After a divorce, Pattie Martello found herself back on the dating scene for the first time in over two decades. After a string of bad dates with liars and con men, Pattie realized she needed to put a pause on dating and take time to reconnect with herself. She shares her process for learning to love herself and launch back into the dating pool in her new book, Meditate to Date: Finding Love through Self-Discovery.
Emily Gindlesparger: Today, I’m joined by Author Pattie Martello. Pattie, it’s such a pleasure to talk to you about your book, welcome to Author Hour.
Pattie Martella: Hi Emily, thank you, I’m glad to be here.
Emily Gindlesparger: I’m so thrilled that your book is coming out in the world because it’s a topic that I think so many people, women in particular grapple with, and not many people really talk about. Do you want to describe a little bit about what inspired you to write this book?
Pattie Martella: A lot of painful lessons that I’ve lived through. I figured if I could share those lessons and what I’ve learned from them, from my experiences then other people could perhaps avoid the mistakes that I’ve made or at least be more capable of recognizing them earlier so they can avert potential disaster.
Emily Gindlesparger: The premise of your book, of course, is that to improve your dating life really requires not improving yourself necessarily but being really aware of yourself and kind of rediscovering who you are. In the introduction of your book, you give a snapshot of what your dating life looked like before you went on that journey. Do you want to give us some of the highlights?
Pattie Martella: Yeah, some of the highlights are, I went on many first dates with people that probably didn’t align well with who I was because I felt like I was in a hurry to find someone to basically validate me. Because a lot of people feel that they have to have that plus one to feel like they’re important or special or loved and I had not recognized that I needed to love myself and that I was special by myself, that I didn’t need someone to make me a special person. So, I went to a lot of very unproductive first dates with people that I probably shouldn’t have spent time with.
Those are hours I can’t get back. But at the same time, I feel that every date that I’ve gone on, I’ve learned something more about myself, so it wasn’t necessarily a waste of time, but I could have used my time a little bit more wisely. I’ve dated some really nice people that just had different viewpoints or different goals and aspirations that did not align with my life. And I’ve dated some people that are very questionable characters, I’ve dated a con man.
That’s basically what started the idea of writing a book is because it scared me to death. He lied about his identity, he lied about a lot of things like what he did for a living, what his background was, he was very charming and basically inserted himself into my life. Thankfully, I followed my intuition and my gut and I recognized pretty quickly that there was something not right and something was amiss.
As a result, that scared me. I realized that I did not really take note of all the red flags that had occurred while I was talking to him, while he was courting me, and while we were dating. I think that’s what scared me. After I dated him, I dated a gentleman who was a nice man but I was just constantly frustrated because I wanted him to be something that he wasn’t, and it wasn’t fair to him, and it wasn’t fair to me because people shouldn’t have to change for anyone, including him.
It was then that I realized, I have to get off this dating hamster wheel and take a break and regroup and start over because I just kept going from one mistake to the next. The mistakes were different but they were probably all rooted in the same cause.
Pause, Awaken, Launch
Emily Gindlesparger: I know you eventually developed a framework for improving dating life, a framework that follows these three steps of pause, awaken, and launch. Is that how you started navigating these improvements in your own dating life?
Pattie Martella: I think that I followed a process and then I went back and discovered what that process was. Pausing and taking a break completely from dating was the first step that I took. I have to admit even in the book I mentioned how my daughter and my friend laughed hysterically when I told them I was going to take a break because I think I mentioned several times previously that I was going to do that, and then before I knew it, I was back online, chatting. It’s ego-fulfilling when someone’s interested in your profile and they see you and they want to talk to you.
It’s so easy to get caught up in all of that, when a lot of times, you don’t even know who you’re talking to but it’s just nice to hear that little ding when the email comes in or the phone call or the text. I decided to pause this time and I knew it was going to be different because I just had a different mindset going in. I decided to pause and during my pause, I took a lot of time just for me, to understand who I was, and enjoy the time that I spent by myself doing things that I really always wanted to do.
I had a lot more time because I wasn’t swiping left or right online or I wasn’t talking to guys on the phone. I had time to focus, I started meditating and that was what led me through the rest of the process.
Emily Gindlesparger: How did you know meditation was a good gateway for you?
Pattie Martella: Actually, I started meditating because of my job. I’m an IT project manager and I found myself constantly frustrated at work because things weren’t moving as fast as I wanted them to or people weren’t reacting the way I thought they should react. Those sorts of things, it was more for my peace of mind and to calm down and kind of accept certain things that I couldn’t control. Because as a project manager, you’re trying to control all the pieces, you’re trying to control the schedule, the cost, everything, including the people to get done what they need to get done.
I started meditating for that reason and I initially was doing it on my own and recognized a lot of the benefits. I was calming down, I was feeling more at peace, but it was after I stopped dating that I realized that maybe I need something a little bit more formal.
That’s when I started to attend classes and meditation to expand on that because I did have the time to do it at that point. That’s what led me to meditation.
Emily Gindlesparger: What kinds of impact did you see that meditation had on your dating life and was it a fast effect that you noticed, or did it take a long time to figure out?
Pattie Martella: I think because I took such a long break, I took a year break from dating and I was meditating during that time, I was taking classes, I would say that I noticed an impact on my overall feeling of wellbeing and peace rather quickly. I’ve had people in my life comment that I seemed a little less edgy because I’m a type-A personality and I’m always running around, trying to multitask and not spending enough time to just slow down.
A lot of people noticed the change in me and I think that the change was good because when I did start dating again, I started to attract people that aligned more with who I really was, not the hurried desperate person looking for the one to fill that void because that void was filled through the meditation.
Emily Gindlesparger: You write about this quest to find the one, and how it can create some real delusions for people and especially can foster unrealistic expectations of what a relationship should look like. What were some of the unrealistic expectations that you used to hold?
Pattie Martella: I thought that if someone loved me then I was worthy of the love rather than realizing I’m worthy of love, to begin with, I don’t’ need someone to love me in order to be a lovable, sexy, interesting person. I had to feel those things about myself first. I think another delusion is that we all think that one person in the universe is going to fulfill us in every way, shape, and form and that’s not the case. That’s why you have maybe a job that interests you, or you read books that fulfill you, or you have hobbies that you do, or you have friends outside of your significant other, or you spend time with family without your significant other.
One person isn’t going to meet every requirement that you have, there is no perfect person, there might be a person that’s perfect for you but there is no perfect person, including me. I’m not perfect either, no one is perfect, but I think as close as you can get to perfect, that’s a good thing. That doesn’t exist, that was another delusion and the romantic facet of it all, when you first start dating, the racing heart and the butterflies, and it’s all exciting because it’s new, and you find a way to juggle your schedule to fit that person in because it’s new and exciting. Then after a while, you start to settle down and it’s not as exciting as it used to be.
That doesn’t mean it’s not as good, it’s different, sometimes people confuse that excitement with real love when it’s really not, it could be just hormones, it could be just an attraction that has nothing to do with a long term possibility.
Emily Gindlesparger: Earlier on in your dating life, before you did this work, did you find that you were getting those feelings confused?
Pattie Martella: My gosh yeah. Because the last person that I dated before I took the break, we had a very strong physical attraction, which cannot be explained because I was not his type and he was not my type.
Emily Gindlesparger: Well there’s the explanation.
Pattie Martella: Yeah, I just could not break the bond because there was no explanation for it. It was just a strong physical attraction and I kept trying to fit that square peg in a round hole because it felt good, to have someone that makes you feel that way, and that could also border on being psychotic.
It wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t but yes, that was something I struggled with. You know, you get that feeling and then you operate and react to that feeling rather than thinking with your head too because you need to think with both your head and your heart.
Just using one versus the other doesn’t work, you need both.
Emily Gindlesparger: You spoke a little bit ago about this journey into deeper self-love and understanding that before looking for love from another. It seems like meditation was part of that, were there other things that helped you really get in touch with that love for yourself?
Pattie Martella: Journaling, I journaled a lot, I’ve always been someone who likes to journal, I’m not consistent about it all the time but writing down how I feel or my thoughts helped clarify things for me. Meditation for sure, as far as the self-love, I would attend these classes that were down at the meditation center and it was a series of classes such as joy in everyday living, contentment in everyday living, fearlessness in life, about facing your fears. I think those classes helped me learn to love myself because everybody in the class was there for the same reason.
They wanted to improve their lives. They wanted to be more peaceful people. They wanted to be better people, but we all have our flaws. I think talking openly about our flaws and the things that we struggle with, we realize that we are pretty much all very similar–everybody was in the same boat, I think it became easier for me to forgive myself for my flaws and my shortcomings and in doing that, I started to love me for everything both the good and the bad.
I think being around people who were on the same journey helped me do that probably more quickly than if I would have done it alone.
Emily Gindlesparger: That’s beautiful. As you started to get to know yourself better in this pause period and you are doing this process of awakening, was there anything you discovered about yourself that surprised you?
Pattie Martella: It didn’t surprise me, but something basically was enforced. Before I took a break from dating, I was sitting down with drinks with a girlfriend and she said, “You know when it comes to business you are a very strong independent woman who has a lot of…” I don’t know what the word that she used was but she basically said that I don’t compromise on anything when it comes to my career.
But when it comes to men, I’m exactly the opposite. When she said that it stung but I knew she was right and even with my dad–when I open the book, I say that my dad always said that if I were in a room with 100 men and 99 were perfect for me, I’d always leave with the one that was not. As much as I hate to say that my dad was right, he was right.
So, I knew I had a tendency of attracting the wrong kinds of people. People that were not a good fit or people that would–not that I was better than they were–but they were not living up to my standards in certain areas. Not to sound like a snob because it does sound kind of snobby but you know, you have certain things that you want in life and if they don’t want the same things, it’s not a good match. So I kept finding people that I wanted to fix to meet my requirements, rather than just say, “Hey, this person doesn’t meet what I want and so let’s just move along.”
I think I had a god complex, to be honest with you. I thought, “Oh, here is somebody, I can fix them and I’ll make them exactly the way I need to make them, and then everything will be good.” That wasn’t fair to anybody and especially the other person because they could never make me happy if they didn’t meet my criteria or my requirements.
Emily Gindlesparger: You had mentioned that part of what you are seeking in relationships was this validation and I know for me, sometimes it’s partly about that like, “Ooh I am special if I can fix someone,” but it’s also like, “I’ve got to fix this because otherwise, I lose that validation that I have from this relationship.”
Pattie Martella: It’s true.
Emily Gindlesparger: Yeah, it’s terrible. So as you’re doing this work and when you started to then decide to get back on the dating scene, the next step in your book is to launch, as you say. Was there some part of the launch that was harder for you than anything else?
Pattie Martella: I think it is like riding a bike. You haven’t ridden a bike for 10 years. You know when you get on, you’ll know how to ride the bike, but you are scared for the first few pedals. So, I think I was just nervous thinking I am putting myself out there and it is not a happy place. If I am going to be completely honest about it, it’s like looking for a diamond in the rough, to find a person that would be a good match because there are so many people out there that are con artists.
I think the statistic is only one-third of men online are actually single and actually dating. A lot of married men are online looking for a little fun on the side. There are just so many and scam artists trying to get money from people. There are women out there that can benefit from the book. They need to love themselves because a lot of women are getting ripped off.
They want to be loved so badly they’re willing to empty their bank accounts, or they are willing to agree to things before even meeting this man in person. It is a scary world out there. So, knowing that I was going back into the jungle, yeah I felt a little nervous and I did enjoy my alone time while I was alone. Moving away from that was a little different because now I was back into the dating scene, trying again, back on the hamster wheel, so to say.
That was kind of unnerving but once I got in there, like riding a bike, it was like where I started but it was with a completely different angle or point of view. I was not going to waste my time with people that didn’t meet my criteria. I was not going to have conversations with people that I knew weren’t going to go anywhere. So yeah, it was a little scary, but I jumped right in and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Emily Gindlesparger: I’d never heard that statistic before that only a third of men on dating apps are “available”–that’s insane. No wonder it is such a jungle out there.
Pattie Martella: It is any kind of scam online. On Facebook, they have scams, on all of the different social media platforms, there are scam artists. Women and men that are really honest and they are out there to find true love or the person that they want to settle down with, they are not playing on the same playing field as a lot of people. The rules have changed since I was young.
When I was young, you’d met somebody at work or you met somebody at school, and they may have lived in your neighborhood and you dated them, and either it worked or it didn’t work. Now, you can be talking to a complete stranger, and their pictures might not be who they are. They are just pretending.
Emily Gindlesparger: It requires so much more discernment.
Pattie Martella: It does. I am a pretty trusting person at the beginning, I am not gullible, but I am a very honest person. I assume that everybody else in the world is being honest when they are talking to me because those are the rules that I am operating from. I had to go in with a different point of view. Most people are lying, and I have to be very careful about everything they say because it might not even be true. It could be a woman in a foreign country I’m talking to trying to steal my money. It is not a man in a different state who is like I am and wants the same things that I want.
Emily Gindlesparger: Yeah and going from assuming trust to having to earn trust is such a flipped world view.
Pattie Martella: Yes, that part is difficult yes. So, you don’t want to ruin your general outlook on life. I want to keep a positive slant because a lot of the people that I met down the meditation center were like I was. You could see them, they were right there. They weren’t behind a screen hiding. So those people are probably very much like I was, wanting the same kinds of things in life with the same goals, same dreams, and wanting to be better people, as opposed to people that are online or that you can’t see.
Emily Gindlesparger: And after doing this work, was there any particular moment when you realized that this new approach was working for you in dating?
Pattie Martella: Yes. So, actually, it was the first date that I went on after I stopped my break. When I started dating again, I met this gentleman online. He seemed perfect. Well, like I said there is no such thing as perfect, but he liked to read the same books I did. He was into meditation, he seemed very open-minded, he was a creative person and I like creative people because I like to consider myself creative. He was a graphic designer and I’m a writer.
So, I thought, “Wow that’s a great combination.” We went on our date and it was not good at all. He kept talking about his ex-girlfriend and his ex-wife the entire date and he even said to me on the date he said, “You know whoever ends up with me is lucky. I’m a pretty good catch.” I thought to myself, “Oh and you’re humble too I can see.” He realized what he said was completely crazy. We were walking down the street together and he says one more thing about his ex-girlfriend and I just stopped in my tracks.
I said, “This isn’t going to work.” Now the old me would have been his therapist. I would be the one to help him through this process that he’s in so that eventually, he’ll see that oh I’m the right person. I am better than those people because I care about you and I am going to make you better. I thought, no. This is another construction project and I am not a construction worker. I don’t want to do this.
So, I stopped and said, “This isn’t going to work.” He said, “Why?” and I said, “You’ve been talking about your ex-girlfriend and your ex-wife the entire day. You’ve never really asked me anything about me. And I haven’t really gotten to know you.” He said, “Oh, can you give me another chance?” I said, “No, I can’t. I don’t have time.”
I knew at that moment that something had shifted, and something had changed because I didn’t waste my time anymore on things that just weren’t going to work.
Emily Gindlesparger: Oh that’s amazing. I love that story so much and I think we should make t-shirts that go with the book that says, “I’m a catch, not a construction worker.”
Pattie Martella: I like that. That’s very good.
Emily Gindlesparger: That’s awesome. Well Pattie, thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you about your book and if you wanted people to take away one or two things, what would they be?
Pattie Martella: Meditation really does work. Anybody can do it. It will change your life. I can attest to that and I know a lot of other people that can attest to that too. That’s number one. Number two, take the time to learn to love yourself. You’re worth it, you deserve it, and I believe you can make it happen. You just need to take a break. Love yourself before you go out and find someone to love you.
Emily Gindlesparger: Such an awesome message. Pattie, thank you. It’s been such a pleasure.
Pattie Martella: Thanks Emily, it’s been a nice conversation. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Emily Gindlesparger: Absolutely.