The Lover in His Fullness
As a man, do you love yourself?
If you turn away from that question, or consider it an irrelevance to you, then consider the possibility your Lover archetype needs attention.
Sure, as a man you might like to believe that you’re more interested in getting things done than feeling. But consider this: when you cut yourself off from feeling, you cut yourself off from connection with others. You cut yourself off from your love of family, friends, even for life itself.
And for a while this might work. After all, you might be a man on your Hero’s Journey, discovering your place in the world, finding out what you can do, where your boundaries lie. You might be an older man moving into Mature Kingship or Elderhood. And those are also very important expressions of your masculine self.
But what about just being? What about the stillness that lies inside of you, waiting to be explored?
And what do you know of sensuality, of feeling, of emotion? What do you know of your own body, and the messages it’s sending you?
The Lover is the archetype of connection. Connection with yourself, with your body, your soul. And connection with the planet, with all those people around you. But are you really feeling connected? And since, as the poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an island”, perhaps the time has come for you to explore your own Lover archetype.
You see, when you touch your Lover archetype you begin to feel deeply – both joy and pain. Sure, that pain can feel like an endless ocean of grief about all the loss in your life, perhaps going back to the day you were born if you were not welcomed into the world with love and appreciation.
Or perhaps later in life there were painful lessons about loss, power, status, or shame which you had to learn. The pain of the loss of mother, of father, of innocence, of childhood, of yourself even, when you went to school. Above all, the pain of not being allowed to be who you really were. No doubt, like many other boys and men, you suppressed the pain by putting it into your body.
And as you grow older, you wonder what’s missing from your life. Sensuality diminishes, the excitement you felt as a young man seems to slowly ebb away, and your relationships wither. There is little expression of love and affection to keep them going. Your spirituality, once felt and expressed so powerfully, seems somehow unimportant.
And may be there’s a nagging sense of unhappiness in your life.
One of the reasons why the energy in this archetype can be so strong is that it is where so much of the energy of the Inner Child lives. The Inner Child? Yes, for that is simply a shorthand way of describing the memories, energy, thoughts, feelings and experiences of the younger parts of yourself, which may or may not have received the love and care you deserved as a child.
This is the primal archetype – the one which ensures we survive after birth by fostering connection. As soon as a baby is born, it seeks connection with its mother. To be held, loved, cherished – all needed to ensure its emotional and physical survival. But such need for connection means there is much potential for emotional wounding.
To the extent that you did not get the love you needed, and the connection you craved as a child, so you will be wounded in the Lover archetype. These emotional wounds center on some kind of self-belief that emerges during your childhood or adolescence along the lines of – “I am not lovable. I am not worthy of love (or care, even). No-one will ever love me. There’s something wrong with the way I love.” And so on….
As you can imagine, these are unhelpful, disruptive beliefs to carry around with you as an adult. For one thing, they prevent you from developing connections. For another, they promote addictive behaviour, emotional pain, grief, unhappiness and perhaps (going the opposite way) a sense of stoicism, a belief that “I don’t need anyone, I’m fine just the way I am, and that’s OK with me.” What a painful position to take in life!
The great news is you don’t have to tolerate this any longer.
By exploring your Lover archetype you can become attuned to the mysterious forces that underlie your everyday existence. You can come to understand the archetype which fuels your spirituality, feeds your creativity, and allows you to play and enjoy your sensuality.
When you fully develop your Lover archetype you’re also going to be adept at reading people and understanding social cues. Your sense of empathy with others and your understanding of how to get along and connect with a wider variety of people is going to blossom.
Most of all, because your Lover is alive and sensual, you’ll be able to enjoy all of life’s pleasures, whether it be good food and drink, beautiful art, the creativity that you bring to the world, a gorgeous lover, or the pleasure of intense sex.
And your Lover controls things well beyond your basic pleasures like sex and food. Your inner Lover craves a life of meaning and purpose, and in its quest for purpose it seeks to become boundless and unconstrained.
In some ways, this expansiveness fuels the energy of your King, your Warrior and your Magician. As your Lover seeks to be unconstrained and lose himself in another, he provides a sense of power and energy to your King, Warrior and Magician. This energy drives your entire being into the world in a masculine way.
If you’ve dismissed your Lover up till now as being some feminine thing apart from you, think again. Some of the most powerful myths and legends feature men, in their Lover archetype. Think of Dionysus, the god of wine, merriment, art, passion and sex. Think of Zorba the Greek, a man who lives life more fully than anyone around him. He’s earthy, he loves good food and drink, he dances his heart out. He throws himself fully into life because he knows that to be truly free he needs to have a deep emotional life, a little madness, and a healthy dose of the Lover archetype.
And of course when your Lover isn’t attended to and given full rein for its energy and expression, the result can be the shadow of the addicted Lover.
He is an eternally restless soul always searching for one thing or one experience that will make him feel truly alive. But he never finds it because he doesn’t know that the vague hunger which endlessly haunts him lies deep within himself. He dates every girl he meets and wallows in despair when relationships come to an end.
He is constantly creating, getting ideas that will make him rich, but he never sticks at anything long enough. His life and his mind are cluttered with ideas, whims, fancies, and he travels the world to seek happiness – but never finds it.
With a wounded Lover, life can feel fragmentary instead of whole, because the Lover’s energy may dissipate in a thousand different directions because there is no purpose in his life.
The opposite pole of this shadow is the man who becomes obsessed with a single goal and pursues it relentlessly. Addictions such as shopping, hoarding, drink, sex, porn, drugs – they’re all the shadow of the Lover seeking happiness, seeking solace, seeking some soothing for the pain which lies deep below.
Why Such Wounded Lover Energy?
We somehow colluded with a vision of men given to us by false Kings who taught us to be detached from our feelings so that we could go into battle and be slaughtered without feeling our pain. Somehow we swallowed the myth that women are responsible for the feeling “work” in our kingdoms – the bringing up of children, the compassion of nurture, the sensitivity of love itself.
None of this alters the fact that within each of us is a Lover archetype, and the essence of that Lover archetype is feeling. We cannot, we will not, heal by feeling the hit of something new and exciting – a new drug, a new travel experience, a new lover, a new car.
We can only heal by feeling the pleasure and sensuality of life, by feeling the sensuality and joy of living in a healthy body.
The joy of being fully present in your own life. Of being out in nature, being sensual, and being shame-free during sexual connection with another human being. The joy and grief of the merging and loss of boundaries at the moment of orgasm. The pleasure of relaxation and the nurture that comes from sensual experiences of massage, meditation, relaxation and more.
If you resonate at some level as you read this, if you sense that your Lover needs attention, then you might find some body work helpful, or maybe Tantra, or simply an immersion in sensual pleasure would help you.
By choosing what you need (by following your inner wisdom) you’ll learn the power of the Lover archetype within you, and you’ll learn how to attend to his needs, That way, you can soothe yourself without resorting to the distractions of addiction or sensuality.
You’ll learn how to dance with joy, how to throw yourself into your own life, discover how to fully express your feelings and fully accept your body. And you will, inevitably, come to love yourself more.