It doesn't matter what age you are, what gender, what sexual orientation, whether you're single, married, with or without kids. High on the list of the most common anxieties and disturbances I encounter in people are around the issues related to body image. And man, do most people have it wrong!
Many women, for example, are convinced that men prefer skinny, young model-types to a mature, Rubenesque woman, when in fact, many surveys of men have shown the opposite to be true. Indeed, throughout history, men have always preferred full-figured woman. (See the write-up on this website- http://rubenesquepersonals.com/ - where the virtues of the "hourglass or pear-shaped woman of wide hips, an ample bust, plump cheeks, soft-full lips, and a generally healthy profile of alluring curves and crevasses" are extoled.) And in an article I recently mentioned on my blog, "Sex and the Grey-Haired Woman" (http://www.more.com/more/story.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/more/story/data/1188315869287.xml), the author, a woman, conducted a test using internet dating and found that more men preferred her when she potrayed herself with grey hair than with brown hair.
Likewise, what women find attractive in a man is not the tightness of his abs or the size of his cock or wallet, which is what many men mistakenly think. On the Mister Poll website (http://www.misterpoll.com/polls/33543/results), which claims to be the internet's largest poll database, women rated EYES as by far the most important physical characteristic in a man, with CLOTHES being a distant second! And in an article entitled, Housework Gets You Laid (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/06/housework-gets-you-laid_n_90213.html), information from a report released by the Council on Contemporary Families showed that the husbands and fathers who have been "getting better about getting off the sofa and helping around the house receive the payoff for doing more chores of... more sex!"
So, what are all of these distortions about? Well, sorry to say, but we're back to my pet dysfunctional peeve - narcissism! Yep, that rampant condition in our culture that is gutting the self-esteem of our population. The symptoms, as I've listed before are:
- Intense investment in a false self, with extreme efforts to live up to a grandiose, perfect, “special” self-image;
- Intense desires to be attached to an idealized other, who is objectified, seen as perfect and special and can be merged with in fantasy and used to bolster the idealized self-image - the “special person of a special person;”
- Others are related to as either sources of supply for emotional gratification and self-aggrandizement, or as extensions of the self, not as real, separate beings with their own needs and identities;
- There is very little capacity for real empathy with others;
- A self-righteous sense of entitlement with little ability to tolerate frustration;
- Intense underlying rejection of the real self, which is seen as weak, vulnerable, inadequate and imperfect and irreversibly flawed; anger, contempt and irritability is felt towards others who display what has been rejected in the real self;
- Deep underlying “abandonment depression” (Masterson);
- Extraordinary dependence on external validation by others for the value of personal qualities and achievements; those who do not give such support are either devalued or overvalued; criticism or negative feedback is reacted to with rage and deep feelings of woundedness; paradoxically, others who do offer approval are often devalued and seen with contempt.
Translated, this means that any man or woman who measures a prospective partner by their age, or the tightness of their skin, color of their hair or the size of their hips or bank account is narcissistically disturbed. Okay, enough said? This requires intensive, long-term dedicated work to heal. If you want to debate it, write me.
Okay then, what is true attraction based on in a healthy adult? For that answer, you have to ask yourself or anyone you know who has truly been in love. They will tell you the same things - that it wasn't any one particular characteristic, physical or otherwise, no criteria from a checklist, no measure of deeds done in the service of servitude. No, it was something indefinable in material, physical or superficial terms. It was a spark, a passionate rush, a powerful feeling of destiny or familiarity, a charge, an energetic signature. When you're with that person in that place, you know the truth about life, about yourself, about the other person. You're soaring, glowing, and seeing with a clarity that is irrefutable. You don't see body parts or measurements or net worth. You see the person's soul, the glorious, sensual, orgasmic essence of Eros in their being. You look at their body and you swell with desire to mingle and merge with that manifestation of the being in physical form. It is perfect - at any weight, at any age, of any color. You desire to reveal yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly. You desire to know everything about the other person. It's a thirst that can't be quenched, yet one that must always be pursued.
So, if you find yourself either believing that your happiness lies in living up to someone's idealized expectations of who you should be, or you find yourself searching for that imaginary "perfect" partner who will make you feel good about yoruself, know that you have a narcissistic disorder. Get help, while you still have the potential to love.