Let us take a closer look at what such admiration consist of by grasping the concept of psychological visibility.
Every person holds fundamental ideas about himself. Take Tom who thinks “It’s important to make healthy, honest choices in my life. I want to feel proud of the way I’m leading my life.” He values, not only the interesting goals he sets in life (e.g., adventures, career path, hobbies), but also, his own choice-making ability, his self-made character; he values himself. He feels admirable and desirable (as opposed to the con-artist or the person with low self-esteem). For Tom, it would be lonely going through life without friends or without a special woman who recognizes and values his virtues.
If he were living among nagging, female con-artists, he would feel psychologically invisible. They would be unable and unwilling to admire the best in him — they may envy or despise him for those very traits.
But if Tom meets Julie and discovers that, not only is she attractive and not only does she has similar interests and values (e.g., skiing, hiking, dancing), but she shares the same virtues (e.g., honesty, thinking independently), then he will sexually desire her. Tom’s sexual desire stems from his evaluation of himself (as worthy) and his evaluation of Julie (as an embodiment of his highest values in a woman). It is a desire for more than a friendship — to feel a mental and physical bond. Julie’s admiration of his good qualities gives him an opportunity to view himself in an accurate, psychological mirror; this is psychological visibility. Her love and sexual desire are a recognition and a response to his (and her own) actual virtues. They both feel visible on psychological level — they profoundly admire each others virtues.
Contrast this with an unhealthy sexual desire which comes from a different source. If a man has made himself into a con-artist, then he may desire a woman of good character to con himself. He may want her to help him build up a psychological façade, to pretend that he is better than he is. His erotic feelings may translate into “let’s see if I can make her worship me and see how great I am.” He has to engage in a double delusion — deluding her about his true nature and deluding himself — faking a self-esteem he has not earned. He is dishonest and manipulative; he has no good virtues to celebrate. In his case, “sexual desire” is the desire to fake to himself and to his partner that he is better than he is. It does not stem from an accurate evaluation of his true character. He is trying to rig the psychological mirror to make himself look better than he is. Yet, such a mirror, to follow the metaphor, is only full of cracks.
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