Projections are a funny thing. Just like we project those parts of ourselves we don’t like all that much onto others (as I described in a previous post), we project the good parts as well.
We call it falling in love. When we fall for someone, it’s often not so much about the other person. It’s about ourselves.
We find ourselves irresistibly attracted to character traits of the adored other that we seemingly don’t possess.
“He seems to be the perfect fusion of male strength and female sensitivity” one of my friends recently gushed about her new lover. “I can’t stop thinking about him.”
What she neglected to see was that she herself is a pretty well rounded person. She is compassionate when compassion is needed and assertive when assertion is needed. But she can’t picture herself that way because she keeps thinking that she really is inadequate.
I’ve recently been reading Robert A. Johnson’s work, who is a Jungian analyst and well versed in matters of the psyche. In his book “We – Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love,” he links that period of falling for someone to an inner ideal we have of others and ourselves.
This idealized image represents the noblest and most cherished character traits we seek – and in some form already possess within ourselves but which remain ignored and unrefined.
“When we are in love, we feel completed, as though a missing part of ourselves has been returned to us” writes Johnson.We strive to become whole, to attain character traits we feel we are lacking or have lost.
When we fall for someone else, the yearning for these missing parts is activated and we hope to finally feel complete. For a period of time we become filled with bliss and meaning, almost invincible to the petty quarreling of our day-to-day lives.
It is an almost spiritual experience, claims Johnson. We seek something greater than our incomplete self in the union with the idealized other.
In a time when religion and places of worship become increasingly meaningless to us, we are looking for a purpose in our personal relationships – most of all that one special connection that is designed to make us happy.
We tend to forget that the character traits we crave from someone else are already in us. We just need to look for them, nurture them and utilize them in ways that gives our life meaning.
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Giant Comfort » Falling In Love? (July 18, 2012)
Last reviewed: 22 Mar 2012