Dating with Leeor Gal, LMFT
Listen in on Episode 7 featuring Leeor Gal, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer).
PART 1 -Getting to know therapist, Leeor Gal, LMFT, and how she specializes with individuals around attachment styles, dating, transitioning periods, young adults, her philosophy with each client, and the motivation behind creating her journal, Empower Your Mind, which includes prompts and understandings on gratitude, self-care, and weekly themes helping you where to start.
PART 2 – Common Issues that come up with Clients around Dating. Approaches and Healthy Management Tools for relationships and important feelings to recognize.
PART 3 – Attachment styles – anxious vs avoidant vs secure …Healing Attachment wounds and understanding how to heal it. Trust issues. Communicating needs, including around sex and intimacy.
Content Considerations: Mentions of Mental Illness, Discussion on STIs, Sex, and Intimacy.
Some episode highlights include…
What led Leeor to become a psychotherapist at age 25 and her experience confronting her parents about changing careers into a mental health-focused direction.
Reflecting deeper and your self-awareness journey
Internalizing and Questioning behavior while dating or in relationships, especially when new to dating.
The “intimacy dance” of the pursuer and the distancer – emotionally-focused couples therapy.
What has made you who you are today?
More About Leeor…
Leeor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the owner of The Therapy Gal group practice located virtually in Pennsylvania. She enjoys creating relatable therapy-related videos on both Tiktok and instagram and works towards destigmatizing mental health! She also published a journal called Empower Your Mind, which is a 12-week prompted journal.
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Daniela Galdi 0:04
When we are dating, we are oftentimes constantly thinking about what the other person is thinking of us, rather than what we actually think about them. Welcome back everyone to our next episode with heal your roots podcast. I am your co host, Daniela Goldy. And I am the founder of byvesta agency producer with heal your roots wellness for this podcast, as well as a health and wellness professional.
Kira Yakubov 0:36
Hi, everybody, I’m Kira Yakubov lead therapist and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness. Every episode we’ll be talking to a mental health professional and getting to know them a little bit more as human beings and what they do in the field.
Daniela Galdi 0:50
And today, we have Leeor Gal here with us as our guest. Leeor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the owner of the therapy gal, group practice located in Pennsylvania. She enjoys creating relatable therapy related videos on both Tiktok and Instagram, and works towards destigmatizing mental health. She also published a journal called empower your mind, which is a 12 week prompted journal that we will definitely be talking about today. And she shares with us that her mission is to prove that therapy can be fun, along with being serious and challenging. And therapy can be for anyone that wants an objective perspective and is looking to grow. So welcome, Leeor , it’s so great to have you. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Oh my gosh, of course. Okay, so we’re just gonna dive right in. And so that was a beautiful bio, and I can’t wait to hear more on everything that you do. I know a little bit later, we’ll get into also some dating talk, as well. But if you could just tell us a little bit more about yourself so that our listeners can really get to know you.
Leeor Gal 2:00
Absolutely. So hi, everyone, I’m Leeor . I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist. I am currently living locally in Philadelphia, hoping to make a move to New Jersey soon. But as we all know, the housing market is crazy. But I opened up my own practice back in June, and I have an employee and it’s it’s growing slowly, but it’s growing because I’ve noticed such a need for therapy. And I absolutely love this field. I’m so happy to be in it. I’m just happy to be here on this podcast.
Kira Yakubov 2:41
Oh, thanks for your and congratulations on you opening your practice and expanding. I know that’s a very big deal and not an easy thing to do. So congrats on that. That’s huge.
Daniela Galdi 2:51
Thank you, thank you. And I was very lucky to have care of on my side throughout the whole process. And I’m sure we will talk about how you and I met, which is like the most crazy experience ever the connections that we had. But it’s so important to have connections and support when taking a big leap like that.
Kira Yakubov 3:12
Absolutely. So we’ll definitely get into that a little bit later. But I do always love to start off and ask start ask our guests. What got you into the field? Like, is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Or did you transition to therapy kind of share with us a little bit of your backstory?
How did you get into this field of mental health?
Leeor Gal 3:29
You know, I love this question every single time somebody asks me this, because it was completely unconventional how I got into this field, meaning when I say it fell in my lap, it literally fell in my lap. And I know that that’s not the answer that most people want to hear. Because a lot of people are like, I thought of this everyone since I was two years old. And I knew that wasn’t me. I didn’t know that this was for me until I was 2525 years old. So I went to school for four years, I got a communications degree. I worked for a little bit and realize this sucks. Like this is not for me. Not that it sucks for everybody else. But for me, I realized that I wasn’t good at it. I didn’t find joy in it. So I quit my job and moved back home with my parents. This all happened by the way. Within a day. I was just like, I don’t want to do this anymore. I quit my job. This is not a sign up for everybody just do that because I was I was young I had support I couldn’t I was able to move in with my parents. I didn’t have a lot of bills. So I was able to do that. And I went back to school with the idea of becoming an occupational therapist. And I took bio anatomy stat like I did all of those classes that I And I’d have never taken an undergrad, that’s for sure. And I loved it. I took more psychology classes as well, because that’s one of the prerequisites for OT. And I applied and I applied, and I applied and was really, really hard to get in to the point where he was like, I don’t even know if I really want to do this. So, one day, I was like, Oh, this was a cool program. And it was Jefferson’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. And they reached out to me, I reached out back to them. I interviewed and I got in. And that is how I became nervous. And every, every time I told the story, everyone’s like, what? You just decided one day, and I was like, it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. That’s amazing. Well, they say the things that are meant for us to not not that the process is always easy, but they come it comes to us easily. And it just seems right. And you recognize it. And there’s no questioning usually behind it’s like, yeah, this is what it is. So I love hearing that. That was what it seems like it felt like for you, along with the process of, you know, am I going to go here? What program? Can I get into what’s going to be the best? You know, so what was your experience, like at Jefferson, and then following graduation? Yeah, I think one, one small thing that I want to say is, it wasn’t that I just all of a sudden, like, I’ve never thought of this before. And then I became a therapist, I always knew I wanted to help people. But I never thought that I could sit in front of someone and hear them talk about really hard, difficult things, because I would feel so upset about it. And so I always put being a therapist with the side because I was like, I can’t do that. I’m not emotionally equipped to do that. How who am I to help somebody with that. And so when I started doing it, it was such an amazing experience to say like, I don’t need to be perfect. In order to be able to do this. I just need to know what I’m doing. I need to obviously get the training for it. And I did love my program at Jefferson, we had an amazing, amazing, amazing practicum we worked with, with women in shelters, we work with so many different types of people. And I because I was in Philadelphia, I got to work with just everybody and everything. And it was in all different, you know, capacities. And especially as a marriage and family therapist, I needed to get, you know, a certain amount of hours of systemic experience, meaning couples and families. And I realized, like, this is such incredible work and something that obviously, everybody can benefit from it. But I really, I really loved my experience in grad school it was, it was definitely a great, great time for me.
Kira Yakubov 8:08
I love that. And I love your original story of that. That wasn’t even on the radar really in the beginning. Right? That was like very similar for me. I went to school for accounting, like I was going to be my idea was I’m gonna be a CPA. And it’s not because I had like this desire or love for math. Right? It was my parents were like, it was my junior year of high school. And I was like, Dad, I don’t know what I want to be. And he’s like, Well, I’m Eastern European background. Well, you know, accounting is a stable job for a woman and you’re like good at math. So just do that. I was very cool. And I had my internship at a tax firm. And one week later, I came home crying and said, I hate I hate my job. I hate all of this. And then slowly started to shift to psychology. And so I’m curious because we are I know you’re also an immigrant and you have Eastern European roots. How did your parents take that when you told them you wanted to be a therapist?
Leeor Gal 9:02
Oh my god, I remember. So first of all, I have a photographic memory, which I only found out recently when my clients are like, how do you remember what I did or war said in that session? I think something’s wrong with me. I don’t know why. So nothing’s wrong with me. I think I just have a photographic memory. So I remember when, when I I didn’t tell my parents about it until after my interview and I think I remember if it was right after I even got accepted or it was just after the interview, but I remember walking into their bedroom was like 10pm and this was at the time I was living with them because I had moved back and I was waitressing and I was also nannying at the time. And I was like I’m I’m gonna be a therapist now. So that’s so I’m starting Google here. So my my prayer Since we’re like, oh, but then so as as Kira, as you just said Eastern European and my, my dad is is Israeli. My dad is doesn’t have a lot of opinions as my mom, of course. But my mom was like what? And I was like, but it’s a Jefferson. And she’s like, Oh, I made the difference. That’s a very good school for you I am affected accents. It’s like any other department, you but I was like, Okay, well, I guess it’s Jefferson, so I must be some great program. And they were very skeptical. They were definitely very skeptical, but they were like, you’re gonna pay for it. Like, we’re not paying for your school. And I was like, fair. And I did it. And I think they took me seriously because I took out a lot of loans on the program. They were like, You must be very serious about this. And I was like, Yeah, I really am. And now they’re like, holy crap. We we can’t believe we’ve been doubted for a second that this would be your calling. Do you see it kind of opening their world to in terms of mental health and seeking professional help? Yes, and no, I think for
Kira Yakubov 11:34
like that mixed review.
Leeor Gal 11:37
But they’re very, very supportive of me. And what I do, I think a lot of the times, my parents were more impressed by my social media presence than anything. And like, if I do like a brand deal or something, they’re like, our daughter is so incredible, because they paid her to do video. And it’s amazing. And I’m like, Okay, but what about my math? On a daily basis,
Kira Yakubov 12:08
no, you run business, this is good.
Leeor Gal 12:14
They all have obviously, all jokes aside, they are very proud. And they’re, they’re so happy that I’ve just settled down with something that fits me and they there, they’re not worried about it. I can definitely see your passion coming through. And I love that you. So care mentioned a little bit about her accent, as well. You both have that that you can connect on. Here’s all the very good at that. But you know, how else did you to connect? How did you become friends? Wow, it’s so Kara Oh, my gosh, this is the best story funny. So how I mentioned I nannied, um, the mom that I need for it was amazing. She was the sweetest person in the world. And she knew I was, you know, starting off as a therapist, and I eventually wanted to go into private practice, but I didn’t know who to talk to. And she was like, Well, I have this one friend who knows someone that like maybe you can ask her for coffee, and you guys can meet up and curious. Okay, finish the story. I just I love
Kira Yakubov 13:14
telling Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, I’ll tell you my take on it was funny. I know. Yeah.
Leeor Gal 13:19
I wonder what your take is. So I reached out to Kira and she was so sweet. So amazing. We met up at Starbucks. And we’re talking were like really getting along and connecting and yada, yada. And I remember, like, Oh my God, let me add you on Facebook. And I go on Facebook. And I was like, Wait, we have this mutual friend. And Carrie was like, Oh, who is it? And I was like, Can I can I say the name? I was like Ron, I know Ron. And she was like, That’s my fiancee. I was like, No.
Kira Yakubov 14:00
I was like, here we got no, I’m kidding.
Leeor Gal 14:04
It was like, well, Aran’s parents, were best friends with my parents growing up. And I was best friends with his sister growing up. And I was like, Wait, you’re dating. So crazy. So we have this like crazy connection where I was like, I cannot believe you’re about to get married to Aran who was like basically a part of my entire childhood leading up to until I think he went to college and then, you know, people. People didn’t go apart. But it was crazy.
Kira Yakubov 14:34
Yeah, that was so climber. I walked in, and I sat down. You’re looking at me. And you’re like, you look so familiar. I feel like we’ve met before. And I was like, No, I’m really good with faces. I’ve never seen you or met you before. I would know. You’re like, okay, and then that’s what it came off. You’re like I knew I saw your face somewhere. And it was on Facebook from a Ron’s page. So yeah, that’s been funny, but we’ve been we You’ve connected and we’ve stayed in touch since then, just I mean, we’re colleagues in the field, right? And we were just killing it. I mean, you’re doing a phenomenal job. And like, I love watching your growth, from the beginning process to now because it’s been incredible. And like you hustle, and you’ve been killing it. And I’ve, like I saw your journal is like that inspiration. Like, I want to start a journal and like, do that, too. So I mean, I think it’s everything you’d be doing is really fabulous. And I’m so proud of you.
Daniela Galdi 15:28
Oh, thank you. Thank you. I feel like when if anybody ever doubts me at any point in my life, I have this like, weird thing where I’m like, Well, you know what, I guess I’m gonna have to prove you wrong. So I’ll do everything I can to do that. I am raising my hand to that, because I feel that I feel that I’m like, Oh, you just said no, sorry. Now I’m gonna have to do it.
Leeor Gal 15:49
Okay. Right. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So that’s probably something I need to work on. But not stuff done. Here we go. Can you tell us more about the journal? Yeah, so the reason behind the journal or the motivation behind the journal is I would have session after session with my clients just either struggling to, you know, process more of what we talk about in therapy during the week, or sometimes even think about topics to talk about, or say, like, I’m good, but then we find that there’s a lot of things below the surface. And so I thought, you know, instead of me just telling somebody journal at night, whatever comes up comes up, because a lot of people really do struggle with that. I was like, what if I prompted people? What if I created a journal that not only allows you to include gratitude include, you know, how you self care, which the journal also explains and has inside of it. But also, I divided each w eek to a different theme. And then with an each week, every day of the week, there’s a different journal prompt that you get to answer and sort of process and think about what it means to you. And it was all things to my clients that I was like, is, there’s clearly a need for it. And people can do this and just sort of have it nearby or have it on their nightstand and check in with it. And yeah, that’s sort of what prompted it. That’s awesome.
Kira Yakubov 17:35
I love that. And even thinking about journaling. Great. I’ve, I mean, I’m sure you obviously now tell your clients and have before about journaling. I tell my clients all the time how powerful journaling is. And I think the toughest part of starting from me here, all my clients is I don’t know what to write about, or I don’t even know where to start, or how do I know how to reflect deeper, right? Like, how do I know how to prop myself to process even further to get to some of those root causes are just like bringing that awareness about what’s going on for you. So I love that you use the practical work that you’re in, found a need and was like, Oh, let me help people address this. It’s awesome.
Leeor Gal 18:15
It’s been good to my clients got it and, and they’ve enjoyed it. 12 weeks. And that’s it.
Daniela Galdi 18:23
I love that I applaud you for that too, because it really put a lot of thought behind it and intention. And I love the parts about just taking people into like a deeper self awareness with that reflection that they can do with that. That’s amazing. And we’ll make sure for anyone listening, we’ll make sure we have the link in the show notes as well. So they can check it out too. But let’s keep going with this. I mean Kira, what do you I feel like you two colleagues, friends, but like any dying questions that you really want to ask Leeor?
Kira Yakubov 18:57
Well, I know that you know your trainings, marriage and family therapy, but who do you enjoy working with the best? Or what do you feel like your specialty or niches that you are just like? These are my people like these are my aligned clients? This is what I want to focus on.
The different approaches to dating.
Leeor Gal 19:11
Yeah, I’m, I’m really glad you’re asking me this question. Because a lot of times people think that marriage and family therapists only work with couples and families. And that’s really, really not the case. I think most of my client load is actually individuals. The thing that sets us apart and I’ll go into my, my, my my niche. But I think that MFTs have this unique perspective that is more systemic as viewing the individual more as a part of their system rather than just the individual. And so whenever I’m working with somebody, I definitely take that lens of what made you who you are today what has molded you what has kept you grounded or made you feel about life, you know, and so I would say My My connection with like couples work and individual work is I really, really enjoy working with individuals around attachments around dating. Just as them as the individual and the relationship. I always invite their partner in if I’m working with an individual, and they’re having relationship issues, so I have that training to be able to do that. And I really, really enjoy that I enjoy transitions, like from college to being a young adult in the in the work force, especially because I knew I had such a hard time with it. And I switched around and stuff. So I I really love, you know, working with teenagers and adults and dating transitions. And do you have a favorite like approach or method or philosophy behind this? Yeah. So I think that with each client, there’s going to be a different approach. So if I approach somebody with an emotion focused philosophy, which is more emotionally based, I know that, you know, I am there, they vibe with that, meaning they might struggle with emotions, they might need more of that feelings wheel, anybody’s fears, but that is just Google, it’s really great. I love doing that. But if somebody is like, I know how I’m feeling like that, like, you don’t have to explain primary and secondary emotions. To me, I know I read about it, we might, we might need to go, you know, a little bit different of a route. So it’s, it’s usually very different in terms of the clients that I’m working with. But what I always bring to the table is relatability, meaning I’m not judgmental. Honestly, I’ve probably done half of this stuff myself. And I like to meet clients where they’re at, meaning, am I going to challenge you 100% 100%, but I’m not going to going to push you. So that’s my philosophy of like, I’m going to challenge you, but I’m not going to push you because if I push you too hard, you’re out of here, and then nobody wins. So I just I like to always check in with my clients, and just kind of, yeah, just feel them out, feel their vibe, and what really they’re coming in for
Kira Yakubov 22:34
I love that we have such a similar approach and background. And of course, like the training with being a marriage and family therapist, is that relationships are so crucial to our growth and the fulfillment of our life. And I think sometimes it’s hard because especially with dating, right? There’s so many myths and like cliches like you have to be whole, you have to love yourself before you can date somebody else and to dig degrees, right? Like, there’s a lot of different approaches to take with dating and having relationships be a huge part of the work that we do in those attachments. What do you feel like is a pretty common issue that comes up for your clients around dating?
Leeor Gal 23:20
So I feel like it’s always about the games. Everybody feels like everybody plays games. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it’s gay, or if it’s boundaries, or if it’s an avoidant attachment versus anxious attachment. I am always noticing everybody being annoyed by games but also playing the game themselves. And I don’t have I wish I had like a like a lens to look at everybody and how everybody is but I obviously don’t have that. But I’m very intrigued by that because I hear it over and over and over again. They didn’t text me back or I’m not doing this or they just ghosted me or you know, they reappeared and data and I’m like, there’s a different reason for each person. But it happens a lot and I think if I could take a wild clinical guess I think the dating apps and the availability of finding people in a guy just snapped but in the snap and and having somebody else there that might play a part of I don’t need to commit because there are so many other fish in the sea.
Daniela Galdi 24:42
Y’all I am over here taking a hold in my laughter so I’ll share with everyone Kira as you know here knows all of this but I’m actually I came into this episode a little nervous because I came from the relation Ship of 12 years and have been single for six months now. And finally feel like, okay, I could hang out with someone go for calling in a date yet, but I could. And so you know, when I hear you say all these things, I’m over here nodding my head like, Yep, I don’t want to play the games. But here I am like, Oh, let me post this because maybe that’ll get you know, I haven’t tried the apps yet. But it’s very hard to not internalize everything from somebody else’s behavior, right? Because I feel like this is like a very vulnerable time. So to either of you have any thoughts on that on it? You know, is it even healthy to maybe internalize it? I mean, I’m, I’m questioning everything I do. And I try to let go, and then I find myself doing it again. So you know, what do you guys, what do you two think on that?
Leeor Gal 25:59
I think my favorite thing, my favorite response to that question is when we are dating, we are oftentimes constantly thinking about what the other person is thinking of us, rather than what we actually think about them. So there is a phenomenon, of course, where we want to be liked by others, we want to be, you know, whether it’s chased or favored or wanted, that we lose sight of, Do I even want them? And going into these situations, whether it’s a date, or whether it’s the apps or whether it’s talking about whatever going into it, like, well, how does this person actually make me feel this accident or making me feel like I have to like, go upside down backwards through loops, just to talk to them or get their attention? Maybe they’re not the right person for me. So, always checking in with yourself? Yeah, I understand the internalization of it, of course. But if it’s a person that constantly makes you second guess yourself or think some sort of way, maybe, maybe it’s not you. Right, maybe it’s not them, it’s just not a match.
Dealing with rejection and anxiety
Kira Yakubov 27:14
I love that Leeor. And Danielle, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing that I think that’s a really a big deal. So I appreciate that. And I think that’s going to be helpful for the listeners also to connect and relate. I remember, when I was dating, and a piece of advice that I heard from somebody that really helped, is I also had like a very anxious attachment, I wouldn’t be in my head, like, what are they thinking? What does this text mean? Like interpreting everything down to the team with the final goal of Do they like me? Right? And if they don’t, what does that say about me. And this piece of advice I heard is, if you just meet someone, let’s say it’s a first date, first few dates, and you know, they end things with you and you feel rejected, they didn’t really reject all of you, they don’t even know you well enough to know anything about you. They just rejected the match. And that’s okay, that doesn’t mean anything about your worth your self esteem, what you can offer is just the misalignment. And that’s okay. And that means that there are misalignment for you, too. I think a lot of dating is going to be rejection, because we only need to find one or two depending on your relationship structure. But not everyone’s going to be a match and we don’t have to have everyone like us. So I don’t know if that was helpful. advice on that questionfor you.
Daniela Galdi 28:35
It was my my sarcastic response in my head was we don’t
Leeor Gal 28:42
well, that’s valid. That’s that’s sort of why I think Kira and I both touched on it is and I mean, here, I can’t speak for you, of course, but I want to be liked by by everybody. But then I remember if I do that, that means I’m not authentic. Possibly blend in with everybody in this world. Simple. I love that. Thank you for sharing those insights. I don’t want this to turn into like, dating one on one for me. But let’s for everybody else, what are some some things that you like to approach or some healthy management tools that both of you can share for people in transition? Or you know, specifically with like relation any type of relationships? I think Kira sort of spoke to this a little bit before but the the idea that you need to be fully healed in order to be in another relationship or I always hear these like really random timelines of if you dated for one year, then you need to be single for one month if it was six years, six months. I mean, if it’s, and I’m like, where, who, who? Because I like to meet them and I don’t know, talk to them because To me, you don’t need to be fully 100% healed, because that’s impossible. So you will be single forever if that is the motto that you decide to take, because we, as human beings, heal in the context of others. And so, for waiting and waiting and waiting, there’s this missing piece for us. Maybe that can be accomplished through another’s secure attachment. Right, Carrie, I know you mentioned an anxious attachment 100%. I relate to that. That’s why my partner is secure, attached, and he helped me name. It wasn’t his choice. But we met, we fell in love. And I got to learn what it’s like to feel secure and comfortable with him was I 100% healed when I met healed, quote, unquote, when I met him, you know, am I still know. And I know that I feel comfortable and safe and secure in this relationship. And things will still come up and fights will happen or arguments, but I know that no matter what I can always rely on this person. So in terms of dating, and starting to date, recognizing, like I said before, how this person makes me feel, and what do they bring to me? And yes, sure, what do I bring to them? But again, we’re thinking of ourselves, we need to think of ourselves, first of all, do I feel comfortable with this person?
When you’re ready to be in a relationship, there’s a lot of work you have to do internally and individually
Kira Yakubov 31:35
I totally agree. And I love going into more of that healing part or feeling ready to be in a relationship. Because there, there will be a lot of work we have to do internally and individually, right? Like, there’s this duality, like Austin relationships, and us on our own independent and finding a balance between those two is super important in life in general, but especially in romantic relationships. And so we might feel like we’re in a good place, like, you know what, like, I get where some of my ships coming from, I’ve worked on a lot of things, I feel good, I feel ready to date, and then you meet somebody who might be great for you. And that might be a successful relationship down the line. But in the beginning, it’s going to trigger all your stuff. And that’s okay. And so that’s kind of like, Leeor, what you’re saying is we heal within relationships, too. There’s no amount of work you can do prior that’s going to prepare you for the work that has to happen within the relationship. And that person is going to be coming in with their own stuff and their own triggers. Right. So we meet each other where we’re at, and we work through that phase together. And something I love to work on with my individual clients who are like, you know, what I’m ready to date or they’re dating is creating a morals and values list for themselves about themselves, not necessarily about the person they’re looking for, which is helpful down the line sometimes. But more importantly, like what are your values, like what’s important in your life that you need, that you just know, you need that is like a non negotiable, that you know, is going to be fulfilling for you. Right? It’s like, for example, I really need mental stimulation. And I need a lot of physical touch. And I knew like if those two things are missing, no matter how attracted I was, no matter how, like whatever it is, on paper, they look great, it’s not going to be a good fit for me because down the line, it’s just not going to be fulfilling. So it’s kind of like knowing some of these things about yourself ahead of time. So that when you are dating, it’s like does this match with who I am? And not just like the chemistry in the moment?
Leeor Gal 33:37
I think that that sort of also speaks to the games, right? Of an eye being a little hard to get and a little cheeky, or am I completely letting go of all my morals and values in order to match up with that person? Right, like, oh, I don’t need a text back. But really, you you do need somebody to check in with you. You need somebody to check in with you. And that’s okay. I’m sure there are other people out there that probably feel the same way.
Kira Yakubov 34:08
And that goes into I mean, at least for us I know like the anxious attachment secure attachment avoidant. Right. I think that a very common dynamic that happens is the avoidant, someone who has an avoidant attachment is dating someone who has an anxious attachment. Because the beliefs we have about ourselves in relationships, we live out and confirm them subconsciously. Right? So I mean, if we are, if we grew up with the narrative that I have to earn love, and I have to really put in a lot of work to feel worthy will attract somebody who is expecting someone else to do a lot of the work in the relationship and be chaste. And that confirms that belief over and over again. But guess what? It also confirms the belief that when someone comes too close, I need to pull away and I have to chase Chase Chase, right like we just keep getting stuck in this cycle. So I think for you, you’re what do you do when you see this kind of when your clients, whether it’s in couples work, which is a lot more interesting or an individual work when you just have the one person with you?
Leeor Gal 35:13
Yeah, so I think the clinical term to this is the intimacy dance of the pursuer and the distancer. And I believe that also comes from Emotionally Focused couples therapy. So, it’s, it’s definitely something that I oftentimes see. And I think what what is a great tool or a coping skill for this is to first of all, if you’re in therapy for the therapist to call it out, right? Like, hey, I’m noticing this. What, please explain to me why this is, you know, what’s causing this to happen, where this is coming from. And typically when we understand what has caused our attachment, or what is allowing us to lean in more towards whether being anxious avoidant, secure, you know, whatever disorganized, we can understand how to heal it. And so for me, it’s number one, a baseline foundation is, like I said before, what has made you who you are today. And attachment styles are oftentimes created in childhood. But they’re not necessarily just an A broken attachment or unhealed attachment with the caregiver. But rather, you can have a secure attachment with your friends and an anxious attachment with a partner and an avoidant attachment with parents. It’s what has affected you, how were you more ft, and how people in your life reacted to you growing up. So I always that is my number one technique to understanding and healing attachment wounds, especially in couples, if I’m doing couples therapy, and helping the other person understand each other and sort of just literally drawing it out and explaining this is what’s happening. But I don’t care if you have a different method and love to hear that.
The different styles of attachment styles
Kira Yakubov 37:07
Yeah, I mean, that’s pretty spot on, right? Like we take a lot of time to explore, you know, those beginning relationships and attachments. And I love that you mentioned, your attachment is, first of all, it’s not stagnant. It’s not something that’s like stuck on you for the rest of your life. And it looks different within different relationships. Right. So I had a lot of secure attachments with my friendships, I could trust that they’ll show up for me, I could trust to be myself and share my emotions, right? Like, if I texted them a lot, they knew like, I didn’t feel like I’m being needy, because they needed the same amount of attention as I did. Or if they didn’t, we just knew and there wasn’t a judgement, right? But when you’re starting to date, that attachment can look really different. So I think understanding what the emotions are that are coming up for you, what are the beliefs that you have around yourself and other people, and trying to kind of challenge those and poke, poke at the flaws in the thinking, right? Because these are narratives that have just been conditioned, but they don’t have to necessarily be true. And accepting that, like, if you have these particular amounts of needs, like that’s okay. It might seem needy to someone who a doesn’t have the same amount of needs in that capacity, or they’re just not willing to provide it. And that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean that you’re needy, just means your needs are going on met. Exactly. We’re in differentiation,
Leeor Gal 38:31
right, you’re not needy, you just have needs area.
Daniela Galdi 38:36
I love that I love I feel like we need to put that out into the world, you’re not needy, you have needs. And it’s very real thing, right? It’s a real thing, not anything we should feel shame or guilt for. And I believe, I really do feel you both did a great job, like through explaining the attachment styles and the inference with using your examples. But just to briefly recap for the list of there’s, if one of you could share maybe an example, maybe let’s use texting since it’s so common, right? brief examples as to, you know, the different styles of attachments you mentioned, and what that looks like.
Kira Yakubov 39:14
So if we’re even using the example of texting, right, let’s say you just went on a first date, it went great. Okay, and now the texting, the waiting that all that stuff begins, right, the contact between the people. So I think if you happen to resonate with an anxious attachment style, you’re going to be preoccupied, like almost hyper fixated on, are they going to text me should I text them? If I am going to text them? How long should I wait? Is it going to come off to forward? How should I say this? I’m going to text all my friends and ask them what I should say. And then let’s say you get a text back or it’s been an hour, you might be freaking out like okay, I said the wrong thing. What are they going to say? Maybe they don’t like me. It’s really just like this preoccupation. It’s really this hyper fixation on the other person and what they’re thinking about, and how that is going to result. And if they care about me or not, right, it’s, it’s like this external view of what the other person is looking for and needing and feeling versus our own self. Whereas let’s say you might resonate with an avoidant attachment style in dating, it might look like, I can go all day. Yeah, that person was really cool. I really enjoyed their energy, but like, I don’t need to talk to them. Today, I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to, you know, focus on my work, hang out my friends. Oh, yeah, they popped into my head, let me shoot them a text and say, Hey, and they might start texting you back immediately. Like, you just said, Hey, and they text you back. Okay, what’s going on, when you want to hang out again, you might feel like, oh, that’s like, a little much. Maybe they’re kind of clinging, maybe I should take a step back. But I did like them. But let me just take a step back to like, let them know to chill. And if you have a secure attachment, you’re probably not thinking of any of those things. Like, I really enjoyed my time with them yesterday, I want to let them know I had fun. I’m going to see when they’re free again. And I text them and I go on about my business. And then when they reach back out to me, it’s like, awesome, we’re on the same page, let’s meet up, or they might not be. And like, that kind of sucks. All right, on to the next. There’s so I don’t know who you are you kind of vibe with that. Or if there’s like a different example, you have your own?
How to build a secure attachment in a relationship
Leeor Gal 41:28
No, I fully fully agree with everything that you just said. And I think what’s happening with either anxious or avoidant attachment is there’s a lot of unspoken things that we assume the other person should know. Meaning, I’m not going to, you know, from an avoidance standpoint, I’m not going to respond so that they know to chill on that saying that I’m doing that with my actions. And instead of that being conveyed to the person that is anxiously attached of, well, okay, maybe we need to like, chill a little bit. They’re like, they hate me, I have to make them love me now. So I’m going to pursue them more. And it’s not on purpose. And it’s not, you know, like, I’m speaking from an anxious perspective, because I was like, it’s not out of malice. And and that’s the thing, both parties, it’s not out of malice intent, it is just this like, non communicative communication, that does not work. It just doesn’t, we have to communicate, always. Wow, so interesting. So we’re aiming for secure attachment.
Kira Yakubov 42:45
So secure attachment can be built, right. Like I said earlier, it’s not something that’s stuck on you. And I think it becomes easier to build that when you find someone who does have a secure attachment, or is at least working towards that, or has moved through their own stuff, or at least is aware of what they’re coming in the relationship with and can experience and share that with you. Like, I also had a very anxious attachment. And I still do sometimes, right? Like, there’s still remnants that come up and trigger me every now and then. But when I met my now husband back then, like he had a pretty secure attachment. And like, that was probably the hardest relationship to start. Because I was like, on guard, I was looking at like, Oh, he’s saying all these nice things, he must be lying, or he must be trying to put the charm on me. I’m gonna wait. Right? All these things. I think that one is the toughest relationship, after having so many bad experiences, the healthy one, because now we’re expecting it. And the other person is like, No, I’m just here, I just really liked you. I just really enjoy your company, there’s nothing extra you have to do not to earn my love in any way. Right? Like it has to be reciprocal, you know, in that way, but it’s not games. And there’s something that he said, I really love this part, just because for all those listeners who have trust issues based on their past experiences, is a lot of the times I would meet, I would meet people on dates, and they would try to convey like, I’m trustworthy to say that, like, oh, you can trust me, we have all these future plans together before they really knew me. And the beginning, that would be a hook, right? Like, oh, my God, they liked me, because that’s what I needed to hear. But then I started to be like, Oh, you don’t know me well enough to tell me these things. So then I would be a little thrown off. And then when I met Iran, when I expressed some of these trust issues and fears, he said, Can you just give me the opportunity to prove it to you? And I was like, I like that answer. That’s a good answer. Okay, I’ll give you the opportunity. You’re not trying to tell me that I can trust you. I’m trying to put the charm on you’re just trying to you just want opportunity. And so I think kind of looking in the lens of how we were still like how do you feel around the person like is it mixed messages or does it feel sincere and giving it some time? See if the words and actions line up and are congruent to what’s going on?
Leeor Gal 45:06
I think you’re what you’re describing, too, is what is now termed as love bombing. Hmm, yeah, I just met you, but you are the most amazing, awesome person, we’re gonna get married and have all these kids and a life and you’re like, okay, like, it’s been one date, but all right, um, and then it doesn’t, it doesn’t, they don’t show up in that way anymore. And so for whatever reason, that is, you’re right, like, allowing somebody and us ourselves as well, of proving our loyalty and our trustworthiness to someone, it’s a whole part of the process of dating.
Sexual transmitted infections (STI’s)
Daniela Galdi 45:54
You too, have both shared so many valuable points, I keep thinking of so many people, I’m like, I’m going to have to send them this. Because we all just sit here this. And it’s just, it’s amazing to hear that there is there’s ease with what you both say, I have to be honest, coming from this perspective of now, you know, newly going into the dating world, and I’m definitely going to say that I have an actual anxious attachment style. You know, so going, going into it all it’s, it’s, it brings me ease, and hopefully ease for other people hearing that, you know, therapists such as yourselves can help work through this with somebody to just get them back to what I’m hearing is their own needs, right, their needs and being straightforward. And as as honest as possible, and building the practice and the courage to express those needs and express any type of communication and, and so, you know, take away all of these other things that I have also flooded here with before, you know, what if it’s love bombing, oh, my gosh, I have to worry about STDs. Oh. So many things come up with dating, I really appreciate what you two both focused on with the attachment style. Because it does feel like you can you can work to understand this to not actually make your mind go on overload with how much goes into now. Just simply finding out if you like the person’s company, like to me, that’s, that’s the main thing is like, we want to know your needs. And first and foremost, do we do we have those in common? Do you understand that? You know, it’s, I’m blabbering a little bit now, but it does, it does bring me a lot of ease.
Leeor Gal 47:51
I’m actually really glad that you brought up sexually transmitted infections, I think that that is a huge taboo topic that people are so afraid to bring up. So when we’re dating, and we are sexually active with somebody, it is appropriate, not only to ask them if they have been tested, but to tell them to get tested before being intimate with you. It’s not worth going through the hassle of things, when it could just be a very simple conversation, whether you guys go together or separate and send each other pictures of the negative test. And if it’s positive, thank goodness, we checked it out. But having those hard conversations to when you’re dating to protect yourself, your body, your mind, that is more than appropriate as well.
Kira Yakubov 48:50
Absolutely. And those are important, very important conversations in the beginning, that can be super awkward, depending on your level of comfort, the other person’s level of comfort, how you just met, right? All of these different factors can make you feel uncomfortable. And I think it’s also an opportunity to see how each of you respond and react when there’s a tough conversation. I think that’s a great way as a stress test, almost like, how does this person react to a request or a need that I have to feel comfortable to continue pursuing this? Right? That’s a huge indicator if they are someone who’s emotionally safe, or perhaps not at this current time. And I think it’s also important to recognize that if someone does have an STI, that doesn’t mean they can’t be sexually active or they can’t be in relationships, right. Like I think it’s important to disclose certain information, but for other people to recognize like there’s still other ways to go about this. So it’s not about if you do have an STI that like this was done, right? For some people that might be you know, a hard line and that’s okay, we all have our boundaries, but for other people good okay, like let me do a little little bit of research and like understanding about this, like, maybe it’s not as bad as I think or how I was taught, however many years ago when are horrible sex ed in high school or middle school, right? Like, having these conversations about sex is going to be really, really important too. So that’s a great feature that I’m glad that you brought up, actually, because it is something that people think about while they’re dating. So we are I know you also work with couples. How does this show up in the room for you if there is something going on with intimacy? Or do you work with couples around intimacy?
Leeor Gal 50:34
I do work with couples around intimacy. But if if because I was not sexually trained, meaning I did not specialize in sex therapy. Wow, that was a weird way to put it. But all right.
Kira Yakubov 50:47
[unclear] trained differently.
Leeor Gal 50:56
Yes. As you guys are wondering what we learned in school we are [unclear] trained. No, I’m not, not a sex therapist, because I have been more towards the family route. But so if it is something that feels out of my scope of expertise, I always refer out. But if it is more of communication around sex, or sometimes mismatched intimacy or desire levels, that’s something that I think is appropriate. And honestly, something that a lot of couples go through, I would say, probably, every single couple have ever worked with sex and intimacy has been a topic, no matter what, no matter what. So how do I work with that? I mean, again, baseline we start with can you communicate? And then after that, can you communicate about specs? And then after that, what are your desire levels, right? It’s not necessarily a drive of like, I like when I think of drive, I think of like, I need this, like, if I don’t have this, I’m not gonna survive in this world. Like, I have food drive, like I need food to survive, I have liquid drive, I need water to survive. But sex drive, I mean, the drive to have sex is going to look differently for everybody, because it’s not something that we need to sustain, to to live, are going to sustain us living wise. So I think that that is ultimately also some psychoeducation around intimacy and what it means and also what it looks like, is it just penetrative sex? Or is it you know, I like to say all of the bases, right? When we grew up, we learned about first second third, hold on, right. So what does it look like to you, and especially with people with different sexual orientations and same sex couples, or, you know, relationships, different types of relationships, right, it’s going to look differently for everybody. So just understanding that just because your best friend had sex six times yesterday, doesn’t mean that that’s the norm. It’s just the norm for them.
Daniela Galdi 53:11
So this has been amazing. We are coming towards the end. A quick question, though, that I want to ask you. Leeor, what is something that your clients might not know about you that you would love them to know? So that they can just, you know, get to know your personalities more or your interests?
Leeor Gal 53:38
I think, you know, because I’m so open on social media. I very rarely, like leave things out. I mean, of course, if it’s going to be damaging to my clients, I don’t talk about it. 100% but on social media, I’m very open on like, my struggles and like what I go through, but I think what I’ve noticed is that you will have a very different perspective of who I am versus actually who I am. And it makes me think of I don’t know if you guys are on like Tik Tok or Reels on Instagram but of that like sound that’s like, never know you’re there. Like never let them know your next move or like something like that. And I feel like that’s me of like, I wear so many different hats like but that’s authentically to who I am like I still own with my morals and values but like I I was the kind of kid that like, I never got a detention but I was 100% rebellious and like I did like not bad things but I wasn’t like sitting at home studying and like such a goody goody but this perception of like therapist and to be this like perfect, like, I know how to act and like I’m so amazing at myself care like, Oh no, I just like ever But he else make mistakes, react, rather than respond. And I think that that just I like to say that to remind everybody that we’re all in this together like, we’re oh my gosh, now I’m thinking of High School Musical because [unclear] they had a great point there because we really are nobody is better than anybody else. We’re just all trying to figure it all out. So yeah, I feel like that’s, that’s it about me is I’m perfectly imperfect. I don’t know.
Daniela Galdi 55:43
I think it’s beautiful. It’s I have to tell you, when I talk, I talk a lot with people about you know, encouraging them to continue with any type of professional help. And I do find myself at times I feel I feel bad because I feel therapists you all do get a lot of pressure put on you and I find myself I try to have your back. I felt you know, like, yeah, okay, well, you know, they might have just been having a bad day they are human you know, because the the slack so so I’m glad that you shared that with everyone have like that real that realness. So thank you for sharing that realness about, you know, there’s, there’s times that you both are human, although you both I’m assuming do amazing work, although I’m not one of your clients, you know, but you’re still you have that there’s those imperfections and you’re working through it with us, too.
Kira Yakubov 56:41
Leeor Gal 56:42
Kira Yakubov 56:44
Leeor, thank you so much for being on today. I didn’t even realize the time went by cuz I feel like we could have just kept talking about a million other things. I did want to mention real quick about you because I know that you just expanded to another state and other physical locations. So if you want to share with the listeners, how they can reach you and where you’re providing your incredible services.
Leeor Gal 57:05
Yeah, absolutely. So we offer therapy and Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have a physical location in Devon, Pennsylvania, which is on the Maineline if anybody is familiar with that and if you are looking for me just type in thetherapygal.com Gal because my last name is gal so that is the thought behind the name. And I’m also on social media but it’s on Tiktok and Instagram is a TheTherapyGal and you can fill out a contact form or give us a call and we will help actually with the best fit therapist.