Thursday, June 14, 2007

Being Loved… as a Person versus an Object

As I discuss in my self-help book, Adult Loving Relationships, most people want to be loved… for who they are, not what they are.

In her excellent article, “The Secret to Being Loved,” Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., poignantly says, “One of the most important things we can teach our children, perhaps the most important thing, is how to be loved and loving. We can’t protect them from the many difficulties, even tragedies, of life. But we can teach them how to surround themselves with support and love.” Similarly, an excellent Women’s Day Article, “Be Loved For Who You Really Are” by Stefanie Coutinho with Judith Sherven, Ph.D., and Jim Sniechowski Ph.D., states, “Everybody wants to be loved for who they really are - beneath the masks they wear, the impressions they try to make and the mind games they play.”

In Chapter One of my latest contemporary romance novel, If Ever Again… It’ll be for Love, Diane just returned from the courthouse where her divorce from Richard was finalized. While her five-year old daughter, Rebecca, is watching Scooby Doo on television, Diane sits out on the porch and has a beer and talks with her best friend, Carol, about her divorce and what it had been like living with Richard. Below is part of that scene – Diane clearly felt like an object to Richard… not a person who he loved. (Please note that after pasting in the below segment from my book chapter, I edited two of the words with asterisks; this is a public blog and I wanted to be sensitive to all who may read it.)


“Listen, now that you’re single again maybe you could run for Miss Florida. You got it all, girl – great looks, beautiful hair, a drool-over body, and a professional career. How am I doing?”

“You’re nuts. That’s how you’re doing.”

“I’m serious. You’d knock ’em dead in those pageants.”

“No way,” said Diane as she took another sip of her beer. “I don’t know if you know this or not, but two years ago Richard wanted me to run for Mrs Florida. He really pushed me.” Then as she lightly laughed, Diane continued, “First, he wanted me to get breast implants. Then let my hair grow long and get a new hairstyle. What horses**t! But the one thing he couldn’t understand was that I would never have run for anything like that, at least as long as I was with him.”

“And that was because…?”

“As far as he was concerned, I was nothing more than a trophy. I was his hood ornament. He wanted me to do that simply so that he could tell everybody his wife was Mrs Florida. He didn’t want that for me. It was all about him.”

“And he really pushed the breast implants?” Carol asked in an incredulous tone.

“Yep. From the day we were married, he was always talking about me getting a ‘set of hooters.’ But I read him like a billboard. In his warped mind, I simply would have been a more eye-catching hood ornament. I wasn’t necessarily against it. In fact, I did some research on it. I found out that if a woman feels good about herself the way she is, and simply wants larger breasts to make her feel better, then it can be a good thing. But if a woman doesn’t feel good about herself or if she doesn’t necessarily want it for herself, then it actually doesn’t make any difference.

“My primary reason for refusing to do it was because I knew that in Richard’s mind it was just another indication of how he thought about me. As far as he was concerned, it was just another part of me that wasn’t good enough. Like… ‘After the augmentation, will you love me because of who I am or because of my t**ts?’ And in terms of any future surgery…” Diane stopped talking and looked away as she raised her hand and brushed her fingers across the scar.

“Listen honey,” said Carol, “you’re a beautiful woman just the way you are. And any man who sees you as anything less than that… well, there’s a three-letter word for it – run!”

“Hey, I hear that. And don’t you worry, if a man like Richard ever comes near me again, I’ll see him coming a mile away.”

“No more relationships like that again, eh?”

Diane broke eye contact with Carol and looked out over the railing. Then she turned back and said, “In many ways, my relationship with Richard was a one-night stand. Only it lasted four years.”

“And that’s the best part – it only lasted four years.”

“I like that. Instead of saying the glass was half empty, ‘It lasted for four years,’ say it as if the glass were half full – ‘It only lasted for four years.’ I like that.”


Question: Have you ever felt loved for what you were, an object, instead of who you were, a person?



Julia Phillips Smith said...

“In many ways, my relationship with Richard was a one-night stand. Only it lasted four years.”

Really great dialogue! Thanks for posting the excerpt.

As for feeling like an object, yes, I was treated like one several times as a child by a family member. This undoubtedly contributed to an insistence on my part to be accepted for the inner me as an adult. I put no value on appearances. Only on the inner person.

Happily for me, my husband and I will have our 15th anniversary in a month. He was wise enough to know what I wanted and didn't want. I enjoy being truly seen by him.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Julia,
Thanks for your gracious comment regarding the dialogue. Also, please know that I appreciate your sharing your experience… it had to have been horrendous. Feeling treated as an object as a child indeed can feel terribly punishing.
I am happy for you… it sounds like you found a keeper, and your husband sees you for who you are and loves you for being you. Isn’t that a wonderful thing!
Thanks for stopping by… I look forward to seeing you again,

Anonymous said...

Holy cow - that was me three years ago. I just looked at your book site for the "If Ever Again... It'll be for Love" novel. Looks great - I have to read it and will buy it tonight.
Are all your novels like this?

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Amy,
The best news in your Comment is that "it was three years ago." I am sure you vividly remember how rough it was!
I am very appreciative of your gracious comments regarding the novel... I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And when you have finished reading it, please let me know your thoughts and experience with it. For example, I trust that you will identify with Diane!
Thanks again, Amy, I shall look forward to hearing from you.