Fetish, Objectification, Or Preference?

Have you ever heard someone say they have a “thing” for asian girls? What exactly does that mean? Is it any different than some one saying they will only date tall men? When we think about who we date and are attracted to we can’t help but factor in physical attributes. After some time we may notice trends in our romantic history. These patterns may come as a surprise to us when we look closer at the reasons we are attracted to people and it may serve us to ask ourselves if we are finding constructive reasons for gravitating towards people or simply finding a person to fulfill a fantasy role.

“You don’t love me, you love the idea of me!” Exclaims a tall good looking man who has been dating another tall good looking woman. He realizes that the relationship they have been in for the past few months has not developed into anything more than dinners and social engagements. The woman, has only ever dated tall good looking men and immediately knew she was interested upon sight, but the feeling wasn’t necessarily love. Their relationship was affirmed by all of their mutual friends who spoke of how cute a couple they were like the real Ken and Barbie. Things look great from the outside but there was no deeper bond than creating the appearance of happiness. For her it seemed to be enough, but he wanted more.

Now, this is the mildest example of what could simply be objectification. It is the idolizing of a person, not for their individual merits but their superficial characteristics ie. tall, dark, and handsome that we must look out for. This is an archetype that speaks to an ideal partner but says nothing about the character of the individual or what chemistry might exists between two people. This is an idea of what we should want based on a prescribed formula for happiness.

An introverted anime and game enthusiast patrols a comic convention stands in line for hours waiting to get an autograph from a costumed vixen whom he recognized from his graphic novel series. She is an asian woman with large breasts, a small waist, and speaks in a high pitch voice, coyly batting her lashes as photos are taken of her while signing autographs. After the convention the man returns home to his girlfriend who happens to also be an asian woman have large breasts, a small waist and also speaks in a high pitch voice.

Is this guy dating his fantasy or is it more likely that there is a beauty norm that circulates within the culture he is a part of and he gravitates towards women that suit that norm as a matter of preference for their aesthetic, which indicates, among other things, their likemindedness?

The question that we have to ask ourselves is how much weight we are putting on the visual stimuli we receive and is that helping or hurting our decision making when it comes to choosing a mate. If we are looking for someone to be our ideal figure, then we are as much casting for a part as a Hollywood director. But if we are seeking a deep, lasting, meaningful connection, (which not everyone is looking for) then we need to be more comprehensive about who we decide to partner with.

Answering this will  be different for everyone because we all have different concerns. The timing of our lives, and the situation itself all come into play. We should always be aware of when we are objectifying others and ascribing a preset expectations to them simple because of how they look. The tall, dark, and handsome man, may not be the most compatible mate for the tall beautiful woman once the crowd has gone away. The busty, asian girlfriend may not actually be a real life fantasy girl. We have to be willing to look at ourselves and our relationships and face “Why am I with this person?”

If what reflects is not what in your best interest, there is no rationalization that is going make the stress go away as the relationship deteriorates.

On the flip side, if both/all parties are aware and consent to their role in the relationship then it can truly be a positive experience for all. It is just a matter of being clear about what each person wants and if this is the best place to get it. It might be all well and good to marry your fantasy girl as long as she knows that is why you love her. Ken may be happy in the dream house with Barbie if that is what he signed up for.

In matters like this honesty is the best policy, but first, it takes so soul searching to honest with yourself about what you want out of your relationships.