, so therefore if I continue down this sadness with you, that's selfish of me. See what I did there? I kind of brought it back in to where it should be actually. Yes it is, and that's okay, so why don't I find better avenues to express that and deal with it?

Laura Dabney: I need another avenue now, right.

Corey Allan: Okay. I like where you're going with this, Laura, because I think that this is the idea of just really enhancing my own life and my own experience, not trying to diminish it or deny it or avoid it, which haven't we in your experience, especially in married life and growing up in families, I mean, because we're not even talking about the whole aspect of parenting and how this plays out.

Laura Dabney: We're both the parents, we're both parents, we both have been down that road.

Corey Allan: Right. But it's that element of realizing there's a training ground of roles I've been taught that isn't necessarily, how am I as a person within those roles, am I freely choosing them, am I engaging in them or am I just playing them? Which is I think what leads to the whole idea of, well I can't be mad about that or I can't express that or because that's not what a good girl does or a good guy does. And this is just trying to quintessentially experience being human, right?

Laura Dabney: I love that. Yes, this is all about being human. I mean, and it's impossible. I mean, you cannot get rid of these feelings. It's a fantasy that you can shove them down and they'll just go away. Because as you've seen and I've seen all the time, they end up coming out, leeching out in some much more destructive way if you haven't processed them. Like I work with veterans and they come in, Vietnam veterans, "Why am I still so distraught over this?" Like because you haven't been experiencing it, you've been burying, burying, burying. So it's still there.

Corey Allan: Okay. And so when you're talking about trying to help people just experience it, so for the listeners of Sexy Marriage Radio, when they're kind of hearing this thought process and liking where this is going, what's something they can do when this is striking home with them, what's the next step?

Laura Dabney: Well, it's first off, figure out you're enemy emotion is, if you can nail that down. And typically, and then what you usually do to cover it up. So what, what is it? And you usually have to go backwards. You usually have to find the cover up and then work backwards. So I often, people talk about journaling a lot, but I talk about journaling with a purpose. So it isn't just journaling, it's going back over and going, okay, look, I see this pattern of where I said, "You need to, you need to, you need to," every time I'm angry about something or something like that.

Corey Allan: Okay. And so that way then you've kind of nailed down, here's my emotion that's become my issue, my struggle, my go-to even, that I haven't really felt it to be able to heal it.

Laura Dabney: Right. And then it's that matter of catching it, catching it as much as you can and then giving yourself space. I always talk about giving yourself, especially with your significant other, I talk about giving yourself that private space. People talk about date night and all, but that's fine and it's important, but I even encourage a daily something where you have just your private time and you don't have to be talking, but it gives you that chance to unpack that bag should you need it.

Laura Dabney: Because our lives get so busy and we're running around, so if you had that daily ... Like my husband and I have coffee in bed every morning, we wake up early to do that. I know other ... I have some patients who have brunch in the garden every Saturday and other people who have, after the kids go to bed and they're doing the dishes together. So it's that chance to just reflect and just thinking about, "Okay, so there was something I was pissed off about? What was that? Yeah, that guy. And what did he say at lunch? Yeah, yeah." So you have your-

Corey Allan: Right. Okay, so this a deeper sharing, not just to, let's talk about the day, how did the day go? This is a, hold on, I want to go to the underneath it all and I want to share that with you.

Laura Dabney: Well, maybe. First it's reflecting, first going through your head and giving space to what was ... Was I angry? What was the feeling? What was it all about? And then, because sometimes venting is all we need because our significant other is someone we can trust, we can go ahead and vent and that may be it. You may find the anger at your coworker is gone by the time you get to work and then you don't even need to talk to him about it with him or her. So it just is that space and time to think about it a little.

Corey Allan: Okay. And I like that because in essence, this is that ... From what I know of you, this is what breeds intimacy.

Laura Dabney: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Because I'm bringing myself a little more transparently to the situation in my relationship, and most importantly to my own life.

Laura Dabney: Exactly. And that's what intimacy is, opening up to someone that you don't do with anybody else. You can share that stuff with your partner or spouse, as long as they're comfortable with it and they're not saying, "Please stop," then you're good to go. And that might be the most of it. And then you know something about each other that nobody else knows about you.

Corey Allan: Right? And this, is it goes back to also what you just mentioned earlier too of that don't we also sometimes have it wrong in the sense of we think intimacy is, well, what I know about you, you go first, right? I a sense, rather than, no, I think this is me having to be vulnerable to actually create that possibility, which is a incredible risk, but if I'm being selfish and if I'm looking out for my emotions and I'm honoring myself in better ways, I think that's I can handle that risk better.

Laura Dabney: Well, it's interesting. I'm just going to bring up that little point there where you're more vulnerable if you share an emotion. That's actually not true because you're the exact same person with the exact same strengths the minute before, you say you're irritated, right? Again, that's a fantasy that somehow you're more vulnerable if you say an emotion. I've had some patients say, "But then they could say no, then they could hurt me." It's like, you can always be hurt. How many times have you been hurt just walking down the street and someone steps on your toe. It has nothing to do with you saying an emotion is going to hurt anymore. If someone says no to you, it's not going to hurt any more if you said an emotion first or not.

Corey Allan: So that's just basically trying to confront the myth we have in our life of how we're trying to control our existence in a sense and those around us as self protection, when in reality, that's a myth.

Laura Dabney: Right. We're all vulnerable to being hurt all the time. You're more vulnerable when you're five and when you're 85 than when you're 45, but your strengths and weaknesses are the same.

Corey Allan: Okay. No, I agree with that. I like the way you frame this because it's really just trying to get down to the core of the human existence and then add to it that layer of complexity of close proximity to other humans and their existences, and man, now we've got a recipe for all kinds of stuff that we couldn't even possibly control other than, how am I in my own existence?

Laura Dabney: Right. All you have control over is you, your emotions and how you express them, that's all in your control. And that's where people get so mixed up when they start with the whole, like you were saying, you need to stop so I feel better. But you can do something to make yourself feel better and should, that's the definition of being an adult. You can care for yourself now. You don't have to force someone else to try to change, that you can't do anyway.

Corey Allan: Yeah, but careful, or that could be selfish. I'm joking with you, you know.

Laura Dabney: Selfish, it's a good thing.

Corey Allan: Well that's what's so funny about, because I just think of the concept of that word, and the way I frame it with my clients is, the only time that's really used on you is when someone wants you to stop doing something they don't want you to do, which is selfish in and of itself as they're asking it.

Laura Dabney: I love that.

Corey Allan: So it is a bad rep. It does get a bad rep on, wait, hold on. If it's really to somebody's detriment or it's agregious, okay, hold on, we got something we need to talk about. But if it's just moving into your own existence with someone else, why not?

Laura Dabney: Right, so I say it tongue-in-cheek because it's the challenge all the time, people's myths about their feelings. So the whole, well what's wrong with being a little selfish? Well then they have to start thinking about, where is that line. I had this old woman on a plane sitting next to me once and they did the whole, put your oxygen mask on first before [inaudible 00:26:59]. She goes, "I hate it when they say that." I said, "Well, why?" And she said, "It's so selfish." I was like, "Okay."

Corey Allan: Okay.

Laura Dabney: But they say it for a reason.

Corey Allan: Absolutely. Because if you don't ... This is the way I frame it, that if I don't have a self, I can't really help anybody else. I can't give to other people. I can't serve, I can't be who I really am trying to be if I flip that to where ... Because most people I have found that struggle most with the whole concept of selfishness is it's the ones that they really wear that label of servant.

Laura Dabney: Yes.

Corey Allan: That it's I am selfless, right?

Laura Dabney: Right.

Corey Allan: Which, okay. But selfless, it's presupposing you've got something to give, right? That there's a part of you. If that's not the case, as a doormat.

Laura Dabney: Right, that's exactly right.

Corey Allan: All right. So Laura, tell people of the Sexy Marriage Radio nation, how can they find you and the work that you do?

Laura Dabney: The best website for me, I've got two, but the easiest one to remember is And then I have lauradabneycom is my Instagram and Laura Dabney MD is my Facebook page.

Corey Allan: Okay, perfect. Well Laura, thank you so much for the work that you do and the way you help frame things for people because I think it's a vital ... I mean, if nothing else, if you could disrupt somebody's pattern on what we've thought and believed and give them a different one that's better in the sense of, hold on, let's really kind of nail this into what's the primary route you need to go rather than all these other things? That's the truism I have of those that can't control themselves, will seek to control everything around them. So how do you flip that thing to get more of my own experience at the center, then we're all better off. So thank you so much.

Laura Dabney: You're very welcome. Thank you so much for helping me express that so well.

Corey Allan: So I love that each and every week, Pam, we get a chance to explore different avenues of married life and sex, and that we have a variety of different guests that will come on and add a different take to some of the things we haven't thought of or talked about in a certain or specific way.

Pam Allan: Right, right. It seems like an endless supply of viewpoints and topics, right?

Corey Allan: There absolutely is an endless supply of information that we can find. And our hope here at Sexy Marriage Radio is that all of it steers you in your relationship to being the absolute best it can be.

Pam Allan: Right.

Corey Allan: Because none of this is easy sometimes. We all go through seasons where, man, you can just feel like you're under attack in your marriage where everything goes wrong and you're not clicking. And man, we want to say stick with it because it's worth it.

Pam Allan: Yeah.

Corey Allan: And you come out the other side so much better and so much stronger. So this has been Sexy Marriage Radio. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to spend it with us. We'll see you next time.