I once knew a man who came on very strong at the beginning of relationships, but couldn’t seem to help closing his heart as soon as a woman had opened hers. I have heard that kind of behavior referred to as an “addiction to the attraction phase” in relationships. This man did not maliciously go around hurting women. He sincerely wanted to be in a genuine, committed relationship. What he lacked were the spiritual skills that would enable him to settle down in one place long enough to build anything solid with an equal partner. As soon as he saw human faults and weaknesses in a woman, he would run. The narcissistic personality is looking for perfection, which is a way to make sure that love NEVER has a chance to blossom. The initial high can be so heady, so tantalizing, that the real work of growth which needs to follow the initial attraction phase can seem too dull, too hard to commit to. As soon as the other person is seen to be a real human being, the ego is repelled and wants to find somewhere else to play.
At the end of a relationship with someone like this, we feel as though we’ve taken cocaine. We had a fast and exciting ride, and it felt at the time like something meaningful was happening. Then we crashed and realized that nothing meaningful had happened at all. It was all made up. Now all we have is a headache, and we can see that this kind of thing isn’t good, isn’t healthy, and we don’t want to do it again.
But there’s a reason why we’re attracted to relationships such as this. We were drawn to the illusion of meaning. Sometimes someone who has nothing to offer in a real relationship can come on like they’re offering the world. They are so dissociated from their OWN feelings that they have become highly skilled performers, unconsciously playing whatever part our fantasies prescribe. But the responsibility for our pain still remains OUR own. If we hadn’t been looking for a cheap thrill, we wouldn’t have been vulnerable to the lie.
How could we have been so stupid? That’s the question we always ask ourselves at the end of these experiences. But once we’d had enough of them, we admit to ourselves that we weren’t really stupid AT ALL. We suspected this was a drug. The problem was, we wanted it. We saw exactly what the game was with this person, usually within the first fifteen minutes, yet we were so attracted to the high, we were willing to PRETEND we didn’t see it, for just a night, or a week, or however long it lasted. The fact that someone said to us, “You are so fabulous. You’re such a wonderful woman. This is such a great date. How lucky a guy is to get to date you,” when he’s only known you for an hour, is a blinking red light to any thinking woman. The problem is, the depth of our wounds can be so great—we can be SO hungry to hear those words, because deep down we suspect that they’re untrue—that hearing them can cause us to put aside all rational consideration. When we’re starved, we’re desperate.