Letters to a friend #3: Male Beauty
posted: Oct. 04, 2021.
Many years have passed since I moved cross-country and settled in Los Angeles, California. These were full and busy years. A freshly licensed clinical psychologist I dove head first into the construction of my California life. Career and Love were my prime two agendas. I established my West Hollywood Couples Therapy Clinic doing couples therapy with gay men and same-sex couples. I also spent quite some time exploring the Los Angeles dating scene.
During this era, some of my friendships were left behind. One of these friendships was with Rick. Many years my senior, Rick was a seasoned psychotherapist who enjoyed my, at times, naïve and young perspective. During my grad school, we exchanged weekly emails talking about men, sex, passion, love, and life. Our conversations made me think and forced me to grow. Many years later, we briefly reconnected and these are the last of our emails. There is a tinge of nostalgia rising in me as my eyes run through the following lines. Here is the third letter.
“You know, Rick, I am not sure if I mentioned this, but recently Jungian thought and perspective have been one of the focal points in my professional development. This is where I am not sure if it’s more of a professional or personal development. This is what I love about our craft – we are paid to work on ourselves in the process of our psychotherapeutic endeavors. It’s sort of a parallel process of individuation and moving toward wholeness. The client you described is a good example of this since he brings up the topics you have been weighing and dealing with in your personal and professional life.
You mentioned the imagery of the gods and goddesses as a perfected and immortal human ideal and our pursuit of beauty as a possibility of the pursuit of this ideal. I would take it further to say that gods represent archetypal imagery, the archetypal symbols filled with collective content and interpreted through the lenses of our personal unconscious. Everything that moves us (in either direction – toward or away from) probably moves us due to its readiness for projection of our unconscious contents – personal and collective.
Male beauty is not a single construct. There are many types of male beauty that evoke different emotional (and archetypal) responses. Think of a beautiful, lean, slender youth, with smooth silky skin untouched by time. Now, think of the Alpha male – rugged, muscular, with a strong presence. And what about the patriarch – distinguished and handsome, with silver hair and status to match? Or the sexy daredevil. There are many types of male beauty that touch us in different ways and trigger different emotions and attitudes.
I was contemplating the contrast between my two lovers - Matthew and Greg… Physically, Matthew has a very pale complexion of a redhead, lighter hair, thick and rough chest hair, bright blue-green eyes, and a natural body. Greg’s skin is dark, smooth, and silky, with dark features, and a muscular elegant build. Psychologically, Matthew is yet to discover his own self, his desires, and his direction. He is open, curious, receptive, and full of passion and sexual energy. Greg is stubborn, set in his ways, calm, grounded, slow-paced, with less energy and sexual fire.
There are also similarities. Both of them are sweet, sensitive, loving, genuine, a bit moody, and prone to self-flagellation. I can explore different aspects of myself with each of them. Matthew fulfills my sensual aspect – I can cuddle with him all day. Greg fulfills my domestic and social needs – he helps me create a warm and comfortable home. Both of these men also feed my emotional needs – affection, connection, reciprocity, exchange, and love. I am still not sure what to make out of all of this – so just thinking out loud.
How do you spend your days, Rick? What are your secret pleasures lately? How do you plan to spend your holidays? Looking forward to your next e-mail – I always enjoy reading them and writing back.