Objectification is when we use another person as a way to fill our needs. This isn’t the interaction with others that happens all the time. We are lonely, call a friend and feel better just by feeling understood. They do the same.
Mutuality is missing when we objectify someone. They have a habit of calling us late at night and talk at us for two hours even when they know we have to get up early. They use us as a way to let off steam without caring that they leave us all stirred up. We all do this to some extent. Objectification is related to the profound disconnection from ourselves and others that is so pervasive in our culture. Even with good intentions, we don’t see the impact because we aren’t “home”.
Using others to fill our needs comes in many forms, many levels of intensity, and is largely unconscious in most people. We dehumanize people and turn them into an object. An example is that using a person’s body sexually would not be satisfying to someone who is connected to their own humanity and that of others. Coercion and force just don’t feel right. We make a bid for connection and when it’s not picked up, we respect that the other person wants something different from what we want. We leave it there.
What do we do when we need a person to be someone they are not? Children are inherently self-centered and typically don’t consider the needs of parents. The problem is that as adults when our needs are not being met, we might still pressure others into sacrificing their own life and happiness to serve us. This can be from entitlement, like men who are conditioned to believe women are there to help them or to be used by them. It is often from desperation and a lack of emotional maturity.
Objectification can be obvious or subtle, in our awareness or unconscious, like when it doesn’t even occur to us to consider the humanity and experience of a person of a different race, gender, identity or economic status. We are highly influenced by cultural programming. We also have a need to belong and to have status.
A child needs parents who can provide consistent reliable attachment and protection. A woman needs to be seen as a person, not a set of boobs. We need our friends to be there for us when we’re…