I was in the Hamptons recently and saw something in particular that I had seen for years, but had never actually noticed. It is how young women on vacation from their lives and jobs in New York City pursue men of wealth and power. I haven’t lived out there for more than 20 years so this time back was an eye-opening experience for me.
I know this is the 21st century, and yes, we are almost 20% through it. Yet still many women in our western culture seek a man who will provide her with wealth and identity that apparently she does not possess. The more wealthy or successful the man, the more difficult it is to gain his attention and therefore, the more valuable his attention becomes. This gives women—especially insecure women—a newfound sense that they are unique if the successful or powerful man knows their name, appreciates their tastes, or wears their ties. You would think that they consider themselves invisible until a powerful man notices them. That notice earns what they’ve aimed for: a name for themselves as Daddy Warbuck’s current “objet de desir.”
In my parents’ day, the outcome these women wanted from these relationships was the label, “wife” but that is no longer the case in all situations. Today, to be recognized as the lover of such a man is considered satisfactory as long as knowledge of the relationship is public. Spoiler Alert: some are even looking to take it a step farther and entrap their target with the announcement of pregnancy.
But that’s the rub, isn’t it. It needs to be public that the woman has been scooped up and is off the market in this game of erotic duck-duck-goose. Now listen closely; this is where pride raises its ugly head and steps in. The connection has to be endorsed—particularly when it is illicit—by at least a few other people who will verify that the wealthy man has undeniably made himself vulnerable to the woman. That vulnerability gives her power over him and in a peculiar but historical way, it justifies her existence.
This leads to a pattern we all know from movies, or in some cases, life. The assistant who sighs after the boss gives her the assignments. The client aches for a more intimate relationship with her therapist. You can find women who long for personal attention from their physician, lawyer, banker, or from the chef of the new three-star restaurant; any man who wields power because of his public rather than private appeal. We have all seen it happen.
Over time, most women recognize after a certain point in the story book fantasy, these relationships won’t necessarily yield the real-life romance they long for. When that recognition settles in, the woman will usually turn her affections to more realistic visions, such as the person sitting next to her at a conference, the friend working with her on a project, a gentleman who happily listens to her without billing her insurance.
Some people however, have trouble adjusting their sights and desires to those more genuine visions. They mainline the fantasy and like the drug it is, it takes up all the emotional time and space they have so that, finally, they’re left to suffer rejection and withdrawal alone, hugging their pillows and cell phones at night.
Even when these Disney like experiences turn into real relationships, they don’t always work for long. There are some really good reasons for this when you think about it. I don’t care who you or your man are, even the most powerful man on earth is nevertheless just a person. Your hero doesn’t burp or pass gas; the person does. The godhead doesn’t get cranky after a hard day or at a late-night dinner; your idol doesn’t want to watch a rerun of Young Frankenstein or Jumanji; your new-found symbol-of-greatness doesn’t mispronounce the name of a wine you love or beg you listen to his favorite band from high school, whose one-hit record faded from popularity years before you were even born. Face it; in the end you have a person in your midst and nothing more.
I know that it is changing quickly, but historically, the closest a young woman could get to having power was to have sex with a man who had it. Like I said, that’s changing, but it’s pretty clear that not everybody got the memo. How many workplaces have you seen that become a version of Wild Kingdom, where the young females collectively choose the senior male, regardless of his physical, emotional, or more dangerously, ethical imperfections, as their target?
A friend once told me that wanting something out of reach was a legacy from our first mother. Eve, told that she could eat anything but the apple, could think of nothing else. Look, you’re on a no-carb diet, so only pasta and bread look good. When you can’t eat sugar, it’s those candy bars that call out to you from the grocery store check-out aisles. It is like when you’re on a long business trip, you daydream about sleeping in your own bed, and when you’re stuck at home, you long for the luxuries of a night in a hotel. You almost can’t help it.
Falling into just the same trap, some women set their sights on men who could not possibly enter into a full-fledged open relationship, whatever the reason, and there can be thousands. And yet again we see pride fits perfectly into this. You find yourself seeking the impossible because it appears marvelously unrealistic, and yet, at the same time, seems to be curiously within reach. If the powerful man desires you privately, could he really deny publicly that you’re the love of his life? For this once, couldn’t you be Sabrina?
There really are short and long answers to that question. The short answer is: Yes, you bet he can. Because in part, his pride is wrapped up in keeping you as private as possible. The longer answer includes the thought that part of the satisfaction in an illicit affair from his perspective might just be getting you in bed without having to experience a real relationship with a real woman. People always come with pesky details like getting the spelling of your name straight or having to remember your birthday or favorite color, or best friend.
So go ahead, ask him…or her for that matter, what IS your favorite color. Ask your admirer the name of your best friend from childhood. Ask for the name of your favorite song, flavor, dessert, and movie. David wouldn’t have known, but Linus would have.
Give this a try; ask yourself if you’d like him if he were simply pumping gas at his repair shop, bagging groceries, working behind the counter at the dry drycleaners, or digging ditches. Not that it’s about the money, but possibly is it all about the influence? The status that you hope to gain? The place he has earned in the world? The reputation he’s made for himself that you can share? Only you know…
Ask yourself; is the relationship about affection, respect, pleasure, and lot of fun, or is it in this case all about pride and power by proxy? Pay very close attention to your answer—it’s important. And then go listen to your favorite song.
So how is your relationship going? Is it a big secret or is it out for everyone to see. Let me know how it is going for you and if you would like to talk, schedule a time for a call and lets give it a go.
Did You Enjoy This? Become a Subscriber and Learn More
As an independent coach and writer, I manage my own marketing, my own press, and all of my own content.
By becoming a member of my site, you can gain access to articles, audio versions, and commentaries relevant to my articles, interactive online courses, and with quite a bit more to come, I hope to hold your interest for quite a long time.
Samuel T., Sabrina Fair
Lewak L. New York Post, “Hamptons bachelors are getting vasectomies.”
Barreca, G. PhD. It’s Not That I’m Bitter