Letters to a friend #4: Polyamory
posted: Nov. 08, 2021.
This is the last email I have ever exchanged with Rick. We fell out of touch, swallowed by the whirlpool of our lives. I am reading through the letter and recall confiding in Rick, telling him the story of my love, while trying to make sense out of it myself. In my couples therapy clinic, I worked with many gay men and same-sex couples. The intricacies of love, passion, and intimacy were not new to me. The personal experience of these aspects of life, however, was. Los Angeles is blessed with a diverse and vibrant gay community, lively and exciting nightlife, and endless, at times illusory, opportunities for growth and expansion.
This letter was dedicated to polyamory. It is much easier to imagine what it would be like to love 2 men at the same time than to actually find yourself in this situation. What follows is my attempt to sort through some of this…
“No, his moment most definitely hasn’t come yet, Rick. Matthew is still a boy in his heart, and his body, although very masculine in shape, is yet to take on the defined, muscular, a bit rugged quality of a fully grown adult man. It is the boy in him that I find so delightful. He makes me smile. His cute and a bit mischievous smile makes my heart light up. You are probably right – I do love him, and what makes it a bit difficult to admit is the uncertainty that comes with it. How many men can I love simultaneously? … Obviously more than one….
And the funny thing is that there are other men whom I still find appealing and desirable. There is a bit of insatiable quality to my desire. I am not talking about sex. Sex and physical translation of this desire is only one potential expression of it. Is it my desire for them, or my desire to be desired by them, which in turn comes back to my self-image and self-concept? I am not sure…. What comes to mind this time is the female archetype of the goddess of love in all her forms.
Perhaps I am talking about my anima, with whom I might be more identified than heterosexual men? I do not have an equivalent of a male archetype to express these ideas. It is not the conquest of Don Juan I am interested in or the sacrifice of Romeo. It is the Aphrodite aspect of seductive and unattainable that I feel to be very alive in me. I want them to see me, want me, and kneel to me, just as I, myself, rebelliously and resentfully, and yet powerlessly, kneel in front of those men I find stunning, captivating, and unattainable.
Inadvertently I think I just summarized the very essence of the Los Angeles gay community and its culture….. Seems like I am very much a product of my own time and place. All of this internal movement inspired me to look into modern analytical psychology and its interpretation of same-sex attraction and love. My inclination was not to change the fundamentals of the Jungian theory, but to use it to have a clear understanding of my own internal processes.
There are many different views and one of them resonates with what you presented in your book – Male to Male. The archetype of the Double is the one playing a core role in the individuation process of gay men. In my perception, the Double is the opposite of the Shadow – it is our ideal same-sex self, that in same-sex attraction is being projected onto the man of our desire. Through union with this man, we experience both our masculinity through introjection and our feminine, through the process of compensation that channels libido into the anima and allows gay men, similarly to straight men, to further their individuation process by sifting through the unconscious and introducing its contents to our awareness. All of this is still very much brewing in my mind and I would have to be much more versed in analytic psychology to be more detailed and specific. I am curious about your thoughts on this subject.