8. THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR: PUT PEOPLE ON PEDESTALS AND THEY’LL FALL OFF
I’ve just met you and already I’m wondering if you’re the one. I sit waiting endlessly for you to call while thinking how lucky I am. Ooh I have a date. Yippee! And I can’t think of anything else except being with you again. I wait endlessly for that moment when you’ll kiss and tell me you love me. That’s when I’ll expect you to ask me to marry you.
And if you don’t call I’ll fret, I’ll become desperate. I’ll think there must be something wrong with me. Maybe you’ve found someone else. Then I’ll call you and if you don’t answer immediately I’ll panic. I may even tell you off for not phoning me. I may desperately ask you if you love me. We may then argue and maybe I’ll never hear from you again.
How many times have you experienced this or heard a friend tell you something similar?
As a relationship therapist time and time again I observed that as a result of our expectations we land up putting partners on pedestals not only at the beginning of a relationship but during relationship too.
Fairy tale stories often leave us with a fantasy: little girls learn that one day they will be rescued and whisked off into the horizon in a white dress by their prince on a horse. And little boys learn that they need to be someone’s prince that puts huge expectations on boys or men to fulfil that expectation. This can become hard work for both parties as they try to meet their partner’s expectations.
Nobody has had the perfect 24/7 mothering that we all so desire and crave. As a result we all consciously or unconsciously hope that a partner will come and rescue us and give us everything our parents didn’t give us. So we build expectations that often come crashing down. Meeting someone and immediately hoping that they might be the ‘one’, or hoping for some glamorous and handsome person that will tick all boxes can leave you feeling very disappointed.
Fantasy expectations and only seeing the ‘good’ in someone, should remind you of the term ‘love is blind’. We often allow ourselves to fall in love far too quickly. As a result we give our conscious or unconscious expectations full reign to run off wildly with our imagination.
Rushing too quickly into a relationship or having fantasies about what a partner might give you suggests a ‘neeeed’ for a relationship that goes beyond an emotionally equal relationship one. It depicts, albeit unconsciously, a negative self-belief of unworthiness as you enter a relationship on a wrong footing.
It becomes not, ‘what can I bring or what can you bring into a relationship that might suit my/our life’s goals’, instead it depicts a certain desperation to be loved, to be given what your parents may not have given you. And the next question should be whether this newly met person is the right person for you. Spending time getting to know them and finding out about their background, their past relationships, their family history and so forth, before falling head over heals might prevent a whole lot of heartache. Why? Because people on pedestals fall off.
It’s when you suddenly realize this person is not who you thought you’d fallen in love with, is when they fall off. It’s when to your horror you begin to see their imperfections. They pick their nose. They don’t meet your expectations and they don’t fulfill your fantasies. And this is when the arguments begin. Blame and disappointment sets in and your hopes get dashed. Who you thought this person is crumbles. And you get left with feelings of disappointment, rage, anger and sadness.
The other day I heard these lines in a movie:
“I’ve been married 3 times already”.
You’re obviously looking for the right person
They’ve always been right – at the beginning…………!
If you put people on a pedestals, be careful – no one can really fulfil your emotional needs or be your rescuer because nobody can tick all your needs, wants and desires boxes’.
And neither can you tick all of your partner’s boxes. You can’t fulfill all their fantasies either.
This is why arguments, especially at the very beginning of a relationship, might leave you feeling disappointed, angry, sad and exhausted. The fantasy has crumbled. And what are left are two very sad and disappointed people.
This pedestal dynamic can also occur with family members, friends or colleagues. It can be as simple as expecting others to do the ‘work’ both practically or emotionally. Unless roles are discussed and agreed, resentment may build up. Looking at this from another angle – at work the tasks we are expected to fulfil are usually contractually discussed and agreed upon. If your role suddenly changes and you are expected to do more this may cause resentment, especially if there is no financial reward. Therefore expectations need to be clearly discussed and defined.
Strangely enough, another way of explaining the dynamics of putting people on pedestals is through the process of borrowing or lending money.
When you are asked to lend money, beware. It immediately implies that you are financially better off. You get put onto a pedestal as the rescuing knight. But this is an awkward position to be in. You may feel embarrassed to refuse the money or you may feel obliged to lend the money. But you may also worry whether the borrower will ever be able to pay the money back. So immediately a tension gets created.
Lending money means the borrower will be indebted to you.
And in turn, the borrower may begin to feel resentment and anger towards you for being in a better financial position than they are. They might also feel guilty if they are unable to repay the money or they may even become resentful at having to even pay the money back. And this could lead to arguments and even the end of the relationship.
That’s why there is that saying ‘never a borrower nor a lender be’ which is why we should be careful when we play this ‘pedestal stuff’, because it creates an unequal dynamic within a relationship.
The following DIAGRAM describes this behavior ‘energetically’. As a person ‘pushes’ another onto the pedestal the person on the pedestal becomes ‘larger’ and the other becomes smaller.
Circle – large Circle – small
By forcing others to always take on the responsible roles, they will get ‘bigger’ and you will get smaller. Being ‘smaller’ is the same as giving your power away. It’s implying that you are not worthy. And if you continuously repeat and ‘play out’ this behavior over and over again, it will become a habit. Do this continually and you will begin to believe it. Because the roles you choose to play can have repercussions on your self-confidence.
And in the same way you need to be aware that by elevating yourself, by becoming the ‘knight in shining armour’ or taking on the ‘bigger’ role, has it’s own repercussions. Initially, feeling ‘big’ might give you a thrill and a feeling of well being, but in the long run what’s the point, if what you are creating is a rod for your own back, by becoming resentful as you always take on the work whilst others sit back.
This is another reason why we should try to get to know our patterns. Usually they start in childhood. Then in adulthood these patterns, which by then have become habits, are not always constructive. They can cause unnecessary pain and disappointment, especially if we’re not aware of why and in what situations we behave or react as we do.
And we can then land up in the wrong relationships with expectations that get dashed.
People fall in love far too quickly and think ‘this is the one’ and, without asking the right questions, fall in love and get married. And then it’s too late to start asking questions – especially when the babies arrive.
So it might be a good exercise to look at your own fantasies and see where they might have started. Also investigate how you too might be putting people unnecessarily on pedestals thereby decreasing your own value.
And so “when you are searching for that one person that will change your life start by looking in the mirror” because “too many disappointments are usually a sign of too many expectations”.
Note: © 2014 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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