406. Taking the Doom Out of Dating to Find Authentic Connection & Healthy Love w/ Mark Groves

Mark Groves

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Mark Groves is a relationship expert living out his passion for helping humans connect with one another. We discuss the important lessons you can learn from breakups, the value of intentional celibacy, and manifesting the perfect partner.

Meet Mark Groves: Human Connection Specialist, founder of Create the Love, Mine’d, and host of the Mark Groves Podcast. In other words, he's a speaker, writer, motivator, creator, and collaborator. Mark's work bridges the academic and the human, inviting people to explore the good, the bad, the downright ugly, and the beautiful sides of connection. His purpose? To empower individuals to step into their power, transform the way they relate to themselves and others, and create authentic change for a life + love they'll look back on with a resounding f*ck yes!

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

This one’s not only for any single listeners that might be discouraged by the modern dating scene, but those already in a relationship that are either looking to strengthen it or have decided to move on with grace. My guest is Mark Groves, a relationship expert living out his passion for helping humans connect with one another. His goal isn’t just to pair everyone up, but to help people identify what’s right for them. 

Mark teaches us to focus, not on what needs fixing, but on what we’ve already got going in a positive way. Any successful relationship is rooted in self-work, so we spend some time talking about turning the lens inward before looking for the right person. We also discuss why breakups are so valuable, the differences between mature love and romantic infatuation, manifesting your dream partner, and the value of intentional celibacy.

I hope you’ll set aside some time today to open your hearts and minds to the humble wisdom that Mark has to offer. Your relationships with others, and with yourself, will be better off for it.

05:40 — How Mark Got Into Human Connection

  • Turning your mess into your message
  • Learning lessons from breakups
  • Why we’re never taught about relationships growing up

12:36 — A Masterclass in Dating

  • Where to get started when you’re tired of being single
  • Prioritizing ourselves and getting clear on what we want
  • Choosing to see failed relationships as an opportunity to heal
  • Long relationships are not always the sign of a healthy relationship
  • The difference between being alone and being lonely
  • The value of intentional celibacy 
  • The stories we create around breakups

46:58 — Having a Vision of Your Ideal Partner

  • Beginning with the broad strokes
  • Creating a vision starting with “we”
  • Getting clarity on deal breakers
  • The antidote to defensiveness
  • Being open to the influence of your partner
  • Knowing when your red flags are valid 

1:30:17 — Identity & Learning Lessons

  • Self-labeling with negative traits
  • The difference between codependency and interdependence
  • How great relationships celebrate independence as well as connection
  • Allowing people to heal themselves rather than bypassing

More about this episode.

Watch on YouTube.

Luke Storey: [00:00:02] I'm Luke Storey. For the past 22 years, I've been relentlessly committed to my deepest passion, designing the ultimate lifestyle based on the most powerful principles of spirituality, health, psychology. The Life Stylist Podcast is a show dedicated to sharing my discoveries and the experts behind them with you. So, here we are, Mark Groves.

Mark Groves: [00:00:28] So, man, it's been a long time in the making.

Luke Storey: [00:00:31] Yeah, it's great to see you and I'm glad we're finally sitting down. I always like to give shoutouts for the people that did intros, but I think it was Josh Trent who kept telling me, man, you've got to connect with Mark, like you guys would have great synergy, do the thing, and here we are, we're finally getting to it.

Mark Groves: [00:00:49] Shout out to Josh. That guy is a connector.

Luke Storey: [00:00:52] Yeah, he is.

Mark Groves: [00:00:54] And our first time we hung out was in Sedona.

Luke Storey: [00:00:56] Yeah, we almost moved there.

Mark Groves: [00:00:59] Close, yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:01:00] A near miss.

Mark Groves: [00:01:01] And then, landed here, which I've realized everyone has landed here.

Luke Storey: [00:01:05] Pretty much.

Mark Groves: [00:01:06] It feels that way.

Luke Storey: [00:01:07] You have a few strays that ended up in Florida, or Idaho, or different places, but almost everyone I know has sort of fled California, and LA, San Francisco, and even New York City, many people.

Mark Groves: [00:01:23] Yeah. I think they were the most emigrated from states, which is not shocking, considering, I remember hearing someone say that if you want to see what policies people want, just watch how they vote with their footsteps.

Luke Storey: [00:01:39] Right. Vote with your footsteps, yeah, I like that. I keep trying to tell people here, like Texas natives that are like, oh, these Californians are going to come turn it into San Francisco, and needles and feces on the ground, and I'm like, I hope not. I mean, I think that's why we left. We value, I don't know, feeling safe in a city and everything be relatively clean, and taking care of people in need, and I think I'm an old school Californian, liberal at heart, but then they just went so nuts that I couldn't hang.

Mark Groves: [00:02:12] Yeah, I'm Canadian, so I don't know, for everyone watching, that should probably tell you everything if you've been following our politics, but it's very similar to California in a lot of ways.

Luke Storey: [00:02:22] Yeah. Well, I'm glad you got your visa. Welcome to the United States of America.

Mark Groves: [00:02:26] Welcome.

Luke Storey: [00:02:27] Hopefully, you find a little more freedom here. That was the idea, I think, when they started this thing, depending on whose perspective you're viewing it from. I want to let everyone know that you can find the show notes for this episode at lukestorey.com/groves, G-R-O-V-E-S. Lukestorey.com/groves. I'm sure we're going to talk about links, and books, and resources that people will want to look up. Let's start by asking you, my friend, how you got into being focused on human connection, relationships, love, dating, all the things.

As I've started to devour your work, it's been impressive that you've really managed to stay in that lane and really focus on that. And I always admire that, because I feel like I'm so—from day to day, I'm interested in one aspect of human spirituality, or health, and you're just like, this is my thing, I'm locking in. And I have so many questions to follow, but I feel like you've really created an incredible niche. And so, I'm wondering what was it inside your heart or mind that sought to really focus on this information in a way to serve and to help people?

Mark Groves: [00:03:38] Yeah. I think for so many of us, the initial desire for me was really born from a more personal or selfish space. I like that idea that you turn your mess into your message, and I had some relational mess to sort through. I used to be a pharmaceutical rep, actually, for a lot of years. I'm still undoing the karma of that, but it's given me an interesting perspective on everything that's happening.

And with that said, I was really fascinated by how you manipulate human behavior as a salesperson. Like how do you get someone to change from one behavior to another, one product to another? And I'd always been really interested in that. And so, I studied that when I was a rep. I was in sales at an electronics store before that. That was kind of like The 40 Year Old Virgin in a lot of ways. And if you've ever seen that movie, you totally will get that concept.

And in my late 20s, I went through a breakup. I was engaged, and when we broke up, I just thought to myself, like why am I so good at talking about everything but my feelings? Like there's something more here. It's not a skill set issue. And how did I get to this place where I was engaged to a really incredible woman, but I didn't want to be? And why didn't I want to be? Like what was wrong with me?

That was sort of the lens, that I couldn't choose this person, as opposed to what's right with me, that I could honor that experience and that relational endings aren't failures. And I felt so much pain in that ending, in that I'd never really felt more connected to myself. I had to make a choice that hurts somebody, but at the same time, my experience of that was one of the first times that I truly, authentically chose myself at the cost of not belonging, at the cost of criticism.

And I'd never felt more liberated, really, in some ways, but yet so criticized and so unloved by some people who were close to me. A lot of my friends and family were incredibly supportive and others, where you're just afraid of commitment, you're just this, you're just that. And it was sort of born from there, because I thought to myself like, one, I don't believe in marriage. Like this makes no sense to me. And I was mad at the institutions. I grew up Catholic. I call myself a recovering Catholic now and it's-

Luke Storey: [00:06:00] Most do.

Mark Groves: [00:06:01] Right.

Luke Storey: [00:06:02] I rarely meet someone that's like, yeah, I was Catholic when I was a kid, still at it.

Luke Storey: [00:06:06] It's so good. I mean, there's so much truth and honesty in that practice. And so, I think like most people, I had that narrative growing up, like you get married by 27 or 30, you have kids at some point right around then. And if you don't, you're not on the sort of normal life track. You go to school, you take this, you don't do art, you do something that pays money as a male to become a good provider.

And when my engagement ended, I felt like—a friend of mine said this once when he got divorced, that he felt like he was kicked off the train, like his wife had cheated on him and left him, and he said, I didn't choose to get off, a lot of people choose to get off, and he said, I felt like I was standing on a subway platform and everybody else was just going through their life, just doing what I was doing until I was removed from that.

And I really felt like ending that engagement removed me from the narrative, for the first time to actually observe. And I think so many of us, that question gets posed to us in different ways. I just think that the most potent common gateway to stopping and finally asking questions like, is there more to this? How did I get here? Why do I do what I do? I just think one of the most potent common gateways is not just relational challenges from a conflict perspective, but also breakups.

I mean, all my greatest lessons came from most of my life's greatest pains. And we're not taught to turn towards pain. We're taught to numb it. We're taught to take a pill to get rid of it, because there's something wrong with us. I'm not saying there's not a time when that can be useful. I just thought there's so much potency in grief. And I started writing about what I was learning, and that was about four or five years later. And I went back to school, studied positive psychology.

And when I started writing about it, I just thought like, why does no one learn this? Like why don't we learn about health, finance, and relationships? If you learn those three things, the quality of your life, I would even argue that just learning relationships, the quality of your life will be dramatically changed and everyone can learn it. And why do we hoard these skills? That, to me, makes no sense. Like why don't we have a class in school on this? And I'm sure you feel the same way about not just that, but health especially.

Luke Storey: [00:08:38] Yeah. That's very interesting. Actually, I don't know if I've ever had the thought, like I thought about entrepreneurship or different things that I think would be useful for kids to learn spirituality, meditation, things like that, but as you were speaking, I'm thinking, well, where did I learn how to do relationships? And I was like, oh, modeling, right? We look at our caregivers, and we sort of cobble that together, and maybe we get a pep talk as men, generally, from our dad, or even in my case, I was mostly raised by my mom, and I think there was a lot of value in the things that I learned about relationships from her telling me, but not so much in the demonstration.

I think we just kind of fall into these—not everyone's families are dysfunctional, but I think people that end up in a real, committed way of life as you are and the people that follow your work, we sort of had modeled patterns of dysfunction. Unless there's some major interrupter to those patterns, you're pretty much just going to follow what you've seen done.

Mark Groves: [00:09:48] It seems like it kind of works.

Luke Storey: [00:09:49] And be reactive to the traumas that you've sustained and things like that. So, yeah, well, thank you for sharing that and really excited to dive into some more of this. So, I wanted to start with something I know very little about at this point in life, and that is dating. My wife and I often talk to each other about how relieved we are that we don't have to date anymore. I think I've always found dating to be pretty excruciating.

And sometimes, I reflect on what we've been through over the past couple of years and how fragmented our society in general has become as a result of lockdown measures, and also, just the polarization of people with different points of view, right? It's like if you had a certain criteria for a partner, now, there's definitely a dividing line between what your medical choices are and how in agreement with the official narrative on current events you are or not. There are these diametrically opposed positions that are very firmly held.

And so, add all that to people not really even being able to go out and socialize, and I'm thinking, if you were on, I don't even know what the dating—I think Tinder is still a thing. I never had a lot of success. I think I did match.com back in the day on my old Dell Computer. But I just think like, God, what's someone to do if, A, they live in kind of a remote area or they've been living somewhere where social activities have been stifled. Like where are we with dating for single people who would prefer to not be single? 

Mark Groves: [00:11:33] Man, there are so many layers to that as there always is. With dating, I think one of the greatest challenges that people tend to have is, one, they're not really clear on what they actually want, and in a way, that serves them, because then when they match with somebody, they can be ambivalent or a little—they're not specific. And then, that means they can stay connected to someone who might not be quite that aligned.

And in doing that, they're prioritizing connection, maintaining afraid of loneliness, and never really, actually committed to what they truly are seeking. It's like the fear of not getting it is greater than the fear of losing oneself for relationship. And I think that's so common in relationship. You think of how many people feel resentful in relationship or that they don't feel prioritized, and it's because we don't prioritize ourselves.

And that starts with dating, we're not clear on what we want, and then we'll kind of accept anything until we figure out that it's not what we want. And we don't swipe necessarily that sort of action on Bumble, Tinder, all the places with that deepest intention. And I can't say I've always brought like grace and reverence to dating either, it's only that you begin to learn like you're actually picking someone, depending on what your relationship intention is, but let's say it's to find a relationship for a long term.

You're picking someone who's going to have like one of the greatest impacts on the direction of your life, the quality of your life. Are they also interested in growth and curiosity? And do they have the humility and capacity for shame to be able to ask questions, and receive feedback? And then, see that your partner is this incredible gift to your own expansion. I mean, think about all the identities. And one of the things about the impact of COVID, one is that, unconsciously, we have been taught that otherwise appearing healthy people are actually a biological threat.

Luke Storey: [00:13:42] Right. 

Mark Groves: [00:13:43] And I think about that-

Luke Storey: [00:13:44] On both sides, too.

Mark Groves: [00:13:46] Right. 

Luke Storey: [00:13:47] Like the people that haven't undergone any medical experiments, and many of them, and possibly, rightly so, are afraid to interact with people whom have, because of the possibility of getting medically infected.

Mark Groves: [00:14:04] Right.

Luke Storey: [00:14:05] I have to dance around some of these words, not because of the podcast, it's relatively free, but we're live streaming on platforms that have algorithms that-

Mark Groves: [00:14:11] Oh, yeah, I'll use the C from now on.

Luke Storey: [00:14:14] ... stop different words, but you have people that are wearing masks, and distancing, and stuff still, even though it's kind of not being mandated in many places. But then, the other side is like, yo, if you've done the thing, don't come near me, I don't want to get shed on.

Mark Groves: [00:14:29] Right. I mean, how do you win?

Luke Storey: [00:14:31] Yeah, I didn't even think about that part. It's like, oh, God. Just finding someone, you like the same kind of movies and you have a general value system that aligns, all of those areas of compatibility from the superficial ones to the deal-breaker, meaningful ones. But then, yeah, God, we're faced with a whole other obstacle right now.

Mark Groves: [00:14:52] Well, there's so much work to be done even in that, because, one, we've moralized our medical choices. And I interviewed Jay Bhattacharya, who's a professor of medicine at Stanford in Public Health, and he was one of the founders of the Great Barrington Declaration, and he was saying that that is an absolute failure of public health to moralize it, and we've done that. And so, we've either inferred that the choice to get a medical intervention or not, either of those, have been moralized and correlated to values.

And I think the hard part, for no matter what side we might be on or a centrist observing both, and that's true in politics, it's true in anything, that we're able to explore why we do that. And we do that because we want to organize the world. We want to make it simpler. In psychology, they call it a decision heuristic. It's like a shortcut to make—it's like if 12 people are running by you down the street, you don't question what they're running from, you just start running. And it's a similar thing that we do when we associate identities, and we do it with politics, because look at how the choice to get or not get is also aligned with a political position.

Luke Storey: [00:16:07] So much so.

Mark Groves: [00:16:08] Which why? It's such a false dichotomy.

Luke Storey: [00:16:11] Yeah, it's really interesting.

Mark Groves: [00:16:12] Yeah. And like how do we observe, because you talked about like, where do we learn about relationship? We learned it in our childhood, unless you have an outside education on it, which almost no one does, you don't even realize the unconscious drives of what's attracting you to unavailable people. Like people will say to me, well, I want a really great relationship, but I keep choosing these people who are unavailable, who are narcissistic, or whatever the word might be. And it's like because you have this unconscious wound that is choosing to be re-wounded in the same way. When we look at our relational patterns, we tend to be attracted until we're not to people who hurt us in a similar way as a parent who wounded us the most.

Luke Storey: [00:16:58] 100,000,000%. That's been my experience.

Mark Groves: [00:17:02] Yeah, mine, too, unfortunately. And the benefit, of course, is that unconscious draw re-exposes us to something that we're being invited to heal, usually generational, right? Because you hear people say, I never want to become like my parents, and inevitably, they become often exactly like their parents.

Luke Storey: [00:17:19] This is such a good point and I know I'm going to deviate—sometimes, I try to be linear, and then I'm like, ah, it doesn't work. There are too many threads. But I think there's something really valuable in that pattern dynamic that you described, wherein you have wounds that have not been healed or address psychic emotional wounds, right? And so, you're unconsciously drawn to people that replicate those familial and familiar patterns to have the opportunity to sort of karmically re-enact the dynamics that you had with people that hurt you. So, okay, got that. What's really beautiful about that for me is looking back on relationships that mirrored that patterning and really feeling a sincere gratitude for that person as a profound teacher, because-

Mark Groves: [00:18:20] Yeah, it's such a different way of saying that.

Luke Storey: [00:18:22] You can bring up blame and they did this wrong. Even if you identify there was a common denominator of a you in that equation that kept inviting the same type of unavailable, or abusive, or needy person, or whatever the case may be, but if you get past the blame and resentment of those past experiences, underneath that is a really sweet gratitude and compassion for each of those teachers. But I think that's only possible if you're so inclined to look deeper and actually start to disintegrate some of those formerly unconscious patterns, right? So, I mean, I can look at everyone, really, that I've ever dated and they were a lock that my key fit.

Luke Storey: [00:19:07] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:19:07] And some of them ended painfully for one or both parties, and there might be resentment on the other side, I hope not. I've done my best to make amends to those that—wherein it was appropriate, but I am totally clean from my perspective of everyone that I've ever dated, in terms of like there's zero blame or resentment. And in fact, some of the ones that have been the most painful are the ones for which I have the most reverence and gratitude, because they've delivered to me on a silver pattern, here is your shit that needs to be healed, and I perfectly enacted the melodrama of your past relational dynamics and childhood trauma in order for you to so clearly see and have the opportunity to undo that and to truly heal it, to where it's not operational anymore.

Mark Groves: [00:19:59] Isn't that such the gift? Like just that simple shift of being able to look as you're inviting us to do, to look at your past partners and relational experiences, no matter the time length, I think it's more related to the openness that we have, that we look at them, that it's happened for us. And I think the challenging paradox that people have to sit in that is that we think that we have to forgo that we might have been the victim of experiences, but no, you can still be the victim of an experience that you unconsciously chose or did not, but that in some way, it is serving to expand us.

I mean, those are the two options. You either see that things happen for you or to you. You can choose either one. One is empowering and the other one's disempowering. And being able to turn towards all of our past with that perspective is so liberating, because now, when you look at the things that are most painful relationally, but I'd say that's true about anything in life, and you ask, what is it here to teach you? What skills would you need to not replicate it?

All that, you're starting to take the wisdom. I like to think that knowledge becomes wisdom when it is integrated. We're all sitting on boatloads of knowledge, and then repeating patterns, pretending that we're not choosing them. It's another mistake, I can't believe that just happened. Like we need to take responsibility for how we relate. And what a gift when we look at relationship as this sacred container, no matter the type, with mom, with dad, with partner.

I just think that partnership is the greatest magnifying glass to our stuff. And if you can master or attempt to continuously master, because of course, that's a moving target, because there are always more lessons, romantic relationships, how hard is a work relationship after that? Like if you can learn how to be regulated as much as you can in conflict with a partner and even master repair after, oh, I mean, that's everything. It just completely changes your life.

And that's why when I look at relationship, it's like you're in relationship to everything that isn't you. And so, whatever challenging relationship you have, it could be your phone, it could be drugs, it could be alcohol, it could be anything. Wherever you're not in choice in the relationship is something sticky. It's healing—it's not healing, it's covering up something that needs to be felt.

I think of Gabor Mate, where he says, the wrong question is, why the addiction? The right question is, why the pain? And so much of our, I would say almost all, if not all of our pain in life is created in relationship to someone, something, and that's where it has to be healed. I think we can do enough healing on our own, and that's why I think dating is a practice. It's an incredibly healing practice. It should feel expansive. If it doesn't feel expansive, you're not doing it right.

Luke Storey: [00:23:05] Oh, man, like I said, just thinking about the prospect of doing that, and on that note, it's funny because I think—I don't think, I'm sure at times in my life, and I believe that I've observed this in other people, is that, sometimes, one will even stay in a relationship, because the prospect of dating and meeting someone new is worse than the painful relationship you're in. I mean, you see this kind of with older couples that sort of bicker, and tolerate each other, and don't seem to be terribly in love in the classical sense, and you kind of look at them, and go, you guys just don't want to deal with being single, and dating, and meeting someone new, so you're just kind of hanging in there.

Mark Groves: [00:23:50] It's so tough because you think it's like the devil you know. It is better than the devil you don't know. But very much, our life is, I think, an unconscious exploration of the economics of life, the economics of relationship. Until you realize that, when you actually accept the fact that you're only on this rock for a limited time, and how do you want to live it? And I think it's been so normalized.

We've inherited a normal complacency in relationship that it shouldn't be this place, where we have shared values, and we still have reverence and respect for one another, and yeah, that's what I think like one of the greatest fallacies that we learn is that relationship length is the greatest indicator of relationship success. And you see that in memes where it has like a couple, people who are like 90 holding hands, and it says, Happy 75th, how did you do it? So, oh, we did it when we took commitments seriously. And I find that to be such a shameful way of communicating, like we don't believe that young people today can commit to shit. But we all know people who have been married for or together for a long period of time who don't like each other.

So, certainly, staying together can be a sign of relational success, but what it does is it infers, especially when we experience shame when a relationship ends, and look at that, religions, culture, we often shame relational endings. We sort of exile people who've gone through divorce. And that happens all the time. And in doing that, what we're saying is that you shouldn't leave a relationship ever. Think of the vows we make, until death do us part, and I always think, what death, like the mortal death or the death of the part of you that chose that relationship at the time?

Luke Storey: [00:25:46] Oh, that's good. That's a tweetable right there.

Mark Groves: [00:25:49] There's the clip for the beginning.

Luke Storey: [00:25:51] Yeah, exactly. Editors, take note. That was a good one.

Mark Groves: [00:25:55] Well, I think of because we're so afraid of relationships ending, we don't have the conversations that might end them or we avoid conflict in general. And because of that, those are actually the conversations that deepen and enrich the relationship, and they might end it, but they always will liberate it. And that liberation being maybe together still, but maybe not. As soon as you operate from a have to, I have to be in this relationship or have to stay, you're actually not in choice anymore, as opposed to, I thought about that, instead of it being this expectation that your relationship lasts forever, because that's a beautiful thing.

I want to build this thing and there's an idea of commitment that is, I'm not going to go anywhere else. And we also have to, instead of it being an expectation, turn it to an intention. If I wake up every morning, and I say, okay, my intention is to love this person in a way that will get to this place of, let's just call it forever, how would I show up that day? So much different than like, well, in 10 years, they can't go anywhere anyways, so like I'm going to stop going down on them, I'm going to stop—like we start to get complacent and we start to take people for granted, and in doing that, we don't honor the sacredness of choice.

Like the fact that out of everybody your partner could choose, they choose you, and the fact that out of everyone that you could choose, you choose them, I don't know a more beautiful declaration than that, and I think we forget that. And it's so human to forget that. And I hope that at least in people's experience of the pain of their relationships, the disconnections, whatever it is, even in dating, getting ghosted, it's like sit in it.

I feel like so much of our grief in our experience of abandonment and rejection brings up stuff that's actually old pain that's never been processed. You're like texting with someone for a week, and then they stop talking to you, and your world is over? Like to me, like you're placing so much of your worth in whether someone chooses you, and that's conditioned by society, because society says, hey, why are you single?

As if there's something wrong with you, as if you have some sort of ailment. Because the indication that you're worthy of being chosen is that you're in a relationship. And this is what, unconsciously, society has done to us relationally, is they've said it's important that you're in one, because then we know you're valuable. And as soon as you place your value in your relationship and even seek to heal your wounds by chasing someone who re-wounds you or makes you happy, then it's always in the other.

And you're not sourcing your own worth, and that's the difference between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness is this feeling that someone else is going to give me something. And it's not to say we can't long, I think that's, again, we get caught in these ideas like, well, but I long for love. Good, but long for it from a place of knowing that if this person messages you back or not, or chooses you or not, that you still love yourself, and that's why the gift of being left.

And I've experienced painful endings in relationship, too, much like you were talking about, and I always think when someone says, they left and they took a part of me, and I think of my own experience when I've had that happen, it's because I gave them something to take. It doesn't mean being left can't be incredibly painful. Of course, it is, but it's being able to recognize where the sticky parts of how you relate.

And that's, again, why like dating is such an awesome vehicle to be like, where do I not have boundaries? And I think dating is such a fun practice to be able to say, I'm going to test out a no here, I'm going to test out a yes here. I'm going to feel into what attraction is, when we get to play. As I said earlier, it's not fun, then you're placing something too important upon it, you know what I mean?

Luke Storey: [00:30:21] Mm-hmm. In terms of dating, something that I eventually figured out just by being motivated by painful relationships, two things, one, and I want to get your take on this and see just what your perspective is, but having a hard stop and just clearing the chess board, for me, that was almost two years of celibacy and zero—not even not dating, but not even a cute look or an extra like on Instagram, just zero intrigue, nothing, because I just couldn't break out of certain patterns, and it was just like, okay, I got to totally start over.

Mark Groves: [00:31:05] It's like any drug, you just have to abstain from it.

Luke Storey: [00:31:08] Yeah. And there were a lot of addictive, and avoidant patterns and things like that, so there was just a lot of self-work, but that's kind of part one of it and you can expand on it however you see fit. But what was really useful for me was when I came out of that and felt like I was ready, I had a very definite plan around how I was going to date in ways that were different before, a dating plan, kind of a vision of what I wanted, an inventory of what I was able to provide as the partner, maybe even more importantly, right?

Luke Storey: [00:31:43] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:31:43] It's like looking at that vision going, okay, can I reverse that in a mirror?

Mark Groves: [00:31:47] Can I do all those things?

Luke Storey: [00:31:48] Can I offer the things that I'm looking for, which is really useful? But then, I mean, even with the mechanics of dating, for me to just avoid some of those patterns, there were governors on some behavior, like just getting obsessive, and texting too much, and meeting someone, and then you go in four more dates that week, and it's just, ah, you get so wrapped up in it, just kind of addictive stuff.

And so, I had a pretty solid plan, and the pattern-interrupting combination of just taking a hard stop for an extended period of time, during which I really learned how to enjoy my own company, and I used to date myself, take myself to the movies, take myself to a romantic dinner. I mean, it sounds kind of pathetic now that I'm verbalizing it, but I really learned how to feel comfortable being by myself, and it took a long time.

And then, when I felt like, man, really, I can sit home and not feel like a loser just being by myself, and not feel lonely, and not have to distract myself or run away from what might come up in the absence of that intrigue and excitement that romantic relationships bring, but having a plan was really useful, knowing that I was never going to do it perfectly, but that it wasn't just like reckless abandon, and I'm just going to see what happens, because like just seeing what happens or just do what feels good was not bringing the results that I was looking for. So, I guess maybe, what are your perspectives on that taking a hard stop, taking a break, and then formulating some sort of framework or blueprint for when you're ready to get back out and potentially meet a meaningful partner?

Mark Groves: [00:33:29] I mean, I think it's brilliant. I used to call it a you got to take a dung detox or a large vacation, this idea that you have to, as you said, like when you abstain from it, now, you can observe it, but you're also not getting the the sort of elation, the neurological hits from dopamine, oxytocin, all the things that are pulling you away from looking at things, like it feels like any addiction, and I don't think we often think about it that way.

And I did the same thing, where I was like, okay, I'm going to not—I can't even get into dating or all the engaging in any unconscious or conscious attempt at sexual affirmation or relational affirmation. And I mean, sitting in that was, I remember wanting to text this girl to hook up, and it was like a drug. I had to be like, I just remember how hard that moment was.

Luke Storey: [00:34:31] Call a sensible friend, tell me not to do it.

Mark Groves: [00:34:33] You're right. Right. Like take my phone from me.

Luke Storey: [00:34:36] Yeah. 

Mark Groves: [00:34:37] And I'd never sat in nervousness, in somatic work, they talk about riding the wave, that you like have this feeling that you're uncomfortable with, so then you reach for the phone, you reach for the thing, you maybe withdraw, whatever your way of processing or coping is, ad you don't do it. You like sit longer in, and then the wave subsides. And it might be the first time you've ever sat through the wave, and that's that feeling we were talking, the sort of incessant texting.

It's like, what feeling are we trying to treat with the texting? And this is when we start to sit in our anxieties, we start to explore edges of feelings we've never explored. Like, oh, mom wasn't attentive. Like, this is what I do, whenever there is space, I'm uncomfortable with it, so I take space away, and in attachment there, there'll be more anxious attachment when someone else's coping strategy is they need space, and they're usually the ones—that the ones who don't want space are attracted to you. It's this vice versa. 

Luke Storey: [00:35:41] 100%.

Mark Groves: [00:35:41] Right. And you can see how that makes so much sense, because each person validates the other person's idea of the world. When I get too close to people, they pull away.

Luke Storey: [00:35:49] And there's a perfect polarity in that.

Mark Groves: [00:35:51] It's perfect, right? 

Luke Storey: [00:35:52] Yeah. I know that game very well.

Mark Groves: [00:35:57] Yeah. I mean, so taking space is really important. And then, what you're saying about creating a plan, yes, we often think that's not romantic. We want to like just meet someone by chance, but yeah, we're looking at our phones all the time, so how do you meet someone by chance, unless they're on your Tinder, and then you're like, I can never meet anyone? It's like, get your head out of your fucking phone. Like people are walking around, not making eye contact as much anymore. And I think we forget how many miracles happen.

Luke Storey: [00:36:24] Or right now, even just facial expression.

Mark Groves: [00:36:27] Right. Oh, my gosh.

Luke Storey: [00:36:28] The nonverbal communication and microexpressions that you would miss. I think of how many like beautiful love affairs have probably been missed just because you couldn't see the Mona Lisa smile on the woman in the coffee shop or vice versa, right?

Mark Groves: [00:36:44] So true.

Luke Storey: [00:36:45] There's like, what do you do for cues now when people's faces are obscured? It's totally—as if it wasn't hard enough.

Mark Groves: [00:36:53] Right. And I mean, you think of all the psychological implications of that, because I found myself learning how to communicate more with my eyes. 

Luke Storey: [00:37:00] Me, too.

Mark Groves: [00:37:01] Right? We'll be like-

Luke Storey: [00:37:02] Consciously like trying trying to show people that I'm smiling, especially if I'm—like someone sits you at a table, and you're like, actually, I'd prefer to be it that one, can I have that one, but like making super smiley eyes under the things so that they know that I'm not being a jerk or-. 

Mark Groves: [00:37:18] And then, you sit down and you'd take it off.

Luke Storey: [00:37:20] Yeah. Well, they go only between six and seven feet, so if you're in a chair, they fly over you.

Mark Groves: [00:37:30] Well, I'm under six feet so I'm fucked—oh, no, I'm good. I'm good all the time. Okay. I like that. That's following the science, right?

Luke Storey: [00:37:37] Yeah, 100%.

Mark Groves: [00:37:38] That for me, I think, is that creating the vision, what do I want my relationship to be like? What do I want it to be? And what would it feel like? What would be our habits, our behaviors? And then, like you said, then doing an audit, am I those things? Can I provide those? You can't ask for shit you can't do, like that's just fair. And can you grow into those things? So, if you are asking for them, can you build the skill set? And in doing that, it's kind of like anything.

When you buy a new car and you, all of a sudden, see that everyone has that car, it's like it's the same idea you're starting to place where you're going to send your attention. And what I think is so beautiful about having that perspective is when we're afraid of not finding love or that there's not enough people, I hear that about every city, there's no good people in New York, I was like, do math, like you can't be really bad at math and still find good people in all these cities, as if we don't believe that.

If we believe that, we're protecting ourselves from something, because we can all find a story that proves any of this bullshit untrue. And so, we have to understand what unconscious beliefs are getting in the way, and by creating an intention in what I'm looking for and what I actually want, I'm able to rapidly sort. And most of the time, we're dating from the perspective of I'm waiting for someone to choose me, oh, you like me, I like you, too, oh, you want that, I want that, too, as opposed to really sitting in a space of discernment, like I'm choosing.

It's like people constantly would be like, they're the one. It's like you just fucking met them, and like don't get me wrong, I love a good Disney romantic story that is not based on much of reality, but what happens is as soon as you give someone a title, you actually remove your ability to be more discerning. And so, by just sitting in this space of I'm choosing, are they a good fit for me? Allow them to become the one, to earn that place.

And even the idea that there's only one person is, again, another scarce perspective, because if you're holding onto someone who you've titled that, and the relationship is not healthy, and it's filled with red flags, you're going to have a harder time letting it go, probably because you're ashamed, because you told other people, and also, because you're believing in a story, and that's one of the hardest things about relationship, especially breakups, is you're really having a story end. Not realizing that the story is not over, the page is turning. You're the writer. You're the director. You're the casting agent. You're everything. And you can still create the story, it just might look different. It might be with someone else.

Luke Storey: [00:40:26] Or maybe the story is not over, but the chapter is, right?

Mark Groves: [00:40:30] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:40:32] But I mean, when you're in a painful breakup, for me, it's usually been like, oh, no, all life as we know it is over, you know what I mean? Yeah, it's the same. When you're in the throes of it, it's just so difficult to see that in two years, I'm going to be living here with this person, and I'm going to look back on this with fond memories and great lessons. It's just like, ah.

Mark Groves: [00:40:55] Yeah, and you have a friend who's like, everything happens for a reason, and you're like, fuck you.

Luke Storey: [00:41:00] Yeah, you're like, fuck your reasons.

Mark Groves: [00:41:01] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:41:02] With going back to creating that vision, and I think why I like touching on this is because that's what I eventually did, was kind of a vision, some vision work around the kind of partner that I wanted, what I could bring, what I couldn't bring. And ultimately, that led to my just outstanding, fantastic relationship that I'm in now.

Mark Groves: [00:41:27] Yeah. And I met your wife last night, and she's so lovely.

Luke Storey: [00:41:29] Yeah, she's stellar. 

Mark Groves: [00:41:31] Yeah, she's incredible. I didn't know she used to be a hip-hop deejay.

Luke Storey: [00:41:34] Yeah, she's done a lot of stuff. Yeah, she was like an athlete and all kinds of, we've had a very different journey in so many ways. She just doesn't drink because she just doesn't really like to drink.

Mark Groves: [00:41:46] That was like Kylie. I was like, I love to drink, I don't drink because I love to drink.

Luke Storey: [00:41:50] Yeah, same. I don't drink because I'll end up in jail so fast. But anyway, going back to that, something that was useful for me was, okay, in terms of the vision, like, okay, what do I want? Allowing myself to be extremely superficial, I like brown hair, just whatever, sexual preferences, physical attributes, things like that, and then sort of continuing to go deeper on that, like actual core values.

Yeah, values, morals, life goals, preferences, cultural things, all of that, but what was really important for me was identifying red flags that are negotiable or malleable to some degree, and then non-negotiable, like it's a hard out date two if these things show up, which for me, for example, might be somebody being dishonest, or have a drug problem that's unaddressed, or something like that.

Just major, major issues that I didn't want to get tangled up in. And having that really comprehensive kind of want, don't want allowed me to have that discernment. I'm glad you used that word, because it's not like judging that person like, oh, they have a bunch of red flags, they're a narcissist, this, this, this, that if you spot it, you got it, right? Like how do I know they're that way, because I've either been that way or there's parts of me that are still that way? But the discernment and also that point you made so importantly was that I'm going to decide, I'm going to choose, and the empowering element of that discernment.

But if I don't really know what I want and don't want, then who's doing the choosing, right? Then, it's just kind of haphazardly falling into whatever thing and trying to cobble it together according to what feels good, versus what is going to have the most likelihood of a sustained relationship of whatever longevity that's beneficial to both people continually. So, I guess in that, aside from just what we want, where do you land in terms of red flags and non-negotiables, and how do we even discover what those are? And is it worth documenting that in some way and using that as part of our discernment arsenal?

Mark Groves: [00:44:15] Yeah, going from that sort of broader brush, and then bringing it down to like a more finite piece would be exactly what you're saying. Okay. When you're writing your relationship vision, write it with the language of we, like we make love often, and we work through conflict successfully, we listen, we take time to prioritize ourselves. In that way, you're already stating it's already occurred. The power of language is so important.

And then, getting very clear on what you're saying, your deal breakers. Deal breakers are things you're not negotiable on. They're usually things like drinking, not drinking, drug use, not drug use, having kids, not have kids, wanting to get married, not wanting. There are things like that. In the context of like nice to have, like I think for people, if you get really specific, sometimes, you can miss something that's walking towards you that actually is a fit.

It's interesting in some of the research is that they ask people what they want, they write it down, and then they go on speed dating, and they actually kind of throw the whole list out the window as soon as they have a connection with someone. That's why it's so important to place discernment and not self-abandoning as the number one priorities, because as soon as you're in this state of I need them to choose me, or I have to, or whatever that longing is, that's the stuff you have to sit in, because you're placing too much in the have to, instead of this isn't actually a match for me.

I see that a lot in the healing of someone's drawn to unavailability or chaos. And then, when they meet someone who's calm, they're like, boring, like I don't want to bang boring. And we have to learn how to discern between attraction and activation. Like nervous system activation is often familiar, and associated with love and connection, because we saw it in our parents. If our parents were unpredictable, unreliable, chaotic, we'll associate love with those things, not to mention all the neural hormones that come out when we are in those types of behaviors.

And then, often, when we have sex with someone who we don't feel chosen by, we don't feel safe with, the actual experience of arousal treats the pain, treats the suffering so much like a drug. And so, that's why the abstaining is so important, because you're able to maintain some level of still being in your body, not being dysregulated. And so, we have to learn like, what does calm feel like? Because I think if any of us have been attracted to instability, or chaos, or uncertainty, I raise my hand here, then the experience of calm and being chosen is like so fucking confronting.

Luke Storey: [00:47:11] That's really good stuff right there. Yeah, I've looked at this stuff a lot. I think that's why I was so excited to talk to you. Even though I'm in a relationship and it's very successful by all metrics just in terms of peace and it's a really good time, but since most of my lessons have come out of this area, I mean, most of the really hard lessons, one thing that I've looked at in this regard is how, when you meet someone, and it just feels so right, and so exciting, and just so enthralling, that, sometimes, it's not that it's right, but that it's familiar.

But you don't know that it's familiar, you just know that this is super fucking exciting, and I can't stop thinking about this person, and when I'm going to see them next, and all of that. And not that there's anything wrong with having that, but it's worth being aware of. But to your most recent point, there have been times in my current relationship where because there's no drama and it's just super simpatico for a number of different reasons that I won't wax on, because I don't want to be self-indulgent, but there have been times where I'm like, not so much anymore, but in the beginning, like, wait, is this right, because it just feels like home, it feels safe, and I'm just not used to that? Right?

Like I totally trust this human being, I can be totally vulnerable, conflict is resolved quickly, and effectively, and compassionately. It's just so different than prior experiences that I've had to really surrender into that and learn to trust that I'm just not used to a healthy relationship for the most part, taking responsibility for my part in that experience. And so, sometimes, it's like healthy feels like there must be something wrong, because it's just uncharted territory.

Mark Groves: [00:49:20] It's new.

Luke Storey: [00:49:20] Yeah, and I've had to check myself. As I say, mostly in the beginning, which is my mind would be like, wait, is this cool? Like is it supposed to feel like this?

Mark Groves: [00:49:29] Wait, you're repairing with me?

Luke Storey: [00:49:30] Yeah. 

Mark Groves: [00:49:33] That's been my experience with Kyle has been similar. Like when we first started dating, I remember we had a fight, I forget what it was about, but we were both laying on the bed and neither of us could talk, like we were so dysregulated. And like I had thousands of words that wanted to be said, but I just couldn't make the journey from here to here. It was like a lump in my throat. And because there wasn't safety in sharing emotion and maybe I'd never seen it demonstrated in a calm way or a way that was seeking repair, I consider myself like a recovering defender, I would get defensive a lot, and I remember learning about the antidote to defensiveness.

And in the Gottman's work, they call it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. No small title there. And it's four behaviors that are evident in all relationships that end in divorce. Now, they're evident in all relationships in some way, but it's just when they're in high quantity. Like the Gottman's, could listen to, I'm not sure if people listen to or read the book from Malcolm Gladwell, Blink. He talks about that research in there. They can listen to 20 hours of couple dialogue and predict with, I think it's over 94% accuracy, if the couple will divorce. If they listen to just 3 minutes, they can predict with over 80%.

Luke Storey: [00:50:53] Wow.

Mark Groves: [00:50:54] So, that shows you how powerful language is, especially if we can take ownership, as you're talking about, for your side of the street. Like if I learn how to communicate in a better way, I completely change the pattern of communication. And the antidote to defensiveness is to say, I can see some truth in what you're saying. Oh, my God. I remember the first time I was in an argument with a friend who's a therapist, and she said to me, you're being defensive, and I was like, oh, and I was like, I can see some truth in what you're saying.

Oh, God, it was like eating my shoe, but I was on the other side of a conversation I'd never been on. I'd always gotten defensive and shut down. I'd never actually received and just held it. And I was kind of in awe, because as you were saying, like when something's unfamiliar, it would be so much easier to go back to my old pattern, because even though it might be not constructive from a relational intimacy perspective, it's protecting me.

All of these behaviors, which is criticisms, that statement's like you always, you never, defensiveness, which pairs super well with that one, contempt, which is things like rolling of the eyes. That's actually the most predictive behavior of divorce is the rolling of the eyes. And contempt is really creating a hierarchy in the relationship. And faces of disgust are part of contempt, so your partner is speaking, and you're like that kind of thing.

Luke Storey: [00:52:28] Oh, God, that sounds so brutal. It's like resignation, right?

Mark Groves: [00:52:32] Yes. And contempt is like almost the hardest.

Luke Storey: [00:52:36] Yeah. It's like that's further past resignation.

Luke Storey: [00:52:39] I don't know. I think they might. I don't even know, but I would imagine they're the same.

Luke Storey: [00:52:41] Because resignation is it's like an apathy where you just don't give a shit anymore, and maybe contempt, there's a little of anger behind it, perhaps.

Mark Groves: [00:52:52] Yeah. There's still like—the other one is still learned helplessness, but like not a space of surrender, but a space, yeah, you're right, apathy, where you don't even-

Luke Storey: [00:53:02] You've given up.

Mark Groves: [00:53:03] And at that point, like contempt and resignation are really hard, even if someone goes and sees a therapist, they're really hard to rescue people from. The other ones, and the last one is stonewalling, shutting down, hanging up the phone, leaving, that kind of thing. And really, almost all couples have a cycle that they do in Mona Fishbane's work, she calls it a vulnerability cycle. So, it's essentially like when you do this, I do this, which makes you do this and me do this.

So, it's like when you raise your voice, I shut down, which makes you get louder and me withdraw. And so, all couples can kind of fill in the gaps. And usually, we all handle conflict very similarly. The irony is all of those four things, the four horsemen, they're all behaviors that protect us. That's why they're there. And when we learn how to heal them, we end up in conversations we've never been in.

We end up in spaces of love, and connection, and intimacy that we've actually been terrified of. I like to think of it like, when we're children, and you touch a stove and you burn your hand, you obviously change your behavior around the stove, ideally. And it's very similar emotionally, we get wounded, everybody experiences childhood wounds. Really, a wound is described at its most, let's say, minimal, just having a need that doesn't get met.

And so, the idea isn't like to raise children that never experienced suffering, because then they have no resilience, they have no grit, they have no ability to self-regulate. And the real understanding is like, as you get older, is to be able to understand how do you like take what are these behaviors that are protecting us from being hurt again? That's why they're there. It's like, I think we create upper limit, and they're really places that hurt so much that I'm going to dance relationally in spaces that I know I can handle the pain, and I might even choose unavailable people, so I never have to experience availability.

And I used to think mainly based on my experience when my engagement ended when I was 27, because people said I was afraid of commitment, I often thought like, are my behaviors because I'm afraid, because I'm afraid to commit to someone? And I really started to learn that that behavior, like running from love, running from good people is really because we don't trust love and we don't trust people who are close to us. We don't trust ourselves. Will I have my own back in closeness? Will I have boundaries? Will I stand up for myself? Will I lose myself? And so much of my relational patterns were unconsciously never wanting to recreate a moment that I didn't even have capacity for in a lot of ways. And I think of-

Luke Storey: [00:56:00] You want some water?

Mark Groves: [00:56:01] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:56:02] Oh, you have some?

Mark Groves: [00:56:02] Yeah. Thanks, man.

Luke Storey: [00:56:03] Yeah.

Mark Groves: [00:56:06] I think of a line from Ram Dass where he talks about how we're sort of being asked if you're paying attention, being asked to hold so much suffering. He talked about a family whose daughter had passed. And he said all he could do was just acknowledge the immense amount of grief they were asked to hold. And he said, when you go through anything that is painful, a part of you has to die, and that is the part of you that couldn't bear the unbearable.

And I think we so often avoid that mortality, that feeling that we have when we're experiencing a breakup that we don't know how to hold it, so we turn to addictions. That's what I did when I went through a breakup and there was betrayal, I just found solace in the bottom of a pint glass, and I found it through casual encounters, because I knew that if they were casual, I could hold the, I had a say on the depth of the intimacy.

And in some way, intimacy not only—it feels good, but it also validates being desired. And that part of relationship, if we can learn what is our upper limit. And if you finish the sentence, when I love people, they, you'll usually find, it's like, leave me, lie to me, cheat on me, betray me. It's some story, if we allow it to come out. And the other one we might do is when I love people, I lose myself, hide, betray myself, become a doormat. And these are both really informing us-

Luke Storey: [00:57:56] That's a great question.

Mark Groves: [00:57:57] Right.

Luke Storey: [00:57:58] It's funny, as you asked them-

Mark Groves: [00:57:59] Yeah. What are your answers to those? Maybe former answers. 

Luke Storey: [00:58:05] Formerly. Oh, my God. Yeah.

Mark Groves: [00:58:07] Yeah. Like now mine is show up.

Luke Storey: [00:58:10] Yeah. I mean, I don't remember exactly the words that came to mind, because I'm also listening to the next thing you're saying, but yeah, I was like, when I allow someone to love me or when I allow myself to love someone, it's just like it's reciprocal, and awesome, and it feels totally safe.

Mark Groves: [00:58:25] Yeah, now. For me, that was not-

Luke Storey: [00:58:27] But I'm 51, you know what I'm saying?

Mark Groves: [00:58:30] I'm 43.

Luke Storey: [00:58:30] This is like maybe a couple of years and my current relationship that I've had that experience. But yeah, I don't know, I think that cat and mouse thing that we were talking about earlier, of that perceived compatibility of the avoidant and addict, just in the vernacular that's kind of common to psychology and relational psychology, maybe, those would have been my answers, is being the avoidant, and feeling trapped, and they're too needy, and like any means to avoid vulnerability, because underneath that experience of being the one that's pushing away, and running away, and shutting down, and making myself unavailable to a certain degree of intimacy underneath that is actually a vulnerability and a fear of being abandoned and heard and abused and all of the things, right? So, it's like the person in that role perceives to have. Perhaps more power than the one who's doing the chasing, the more addictive, needy pursuer that's trying to get past the barriers of the unavailable person, but it's like if you really excavate underneath both of those dynamics, it's kind of the same stuff under there.

Mark Groves: [00:59:50] It's the exact same stuff, right. They're just both strategies to avoid pain.

Luke Storey: [00:59:55] Okay, there you go. Yeah.

Mark Groves: [00:59:58] Yeah. And that's exactly that. From a compassionate lens, they're a way, like in the constructs of attachment style, that anxious, the avoidant, and then there's secure. And you think about it like the underlying characteristic of a secure attachment is my partner's needs matter as much as my own, not more than my own, which would be more anxious, not less than my own, which would be more avoidant.

And really, in the literature on, there's a book called Attached that really looks at attachment styles, and there are numerous other books, and in them, what's interesting is the conversation about anxious people is like, man, people haven't been showing up for you, like you just need to find a secure person, shit will be awesome. And then, it's like, here's what avoidance is, good luck. Like there's not really a lot of advice for avoidance.

But you think like in the work of Sarah Baldwin, who's a somatic therapist, she talks about how with anxious people, their invitation is to learn how to self-regulate, because they've never learned that. And for avoidant people, it's actually to learn how to co-regulate, how to sit with—like we're co-regulating right now, that to sit with someone else and experience co-regulation, to trust the nervous system of another person.

It's amazing how all this is happening on such a plane that we often don't even understand until we begin to understand it. That's why somatic work is so important. It's like it's important to understand things psychologically, patterns, so we can cerebrally sort them, but you still have to do the work that trains the body to see relationships differently, and behaviors like me not pursuing someone who normally I would have pursued who might be more toxic.

I'm actually recoding my nervous system in that. I'm teaching myself, oh, when that behavior shows up, I've got my back. Like there's such a beautiful thing that's occurring there. Yeah. hat anxiety, as I said earlier, is really the fear of space and avoidance is the fear of no space. And when you can learn to stand still and not ride that wave when you want to pursue, whatever that texting or whatever it might be, for the other person who wants distance, that's hard.

Like the ideal is like in relationship, what often happens, a conflict happens, and someone says, hey, I need to talk about this, and the other person says, I don't want to talk about it, and they might hang up the phone. They might leave the house. They might leave the relationship. The rule that has to occur for all couples is that, hey, maybe now might not be a good time, but if you need space to process, you have 24 hours.

That's the maximum. And you're the one who has to come back. And what that teaches the person who is afraid of that space, or the rejection, or the abandonment is to learn how to regulate themselves, but also create a different story, which is when someone needs space, they come back. So often in relationship, we threaten the relationship, like if this happens again, I'm leaving. That completely destabilizes the safety.

If every time you have conflict, your partner threatens the relationship, then there is no safety. And what it will do is make it so no conflict ever gets explored, because the fear will be that you leave. And then, what happens is you have two people, especially the person who's wanting to initiate dialogue, you have two people who aren't actually in the relationship. They're just fake versions of themselves, the ones who want to maintain connection to other over connection to self.

And really, I think this is sort of the underarching theme of how we relate to everything, including our medical choices, including whatever it might be, speaking our truth, and again, truth being subjective, that we—Gabor Mate talks about this, that we have two needs as humans. We have the need to be authentic and to self-express, and we have the need to belong. And when authenticity and self-expression threaten belonging, belonging usually wins.

And you think of like the evolutionary implications of that. If I tell you the truth, I might not be part of this group anymore. Think about how religion weaponizes that. Think about how information is weaponized that way. Think about the language that's used by leaders, about what choice you make, and whether that infers that you're a good person or not a good person. All of these are psychological strategies to manipulate behavior.

That's why it's been such a hard time for me observing what's been happening, because the language that is inferred is actually trying to weaponize shame. And on a macro scale, we can see that happening, but on a micro scale, where that happens, is our inability to disagree and still love one another. We think successful dialogue navigated well is that we agree, but ultimately, for the person who's in the first person, it's that you agree with me. The outcome of this dialogue is not me agreeing with you, that sounds horrible.

Luke Storey: [01:05:14] Yeah. Welcome to Twitter.

Mark Groves: [01:05:17] Yeah, Twitter is a whole other world. I don't know that you can—sometimes, you get the odd experience, but that, like can two truths coexist, and be met with reverence and respect? Because you and I, us and our partners, we can experience the same event completely differently through a different lens. Look at how many people are experiencing life's current events. I was at a comedy club last night. My throat's a little dry.

Luke Storey: [01:05:49] Laughing too hard?

Mark Groves: [01:05:50] Yeah, seriously. How we can experience, and it's through the lens of our traumas, our social conditionings, all the things, all the unconscious. What does conflict mean to us? How do we see it explored? Blah, blah, blah. And when we can realize that there is space for both your experience and mine, and the actual job of us as friends, as couples, is to actually be curious about your world. And gosh, one of the most important qualities in successful couples, but I'd say any relationship is to be open to the influence of your partner.

And I mean, that's something that we're being invited globally to learn how to practice. That's why I think like what's going on in the world today has really challenged our friendships, challenged our families. I say to people like, if you lost a family member, because they voted for someone you didn't like, then go get them back. Like how weird is it that we live in a world that we can't disagree? And then, we cancel people who make us emotionally uncomfortable. There's no psychological safety.

Luke Storey: [01:07:08] Or perhaps we cancel people who trigger us to make ourselves emotionally uncomfortable.

Mark Groves: [01:07:16] That's the right-

Luke Storey: [01:07:18] Because of our perception and positionally that we impose upon what they're saying, doing, or feeling, right?

Mark Groves: [01:07:25] Yeah. And like because we don't like the feeling that's coming up through the lens we have, through the uncomfort.

Luke Storey: [01:07:31] Yeah. So, we attach it to them as being the source or causation of what we're experiencing when really, it's truly just our own attachment to our perception of it. And this is like, I think so many—again, there are so many things you're touching on, I'm like, don't interrupt, Luke.

Luke Storey: [01:07:49] Let's do it. No, go.

Luke Storey: [01:07:50] There are so many threads I could pull to unravel this beautiful sweater that I think is providing, hopefully, so much value to people. It is to me.

Mark Groves: [01:07:58] I hope so, yeah

Luke Storey: [01:07:59] Learning new things and also just affirming things that I felt like, yeah, that's probably right. But I think so much of the relating and the ability to resolve conflict in a healthy manner and to be able to actually move forward with someone in intimacy is so dependent on the words that we use. And this is something I'm continually working on. In fact, someone was on my mind, just a friend, a male friend.

And there were some things that I was seeing about his choices and behavior, and I felt beholden to share my perspective with him. Not a judgment, but just like, oh, I think he's kind of going a little off the deep end here, and as a friend, I felt the sense of responsibility to speak my truth. But I really wanted to allow him to—it's kind of someone that I mentor in a sense, a friend, but a friend that comes to me a lot for advice.

And really, it was a great practice in me being very deliberate with my words. So, rather than saying like, hey, I see you doing this and that, and I think that's wrong, even just a subtle shift of my perception of how you're going about doing this, and this, and this is this. And again, that's how I'm perceiving this to be true. It doesn't mean that it is true. It means that from my lens and my vantage point, this is where you're going, and how you're going there, and what could possibly be a negative consequence.

And even being very deliberate and forthright in like prefacing what I felt like I needed to say with, hey, I want to invite you just to take a moment, and really open your mind and open your heart, and know that I unconditionally love you as a friend, no matter how you receive this information and no matter how much of it lands as true for you or not. But out of a sense of responsibility to myself and sensing that I'd been avoiding this conversation, because it's uncomfortable, and I don't want to hurt them, or have them feel rejected, or I don't want to be rejected, et cetera, all those things that can go wrong when there's like somewhat potentially uncomfortable truth shared, but just preface it by saying, hey, man, it's possible that your ego could flare up a little bit in a couple of minutes with what I'm about to share, which is just my perspective and it's not necessarily true.

But if you could hear me out, it would mean a lot to me, because then I don't have to sit with this, and feel like, ah, I should have said something when the thing goes wrong that I think could go wrong. But it's like, man, it's so fun in all forms of relationship, learning how to communicate in ways that can bypass that defense, that characteristic that you described earlier, and also just having a malleable mind and that I know in any given time that I'm only seeing something from the position that only I can see it from, right?

And I might feel like I'm right and I'm pretty damn sure I'm right, but again, I'm the one determining whether I'm right or not. So, it's almost impossible to be truly objective about anything I want to communicate with someone. And developing relationships wherein romantic and otherwise, wherein that becomes the modus operandi. that's just how you speak and you're mindful of the words that you use. And you mentioned something earlier, this dynamic of conflict that is so destructive and it's such a gnarly pattern. Well, when you did this, you made me feel blank, that like absolving oneself of responsibility for one's inner experience.

Mark Groves: [01:11:55] And how much they can be informed by their inner experience.

Luke Storey: [01:11:58] Yeah. So, in that situation, Mark, when you came in and you knocked over the water glass on my new carpet, you made me feel angry. Another way to state the same experience could be, yeah, it's really interesting. Can I share something with you, a perspective with you? Mark, I noticed within myself that when you knocked that water glass over, I started feeling these uncomfortable sensations of anger.

And then, I kind of looked at that and there was a sense of fear of loss, because I just paid a lot of money for this rug, and so on, and so on, right? But coming at everything with a sense of like this is my experience for which I am willing and able to claim responsibility without putting my feelings in someone else's lap. Like you can't make me feel any way. No one on the internet can make me feel anything.

Mark Groves: [01:12:54] Except for that one troll but yeah.

Luke Storey: [01:12:55] Yeah, right. When I go through TSA, this is a big trigger for me, is I just have authority issues and nonsensical things that are irrelevant or that I perceive to be irrelevant, really annoying me, and someone controlling me, and telling me what to do, and, sir, step over there, and open your bag, and put on the thing on your face, and all this, and I just traveled, I think that's why it comes to mind, and I was noticing like, I'm getting judgey and annoyed at the whole system and the representatives of the system with their stupid little badge, and all this thing, and I'm getting pissed, and it's like even though I'm getting pissed, I'm still having the awareness that I'm doing it to myself.

Mark Groves: [01:13:34] Right. So true.

Luke Storey: [01:13:36] It's kind of like a, what would an enlightened master do? Enter your chosen enlightened master, how would their experience of going through TSA differ from mine, because of my self-righteousness, and my sensitivities, and my capacity to be irritated by someone else's behavior? Like what if I totally change my perception of those interactions with, Wow, man, that's so cool, you're doing your job so well, because your boss told you to do this thing and you're following orders perfectly. 

Mark Groves: [01:14:04] To keep us safe.

Luke Storey: [01:14:05] Yeah. And everything relationally, I think, is subject to that radical shift in our perspective. It's like, think of how many things can be defused, and so many resentments resolved, and just conflicts in general simply by the one thing, which I'm having a very long-winded experience of explaining is just accepting responsibility for how I feel.

Mark Groves: [01:14:32] Yeah. And I think even in so much of our suffering is the rejection of the moment that it should be different than it is. That, of course, goes back to so much Buddhist philosophy of not being attached to a different outcome. Again, relationally, so important, because then we're rejecting the truth, and then we can't act upon the truth. When we don't like a truth, it doesn't make the truth not real, it just makes us not want to look at it. It's much like when there's relational dysfunction and people don't want to turn towards it, it gets communicated in delayed texts, unreliability, shortness, reactivity, all the things that are trying to say something so much greater.

And that's why all of our feelings, all of our emotions are really just evoking information. And we've been taught to say, well, sadness or anger are bad, and happiness, and joy, and the excitement are good, when really, even that construct of there being a hierarchy of emotion makes us want to avoid certain ones, as opposed to be informed by them. And imagine if in that dialogue where you express your experience of me spilling water on the carpet, which I haven't done yet, so I hope that doesn't happen in the future is to-

Luke Storey: [01:15:45] I'm going to manifest you knocking your green juice over on my cream carpet.

Mark Groves: [01:15:47] Yeah, my green water. Let me just move that over. And imagine if my response was to say, I can totally understand why you might feel that way. Like I know that you just invested in this carpet, and what I hear you saying is that it's an important thing to you, and that maybe in some ways, you feel like I might not be respecting it. Is that fair to say? And like, really, so much of the solution to navigating conflict is to be curious and to validate, because I might get defensive like, I didn't mean to knock the water over on your new carpet, like, oh, you got to spend so much money on carpet, oh, like instead of just being like, wow, yeah?

And I remember when I first experienced that, although, theoretically, I understood it, but when I first experienced it with my partner, with Kylie, I was like, wait, what? Like you're repairing and taking responsibility for your behavior. Whoa. Because so much of my overfunctioning was to take responsibility for everything, and then feel resentful that I just took everything myself, and then feel like there's something wrong with me that they feel upset, so that must mean there's something wrong with me, as opposed to disconnecting my worth from any of the circumstances.

Like you talked earlier about when we were dating and we're needing to orient around our values, that's true of everything. Like we should really know what our top 3 to 5 values are, because everything in your life should orient around those. Your boundaries should fiercely protect what you value. And most people don't actually lay claim to their values, because then if you were to do an audit of your behaviors, and say, are they in alignment with my values? They often wouldn't be.

Then, you'd have to change your behaviors, and then you'd pay attention to the feelings that were already telling you that you weren't in alignment with your values. And then, we really wouldn't have as many reasons for addictions, because like, really, the pain that we experience so often is the disconnection from the suffering that's created in the space between who we know ourselves to truly want to be and who we're actually being.

And I think we're usually one or two giant decisions away from reuniting, but so much of our pain comes from childhood, when we when we actually begin to model a version of us that will get accolades, will create safety, will create a connection, but we actually leave the essence of ourselves. And that's why I like, relationally, so much of the invitation and the pain that we experience is to actually learn how to become that version. How to remember it, you know what I mean?

I used to think like give birth to it, but really, it's remember it. Like remember our tenderness. Remember our emotionality. Remember the pains that we've had, and adult relationships, and navigating conflict. I mean, God, what a beautiful thing when a story is proven different, but man, we're so attached to stories like life having to be, relationships having to be hard, even making money having to be hard. Like I grew up in the beginning of my childhood in some level of poverty, and then maybe we moved to like lower middle class, and I never got anything I wanted when I was young.

And I remember that causing so much child, like am I enough? Like why didn't I get this versus that? And I got hand-me-downs and all that kind of stuff. And then, when it came to becoming an entrepreneur, it was so hard for me to charge for what I was doing, because I didn't know how to hold on to money. And I also used to spend money incessantly, because I never wanted to experience not getting the thing, so I didn't know how to sit in that feeling. And so, it shows you how, as I said earlier, like your relationship to anything is just always informing you of where there's a belief that's sticky. Peter Crone talks about it being like your your situations, your life, your circumstances are all showing you where you're not free. And I mean, I think relationships teach us that a lot.

Luke Storey: [01:20:11] When we're coming up with our vision for a partner, and we're dating, and we've got some of those red flags and non-negotiables, what do you think is a way one could determine when those are valid versus when those are becoming an excuse to remain avoidant and protect ourselves? Right? Like being too picky and too discerning, and not opening ourselves up to the possibility of something existing outside of that as a defense mechanism.

Mark Groves: [01:20:53] Yeah, such a good question, because especially, avoiding people will identify as like independent or I just have high standards. And while that, of course, can be true, I think we need to check in. I think we need to check in with ourselves, and say, are my standards walls? Are they actually walls? And I think somatically, we'll know pretty quick if that's true. Like do I push people away? By using discernment, and we'll get informed by that.

Also, we'll get informed when we push someone away, and we realize, ah, like maybe I walked away from something that was actually pretty good. And can we return to it? So, really, it's just being able to play with it. We take it so seriously, because we think, well, if this doesn't work or I push them away, then I've lost the person I always was meant to get, because no, you're being informed by it, and in the future, you'll have the opportunity to potentially, either with that person or someone else, now, you have a new skill set. And I don't think we often see it with that kind of grace, that, again, you're being invited to integrate the wisdom.

Luke Storey: [01:22:05] We have a question kind of along those lines from a listener on Instagram who goes by Ann Dream Onier.

Mark Groves: [01:22:17] Hi, Ann Dream Onier.

Luke Storey: [01:22:17] There's a few underscores in there, and I often ask for questions, and then I just neglect to ask them of the guest, but it reminded me of this. It's around overidentification and labeling, for example, narcissist, codependent, trauma-bonding attachment style, and how it can make it more difficult to date, because self-labeling reduces confidence and self-worth. So, I think what she's getting at is if we're sort of assessing what some of our issues are and we're too strongly identifying with those labels or putting those labels too strongly on someone else as if they can't evolve out of that, what are the dangers of that being limiting to our experience?

Mark Groves: [01:23:13] Well, I think any time you attach an identity to yourself, although that can help systemize the world or organize it, like you're like, oh, I'm more prone to anxious attachment, maybe I'm more prone to avoidant, or maybe I do both, the challenge is we often then are like, Oh, that's my anxious attachment. And whenever you say I am anything, you become it. So, as opposed to saying like a part of me, sometimes, is prone to anxious behavior or to avoidant behavior.

So, self-labeling, I would say, any time that occurs, often creates a prison of the identification, although it creates certainty because we feel like, oh, now, it's organized me in a way that makes sense to my world, knowing that you can take any relational behavior and learn a different skill. Like anyone can learn how to become secure. Anyone can learn how to be a great communicator. These are not like skills reserved for just specific people. And granted, some of us might have got dealt a different hand and have less to overcome, but all of it can be overcome. And labeling, like I mean, the word narcissist has been definitely overprescribed.

Luke Storey: [01:24:25] It's very trendy at the moment.

Mark Groves: [01:24:26] Yeah. And codependent. Truthfully, almost all of us have codependent behaviors. We inherited codependent relational structures from our ancestors. And there's a difference between codependency and interdependency. Codependency is that, in some way, the self is validated by the other. Like I need you to need me in order for me to feel needed. You often see codependent dynamics when someone's trying to heal another person, the addict, right?

That would be the classic codependent dynamic. Someone's trying to get them to quit. And when they finally quit, the person who's trying to get them to quit doesn't have a job anymore, because their addiction was to another person and also avoiding their own self-work, which probably would have had them walk away, which is of course, the answer to most healing of addiction, is to finally say, to claim self.

You watch interventions, and interventions are like, we will no longer tolerate this, here's the standard, and the person is invited to sovereignty, and this other person is constructing sovereignty. And we're saying, hey, we trust that you have the adult skills and the resources, and if not, we'll provide them, here's what the structure looks like, but we trust that you can grow up in the same thing as being invited—because you think of the behavior of chasing and trying to fix people is really a young behavior.

It's, again, that person's being invited to grow up. And really, the most healthy relationships are ones that celebrate both the independence of the individual, and their dreams, their passions. I think the difference between compromise, which is, of course, very important in relationship, the difference between compromise and self-abandonment is that compromise, although it can feel challenging, you know is expansive to the relationship and to the self.

Self-abandonment doesn't feel that way. It feels like you're losing, like in this exchange, you're losing, and you might be losing something very dear to yourself. Compromise feels more like there might be some loss, but we know that it is for the greater construct of the relationship and for the self. And when we look at how relationships are often places, where you think someone gets out of a relationship, all of a sudden, they start pursuing all the things they love.

It's like, why don't we do that in a relationship? And I'm sure like your experience with your wife, my experience with Kylie is that the brighter and more powerful she gets, the brighter and more powerful our connection gets, and more powerful I get, but I think we often have this idea of power dynamics that there's an exchange. You know what I mean?

Luke Storey: [01:27:12] Mm-hmm.

Mark Groves: [01:27:12] Like even in pursuit, there's an exchange. Like don't text him back, he'll have more power. It's like as soon as you're there, you're in the wrong place, because you're thinking about, what can you get? What can you give? What are you losing? There shouldn't be loss. Like my partner informs me to be a much better man, and without her reflections, I wouldn't see so many of the things I can't see, because like you were talking about, like our perspective is our perspective. And my experience, like when a woman or a friend really loves you, and they tell you how you can grow, I mean, I never used to think that was a gift, just so we're clear. I don't know about you, but when I was younger and I got feedback, I wasn't like, this is a gift of my evolution. I was more like, ah, what about you?

Luke Storey: [01:28:03] Right.

Luke Storey: [01:28:05] Yeah, that's funny. I just texted Alyson for her opinion on something earlier. It was a piece of microadvice, but I was like, I don't know, maybe she sees something here that I don't see, and she was like, yeah, I wouldn't do that. I was like, Oh, God, thank God, but in no way did I feel threatened, or diminished, or anything, I was like, oh, thank God, I have eyes and ears that I can trust about some big decisions and some of them are just small throughout the day. Hey, what do you think of this? Am I missing something?

And to have someone who wholeheartedly has your best interests at heart, and maybe has some wisdom that's available, but yeah, that's a very new thing, because outside of that, things are kind of transactional and win-lose, right? And there's like point-scoring in relationships and always that defense-offense kind of game rather than two people boosting each other up to the maximum of their potential, however they can in their own individual way, because I guess if two people have a certain degree of security within themselves, then you're not diminished by someone else's shine. It's inspiring and encouraging.

Mark Groves: [01:29:28] It's so interesting because that's not often what we see. To get back to the use of the word narcissist, I find it's often placed upon people who have avoidant behaviors. I would say that narcissism in its truest expression is obviously very painful to be in relationship with, and for the person who is, although they're disassociated from the experience, that's the protective mechanism of narcissism.

So, when people have really experienced it, it's incredibly painful, so I don't want to diminish it. And we often code a lot of avoidant behavior as narcissistic, because a lot of avoidant behavior sort of masquerades as high self-confidence behavior. Like when people get too close, they're needy, that kind of stuff. They're a little more unavailable.

They might not text back as often or whatever it might be, and they might ghost, because they don't have the capacity to hold someone else's rejection, because they don't know how to explore their own. And what we were saying earlier just about that codependent, interdependent dynamic, I mean, as soon as you become not codependent in your romantic relationships, you realize where you are codependent everywhere. Any time you silence your voice to keep the peace, that's codependency. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, that's for survival.

Luke Storey: [01:30:47] That's a really good definition.

Mark Groves: [01:30:50] I mean, it's so simple, right?

Luke Storey: [01:30:52] Yeah, because codependency can be ambiguous, and as you said earlier, often associated with the addict and the person trying to save the addict. Yeah, but I've always kind of looked at it and I've worked on this a lot within myself, is like how much of the way I feel is dependent on how the person that I'm with feels? 

Mark Groves: [01:31:17] Oh, me, too.

Luke Storey: [01:31:17] Do you know what I mean?

Mark Groves: [01:31:18] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [01:31:18] It's like, can I have an upset wife who is struggling with some emotional issue at the moment, like can I still feel okay and that I'm my own person, or am I getting enmeshed in that experience? Like, oh, now, I have to feel that way, too, or can I actually just stand on my side and have empathy and compassion for that person, but not necessarily have to share in the experience?

It's that boundary thing, where there's like such porous boundaries and codependency that whenever your person is in, you're in there with them. But not in compassion, in like there's no ability to have a healthy separation between the two entities. It just becomes all sort of intertwined and complicated ways emotionally that you can't separate yourself from.

Mark Groves: [01:32:11] Yeah, I wasn't able to do that either. And like the other day, I had a friend give me feedback that they were hurt by something that I didn't contact them, so they were hurt. And I was like so open to hearing their experience, but I wasn't going to take responsibility for something that wasn't mine. And I never would have been able to discern that difference when I was younger.

I think it's when someone else takes responsibility for their behavior, it draws a beautiful line between you and them. And when you have a boundary around what's yours and what's not, like that's why when you know who you are, and you've done an inventory on your values and your behaviors, and where you need to improve and all that kind of stuff, you're able—when someone says, this is true about you, you're able to say whether it is or is not.

And I think that might be the most important skill set to develop in social media, because how many strangers are just delivering their opinion on whatever you say? I'm sure you experience that a lot. I do, too. And being able to tell the difference between feedback that's constructive and feedback that's projective, and that's hard, because even that that idea of like, I don't want to post this, because I'm afraid, that's codependency again.

When you say yes when you want to say no, codependency. When you try to fix things for people, codependency. So often in life, we try to save people from experience of feelings, because we don't know how to sit in those feelings ourselves. But as soon as I learned the richness of grief,  when Kylie and I in our relationship 1.0, we call it, we took a break up for nine months, but we were broken up, like it was over. And now that we reunited, we call it a sacred pause.

And in that time, there was such a healing of selves. Like in order to leave the relationship, both of us had to choose ourselves. And so, there was such a healing of that. And yeah, I'm forever reminded of the gifts that come from that grief, because when we broke up, man, like you were talking about it earlier, everything in the world feels like it sort of comes to an end. And I confronted death in a way I never had, because this death of this relationship was so much.

And I found it was the first time I ever went through a breakup sober. And that was interesting, because I felt like I was dealing with all the other ones I didn't do sober. And I found so much richness in that breakup, like in my own growth in learning about the darkness, learning about the edges, learning about death, learning about my fear of dying, of not being here, of not sharing this.

And because I learned so much from that, when someone's in immense grief, I just want to know, how can I walk alongside them? Because I think, sometimes, we need to know there's a hand that will pull us out if it gets a little too dark or a little too hard, but I won't save them from it. So, I won't rob them from the experience of the richness of it. And I think in codependency, but this is true of relationship, if we don't know the value of a feeling, we'll try to save people from a feeling, if that makes sense.

Luke Storey: [01:35:35] Yeah. It's like kind of an emotional enabling, of trying to pad someone's world for them.

Mark Groves: [01:35:41] Right, when they need that.

Luke Storey: [01:35:43] Yeah. And robbing them of their sense of sovereignty and also karma. I think karma plays into things a lot more than we would like to think, that there are certain experiences that each of us have, in some way, signed up for, that are going to be uncomfortable or painful but are inevitable at some point in the journey, right?

Mark Groves: [01:36:05] And you have to look at it.

Luke Storey: [01:36:08] Yeah. I know that a lot of things that have played out in my life that were difficult were absolutely karmically orchestrated, and that they would have come about at some particular point. In other words, there was no avoiding them or no having other people codependently save me or protect me from having those experiences, thinking in terms of mentors and advisors that I've had that say, hey, I can offer you this point of view, but you're going to have to go through it yourself. You're going to have to feel whatever there is to feel so that you don't have to keep feeling it over and over again, because you have to dismantle the pattern that's perpetuating this unresolved issue. It's a gift to just stand by someone's side and just allow them to experience whatever they need to experience.

Mark Groves: [01:37:03] Yeah. There's this line that makes me think of this line from Francis Weller, who's a psychotherapist and calls himself a soul activist. And he says that we spend our lives seeking belonging, and at some point, we have to become the place of welcome.

Luke Storey: [01:37:21] Wow.

Mark Groves: [01:37:22] And I think of like so much of our journey is this like adolescent adventuring, and making mistakes, and all the things that come with life, but the adult really says, what are these teaching me? And you think of like how our communities are modeled. Our communities generally don't model restoration. I forget what tribe it is, but there's one where when someone makes a mistake, they actually have them sit in the middle of a circle and everyone tells them the things they love about them.

And just think about how powerful that would be if that's how we turn towards someone in our community who went through a divorce, or cheated, or lied, or whatever, and we reminded them that they're loved, but we also ask them what can they teach us? We exile so many parts of ourselves. We reject parts of ourselves that we're ashamed of, as opposed to asking those parts, what can they teach us? And I think that's modeled through the way, like cancel culture is certainly not restorative justice, and I'm not saying there's not a time to hold people accountable, of course, but anything done in extreme is not constructive to learning.

And like what we then see is this model of if you make a mistake, you're going to be exiled from the community, and then we will hide our mistakes, we'll live in shame, we all have skeletons or whatever that even means for someone, but things that we are not really wanting to look at or for other people to know about us, and we can't turn towards that.

Luke Storey: [01:39:00] Right. And then, the shame of that awareness is going to likely perpetuate more of that type of behavior, right?

Mark Groves: [01:39:09] And then, more addictions to heal, to cover up.

Luke Storey: [01:39:13] We've mentioned cancel culture a couple of times, I think the thing that irks me about this social phenomenon that's so prevalent now is that it negates the prospect of redemption. I mean, I think about, God, all of the iterations of myself that, I mean, from one perspective is like mortifying without the compassion for oneself, and going, wow, okay, at least you're not that way anymore, but God, had I not been given the opportunity to evolve, I mean, I wouldn't be the person I am today that I'm increasingly learning to love more, right?

And because I'm loving the person that I'm becoming more and more, my behavior toward other people becomes more kind, and more loving, and more inclusive, and all of those things. But to be canceled, and again, not that some people don't need to be held accountable for their behavior, obviously, and there are systems in place, however faulty they might be, they're there, justice.

I mean, retribution, these are fundamental principles that have their place, but it's like, God, I feel so bad when people get canceled, because oftentimes, the cancelation is due to something retroactively that was so far in the past, and it's so obvious that that person has transcended the level of consciousness at which they behaved inappropriately, that they're literally not the same person anymore.

Mark Groves: [01:40:45] Well, and the culture is not the same, as the systemic biases and all the things that were not good at the time but informed what was okay. And it's like holding history accountable for today's awarenesses. That's really hard to do. I think of my relationship to alcohol when I was 22, 23, and I could easily look back with judgmental eyes that I was trying to numb pain, and then what that then brought into my life, as opposed to seeing that I was doing the best I could.

It might not have been—through the lens of what is available to me today, it would not be acceptable. But at the time, it was incredibly acceptable, because I was taught how to handle pain from society, which is don't. Like who modeled to me being able to learn from that betrayal. When I hear people who had parents who introduced them to like Wayne Dyer and shit, I'm like, well done, and I had a great childhood, but I wasn't informed to be curious about personal growth in a lot of ways.

In some ways, especially my dad was very introspective into my behaviors. Very. I remember I broke the law once, only twice, because I was the worst criminal in history, and thankfully, I did it before I was 18, but I like stole something. And my dad, when he got home, which I got the old, wait until your dad gets home, you can talk to him about this, which I was like, oh, fuck.

And I'll never forget, he asked me why I did it, and I said because I needed money, and he then gave me jobs to do around the house and paid me for them. Like chores that weren't mine, but like could have been, but that's how he handled it, with total unconditional love. And I've always been grateful for that, because it did model this like curiosity. I was terrified that I was going to be—I think I did get grounded for a bit, rightfully so, but I'll never forget that, because I really felt like he listened, and then he showed me that you can have solutions that are different.

And I had an uncle who was a drug addict, and he committed suicide when I was 20, something like that. And I remember I asked him for advice after I did that, I was sitting on the stairs on our front lawn with him, and he said to me, You know, Mark, sometimes, the easiest way isn't always the best way, which he probably could have used that advice later. But I'll never forget that, because it really showed me that, so often, I chose the easy path, because it felt less friction.

It felt frictionless or it had less friction. But I can now say without a doubt that any time I've chosen what is perceived to be easier, there is always a much greater cost. And although the long route or whatever it might be is maybe more challenging or involves more discomfort, it's always richer and it always gets to the place that you want to get to. But I like that saying that the juice is in the journey.

It's like who you become along that path is actually—like life's challenges are imperative to prepare you. I think Abraham Hicks says that when you make a request, be careful, because the universe will organize to get you there and you might not like the path, and I think about that with love. We say, I want deep love, I want a beautiful relationship. And then, of course, you're invited to heal all the things that are in the way.

And so, we get upset that we're the victim of the same pattern, not realizing that what is staring us in the face is the exact thing we need to change in order to create the thing that we say we desire. And so, if we could turn towards it more like a warrior, with gentleness, and be fierce about what we're wanting to pursue, having that level of integrity that says, are my behaviors in alignment with what I want to create? And if you had asked me that at different iterations of my life, I would have said no.

But a rule I made when I was in my mid-30s, which would have been really useful coming way earlier than that, was that I would always live at my highest level of knowledge. Like as soon as I learned an awareness, or had an epiphany, or someone gave me a feedback, that I would integrate that behavior into my life. And that's probably been the most hard rule to make of my life, but what it does is it really honors every one of those experiences. And then, you can release painful experiences, because they've actually informed who you are today, if that makes sense.

Luke Storey: [01:45:57] Yeah, I think about integrating lessons as building integrity, like becoming whole is only possible when you accept everything that's available in your experience, right?

Mark Groves: [01:46:12] So true. You're filling the gaps in.

Luke Storey: [01:46:15] Yeah, you're integrating, you're bringing these experiences together as you learn, and then you become more solidified in your integrity in so doing. If I don't look at my life in that way, it feels victimizing, because it's like, ah, why did this happen to me, and that happened to me, and that happened to me? Right? But it's like to be able to extrapolate wisdom from those experiences that weren't preferential makes me more whole in who I am. And also then, too, I think you begin to value your integrity more, because of the sense of stability that it gives you.

And I find, too, when I face a challenge or I'm in the midst of a challenge, even though emotionally, it could be uncomfortable, it's like I already know that this is now becoming part of my repertoire, right? It's becoming part of my skill set, and it's like, oh, God, this hurts like hell, but I know that it's not in vain, that I'm going to take this experience and integrate it into who and what I am. And it's likely that I'll have this experience less frequently. If not, maybe never again, because the lesson has presented itself, and I've been like, oh, this hurts, but I'm going to squeeze all the juice out of this experience and make it part of my makeup.

Mark Groves: [01:47:45] Yeah, to be in the experience and already looking at it is like-

Luke Storey: [01:47:48] Yeah, instead of having to wait like five years later, like, oh, okay, I see why I lost that career, or the girl, or whatever it was, it's like, how about if we invite ourselves to feel the feelings as uncomfortable as they are, but actually extrapolate the lesson in real time while you're there?

Mark Groves: [01:48:08] Isn't that to be so present? Like I think what you're inviting is for us to be fully present, and you set about, in a way, when we do that, we have maybe more reverence or admiration for our integrity, I think because we can look at it. Like I remember someone asking me, are you in integrity with your potential? And I was like, oh, man, no. Like because I know what's possible for me and I know that's available in this moment, why am I not stepping in?

Luke Storey: [01:48:41] I don't like that question.

Mark Groves: [01:48:42] I didn't like it at all. I remember someone said to me like, you can be addicted to your dreams or your excuses, but not both, and I was like, back off. Like it was like one of those kicks in the gut, much like that one.

Luke Storey: [01:48:55] There definitely was something here on my list, and I love when I don't have to look at my list, that there's just such an abundance of wisdom sitting across from me that it just happens, but I think something that could be really useful for our listeners is this idea or perhaps some tools around conscious uncoupling. So, we've talked a lot about how to get into a relationship that we crave, and some tools for managing, and cultivating, and enriching those relationships, but inevitably, there could come a time for many of us, well, there definitely will come a time with some relationships that the end has come for whatever reason.

And I think that because it can be so painful, that many of us lack the ability to separate from someone without causing more harm to them or to ourselves. And so, I'm fascinated by this idea of, I guess it's just kind of a term that people use, conscious uncoupling, where there's a friendliness and a respect in the way that you exit. I know in my relationships of the past, many weren't exited by either party in that way, sometimes, not by me, sometimes, not by the other person, but this, I think, is kind of the holy grail of respecting the passage of relationships and the impermanence of everything, the temporary nature of all of our experiences in life.

But perhaps, if you might speak to that, even if someone's in the middle of a breakup or had one recently, they can see maybe some ways that they could have done it differently. And also, someone might just put this in their tool belt, because we all think our relationship or we hope that it's going to last forever, I mean, I can't imagine breaking up with my person, like really, literally, it's one of the worst things I could ever imagine happening, but I'm sure we all think that. And then, at some point, dynamics change, and people evolve, and things go their way. So, what are some tools that people can use when one or more party has decided, this version of our relationship has got to end?

Mark Groves: [01:51:16] Yeah, I think the first invitation is to turn towards those circumstances with grace. That's not often what we do. I, like you, didn't leave relationships attending to their closure, or the feelings that needed to be felt, or the words that needed to be spoken. And I've had that experience where I didn't get the space to do that, and that's really incredibly painful. I think we need to recognize when it's actually safe to do so, because a lot of us will stay in relationships that are toxic by continuing to like play out the same, I'm going to repair, I never get it.

The idea even that closure comes from someone else's behavior is not actually how closure occurs. Closure occurs through us, right? Like as soon as we attach it to someone else, it's not available. And so, it's just to be mindful that if we're placing it on something else, we've already lost the power that we have and responsibility that we have over our own heart. When Kylie and I went through our breakup. that was the first time I was like mature enough, and aware enough, and maybe had enough tools to be able to have conversations that were incredibly hard. And we decided to do a closing ceremony, and I've never done that. And I remember telling a friend, it's like, you're going to do what?

Luke Storey: [01:52:43] Wow. I'm like, this sounds cool, but also terrifying.

Mark Groves: [01:52:48] Oh, man. I think of, at the time, I probably felt very similar to how you feel, the concept of it was of us ending was so there that I couldn't avoid it. And when it ended, I was like, how do we leave this with grace? I remember my friend, Yoda, great name for the advice she gave, she said that you should leave your relationship as you would leave a house. Like fix it up, repair it.

Luke Storey: [01:53:15] Oh, wow.

Mark Groves: [01:53:16] I thought that was so beautiful.

Luke Storey: [01:53:17] Hire a cleaning crew.

Mark Groves: [01:53:19] Right, yeah. And so, I Googled closing ceremony, and other people had been foolish enough to do this thing, and we put together what was our version of it. We lit a fire. We made it very ceremonial. And the first question we answered was, what were we most grateful for about the relationship? in the other person? And, oh, man, that was so hard because you're like, heart is so open, and there's an ending, and neither of us wanted it, but it was necessary. And I actually do remember sitting in the car before I was to go in and have this experience.

Luke Storey: [01:54:05] And this is just the two of you, there's no facilitator of sorts?

Mark Groves: [01:54:08] No.

Luke Storey: [01:54:08] Okay.

Mark Groves: [01:54:09] Although it would be great with a facilitator, I think, if it's a hard space to hold. And I remember thinking to myself, I don't want to do this, and then I asked myself, do I not want to do this, because I'm scared, and it's going to ask more of me than I know exists, or do I not want to do this, because I genuinely just don't want to do this right now? And the answer was the first one, unfortunately. So, I walked in, and the second question was, what were our favorite memories? 

Luke Storey: [01:54:42] Oh, my God. Brutal. It makes me want to cry.

Mark Groves: [01:54:44] Dude, it was like the hardest. That honestly was the hardest part.

Luke Storey: [01:54:49] That's what gets you, and that's one of the hardest things about a breakup, is like the romanticization of key touchpoint moments. You're on that bridge in Paris together, or whatever, like just really profoundly connected moments to which you attach so much meaning, right? I remember in breakups, just like, ah, because that one scene keeps replaying, this tender moment we had, especially when I was much less adept at intimacy, that there was those little kind of cracks in the door of my armor, where some intimacy snuck through, and those would be the memories, and I'm like, oh, God.

Mark Groves: [01:55:33] And you're listening to like—I listened to Boyz II Men would fucking-

Luke Storey: [01:55:37] I can't say that I listened-

Mark Groves: [01:55:38] End of the Road.

Luke Storey: [01:55:38] I think we were perhaps a little different era. I was probably listening to Slayer or something. No. But yeah, anyway, carry on with the ceremony.

Mark Groves: [01:55:47] And the third one was, what did we hope for the other person? And that was hard. And we were expressing that, like this is really hard to do, because like as this is ending, I'm now hoping you find love, fuck off, like that was—so we authentically could say, I hope that your life produces this and you do create this. I mean, it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done in my life.

It was also the most transformative thing I'd ever done. It really did bring a richness to the ending. A lot of love, a lot of grace. I realized that when someone says that my heart is broken, like I'll never love again, I was like, oh, man, like a broken heart is one that's closed, not one that's open. Like a broken heart is open. It is this space where like all the hurt you experience in love ending is just evidence that you love.

I think that's what's so interesting about the present moment is in each moment, the moment is dying, and you're moving towards death. So, there's a richness to each moment that involves grief. And that's so true when you love someone. When you love someone, your heart is so open to them, and you're actually experiencing and signing up for the loss of them.

Luke Storey: [01:57:11] Oh, my God, so good.

Mark Groves: [01:57:13] Like that's the hardest fucking part.

Luke Storey: [01:57:15] So true.

Mark Groves: [01:57:16] So, if you haven't touched the edges of what your blocks are or your fears are, we'll have all these strategies to not go on in so many ways.

Luke Storey: [01:57:26] Yeah, I love that. A broken heart is an open heart, but that last piece there is so profound. I've had the experience wherein it's just one of those moments, like the moments that I described that you pine over after a breakup, but in the midst of those moments, I've had the experience where it's like because I know that that moment is so meaningful and beautiful, just a moment of connection, or alignment, or closeness, intimacy, love, there's like a grief in the moment, because I know that it's fleeting, and I know that, someday, it's going to become one of those memories that I'm going to look back, oh, that moment when we kissed under, whatever, whatever the moment happened to be. But there's such good medicine in the acknowledgment of that feeling. I mean, I can remember multiple times where just tears come to my eyes, and my wife would say like, what's wrong? And I'm like, it's temporary.

Mark Groves: [01:58:35] Yeah. And if it's all temporary, what would you do with it?

Luke Storey: [01:58:40] Yeah, just really allowing that like future tense loss to exist in this moment now.

Mark Groves: [01:58:48] As it does, right.

Luke Storey: [01:58:49] And just to embrace it, because what are you going to do, like run or close your heart? That's not a viable way to experience the inevitable.

Mark Groves: [01:58:58] No, it isn't.

Luke Storey: [01:58:59] Yeah. That right there to me is a really interesting phenomenon of the relational experience, where there's a sadness in moments of joy and connection, knowing that it really is fleeting and temporary.

Mark Groves: [01:59:15] And that's the richness of the moment. The denial of that is actually the denial of the truth, and then you're not connected to reality, and then you're not actually experiencing the richness of it, the fullness of it.

Luke Storey: [01:59:26] Yeah. Oh, that's good stuff. That's good stuff. One last thing on the uncoupling. Say you have two people that are conscious enough to share the experience that you described, where even if you're not in total agreement that you both think you should break up, but you do and things are—there's a kindness and understanding. There's not animosity, and resentment, and hostility, and there's not a lot of toxic emotions around it.

What about that sense that you have? Well, as long as we can still be friends, because I'm so connected to this person and maybe we weren't meant to be in that way, but how can that or does that interfere with one of those two people's ability to then connect with someone else? Like is this idea of staying friends with your ex a fantasy that is going to prevent you from connecting with someone else or cause interference in your new bond?

Mark Groves: [02:00:29] I think mostly. Yeah. Like a lot of us try to hold on to friendship to not experience the loss of the connection, but then actually holding onto the friendship, if either one of the people is hoping for more, it is holding both people back. And we have to be able to honor the truth of that. So many of us won't honor the truth of that for fear of loss. But you have to actually create space where you want someone else to enter. And that requires letting people go, which doesn't mean you don't love them. That's the other idea is like, well, if I love them, then they'd stay in my life. But a lot of the relationships we hold on to actually hold us back from intimacy in the current ones.

Luke Storey: [02:01:10] Beautiful. Guys, show notes for this episode are at lukestorey.com/groves. Man, thank you so much.

Mark Groves: [02:01:20] Thanks for having me, man.

Luke Storey: [02:01:20] I'm so glad we've got to take our time with this a little bit. I mean, I do want to get to tour next thing, but like I feel like we could talk for two more hours without even taking a breath, and I love those types of conversations, so thank you so much for your wisdom, and experience, and open heartedness, and just realness. I think that this is really going to benefit some people. I mean, it's benefited me in this moment, but God, if I would have heard the things that you shared today five, six years ago, I could have saved myself a lot of hurt.

Luke Storey: [02:01:53] Me, too. Shit. Yeah.

Luke Storey: [02:01:54] So, I'm really grateful that we're able to share some of this with people. In closing, who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life and your work that you might share with us?

Mark Groves: [02:02:05] Well, for sure, Alan Watts. Alan Watts, I've loved just like a spiritual comedian in so many ways. I love that he brings levity to all of it. Ram Dass has been a really big teacher. I like anyone who's got that intersection of spirituality with psychology, because I feel like it's like ethereal with the 3D. They feel like they merge in psychology in so many ways.

Luke Storey: [02:02:34] You just named my top two podcasts.

Mark Groves: [02:02:37] Are they?

Luke Storey: [02:02:37] Yeah. The both of them on the Be Here Now Network, there's like a new Alan Watts show that his son put together, yeah, those are—someone was asking me for an interview the other day like, what are your top three podcasts? And I was like probably those two, and then the Thom Knoles podcast, I think it's called the Vedic Worldview.

Mark Groves: [02:02:56] Oh, I haven't listened to that.

Luke Storey: [02:02:57] Yeah, it's great.

Mark Groves: [02:02:57] I'll have to check it.

Luke Storey: [02:02:58] But anyway, I'm going to steal your third. What's your third?

Mark Groves: [02:03:01] My third is a teacher, Francis Weller. He's an incredible teacher. He, unlike the other two, is still teaching. And he has an audio series called Alchemy of Initiation that I just found. I found it when I was going through the breakup, Kylie recommended it to me and he just became a profound teacher for me.

Luke Storey: [02:03:22] Awesome. And you've got all kinds of offerings you're doing, you do workshops, and public speaking, and online courses, and stuff. This will probably come out within the next six weeks or something like that. What do you have going on at the time of this recording that people could check out if they want to delve further into your work?

Mark Groves: [02:03:40] I have courses on breakups, recovering from codependency, boundaries, all that, you can find at createthelove.com. My Instagram is Create The Love. I talk more about the psychology of what's going on in the last two years on It's Mark Groves, and yeah, that's where you can find me. And I have a podcast, Mark Groves podcast, which you are about to be on.

Luke Storey: [02:04:03] Awesome.

Mark Groves: [02:04:03] So, thanks for having me, man. I really appreciate it.

Luke Storey: [02:04:04] Yeah, man. Thanks for coming. Likewise.



Oceans Alive
Link to the Search Page
Leela Quantum Tech
Link to the Search Page
Link to the Search Page
Magnesium Breakthrough
Link to the Search Page

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information provided by lukestorey.com is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is your responsibility, along with your healthcare providers, to make decisions about your health. Lukestorey.com recommends consulting with your healthcare providers for the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition. The products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Join me on Telegram for the uncensored content big tech won’t allow me to post. It’s free speech and free content: www.lukestorey.com/telegram


No related episodes for this episode.

continue the discussion at the life stylist podcast facebook group. join now.