Jonathan Alpert on Jealousy, Porn Side Effects, and Putting Down the Smartphone

Dr. Jonathan Alpert on Jealousy, Porn Side Effects, and Putting Down the Smartphone

When we step out to chat with experts in the realm of dating, love and lifestyle, we want to ask the questions you guys love to ask. We want them to answer the burning questions, the ones you often ask your peers here at GirlsAskGuys. This way, when you come visit, you can get both feedback from your helpful community buddies and expert advice from the pros...so if you leave here without feeling a bit better about yourself, it's your own damn fault. ;)

This time around, we sit down with noted psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, who was happy to address some of the topics that everyone wants to know about. Author of a well-received New York Times article called "In Therapy Forever? Enough Already" and the acclaimed book "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days," he has frequently talked about intriguing and even controversial topics of great importance to the younger generation. Yeah, that's you guys.

So, playing off our recent interviews with Dr. Jane Greer and Cheyenne Bostock, and using your awesome feedback, we approached Jonathan with the following questions.

GaG: What’s the #1 relationship problem you see in your practice?

Jonathan: “Well, it’s mid-winter and it’s cold and right now, it’s after Valentine’s Day. So people are assessing their love life and those who are single are down, and they’re actually starting to think that their love life is over. This is very common in the 30-and-up range. They feel that something might be drastically wrong and they’ll forever be alone; women more so than guys, of course. The women really start to question their self-worth and their relationship status; they begin asking themselves, ‘Will I be this way for good?’ I see this biology, this difference between men and women, coming into play.”

GaG: What do you say to people who are doing this, questioning their self-image and future love life?

Jonathan: “I think the problem is that people will define themselves after a bad date. They’ll start to think they’re unlovable or undateable just because they experienced poor chemistry one time. So, I try to get people to more accurately view their dating life; I want them to use fact as opposed to their reactions to a match not working out. Too many overlook or downplay their positive traits; the things they’re good at, things that really do make them attractive and lovable. They just see their shortcomings and negative traits, unfortunately. This is why it’s important to focus on the positive and more accurately assess themselves, their own worth.”

GaG: We see a lot of questions concerning insecurity and jealousy in relationships; what are some ways to counter these things?

Jonathan: "Part of the reason we’re seeing more jealousy these days is because it’s just so much easier to meet people. You know, it’s all a lot more accessible with social media and all these dating apps and everything. So we have a lot more things to be potentially jealous about. But I believe that if you’re in a good, solid loving relationship, none of this matters. It doesn’t matter if there are two ways or two hundred ways of meeting other individuals. People don’t cheat because it’s easy to do – well, it is easier to do now but that’s not the reason why they cheat – they’re motivated to cheat because they’re insecure in their relationship. Or, there are some issues in the relationship that drive them to look elsewhere.

If you’re in a healthy relationship, that jealousy and insecurity shouldn’t be there.”

GaG: We also see lots of “Is it normal?” questions on GaG, and one of the more common ones is, “Is it Normal to feel like I’m not getting enough attention?” What’s your response to that?

Jonathan: “If they’re asking themselves this question, this means they have certain feelings and emotions that are bubbling up and there’s a reason why this is happening. Maybe they’re not getting what they need from their partner and if so, they need to evaluate what their expectations are and if those expectations are actually realistic. If you do believe your expectations are realistic, then you compare them to what you’re really getting out of that relationship. I say use these emotions to assess your own thinking and your relationship.”

GaG: It does seem that younger individuals ask these “is it normal?” questions more often. Why might that be?

Jonathan: “Oh, I just think it’s because they’re less experienced in dating and the relationship world. They’re still learning what certain things mean, how to react and deal with certain emotions, etc. But it’s good that they’re asking these questions of their peers; it means they’re being introspective and trying to figure out what’s going on inside. It’s far better than going forward with the same unhealthy pattern, that’s for sure.”

GaG: We’re hearing rumblings from experts that “social media” is in fact anti-social? What’s your take on this?

Jonathan: “I wrote an article about this where I talk about my observations. In answer to this particular question, I think social media is actually both; it’s social and anti-social. It’s unfortunately anti-social because it allows people to be connected 24/7, so it’s hard to get even one moment of peace and quiet, and people feel compelled to always answer other people and inform them of their activities and how they feel. Furthermore, it’s breeding a culture of socially inhibited and awkward people; when it comes to real life they don’t know how to operate. I’ve been at social events where people bury themselves in their gadgets, and they exhibit a lack of social skill and there’s no good old-fashioned conversation.

It almost seems as if they’re using their phones as pacifiers, and they’ll be uncomfortable if they’re not holding a phone.”

GaG: In that same vein, do you believe overexposure to “screen communication” can actually stunt social growth?

Jonathan: "Yes, in that the art of communication is being lost. We don’t know how to open a conversation, how to ask questions to keep a conversation going, how to talk to people the old-fashioned way. You don’t use these skills when you’re texting, for example, and we might even be losing our ability to use grammar effectively. I think my old sixth-grade English teacher would be just appalled at some of this. ‘laughs’”

I wonder which came first, though. It’s like the chicken and the egg: Are people socially anxious and awkward so they bury themselves in the phone, or is burying themselves in the phone making them anxious and awkward? It’s hard to know which is causing which. But it’s the way our society is. We can’t turn back the clock."


GaG: The Internet age has also brought an explosion of pornography to just about everyone. Do you think this negatively affects both men and women in their intimate relationships? Ex-pornstar Mia Rose seems to think younger people should just avoid porn.

Jonathan: “Well, I believe there are both positive and negative effects. This abundance of porn has made it more mainstream; the days of having to go to a porn shop or about being embarrassed when buying an adult magazine are gone. So you can introduce this into your relationships and sex life easier; porn isn’t as taboo in society as it used to be. But people have also become desensitized to porn because it’s just so accessible; they can look at it anywhere; on their phones, at work, etc. And there have been some high-profile cases of people doing this when they shouldn’t be, and it’s becoming a problem in the workplace, for example.

I also think people view porn as a model of how their sex life should be. Guys think they should be a super sex machine and sleep with endless people, for instance. Then there are unrealistic expectations, too, because there’s a crudeness and rawness about porn that isn’t realistic at all. I’ve had porn actors and adult sex workers as patients and yes, it’s hard for them to develop and cultivate a normal healthy relationship. In the end, I do believe that having porn at our fingertips has created more problems.”

GaG: What would your advice be to people suffering from cabin fever and the winter doldrums?

Jonathan: “This is the time of year when people suffer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It’s essentially depression that occurs at the same time every year and to be diagnosed, it has to happen at least two consecutive years. But for everyone, it is a period of time when energy levels might be low, they feel isolated and sad, they have difficulty focusing, and these are the hallmark symptoms of depression. Thing is, for the people who feel this way, they often need to do the very thing they don’t want to do:

They need to get out of bed and get moving. They need the light exposure; light enters the brain through the eyes and impacts serotonin and dopamine levels, and these help to regulate mood. So get moving, get outside, and maybe even try to plan a mid-winter weekend trip, perhaps somewhere warm. This gives you something to look forward to. And I also say to use it as an opportunity to try new things and develop as a person; try skiing or ice skating, for example.”

End Interview

We'd like to thank Jonathan for his time and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And as always, any feedback you've got can - and probably will - factor into who we speak to down the road. These experts are always happy to help, and don't forget that your fellow GaGers are often willing to do the same. Might as well have both sides, yes? :D


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Fathoms77 is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Girl

  • I agree with the porn thing and I also think that it encourages men to think violent sex acts are normal and they have the right to demand them from their significant other. I've had friends with boyfriends who are super into porn and have tried to pressure them or force them to do painful and frightening things they NEVER wanted to do, and porn just keeps getting more violent.

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    • This isn't as cut and dry as it seems. The will to do and have aggressive sex acts done to on self are inherent in men and women. Even in reverse rolls. Sex and violence are linked through passion and activate the same areas of the brain... which doesn't say all that much considering how the brain actually works but it is noteworthy.

      The problem with porn is that it's a product of consumerism in that it, like every other product, is constantly tweaked to provide the most value to the most valuable audience. In this case it's generally men because we spend more for all types of sex, simulated or otherwise. This means that the sex in porn is a parody of itself that catches the aggression if sex and drives it toward extremes. These ideas and activities might eventually occur to most men and women eventually as their sexual experience increases but the problem with porn is that it provides every possibility far too early, desensitizing us and speeding up what would otherwise be gradual

Most Helpful Guy

  • Here are my thoughts:
    1) 30 + yr old women more than men questioning their love life (especially on valentines day). Cognitive dissonance. Men only mature at an older age and also increase their wealth and social status with time. I. e. they become more desirable as they age. Women, not so much. Why would a powerful man be with a withering girl. So what worked for women in the past (looks), disappears with time and the dating environment changes. This causes a confliction in a females mind.
    2) people define themselves after a bad date. I am of the opinion that they define themselves on a history of poor dating and its reinforced with the next bad date. How you going to find positive traits with a guy who's traits clearly didn't assist him in dating? Its true though, you need to find the positives and work on ways to amplify them.
    3) Jealousy and social media. 100% true. But also lets not forget the nice guy who gets told to wait by the very same girl who banged the bad boy on the first date. Those type of social cues also don't help.

    Yeah that's me...

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What Girls Said 0

The only opinion from girls was selected the Most Helpful Opinion, but you can still contribute by sharing an opinion!

What Guys Said 4

  • Nice interview. Thanks for bringing in a male pro to balance the female perspective. Regarding "anti-"social media, we are constantly seeking to fill in every empty spot. At last the Internet gives us the means to do that, and it can get exhausting, even demoralizing. Trite, I know, but we have to control it lest it control us.

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  • Most of modern society's ills can be solved by consciously choosing to live a more primitive lifestyle.

    If you willingly choose to forgo television, facebook, and keep contact with a small but close circle of friends, your life will improve.

    You can do other stuff too, like avoiding processed foods, not eating too much meat, oils, gardening, turning off all lights after a certain time (so you'll be forced to go to sleep), etc.

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    • I'm not sure "primitive" is the right word. I do believe we need to question what exactly qualifies as "progress" but to me, "primitive" sounds like regression as opposed to healthy balance, you know?

    • Primitive is the right word, because all these things are more representative of the past.

      Obviously there are wise ways to pick and choose where to live more primitively. More primitive nutrition and socialization is beneficial, but we obviously want to keep our low infant mortality rate.

  • Great, great interview. Thanks for this, it was very helpful.

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  • I believe porn can be pretty bad, especially for those who watch it too much.

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