This is a problem I’ve had ever since I can remember and I know I’m not alone. I tend to attract men who put me on a very high pedestal from which I eventually fall, very hard and very fast. I’m guessing this is because I have some attractive qualities (intelligence, exotic features), and because I fit into a few different categories, which makes it easy for some men to fantasize about me. Then once they get to know the ‘real’ me and realize that I don’t fit the image of the idea woman they’ve projected on me, they dump me. I’m sure that part of their reason for ending it is that I’m going through an insecure period in my life and this is unattractive. Also my insecurity makes me vulnerable to being admired. But I can’t take all the blame. Sometimes their passion is so ridiculously over the top from the start that I’m really at a loss as to where it came from or how to rein it in and, if I’m interested in something long-term, how to turn it into something tenable. I’ve tried telling them that they can’t possibly be in love with me after a week or a month, or I try to slow it down but they’re so aggressive about their admiration, so sure about their affection that they ignore what I say. Plus I don’t force them to slow it down as much as I should because of my insecurity or my own passionate feelings. Then, of course, the moment comes when I fall off the pedestal, which is pretty painful, even when I see it coming. So how do I bring a guy back down to earth the moment I see he’s idealizing me? And if I see long-term potential in a guy how do I get past the pedestal stage? Again: my telling him that he can’t possibly know me doesn’t seem to make a difference. So what can I do to gain some control over the situation? Should I for instance refuse to be in a relationship with the person until they know me as a friend? Should I immediately list all my faults for them (maybe a spreadsheet might help)? How do I get them to see the real me rather than blindly opening my heart to them, hoping that this time things will be different? And by the way, it never is—I always think I’ve finally met the exception but I’m always wrong.
Which just goes to reinforce my same old point about chemistry – it’s an illusion, a projection, and a fantasy.
No spreadsheets, Kara. But everything else you’re saying really does strike a chord.
I discussed how difficult dating could be for attractive women last year, but this situation is different. Because you’re not complaining about men being intimidated by you; you’re complaining that their heads are in the clouds. And rightfully so. Which just goes to reinforce my same old point about chemistry – it’s an illusion, a projection, and a fantasy. It’s not that the feeling isn’t real or amazing; it’s that it’s so powerful as to blind you to reality. Chemistry is what allows women to put up with abusive, non-committal men, and what allows men to put up with selfish, high-maintenance women.
Alas, you can’t help it when someone feels chemistry for you. All you can do is attempt to manage it realistically.
Your observation about a man putting you up on a pedestal is reminiscent of my own Pedestal Principle, which I explain in Volume 4 of Finding the One Online: “Once you put someone up on a pedestal, he is immediately looking down at you.” Talk about a lose/lose scenario. Not only do you feel uncomfortable being idealized, but you lose respect for the person idealizing you.
“Once you put someone up on a pedestal, he is immediately looking down at you.”
Your instincts about how to handle this, Kara, seem to be admirable. You remind all of our readers that beautiful women have a really hard time connecting with men because men are so blinded by their beauty that they can’t see the rest of the picture clearly. What these men don’t understand is that beautiful women don’t want fans or admirers; they want partners to see them, in full, as they are. I learned this the hard way – having put a woman up on a pedestal for upwards of 15 years. She not only lost her attraction to me, but it took me many years and a lot of heartbreak to realize that she wasn’t as great as I thought she was. She even TOLD me this, but I wouldn’t listen. So I really get the concept behind wanting to offer full disclosure about your imperfections as soon as possible. However, full disclosure is inorganic and clunky. You don’t tell someone on date 1 that you’re on Prozac or that you’re prone to fits of jealousy. Such things are revealed in the dating process so that they’re more easily digested.
But no matter how you play it, Kara, it will take a special guy to handle you – one who is not blinded by beauty, or rendered foolish in the face of brilliance. This man will reveal himself in how gracefully he treats you – not in how much he kisses your ass when he’s out to dinner with you. Any man who starts with the pedestal stuff will immediately eliminate himself. As for your role in this – I would give you the same advice I just gave to my amazing intern: be a woman. A real, stand-up, authentic, no-longer-a-girl, honest-to-goodness woman. It’s not about being in control, or putting your cards out on the table, or setting arbitrary rules on the pace of your relationship. It’s about communicating fearlessly, because you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When a guy starts to get all ga-ga; you let him know that you think he’s amazing, but ga-ga’s not going to work. You’ll lose respect for him and you don’t want to do that. Ask him to treat you the way he’d treat his best girl friend. With respect and kindness and chivalry. Ask him to go slow – not because you’re unattracted to him – but because you have seen your own tendency to dive in fast. The right guy will play it at your pace because he has something very real to gain.
Still, not every guy will pass this test of treating you as an equal. And when they don’t, you must be strong enough to walk away from these dead-end scenarios – forgoing the ego boost of having an admirer – and investing your time only in men who know what to do with a beautiful woman.
Trust me, there are a few of us left…