by Georgina Scott
Netflix’s new hit documentary centres around master manipulator ‘Simon Leviev’ amongst other names he gives himself to remain on the run from the law and the ongoing turnover of unsuspecting girlfriends. A story that is quite hard to believe, Simon claims he is the son of a diamond trader billionaire and lives a lavish luxury lifestyle, as seen on his public IG. But in reality this lifestyle is achieved by scamming multiple women into sending him money, while he uses their credit cards, rather than his own name – to avoid creditors chasing him and tracing his spending. He jets from country to country to meet said women and lures them on trips with him during the early phase of the relationship to show off his ‘wealth.’ This initial whirlwind romance stage seems to last from a few weeks to a month or more before the lending requests begin, and their role in his Tinder-based Ponzi Scheme is secured.
The show tells stories from a selection of his victims, and there’s no doubt there are many more who have not come forward or taken part in the film. While Simon most likely continues to scam following a few brief prison sentences, is there anything we can apply to our own dating lives that perhaps isn’t always done, in the name of love?
Draw strong boundaries, and stick to them
In reality, it is a lot easier to have strong boundaries that survive if we are not totally swept off our feet. At some point most women have found themselves going above and beyond for someone, but when do we need to put good our faith in the bin in favour of our own needs? What complicates this show is how Simon does return the money and more to some of the victims’ bank accounts, in order to keep his lies alive. But ultimately, if you are at a point of taking out a loan, or multiple loans, to help someone you care about, surely you should be having a quiet word with yourself about how much you are willing to sacrifice and why. Would you ask someone you have been dating a couple of months for a series of loans? If the answer is no, it might be a time to re-evaluate. This rule doesn’t only apply to financial security. By setting clear boundaries mentally about what you expect in a new relationship, you are protecting yourself from anyone who might try to take advantage of your good nature.
Fall in love but don’t lose your head
Love is exciting and can cloud everyday judgement at the best of times. We all grew up watching Disney films as little girls and saw the princesses land their dream prince, and the show sets the scene by highlighting this. So, can we get what our heart wants while keeping our minds engaged? Yes and it is essential that we do. It really comes down to protecting the heart and staying in control, ensuring that what you do for someone is always because you want to do it, rather than it purely being what they want. Because if not, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to deviants who set out to take what they want while leaving you heartbroken.
Place value in your own story
The film opens with the impressive lifestyle Simon has, and the women are blown away by actively going on trips with him to exotic locations at the drop of a hat. This availability for spontaneous travel asks the question of whether we should be readily available for someone we have just met. Yes, the spontaneity and luxury travel element is exciting, but the warning sign is the underlying expectation that the women will put their current lives on hold and do as he wants. What about their life before they met him, their own growth and achievements? Their everyday might not look quite as flash, but it matters just as much. Why should it get put on the backburner at the whim of a new man? What does this say to him about their self-worth and self-respect, if they are so happy to jump straight into his world and forget theirs? It suggests that they value his life, more than their own story so far, that they were waiting for someone like him to come along and to change their lives for the better. And that is a lot of pressure to put on a new relationship.
Pay attention to warning signs
We all know it is easy to get swept up in the name of love and new exciting prospects, but this doesn’t mean that the warning signs won’t be there before things start to go horribly wrong. Again, this comes down to staying switched on and questioning behaviours on show by asking if they align with our own boundaries in love. If it feels wrong and your instinct is raising flags, then question it. It might be said that the constant travelling for work by Simon could be an issue for many women, and that spending consistent quality time together in person is a must. Ask a friend their thoughts – people who are not swept up in the magic of the new partner’s prospects might be able to play devil’s advocate and save you from making any blinding mistakes.
Self-love always wins
By remembering your own self-worth and what you can offer in love, this helps to stay focused on what should matter most: you. By placing so much emphasis on what you can do to help someone else in need, sometimes the awareness of what you bring simply by being present takes a back seat. One of the women the story, Cecilie, drives herself into $200k debt with 8/9 creditors in order to ensure Simon stays ‘protected’ against his enemies. In conclusion, if you have enough self-love, perhaps the emergency brake on protecting your own finances before helping others would kick in. If you can’t afford to pay your bills, why is helping a new romantic partner taking priority over your own needs? By helping ourselves first, only then can we help others, or everyone loses.