Fantasy. I’m a HUGE believer that an extensive fantasy life is a great and useful thing. What I’m talking about in this blog is something very different from daydreaming about sex, the future, etc., with your partner or someone else. This is about the type of fantasizing that idealizes the other person in order to make them somehow more important or desirable to you and your life. As I’ve talked about in past blogs, this is something that actually DEFINED the way I approached potential or desired relationships for most of my life. I was aware, at times, that I was doing this, even in the moment, but I would then push away the awareness and go back to my pie-in-the-sky fantasy of the person. This, plus my propensity for never asking the object of my affection out on a date, served to keep the fantasy alive indefinitely.
Well, you might think, I get where the not-asking-out thing would be an issue, but what’s wrong with idealizing a relationship in your mind? The answer is that if you do this to the point where you overlook or even consciously avoid seeing where someone is different from your ACTUAL ideal partner, you will either 1) stay in a relationship where the other person is not a match for you, or 2) pursue (or NOT pursue, in my case) someone who is not a fit for you. Now hoping or dreaming that someone you are interested in will BE your perfect match is great! But (and this is the flip-side of showing and telling everything about yourself so the other person can make an informed decision on whether to be in a relationship with you) it’s just as important to be clear with yourself about all the things that make this a complete person. This is another way that a WRITTEN Wants List will be a big help, however it won’t help you if you idealize the other person and avoid noting where they diverge from your Wants List.
I’m going to use an example to show a little bit of this. Certainly in each of the relationships I had prior to changing my life in 2005, I clearly did this. I don’t remember if I mentioned this in an earlier blog, but when I did my first Wants List, for fun I decided to go back and compare my ex-wife to my newly created list and I found that she had 6 of the 23 characteristics that I had identified as wanting my perfect partner to have. Now remember, this isn’t to say there’s something wrong with her because there’s not. She’s an amazing person! Just not a fit for me as a partner. I’m quite certain that if she does a Wants List, I’ll also have less than half of the characteristics that she is looking for.
For this blog, though, I want to use an example of how this works for a DESIRED relationship, since that’s where most of our fantasizing occurs, and also where most of the idealizing occurs as well. The example I’m going to use is the way I idealized the person known as “C” from my list of past relationships blog. (Here’s the link if you want to check it out–part 1: https://findreallove.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/you-can-change-your-past-ill-show-you-how-part-1/ , part 2: https://findreallove.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/you-can-change-your-past-ill-show-you-how-part-2/ ) I met C in college when I moved away to attend Humboldt State University. It was quite an experience being shy and then moving away from home for the first time to go to a college where I literally knew NO ONE. Well living in the dorms the first year sure cured a lot of that! I was immediately thrown in with 79 other guys and gals on our dorm floor with lots of activities to meet and interact with the others and it was just what I needed to make instant new friends (a number of whom I still know today), and, as it turns out, new fantasies about potential partners.
One night within the first couple of weeks there, me and some of my new friends headed down to dinner with some of the gals from our floor. At dinner, there were about 8 or 10 of us at the table conversing. One of the things I really enjoyed doing back then was keeping my mind sharp by listening in on the conversation, figuring out where it was going, then jump ahead two steps with my comment and wait for them to catch up. I always enjoyed the look on their face when they realized what I had done. Since my self esteem regarding my looks was always terribly low, I gave myself kudos in other areas, such as being intelligent and having a quick mind. Well this particular night I started in with my fun game and did my normal thing of jumping ahead two steps, only to have C, without missing a beat, jump three steps ahead of me! I’m laughing out loud just thinking about how far down my chin must’ve hit my chest in that moment! Here’s this incredibly beautiful woman with an amazingly sharp mind as well! Now a lot of people with looks have been trained throughout their lives that there’s no need to be a nice person because the looks means there will always be someone else. The fact that C had not only looks and a keen mind, but was also a very nice and sweet person—well I was hooked! (Those three things were what approximated a Wants List for me for most of my life: attractive to me, intelligent, and nice.) So for about the next, oh, I don’t know, 20 years, I made C into my fantasy partner. Even on the rare occasions when I was with someone else, I would always compare them to her. What makes this hilarious to look back on was that I had, all that time, IDEALIZED her. Since we never dated, I have NO IDEA what she would be like in a relationship. So what I did from that point on was to compare everyone else to someone who was not real.
Now there certainly were instances in which I had the opportunity to see the real person she was, but because of how I did potential relationships back then, I would overlook or flat out look away from character traits that didn’t fit my fantasy of her as my ideal life partner. I’m thinking of one in particular that I remember from those days, because it is also a moment where I might have actually scored some points with her, had I not been too shy to take the action that I thought of in my mind. This moment served as a very clear REGRET for many, many years, until I was able to let go of all my regrets using the tools taught at The Option Institute’s “The Happiness Option” program (http://www.option.org/programs:the-happiness-option,6 ). I actually TRIED to hold on to one regret for old times’ sake, my regret of never asking C out, but, alas, even though I still have the MEMORIES of those times, I’ve simply been unable to hold onto the FEELING of regret I used to associate with them.
So this particular incident took place at the apartment C shared with a friend of hers. There was a little party going on and some of my friends and I were there. I could always be counted on to encourage “the guys” to go whenever C was going to be there. I absolutely LOVED talking to her since she was so conversant and insightful in so many different areas. On this night there were about 15-20 people inside and out on the patio, some of whom were sort of periphery to “the group”, maybe neighbors who weren’t super welcome. And this is where I learned (and then chose to look away from) C’s trait of not being very assertive. A few of these periphery folks were doing drugs (beyond the booze and pot level that most everyone did in college) and then just kind of being “out there”. Couldn’t hold a decent conversation, kept saying things kind of randomly, kept turning the music up to a level that precluded the rest of us from talking. But even though both the gals who lived there commented that they would like these folks to leave, neither of them felt assertive enough to kick them out. Character trait! Not necessarily one that would prevent me from being interested in C, but it was information that I could have used to see the whole person she was. As for me, well I wasn’t any more assertive than they were! However I DO have an inventive mind, and while my buds were suggesting that we blow the scene because of the druggies, I thought of a way to get them to leave so that it would just be the regular crew there. I would make an announcement that someone had called the cops and if anyone didn’t want to be there when they arrived, now would be the time to go. All our friends would know this was a ploy, but the druggies wouldn’t and would escape in a timely fashion. Of course I was too shy to do this, and so me and “the guys” left, locking in that wonderful feeling of regret in me for the next 20 years.
What still remains, looking back, is the clear sense that I never gave myself two things in regards to C. The first, of course, was never asking her out. Never giving her the opportunity to say “yes” or “no”. The second was never giving myself the opportunity to see her as a “real”, whole person. I loved our friendship, but it was always laced with my preoccupation of dreaming about a love relationship with her. Like I said, I have no idea what she would have been like in a relationship, but creating this ideal fantasy of who she was got in the way not only in terms of knowing her as a complete person, but also of my ability to honestly see other people who I later dated or was interested in.
So remember to use this flip-side of coin when pursuing a new potential partner (or with your current partner, if you are in a relationship). It’s just as important to look at the other person exactly as they are, as it is to completely share who you are with them. Each of these will allow you (and your partner) to make a clear and informed choice whether or not to be in a romantic love relationship with the other.
Have a wonderful day and happy hunting!