Affectionate Bonding

Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage in the lyrics of an old song, but in the modern world the belief that love and marriage go together is about as obsolete as the aforementioned conveyance. In fact, conventional contemporary wisdom has it that passionate love and marriage are at odds with one another, passion diminishing as a function of commitment. (The suspicion that love cannot thrive in marriage is not merely a modern prejudice, however it has roots at least as far...

Cultural Conditioning

As already suggested, to the degree that differences exist in the female and male experience of love, they are not due simply to differences in psychological development but to differences in cultural conditioning. What then, of the current gender revolution and its impact on the experience of love We are indeed witnessing a change in the prescribed gender roles for women and men, but primarily as these involve women. For women, the gender revolution prescribes a shift in the concept of the...

Splitobject Triangles

A married woman or man who takes a lover may only be indulging in a dalliance, in which case he or she may view it as irrelevant to the marriage. But when an adulterous affair becomes a passion rather than a diversion, a split-object triangle develops with a split in valuation between the spouse and the lover, the marriage and the affair. The spouse, if not actually loathed, comes to be seen as (at the very least) limited. The marriage, if not bad, is experienced as stultifying. The lover comes...

The Devouring Nature Of Love

Love unleashes primitive urges and fantasies. Among them is the lover's devouring hunger for the beloved which, along with the corollary urge to be enslaved, forms the dark side of love. This is because all passionate love leaves the lover dependent upon the beloved, and only her, for fulfillment. Insofar as love is called into being or sustained by need and dependence, it always involves a power differential. The lover, feeling himself ravished, is driven to possess the beloved. In his heart...

The Idyllic Phase

Some of what passes as love amounts to much less, hence the common preoccupation with deciding if an attachment is true love or a passing fancy, the real thing or a mere fling. There are varieties of incomplete or stunted kinds of love. In fact, the truncated versions are much more common, having been called into being as the answer to myriad needs. Whether one seeks relief from boredom, the palliation afforded by love on the rebound, gratification of the ego, social validation, or the...

Lust And Love

Just as love is related to pleasure but not defined by it, so, too, is love connected to the specific pleasure of sex, but not inextricable from it. (And so, in the previous chapter, I have distinguished between passionate love and carnal love.) Making love and loving are not the same thing, but for those who love, some sort of sexual longing appears to be present even in the most chaste, idealized loves. Nonetheless, although the lover seeks sexual union, he will tolerate abstinence, just as...

Transference Love and Romantic Love

S tudies of love are just now beginning to appear in greater number in the psychoanalytic literature, stimulated in part by the growing theoretical interest in transference.* Although Freud originally described the erotic transference the patient's falling in love with the therapist as an impediment to therapy, something to be assiduously avoided and something that might even disrupt a therapy, he came to recognize it as a paradigm for transference in general and, ultimately, as closely akin to...

Empty Or Hurtful Relationships That Endure

Some marriages that are judged from the outside to be successful are indeed highly functional on a superficial level but are dead at their emo tional core. Mutuality, idealization, and real intimacy are no longer a fundamental part of such relationships. Social dictates have utterly replaced the dictates of the heart. Couples like these are generally attached to the public persona of the we and find great security and small pleasures in the routine of married life. They may luxuriate in the...

Rivalrous Triangles

In the early stages of romantic liaisons, when the loved one is either married to or significantly involved with someone else, the lover's obsessive preoccupation is nonetheless the same as that of other lovers, consisting primarily of thoughts about the beloved. But in such rival-rous triangles (as these are by definition), an obsessive preoccupation with the rival may gradually come to compete with the erotic longing for the loved one. Both erotic longing and competition play a pivotal role...

Promiscuity And Selectivity Transference Love Versus Romantic Love

There is a further mystery about transference love (and countertransference love, too) one that if worried enough may yield even greater insight into love. The mystery is this Falling in love is a phenomenon so erratic (or seemingly so) and inexplicable, so dependent on the incalculable, so much a product of what for want of a better word we call chemistry, the love object a re-edition sometimes so removed from the original as to seem more like a translation than a re-edition (and a very murky...

Self Validation and Joint Narratives

In mutual love, the lovers validate one another's uniqueness and worth. They literally confirm the existence and worth of each other's subjectivity. In love, there is a chance for the lovers to be fully known, accepted without judgment, and loved despite all shortcomings. The lover thinks I never thought anyone could know me completely and still love me. Here is Malraux's Kyo contemplating the love he shares with May A partnership consented, conquered, chosen Men are not my kind, they are those...

Ambivalent Surrender

There are those for whom the threats implicit in surrender are so great as to preclude falling in love. The fear of falling in love is usually rooted in early life experiences. If one's parents were experienced as too intrusive and one's autonomy only dearly won, a love of any kind may appear threatening, and romantic love in particular because of the surrender inherent in it which is experienced as either submission or a loss of autonomy. Such fears may effectively preclude the possibility of...

Transcendence And Pain

The longing for wholeness, completeness, merger, and transcendence is the sorrowful heart of love sorrowful because it is a longing that can never be wholly satisfied. There is no ultimate remedy for our existential plight, but love is the search for such a remedy, and transcendence the only means of feeling we have achieved it. Passionate love seeks a transcendence akin to religious experience. The ideal of merger through love represents a potential solution to the central human problems of...

Chapter

218 30 Freud (in Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria 1905 (1901) , in S.E., Vol. 7, pp. 3-122) made the further distinction that some transference feelings are mere reprints while others have undergone sublimation and are therefore revised editions of the original feelings. 219 7 Freud, The Future of an Illusion 1927 , in S.E., Vol. 11, p. 24. 219 9 Ernest Becker uses the phrase taming terror. This is how we can understand the essence of transference as a taming of terror. My...

The Transformational Potential Of Transference Love

It's well known that positive transference alone sometimes catalyzes radical change in patients, hence the term transference cure. Patients come into treatment and sometimes as a result of transference (and their dependency on, or identification with, their therapists) their symptoms disappear or the patients rapidly mobilize into life. However, analysts are at great pains to argue that such change is superficial, and that the symptoms may well reappear if treatment is interrupted. But this...

The Longing For Merger

What, then, is the aim of love beyond the pursuit of simple pleasure, sex, or happiness Beyond pleasure, love seems to aim for release from the self. Love's potential to enrich or deplete, to give joy or sorrow, can only be understood within the context of the lover's desire for merger with the beloved. Ultimately, people do not achieve their deepest joy in solitude, but in the concordance of two souls. The aim of love is nothing less than to overcome separateness and achieve union or merger...

Boredom Claustrophobia And Depletion

Excessive surrender not only damages the lover but also threatens the beloved. The beloved often experiences the lover as too dependent and may come to find his love so claustrophobic that she feels imprisoned. What the lover exalts as desire, the beloved may experience as cannibalism. Furthermore, the lover's impulse to surrender can alienate the beloved who is its object if she becomes horrified at the lover's abjectness and is therefore no longer able to admire or even respect him. In fact,...

The Erotic Appeal Of The Rival And The Attraction To Couples

There is occasionally a shocking piece of self-discovery for participants in triangular love relationships a deep sexual attraction to their rivals. This may be manifested only in apparently inexplicable dream fragments or flash fantasies. The negative Oedipal complex and a homosexual longing for the rival often come into play in the context of love triangles. A masterful account of the complexities of triangular love can be found in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In that...

Unconventional Love

Love always elicits envy, and as a consequence frequently elicits disapproval as part of the attempt to discredit it. This disapproval is multiplied a hundredfold if the love in question is unusual or unconventional. Many observers of love, out of an exaggerated respect for conformity and conventionality, literally do not allow themselves to see (by which I mean register) certain enduring forms of love. If they do see them they devalue them, because such loves violate too many presumptions...

Domination And Control In The Service Of Possession

The lover's need for possession takes many forms it may be manifested as either dominance or submission. In attempting to dominate or control the beloved, the lover may promise benefits (financial rewards or social access), threaten misfortune should the beloved not comply, physically coerce her (beatings), or sometimes appeal to some external authority (religious, legal, or familial). He may attempt to overpower the beloved and dominate her sexually. The lover may also utilize either the...

Envy And Desire

Walking alone, seeing the world go by in pairs, one can abruptly feel bereft, lonely, and disconsolate one feels envy and more, as though one suffered from some unnamed deficiency. Why not me Am I the only one alone One senses that one's full potential and pleasure can be realized only in love. If one is a partner in a perfunctory couple whose union never blossomed into love or whose love has long since faded, one may feel more than envy one may feel hopelessness or a bitter rage at having...

The Loss Of Idealization

When love unravels, the lover's idealization of the beloved may give way to a radical de-idealization. Aristotle Onassis's disenchantment with his wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (as reported by Maria Callas's biographer) appears to have followed this pattern 'Coldhearted and shallow' is how he was now describing Jackie, who had only two years earlier been 'like a diamond, cool and sharp at the edges, fiery and hot beneath the surface.' Because romantic love is based on idealization which is by...

The Creative SyntheSs in Love

L ove is often depicted as a nucleus of physical passion surrounded by an array of other feelings admiration, respect, affection, intimacy, and commitment. However, the real core of passionate love is the lover's longing for the Other, and it is this nucleus that draws to itself the aggregation of other feelings. The lover's longing for the Other is so intense that it supplants all his previous preoccupations and seems to be a distillate of all the previous longings of his life. It becomes a...

Transference Love Falling In Love In Therapy

Even for those unacquainted with any of the tenets of psychoanalysis, it is common enough knowledge that people sometimes fall in love with the doctors or nurses who tend to their physical ills, thereby demonstrating the same proclivity as those patients who fall in love with their psychotherapists. In the movies, one thinks of (among others) Bette Davis in Dark Victory. She plays the role of a very spoiled rich young woman, stricken with mysterious fainting spells. During the course of her...

Women and Romance Men and Power

Both sexes have the same capacity to experience the pleasures and pains of romantic love. Women and men describe being in love in similar terms. This is surely as we would expect since the deep impulses that give rise to love and the capacity to synthesize those impulses derive from our human nature the potential for exaltation, transcendence, and transformation is fundamentally unaltered by the accident of gender. In love we are more alike than different. Still, there are some important...

Enduring Passion The Fortunate

In contrast to the dominant theoretical position that passion must fade, there is another theoretical proposition that suggests that passionate love can indeed abide. Georg Simmel takes this latter position love may arise anew in the very moment of its passing. From the perspective of its meaning, love remains fixed within a process of rhythmic oscillation. The moments of fulfillment lie in its pauses. However, where love is anchored in the ultimate depths of the soul, the cycle of having and...

Transcendence Versus Enslavement

The first of love's inevitable paradoxes inheres in one of its fundamental aims the longing for merger with the Other. In merger, the lover seeks to dissolve the barrier between the self and the beloved. Since the barrier is the self's boundary, what is sought is a form of self-transcendence. Thus there is a striking overlap between the language of love and that of religion, particularly that of religious mysticism. Some degree of self-surrender in the service of self-purification and...

Enslavement And Masochism

In self-surrender in love, we understand the purpose, however roundabout and broadly defined, to be salvation or self-elevation. And even those for whom the experience of surrender is tinged with ambivalence may find it ultimately rewarding. In enslavement obsessive self-destructive love or masochistic surrender or both the goals may be the same, but the depth and insatiability of the need doom the yearning lover to almost inevitable defeat. Sometimes, too, the impulse to surrender can be...

Triangles And The Oedipus Complex

The profound pulls of the triangle exert constant pressure throughout the cycle of love. Lovers who come together originally through a desire unmediated by the presence of a third party, and who wish only to establish a glorious dyad, may still be vulnerable to the process of triangulation. Triangles are often invoked defensively to protect against the hazards of dyads. Either lover may be tempted to introduce a third person to escape the intensity of love, to fend off the threat of...

The Loss Of Harmony And Mutuality

In the beginning, lovers create an illusion of perfect harmony. Part of what they give each other is a surfeit of tenderness and nurturance, expressed either physically through petting, stroking, or the administering of tea and chicken soup or emotionally through supportiveness, spontaneous sympathy, understanding, and approval or in both ways. They convey to one another that each values the Other's subjective needs and desires, and in fact, considers them central to their shared world not...

Books And Articles

Falling in Love. Translated by Lawrence Venuti. New York Random House, 1983. Arieti, Silvano. Creativity The Magic Synthesis. New York Basic Books, 1976. Arlow, Jacob A. Object Concept and Object Choice. Psychoanalytic Quarterly XLIX 1980 109-33. Auden, W. H. Collected Poems. Edited by Edward Mendelson. New York Random House, 1976. -. The English Auden Poems, Essays, and Dramatic Writings 1927-1939. Edited by Edward Mendelson. New York Random House, 1977. Babel, Isaac. The...

Erotic Transference And Countertransference Gender Variations

Insofar as we view transference as a response to our deepest human needs and anxieties , we might expect there to be no gender difference in transference manifestations. Nonetheless, although many analysts contend that transference love is gender-blind, I believe it to be more common among women, particularly women in treatment with men. At the same time, the erotic countertransference the feelings of love the therapist has for a patient appears to be more commonly a problem for male...

The Disenchanted Lover Falling Out Of Love

The lover, passionate though he may have been in the opening phase of a love affair, may fall out of love. Sometimes love simply seems to disappear. It fades and is replaced by apathy, boredom, or restlessness, if not resentment and rage. It can happen gradually or suddenly, as a result of recurring disappointments, with or without overt anger. Sometimes love fades for both lovers. People who think that such disenchantment is natural and inevitable, far from acknowledging the emptiness that can...

Idealization And The Family Romance

Because falling in love is a complex psychological act, it should come as no surprise that there are precursors during the process of growing up. Indeed, there is a developmental series of love dialogues, the apex of which is the mature act of achieving mutual love. One element paramount in all the precursors of love is idealization and, as it turns out, idealization plays a critical role in development. Early in life, the child creates a concept of the good mother who gratifies all his needs....