Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.
BEWARE THE AMOROUS BOLTER(14 Posts)
I am copying wholesale an article which was written many years ago by a very eminent psychologist. It may help some of you to understand certain men; don't have a scanner so am doing it by good old-fashioned typing! Btw, no internet or mobile phones then. Here goes:-
"As a psychologist, I was once asked to interview for radio a famous man, an ageing composer who was being cared for by his daughter. When the interview was over I met the delightful woman who was his daughter and, I suspect against her better judgment, she told me some tales from her father's past. As a middle-aged lecturer in music, she said, he often used to bring home a young woman student from the college at which he taught. He would then position her in his garden to pose for him while he composed. He'd be in his study and she would languish in the garden until he had finished his piece. Every year or so he would change his muse for another, sometimes more beautiful love. And so the pattern continued for many years. I didn't ask for more details of these relationships, nor did I make any comment about what I thought.
This story often comes to mind when I observe men behaving in a similar, if not so extreme, way - or talking of love as if it were an easily manipulated substance to be turned this way or that. These men, like our composer, often claim to be in love, although I'd find it hard to call their behaviour loving under any circumstances, for it is generally much more directed towards what they themselves feel about the state of being "in love". The woman in question is usually only a secondary consideration.
Take, for example, a delightful young man who is now in his early thirties. Let us call him David. Shortly after leaving university he met and married a woman he said he loved to distraction. He hadn't been married for more than a year or so, when he met another woman he felt he couldn't live without. In secret (of course) he began an affair with her, not telling her he was married until well into the relationship, at a point where the woman felt she could not draw back. He then told her his situation; at the same time he told his wife that he loved another woman but would stay with her because of his love for their baby.
For a while it seemed that David was surrounded by love. Although he was no longer "in love"" with his wife, he went on being in love with the woman outside the marriage.
One afternoon David returned home to find that his courageous wife had left, taking their child with her. For a time he was distraught, but he soon persuaded his other love to move in with him. Hardly had they set up house together when, to his astonishment, he met the real woman of his dreams - and fell in love again. He pursued her in the way he had pursued the others, with honeyed words and soulful eyes, with promises and declarations and confessions of a sorry past that was over. Truly this was love. He knew it this time. That final involvement of David's past took place about four years ago. Since then there have been two or three other women who have captured his heart - and I dare say his soul - and who have fallen for him as disastrously as every other woman in his life so far.
I know this story as well as I do because one of these women came to see me as a client, and I subsequently met another. Superficially David's story seems to bear little relationship to the composer's tale, and yet both men have used and tyrannised women in order to suit their own personal need to be in love or, to put it more realistically, to feel as though they were in love. It is a need some men seem to have.
This "being in love" has very little to do with loving, though, and what happens when such a man is called upon to test his great passion is that he makes a run for it, and generally bolts straight through the door, into the arms of another woman. He seems to have a problem with the notion of being in love. How is it possible to identify - for it is important to be able to do this - a man who may fall in and out of love constantly, more for the possibilities of a truly loving relationship. For to be the female victim of such a man is to experience extreme anguish and uncertainty about one's own capacity to be loved.
Thanks, I enjoyed reading that. It reminds me of someone I had a brief relationship with many years ago. It was just all about him fundamentally and not actually about the women he was seeing at all.
OMG - that really reminds me of a man I wasted 10 years of my life on! So glad I eventually got away from him.
What is so clear from the stories of both David and the composer is their need for women to play a certain role for them; women become the ones on whom they are able to project their own fantasies of love. But the women are allowed no reality of their own, and it is just at the point in the relationship where reality impinges that these men escape. There is no mutual relationship, simply the idea of relationship, which is as unrealistic as the honeyed words used to create the illusion.
These men are not just afraid of real women, they are afraid also of intimacy, and of the realities of life. Men who love being in love seek to control women and to keep them at a psychological distance, although they can sometimes give the appearance of intimacy. In such relationships a woman has no power to formulate her own view of things. She is the dependent partner, generally a waiting woman, always hoping the situation will become more realistic. Because such relationships have the feel of real closeness, women are often fooled.
They believe that because a man has told them so many personal details of his life he has been intimate. This kind of intimacy, though, keeps them on the outside; the real thing always involves much more than personal revelations and truth-telling. But women, sometimes through their own need to feel powerful, often get hooked by the belief that they are responsible for a man's happiness. When a man like David tells a woman that he has suffered in the past, she is likely to believe him. She may think that she has been specially chosen for the task of bringing happiness back to him.
David's second lover believed exactly this when he told her that he was devastated by his wife's departure. She wanted to leap in and prove that not all women were like that. Only later did she realise what had happened, and discover the reason for his wife's leaving. In believing that she can save him, a woman becomes a kind of surrogate mother to a man, which is precisely what he wants although he would never be able to recognise this. He thinks of himself as urbane and in full control of his life. But a man who constantly needs to be in love is, in emotional terms, a child.
The woman in his life may be gentle and forbearing, waiting until he feels ready to say something significant, to reveal something further about himself and his love for her. But she probably won't realise the strength of his control. She may cling to the memory of the words he has used in the past - how much he loves her and needs her - and hope that their love will develop into something much deeper, into the intimacy she longs for. Her own needs then become secondary to his, and this should be a warning to any woman.
What sort of woman gets caught in the trap set by this kind of man? From my experience it seems that no woman is safe, but sometimes it happens that the amorous bolter chooses a woman who has a need to be rescued, either because she has had a difficult past or because she hasn't yet decided what she wants in life. Our hero may appear at a time in her life when he will seem to be exactly what is necessary to her (I suppose the young student could see herself as being especially chosen by the composer at just the point in her life when she needed a break). At other times he may prey upon the successful, independent woman who looks as though she may be able to rescue him, certainly in financial terms. Or she may represent a challenge to his ego. He may have a desire - conscious or unconscious - to bring her down, since her success could represent a threat to him, although he will always tell the woman that her success represents one of her greatest assets.
This was certainly true in David's case. The individual women involved with him went on to be successful in their careers, after he had turned himself inside out trying to undermine them. It was as if their lack of success in love somehow motivated their work.
From my observations, men who are bolters tend to stay around for between 12 and 18 months before they fall in love with someone else (usually while they are still with the previous woman) and they go straight from one relationship to the next.
What the bolter is really looking for is a mother/lover, a woman who won't have the option of becoming disenchanted with him. And he doesn't want a woman who will talk about mundane issues like money, washing floors or her own needs. He wants love with one-way traffic.
To speak as a psychologist for a moment, a man who lives his life bolting from one state of in-love-ness to another is really in love with himself. He is Narcissus, looking into his own reflection and seeing his beloved. He is never quite able to stand back and see someone else as their own person. This can be a problem for many men, since men are often trained from infancy to have their own needs taken care of, and so to be less than efficient when seeking ways to care for a woman. But bolters in particular can never see women as they really are, for women signify to them people who dispense the kind of love and care they want to have - and whose feelings can be manipulated to attain those ends.
Bolting men do not and cannot love women; if the truth were told they probably hate women, though women are as necessary to them as the air they breathe. This kind of man may very occasionally make life more interesting, and he's full of charm; but beware. He is not the type of man ever to be entangled with. To take a bolter seriously is both to undermine yourself and to be undermined by him - and it takes a good deal of psychological healing to repair the damage he can cause. Do you really want to be badly hurt? This kind of man is simply not worth the risk."
I have permission from the writer to reproduce this - thought that some of you may identify with this. Excuse any typos
Yes.... I'm quite scared of the possibility that I do identify ...
Thing is, I have known women who behave like this, too - every new person who causes a mild commotion in the underwear is the new The One. It's partly to do with the cult of monogamy, the idea that everyone has a 'soulmate' who will be absolutely perfect in every way, and that the perfect monogamous couple-relationship is the ultimate goal in every life, in pursuit of which everything (and every one) else is irrelevant and disposable.
I've also met women like this too, but I think it's got more to do with women being socialised that to feel and act on lust is only acceptable if they are "in love". Men and women will sanction extraordinary cruelty, to their own and others' partners, on the altar of "love".
This article was written a long time ago by an eminent psychologist. Despite the fact that I absorbed it all, it did not stop me for falling into the same trap! My XP hid it well that he was a control freak until we were well into the relationship!
Wow - reading this felt eerily familiar. Thanks for posting this Maundy : it made me reflect on what a lucky escape I had all those years ago.
Interesting article Maundy I work with a guy like this.
For ten years we have observed him falling in love, doing the whole moonlight and roses thing and being wildly romantic with a series of rich beautiful women who he reduced to tearful jealous insecure messes when he moved on. Then he met a tough and manipulative lady who has had two children by him and has pinned him down (she refuses to marry him).
He is very charming and good company and as an uninvolved colleague I am fond of him, but a relationship with him would be a minefield and he is an extremely unreliable person. He is currently miserable as he has had his wings clipped and is bringing up two children he loves and knows if he leaves he probably wont see much of.
Red flags for overly romantic men like this, definitely
Certainly strikes a chord with me
The article which I have quoted was written by the amazing Dr. Heather Formaini, a leading Jung psychologist. I googled her when I joined MN recently and then contacted her to ask for permission to quote her. She is involved in so many projects and organisations that it is mind-boggling!
Dr. Formaini was quite surprised that I was discussing such an old article but gave me the nod to quote her without any provisos. What a wonderful woman!
I love the way she's told it Thanks, maundy.
I was thinking "I've known women like this", too! I've recently been witnessing the breakdown of a marriage between a man and a woman who are BOTH in love with themselves being in love! Neither of them seems to get what the problem is.
Dr. Formaini is now writing about "Fathering." Some of it is already on the net. I love the way she has signed off her emails to me with "Best wishes, Heather." She is so down-to-earth and involved in an extraordinary number of worthy causes! It is so cheering that this has all happened because of the very sad ending to my relationship. Could she be WWIFN???
I, too, have known women like this but usually so that they can obtain financial security. Sad
Join the discussion
Please login first.