Re: REAL LOVE
Date: January 09, 2019 04:01AM
I see there are a couple of threads about Real Love so I just picked one.
I am conflicted about posting this, because whilst I don’t want to dig up the past I feel a responsibility to add another voice to the posts already on here. I found it helpful to read the other posts and I suspect far more people that have been affected (negatively) by RL read this forum than post in it.
If you are here doing some homework on RL or the people involved in it - STEER CLEAR. Don’t have any more conversations with them and go elsewhere. If you feel that something is “off” with RL - listen to that instinct. Your judgement is right.
I have a fair bit of first hand experience of RL, my spouse (now ex) got into it and in the spirit of keeping us together I got involved for about a year, went to seminars, had interventions, spoke to Pete and Ben, also talked to Greg, watched lots of videos and read some of the books. But I was always somewhat of an outsider to it myself.
Prior to this had I never come across a group like RL. Getting involved in it and meeting the people there was just so profoundly strange. What struck me most about the actual “followers”, and what if anything they seemed to have in common, was that they just wanted some relief from unhappiness and for someone to give them a sense of direction. Many of them were emotionally vulnerable, some had had terrible life struggles, but by and large they seemed like gentle people who wanted a better emotional life for themselves. I feel like a huge part of the appeal of RL is that here is a group that tells you, with absolute conviction, that everything is going to be ok and now that you have found them you won’t be alone bearing the life long burden, and struggle, and seemingly endless effort of trying to work out how to make yourself happy. There is a path all worked out and you just have to trust and follow it.
The books themselves have lots of practical tips and sensible sounding advice. But it’s whats communicated in person and over Skype that is disturbing. Rather than helping people, Greg and his proponents exploit emotional vulnerability to create for themselves status, validation and money, and worst of all it leaves followers believing that RL and its philosophy is the only way to look at the world, and that you are either in (and accept Greg as your one true father) or out. The financial expense but more importantly emotional cost incurred as people get deeper into it and gradually separate themselves from their previous “toxic” relationships creates a barrier to leaving, as does the social reinforcement of others within the group. This is a “high touch” philosophy, regular contact with Greg and other followers is strongly encouraged so that you can “get the help you need” and I feel like this is an important part of keeping people engaged with it. A lot of what I saw seemed to be people whose confidence in their own judgement had been knocked by bad luck or previous poor choices, wrestling with what their instinct was telling them (“this feels wrong,”) and getting persuaded otherwise by the people in RL.
The fundamental issue as I see it is that this is a (very expensive) life philosophy which at its core creates an inappropriate reliance on and intimacy with the teachers of it. These people are untrained in psychology or related fields, and don’t have the experience, professional distance, or the right motivations to help people with real emotional problems.
The system of creating “wise people” is a way of keeping people validated within RL, it’s a goal to work towards, and of course it costs money. It occurred to me there is a parallel here with the “levels” one can progress through Scientology. Validation and emotional acceptance is conveyed through moving through the levels. The actual “study” involved is reading passages from the self help books and reflecting on your own life experiences, people sat in one another’s laps, chipping in interpretations of life experiences and behaviour seen through the lens of the RL philosophy. You pay to do more courses to progress through the levels, my ex was quoted £3,000 a year and I spoke to a few people for whom raising this kind of money was a serious undertaking - they saved up or borrowed where they could. But of course what price can you put on happiness?
The expense can be huge, we paid £3,000 for a weekend with a UK coach and my ex a further £3,000 for a second “intervention”, this comes with a year of weekly phone calls with your coach. Visiting Greg in the states we were quoted £10,000 (flights etc on top). Ultimately we got the point where I was asked to either fly to the US for an intervention with Greg or divorce. I want to be careful here as I don’t directly “blame” RL for the breakup of my marriage, but my ex’s embrace of RL certainly closed off the path to keeping it together - it was Greg’s way or the high way. We each made our respective choices. I could not stomach going “deeper” into a life philosophy I didn’t believe in, but more importantly distrusted had our own best interests at heart. To support a couple of other comments here my ex is now a Mormon (having never been religious before that point) and attends a UK Mormon church on a regular basis. It does seem to lead to that for some people.
I feel such sorrow for my ex who is an intelligent and wonderful person, but has had a lifelong struggle with emotionally insecurity which made her vulnerable to RL. Ironically I think she probably feels the same way about me as I struggle along in the emotional wilderness she perceives exists outside of RL!
There is a huge list of problems with RL, but for me the most pernicious is the core idea that no love you ever had before was “real” love, not from your parents, previous or current partners, lifelong friends, none of them. Only people within RL are capable of giving you “the love you need” and in particular your father figure or “daddy” (or less commonly mum/mummy). The instinctive creepiness I think most people feel about lying in a relative stranger’s lap and calling them daddy is a nice example of a good instinct that RL coaches you out of - why that instinct just signifies an inability to trust which is at the heart of all your previous problems! You either buy into this (as my ex did) or you reject it. I went to the intervention and did the cuddling and I can see that for those who are in emotional pain and susceptible to it, it would feel revelatory to “feel accepted for who you truly are”. But that is not what is happening. This “love” does know bounds. You will need to conform and you will need to pay.
I should say I did the cuddling with clothes on, it is hugely disturbing to see references on here to people doing this naked as to me it represents a serious escalation of the degree of exploitation within RL. I never saw any nudity directly myself. However, all of this creates dependence (emotionally and financially) on RL and its people and a separation between the RL joiner and everyone else. It doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right.
This bit is a guess - but my feeling was the motivations of the former UK leaders of RL (Pete, Ben) were probably primarily financial. RL has not been a lifelong pursuit for them, they have had other businesses in the past, and it’s interesting to see that they have launched new (to me slightly more mainstream sounding) relationship advice businesses borrowing elements of the RL philosophy - although I see there is a view that their connection to Greg perhaps continues.
I don’t know why the UK branch stopped. But it occurred to me at the time that the RL ethos puts a lot of time and emotional commitment on the “wise men/women” to deal with highly emotional people, and it must have put a strain on the UK leaders that would have been very hard to sustain. There is none of the professional distance a properly trained counsellor would have. I wondered too what the followers would do when abandoned by their “daddy”, and whether it would risk putting them into new emotional turmoil. It is reckless irresponsibility with people’s emotional states. In my ex’s case she switched over from Ben to Greg and I know others did this, if they could afford it. I would guess that Greg sought to retain the most emotionally invested (and coincidentally financially liquid) followers.
Greg himself is a whole different kettle of fish. RL is expensive and no doubt he is keen to continue earning money from it, but my feeling is his primary motivation is status. His status as founder and author of the RL philosophy is extremely high within the group, he has “all the answers” and whilst people are told to think of him as their “dad” or “daddy” the actual relationship seemed to me closer to a controlling older boyfriend who is also some kind of celebrity. I would not be at all surprised if people who had found themselves in unhealthy controlling relationships in the past ended back here, being told what they could and couldn't do, that other people aren't to be trusted, separated and isolated from parents, friends and family - repeating the pattern.
There is nothing inherently structural I see that will make RL collapse, it doesn’t operate in mass numbers as far as I can tell, and indeed it doesn’t “scale” at all easily beyond the borders of Greg’s own forceful, righteous, and immoral personality. He struck me as an intelligent man, but no genius. He has been going for many years, and my guess is that trying to talk those too far into RL out of it in any direct way would provoke a deep and negative emotional response. They have built a reliance on it that becomes too upsetting to remove. My ex was (willingly) swallowed up by it to the point that any conversation that wasn’t a RL related one seemed pointless to her. It was all she talked about.
Every now and again someone would blow up on the RL Facebook page, a follower would become disillusioned and rail against what they felt was a a betrayal or a deception, the wool had been pulled over their eyes. These people were swiftly ejected and occasionally held up as an example of how not to do RL. There was nothing wrong with the system, that poor person just lost their way and now had an axe to grind. In this way dissenting voices within the community were used as a means to bind it tighter. And because it is scary and destabilising to hear such strong doubts from a former believer, this seemed to be a pretty effective technique.
I think the people inside RL will have to find their own way out of the cave (or at least to want to find a way out). But to those who are considering RL or are on the edges of it - see this post as the skeleton the main character comes across that serves as a warning - abandon hope all ye who enter here.