To understand why we become disappointed by our beloved, we need to comprehend the dating process: to discover what instigates us to become sentimentally enchanted by someone. What makes a person, who was a perfect stranger such a short while ago, become so indispensable to us that we are unable to imagine our life without this individual? There is no way to answer this question entirely, but some partial conclusions can be useful in helping us to commit fewer mistakes.
In the first place, people become involved because they believe to be incomplete. If we all felt “whole” instead of “half” persons we would not love, because love is the sentiment that we develop for someone who provokes the sensations of cozyness and completeness that we are unable to experience when alone. The choice of a partner involves intriguing variables that range from the desire of feeling protected to the need of being useful or even exploited.
Physical appearance plays an important role during this phase, especially for men, since they are more sensitive to visual stimuli. In the memory of many men there is a register of figures that impressed them and which serve as a foundation for creating the ideal models with which each woman they meet is confronted. It may be the color of the eyes, hair, or the type of breasts or hips. Those are elements that they recollect from their mothers or even from a movie star. Women also select indicators of the ideal man: he must be slender or sturdy, the executive or the intellectual type, an art lover, and so on. All these ingredients include erotic elements and are transformed in our imagination into symbols of ideal partners. Suddenly, we suppose to have found a significant quantity of those symbols in the person whom we met. And we fall in love.
The phase of enchantment, however, is not merely based on aspects connected to appearance, but also on what lies inside. However, another situation might occur: we converse with someone who has caught our attention and, due to the initial attraction and to our enormous desire for love, we tend to recognize in this individual the affinities that we have always wished would exist in the one who entrances our heart.
For example: a frail and intellectualized lad is viewed as emotional, romantic, delicate, respectful and not especially jealous. The girl is enchanted by him and hopes that he is the bearer of those qualities. It is called idealization: to believe that the other possesses the characteristics that we attribute to him. We dream of an enchanted prince – or with the ideal princess – and we project all our wishes upon that person. And, when we begin to live together, we expect the reactions peculiar to that idealized being.
But what happens then? It is the flesh and blood individual who will react and behave according to character. And it is very probable that we become disappointed – not exactly on account of his characteristics, but because we invested him with our fantasies of perfection.
The mistake is not always in the partner, but in the fact that we dreamed of him more than we paid attention to his real personality. That is a good example of the dangers derived from the sophistication of the mind, which is capable of employing its imagination so freely that reality can never measure up to it.
Translated by: Norma Blum