I address this post mainly to my female audience because, in my experience, the pathology I’ll be discussing, while not exclusively male, is more often than not expressed by men against women.
I revisit here what I regard as an important relationship red flag: When you meet a man who seems to be “Mr. Perfect,” someone “you can’t find anything wrong with,” you need to take a good long pause; otherwise, trouble bodes.
Now I’m not talking about, or maligning, the experience of “great chemistry.” Great chemistry, even electric chemistry, where you hit it off instantly, is a good thing and sometimes a good omen.
But there’s an important difference between “great chemistry” versus the sense of having met and experienced “perfection.” The genuine Mr. Right, in other words, is a very different creature than Mr. Perfect, who almost always will be a quack.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, men perceived by the women they meet as “too good to be true” are often men with an agenda to be perceived as too good to be true. These men are often calculating narcissists or sociopaths for whom the game, the challenge, the principal goal, is to disarm their female [target] objects with their apparent, and compelling, perfection.
To advance their agenda these men may exhibit inordinately seductive qualities right from jump—inordinate levels, for instance, of charm, politeness, thoughtfulness, soliticousness, sacrifice and attentiveness (in a word, responsiveness).
But this isn’t a case of their being on their “best behavior,” as new partners normally are with each other; rather, it’s a case of their being on their best “contrived” behavior, their intent being to effect an impression of perfection as if they are cut from a different cloth—specifically, the cloth of male romantic perfection.
These men may want you to regard them as Princes heaven-sent; they may want you to feel that it took something like your lottery-like good fortune to have found them.
Many of them will be seeking the approbation of your social circle; they may want those around you to ask as with shaking heads, “Where did you find him?” “What planet did he come from?” “Oh my God, he’s like…perfect!”
These men will often “groom” you not unlike how the sexual abuser grooms his victims—with promises of his special attentiveness, gratification and protectiveness. This exploitive strategy is extremely potent as it accesses deeply-held fantasies to be perfectly loved, protected and embraced.
Other LoveFraud columnists and astute posters have correctly noted that not all of these men are consciously operating as predators. While true, it’s also important not to minimize just how many of these men are, consciously, operating with predatory agendas.
In either case, these are not men who love, respect, or even like women. Rather, they use women for ego-gratifying and ego-masturbatory purposes. And just as the thrill of a masturbatury experience fades fast, so too does the thrill that women give such men fade with often startling, disorienting suddenness.
While this dynamic may or may not confuse the exploiter, it will surely confuse the unalert woman.
In their “grooming” process, these men will often pull out all the stops: they may, for instance, be the best, most attentive lovers you’ve ever had while all the while they’re not actually enjoying the sex because they’re not present; rather, they are watching themselves, and watching themselves with you, as if they’re porno aspirants determined to make a name for themselves, determined to stamp themselves (to legendize themselves, if you will) in your mind.
Many of these men are desperate to be the fantasy of their perfect selves–that is, the fantasy of themselves as special, unique, memorable. And so they tend parasitically (and compulsively) to seek cooperative, vulnerable hosts (such as you) as if to hold for them, store for them their slippery, empty gestures at immortality. (I intend to flesh this idea out in a separate post, recognizing the incompleteness of my explanation.)
We’ve discussed some of these concepts before, but another of them bears repeating: Narcissists, sociopaths and their like will chew you up for the temporary ego-gratifying nutrients you can supply them in the short-term; and then, like a piece of chewing gum from which they’ve extracted all the sugar, they’ll spit you out, devalue and discard you, now that you’ve lost your flavor (and thus use).
(This article is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Steve Becker, LCSW)