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Michelle Obama: ‘You can’t Tinder your way into a relationship’

by Jennifer McShane
08th Sep 2020

Is there anything former First Lady Michelle Obama can’t say to make us all feel a little better? She’s a beacon of wisdom and reassurance in a year where we need both. Now, she opens up about relationships, marriage and why a quick swipe just won’t cut it in the long run

In a frank and open discussion on her latest podcast, Obama said that marriage should be approached like “picking a basketball team, adding that young couples, especially when they have small children, struggle to deal with tiredness, stress and sharing roles – which can make them give up on their relationship.

“…Because if you’re looking at a team, the people you want to win with, then number one you want everybody on your team to be strong … If we looked at marriage as a real team, you want your teammate to be a winner…”

“You’ve got to know that there are going to be times, long periods of time, when you can’t stand each other … I said it, you know, on the book tour, as a joke,” she said, during the podcast conversation with television host Conan O’Brien.

As for dating advice? Obama isn’t an advocate for solely swiping left or right: “Do you want to build something with someone? There’s no magic way to make that happen, except getting the basics of finding somebody, being honest about wanting to be with them, to date them seriously, to plan on making a commitment, to date them, seeing where it goes, and then making it happen.”

“You can’t Tinder your way into a long term relationship,” she explained, saying that the hard work comes after.

“There were times that I wanted to push Barack out of the window, right. And I say that, because it’s like you’ve got to know the feelings will be intense. But that doesn’t mean you quit. And these periods can last a long time. They can last years.”


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A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

People, she said, do not talk about the difficult periods, which can mean often young couples want to give up when they face difficulties because “they think they’re broken”.

“I just want to say, look, if that breaks a marriage, then Barack and I have been broken off and on, throughout our marriage, but we have a very strong marriage. And if I had given up on it, if I had walked away from it, in those tough times, then I would’ve missed all the beauty, that was there as well.”

Gender roles

After having fertility issues, she had Sasha and Malia, now 19 and 22, but that having children dramatically changed their dynamic, saying that becoming a mother was the first time that she felt “the sting of gender roles” in their marriage.

“I had to be there, and I had to go, and it was my body, and my husband was still sort of boppin’ around, living his life … the resentment starts to build up, or it started to, it’s like well, what happened to the unit, what happened to my best friend? What happened to my buddy, who’s, at the gym? It’s like, how the hell are you at the gym? You know, dude … I’ve got cabbage on my breast.”

Main photograph: @MichelleObama

Related: ‘This is just how we live’: Michelle Obama on coping with menopause

Read moreMichelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ documentary is the light we need right now

Read more: ‘I felt like I had failed’: Michelle Obama candidly opens up about miscarriage and IVF

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