Falling in love can feel like we have become possessed, like we have drunk a magic potion, or been stung by Cupid’s bow. We project ideals onto our partner. We think they are the kindest, most generous, most wonderful being in the world. We direct a passion towards them that feels intoxicating. This is our passion for discovering our inner being, our essence. This passion is superimposed over our external partner. In our search for wholeness we love another human being because we are “in love with being in love”.
When we are falling in love our ego boundaries expand. We are able to go beyond our limited sense of self and our heart is open and receptive. We are at peace and don’t feel the need for anything to be other than it is in each arising moment. We have joined with another with an intensity that lifts us out of the ordinary plane of existence.
Carl Jung described the human psyche as “always striving towards wholeness, striving to complete itself and become more conscious”. He describes this as a coral island gradually rising out of the sea. The ocean slowly creates this island out of its own matter and pushes it above the water and into the sunlight. Like the vast ocean, the collective unconscious gives birth to a tiny island, the conscious psyche, the ego, the part of me that is aware of itself. This tiny ego-mind is surrounded by the vastness of the unconscious and continuously strives to integrate more and more of the unconscious, until the conscious mind truly reflects the whole Self.
The development of our ego, which happens in the first 3-4 years of life is preverbal and unconscious. Our mind and body absorb experiences from the sensory world based on needs that are not being met and needs that are being met. From this, our core values and beliefs are developed, and the lens from which we view the world is formed.
Jung believed that the goal of our psychic evolution is to awaken to the unity of the Self. This unity ultimately results in the “Inner Marriage” of our masculine and feminine. Our feminine energy has the ability to soften power with love and acknowledge our inner feelings and values. It is our intuitive side, our Heart energy, the nurturer in us. It affirms what is good and lovely. Our masculine energy brings forth the discriminating intellect which can cut through problems and ideas; our logical and analytical side; the ability to take action and manage a situation - our Mind energy.
For there to be harmony in life, the feminine and masculine must be in balance. Otherwise, Jung says, it becomes a “tyranny of the soul”. An overactive masculine side can be brutal and harsh, and an overactive feminine side can lead to emotional problems such as eating disorders and addictions.
So where in our evolutionary development did things go awry?
From an evolutionary standpoint sex was initially just about reproduction. Then it was about social bonding. In the next stage of its evolution it became about emotional healing through a physical union with an individual who represents the disowned part of our true nature. As women we disown our masculinity while men disown their femininity. This is how the sexuality of most males became fixated on women and the sexuality of most women became fixated on males. Our bonobos ancestors had no preference.
Due to centuries of conditioning where we have disowned or suppressed part of our masculinity/femininity, we have built an armored personality. We don’t feel free to express every part of ourselves freely. Society doesn’t allow it, and part of this armoured society is built on sexual repression. Erotic feelings are essentially anarchic. Eroticism that even slightly steps outside of societal norms is ridiculed and in some cases, even outlawed. And, unrestrained sexual behavior in our society leads to social conflict. We keep it all together by not sleeping with each other’s partners and not confronting each other with sexually arousing material which might make it harder for people to maintain their self-discipline.
The origin of modern sexuality was women using their sexuality as a way to soothe the aggressions in men. Since our true nature is one of unconditional love, it makes sense that the desire to use sex as a healing force is very strong in us.
The differences in the psychology of sex between men and women is intriguing. Men are so much more visual, where women value things like power, humor, and confidence. Men can take one look at a woman and become aroused, where it takes much more than that for a woman. A woman needs her mind to be stimulated in some way before it tells her body to become aroused.
According to sex researcher Meredith Chivers. the reason Viagra type medicines haven’t been successful in women is because although increased blood flow to the penis is sufficient to incite a man to sexual desire, increased blood flow alone will not produce feminine desire. Researchers Ogas and Gaddam, and authors of the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, speculate that there is a neural structure that intercepts signals coming from the woman’s body that may prevent the triggering of conscious, psychological arousal.
Dogmatic, stereotypical forms of thinking keep the mind closed down and interfere with our ability to think clearly and respond to evidence that might challenge preconceived ideas. The more armor we have built, the more our hearts remain closed, and so does our capacity for experiencing bodily sensations. This includes the cathartic expression of grief, sadness, and anger, as well as the sensory pleasures that come from joy, beauty, and the ecstasy of erotic sex.
We spend a huge amount of our time thinking about how to respond to things through our lens of “appropriate behavior”. We worry about how others will interpret what we say, what we wear, how we look, and how we act. We can’t change how others view us, but we can control the way in which we respond. Feelings of shame and regret are not required but will occur nonetheless. Like all emotions and thoughts, they are best accepted. Thoughts come and go like clouds in the sky, and don’t mean anything other than whatever validity we give to them.
Feelings ask only to be felt - the path to letting go of them is to not fight them, but allow them. This always reminds me of the Rumi poem called The Guest House, one of my favorites.
It’s curious to me that primitive societies don’t cover up with clothing the way we do. Is it because they aren’t carrying around this huge weight of repressed sexuality? And wearing excessive body covering in the middle east is meant to cover the flesh of women who are potentially a stimulus for erotic feelings, which need to be kept at bay by men that evidently wouldn’t be able to control themselves otherwise.
In the famous words of Swiss author Madame de Staël: “The desire of the man is for the woman; the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.”
Love is characterized by paying attention and being spontaneous. When we are open to love, every interaction has the potential to change us. People come into our lives that we may not have noticed if we had not been open to love. We are closed off to love when our behavior is stereotypical, when rigid character traits and ways of expressing ourselves interfere with open, spontaneous communication. This happens when our ego is insecure, caught up in attempts at self-justification, and when we feel the judgement and disdain of others in our communities.
All that is needed is hidden inside human consciousness. We have forgotten it. Because we have lost contact with our true self, we are continuously searching for it. The Buddha said to look inside yourself for your true identity. Looking outside of ourselves, to our woman, our man, our religion, our career - these will only create a false self.
To read more about looking inside and accessing your true self, read my e-book Mind Body Connection. Enjoy!
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.