Why do even some of the smartest women often become stupid when making choices in their relationships? In her book, Stupid about Men: 10 Rules for Getting Romance Right, marriage and family therapist Deborah Dunn explains how women are addicted to romance and are often tempted to believe love will conquer all. What are the most common mistakes we make and WHY do we make them?
1. Why do so many otherwise reasonable women behave irrationally in their relationships with men?
A: I've noticed this disturbing trend in my therapy practice, and it's an addiction to romance. Romance is a drug that prevents women from having to deal with the tougher issues in their life, like aging, finances, significant stress, problems with their children, and many other things. It's an avoidance that's very similar to how men use sex. With the rise in men's addiction to pornography and Internet sex, I've seen an equivalent rise in women's focus on and cravings for the ultimate romantic experience. We all want that to a degree, but that's not the primary goal of long-term relationships.
2. What are long-term relationships intended to provide?
A: Stability, companionship, creation of a home and family if that's what you desire, and some sense of a safe place to come home to and deal with the cares of the world.
3. So, how does all of this relate to stupid behavior?fairytalecastle
A: Stupid behavior is how I describe irrational behavior that throws caution to the wind and causes women to hook up with men who are unsuitable or dangerous. The warning signs are there but they let their romantic feelings override. The motives are wrong - they're looking for someone to give them the castle or, if they're very wounded and have had very bad experiences, someone who's going to heal those wounds. So they go into a relationship with an unrealistic expectation of what marriage or a long-term relationship is going to be. They look to that other person to heal those wounds when they really should be healing those wounds with a therapist.
4. Why do you use fairytale narratives, referencing characters like Cinderella and Snow White, and how do they relate to some of the most common mistakes women make?
A: It's something we can all relate to. We all know what Cinderella's game is. And Little Red Riding Hood - my gosh, the girl went into the forest with a basket of goodies. Where was her mother? Rapunzel lets down her hair - which is a sexual metaphor - for the first guy who gets her out of the tower. Snow White is a metaphor for the woman who sleeps her life away with food or drugs or television until a man comes along and wakes her up; she doesn't go out and seek her own life, she waits for a man to give her a life. Or Wendy, who adopts lost boys and thinks she can mother them and turn them into suitable partners.
idealisticromance5. Why do you think women are more likely to buy into the love-will-conquer-all myth?
A: Those are the myths those fairytales perpetuate. We've been taught that somehow the power of our love can change a man, and that the sexier and more beautiful we are, the more powerful we are. Women often confuse sexual power with personal power, confusing the difference between being able to arouse a man with feminine power. But then she doesn't know how to keep him because his interest will wane once the hunt is over. She's gotten her romantic fix during that time, but when he leaves her high and dry once the sexual excitement wears off, she's left confused and lonely and questioning herself even more.
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