“A Tendency to Idealize…”

Having a tendency to idealize girls is not a bad place for an adolescent boy to start in terms of his relationships with girls, since it’s based on a kind of respect for them. However, continuing to idealize women isn’t where you should end up if you are a grown man.

The foundation of any mutual relationship is respect, and that, in turn, is based on a type of equality of importance. The needs and desires of both parties are equally important. Idealizing undermines this equality, because, in doing so, you treat neither yourself nor the other party fairly. This may seem paradoxical, on the surface, but let’s look at how this can work, in real life.

Let us imagine a teenage boy who sees girls (or the ones he is interested in) as unapproachable models of perfection. He will fantasize about them, but also see himself as unworthy of their attention. If he is not a particularly popular boy, he will find ample support for his hypothesis of unworthiness in the awkwardness of his encounters with girls, lack of dates, and so on.

A common occurrence as adolescence continues is to grow bitter: he sees guys he considers to be ‘jerks’ having more success (or what he deems to be success) with girls, and concludes that girls don’t like nice guys, whereupon he decides either (a) to moan about it, or (b) to become a jerk himself.

If he then becomes an adult, carrying forward this same attitude, he becomes one of an army of men whose discontent with women is based on a faulty premise: namely, that “being a jerk” is the key to getting all women to like you. Note the underlined words, and you begin to see the problem.

The problem with idealizing is that it doesn’t see people for who they are, as individuals. Any woman is different from all other women, and may differ in any number of ways. There is no “technique” to getting girls, there are just people forming relationships with other people.

In the end, idealizing any group of people or being contemptuous of that same group are forms of the same mistake: the refusal to see people as individuals whose lives, perspectives, and desires are as valid as our own. It also makes conversation about real world things next to impossible, as having cramps or intestinal problems aren’t things idealized humans have, while real ones may at any time.

This is, to me, one of the reasons so many women react with vehemence to men who say that “women don’t like nice guys”. Or, for that matter, the women who say “men only like mean girls”. There is no monolithic thing called “men” or “women” that acts as a single organism with one purpose. We are all different. And any relationship based on a stereotype rather than experience of the actual individual is doomed to failure before it even starts.

The key to getting out of this mindset (for me at least) was already contained within me, namely: I liked being friends with women when I wasn’t particularly attracted to them, and fell naturally into the sorts of “friendships of equality” that lead to real conversations and intimacy. The more I talked to people of all kinds, young and old, male and female, the more I realized that people, at heart, are kind of all the same, in the sense that we want to live fulfilled lives, experience closeness, and have the freedom to express themselves.

And now, my love, tonight we’ll be
The way we are when we’re alone:
No pretense need be tendered here,
Whatever’s real can now be shown

However that may be or feel.
However long it takes to know
What we can mention, we can manage,
And that I’ll go wherever you

May go

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