Four years ago I was sitting in a villa in St. Tropez. I had a private chef, a proper French maid, no financial worries to speak of and a doting man who literally gave me the world. I’ve mentioned before that I dated “Mr. 1%”–he was the one who screamed when he saw a mouse in Maui. We met while I was traveling around the world for two years, clicked instantly, and I became his travel companion for five months.

It was fucking torture. Sitting on the balcony, overlooking the yachts floating on the Mediterranean, sipping Dom Pérignon, I felt absolutely miserable. My anxiety level was at an ALL-TIME HIGH. Remember this moment, Bridget. Remember it well. Here you are. At the top of the human pyramid, and you’re completely depressed.

My cage may have been golden—but it was still a cage.

Here’s what I learned dating The 1%:

I was 33 and basically retired. We played a lot of tennis. Went to a lot of late breakfasts. Cancelled a lot of tickets and plans. Now, this might sound great, and if you’re a gold-digger who depends entirely on your looks to get by, this life is the goal; but if you’re like me and feel driven to create something on your own, follow your passions to the end of the Earth, use your resources to be of service to humanity, travel the world and build your OWN empire…this lifestyle is not for you. Even when you have money, living lazily and lavishly probably won’t make you happy. It might sound wonderful in theory, and it was for, like, two weeks. Then I was crawling the walls and Googling for Third World countries where I could volunteer. One of the lessons I learned: Follow your dreams, or they’ll follow you.

When life is comfortable, the hunger subsides. When the struggle is real, the creative juices FLOW. There is definitely a balance because financial stress can be just as much of a block to creativity, so a day job is absolutely necessary, but week after week of living on soup and toast will motivate the hell out of anyone. A belly full of foie gras and Chateauneuf-du-Pape isn’t exactly going to light a fire under anyone’s ass. OK, maybe it motivated Hemingway’s fat ass. But not mine.

Here’s the thing about the super-rich—they don’t get to where they are without having to manipulate a shit-ton of people. They are also very used to getting what they want and throw ugly little fits when things don’t go their way. The more I pulled away from Mr. 1%, the more Mr. 1% wanted me; this of course, became a vicious cycle. It nearly destroyed our entire trip to Europe because instead of enjoying me he was consumed with having me. I chose not to medicate my anxiety with prescriptions because I saw it as a very useful warning system against ulterior motives and sociopaths. Despite all the gifts, the attention and the trip of a lifetime, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being bullied in a very, very subtle way.

Everyone will clean up after you and kiss your ass. Mr. 1% once said, without any irony, “I’m very independent. I have a team of people making sure of that.” The wealthy invest a lot of money in people who give them the appearance of being self-reliant. They aren’t. They can’t do shit by themselves, and most of them regard doing menial tasks like calling to make an appointment or doing their laundry as beneath them. In fact, for most of these folks, it takes a fucking village to run their life. They have assistants and maids and chefs and yacht crew and travel agents and and and… No one questions their authority, and no one calls them out when they’re wasting someone else’s precious time or resources. They are mini-economies. The staff is invested in keeping their boss happy, and the kids are invested in keeping the inheritance money coming their way. When you’re wealthy a reservation is just a suggestion, a placeholder to make sure nothing stands in the way of you doing whatever you want, whenever you fancy.

Mr. 1% didn’t even know when his mother’s birthday was because his assistant had been sending her flowers for 25 years. One day we were in the shower, and Mr. 1% said, “You know, there’s a level where you can always be happy, a place where you are free…” I thought he was about to say something unusually spiritual or insightful, and he goes, “…and it’s $250 million dollars.” I died laughing. “Oh really? Where does that leave the rest of us shmucks?” I asked.

Mr. 1% very generously bought me a Louis Vuitton bag, and instead of being grateful, it infuriated me. He said, “It will make me look like you belong even when you are wearing jeans.” This was a nice gesture, but as usual, it was more about preserving his image than mine. He valued belonging and belongings. I don’t. I argued that if he really cared about me, he would have noticed that I had literally worn through the keys on my Mac and bought me a new computer because they’re the SAME FUCKING PRICE. To his credit, he did, after our villa was burgled in the middle of the night and, hilariously, the LV purse was stolen.

One night in a club I watched a sheik pour $1 million dollars worth of champagne on the floor just because he could. I called it the “Zoo of The 1%.” The level of wealth in St. Tropez–and subsequent displays of it–absolutely disgusted me, as do most people who either have money or latch onto people with money. (New money is usually much worse than old money in this respect.) St. Tropez seems to attract the trashiest rich people in the entire world. It’s like LA on steroids: a cornucopia of sycophants, yes-men and gold-diggers.

I’m very comfy in my girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks mentality while wearing my “gypsy-hustler-4eva!” badge with pride and fully accept my self-proclaimed role as Martyr to Starving Artists Everywhere. But life came along and called “bullshit” with a giant curveball: an opportunity to be one of the people on the other side of the table at the restaurant. The one sitting down, this time. In the same way I’ve asked so many millionaires the spiritually condescending question of, “Who are you without any of it?” I was forced to examine who I was when I had it all.

Money just makes you more of what you already are.

The inferiority complex I developed from years of being “the help” consisted of an ugly combination of envy, prejudice and disdain for people with money— it was staring me in the face. I was unhappy, and that misery was even more apparent because my circumstances were so fantastic. I might not have been a pretentious dick about it, like so many people with money, but suddenly I realized money just makes you more of what you already are. If you’re an asshole, you become a massive asshole. If you’re generous, you become even more generous. And if you’re filled with self-loathing, you become suicidal.

Now that I was living “the good life” I felt like I had no purpose. Actually, I never felt so useless in my entire life. I was drinking heavily every single day. I started smoking cigarettes again. I felt guilty about being incapable of having a good time. I felt ungrateful, like I was looking a gift-horse in the face. But everything was too easy, and life had no meaning. He was staring at the Med fantasizing about which yacht he wanted to buy, and I was fantasizing about overdosing on Xanax. I was dying on the inside despite “having it all” and careening towards an emotional bottom. I can’t imagine being a trust fund baby, and I never thought I’d see the day the words left my fingertips, but I actually feel bad for them.

Some argue that I blew it. “Bridget, you’re only getting older. What happens to a woman like you if you don’t ‘make it’? Eventually those looks are going to fade…” Newsflash: They’re already fading. Zits and gray hairs should not be able to exist in the same space at the same time, but, because life is cruel, they do. When I hung up my apron six years ago, I vowed I would never waitress again. And so becoming a waitress yet again humbled me. I have been talked down to by the Real Housewives of Westside LA, ordered around by 15-year-old rich kids and yelled at by Oaxacan line chefs.

And you know what? I fucking love it. It may not be ideal, but at least I’m captain of my own ship. And for that matter the crew…the cook…

OK, right, Bridget, but what’s your point? Why should I care about your fling with The 1%? Well, you read Playboy, which means you aspire to a better life. It’s one of the things most readers tend to have in common—wanting better food, better booze, better clothes, better women and a better life. Nothing wrong with that.

But the old adage is accurate: money truly can’t buy you love. I’d rather backpack around the world with a laid-back man, exploring the vast diversity of the 99% than go from one sterilized 5-star hotel to another while listening to a rich guy go on about his next stock purchase and exactly how he likes his eggs poached.

I can only speak for myself here, but I know many other woman will agree with me when I say that it’s more important for me to feel like your equal rather than just another part of your portfolio. And if you’re a man who tends to lead with his money, don’t be surprised if you’re attracting shallow women who like stuff. Trust that if you focus on the type of person who you are, no matter how much money you have or don’t have, eventually you’re going to attract a quality woman. Believe it or not, there are many of us, and we’re looking for quality men.

Bridget Phetasy is a writer and comic in Los Angeles. Twitter: @BridgetPhetasy.

Follow For the Articles on Twitter and Facebook for more Playboy Sex & Culture.