How You Feel Around Someone Is Not How You Feel About Them

Many of us use others in ways we don’t even realise, and this is how it happens.

Image: Adobe Stock

Don’t be seduced by yourself

A lot gets said about the way we project our desires and fantasies onto our romantic partners. But there’s another element to the equation that’s often overlooked.

When we’re constructing these idealised fantasies of our partners, we’re also constructing an idealised vision of ourselves in relation to them.

I’m tempted to suggest that this is the real motivation for the fantasy; that if we’re projecting fantasies onto our partners it’s almost inevitably a form of wish fulfilment about who we are, and has little to do with what we really want from them at all.

We don’t tend to think of this as ‘using’ someone, but we really should

We tend only to worry about ‘using’ people in very specific contexts: romantic, financial, careerism and a few other specific instances where we all agree ‘using’ other people is bad.

Emotional fireplaces

The biggest danger of this is that people become disposable: it’s like they’re a sort of emotional fireplace — great for keeping us warm, but still fundamentally objects that can be put out as soon as the room reaches our desired heat.

The problem really arises when you’re being dishonest about the nature of the relationship

It’s not actually that there’s something inherently wrong with using other people in this way.

The problem arises when one isn’t open about these things, and allows the other person to believe the relationship has a different, more substantial or meaningful foundation than it does.

I recently asked some friends in long term relationships to tell me their favourite thing about their significant other. And I had some lovely responses detailing cherished idiosyncrasies and moral virtues.

When I admitted to myself that my relationship with my ex wasn’t based on a deep enough foundation, I didn’t know what to do.

It’s deeply unpleasant to realise that, fundamentally, you’ve mistreated someone. It’s hard not to let self-pity and resentment get tangled up in the guilt, even if you’re fully aware that you’re in no way a victim in the situation.

Copywriter with delusions of competence

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