The Shadow In Love and Loving

Being in Love and Loving

People in love often invoke destiny. They feel that their meeting was fated, that they were “made for each other.” Even though their meeting was by chance, an event which would not have occurred under slightly different circumstances, they are inclined to attribute every turn of events to providence. At this point they begin to contemplate what anthropologists call “pair bonding.”

And yet, the reality is that almost every relationship that ever formed was based upon the shadow which people are carrying in their unconscious.  In Jungian psychology, the “shadow“, “Id“, or “shadow aspect/archetype” may refer to an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.

It is this shadow which plays out in relationships and causes people to fall in love, idealise their partner, and then to experience the plummeting emotions that accompany the onset of reality.

So why do we spend so much time trying to get into relationship? It is what Jung called an archetypal imperative – the urge within us to fulfill some basic functions. Men and women alike crave a Lover’s commitment which, if carried out fully, results in marriage. Yet if for a moment they became disinterested observers, released from their delirious passion, they might become alarmed at the implication that rational personal choice counts for little in the ordering of the major events in their lives.

They would wonder whether choice does not in fact operate in matters of human bonding rather more than they, as lovers, are inclined to think. The answer, of course, is that ir does not. Shadow energies are much more important in our choice of mate.

Pain is an essential part of all growth, physical, mental and emotional; unnecessary pain leads to suffering. Pleasure is a emotional and physiological yearning for health and wellness, a sense of feeling good about our self and our capacity to contribute to life, create healthy, vibrant relationships that sustain us, and so on; pleasure at the expense of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is a trap that leads to needless and endless suffering of an addiction.

To learn how to receive and bring love in relation to both self and the other is no small feat. It is  not for the faint-hearted. Source:

The simple truth is that to ensure we are fully conscious is essential if we are ever to have any real choice over our own actions and feelings. This is the point of shadow work. And what may that be? Well, simply, the drawing out of shadow those energies which we put into shadow during childhood. And this drawing out can be accompanied by the healing of emotional wounds which made those energies go into shadow in the first place.

Psychological research suggests that at a subconscious level people make a series of judgments, assessments, and computations when they choose a mate. And all the while, the only subjective state they may be aware of is one of joy, thankfulness, and euphoria.

Working with your shadow

Research shows that people tend to be attracted to those whose physical attractiveness is comparable to their own. The point has also been demonstrated by Ellen Berscheid at the University of Minnesota. In her simple experiments, people were shown a series of pictures of members of the opposite sex and asked to choose which they would like to meet.

People themselves not endowed with good looks very rarely chose the more conspicuously attractive of the people in the pictures,. This may have been because they were apprehensive of rejection or failure if they did. They may have felt they would be more comfortable with someone on the same level of attractiveness as themselves. In other words, their choice was determined by rational, practical considerations.

It is often said that women are less concerned with physical appearance than men are, and are more likely to choose their partners for such characteristics as warmth, sincerity, and sense of humor.

 The general principle is supported by much research evidence, though there is some ambiguity as to the characteristics that women tend to rate most highly. In a study conducted among students at the University of California at Los Angeles, the four attributes that men found most desirable in women were physical attractiveness, eroticism, affection, and sociability, in that order.

Women listed achievement, leadership, and occupational and economic success as the most desirable qualities in male partners.

We can assume a bias in the sample as the subjects were all young and of a high educational level, and we would expect that older and more secure women would put more emphasis on character than on success. But the priorities listed still bear out the belief that women tend to take more qualities into account and be less influenced by looks when choosing a partner than men are.

Mythology and literature promote the view that love repudiates calculation and prudence, and maintains that people are irresistibly attracted to each other despite apparent incompatibilities and great obstacles. Psychologists would say that this romantic “love conquers all” belief owes it appeal to the fact that it represents a situation that many would acknowledge to be wonderful and even ideal, but only vicariously. But the simple truth is that to really understand what attracts you to another person, you need to discover where to do shadow work.

People in love have little time for anyone else. They are too engrossed with one another. In the initial stages activities and interests matter less than the actual spending of time together. How are you able to make the transition from being in love to loving?

For the fact is that being “in love” is a short stage and unless there is a basis for loving, the relationship will crumble. If a couple’s love really is blind, if they idealize each other and do not see each other as human beings with shadow energies, their chances of establishing an enduring, fulfilling relationship will be slim. For mature love comes from doing shadow work as a couple. 

Love lies in the heart, we say. And it is true that the heart is an indicator of physical arousal, and we are very aware of how our heartbeat and blood pressure rises in emotionally charged situations. But the heart is not the center or instigator of these feelings, simply an organ responding to hormonal changes.

In fact if we take quotations in which the heart metaphor is used and substitute the term “the subconscious,” we find that they make much better sense. While a person is only aware of his or her consuming passion, at their subconscious level they are busily assessing the relative merits of their partner. Perhaps it needs to be said that these assessments are not necessarily of material things, but involve such factors as mutual development and personal growth.

A pair who revel in the close bond that is filling some of the void left by unmet needs in infancy. These are classic shadows. Finding the context of a love relationship is not part of the adult world of demands, challenges, work, change, responsibility and others’ scrutiny, but derived from the painful or cushioned world of childhood.

Couples in love tend to inhabit an exclusive world of their own making. Loving couples have to confront reality; their relationship involves other people, particularly children, and the transition from being in love to loving can only be accomplished successfully by those who bring intelligence and maturity into their relationship by revealing their shadow. There is truth in the dictum of the Roman dramatist, Seneca, that “Only a wise man knows how to love.”

The Meaning Of Love

It may be unromantic to respond to the declaration, “I love you,” with the question, “What precisely do you mean by ‘love’?” It is a question often in the mind, though not so frequently expressed. Yet it Is impossible to give a single answer to a question which has so many meanings and connotations.

There are many approaches to this subject but oddly enough some of the most perceptive have come from the so-called seduction community. Joshua Pellicer is a prime example of this, with his The Tao of Badass eBook. Click here to find out more about it.

Relationships between lovers are often discussed in terms of giving and taking. It is almost a cliché in that there has to be give and take in every relationship, because each party has to take into account the other’s wishes and needs, and make certain allowances, concessions and compromises. But give and take in a loving relationship goes much deeper than this. It is the entire self that is given and taken in mature and fulfilling sexual love, and nothing less.

What of metaphors in descriptions of sexual acts and relationships? Well, one that is surely apt is that of “surrender.” When lovers make love they surrender themselves to each other and to the experience.

It is not a matter of one yielding to the other’s desire after initial resistance; the military metaphor really does mislead in this respect. Self-surrender can only occur when a person has complete trust in the other, and has no unresolved fears of losing rights or of being manipulated. Any negative attitude to the other will inhibit surrender, causing a person to hold back something of himself or herself. 

There is a paradox about surrender in that only through it can freedom be attained. As Wilhelm Reich convincingly demonstrated, in the process of growing up every human being develops “character armor” which affords protection from the hostile, the alien, and the unknown. To shed this armor, to release oneself totally in relation to another person, becomes very difficult, although it is what everybody wants to do because only then can they become truly themselves. The paradoxes multiply.

We only attain freedom through surrender, only become truly ourselves when we unite with another, we cannot receive unless we can give. But paradoxical though the statements are, lovers will recognize truth in them.

A person who gives without taking diminishes and dominates the other; and one who takes without giving finds that what he has taken has no substance or satisfaction. Love is not give and take in the sense of a trading of needs and demands, but it is a process of giving and taking in the sense described here.

“Oh, take me now,” says the woman in her passion, and “Just let go,” he says, meaning surrender to me, abandon yourself, sexually. And in this moment, perhaps, when true liberation is attained, we move beyond the power of the shadow by healing it and reach a place of self fulfilment. 

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