You Choose: Honored Guest or Guest Of?

Especially if the economy has you in crisis mode, you might be looking for a savior, somebody who has everything and wants to share. After all, you have a lot to contribute, albeit intangible.

The new film "Guest of Cindy Sherman" (to open March 27) explores how it actually feels to partner with the rich and famous … and get lost in the shuffle. It's an up-close look at the naked ego of the director Paul H-O, who is Cindy Sherman's ex. She's a legendary, reclusive artist -- best known in art and celebrity circles.

I asked H-O, "How did it feel in the beginning, was it an ego boost?"

"Yeah, I mean, of course it was," says H-O, "Someone you consider untouchable, and they like you."

He had reached a pivotal point, though, by the time he found himself at a social gala sitting at what I'll label the "kids' table" with a place card that read "Guest of Cindy Sherman."

But we don't have to date a celebrity to "disappear." We only have to get caught up in the drama of what others value to lose sight of our own worth, which is, indeed, found in the intangible.

The film intrigues in part because it shows us a (SET ITAL) male (END ITAL) getting lost in the background … and our interest exposes a general attitude about male and female roles. We're still less fascinated by a female first lady than a male first lady.

Let's look at what we can gain from the film's impressively honest depiction of ego.

First off, Cindy Sherman appears in the film to be magically real and adorable. Falling in love with her for her would have been easy. That's not always the case. Some of us would be hard pressed to know if we fell in love with wealth and power or the person wielding them. Likewise, we can fall in love with charm and good looks and almost miss what lurks behind them.

If you start off using somebody to feed your ego, you're in trouble already. Try to be your own salvation, and stay out of crisis mode. "The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment, it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone," said Orison Swett Marden.

If you enter into a relationship knowing what you're made of, you're less apt to devalue it because somebody else does. And, no, that somebody else doesn't have to be your sweetheart; it could be some event planner making up place cards. You can know who you are even if he (or she) doesn't. Your role -- especially seen through somebody else's eyes at a social event -- doesn't define you.

Just as nobody else is your salvation; nobody else is your downfall.

Your downfall lies in your own perception. When you begin to see yourself as less valuable than your partner, you begin to talk and act less valuable than your partner. You cater to them, defer to them, forget what (SET ITAL) you (END ITAL) want … and gradually "disappear."

That's when your partner's perception of you can take a real dive! Then your relationship is in major jeopardy. If your partner fell in love with you, what's left to love when you fade away?

When you find your worth in the priceless intangible, you can attract somebody from any circle. Paul H-O, as near as I can tell, was a prime example; the sappy romances we love are full of others.

The heart of "success" in a long-term relationship and in life is holding on to you (not your ego). When you nurture what's inside, it blossoms on the outside … leaving others less opportunity to misjudge you.

That's the reality in any relationship in any economy!

Jan Denise is a columnist, author of the just released "Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You're Not" and "Naked Relationships," speaker and consultant based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at To find out more about Jan Denise, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a columnist, author of the just released "Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You're Not" and "Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams," speaker and consultant based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at