Are you really what he's looking for, or are you just his prop?
I once had an ex who was totally and completely in love with someone named Ossiana. This woman looked like me and had the same name as me, but she wasn’t me.
The Ossiana he loved was a cisgendered woman who wanted to have babies, wanted to go to church every day, and was “just having a wild streak” before she settled down. She was not me and never will be me.
Unfortunately for my ex, he didn’t want to believe it. When I had basically forced him to take a look at who I really was as a person, he had a meltdown and we broke up.
Looking back, I realized I was a prop to his weird self-narrative of how things should go. He wasn’t in love with me as much as he was in love with the idea of me and what I could have been if I was a different person. Though I wish I could say that my experience is unique, it’s really not.
The truth is that guys, particularly those of the narcissistic type, do this all the time. Worried that you’re in a situation like this? These signs might indicate that the guy you’re dating is in love with an alternate universe version of you.
1. He argues with you over your opinion or basically tells you what you’re supposed to want.
I call this move steamrolling, and technically, it’s a form of gaslighting. When I told my ex I didn’t want kids, he would immediately reply, “Yes you do.” No matter how many times I’d tell him I didn’t want kids or that I wasn’t female, he’d just reply, “You’re confused. That’s all.”
A guy who does this doesn’t care what you think because he’s already made up his mind for you.
2. He puts you on a pedestal but then starts trying to “correct” things about you.
With narcissists, this is actually called the “idealization, devaluation” cycle of abuse. People who do this are basically trying to get their version of you to match up with their idealized version of you.
Unfortunately, no one is perfect and guys who do this will never be satisfied with you. The only times they’ll let you up on that pedestal again is if you end up leaving them, and that’s because they hate loss more than they hate not having that fantasy of you around.
3. He’s gotten you presents that have nothing to do with your interests.
My ex who had this issue gave me a gift certificate for surfing lessons, and that’s great except for the fact that I’m literally allergic to the sun. When I told him I wasn’t interested in it for health reasons, he gave me a blank stare and thought I was joking. It was at this point I realized my ex was delusional.
4. He’s placing qualities on you that really aren’t there.
This goes hand in hand with the delusion aspect of this problem. Guys who are in love with the potential of you may call you “geeky” when you can’t stand geek culture or talk about how “pure” you are when, in reality, you’re a kinky freak in the sheets.
5. You feel like he’s trying to train you like a puppy or you feel afraid of actually voicing your opinion.
That suffocating “walking on eggshells” feeling you get around him isn’t just you being nervous for no reason. That’s the uneasy feeling of knowing that he probably wouldn’t like the real you, or the feeling that you’re stuck with a guy who doesn’t actually think you’re good enough for him as is.
6. It seems like he has a narrative in his head about how all this is supposed to play out.
I call this the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl Dream,” primarily because I’ve mostly seen it in men who seem to think that the Manic Pixie Dream Girls they see in comics are what real girls are like. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Dream happens when guys have played out the adventures you two should have, or what kind of things you’ll do for him, or the idea that you’re just his “happily ever after.”
Unfortunately, this dream is realistically just a pipe dream for him.
7. You’re 90 percent sure it’s your looks or your “cool” lifestyle that really has him hooked.
As much as it pains me to say it, guys who love the idea of a girl aren’t really attracted to anything particularly deep. So, if he makes regular mention of your appearance, your cool car, or your exciting life, you may want to pass on him.
8. He seems to be more obsessed with being in a happy coupling than anything else.
If he likes you, he’ll be into you and think about you. If he’s into the idea of who you could be, he’ll likely be a huge fan of relationship goals, flaunting the fact that he has a girlfriend, or really gets crazy into the fact that you had a crush on him. With this kind of love, he’s more into the idea of being in love with you than you.
9. You’ve heard him talk at length about how he’d “never be able to find someone else like you.”
This may sound sweet, but the truth is that it actually is a sign that he’s dating you because he’s more afraid of being alone than anything else. Is that really what you want?
10. He won’t stop talking about his ex or he’s tried to get you to act like her.
A lot of people, both men and women, are stuck in relationship loops. They’ll look for partners who look like an ex, then try to turn them into their ex, just because they’re hoping to have something like what they used to have with that “one that got away.”
It’s sad, but it needs to be a dealbreaker. He needs legit time to grieve.
11. He pushes boundaries — a LOT of them.
Don’t ask me why, but a lot of guys who tend to fall in love with a girl’s potential also can’t figure out what a healthy boundary looks like. If he’s the type to drive to your house unannounced with flowers after you rejected him, he’s probably more into the potential of you than you.
12. His idea of romance follows movie tropes rather than real life.
Guys who love the idea of women rather than actual women tend to see themselves in Hollywood-style romantic comedies. They’re the ones who will see themselves as the White Knight Hero, the Playboy Jerk, or the Anguished Nerd Who Just Needs A Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
If he acts like any particular tropes around you, then make no mistake about it. This is a sign he sees you as a two-dimensional supporting character rather than a real human being.
13. He’s delusional.
If he’s delusional about other things, he’s probably not all there about you, either. It may be best if you just let him do his thing... far away from you.