Love, Heartbreak and Healing
Part Three: His and Hers: Inner landscapes of Love
There are always inner forces at work in our relationships, and it is our inner (psychological) landscapes that determine in many cases how we relate and with whom. This means that we each bring into our relationship our emotional baggage, our personality and how we have experienced our past. In fact, relating, and love relationships in particular offer us a great opportunity to grow, and to know ourselves. If you want to know yourself, look at your partner. As well as having the power to heal us, our soul mates act as mirrors in which we can see ourselves. We may not always like what we see, but then, seeing our lovers and partners as a mirror is helpful when trying to understand ourselves as well as the inner dynamics of our intimate relationships. We can ask, what does my partner reflect back to me about myself? What do I see in him or her that I do not see in myself? What pattern am I acting out in my choice of partners and my way of relating?
First up though, is what we individually bring to our relationship, the inner images we hold of our opposite, our inner image of love, of a man and of a woman and of loving.
Enter more Jungian gems, the inner forces that drive our relationships and particular way of relating.
Architects Of Love: Anima & Animus
Two archetypes, the anima and the animus, are particularly involved in intimate relationships, acting as architects of love. The anima in the man and the animus in the woman will act as guides in their choice of partner, and also determine how they will relate. How so? For all of us, our first relationships (with our parents) create the template for later relationships – particularly relationships involving love and intimacy. Also, since our mothers and fathers are generally the first male and female in our lives, they make up our inner images of male and female and so influence our choice of partners later in life. Both men and women are greatly influenced by parental imagery, and yes, I’m afraid it is true that we unconsciously seek out our parents or more accurately what we may have missed in our parents, in our partners. But remember, our archetypal and psychic inheritance together with our early life experience greatly influence us, but need not determine how we go on to live our lives. We always have choice, but we generally need to become aware of our unconscious patterns before we can exercise this choice.
So, men have an Anima and women an Animus. A man’s anima will be made up of his earliest experiences of the feminine, usually his mother, and a woman’s animus will be greatly influenced by how she has experienced the first man in her life, generally her father. The animus or inner masculine is responsible for our creativity, and more specifically, our ability to bring that creativity to life. The anima or inner feminine represents everything to do with relationship, our relationship to ourselves, to others, to God, the world of love and emotions- how we relate in general. In a man the anima is usually about relating to a woman. Anima is so intimately connected with love and relating that generally speaking, if you have had an emotionally stark or difficult early childhood you will have a wounded anima and this will be reflected in your relationships. The animus too can be wounded and women usually project this into the men they love. In straight language, we generally love because we want to heal. We saw this in last months article about the healing power of love.
We do not love by accident! There is always a greater plan at work in our lives and relationships. In Jungian psychology we talk of the ‘shadow’. The shadow is that part of us we repress, and also that we have in potential. In other words, our shadow represents unconscious aspects of our personalities, and includes our latent qualities. When we relate, particularly in intimate relationships, we usually project these aspects onto our partners. When we project unwanted qualities or patterns we consider unacceptable, we will be irritated by these very things in our partner. The same process applies in the positive. When we fall in love, we project positive, beautiful qualities onto our lovers, so they embody all the beauty our soul desires. The process of mutual projection means there are always inner forces at play in our relationships, making for exciting and sometimes challenging times!
Next month: Inner Landscapes of Love: the Four Players