Monday, December 18, 2006

Love is Blind

I think everyone has had the experience of “waking up” from an infatuation (or even from long term love) to suddenly realize the object of affection was nothing like you thought s/he was. You know, the “love is blind” phenomenon. It’s truly amazing how the psyche can sometimes so completely revise the person standing before your very eyes.

I have my own (Jungian-based) theories on this. I believe each person’s psyche feels lack, in other words, yearns for certain human qualities in order to achieve completion and wholeness. When you meet someone who has a few of these traits, particularly if that person is your type physically, he qualifies as “romantic material”: a person upon whom you can project the complete package of your ideal traits.

Once you have “fallen in love” with the man, it’s amazing how successfully your unconscious mind is at convincing you he has all these qualities. When he actually manages to exhibit them, you will exaggerate the situation; when he fails to do so, you may interpret it as a small thing or only temporary. Or instead, you may find yourself angry, sad, or deeply disappointed when he fails in this way. You may make determined and desperate attempts to change him.

It is only when you finally see and accept that the person doesn’t actually possess the traits you hoped for that you reach the realistic crossroads. At that point, if there is enough about the individual to make the relationship worthwhile anyway, you will accept his “shortcomings” and love him for who he really is. If there isn’t, if you have been deluding yourself too much about him, you will fall out of love.

That’s the simple version, in a nutshell, but of course it plays out in all kinds of involved, complicated, and unique ways in real life. Just for fun and edification, I’ll share an example from my own life.

I once met a guy I will call Romeo (not too many men named that nowadays, are there?), who was just the sort of independent puer archetype (that’s an “eternal boy”) that always attracts me. We thought enough alike that we could easily relate, and so were able to get into deep and interesting conversation on a regular basis and became quite close.

One thing I have always needed and have difficulty finding in men is strong will. I’m a very capable person but have a yearning for a good old-fashioned authority figure who will, if I may put it this way, push me around a little. I have always been an obliging, good girl type, so by contrast I found Romeo’s stubborn, volatile, uncompromising male nature the irresistible opposite of myself. His behavior was so deeply satisfying to my psyche, and so rare, that my unconscious glommed onto him and was desperately afraid to lose him.

Because my deep-seated psychological needs were met by Romeo, I was willing to pay quite a price for it. I inflated the worth of the other qualities in him that I liked, and deflated the importance of his difficult traits. And while the relationship brought me truly blissful levels of happiness at times, it also brought some of the most acute grief I’ve experienced.

Another interesting phenomenon occurred with Romeo. He wasn’t exactly my favorite type physically, but due to the way he touched my soul, his sexual appeal to me was greatly enhanced. I remember one time having a discussion with some other females about who in the world we would most want to make love to, including celebrities. It took me but a moment to recognize that in my mind, sex with this guy would transcend anything I might experience with someone like Hugh Jackman. Yes, I knew how crazy this was, but it was absolutely true.

Eventually, of course, I woke up from my delusions about Romeo. I did my best to see him for who he was and have a reality-based friendship with him, and eventually succeeded. Meanwhile, he met someone else, and as is the nature of relationships, adapted to being with her. In the process his personality changed to the point that he no longer possesses the very traits that initially drew me to him.

Consequently, I find it hard now to sort out which qualities Romeo actually abandoned in himself, and which he never possessed in the first place and were just figments of my imagination. Naturally, either way I’m confident he has become much less admirable a person, although I’m sure his significant other would beg to differ with me. LOL

And to this day, when I go somewhere that we went together, or hear a certain song, I really miss the guy, whether or not that person ever truly existed. And naturally, I would. Love is blind, and to mix metaphors, like an elephant, love never forgets. And woe to me if I ever meet someone who truly reminds me of the man I thought Romeo was. That will be a scary--but very thrilling--day.

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