Mark Pierce

Ever see an engaged or married couple and think something like, wow, what the heck does she see in him…or…what the heck does he see in her? Maybe she’s luscious and outgoing while he is shy and more the Mr. Peepers type or he’s this aggressive athletic kind of guy while she is mousey and timid. How do these apparent odd couples find each other and even more how did they fall in love? A good example of what I’m talking about is a young lady who was around nineteen years old and had never given her parents any real problems over the course of her entire life. Indeed, she had graduated from high school with honors, did volunteer work at her church and was both lovely and feminine. Her parents actually worried if she would succeed in dorm life after she left for college at the end of that particular summer because, as Mom once said, “She is such a delicate girl.”

Then one bright and sunny July day, a rather brutish looking fellow rode up into their driveway on his “bike” and honked. He was the type that was seldom seen in this quiet, middle class neighborhood; a pony-tail fell half way down his back, his muscular arms were all but covered with tattoos and, in general, he looked like “trouble.” In any case, he honked again, got off his motorcycle and brazenly walked onto the porch. Mom was at the door before he had a chance to knock. He said that he was there to see Kathy. (Not her real name but I’ll call the young lady Kathy). Mom said that she thought Kathy was upstairs dressing. She politely offered the stranger a seat on the porch swing and hurried away to ask her daughter where this scary young man came from. “Oh,” Kathy said, “that’s Tony and we’ve been dating for months. Don’t you think he’s just adorable?”

Mom could not believe her ears and before Kathy could finish dressing she hurried downstairs to tell Tony that Kathy was sick and said that she would see him later. Yes, Mom lied but she was appalled by the thought that her Kathy was attracted to “that kind of a person.”

Kathy was irate when she found out that her mother had sent Tony away and they argued over him for the rest of the day until Dad got home and then they argued all the more. In the end Kathy was crying hysterically and left the room screaming about being in love.

Mom and dad could not believe what they had heard and in fact could not really believe that Kathy—their sweet, little girl—could be dating such a young man, much less claim to be in love with him. Kathy’s parents decided that they would send Kathy off to college a little early and make sure that they separated the couple before anything serious happened between them. Kathy protested when she heard the plan and two nights later she packed a bag, sneaked out of the house, jumped on the motorcycle behind Tony and rode off to live happily ever after—she was truly in love after all.

As it turned out the relationship didn’t work. Kathy returned home in tears after only three weeks and a short time after that she flew off to college and, as Shakespeare might say, “All’s well that ends well”; Kathy met another young man while in college. They eventually wed and began planning a family of their own.

Once, not too long after the wedding, while I was having dinner with her parents the subject of Kathy came up. Mom shared an interesting observation with me. She looked at me with saddened eyes and said, “You know, I worry so much about Kathy. She tells me that she loves her husband very much but she never felt that ‘in love’ feeling that she had had with Tony. I know how hard that is to believe as the young man she is with now is so very handsome, has a wonderful job and…what in the world could she have seen in that other one; the one with that awful long hair and the tattoos all over his arms. I just can’t imagine what a girl like Kathy saw in him.”

Countless people marry never having that “falling IN love” experience. This does not mean they do not love their marital partners or are not attracted to them. In fact, it is not unusual for couples to misinterpret falling IN lust with each other without falling IN love. Obviously being IN lust is not the same as being IN love although being IN love can certainly include sexual magnetism.

I cannot speak for everyone but mostly men and women know it when they are truly IN love. Their world brightens up (love truly has its physiologic effects), they are in particular in awe of the other and feel a certain freedom that they had never possessed before and yet a connectedness that is truly magnetic. Many people IN love describe it as finding their soul mate. This is an accurate description and I will be explaining why.

Let’s return to Kathy’s story for a moment. Kathy can be described as a gentle, kind and caring young lady; a loving, lovely image of tender, non-aggressive feminism. Yet, she fell, as said, madly IN love with Tony who was obviously nothing at all like her. Indeed, quite her “apparent” opposite, so what in the world did she see in him?

And the somewhat shocking answer is…a part of her own psyche self.

I do not want to upset any *macho men reading this but as all women have a masculine side, all men have a feminine side. In fact, Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) the Swiss psychiatrist coined the names for the male component of the female psyche and the female component of the male psyche. He called them the animus and anima.

What is important to grasp is that while Kathy was, if you will, a perfect picture of soft and conscientious femininity, Tony reflected her image of what a real man should be. Indeed what she would be had she been born a male instead of a female. Tony was, in effect, her “shadow self” or, in other words, her inner-image of self. While on the outside she was the personification of femininity the “male” within her was rough and tumble, non-conforming and demanding --- he was even somewhat of the heroic outlaw; a Robin Hood riding in on his roaring motorcycle, fearing nothing. This too was Kathy, although no one would suspect it since most of her male qualities were well hidden beneath her beauty and persona of stark female-ness.

When we fall IN love we are projecting our anima or (if we are female our animus) onto the loved object. That is, when we find someone who most represents our inner-image; the “who and how” we would be, had we been born the other gender we immediately have the falling IN love experience. And this experience is transcendent and wonderful because, at long last, we have our shadow selves represented in the light of the world outside ourselves and because of this we feel fulfilled.

What we are talking about here is obviously very complicated and would take volumes to explore thoroughly but for purposes here the point we are striving to make is that quite often marrying or being in a romantic relationship with someone who most represents our anima or animus is not always positive. Kathy’s story is a good example of this. In fact, in some instances one’s anima or animus becomes a person’s own worst enemy. Take a man whose anima is weak and passive; quick to become emotional when things are not going right and yet very beautiful. Now then this man meets such a woman in real life and he recognizes her as representing his inner-self and, we’ll say, they marry. Now you have a woman who soon enough begins to resent the husband for his weaknesses and passivity. And, if she has a strong animus, that animus soon enough takes over the relationship and she rules the roost taking the dominant role. The problem is she begins to dislike her husband because he has the very traits that she despises about herself. After all, while she is this beautiful, passive and overly emotional woman on the outside, on the inside she nevertheless has the aggressiveness and will of a strong and determined male. When her husband does not represent these admirable traits of masculinity, she ends up resenting him or even loathing him.

It is seldom when a man and a woman meet with each one fulfilling the other’s inner-image of what the other gender should be. Yet this does occur and when it does the man fulfills her image of masculinity and the woman fulfills his image of femininity. Thus, both individuals in the relationship are content since they feel freed from the anima or animus that has haunted them for perhaps years. After all, in the real world, the wife is demonstrating his femininity while he is demonstrating her masculinity. When this happens the relationship typically unfolds happy, loving and lasting.

Some people go through lifetimes without ever meeting or even seeing a living representative of their inner-selves. I have in fact heard countless people say things such as, I’ve just never had that being IN love feeling with the person I’m with but I do love him (or her).

There is nothing wrong with this since falling IN love does not, as we have seen, guarantee a great relationship. In fact, sometimes, the result is just the opposite and anyway, we are far more apt to have that accidental meeting with someone who has only some of the attributes of our inner-image of the perfect other. Thus, the relationship begins to grow out of the qualities of love which include understanding and tolerance and so we choose to love our “imperfect” mates and build from there.

*Just in case you are a male reader who thinks there is nothing feminine about you—all infant brains start out as female and it is scientifically suggested that maleness does not start kicking in until enough of the hormone testosterone enters the system. If levels of testosterone are too weak and/or arrive to late...well then the transition does not occur as it should.