Romance: Fate or faux?
For those of us of the romantic disposition, imagining new love objects to be Ms. or Mr. Right is a chronic condition.
Such idealization is made even more irresistible when there are ‘fated‘ events, when we run into him or her coincidentally or when other synchronicities to do with them occur. When we meet them and, for example, after a lengthy chat, we reveal that we’ve been holding in our hand a black heart-shaped rock all this time and she opens her hand and shows us a white one just the same.
When a real out-of-the-ordinary meaningful coincidence happens, we fall immediately and blissfully into the presumption that ‘it’s fate’—that this person is ‘the One.’
However, while synchronistic events are known to occur at the beginning of life-long happy partnerships, they also occur as a part of less successful, or even tragic, relationships. Coming to understand the truth of this latter possibility involves a loss of naïveté, but if we are lucky often something else is gained too.
Jung observed that synchronicities arrive in relation to the emotional activation of an individual “we observe them relatively frequently at moments of heightened emotional tension, which need not however be conscious.”[i] In noticing such a pattern in our world however, Jung was not discovering something entirely new, such an understanding is found throughout the ancient world.
In the East, it was the basis of the Tao and I Ching and in the West we find one example of it in the writings of a teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas:
“A certain power to alter things indwells in the human soul and subordinates the other things to her, particularly when she is swept into great excesses of love or hate or the like. For a long time I did not believe it…[but] I found that the emotionality of the human soul is the chief cause of all these things.”
~ Albertus Magnus, 1200-1280
It is a profound revelation and deeply meaningful, that we live in an era in which we are becoming aware of the way in which feeling extends beyond the body in these special moments but conscious apprehension of the meaning of these events also requires discrimination on our part.
Synchronistic incidents are drawn into form by the presence of emotional conditions in us and they point toward something active and alive, but unconscious in ourselves; toward something that we can come to learn about ourselves.
Here, a special meaning is evident—the ancient person might say that it shows the presence of the Gods—but we cannot say whether it is a blessing or a curse. Seeing past romantic illusions allows us to begin to draw insight from such experiences and to start to uncovering the meaning behind the larger patterns of who we are attracting.
In general, attributing to fate the role of bringing us our ‘right‘ or best romantic partners, gives away much of our power. “Faith is a disability insofar as it constrains you from self-interest,”[ii] says Solomon and having too much faith in the universe demonstrates an abandonment of the power to choose; a natural authority given up; an unwillingness to exercise conscious, mature choice.
And it is just this royal authority in us, the ability to consciously say no to some and yes to others, that is a necessity for entering into mature partnership, for choosing to say ‘I do.’
Part of the shadow of the romantic type is pointed to here. Archetypally, the inability to choose consciously reflects the absence of the inner King or Queen, the quality in us that blesses and places value appropriately. The King or Queen archetype represents the natural flow of libido and feeling toward those qualities that serve our interests.
The psyche of the romantic type is often dominated by the opposite archetype, that of the child—that in us that resists parenting ourselves and prefers play and following the dictates of feeling. Going with the flow has its place, but it also reflects a refusal to stand up when it is needed, and often this is an on-going and regressive life-pattern.
However, within all of us there is also a larger instinct toward wholeness, toward the integration of all the parts of who we can be, toward the discovery and conscious development of our inner King or Queen.
Sometimes we must struggle to recover this part of our natural inheritance.
Synchronicity in our romantic lives is often a signpost pointing us that direction. While it may not indicate the blessing of a relationship, it almost always directs us toward pieces of ourselves that we need to reclaim to become more whole. These pieces might be recovered through loving, but they may are also sometimes recovered through leaving the relationship.
Sometimes we gain what we need in ourselves by learning to say ‘no.’
In synchronicity, the world reveals its nearness to us. It is active and responding to our inner life producing meaning to help us grow, but can we drop our ego’s need to make that meaning fit into a pretty little heart-shaped box for us?
It is terribly difficult not to get swept up into assuming that a new relationship is fated and blessed when synchronicities abound. Tragically, however, not every synchronicity is a blessing from Aphrodite. And, in an era infused with New Age thinking and naïve romanticism that sees all synchronicity as a simple romantic blessing, it is especially important that we learn that there is more than one God alive in us and seeking redemption.
Can we drop our ego’s agenda and still feel the wonder of being alive in a world filled with such mysterious, mischievous and occasionally un-pretty, meaning-making magic?
[i] Letters, vol. 2.
[ii] Far From The Tree, p. 33.
Gary S. Bobroff, M.A. has a Master’s degree in in Jungian-oriented Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute of Santa Barbara, CA and is the author of Jung, Crop Circles & the Re-Emergence of the Archetypal Feminine (available on North Atlantic Books in Spring 2014). His website is www.JungAndCropCircles.net. He also hosts the Best Synchronicity Ever! page on Facebook.
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Assistant Ed: Sarah Winner
Ed: Bryonie Wise