"She is such a smart, attractive woman. Why is she putting up with HIM?"
How often have we heard this at home or at the office?
genConnect.com sought the help of Dr. Pat Allan, highly-regarded, licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice. Based on 36 years of experience dealing with women and men in relationships, here is her answer as to why good women stay with bad men.
This article is divided into four areas, following Jungian archetypal divisions:
- The Playgirl
- The Amazon
- The Mother
- The Black Madonna or Madonna Inspiritus
1. The Playgirl
The Playgirl aspect in every woman's psyche - in every culture - seeks physical pleasure through all her five senses. Nature supports her mating well, especially through the sense of smell, her pheromones. Dr. Theresa L. Crenshaw, a pioneer in sexual medicine, in her 1996 book, The Alchemy of Love and Lust, writes about the "bonding" influence of the peptide oxytocin.
Oxytocin is secreted from the pituitary gland's posterior lobe from which it goes to receptor sites in the brain and throughout the reproductive tract, especially where estrogen resides. Dr. Crenshaw's work is based on a Niles Newton 1978 article, "The Role of the Oxytocin Reflexes in Three Interpersonal Reproductive Acts: Coitus, Birth and Breast Feeding." Oxytocin increases sensitivity to touch, especially sexual touching, particularly at the time of orgasm. Alcohol lowers oxytocin.
How does this oxytocin effect impact a woman's relationship to men? When she first meets a potential mate, she is either:
Disinterested, Open to Investigate, or Highly Attracted
If she is disinterested, it may be because of an intellectual decision that the man is not eligible due to unacceptable looks, social skills, or poor financial prospects. These factors can all be overridden by continued dating exposure if the pheromones (chemistry) are basically positive. Her brain may disqualify him, while her body says "yes." I advise women to date each decent man at lease three times before discarding him as a suitor. If he passes this "brain barrier" and she determines he is eligible to investigate - and the chemistry is reciprocal - then normal dating occurs.
The "highly attracted" category is the most addictive-prone area and the one that I wish to address. When a woman is in the presence of an oxytocin-stimulating man, she may override her intellectual judgment about their "compatibility," especially when she attempts to diminish oxytocin's impact with alcohol.
Where formerly she might be sexually conservative, requiring a serious commitment, she now finds herself deeply involved sexually before negotiating boundaries, such as his (or her) current marital status, criminal background, and financial accountability.
The problem with oxytocin-based addictive bonding to an inappropriate man is that the intellect is relegated to a secondary status in choice and judgment. The good counsel of parents, friends, religious leaders and psychotherapists is of no benefit. Addiction to oxytocin as a pleasure takes over.
2. The Amazon
The Women's Liberation Movement has freed the Amazon to such a degree that many women put its aspects of money, power, and prestige before the other three archetypes. Many young pre-menopausal women are embarrassed to admit that they want to marry and have children ahead of career-building.
The decision about being a Woman with a Career and not a Career Woman is the dilemma of our era. Putting career performance ahead of processing marriage and babies, while a woman is young, produces distress in the body and raises cortisol levels in the system. To be fertile, a woman's brain must absorb the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a natural tranquilizer.
Long-term, career-driven distress causes an inhibition of serotonin release. This inhibition directly impacts the hormonal balance necessary for impregnation. The current usage of SSRIs is a medical approach to alleviate the serotonin deprivation due to distress. Essentially, young women are not designed to live like testosterone or progesterone-based men and postmenopausal women.
Further repercussions of young career women with serotonin deprivation are carbohydrate craving and drinking to soothe the anxious nervous system by raising the brain's glucose levels. Toleration and craving indicate that there is an addictive process going on in a woman's body - whether genetically based or stress-related.
Once a woman has committed to a Career Woman/Amazon lifestyle of performance and competition for money, power and prestige, she often must pay sexually and martially. This woman is highly susceptible to a "bad man." Men who feed off distressed career women, financially and/or sexually, are aided and abetted when women are anxious. This anxiety can be due to being over-worked, over-stressed, overly medicated with drugs or disinhibited with alcohol, or having low self-esteem from the shame and guilt of eating disorders.
A man with a good "line" and the right chemistry can easily "bond" such an Amazon woman. T.G.I.F. can occur at the end of everyday, calling for kick-back pleasure, especially sex. He often becomes the Amazon's dependent "boy toy" or her dominating abuser - neither a good husband or father for the children she wants "some day soon."
Everyday I see women, whose clocks are pounding, who beg for help to abstain from "him" - the "bad man.". They want a "good man," but view him to be "boring" or a "sell out." Quiet goodness and stability don't "feel" like passion, which becomes the mainstay of women with exciting, painful, passionate bad men.
Affection, comfort, and being pleasured by a loving, generous, protective, cherishing man does not seem "right" to a woman who has sexually bonded to a man who uses or abuses her. Struggling and pain are part and parcel of her career, as well as her sex life.
Adulation of the Amazon archetype has cost many young women motherhood and marriage in exchange for careers that would be better served after menopause and chemistry changes. Getting an education in preparation for a delayed career and getting married and having children sooner rather than later, seems more balanced and less susceptible to "bad men" desperate choices. Our life span has extended into the 80s.
I advise women to carefully decide their sequence of life events. Are you a "Career Woman" or a "Woman with a Career on the side or later in life"? Each has value and each costs with motherhood and marriage. Career Women will make money whether married or not, but may not enjoy motherhood. Women with careers delayed or on the side may not make as much money, power or prestige as their Amazon sisters, but they may enjoy their marriages and motherhood more. My offices are full of unhappy Amazons, not happy moms.
3. The Mother
The Mother Archetype and its relationship to self-destructive relationships are my next topic. In Freudian psychology, daughters are impacted more by their fathers than their mothers. It is in the reflection of her father's approval that a daughter perceives her value as a woman. Mother is a role model or the lack of one. When dad is gone, drunk, incestuous, a workaholic, dead, or disinterested, a daughter must look elsewhere for reflection of her self-value.
Often mother is doing her "Amazon" expression - she is post-menopausal, single, or in a dual-career marriage. The young woman soon learns that performance, or "doing good," at home, school, job/career is the goal that dad approves of rather than the less goal-oriented processing of "feeling good," body pleasuring, cherishable femininity. To be a cherishing daddy requires giving attention. This cherishable act is not as efficient, effective or time economical as requiring a daughter to perform respectably. The latter requires less attention like "atta-girl" strokes. Where does she get her cherishable pleasure? You guessed it: sex or food or both.
Also Read: Keeping Your Sex Life Alive -- With Kids
Daddy-deprived daughters become daddy-deprived women who often empathize with mommy-deprived men. Becoming his archetypal "Mother" naturally leads to sexual bonding, thus perpetuating her starvation for cherishing from a man. She desensitizes her pain by letting him move into her home, allowing him to borrow money, accepting verbal or physical abuse, or rationalizing that he "needs" a good woman to help heal his childhood traumas. She may let years go by, as she experiences abortions, lost money, body damage, etc., before she hits a bottom where the pain overrides her oxytocin pleasure.
If she chooses to have a child with this man, the oxytocin stimulated by gestation and lactation can cause her to bond to the baby as a source of pleasure over the man. This phenomenon results in a competition that can lead to splitting up and then engaging in a healing process for her. It can also entail a healing process for him, whereby he begins to cherish his child and its mother. However, if he becomes angry and jealous of his child, it can result in a "shaken baby" injury if he is asked to baby-sit for a crying child. Or he may simply replace her with another woman who is a more attentive mother to him.
4. The Black Madonna
To this point, I have dealt with the three "practical" archetypes - the Playgirl, Amazon and the Mother - and their impact on women who self-destruct with narcissistic men. I now want to talk about the one unique to women. It is the spiritual, "abstract" archetype named the Black Madonna or Madonna Inspiritus.
Men have their three "practical" archetypal images in their psyches which match women's - the Playboy, the Hero (Amazon) and the Father, but women alone have the Black Madonna or Madonna Inspiritus.
The lack of actualization of The Black Madonna IS the foundation for why smart, attractive women put up and stay with inappropriate men. When a woman has the psychic ability to say "NO" to inappropriate men, even when chemically attracted, she is expressing her Black Madonna voice.
Girls and women today may attend a religious center and not develop their Black Madonna. They may be sexually conservative and not develop their Black Madonna skills. Psychotherapy for past wounds will not do it. To develop the Black Madonna (Inspiritus), she must know how and when to say "yes" to men, sex, marriage, and motherhood. In Jungian, psychodynamic terms each woman has a balance of energy between her body (yin) and her animus (yang) soul.
This balance manifests in three ways:
A balanced anchor which she uses to be a "feel-good" to "do-good" woman A shovel whereby she gives pleasure to "him" and hopes he will reciprocate A claw" - she is a Puella Aeternus (little girl forever) who expects him to shovel pleasure into her without regard for his needs.
Every man has his persona body (yang) and his anima (yin) soul. He demonstrates balance in two ways: giving, protecting and cherishing (yang) women, children, animals and the planet or living in his Puer Aeternus (little boy forever) whereby he uses and/or abuses women, kids, animals and the planet.
I shall deal with the imbalanced "shovel" woman and her broken sister, the "claw," before I describe a healthy, balanced, self-loving "anchored" woman.
When the Playgirl Archetype manifests itself as a "shovel," a girl/woman gives, protects and cherishes a man too much, especially sexually and financially. She is animus (yang energy) driven rather than receiving pleasure (yin) before giving back. Her ego strength is misaligned with her yang soul (animus) rather than her body. She is ego-dystonic rather than ego-syntonic; she is inside-out, unbalanced and susceptible to use and abuse by ego-dystonic men who are also inside-out.
This man's ego needs to receive pleasure (yin anima), and he must only be sexually available to women who are generous, protective and cherishing of his needs before their own (mommy). His sexual passive-aggressiveness is triggered when she complains about her needs. The Puella Aeternus "Claw" (yang) animus woman takes from helpless yin anima men (daddy).
She is so narcissistic, as is a Puer Aeternus yin man, that she lacks compassion or appreciation for a good, balanced man. She preys on older men who are susceptible to their estrogen-enhanced oxytocin bonding. She likes to sexually seduce men as mistress, prostitute, or dominatrix for money. She is not vulnerable until she is post-menopausal when her self-esteem declines sexually. At that time, a con-man (yin), often younger, will turn the tables on her for financial gain.
The remainder of this article deals with the healthy, balanced, ego-syntonic "anchored" in her as a woman, a Black Madonna, a Madonna Inspiritus, a Goddess. When a woman is anchored by her animus (yang) soul, she will only say "yes" to what "feels good" to her body, thereby enhancing its health, prosperity and fertility.
When a man is anchored by his loving anima (yin) soul, he "wants" to give, protect and cherish. He "wants" to "do good" to feel good about himself. He will have the courage to want and court a healthy woman with pleasure. He will give to get back and she will give back to get more. "Faint heart ne'r won fair maiden." To be castrated or intimidated of his anima yin soul condemns him to either:
Use women, or Be used by women who themselves are castrated of their animus yang soul
ability to say "NO," the Black Madonna power.
A man "sees" what he wants. A woman "hears" what she wants. When this is reversed, the energy balance within each is unbalanced and needs spiritual healing (therapy by an aware counselor). How is this done? I recommend Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
I shall use a composite case study and call her Sylvia. Sylvia is between 35-40, well-dressed, well-groomed, successful in her career or profession (often a therapist). She may have any ethnic or religious background with or without past marriages, legitimate or illegitimate children. She is either in a relationship with a yin-oriented, yang-deficient man or she wants out of a relationship with him.
She may be physically abused, but she is always emotionally abused by inadequate, intimidating, women hating men. These men at first seduce her with a cunning con sexually.
Once she is "bonded," the abuse begins. She "knows" he is bad for her and her child, but she cannot leave based on fear or guilt. In truth, she must be taught through her mind rather than her feelings because her feelings serve him rather than her. Being ego-dystonic causes a loss of her feeling experience and a loss of his logic (due to his exacerbated feelings). They fit together pathologically in a dance of symbiosis or learned helplessness.
A thorough intake will reveal how the balance was lost as a child usually between 3 to 10 years. Special notice must be taken of unresolved issues with dad. Was he gone? Drunk? Dead? Workaholic? Ill? Violent? Incesting? Was he castrated with his own issues? What about mom? What kind of role model was she? Was there an older "star" sister or a "baby" sister to compete with? Is there a "momma's boy" brother whom dad rejected as a "sissy," thereby putting pressure on Sylvia to perform more and process feelings less?
Perhaps performance is the goal for everyone in the family and she naturally follows suit. Sylvia comes to the office when the pain becomes intolerable. She wants it all: home, children, career, love, and a good man who loves her and who show its. And, she wants it all NOW.
The first behavioral agreement I get from Sylvia is NO SEX, intercourse with anyone, including "him." If violence is involved, I ask her to move to a safe environment away from him in order to "detox" her off of the oxytocin. If necessary, she must have him arrested and put in jail or she must go to the police and file a stalking report.
If she is unwilling to detox, she is trying to get emotional support from me, which she often is already receiving from girlfriends and other emotive therapists who do not realize that she is addicted to the oxytocin produced in her gonads and re-stimulated EVERY time she smells him with or without intercourse. Sylvia may need to "go out" there longer to hear what I am saying.
If she is willing to "transfer" to me therapeutically, I ask her to begin reading materials which will educate her about the research backing my treatment. I also ask her to begin "duty dating" to desensitize her intellectual choice of men from "bad" to "good." This entails flirting five minutes per day in a public place with men of all types. Bars are excluded because men under the influence of mind-altering drugs are yin-oriented and more of the "same old, same old.."
Once per week, she must "present" herself passively (yin) to receive men's attention. She can go to coffee bars, churches, dances, sports events, cultural events, educational events, and singles events. She flirts by looking into the eyes and smiling (yin), but NOT talking (yang) first. She speaks when spoken to; responds instead of acting first.
Duty dating is uncomfortable for Sylvia because she must receive pleasurable attention without the "passion" of fast sex, drugs or booze to alleviate the anxiety of passivity (yin). Sylvia is more comfortable giving, protecting and cherishing him first when he flirts with her. Giving BACK(yin) is alien to her. She Gives to Get (yang), not Gets to Give BACK (yin) and therefore pleasure is not the motivator; addiction to oxytocin is.
He only gives in the first dates or weeks. Then, he begins to use and abuse her helpless vulnerability due to her oxytocin addiction stimulated by him. This is manifested sexually, mentally, financially, socially and spiritually. It may take a long period of duty dating at least three men until Sylvia is finally with a good man instead of a bad one.
A good man finds and deflowers her with his loving ways. She may resist his advances at first, but eventually she will learn to feel the pleasure physically. Incremental desensitization is the therapeutic goal. I often advise Sylvia to not consummate the sexual relationship until engaged as a pragmatic behavior (which tells him, as wars her, that they are embarking on a sexual/social, monogamous, long-term marriage-bound, continuous relationship whose goal is mutual sexual and social pleasure, intellectual companionship, and an emotionally supporting family life with or without a career on the side.
For more relationship tips from Dr. Pat Allan and our experts visit genConnect.com and here are more specific articles for you:
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