What really attracts us in relationships? Identity - The Anima and Animus
Have you ever faced an identity crisis in a relationship? In the sense that you no longer feel in touch with who you really are? Perhaps you have experienced an ego clash? Or just felt drawn to someone’s energy simply because it is so masculine or so feminine? Yet there seems a little more to it than just simply “Masculine” or “feminine”.
We know that most men prefer a delicate femininity in a woman and that most women prefer a macho, protective quality in a man, but what if you were told that the reason you were attracted to these qualities was because actually it echoes something about your own masculinity/femininity? Yes! Females have masculine traits and males have feminine traits and this is referred to by Carl Jung as the “anima” and the “animus”.
In Eastern cultures this is referred to as the symbol of the Tao and is used with its Yin and Yang energies and is expressive of the same idea. The Tao symbol, consists of a circle divided in two equal portions each containing an element of the other. It indicates that all of creation is composed of two energies held in harmony and interaction.
The Yang energy is masculine in nature and is described as light, dry, directed, focused, logical, and action oriented. Yin energy is feminine and described as dark, moist, diffuse, vague, intuitive, and receptive. In regard to psychological functioning, men are predominately yang but contain a yin aspect. Women, while predominately yin, contain an element of yang. The lesson for yin/yang is to recognise that we are all masculine and female energies and that men must learn to nurture and women must decide to act. It is about balance of energies.
The way in which an anima and animus can influence a person is either positive or negative in manner. The Anima is known as a feminine, complimentary trait in a man and the Animus is known as a masculine, complimentary trait in a woman and in general this is how we identify with our “ideal” partner. So, if a man is under the influence of the positive anima he will show tenderness, patience, love and compassion. However, if placed negatively it tends to manifest as a vanity, including moodiness, bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings.
On the other hand, a woman with a positive animus shows assertiveness, control, thoughtful rationality, alongside strength. The negative animus would perhaps reveal sarcasm, head strong comments, ruthlessness, destructive forces, and a general need to always have the last word. Both men and women are on the path to their own self discovery and both the “anima and animus" are beautiful forces of energy when channelled correctly.
The anima or the animus, arises in all of us as a potential move towards wholeness. What is interesting about the recognition of “anima” and “animus” is that we unconsciously search for this in our chosen partners. For example, a female may fall for a male because she recognises the anima in him which she wishes to gain control over within herself and vice versa.
Theories suggest that there is a dimension of a man’s psyche that acts like a woman, a woman that is not seen clearly, one who appears for a moment and then disappears. She is, in turn, beautiful and alluring, obsessing us with desire, and then perhaps scornful and rejecting, driving us to contemplate dark deeds. But her conduct is not necessarily impulsive and is often strongly influenced by the conscious attitude others take towards her. If we choose to be rejecting and cold, she will respond accordingly. If we are welcoming and loving, she will undoubtedly become warm and express harmonious feelings.
But the hardest thing about the anima for a man is believing that she actually exists, as it exist in them. It is then easy to deny the existence of the anima, not only because the femininity is unconscious, and therefore hidden from view, but also the female can be young and immature, and not in harmony with the manly image the man holds of himself. The female can even be ugly because she has been ignored and abused for so long.
Therefore, when we find ourselves at war in relationships, researching and analysing our “anima” or “animus” can certainly help us to address the problem. For example, the anima can easily be caught up in a tug of war between couples and this is where the ego tries to drag itself into consciousness while the instinctive depths of the unconscious stay as they are .
This as a result tends to create unwanted drama which ironically is needed as it is important for psychological growth, but inevitably it causes much confusion amongst relationships, and it is usually a combination of both or more commonly the male trying to fight the anima in which he recognises and this is where many of us run the risk of hurt but we must go through these processes if we are to learn about ourselves and our identities!
With love and light x x x