One of the hardest things the partner of a sex addict or a porn addict has to deal with are her feelings of having to “compete” with her partner’s fantasy ideal. We can tell her that her partner’s acting out behavior doesn’t have anything to do with her — and we do say that. But sometimes those feelings of inferiority, of comparing herself keep cropping up.
One of our clients decided it was time to finally face the imaginary fantasy perfect woman who continued to haunt her and see what her imagined nemesis was really all about. Below is the dialog she wrote to confront this ideal.
ME: Perfect Woman, are you there? Why must you always make me feel so insecure?
PERFECT WOMAN: It’s not hard to make you feel insecure. All I need to do is remind you of how perfect I am and how insignificant you are compared to me.
ME: What makes you perfect?
PERFECT WOMAN: Everything! My body is perfectly shaped, slender and firm. I have a small waist, long legs, big breasts and round hips. My hair is always shinny, soft and frizz-free. I haven’t got a single gray hair because I’m also very young. My skin is perfect, my pores are invisible and I haven’t got a single blemish or uneven area. I have no body hair to worry about, so I don’t need to shave or wax or anything. I’m always ready to wear shorts or bikinis and I always look awesome. My hands are soft and beautiful, like a porcelain’s doll. My nails are always long and perfect and have nail polish in cute trendy colors. My lips are full and luscious, my eyes are almond shaped and big, like a gazelle’s. I always wear makeup, but not because I need it to be beautiful, only because I like to look well groomed. I am beautiful without any effort, any time of day or night, any day, no matter what I do or where I’ve been. My feet are soft and small, free of calluses or rough areas. I always wear beautiful, fashionable, feminine clothes and accessories that showcase my beauty and sexy lingerie underneath, because I’m also the sexiest woman there is. I always smell delicious.
I’m also incredibly interesting, witty and fun to be with. I’m always in a good mood, always smiling and everyone around me always has a great time. I’m extremely popular. I sing and dance and have lots of friends that adore me. My life is so interesting and fun. I am independent. I have my own place and, just like me, it’s cute and trendy, because I’m also great at decorating. My place looks always great, like it could be featured in a magazine. Men want to be with me because I’m beautiful, sexy, sweet and carefree and I always make them feel good. Everything is perfect and happy when they are with me and we’re always having fun. Men can’t resist me. I am perfect and they all want me.
ME: Well, that’s cool for you, but why should I feel bad about who you are or how you look?
PERFECT WOMAN: Because, you can never be like me and that means that you will always be rejected. The man you love will take a look at you and then look at me and he’ll instantly know that he wants me. I am what he wants. I am what every man wants, and you can never even come close.
ME: Are you married or in a serious relationship?
PERFECT WOMAN: No… I’m single and free to date anyone. Every man wants to date me. Your husband wants to date me. He wants to marry me.
ME: So… if my husband and every other man wants to date you or marry you… how come nobody is dating you or has married you yet? How come you’re still alone?
PERFECT WOMAN: That’s not important. Your husband wants me. He looked for me online. He cheated on you with me. He told me he wanted to marry me.
ME: But he married me, and he’s still here with me, even though I’m not perfect like you. There must be a reason for that. Maybe you’re not so perfect after all. Maybe there’s something wrong with you. I mean, if you are so perfect and every man wants you, where is your perfect man? If you can have any man in this world, why would you want my husband? Why would you want an old married man with young children and a lot of issues who can’t even offer you an honest relationship? Why would you want that? Are you so unworthy and undeserving that such a relationship is all you can aspire to? Is that all you think you deserve?
PERFECT WOMAN: I deserve to have everything I want because I’m perfect and beautiful. I will take your husband to show you that I am superior to you. I am much better than you because your husband wants me, because every man wants me.
ME: And then what? You will settle down, raise a family, grow old? You won’t be young and beautiful and careless and perfect anymore… you will be just like any other woman I know… just like me. Maybe because that’s all you really are, just a woman, like any other woman I know.
PERFECT WOMAN: But I will be reborn millions of times… I’m every single young and beautiful woman in the Philippines, in Asia, on the dating websites, all over the Bay Area. I will always exist and will always make you feel inferior.
ME: No, you won’t. You don’t really exist. You’re something that isn’t real or even possible. Sure, there are young women out there, some are pretty, some are not so pretty. None of them are perfect. They are all women and human beings, just like me. They all need to put in some effort in order to look good. Most of them will have to shave their legs or wax once in a while. Some have scars or blemishes or uneven areas. They all stink if they don’t wear deodorant and get fat if they overeat. I bet they all fart when nobody is looking. Most of them get bloated during their period and I bet they don’t smell so good during those days. Some of them have ugly teeth, stinky breath, and bad hair days. Some of them will get pimples every once in a while. Some may have stretch marks or flabby tummies, like me. Their hands aren’t always soft and their nails aren’t always perfectly polished. They sometimes have dry skin. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are skinny and some are fat. Many have wrinkles and gray hairs that they need to color frequently. Not all of them wear feminine clothes or sexy lingerie. I’ve seen what they buy at the store… They’re all different. They all have their own story, good things and bad things. They’re regular people, living regular lives, just like me, and they are not trying to snatch my husband.
Sure, the girls from the dating websites and the bars in the Philippines and Asia may be willing to snatch my husband in hopes of escaping their life of poverty and sex trade, but they are not perfect either. They just pimp the fantasy of the perfect woman, just like you do, to see what they can catch but they are ordinary women, as well. They are not perfectly beautiful or full of virtues that make them irresistible or all deserving. If anything, they would be the ones who are less than other women, due to their lack of morals, their deceit, their promiscuity, and the fact that, just like you, they seem to think that their youth and good looks are all they have to offer and that kind of life (scam and prostitution) is all they deserve or can aspire to.
PERFECT WOMAN: Come on! Deep inside of you, you know this is all crap. You feel less than me. You know you will never be like me. You are afraid that you can’t keep your husband because I am what he really wants and sooner or later he’ll come back to look for me. He did it twice already… He knows I am real and waiting for him.
ME: Sometimes, I feel a bit worried, but I also know that what he went looking for those two times was a fantasy. He didn’t find YOU, because you don’t exist. He found an ordinary woman who disguised herself as the fantasy he was looking for in order to scam and manipulate him. What he found didn’t make him happy. What he found only created more trouble, pain and misery for him and for everyone around him. If he’s learned anything from this experience and the work he’s done in therapy it’s that chasing after you is useless. He knows you’re not real.
PERFECT WOMAN: But you fear me, you hate me, you envy me, you wish you were like me and you suffer because you know you never will.
ME: I used to… Now that I think about it more clearly, I feel sorry for you. You want what I have, but you can’t have it. Even if you managed to snatch my husband, he would soon tire of you once reality set in and he realized you are just a fantasy. You want my life, but you know that would be the end of who you are, so you will never have it. You’re so insecure that you need to make others feel bad and hear constantly that you are beautiful. Your value depends on who wants you. That’s all you have and that won’t last. That interesting life you talk about, where is it? You have nothing. You don’t even know who you are beyond the praise and the looks. I don’t want to be you. Sure, it would be nice to hear praises about my beauty and such, but I know there’s more about me than just that. I am still learning and growing, but I know that I was myself and I had value long before I met my husband and I will continue to be myself and have value even if he wasn’t here with me or didn’t want me. His or any other man’s wanting me is not what gives me value. I am real and that is much better than any fantasy woman any time.
PERFECT WOMAN: You’re not being honest with yourself… You know you don’t feel satisfied with yourself. I will get you sooner or later and I will make you feel miserable again. You’ll see.
ME: But I won’t let that happen. I will be paying attention. I won’t allow myself to dwell on what you have to say about me since I know the truth of who I really am and who you are not. I don’t need to compare myself to you or to any other woman to feel good about myself. Even if I don’t feel fully satisfied with myself right now, I know the solution does not involve listening to what you have to say. I can always work on my self-esteem and find ways to feel better about who I am.