“Bill Clinton Syndrome:” Conquests vs. Love

Do you remember learning about William the Conqueror in school?  I sure don’t.  I know we studied him—and his conquests—somewhere along the line but I have only the fuzziest remembrance of who he conquered and why.  And now that I looked him up again to refresh my memory, I see that there’s not much about him that I really need to remember.  His “thing” was conquests.  And he was pretty good at it.

William Jefferson Clinton, in his day, was also something of a conqueror—just in a different domain.  Before and during his presidency, his sexual conquests came back to haunt him.  Four women plus Monica Lewinsky, with whom he apparently had some kind of consensual affair, accused him of some kind of sexual assault or harassment.  There is no way of knowing exactly what happened, but Clinton seemed to have a pattern of seeking out sexual conquests, a pattern that lasted even into his presidential years.  Of course, other presidents and countless politicians, including John F. Kennedy (whom I deeply admire for other reasons!), seem to have had similar issues in their lives.  Donald Trump, president when I am writing this blogpost, has a pretty sketchy history when it comes to his behavior with women.  Engaging in affairs seems to have no links to one political preference or another.  And how many men of any political stripe can claim to have anything close to a perfect history with respect to their treatment of women?

But my focus today is not on affairs but rather on conquests.  For many men (and some women) whose goal in life is power, or the conquests that lead to power, the conquest is the be-all and end-all of any exciting relationship.   For them, the conquests are much more enjoyable than the possession of power itself.  Men who are aggressive strivers, who have high needs for power, often come to view relationships with women primarily in terms of power relationships.  In many parts of the world, women are ruthlessly suppressed in the service of male egos. The men’s power needs begin to take over all aspects of their being. It‘s all about power. 

If there is a lesson, it is that one should be careful in committing to a partner who is striving for power more than anything else

And for such men, power relations may be more important in what they believe is love than are the more difficult tasks of establishing long-term intimacy and commitment.  Men who are focused largely or exclusively on power have trouble being intimate—they risk losing power by giving away too much about themselves—and committing themselves—because the seeking of power may involve rapid shifting of alliances.  It thus is not surprising that “friends” of Bill Clinton and of Donald Trump, for that matter, often have not fared well.  Friendships and even long-term relationships, for power strivers, are matters of convenience, to be indulged in or disposed of as convenient.  

If there is a lesson in all this, it is that one should be careful in committing oneself to someone whose main striving seems to be power.  Although I have talked about men seeking power, of course, women can be power-seekers too.  Anyone can be!  You may not know it and power-seekers may not know it either, but once you become inconvenient, your days likely are numbered in any kind of relationship with a compulsive power striver.  Sooner or later, someone else will be more helpful in their strivings for power, and you likely will become expendable. 

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