Welcome to Part 2 of my series on romantic pitfalls, what I call the “tangles of desire”. In Part 1, Best Friend Forever, I introduced the idea that our path to true love can be a bit rocky at times because our desires are learned from others. In other words, desire is triangular. Our desires don’t arise spontaneously from within us – if they did, advertisers would be out of a job! And objects of desire aren’t imbued with some amazing dose of desirability – if they were, fads just wouldn’t exist. Fashions in clothing, music, hair styles or food would never change because if something were desirable today it would still be desirable tomorrow – that is if the thing that made it desirable were really an essential part of its nature.
What makes something desirable to us is so obvious we overlook it – we desire what other people desire. Duh, right? Advertisers know that if they want us to desire their products they show us happy people, preferably famous happy people, with their products. The more their product appears to be the source of happy celebrity for others, the more we want it, too. What we often fail to notice is that our desires for people operate the same way. Even our desire for ourselves! That’s right – in order to know ourselves as lovable, we need to be loved by someone whose love for us we absorb and imitate. And when it comes to choosing who we will love, we often seek out types of people that our friends and our culture tell us are lovable.
In my book I identify five patterns of triangular desire that can get us into trouble in our love lives. In my first post, I introduced the first type, the Best Friend Forever. Today’s post is about a tangle I call the Celebrity Chef after those TV chefs who tempt us with their food, courting our applause and love. If you fall into the Celebrity Chef tangle, you will notice the triangular nature of desire in action: Celebrity Chefs need the approval of others to feel secure about their choice of lover. If you have fallen into this pattern of desire, you will find that you parade your lover in front of your friends to excite their admiration, just like a TV Chef tempting us with his latest creation. If you do succeed in arousing desire in your friends, it often triggers an unexpected response in you. Even though you wanted their approval, you may begin to suspect that your friend has fallen in love with your beloved, for real! You begin to be suspicious that your lover is cheating on you and that your friend has betrayed you. This is the dynamic driving the jealous and insecure lover.
Editor’s Note: Is the Celebrity Chef pattern not your type? Find out your own romantic pattern with The Wicked Truth About Love Questionnaire and stay tuned between now and Valentine’s Day to learn more about the six patterns of desire and which one leads to true love!
The Wicked Truth About Love: The Tangles of Desire contains a full discussion of the triangular nature of desire and all the tangles, including advice on how to get untangled and back on the path to love. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Image: Susan Drawaugh