A few weeks back a girl I know posted on facebook, “I miss falling in love.” I responded with, “Falling in love is easy, staying in love is the hard part.”
As I mentioned in the previous post, falling in love is when we project our golden shadow on to another person. I’m not exactly sure why we do this, but I have a few ideas because even now with all my experience with women, I find it hard not to get swept away when I meet a really gorgeous, fun woman.
I think part of it is the depth of the unknown in that person. We know so little about them, it’s easy for us to make up stories about what they are truly like. In a really fascinating book about the potential for artificial intelligence called On Intelligence which I read several years ago, the author talks about how the human brain is a prediction machine.
Every stimuli has a neuronal firing pattern that allows us to distinguish between the taste of chocolate and the taste of dirt. Our experiences growing up especially at as children create the neuronal firing patterns and pathways in our brains and those that are used the most are the quickest and most easily accessed while the unused ones atrophy away.
Hence you can always ride a bike once you’ve learned how but it takes a while to get those neuronal pathways firing well enough for you to do it as well as you did it when you were a kid.
The most intersting thing is that when these start firing there’s a kind of chain reaction that is especially strong among the most heavily trafficked and wide pathways which is why when you learn somethig new that’s very similar to something you already know, unless you pay close attention, you’ll find yourself reverting to the old pattern.
When we meet a woman and things are going well our neurons start firing away and we start predicting what this person is like. The problem, of course, is that what we’re using to predict what she’s like is based on how we see ourselves.
Cross cultural communication is difficult just because we automatically impute our own drives, motives and understandings into other people’s actions. (We do this just as often with those who are close to us too.)
Additionally because our shadow has to be expressed in some way, the other person acts as a blank screen onto which we can project our repressed golden shadow.
One thing that particularly struck me when I was reading Overcoming Your Shadow though, was that there is definitely a side benefit to projecting all of these positive traits and putting a woman on a pedestal.
If she likes us back–if the near perfect being likes us back from up on their pedestal, then we must be pretty great ourselves and I think that’s one of the main reasons men persist in pedestaling women.
In Part VI I’m going to talk why regression is an important part of emotional connection and how that relates to the concept of the shadow.