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The Madonna-Whore Complex

In psychoanalytic literature, a Madonna–whore complex is the inability to maintain sexual arousal within a committed, loving relationship. First identified by Sigmund Freud under the rubric of psychic impotence, this psychological complex is said to develop in men who see women as either saintly Madonna’s or debased prostitutes. Men with this complex desire a sexual partner who has been degraded (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected partner (the Madonna). Freud wrote: “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love.” Clinical psychologist Uwe Hartmann, writing in 2009, stated that the complex “is still highly prevalent in today’s patients”. (Wikipedia)

This happened to me. It was the craziest thing. Be careful what you ask for. First I was the whore, then I became the Madonna, then I was back to being the whore again. Here’s what happened.

The relationship started out as friends with privileges. We were friends that started to randomly sleep together, and when I found out that he was sleeping with other women, I put my foot down and said we either become a full committed couple, or I’m out. So he agreed to become my boyfriend and I swear to God the day we made that decision, he flat out stopped sleeping with me. It was so confusing, and I found myself trying everything to get back to our previous sexual relationship. I’d play hard to get, then became frustrated with no results so I would try being assertive, which also was a total failure.  My numerous failed attempts went on for months, and when I look back I don’t know what I was thinking, or how I managed to stay in a sexless relationship but I did. I mean I loved the guy so thought maybe it would just take time for him to become intimate with me again without realizing that once you become the virgin on some stupid pedestal, you’re not going to be the whore. You’re not going to get any action.

Sadly, I didn’t realize that he had his whores on the side, and when I finally understood what was going on I was livid. And part of me deep down inside was jealous too, and I actually wanted to be the whore. I know that sounds terrible but, I just didn’t understand how I could go from being in a sexual relationship that wasn’t a committed relationship, and the minute we became exclusive (or so I thought) we were not in a sexual relationship anymore.

The Madonna-Whore complex is a complicated, isolating, pathetic, and sad situation to be in. I think the worse part is when you love someone you can feel trapped cause you don’t want to give up on the relationship, and think you just need to work harder or be skinner or whatever when really the truth is once you become the Madonna, it’s game over unless you decide to remove yourself from the relationship and not be committed. I try not to beat myself up for remaining in the relationship as long as I did cause what’s that going to do other than bring myself down but, when we finally broke up, I became the whore again, and we continued to sleep together randomly like we did before being official. How messed up is that?!

So here I was wishing to be the whore, we break up, then I become the whore again, and find out he entered another relationship with another Madonna while he was still sleeping with me on the side. But when I discovered he was in another “committed” relationship, I ended it.

It’s funny how things came full circle. It’s not funny how things unraveled but it can happen to anyone. The Madonna-Whore complex is such a deep psychological mess that can make you lose your mind, and your true self. So, should you find yourself in such a confusing messed up relationship know that your partner is never going to change. He or she will always have Madonna’s and whores and you’re best off just walking away, for good.

The Madonna-Whore Complex

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough and Undressed.


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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2018). The Madonna-Whore Complex. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/manic-depression/2018/11/13/the-madonna-whore-complex/

 

Last updated: 14 Nov 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Nov 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.