Thursday, January 8, 2009

Paging Dr Jung

If you are fluent in the language of Jungian psychology, you will recognize the term “animus complex.” It’s a fascinating enough theory that I will take a moment to explain it here. You’ve undoubtedly heard Carl G. Jung’s conception of the animus as that internal “masculine” quality we women project onto men. Projections of the animus allow us to see potential partners as being what we desire. It is a personal complex, but also an archetype.

What I didn’t realize until only very recently is that there are four stages to the animus complex: the athlete, the planner, the professor and the guide. The athlete is the muscleman, the very picture of physical prowess. The planner is all about independence and initiative, whereas the professor personifies “the word,” knowledge, comprehension and academia. Finally, there is the guide, brimming with spirituality, who acts as the mediator between a woman’s conscious mind and unconscious realm. Understanding our own personal stage of animus development can help us understand patterns that develop in our relationships.

Me, I am forever stuck with the professor. For many years, I dated a very literary chap. Ever read any stories from my “Audrey & Lawrence” series? Yeah, that’s him. I was young, with academic leanings, and his vast knowledge of literature and language dazzled me. Problem is, the professor has a flip side: it’s got to be THE most anti-romantic of all the animus complex stages.

Now, I took a number of courses in LGBTQ topics and also studied a great deal of Jung at University, yet I have very little academic awareness of the
intersection of these two areas of study. It was perhaps for this reason I was so surprised when I realized that, in a queer relationship, I’ve BECOME the professor.

My girlfriend Sweet says I analyse everything to death. This is true. And since she can’t stand listening to my hyper-self-analysis, I’m torturing you with it.

Sweet and I were chatting the other day when she asked me if I ever imagined I’d fall in love with a girl like her. What do you think I said? Did I say, “Absolutely! You’re the girl of my dreams”? Umm…no. Did I say, “I could never have conceived of a love like this, but I’m so glad we found each other”? Wish I had.

So, what did I say?

Like any good Jungian professor-type, I launched into a lecture on the nature of being in love. I expressed my belief that we never actually fall in love with real people, we only fall in love with anima/animus projections we cast upon others. Since those projections represent our own deep-seated desires, really, we’re just falling in love with ourselves. Thus, being in love and unaware of the psychological ramifications is a pretty empty process.

In a huff, Sweet replied, “All I wanted was for you to say you’re in love with me!”

And that’s when I realized what a bastard I’ve become…

Yes, we professors are real bastards. Thing is, we don’t even realize it. Despite our academic knowledge and brilliant new ideas, we’re really quite dense. We never pick up on subtle romantic hints. My Lawrence did to me exactly what I’m now doing to Sweet. He always said the wrong thing. I appropriated much of my understanding of how a man acts in romantic relation to a woman from him. Now that I’ve taken on the masculine role in a lesbian relationship, I’m exercising all his bad habits.

What now, Dr Jung? I’m not trying to be a bastard, it just happens. Sweet fishes for compliments and I don’t realize it until after I’ve made some horrendously dense analytical statement. Anyone know of any literature applying Jungian analysis to gay and lesbian relationships? I could use some reading material.

Spanx kittens,

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