“Were you at Eckhart Tolle last Thursday?”
The fact that a man would ask such a question took my breath away. This is the spiritual girl’s version of “you had me at hello”.
I met David* on Bumble, a modern dating app, touted as the modern feminists version of Tinder (yet another dating app), as women are required to make the first move. I found it attracted a very different type of man: confident, successful, open minded… but more on what I think of dating apps later.
David was an intoxicating combination of everything I thought I could ever want: born in Byron Bay (Australia’s most ‘conscious’ community), a successful entrepreneur, lived in a posh postcode, drove a Porsche, was supremely funny, a spectacular conversationalist and without any doubt in my mind: the best lover I had ever had.
He came on strong in the beginning by ‘super liking’ my profile and being very affectionate and considerate with his messages. We ‘met’ on a Sunday morning and by Tuesday night we went out on our first date. I like a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go for it. The night went mostly very well, as he seemed practiced in making a good first impression on a woman. Like rolling thunder clouds however, red flags started to pop up from early on. He made an incredibly rude criticism about my hair, had nothing but bad things to say about the partner of a friend of his we bumped into and seemed horrified by the mere mention of the word 'future' – with me or anyone else! I got into my car that evening feeling like I’d had a nice enough time, but wasn’t sure I’d hear from this seeming player again, and wasn’t too fussed either way.
I was wrong – 7am the following morning he was sending me romantic text messages about our date. And so began a cat and mouse game that lasted for two months. He would chase, I would retreat, he would chase more, I would concede and seek connection, he would retreat completely.
I placed so much of my worth as a human being in his hands, and eventually the house of cards came tumbling down. At my core however, I am incredibly, deeply grateful for the experience. It has taught me so much about myself and what I deserve moving forward, lessons that I share with you in the hope that you can apply these to your own life – to realise just how strong and special you are.
Money isn’t everything
David literally owned every modern convenience that money could buy and enjoyed an incredibly lavish lifestyle. Yet he was an insomniac. He could stay awake through heavy duty sleeping pills and needed to sleep with noise cancelling head phones. When we would go out for dinner, he would be incredibly dissatisfied either with the wine, the food or the service – or all of the above. As most of his empire was run out of Asia, there were constant struggles with head office or a deal that was paining him.
My business mentor, Selena Soo, once told me that ‘there’s a devil at every level’. Whilst I have worked on so many of my own money blocks and become far more responsible with my financial health, I would never want to live a life that caused me so much stress and anxiety, that I constantly live in a state of seeking perfection in everything and everyone (good luck with that) - and therefore in a constant state of suffering. No amount of money is worth that. Note taken!
How to end a relationship mindfully
Prior to my arrival to host a meditation retreat in Bali, David was up to his old trick of pulling away and I could palpably feel it. It had been a few days since we’d spoken, so just before heading to dinner with our guests, I decided to call him. After fifteen minutes of exchanging awkward pleasantries, the truth came out: he had slept with another two women since we had been dating (if I can even believe that number).
My mentor Tom Cronin often talks about time slowing down, Matrix style, in moments of trauma once you’ve been meditating for some time. This is exactly what happened for me. I didn’t react outwardly, admonish him or cry. My lack of response threw him into a narcissists typical reaction – the blame game (more on that below). He told me it was my fault for assuming certain things and spoke in an aggressive tone that I had seen him use on other people, and knew that one day it would be my turn. Instead of becoming angry or becoming upset, I spoke in the calmest voice I could muster. I interrupted him and thanked him for being honest with me, as now I knew the truth of where we stood and could make my own decisions based on the facts. This completely took him by surprise and we decided to let the dust settle. In my mind however, it was over. He of course thought I would still be interested in his magnificence and attempted to rekindle things. I told him it had been a pleasure getting to know him and wished him all the best. He wished me all the best figuring men out (again, please see the definition of a narcissist below).
There is a deep satisfaction that comes from regaining your voice and power back, and not losing yourself to the emotion that comes from a painful situation. The next time you find yourself at the end of a losing battle, don’t match the person’s energy and desire for conflict. Drop in to stillness and discover how truly powerful that can be (and avoid the satisfaction of them seeing your tears!).
Desperately seeking narcissists
In her spectacular new book, ‘White Hot Truth’, Danielle LaPorte writes: “You know who can sniff out empathetic people like bloodhounds? Highly narcissistic people. You’d think that because empathetic people, particularly women, are more in tune with energy and our own feelings, that we’d know immediately when someone else has jacked into our life force and is sucking on it hard. But, since we’re committed to the journey and all, we just keep tolerating it.” David was a walking, talking definition of a narcissist: a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. I think the fact that in Korea, people line up for his autograph, probably doesn’t help the situation any.
You’d think after my abusive relationship last year with a narcissist, I would have learnt my lesson. Growing up, I was always put in the middle of my family as the ‘peacemaker’. I came to believe that this was how I could win approval and praise, by ‘fixing’ things, people and situations. This is the same thinking I have been applying to my relationships. Narcissists are generally incredibly self-loathing by nature and require a lot of constant praise and attention to feel good about themselves. As such, they are incredibly emotionally unavailable and cat nip for someone like me who wants to heal those wounds. Well enough is enough. With you as my witness, I am ready to release expectations and preconceived notions, circular patterns and fearful emotions...
False dating economies
One of my closest girlfriends met her beautiful fiancé on Tinder – they are my favourite couple to hang out with, and have one the healthiest relationships I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve heard many success stories from dating apps, and how those connections have resulted in marriages and babies, or both. However personally, from January to June of this year, I’ve had nothing but disaster after disaster. David’s number one piece of advice for them is to ‘never assume’ when meeting people online. Well, didn’t those words come to ring in my ears later…
It’s my belief that in a city like Sydney, or any other big metropolis, it creates a false economy. It seems that the trend is now to date several people at the same time and even sleep them with all, until you can decide which one you’d like to pursue things more seriously with – if at all. My idea of dating is that you connect with one person at a time, give them the honour, time and respect they deserve. If you’re not feeling it, you’re free to move on to the next person. I don’t have much spare time for anything else! If a person knows that they can swipe 10 more dates by the end of the week, they don’t feel like they have to invest all that much energy into you. They’re probably chatting right now to a dozen other people, all for fear of missing out on what they next profile might bring. I’ve deleted them all from my phone and believe now in the power of putting my intentions for the right man on paper and doing the most magical thing of all now – letting go and trusting that the right person will come at the right time. In the meantime, there’s a lot of life to be lived!
Heal your mommy/daddy issues
My father has always been a huge source influence for me and I placed him on a pedestal from a young age. Sadly, the last 10 years or so have seen crack after crack appear in the surface until our relationship became almost non-existent. It’s no coincidence that David reminded me in some ways of my father, and the closer he and I became, the less I would reach out to my dad. Not long after it was all over and I found myself in one of the darkest days of grief, I drove over to my parents place and sat down with him for a conversation I think neither of us will forget.
I decided to draw a line in the sand and forgive all of the past grievances I was holding so defiantly against him. He’s turning eighty-six this year and I’d really rather spend the twilight of his life enjoying his wit and intelligence, than resenting that he’s not Wayne Dyer incarnated. I don’t ever want to enter into another relationship again to try and sort out my ‘daddy issues’ – for now, if I have any, I’d rather just tell the man himself!
We’re stronger where we’re broken
If I’m going to share this story with you truthfully, then I need to also share the aftermath. Although I ultimately ended it, the pain of losing him ripped open so many old wounds: love equals disappointment, I must have done something wrong, I am unworthy of true love and I will end up alone. These thoughts and flashes of the good times would swirl and dance around my mind from dawn until dusk. For a few months, I retreated from the online world and from most of my friends to lick my wounds. It was a dark and scary time as I knew David was only the catalyst for needing to feel emotions I had stored deep down in my subconscious.
My pattern has also been to go back to my lover and ask for more punishment, rather than quit whilst I was ahead. This has been the first time that I not only haven’t contacted a man afterwards, I also rejected his pathetic attempt to contact me a month later. Friends and clients have asked me where I found the strength.
There comes a time where you have to realise what you’re worth, what your boundaries are and the vision of life you have for yourself.
Once you know those things, you can white knuckle it and train those neural pathways to hold out for bigger and better behavioural patterns.
Spiritual, single and searching,