Over the past few months two TV programmes : one American, about hollywood royalty Alfred Hitchcock, and Britain’s own regalia ‘Downton Abbey’, featured aspects of unrequited love, manipulation and control. ‘The Girl’ an HBO Film , focusses on the director Hitchcock’s obsession with Tippi Hedren, his leading lady in ‘The Birds’. In ‘Downton’ gay viewers have witnessed for several series now, the suppressed emotionally controlled homosexual footman Thomas Barrow clumsily attempt to pursue silent affection from afar. Hitchcock in real life terrorised and stalked Hedren ending both their careers, and Barrow, a made up character in a drama series, both excel in the desire to be loved, but chose the wrong person.
Checking up on wiki, ‘unrequited love’ is defined as ‘ love that is not openly reciprocated or understood as such, the beloved may or may not be aware of the admirer’s deep and strong romantic affections’. Many gay men have experienced such a conundrum in the search for a relationship or discovering sexuality awareness. Before the internet, face to face cruising was the norm so younger readers may not be aware that before smartphone apps we really did have to go by our intuition as to whether someone was gay or not, especially in the workplace. Lusting a straight co-worker is one thing but forming an imaginary obsession is quite another. This is fantasy kidnap. Set in the 1920′s ‘Downton’s’ Thomas, watches, waits and pounces when he thinks his chance is ripe, but alas get’s knocked back with public shame and humiliation when he strikes.
At least on guyspy you can see what you are getting ( and often more than a torso shot ) but as eye contact is usually made first on a sexual level, rather than an emotional one, the risk of public shame is limited. This level of sexual flirting, sexting and playfulness is harmless and in many ways educational, but where harms starts to penetrate is where the flirts results in obsession, as in the case of Hitchcock. Although married to his long suffering wife, Alfred became obsessed with Tippi Hedren, the ’emotionally and sexually unavailable’ prey. He used his power, his lust and obsession to control, manipulate and psychologically damage her, so she never worked again. It was also the end of his career. Many relationships, including same-sex, indulge in these pastimes believing obsession to be love, when in fact it’s taking someone hostage. Emotional kidnap is a form of codependency : the need to be needed, the lust to be desired.
In 1970 in his book Sex and Human loving, Eric Berne wrote ‘ Some say that one-sided love is better than none, but like half a loaf of bread, it is likely to grow hard and mouldy sooner’. Cruising on the web can be obsessive, we all know that, in search of intimacy, friendship or instant sex, but searching for a partner on the web can also be grounds for disappointment and personal rejection when you unconsciously seek out the ‘unavailable’ just to prove no one wants you. Many men feel ‘passed over, ignored and overlooked’ in dating matters, consequently they feel only worthy of a slice of bread instead of the whole loaf. This creates the low esteem notion that they have no choices, they hotly pursue anything in sight in order to play the numbers game, or wait to be chosen in silence. All or nothing. Hitchcock used power, influence and obsession to trap Hedren. Thomas watched, waited and pounced. Neither got what they wanted.