The first all-gay episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker! What an honor to be chosen. Thanks Patti! I had a blast!
The experience delivered some interesting and unexpected dividends -- an enhanced level of communication with my family and friends!
As Patti mentioned, I'm a person who enjoys doing some self-exploration to be the best I can be. One program that I've gotten life-changing and lasting value from has been my participation in the Landmark Forum. Patti has also done the Forum and like me, said she benefited from it. For me, the Landmark Forum rocketed me into life and I quickly developed an exciting career that has given me life experiences beyond my dreams. (Need an example of that? Check out my interview with Elizabeth Taylor at EricAllenProductions.net). An unexpected dividend at the time (1990) was I realized that handling "The Sexuality Discussion" with my parents and family would free me up to be myself in all aspects of life. I highly recommend checking it out (LandmarkEducation.com). I also work with a Conscious Living Coach, Christina Hempstead (ChristinaHempstead.com) whose weekly phone calls help keep me moving forward towards the life goals and priorities we've hashed out together.
Obviously, I'm comfortable with my sexuality at this point! As I was embarking on The Millionaire Matchmaker adventure, I chose to take it very seriously -– to see what real insights I could get from Patti about her observations and coaching about my romantic life. I promised myself to be honest and as authentic as one can be with cameras rolling in your face.
When Patti and I sat down to talk in my living room, I was happily surprised to see that she wasn't going to let me off with the excuse I'd always given for being single: "I'm too busy with work ." I shoot a lot of video shoots for my biggest client, Cunard Line, meaning I'm often sailing around on Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, or Queen Elizabeth. It's definitely one of those "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it," gigs, and I'm thankful for the great life experiences my work provides.
Patti immediately (and accurately) pegged me as someone who would benefit from a visit to a therapist, so I visited her in her West Hollywood office. (I live just up the hill in the Hollywood Hills.) It was with Dr. Nikki that I realized that I probably hadn't been allowing myself to pay any attention to how I was feeling. I asked Dr. Nikki where all the good guys were hiding, to which she responded, "Why are you hiding from them?" Good lord, she was dead right on that one!
In my family, I’m the oldest of four boys and none of us has been married. We're close, but geographically separated, so I don't get to hear that much about my brothers' love lives and vice versa. I was at our parents’ house in Minnesota watching TV with my brother Andrew, when I saw it for first time on DVR. Before the show aired, Andrew said, "Wow, I can't believe you'd dare doing this!" But after seeing the show, he said, "Wow, I saw a lot of myself in the reserved way you expressed yourself on the show." Then, another brother, Kirby, called, saying that one of his ex-girlfriends had watched the show and called him to say, "If it weren't for the gay thing, I'd say you and your brother Eric have a lot in common when it comes to expressing yourselves."
We Allen boys always blamed our reserved demeanors on being Scandinavian -- we're Swedish/Norwegian – but maybe that's not the case. So, my experience with Dr. Nikki and Patti has opened up an all-new, very personal conversation between the brothers Allen about how we express ourselves, with each other, our parents, in relationships and people in general.
One thing I enjoyed about my interaction with Patti is that she's right there with you in conversation. That woman is laser-sharp and she was all ready to go deep in the conversation at my house. I tried to be well prepared for conversation with her by reading her book, Become Your Own Matchmaker. A tip for anybody who might meet Patti: Doing your homework is worth the effort -- she liked that and I think it’s one of the things that made us click well.
Although it didn’t end up in the show itself, Patti gave me homework to do. She said, “Call your parents and ask them why they think you haven't been successful at relationship," a challenge I accepted.
My dad’s response: "Maybe the people that you had involved with were not as ambitious or as focused and goal-oriented, nor as talented. And maybe they were also not as socially oriented and did not mix with people nearly the way you do." Clearly my dad hasn't seen the episode yet, as it wasn't my best example of social mixing.
My mom’s response: "I think your father and I have left your selection of friends up to you. It’s not something we can choose. We are behind you 100 percent in whatever you do, because we want you to be happy." Ah, thanks Mom!
It was a great conversation with my parents. Although they’ve always been pretty cool and understanding about my sexuality, they still don’t ask too many questions, so any conversation about the success and/or failure of my entire relationship history was a breakthrough for all of us.
After that conversation I thought, "Wow, I'm on a roll. Why not double down?!?" I decided to be the teacher's pet and took it upon myself to do some "extra credit," so I polled about 10 of my best friends to ask them to comment on my dating life and just me in general. I told them I was ready to hear it all –- the good, the bad, and the ugly -– and that my feelings wouldn't be hurt by any observations they made.
The responses came quickly and some were surprisingly candid:
Joey: "You're the center of your world. Maybe you should allow yourself to be a co-star sometime."
Dick: "The only thing I can think of is what Patti said about birds with broken wings. In thinking back they all were in need and you became the Daddy."
Goody: "Eric needs to meet a professional, meaning someone who has a career and their own money, but not a stuffed shirt. Eric likes to have fun and needs someone with the same attitude but someone who is also grounded."
Sir Andrew: "If you really loved yourself than you would already have everything that you need and want. All of life's problems come from low self esteem. You have a unique ability to attract worthy followers that would do anything for you...who aren't using you for ANYTHING except friendship or love, companionship. I don't know that you even know how good you have it."
Becky: "I' am not convinced that, to date, you have been committed to the big picture of a relationship. My suggestion to you would be to change your paradigm and not be afraid to the concept of partnering up. You are a wealthy, successful, enlightened man. I know it is difficult to put that in the hands of another. The release is amazing and worth pursuing."
Dr. Steve: "Consider this experience as a glimpse of but one tropical fish while diving along the Great Barrier Reef, as opposed to dunking your head in a murky WeHo fish tank to see what could be out there for you. You're a great catch, and you deserve one in kind."
Mr. Poodle: "You have the answers. You know the truth. Sit quietly more often and listen to yourself."
Wow. How does one wade through comments like that? I'm using a quote I wrote down from somewhere: "Chew, process, eliminate everything but the growth and the blessing." I'll consider my Millionaire Matchmaker experience to be just that -- a big, rich life experience. . .a hearty meal of sorts. Now I'm busy processing the growth and the blessings!