The dangers of idealization

On a third date, a guy and I were sharing how well we both felt we got along and how well matched we seemed to be. He surprised me when he said, “Don’t idealize me.” I hadn’t been. I was clear on his imperfections, yet was enjoying the parts that I liked.

It can be easy to idealize someone after a few dates if he seems to fit your perfect-guy criteria. In “Falling in lust” I wrote about a different man: “There were no red flags —- is that a red flag that he has no immediately detectable flaws?”Jimmy Choo

Seeing no detectable flaws is a very good sign that you are idealizing. If you feel yourself falling head over your Jimmy Choos within the first few dates, that is another sign. You are overlooking potential red — or at least yellow — flags.

You may say, “What’s the problem with idealizing? Isn’t that what being in love is? You only see the positives of the subject of your ardor?”

Idealizing means you barely notice any foibles. And if you do observe them, you dismiss their being a problem. He’s always late for your dates? He just gets distracted at work. He didn’t remember your birthday? He has so much on his mind he forgot. He doesn’t apologize when he inconveniences you? He means to, but it’s hard for him. And on and on we go, offering excuses to anyone who asks.

Venus de MiloHowever, what if he idealizes you? One man I dated came close to this. It seemed I could do no wrong. And if I did something like be late for a date, although I called to let him know I was stuck in traffic, he brushed over any hint that I could do anything untoward. While it was nice to have the ground beneath my feet worshipped, I knew it also meant that I would be tumbling from my pedestal at some point. That time came 7 weeks into our dating when he emailed me that he’d like us to just be friends. I don’t know how long chunks had been falling from my marble column.

So while it can be exhilarating to be in the bliss of adoring someone so much you hardly note the gnats of his failings, it is also dangerous as it’s easy to lose your heart, and with it your common sense. Best to have the strength to ask a few good friends what they see, and not get defensive when they point out what your blind spot is blocking.

And while it can be flattering and ego enhancing to be on the receiving end of idealized adoration, know that it is not healthy. Your eventual fall from the pedestal can be painful if you don’t help your devotee see that his effusiveness is not entirely warranted.

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3 responses to “The dangers of idealization”

  1. Gatti Avatar

    I know this one! A few years ago I went out a few times with a guy who “adored” me. It was awful. Anything I did, any flick of the eyelash, was cause for joy and delight. On a walk he took a little tape recorder and taped my voice as I talked. It was infuriating. And, as you say, disaster is pre-programmed, as no one will always be that perfect. I found myself being deliberately sharp, just to counteract it.

    The cracks started showing quickly. He would freak out if we weren’t in constant communication. Within moments of meeting I had become necessary to his existence, which was flattering for a short time but then was quite an unpleasant feeling. I “had” to be perfect for him to feel safe.

    I broke it off after a couple of weeks. It wasn’t healthy.

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    There seems to be extremes between a guy who worships you (I had a guy recently who was over the top with this and we’d only met a couple times) & a guy who doesn’t seem to want to work too hard at establishing a relationship. Why can’t I find a happy medium?

    It seems with online dating, that the two extremes are prevalent, although I’ve met way more who seemed lazy and only semi-interested in going out with me than who seemed to idealize me. Neither are attractive to me.

    What’s also interesting are the number of men who are separated (and list this in their profile) thinking it would entice someone to e-mail them. I think there should be some background checks and rules on Match & Yahoo about this. At the very least, they should be divorced before putting up a profile. I’ve even written to Yahoo about this problem, but I doubt that they will try to enforce anything.

  3. Gatti Avatar

    I don’t discriminate, necessarily, about separated. It can mean: marriage broken up, living apart, divorce proceedings in the works, which would be acceptable to me.

    I personally know of two men who are separated, with divorces in the works, who are still living in the same house with their (soon to be ex) wives. Now that would be weird for me, if I were to go to see them. Which I haven’t!

    Men do so often change one woman fairly quickly for another. I kind of like the idea of him being on his own for a while, but too long and sometimes he’s too set in his ways to make room for you.

    There is no one-size-fits-all situation!