Monk off

By Joey Garcia, who thinks that many people who consider vocations as monks, priests or nuns really just want a life of service with wide pockets of silence focused on the Divine.

The first time I broke it off with my boyfriend, it was because he resented our committed relationship. The second time I broke it off was because he insisted on an open relationship. He never dated anyone else while we were together, but wanted the option. Now he says that I don’t have to worry about other girls, but he is thinking of joining a monastery. He even stopped having sex with me in order to separate himself from physical desires. He agreed to start again after several talks about my unhappiness, but says sex should be at my prompting. I regard him as a life partner; he says he can’t guarantee that he won’t leave me in the future for a Buddhist monastery. Is this a quest for spiritual enlightenment or is it commitment phobia?

Neither. This is a man waving a ginormous red flag at you. He cannot be your life partner because he is unclear about who he is: a Petri dish for STDs, a religious ascetic or a one-woman man. Bottom line is, he’s struggling mightily with his sexuality. As your man swings from, well, being a swinger to being celibate to being monogamous, he is signaling his confusion about where to center his sexual energy. The difficulty, of course, is that this clouds his opportunity to, as the Buddha said, be a friend to all beings (especially you). Of course, I am uncertain why you are hanging on to a man who wants to leave you for other women, to leave you to live in a monastery and to reduce or eliminate the physical intimacy in your relationship, unless you force him into it.

In The Art of Power, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn points out that the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is training in how to truly love. He writes: “We make the commitment not to have sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. If we look deeply, we see that the body and the mind are not two separate things. Respect for the body is at the same time respect for the mind. If there is no respect for the body, there is no respect for the mind. We cannot separate the two. Respect has to be there for love to be possible. There is no true love without respect.” Comprende? There is no R-E-S-P-E-C-T without a commitment. And your man is not committed.

You know that you are capable of being in true love. So stop fighting against your boyfriend’s wishes. Find a man who doesn’t play games with your heart.

I’ve been in a relationship with a guy for five months. He never puts any effort into being with me. But recently I bought a car and now he comes around more often. I have been talking to this other guy on the side. He remembers all the important things, but doesn’t open up. And he expects me to pay when we go out. Should I stick with my boyfriend or go with my friend? Will my boyfriend change?

Will you? You have a boyfriend plus another man on the side. Your boyfriend may not be putting much effort into the relationship, but neither are you (if you’re snacking from a side dish). So, listen up: I your boyfriend is hanging with you just for your ride, exit that relationship. If your friend on the side expects you to pay his way plus yours, be clear: go Dutch. If he is not courting you, there is no reason for him to pay your half of the bill. Unless, of course, he offers to do so.

Meditation of the Week

“Instead of always multi-tasking, we must teach ourselves to unitask. Mindfulness needs some training,” Thich Nhat Hahn writes in The Art of Power. Slow down! You move too fast. You’ll never start feeling groovy if you’re trying to eat while reading, or fold laundry while making phone calls, or text message while driving or (fill in your bad here).