Although there are infinite variations, below you will find six of the more common types of gender projections. (...)
1- The Devilish Romantic: For the woman in this scenario, the man who fascinates her—often older and successful—might seem like a rake, the type who cannot help but chase after young women. But he is also romantic. When he’s in love, he showers the woman with attention. She decides she will seduce him and become the target of his attention. She will play to his fantasies. How can he not want to settle down with her and reform himself? She will bask in his love. But somehow he is not as strong, masculine, or romantic as she had imagined. He is a bit self-absorbed. She does not get the desired attention, or it does not last very long. He cannot be reformed, and leaves her.
This is often the projection of women who had rather intense, even flirtatious relationships with the father. Such fathers often find their wives boring, and the young daughter more charming and playful. They turn to the daughter for inspiration; the daughter becomes addicted to their attention and adept at playing the kind of girl that daddy wants. It gives her a sense of power. It becomes her lifelong goal to recapture this attention and the power that goes with it. Any association with the father figure will spark the projecting mechanism, and she will invent or exaggerate the man’s romantic nature. (...)
Women in this scenario have become trapped by the early attention paid to them by the father. They have to be continually charming, inspiring, and flirtatious to elicit that attention later on. Their animus is seductive, but with an aggressive, masculine edge, having absorbed so much of the father’s energy. But they are in a continual search for a man who does not exist. If the man were completely attentive and tirelessly romantic, they would grow bored with him. He would be seen as too weak. They are secretly drawn to the devilish side of their fantasy man and to the narcissism that comes with it. Women trapped in this projection will grow resentful over the years about how much
energy they have to expend playing to men’s fantasies and how little they get in return.
2- The Elusive Woman of Perfection: He thinks he has found the ideal woman. She will give him what he’s been missing in his prior relationships, whether that’s some wildness, some comfort and compassion, or a creative spark. Although he has had few actual encounters with the woman in question, he can imagine all kinds of positive experiences with her. The more he thinks of her, the more he’s certain he cannot live without her. When he talks of this perfect woman, you will notice there’s not a lot of concrete detail about what makes her so perfect. If he does manage to forge a relationship, he will quickly become disenchanted. She’s not who he thought she was; she
misled him. He then moves on to the next woman to project his fantasy onto.
This is a common form of male projection. It contains all of the elements he thinks he never got from his mother, never got from the other women in his life. This ideal mate will haunt his dreams. She will not appear to him in the form of someone he knows; she is a woman fashioned in his imagination—often young, elusive, but promising something great. In real life, certain types of women will tend to trigger this projection. She is usually quite hard to pin down and conforms to what Freud called the narcissistic woman—self-contained, not really needing a man or anybody to complete her. She can be a bit cold at the core and a blank screen upon which men can project whatever they want. Alternatively, she can seem to be a free spirit, full of creative energy but without a clear sense of her own identity. For men she serves as a muse, a great spark to their imagination, a lure to loosen up their own rigid mind.
The men prone to this projection often had mothers who were not totally there for them. Perhaps such a mother expected the son to give her the attention and validation she was not getting from her husband. Because of this reversal, when the boy becomes a man, he feels a great emptiness inside that he constantly needs to fill. He cannot exactly verbalize what he wants or what he missed, hence the vagueness of his fantasy. He will spend his life searching for this elusive figure and never settle on a flesh-and-blood female. It’s always the next one who will be perfect. If he falls for the narcissistic type, he will repeat the problem he experienced with his mother, falling for a woman who cannot give him what he wants. His own anima is a bit dreamy, introspective, and moody, which is the behavior he will tend to exhibit when in love.
Men of this type must recognize the nature of their pattern. What they really need is to find and interact with a real woman, accept her inevitable flaws, and give more of themselves. They often prefer to chase their fantasy, because in such a scenario they are in control and have the freedom to leave when reality sets in. To break the pattern, such men will have to give up some of this control. When it comes to their need for a muse, they must learn to find such inspiration from within, to bring out more of the anima within themselves. They are too alienated from their own feminine spirit and need to loosen up their own thought processes. Not needing this wildness from their fantasy
woman, they will better relate to the actual women in their life.
3- The Lovable Rebel: For the woman who is drawn to this type, the man who intrigues her has a noticeable disdain for authority. He is a nonconformist. Unlike the Devilish Romantic, this man will often be young and not so successful. He will also tend to be outside her usual circle of acquaintances. To have a relationship with him would be ever so slightly taboo—certainly her father would not approve, and perhaps not her friends or colleagues. If a relationship does ensue, however, she will see a totally different side to him. He can’t hold down a good job, not because he’s a rebel but because he’s lazy and ineffectual. Despite the tattoos and shaved head, he’s quite conventional, controlling, and domineering. The relationship will break apart, but the fantasy will remain.
The woman with this projection often had a strong, patriarchal father who was distant and strict. The father represents order, rules, and conventions. He was often quite critical of his daughter—she was never good or pretty or smart enough. She internalized this critical voice and hears it in her head all the time. As a girl she dreamed of rebelling and asserting herself against the father’s control, but too often she was reduced to obeying and playing the deferential daughter. Her desire to rebel was repressed and went into her animus, which is quite angry and resentful. Instead of developing the rebelliousness herself, she looks to externalize it in the form of the rebellious male. If she senses a man might be like this, based on his appearance, she will project fantasies that are charged and sexual. Often times she chooses a man who is relatively young because this makes him less threatening, less of a patriarch. But his youth and immaturity make it almost impossible to form a stable relationship, and her angry side will come out as she grows disenchanted.
Once a woman recognizes she is prone to this projection, she must come to terms with a simple fact: what she really wants is to develop the independence, assertiveness, and power to disobey in herself. It is never too late to do so, but these qualities must be built up and developed in small steps, everyday challenges in which she practices saying no, breaking some rules, et cetera. Becoming more assertive, she can begin to have relationships that are more equal and satisfying.
4- The Fallen Woman: To the man in question, the woman who fascinates him seems so different from those he has known. Perhaps she comes from a different culture or social class. Perhaps she is not as educated as he is. There might be something dubious about her character and her past; she is certainly less physically restrained than most women. He thinks she’s earthy. She seems to be in need of protection, education, and money. He will be the one to rescue and elevate her. But somehow the closer he gets to her, the less it turns out as he had expected. (...)
Men of this type often had strong mother figures in their childhood. They became good, obedient boys, excellent students at school. Consciously they are attracted to well-educated women, to those who seem good and perfect. But unconsciously they are drawn to women who are imperfect, bad, of dubious character. They secretly crave what is the opposite of themselves. It is the classic split of the mother/whore—they want the mother figure for a wife but feel a much stronger physical attraction to the whore, the Fallen Woman, the type who likes to display her body. They have repressed the playful, sensual, and earthy sides of the character they had as boys. They are too rigid and civilized. The only way they can relate to these qualities is through women who appear to be so different from themselves.
(...), they find a way to idealize them with some highbrow reference that has no relation to reality. They project onto such women weakness and vulnerability. They tell themselves they want to help and protect them. But what really attracts them is the danger and naughty pleasures these women seem to promise. Underestimating the strength of such women, they often end up as their pawns. Their anima is passive and masochistic.
Men who engage in this kind of projection need to develop the less conventional sides of their character. They need to move outside their comfort zone and try new experiences on their own. They require more challenges, and even a bit of danger that will help loosen them up. Perhaps they need to take more risks at work. They also need to develop the more physical and sensual side of their character. Not having to get what they crave by looking for the Fallen Woman type, they can actually begin to satisfy their urges with any type of woman, not passively waiting for her to lead them astray but actively initiating the guilty pleasures.
5- The Superior Man: He seems brilliant, skilled, strong, and stable. He radiates confidence and power. He could be a high-powered businessman, a professor, an artist, a guru. Even though he may be older and not so physically attractive, his self-assurance gives him an attractive aura. For the woman attracted to this type, a relationship with him would give her an indirect feeling of strength and superiority. (...)
It stems from feelings of inferiority. The woman in this case has internalized the voices of the father and others who have been so critical of her, who have lowered her self-esteem by telling her who she is and how she should behave. Not having ever developed her own strength or confidence, she will tend to search for these qualities in men and exaggerate any traces of them. Many of the men who respond to her sense her low self-esteem and find this alluring. They like the adoring attention of a woman, often younger, whom they can lord over and control. This would be the classic professor seducing the student. Because such men are rarely as brilliant, clever, and self-assured as she imagines, the woman either is disappointed and leaves or is trapped in her low self-esteem, bending to his manipulations and blaming herself for any problems.
What such a woman needs to do is first realize that the source of her insecurity is the critical opinions of others, which she has accepted and internalized. It does not stem from her inherent lack of intelligence or worthiness. She must actively work at developing her assertiveness and self-confidence through her actions—taking on projects, starting a business, mastering a craft. With men, she must see herself as their natural equal, as potentially strong and creative as they are, or even more so. With genuine self-confidence she will then be able to gauge the true worth and character of the men she meets.
6- The Woman to Worship Him: He’s driven and ambitious, but his life is hard. It’s a harsh, unforgiving world out there, and it’s not easy to find any comfort. He feels something missing in his life. Then along comes a woman who is attentive to him, warm, and engaging. She seems to admire him. He feels overwhelmingly drawn to her and her energy. This is the woman to complete him, to help comfort him. But then, as the relationship develops, she no longer seems quite so nice and attentive. She certainly has stopped admiring him. He concludes that she has deceived him or has changed. Such a betrayal makes him angry.
This male projection generally stems from a particular type of relationship with the mother—she adores her son and showers him with attention. Perhaps this is to compensate for never quite getting what she wants from her husband. She fills the boy with confidence; he becomes addicted to her attention and craves her warm, enveloping presence, which is what she wants.
When he grows up, he is often quite ambitious, always trying to live up to the expectations of his mother. He pushes himself hard. He chooses a certain type of woman to pursue and then subtly positions her to play the mother role—to comfort, adore, and pump up his ego. In many instances, the woman will come to understand how he has manipulated her into this role, and she will resent it. She will stop being so soothing and reverential. He will blame her for changing, but in fact he is the one projecting qualities that were never exactly there and trying to make her conform to his expectations. The ensuing breakup will be very painful for the man, because he has invested energy from his earliest years and will feel this as abandonment from the mother figure. Even if he is successful in getting the woman to play the role, he himself will feel resentment at his dependency on her, the same dependency and ambivalence he had toward his mother. He may sabotage the relationship or withdraw. His anima has a sharp, recriminating edge, always ready to complain and blame.
The man in this case must see the pattern of these relationships in his life. What this should signal to him is that he needs to develop from within more of the mothering qualities that he projects onto women. He must see the nature of his ambition as stemming from his desire to please his mother and live up to her expectations. He tends to drive himself too hard. He must learn to comfort and soothe himself, to withdraw from time to time and be satisfied with his accomplishments. He needs to be able to care for himself. This will drastically improve his relationships. He will give more, instead of waiting to be adored and taken care of. He will relate to women as they are, and in the end they will perhaps feel unconsciously impelled to provide more of the comfort he needs, without being pushed into this.