The next in the series about Archetypal Attraction and Romantic Chemistry
The Knight and the Damsel are a matched set of patterns with naturally occurring complimentary attributes and dysfunctions. This can be true of any couple with these archetypes no matter their gender, same, different or otherwise. While we think of the Knight as a man and the Damsel a woman, that’s not always the case. I’m going to go the traditional route here but keep an open mind that the archetypes are not necessarily gender specific.
The painting to the right is an eloquent image of the romantic chemistry of the Knight and the Damsel.
Notice the Damsel, who I’m going to call Miriam, stands above George (her Knight) which is symbolic of the pedestal of her more delicate nature, in other words, that which needs or wants protection. Miriam is dressed beautifully, her hair perfectly combed as she leans gracefully to tie her scarf (a token of her love and support) onto his armor before he goes off to battle the nasty icky dragon.
Miriam has a civilizing effect on George, whom she believes would probably be just another brute in jangling armor were it not for her inspiring beauty and attention. For George, Miriam is the reflection of his inner feminine nature, emotional, delicate and not something he generally sees in himself. For George, going off to slay the dragon is natural, Miriam’s support makes it all the more noble and important because he can do the manly things he needs to do knowing that she will be safe and there when he returns. Symbolically he can leave his own feminine nature safely at home while Miriam can see a reflection of her masculine side go off to do the tough and dangerous work.
The romantic chemistry for the Knight and the Damsel is so complimentary that it goes a long way by creating deep bonds and mutual admiration. It often imbues that sense of puzzle pieces fitting together that I mentioned in a previous article. But then there are the dragons, which in this image are both looming in the distance and perched at home on the balustrade.
The dragons rear up when one or the other get tired of all this projecting of what they want to see in themselves in the other person. George doesn’t want to deal with his emotions – especially when Miriam practically demands that he take off all his armor and do just that. Or when Miriam feels stifled up on that pedestal, maintaining her beauty for him and generally waiting for George to stop being so bloody insensitive. What attracts these two archetypes can be exactly what drives them nuts. The path back to being complimentary patterns who support each other (from co-dependent to interdependent) is often a truce of sorts that allows each to see the others nature as a reflection rather than a projection. George is able to see his own feminine nature and Miriam her ability to protect herself as they work to integrate the full breadth of these archetypes. When these two archetypes get together in a healthy way and honor each other for who they are – it’s a power team to be sure.
There are several sets of fictional characters that I can think of that model the empowered Knight and Damsel coupling. Interesting to note that several of them come from the mystery genre of fiction – both authored by men. Nick and Nora Charles are fictional characters created by Dashiell Hammett in his novel The Thin Man. While also boozily humorous, these two play off each other well in the generally empowered Knight and Damsel roles. Susan Silverman and Spenser in the long running series of Spenser mysteries by Robert B. Parker excel at being a Knight/Damsel power couple. Throughout the series of nearly 40 novels the two go through pretty much every archetypal peril and triumph with both heart and wisdom.
More recently, the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey features an excellent example of an empowered Knight and Damsel in the characters of John Bates and Anna Smith. They remain steadfast and trusting of each other but not demanding. Bates does not treat Anna as if she is weak but he is protective. They both honor the masculine and feminine in each other.
Volumes have been written about Venus and Mars and their challenges which the Knight and the Damsel are rooted in. For a deeper , non-fiction insight into these archetypal relationships and the Western concept of Romance, I highly recommend Jungian psychologist Robert A. Johnson’s “We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love“.
Read Archetype attraction part 1: The Basics
Romantic Archetypal Chemistry is based on complimentary needs. Typically it’s either an archetype we value or one that reflects qualities we want to see in ourselves. This is the kind of attraction we usually think of in terms of romance and dating. You know, that subtle “the puzzle pieces just fit together” kind of attraction. That’s great right? Who doesn’t like feeling that way? Of course there are some pitfalls to Romantic Archetypal Chemistry because the ingrained traits and their shadowy bits can make for a rough time once the heady days of romance wane. This, my friends, is where the archetypal view becomes even more helpful.
Romantic Archetypal Chemistry means that there are qualities that you both have that work well together because each feels the one has something the other lacks. The big reality check is that this isn’t always strictly true, it just seems like it. Call it mirroring or projection, each need and need not fulfilled by the other can either be an ugly wedge into a relationship or a way to gain a much bigger understanding.
Take these classic Romantic Archetypal Chemistry combinations below for example. It’s not hard to see where the interdependence starts to form. And from that, guilt and resentment can grow like mold in a frat house fridge.
- Victim & Rescuer (or Healer, Caregiver,Hero)
Is this really considered Romantic, you might ask? In the way of Western Psychological Romance, I believe so. Look to many the romantic novel or film and you’ll see the dynamic of perceiving that the other has something one lacks and is attracted for that very reason. It’s based on a belief that you and the other person somehow complete a circuit, but many times it’s a circuit of lack and not necessarily fruition.
Are these combinations doomed because of their inherent attraction and difficulties? Not at all. Knowing what the expectations are can make all the difference. If you know you have a Rescuer archetype you have a much greater understanding of how you operate and can choose not to enter into a relationship with someone who needs rescuing or not. This is something one of my clients took on and found it life changing – read about it in this case-study.
Next in the series: Romantic Chemistry: The Knight and the Damsel
Stay tuned for more!
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We are attracted to people by archetypal patterns. For most people it can be so subtle that you don’t know what’s going on, but paying attention to these powerful patterns can really improve your dating experience. I mean, wouldn’t you want something to help guide you through the sometimes dark and murky forest of dating life and toward what you are really looking for?
No need to take tests, get astrological information, blood type or genealogy, just pay attention, suss out the patterns and go from there. In this series I’m going to break archetypal attraction down to some usable basics. The key to all of this is to pay attention in a new way – one that is a bit less emotionally cloudy. You needn’t be a detective, but someone who can see, listen and be present to what is going on with yourself and the people you are meeting.
There are two basic ways to look at archetype attraction, Romantic Archetypal Chemistry and Shared Archetypal Chemistry. We are repelled by certain archetypes too but I’ll cover that in another post.
Archetypes are short hand for an indelible collection of behaviors, personality traits and most importantly motivations. They have a light side and a dark side. Unless you are living on another planet, you can bet that it’s only the happy shiny version of the archetype that’s showing up for dates for the first few months.
“When you date…have you ever noticed when you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their “representative”. Then after a about 3 months you meet the REAL Candidate” ~Chris Rock
Knowing the archetypal makeup of yourself (both the shiny and the dark) and the one(s) you are dating is a good way to have an idea of what the potential is for the relationship as well as steer clear of some unwanted dating mismatches. How do you do this? Well naturally working with someone like myself will give you that edge but I’m hoping that these articles will have you beginning to use these ideas.
To get you started – think about the relationship you are looking for – what archetypes do you want that person to have? What attracts you to those archetypes in another person? Use the archetype list here as a reference.
Archetype attraction part 2: Romantic Chemistry