I first discovered Luke Storey and his podcast, The Life Stylist in 2017 and instantly became a fan. He is a man who has lived many lives including playing bass in a rock band, working as a fashion stylist, and launching his own business, School of Style. He is kind, tenacious, and one of the most interesting men I’ve ever known.
For our interview, he is dressed in a black t-shirt and beanie, lounging on his couch in his LA home. I’m in my pajamas, 3,000 miles away in Orlando. There is an immediate sense of casualness to the whole affair, and, as we start chatting, I quickly feel relaxed. Perhaps it’s the vibrato of his voice or his warm smile, but either way, it feels like we’ve been friends for ages. I feel welcomed.
I start off on the subject of his celibacy, which has been ongoing for over a year. He attributes the decision to his most recent and very painful break-up. He saw it as a long overdue opportunity to uncover his relationship (and in-between relationship) patterns. That meant putting a firm pause on intimacy and everything leading up to it — including sex, flirting, and dating. I was curious how he defined intimacy and if he saw intimacy as something specifically sexual in nature. He defined it as, “Allowing another person to see you in an unedited way.” It was something he had no problem creating with his male friends but when it came to women, he had no idea how to build anything long-lasting.
When he began to take personal inventory of his past relationships, it became clear to him that most of those relationships started based off of a strong sexual connection. The false sense of intimacy it created became the foundation upon which everything else was built.
“Fast was the only way I knew,” he explains, and, as a self-described love avoidant, perhaps it was a way to ensure that the walls he so carefully constructed would remain impenetrable.
There was a deep-rooted fear that “real” intimacy would mean letting go of who he was and surrendering his autonomy.
Like many love avoidants though, on just the other side of that protectiveness, was a longing to be seen and accepted for who he really was. Of course he wanted to be loved, but at his core there was a sense of being too broken and too unworthy. Was that unworthiness due to the sexual trauma he experienced as a child? Did his tumultuous relationship with his mother make him fearful of women? Did he use sex to cope and numb his feeling of insecurity?
Since 1986, he has been involved with a woman in some capacity, so naturally, I ask him if loneliness was the first feeling to set in. To my surprise, it was not loneliness, but rather “aloneness” that he felt.
He was happy to be alone, but with no prospects on the horizon, there was a newfound silence that set in. No distractions, just him.
There were many painful moments of acceptance and forgiveness — he wonders if maybe it’s the price one must pay when it comes to a personal transformation? While liberating and freeing, stripping away layers of one’s false self often leaves one feeling raw and vulnerable.
He realized there is a balance in feeling okay with navigating this space, and, if he had indeed been hiding from himself in relationships, then this celibacy was going to be an opportunity for him to learn how to truly enjoy his own company.
Which, he is glad to say, he has learned to do. To date, he spends most of his time alone, and, while he does have his dog Cookie to keep him company, has come to appreciate — and even prefer — his solitude. There is no longer a need to escape.
But for Storey it wasn’t enough to just realize what the relationship patterns were and why they developed. It was about changing them and dropping anything that was no longer serving his higher good — which meant putting an end to watching pornography. While he has no moral issue with it, it didn’t make him feel good and had become a coping mechanism. In the desire to change what sex meant and looked like for him porn was not on par.
What did remain however, was his long-standing kundalini practice, as well as picking up every book and podcast on relationships and love. Yet, even with all the reading and learning, his best friends became his greatest unexpected influencers as they all became involved in healthy relationships right as he began his celibacy journey. They showed him what was possible and made him realize that if they were capable of finding a suitable, long-lasting partner, then he was too.
This also urged him to reconnect with his mother after many years of estrangement. Since he considers the mother/son relationship his core relationship with the feminine, this magnitude of healing was not lost on him.
Despite everything he learned, he admits the key to long-lasting change lied in surrendering everything he knew about love and relationships to God. With over 22 years in recovery from drugs and alcohol, the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps Program taught him about honesty, vulnerability, and unconditional self-love. He has no doubt about the existence of a higher power and thinks that, when we find ourselves unclear about where to go or what to do, the best thing any of us can do is to “let go, get out of our own way, and follow a higher intelligence.”
Recently he began dating someone and is choosing to take it slow. Grinning with youthful excitement he describes it as innocent. The whole dating experience is, in many ways, new for him, and there is a type of sweetness in his voice that could only be present in someone who was robbed of it for most of their childhood. Sex is not at the forefront of his mind and he is greatly enjoying the privilege of getting to know someone authentically, without an ulterior motive.
Julia Piantini is a wellness consultant and writer from Orlando, Florida. Her mission is to tell the stories that have inspired her, in the hopes that they may inspire you. Find her on Instagram at @theserverandthesage or on her website: www.theserverandthesage.com.