He seemed like a really nice guy, didn’t he?

He complimented your style, your hair, your voice. He seemed completely enthralled by everything you did. He paid for the meal, the drinks and gave you cab fare for the ride home. He texted to make sure you got to your house OK, and invited you to brunch two days later. You talked on the phone for hours in-between. Wow. He’s so into you. Your self-esteem is soaring. Your libido is bubbling with the possibility of finally using your birth control pills for something other than menstrual cycle regulation.

Then, when you least expect it. Just when you’re ready to let your guard down. Just as he passes the mimosa during an otherwise lovely brunch he says something that no matter how you parse it, it just doesn’t feel right.

“You’re so [pretty, nice, smart, funny, random positive attribute, etc.] for a ____.”

Stop the record. Rewind. Play that back?

You can ignore it. (He does seem so dreamy, after all. So you probably will.) But eventually you may discover what you thought was simply a preference (he always liked to date girls “like” you) was really more of a fetish.

And not in the good way.

Now before we go down that well-worn road of “there’s nothing wrong with having a type,” let’s get it clear that, yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with preferences and being attracted to whatever you happen to be attracted to. The problem is when the type becomes an objectification, a perversion, an impersonal fetish where you don’t see these people who have these traits, looks or personality you desire as individuals with thoughts, feelings, flaws and ambitions of their own. This is when you see them as an object subject to stereotype and “black or white” rules. When the fantasy is all about the person with the fetish and has very little to do with you and what you want as the fetish object.

Case in point: When I lived in California I once knew a man who liked Asian women. Not the look or necessarily even the culture, but just any Asian woman because he didn’t see Asian women as individuals. He saw them as objects — passive, sexually submissive objects — he could project his imperialist fantasies upon. He would bemoan how “American” women were too Westernized and did not know how to be a real “women.” But ASIAN women were REAL women in the way they allegedly submitted wholly to their men.

This naturally ignored how each Asian woman is her own woman, with her own ideas, history, personality and dreams. But he did not see Asian women (or any women, for that matter) as individuals. He would meet some unsuspecting Asian girl, preferably an immigrant, become extremely aggressive with her to the point of obsessiveness, borderline stalk her and once, finally, when she’d submitted to his “charms” he would control every aspect of her life and bully her into converting to Christianity if she happened to not be Christian.

Most of these relationships, of course, did not work out. As nearly all the women would run screaming upon realizing how suffocating his brand of “love” was. Suffocating in that they were exotic “dolls” for him to boss around and own. Not humans.

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