When I was in high school, I met the most beautiful girl in the world, and I fell in love. Of course I didn’t love her only for her beauty. No. I could see right through that to her intelligence, grace, the purity of her soul. I knew that if I could be with her, all of my needs would be fulfilled, and I would never do her wrong. Finally I mustered the courage to tell her. Of course, she looked at me like I was something stuck to the bottom of her shoe and never spoke to me again. This happened once every couple of months.
Many people still do this as adults. The socialization program that is the media demands it. Think of the leading lady’s slo-mo entrance… windswept hair, light shimmering about her face. The nerdy boy struggles to prove that he is the man that she wants. She realizes that she was wrong to reject him all along. She never would have realized that he was The One if he weren’t so persistent! How many times have we played out this fantasy in our minds?
And why, really, doesn’t it ever pay off in real life? Once you shine your spotlight on a woman, does she ever do anything but run? Why 1) It’s too much pressure. 2) There’s no room for a person to exist within the idea of them that you’ve created.
Have you ever heard the story of Pygmalion and Galatea? Pygmalion was a sculptor who worshipped Aphrodite with all his being. He fashioned a sculpture after what he believed to be her form. He fell in love with his creation and begged Aphrodite to allow him to be with her for all eternity… so Aphrodite turned him to stone. Some people think that this is a tragic romance. Actually, the story is an illustration of what it is, essentially, to idealize someone, and what it does to us. To idealize someone is to form a lifeless, static copy of them in our minds. We become like the object of our worship: charming in appearance, but unable to grow or really know and love a human being.
Idealization is really just gold-plated objectification. We don’t want to dance with the soul of a person. We want someone to fill a role. The pressure that places on someone is repellant. It’s like two positive ends of magnets repelling each other. The idealizer fills the other person’s space with expectations. The idealized can do nothing but leave.
The good news is that the key to real love is found within ourselves. Someone said: “When you use an axe to carve the handle of an axe, the model is near at hand.” How do you hold someone in your heart? Start by holding yourself, with all your flaws, all your needs, gently, with understanding, with acceptance. Fall in love with yourself man. Once you do that, Love will find you.
Photo Credit: Samuel Zeller via upsplash.com