The Suitor and the Débutante in the World
In the essay for this month, released on January 1, I did not include a consideration of the inverted or Evil versions of these Archetypes. In fact, I didn’t even warn you that such a thing existed. It’s time to correct this failure. I hope you’ll forgive me for this brief addendum to the essay prior to the reflection proper.
On one level, I think I was hesitant to introduce such a controversial topic just yet (trust me, you’ll find it controversial—if not now then later), but on another level, I also think I wasn’t convinced at the time that there even were evil versions of these two Archetypes. They are, after all, the earliest beginnings of the human Archetypal journey. The desire of the Suitor and the preparation of the Débutante are experiences so familiar even to elementary school children that it is difficult for us to imagine that these kids have conceived that desire and attraction fall into two very different categories commonly called “Good” and “Evil”. But I was wrong about this. The Suitor and the Débutante do not represent absolute beginnings, though they can. Rather, they represent contextual beginnings. As we grow and mature, inevitably committing ourselves more strongly to our own values (whether Good or Evil), we still return to the Suitor and the Débutante in moments when we need a fresh start. Our approach to these Archetypes, however, does begin to take the shape and form of the path we’ve already walked.
Now that I am introducing Good and Evil, the concept of balance will be easier to grasp. A balanced Archetype is a pure representation (in the case of a fictional character) or instantiation (in the case of a person) of that Archetype in its morally Good alignment. An inverted Archetype is a pure representation or instantiation of that Archetype in its morally Evil alignment. Morality, then, is more a gyroscope than a compass: Good at the top, Evil at the bottom, imbalance between. Imbalance on one side is deficiency (negative imbalance) and imbalance on the other side is excess (positive imbalance). Human beings seek moral coherence as an instinctive (Archetypal, really) drive. The space on the gyroscope that lies between Good and Evil is morally incoherent because the philosophies of Good and Evil are at odds with each other: you must eventually choose one and abandon the other. The world in which we actually live, though, is populated by billions of persons who have not chosen a coherent alignment. Most of us think of ourselves as Good, but in practice our attitudes are morally mixed. A proper chapter on this subject is forthcoming, but hopefully this very brief explanation will do for now.
Now a quick introduction to the inverted Archetypes. You’ll notice that these characterizations are extreme. I have intentionally described these inverted Archetypes in as purely Evil a light as possible so that the mixed instantiations—which are far more common than pure instantiations—will be easier to observe as such.
The Inverted Suitor and Débutante
The Evil Suitor’s intentions are entirely self-oriented. In the other he sees something he can use. He is the Predator. He never takes “No” for an answer, so his actions are always in flirtation with assault, whether metaphorically or literally. The Predator typically initiates the relationship. For those of us who consider ourselves Good at heart, the Predator is a weak version of the self who feels powerful by preying on those perceived to be weaker than itself. It is not possible, of course, to succeed at not taking No for an answer unless the Débutante you are dominating is actually weaker than you. A conscious Predator, however—one who knows that his intentions are evil and intends them to remain that way—looks for a challenge. The bigger the prize, the more powerful you feel when you win it.
As the Predator lies at the Evil pole of the moral gyroscope, the Gentlemen lies at the Good pole. He is the balanced Suitor whose intentions are pure and noble.
The Evil Débutante is the Temptress, the sultry liar who thrives on breaking a Suitor’s will to extract from him something that benefits her. She wants him to reveal all his weaknesses; she wants to gain his trust. Then, in the moment when he is most vulnerable, she will snap him in two to empty his pockets. She thrives on the sad state of despair that he is left in when she ultimately leaves him feeling weak and utterly powerless in his obsession with her, evidence to her that he didn’t deserve her anyway. As with the Predator, she must be careful which Suitors she says “Yes” to because she may find herself becoming his slave if she chooses someone who can resist her allure. For those who consider themselves Good at heart, the Temptress is the weak self that does not trust that the Suitor will accept the Self as it is, so she falsifies her presentation in order to feel more valuable when he is smitten by her.
As the Temptress lies at the Evil pole of the moral gyroscope, the Maiden lies at the Good pole. She is the balanced Débutante whose affection is freely given.
Reflection on the Suitor and Débutante
A “Reflection,” as I use the term, is a series of thoughts on various socially significant topics. Some of them are long discussions, others are just a few sentences. I call it a “reflection” because what I am presenting is literally my own assorted thoughts on the Archetypes after having spent some time reflecting on them.
The “honeymoon period” represents the first sex act between Suitor and Débutante. When “the novelty wears off,” a different set of Archetypes usually becomes more prominent (Mother and Father)—yet the Suitor and Débutante are still there, waiting for the next time, the next new experience. Settling into a romantic relationship does not mean that one set of Archetypes is abandoned and another picked up. We are human beings, not one-dimensional characters in a cheap sci-fi thriller. All Archetypes exists within each of us simultaneously, but at any given moment we are more or less driven by one or two of them, depending on our concerns at the moment.
When we settle into a relationship, we engage other Archetypes besides the Suitor and Débutante, but we cannot deny them their needs in the process. As an example of these two Archetypes at work, instantiated literally by a man and a woman, consider a typical extramarital affair. A man who cannot see the Débutante anew in his wife will eventually become restless to the point that he is veritably seized by the Suitor Archetype. In his desperation for something, anything to inject color into his black and white world, he looks elsewhere. His wandering eye or “seven-year itch” is the unsatisfied but growing desire for something new. Simultaneously, a woman similarly seized by the Débutante may find she does not feel appreciated by her husband. She begins to dress herself up, not for the husband but for the man she unconsciously hopes will come along, the one who does indeed appreciate her.
These two clandestine lovers find each other in discreet affairs, reliving the honeymoon between Suitor and Débutante. These lovers don’t know, of course, that their mates could become Suitor and Débutante again, given a change in perspective. If the restless husband would turn to his wife as if he’d never met her before, suddenly struck by the mysterious beauty of a face he thought he knew, she would be Débutante for him once more, and the extramarital affair would be unnecessary. If the unappreciated wife would look upon her husband’s advances as those of a Suitor whose desire for her is pure and undivided, she will find herself dressing up for her husband the way she does for the man she had hoped would sweep her away from her monotonous life.
Extending the metaphor to a less literal instance, any relationship has become dull and uneventful is calling for the Suitor and Débutante Archetypes once more. The most effective forms of rekindling always involve both parties instantiating the Suitor and Débutante (alternatingly, of course) toward each other, increasing the attraction like a positive feedback loop. Even pop literature on rekindling bland marriages always revolves around the idea that the conditions of initial attraction must be recreated. Rekindling techniques encourage novelty and newness on superficial levels, but the message on a deeper level is simple: (1) Become the Débutante by making yourself attractive for your partner as if you must still win his or her affection. (2) Become the Suitor by focusing all of your energy and attention on your partner is if he or she has not yet agreed to your Proposal.
The Suitor’s attraction is not shallow by nature; rather, its search for novelty is an essential element in the Archetype. If we learn to unveil novelty within the already familiar, the pull toward shallow novelty dissipates. How often do we return to a book we loved to find in its pages a wisdom and richness that we’d never seen before? Sometimes when I look at my guitar, what I see is all the songs I already know and don’t feel like playing anymore. But other times I see the many styles I’ve wanted to learn but haven’t, freestyle patterns that are still only just now opening up to my play, and the perfect accompaniment to my crooning. When the guitar looks old and drab to me, I seek novelty elsewhere. When it looks rich with possibility, I have no need to look elsewhere.
Hence, the books, films, and persons I find myself drawn toward are an ever diminishing group. The more attention I give to the forms of novelty and familiarity I see in them, the more I prefer superficial familiarity (e.g. a film I’ve seen before) and deep novelty (cinematic depth I still haven’t plumbed), rather than superficial novelty (a new Hollywood film) and deep familiarity (the same tired plot and character clichés). The very nature of the Débutante’s display indicates that maturity moves in the direction of subtlety. If her efforts are careful and detailed, then the greater my appreciation for subtlety, the more novel she will appear. Hence, that which offers little subtlety begins to look more and more familiar as I say to myself in response to a person whose presentation shows none of the hallmarks of the balanced Débutante’s uniqueness, “No thanks. I know where that road leads.”
Similarly, the Débutante begins to notice more and more that she is either saying “No” more than she’d like or being approached less than she’d like. Her presentation is too ostentatious or too conservative. She learns in her maturity to become more subtle in her presentation, navigating the balance between ostentatious and conservative in order to attract Proposals with precision.
I’ve seen men and women show up at my store in fancy garbs that declare “I am a spiritual teacher!” or “I am wealthy and tasteful!” or “I am a DIY hippie!” Each of these cliché presentations lacks a subtlety that originates from the unique self’s offering. Each Débutante is unique, thought she may not know it. I have to assume that I am not the target market for each of these Débutantes because what I see is “more of the same.” That is, to me, these clichés represent deep familiarity: I know the patterns that drive their efforts and I’ve seen them enough times that I am rather bored of them. Human beings are not born with a sense for distinguishing the monotonously cliché from the refreshingly original; rather, it is developed over time as we hone our ability to recognize what attracts us on ever subtler levels. Whereas I once had a fascination with flamboyant iconoclasts (because I was one), even this subculture became cliché and now I prefer to see cultural norms violated in less obvious ways. In ten years I expect my sensitivity to cliché and to subtlety will be even further honed, a subtlety that will redound into my own presentation that inevitably attracts Suitors of one kind or another to me.
What follows is a detailed exploration of the attitudes that lead to rape and rape culture. If you have experienced rape of some kind and do not want traumatic emotions to be triggered, then please scroll past this section and continue reading when you see the “End of Potential Triggers” surrounded by asterisks (like the one below).
***POTENTIAL TRIGGERS FOR RAPE VICTIMS***
The Law of Attraction holds for the Predator and the Temptress just as it does for any other kind of Suitor and Débutante. Predators are attracted to Temptresses and Temptresses attract Predators. Insofar as we find ourselves falling for one or the other, we can be sure that our intentions are a mirror image of the other’s. This matching of intentions is precisely why rape culture exists in the first place. Anyone who participates in rape culture (that is, anyone who victimizes) is either a Predator or a Temptress to some degree. Because most people do not consciously choose Evil, we usually instantiate the Predator and the Temptress unconsciously. We are all victimizers to some degree, though most of us stop well short of physical rape.
Unconscious Predators are morally mixed. Most of them have a conscious perception of themselves as Good, attempting to reinforce their own weakness and insecurity by preying on others. When accused of rape, the unconscious Predator relies on his conviction that “She was asking for it.” I call this the “Predator’s Defense,” a rape culture attitude whose infamously one-sided ideology has hogged most of the attention surrounding rape culture. According to the Predator’s Defense, the unconscious Predator does not see his prey as victims; rather, he sees them as Temptresses who are likely victimizers in their own right. Because he thinks of himself as Good, the only way to rationalize his Predatory behavior is to maintain that his victim was out to victimize him, too.
Once, when I was working as a waiter in a fine dining restaurant, I noticed that a young, pretty hostess was wearing a dress that would have been lovely and appropriate if she had worn a slip underneath. Most of the men were enjoying the clear view of her panty-line which you could only see from behind. I told them that I was going to tell her about it after the shift was over because I didn’t think she intended to dress so revealingly. Some of them, though, were irritated that I would do such a thing because they were sure that she knew exactly what she looked like and had fully intended to draw the lusty leers of every red-blooded male in the restaurant. When I did tell her, she became embarrassed and self-conscious.
To me, the whole affair demonstrated that the hostess’ attire was chosen naively, that she was just a 19 year old girl who liked to look pretty but didn’t realize that she needed to take some precaution to prevent unwanted attention. When she became embarrassed and self-conscious, I took this as evidence that my assessment was correct. To someone with a more Predatory perspective than I had at the time (though don’t get me wrong, I had some Predator in me too), the affair demonstrated the opposite. When a Predator sees a Débutante who looks naive or innocent, he assumes that this visage is a show, a coy display, a call for attention. According to the Predator’s inner myth, there are no naive Débutantes because they are all hiding their desire for attention and, beneath this deceptive display, a desire to take the Suitor for all he is worth.
The unconscious Predator is sometimes right. His concept of the Temptress is very accurate for those who actually instantiate the Temptress. Because the Predator is usually wrong in his assessment (due to his lack of subtlety in reading cues), his advances typically result in abject victimization. The Temptress, as the Predator conceives her, is like him. She’s looking to get hers and doesn’t really care who she steps on in the process. She knows that Suitors are attracted to her and she is happy to take them in—provided they can pay the price she demands. The Temptress assumes that everyone is out for themselves, so where the Predator constellates the Temptress in every naive Débutante, the Temptress constellates the Predator in every well-meaning Suitor. Like the Predator, the Temptress victimizes unsuspecting Suitors who fall for her pleasant display only to find that she has absconded with something valuable. Again, like the Temptress, the Predator victimizes unsuspecting Débutantes who fall for his pleasant display only to find themselves unable to resist when he Proposes and doesn’t take “No” for an answer.
The most sinister pattern in unconscious Predators and Temptresses who consider themselves Good rather than Evil is that Predators present themselves as innocuous and well-intentioned Gentlemen and Temptresses present themselves as innocent and naive Maidens. Because they are both dishonest about themselves, they assume that others are equally dishonest, so whenever a Predator meets a Maiden who actually is innocent and naive, he can only see the Temptress’s plausible deniability. Instead of the Maiden, a Predator constellates the Temptress in her. Similarly, whenever the Temptress meets a Gentleman who actually is innocuous and well-intentioned, she can only constellate the Predator’s ruthless self-interest. A woman I loved but was not dating at the time once had sex with me when she was between boyfriends. Immediately afterward, she accused me of only bedding her for the conquest, the notch in the bedpost. I was much more hurt by this accusation than by the unrequited love.
Rape culture primarily involves normal human beings who are unconsciously acting as Predators and Temptresses. Typically, an unconscious Predator has been burned by Temptresses at some point in his life, and a Temptress has been (at least metaphorically) raped by Predators at some point in her life. We come to expect these roles of each other because we cannot bring ourselves to look for sincerity in the other, preferring to “expect the worst.” The pessimist’s safe-haven, though, is a sure way to bring out the worst.
The most shocking and appalling consequence of the deceit that Predators and Temptresses display is that they end up feeding on the weak and helpless. Suitors and Débutantes who really are innocent and inexperienced become irresistibly attractive to the inverse roles, so much so that Predators and Temptresses typically recognize that the weak and helpless are easy victims when a more enticing prospect isn’t available. Débutantes and Suitors who have very low confidence unconsciously broadcast their inner devalued selves, attracting those who likewise do not see much value in them. This is not to say that persons who lack confidence are to blame, but simply that the outer reality is happy to confirm the inner reality you have committed yourself to. It sucks. Recognizing that those who are already in pain are likely to attract even more pain to themselves seems a cruel cosmic joke, but there is an Archetypal reason for this—that reason, however, is a more appropriate topic for Mother and Father Archetypes and for the Narrator and Audience Archetypes.
I don’t want to give women the “Don’t wear hoodies” advice that we find ourselves giving black male victims of police brutality, but presentation is key for avoiding victimization. A Débutante must tread the carefully in order to avoid attracting Predators. She is well served by looking within herself for the Débutante who is attractive but will let you know immediately and plainly that she’s not going to take any shit from you and that your pretty words aren’t going to work. In practice, this response can elicit a brutal attack from Predators who find that their Débutante is not what they were expecting, but empowerment is a slow process that begins with backlash from the status quo. Although dangerous, standing up for yourself is surely less dangerous than falling into a Predator’s trap. I can only hope that men begin more and more to support women who say “No” and mean “No” so that we can avoid the backlash.
The mirror image of this advice holds for Suitors who find themselves burned by Temptresses. People who say, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it is,” are warning Suitors to watch out for Temptresses. Every Temptress presents herself as too good to be true, and every Suitor who falls into her snare ignored the part of himself that kinda knew it was too good to be true. “But it was just so good,” he’ll say. I don’t mean to sow pessimism; on the contrary, a relationship can be far better than you had ever dreamed, but the phrase “too good to be true” captures the connotations associated with a Temptress. Somehow, you know there’s a catch. It just doesn’t seem honest. Get-rich-quick schemes are a perfect example of Temptresses on a social level. Learn how to avoid these and you will know how to avoid the interpersonal ones, too.
As most Predators are unaware that they are feeding on the weak, so most Temptresses are unaware. We’ve all met the gold-digger, so we know that the one person who doesn’t know that she is a gold-digger is she herself. We don’t try to play these roles; rather, we do so because we simply don’t believe that virtue really exists in either self or other. An unconscious Predator might consciously fantasize about a relationship in which a Débutante gives herself to him freely, but he doesn’t believe that is possible. I worked with a man who once told me that you always pay for sex. I knew better and let him know he was wrong but he, being 20 years my senior, confidently let me know that he was married and had been around: “Trust me, you always pay.” I still hope he learns that he was wrong.
The imbalanced Débutante is, in truth, a mixture of both Maiden and Temptress. She dresses to allure and draw a Suitor in, hoping to make him hers, but she consciously sees herself as awaiting her knight in shining armor, dressing herself up so that he will see her pristine beauty. Only experience and maturity (but hopefully not rape) will bring her to terms with her internal contradictions, forcing her to see that while a part of her does indeed want a pure and healthy relationship, another part of her wants to use Suitors for her own purposes without concern for their broken hearts. Likewise, the imbalanced Suitor mixes Gentleman and Predator. He sees himself as approaching a Débutante with the sincerest and noblest of intentions, but finds himself persisting even after she has said “No.” Until these two begin to learn the consequences of maintaining attitudes about themselves and others with mixed intentions, they will continue to mistreat each other and rape culture will persist.
If you haven’t watched the viral video of a woman walking silently through the streets of NYC, I recommend it. I have embedded it below.
We see examples of unconscious Predators in the video, men who approach the woman but do not take “No” for an answer. This is an attitude similar to the one we all take toward our own creative resources. When we want to access inner creativity in order get something done, we approach our unconscious at first with a request and then with a demand if the answer is “No.” We have a deadline, after all. The mixed Predator on the street is no different: he feels the urgency to score with hot babes, so each time he hears “No,” he gets angrier because he’s got a deadline to meet, damn it.
Herein lies the deeper thrust of rape culture. We interpret the intentions of others as malicious or deceitful because we mistrust ourselves in the very same ways. In order to get the job done, we prey on our intuition even if it has said “no.” We force ourselves through college and into a career even if our Unconscious resists because that’s what needed to happen to pay the bills. We force ourselves to quit smoking or drinking because it serves our agenda. We force smiles on our faces and words out of our mouths because the occasion called for it. Like the Predator, we ask for something from ourselves and when the answer is “No,” we take it anyway.
Because we see ourselves as ruthless pillagers, we have come to expect the pillaging. The Intuition, in response to a ruthless Ego, demands payment if the Predatory Ego is going to make its demands. When we force something upon ourselves through willpower, we must pay for it whether we want to or not. Hence, the inner Temptress will make off with some of our time and energy through her “vices” because you got yours and now she wants to get hers.
***END OF POTENTIAL TRIGGERS FOR RAPE VICTIMS***
The Customer Is Always Right
“The customer is always right.” This is the ideology of a dishonest Débutante, one who lacks self-respect. Once again, she is both Maiden and Temptress. She is willing to be whatever her Suitor wants, no matter the cost to her. Her pretense, though, masks an awareness that he is not always right after all. Within this pretense, a distrust of the customer usually festers just beneath the surface: as the imbalanced Débutante continues to tell the customer that he is always right, she begins to hate him more and more because all he wants is to use her. We build entire customer service philosophies around this slogan, philosophies which are designed to win the bidding war between the customer, a perceived Predator, and the business, a disguised Temptress. Corporate offices endorse rules and codes of presentation for customer service such as wearing a smile, greeting every customer, honoring all complaints, deferring to the will of the customer, all to keep the Predator in the Temptress’s lair, to keep the customer coming back. She wants him to tell all his friends, “You won’t believe the kind of service I got there! Everyone was smiling and they happily exchanged one of my purchases even though I didn’t have a receipt.” The Predator who is looking to engage the bidding war with the Temptress, though, tells a different story: “I can’t believe the nerve of those employees. One of them didn’t even call me ‘Sir.’ You’d better believe I stole an expensive product and pretended I was returning it, though. They always try to screw you over, so you have to screw them over first.”
Insofar as the “customer is always right” philosophy is only a show, the company that espouses it is, in fact, consciously Evil, consciously a Temptress. Subtle lies and manipulation that separate you from what you value are the hallmarks of a Temptress in the same way that unrelenting demands following a sweet invitation are the hallmarks of a Predator. Companies who engage in these kinds of tactics attract Predators that only confirm their suspicions that customers are all just looking out for themselves so companies have to do the same.
The Try Hard
The more loudly a person declares what she is, the less inclined I am to think that she really knows or understands what she is talking about. Conversely, however, if you do not declare boldly who you are, you will not register to anyone the sense of novelty (hopefully a subtle one) that attracts Proposals. “No one notices me,” you say. Well, how do you present yourself? If you are afraid to be seen then you will not be noticed. You have to step onto that stage and make a debut or else Proposals will never come.
Internalizing the Relationship
When the Relationship is internalized, effectiveness takes a two-pronged attack: make yourself ever more attractive, and then when the time is right, Propose. Employers love that. So do romantic partners. And so does your unconscious self. The balanced, healthy inner environment expresses itself in the world through the potency of combining the Débutante’s patience with the Suitor’s aggressiveness. This is what the alchemists called the Alchemical Wedding. Of course, you can’t get there until you’ve integrated a few more Archetypes than just these two.
Standing in Front of the Mirror
Proposal is the work of a moment, but attractiveness takes time to prepare. This is the Archetype responsible for the stereotype discrepancy between the length of time it takes a man to prepare to go out versus a woman. Only men and women who are willing and capable of stepping beyond the bounds of the Suitor and Débutante, respectively, will defy this stereotype norm. I, myself, found that the more seriously I took the finer details of the way I present myself, the longer it took me to prepare. Thus, I began to tap into my own interpersonal role as Débutante.
Desiring the Taboo
We sometimes feel the allure of the dark side without characterizing it as Evil. We look to the taboo to express our Shadow, our inner Outcast (an Archetype whose treatment will come much later in The Architecture project), but we do not recognize that this is happening until we abandon the “taboo” classification placed upon an experience. When what was once wrong becomes acceptable, the Suitor wants its novelty—ignorant entirely of what he will find. Invariably, we will discover Good and Evil somewhere in there. Still, it is the fun that the Suitor sees.
The mindful Suitor must therefore pay attention to what is catching his eye. If he is attracted, then whatever attracts him is what he wants in some way. Other Archetypes—especially the Outcast—can stand in the way of the Suitor’s mindfulness. If what is socially forbidden attracts you, you’ll never be able to be honest about your own desires until you can accept that they make you an Outcast. In my case, it was difficult to admit that I am physically attracted to full-figured women because of the fat-shaming stigma in American culture. In retrospect I can see that I have always been drawn to curvy women, but the social beauty norms for women sometimes prevented me from consciously recognizing the attraction.
In inner terms, whatever catches your eye is sure to be a Débutante you are attracted to. I regularly visit an enormous used book store in town (McKay) because there is almost always something there that piques my interest. As with any second-hand shop, I usually don’t go with a specific acquisition in mind; rather, I just wait to see what attracts me. Invariably something will catch my eye and it is commonly something I did not expect. I must have wanted it, though, because it caught my eye.
The Suitor, aware that an attractive Débutante is usually inundated with Proposals, knows he must stand out from the rest is he has any hope of hearing a “Yes.” He typically either shows off or competes with other Suitors in a display of courage and will, which is really just another kind of showing off. Showing off is a Predatory action, innocuous and cute as it may be, because a Gentleman would trust that his straightforwardness stands out all on its own.
While it’s obvious that we show off on the social level by e.g. fluffing resumes and wearing fancy clothes to interviews, I have to think we show off on the inner level, too. Perhaps when we imagine all the ways we’ll reward ourselves for a job well done or think of all the reasons we should be able to make something happen by the deadline the Ego is either showing off or buttering the Intuition up.
Some men get upset that women don’t appear to need to do any work at all to get attention from men, but they fail to appreciate that they, too, can be Débutantes if they committed to becoming attractive. I’ve seen men moan and lament in various areas of the Internet (Craigslist, dating sites) that a woman doesn’t even have to be particularly attractive to get attention, but an eligible bachelor can scream and shout and still women aren’t interested. Since I do not know these people, I can only speculate based on my experience, which is this: most women have put far more effort into making themselves attractive than most men realize. Similarly, most men have no idea how to make themselves attractive to women. A man in the role of Débutante who complains that he never receives Proposals from women in, say, the casual encounters area of Craigslist needs to ask himself whether he is debuting in the right venue. A pole-dancing Débutante cannot make an effective debut if she dances at a comedy club.
Role-reversal between Suitor and Débutante is, of course, quite common. While men overwhelmingly tend to make the Proposals, most attractive men have been recipients of Proposals themselves. The determining factor in the role-reversal, though, is that men must have access to the inner Débutante, their own intuition, or else their lack of subtlety and creativity will never register as especially appealing. “The best ones are either gay or taken,” women sometimes say about men. What they mean by this is that they are happy to play the role of Suitor, but you just won’t be attractive unless you’ve spent some time learning how to express yourself uniquely, subtly, and creatively. Women, to whom the Débutante comes more readily by virtue of their sex, tend to be very in tune with their own subtle creativity, so a man who instantiates the subtle Débutante stands out all the more clearly to her. In more common terms, women tend to have a sense of style and fashion and are therefore drawn to men who have the same, but it is rarer for a man to be possessed of such a thing just as it is rarer for women to recognize that they desire one specific man strongly enough to muster the guts to approach him. It is not, of course, because we can’t, but because our strengths lie elsewhere and our weaknesses have been left uncultivated.
When “No” Means “Not Yet”
Pick-Up Artist (PUA) culture operates based on a theory of instinct that revolves around the Attraction Relationship: “Do this and she will want to say ‘yes’ through sheer instinct,” is a very common theme. And it works—to a point. To approach a woman with the pure courage and determination of the Suitor is to bring forth in her the Débutante who wants to say “Yes” because courage and determination alone make him attractive. She often still says “No,” if, despite her attraction, she has a romantic partner already.
Sometimes when she says “No,” however, it means “not yet.” Some Débutantes want you to keep trying because asking just once does not yet display enough determination. Shortly after I got divorced, I went on a frenzy asking women (and girls) out. I relished the idea of facing my fear of rejection, but I also liked the Suitor experience of pursuing the novel. The vast majority of women I asked said “No,” usually because they already had someone, but some of them were single. In retrospect, I realize that I was asking them out almost immediately upon meeting them which, though it did show courage, did not show much in the way of determination. My quickness to ask without first getting to know her a little bit more likely undermined the interest these women might have otherwise had. The mere fact that I never tried again with any of them demonstrates that I was not, in fact, all that attracted. If it wasn’t easy, I wasn’t interested.
Even a Débutante who is taken can still say “No,” and mean “Not yet, but keep trying,” so long as we take her to mean the we should keep trying with other Débutantes besides her. A Suitor must always be willing to take “No” as a final answer unless he is prepared to become a Predator. A rejected Suitor may get a second chance, but he must wait until something changes before his next attempt because he will only get the same answer if he doesn’t.
The Many Faces of Intuition
The Ego’s attention is beset by competition from the Intuition in its different modes. The Unconscious Self, brimming with its many and contradictory elements, presents itself in various forms to the Ego, often in competition with itself. Will I be a rebel or a good boy, prudish or promiscuous, a responsible adult or a wild child? The Intuition presents these faces to the Ego for it to choose. The Ego, of course, must distinguish the kinds of attraction it feels. A buxom woman dressed to the nines will still catch my eye, but the attraction I feel for her is of a particular nature, a particular resonance. Typically, the attraction turns out to be superficial and nowhere near strong enough for me to act upon it. The Predator in me is diminished enough that this passing woman upon whom I constellate the Temptress (regardless of her own inner states) does not have the force to displace my will to preserve my existing relationship.
Pornography Reiterates the Archetypal Relationship
In the pornography industry, we see a fascinating reiteration of the consummation between Suitor and Débutante, even if it is typically a crude rendition. The woman classically screams “yes” to the man, especially as the two approach climax (whether phony or not). This porn cliché latches onto the Archetypal nature of the sex act: the Débutante affirms to the Suitor that she wants to give him what he wants, that fulfilling his desire gives her the utmost pleasure. With each thrust, then, she receives him and affirms again, “Yes!” until the symbolic seed is implanted in her, entrusting her to incubate and eventually birth it. At the moment of orgasm, the Débutante’s story reaches completion and the Mother’s story begins as she takes the Suitors seed within herself to cultivate.
Wingmen and Girl Squads
Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods are founded on Archetypal commonality. Two Suitors who are out for the night looking to approach women are wingmen, and their brotherhood establishes a bond of shared experience as instantiations of the Archetype that bonds them. Débutantes engage in a similar sisterhood, though I’m not familiar with a name for it (I sometimes call the teenage versions of these groups “girl squads”). Attractive, single women out at night in groups may not necessarily be hoping Suitors approach them (just as two single men out at night may not necessarily be Suitors), but that is frequently the case.
Instantiating the same Archetype fosters a brotherhood/sisterhood, which can even bridge the physical sex gap—I’ve had female friends who were happy to be my wingman and I hers. Because of this tendency, however, attraction can only occur when the two parties are instantiating opposite Archetypes. This is a fairly simple task because we move fluidly from Archetype to Archetype depending on environment and company. If I am out at night and my intent is to approach women, I’ll be looking for women who are attractive to me, for Débutantes. But if a woman approaches me, my standards for attraction will be completely different. Her willingness to go out on a limb and her attraction to me induce in me the desire to see where it goes. This is precisely why women who do not match our society’s physical norms are often found playing the Suitor role: if you can’t attract them, then approaching will work nicely. These women are, of course, debased for being “desperate” or “ugly” or both, but beneath these judgments is a simple matter of practicality. Yes, sometimes desperation is at play, but that is not always the case as I can testify from my own experience.
Attraction seems to rely on the willingness and ease with which the two attracted parties play the Suitor and the Débutante in opposite roles, even if those roles happen to reverse in the middle of the affair. If the two find that the relationship between them tends toward playing the same Archetypal role, then they are better off not as lovers but as wingmen or mutually supporting Débutantes.
As an interesting aside, it is possible for Suitors to be wingmen and not Predators. The difference is in the intentions. We like to heap cultural shame upon both men and women who seek fleeting romance in the nightlife, but they may remain well within the bounds of the Gentlemanly and the Maidenly as long as they are honest in their dealings with each other.
The Friend Zone
The Friend Zone has recently become a Feminist battleground. Even Daniel Radcliffe has weighed in on the matter: “Have you ever heard a girl say she’s in the friend zone?” he says, “The idea of friend zone is just men going, ‘This woman won’t have sex with me.’” Despite its newly denigrated status, the concept of the Friend Zone is an important part of the Suitor experience. The Suitor (whether male or female) is the one responsible for making the first move, for initiating the relationship. The Suitor’s greatest strength is his courage, without which he has no hope with the Débutante he desires. The Nice Guy is a Suitor with very little courage, usually because he has very little confidence. (His low confidence also attracts Temptresses to him.) For this imbalanced Suitor, the Friend Zone is a very real experience.
The Nice Guy’s desires are always frustrated because he doesn’t have the guts to come out and tell the Débutante what he wants. Eventually, he will discover that she has been approached by another Suitor (who did have the guts) and that she said “Yes,” though he may think that the Suitor she chose over him is an asshole, (the Nice Guy’s strength is, after all, his niceness). He watches this happen over and over, becoming more and more desperate each time to fulfill his desires. As his sexual frustration mounts, the Nice Guy begins to sexualize every reasonably attractive woman he knows, whether there is chemistry or not. In each of these women, he perceives a potential mate—whom he hopes will make the first move. Having sexualized all relationships with the opposite sex, he can no longer have functional non-romantic friendships with them through a brother/sister bond. Instead, he holds out secret hopes that each of his female friends will fulfill his sexual fantasies one day. He is the Suitor who is always pumping himself up to Propose but never does. Unable to have a non-sexualized friendship, the Nice Guy will eventually break his Débutante’s trust by getting angry at her for not reciprocating his feelings. Witness the Nice Guy turned Predator. That is the Friend Zone.
The reason that women do not complain about being Friend Zoned is that it is an experience proper to the imbalanced Suitor. In fact, women do experience the Friend Zone, but it’s just not as common because there aren’t nearly as many females who are Nice Guys as there are males. The feminine experience that more properly mirrors the Friend Zone is when “he’s just not that into you.” This experience, however, belongs to a different Archetype (the Mother).
The Nice Guy flirts, but doesn’t Propose; he targets very specific Débutantes, but is afraid to tell them what he wants for fear of rejection. He has the passivity of the Débutante, but not the attractiveness or the openness to possibility. The Nice Guy wants the convenience of being approached without the responsibility of making himself attractive and accepting that he doesn’t decide who approaches him.
The Friend Zone and the Nice Guy who is trapped in it are not exclusive to the romantic side of the interpersonal level of human experience. On the non-romantic side of interpersonal experience, we enter the Friend Zone anytime we want some kind of relationship with someone else but are too shy to go out on a limb and say what we want. The Friend Zone manifests on the social level when we want entry into a specific social group but hope that we are noticed by that specific group rather than stand up tall and say what we want. On the inner level, the Friend Zone manifests whenever there is some experience we’d like to have, but lack the courage or the confidence to actually pull the trigger. “I’d like to learn how to dance one day, but I don’t think I’d be any good at it,” “I feel like I could write a book about it, but I’m a terrible writer,” and “I wish I had the nerve to start a business,” are all the Ego’s way of saying, “I think I’m in the Friend Zone with my Intuition.”
Because this is a reflection I don’t really have a powerful or conclusive note to end on. These are just my various thoughts. I hope that through them the Suitor and Débutante Archetypes, the Attraction Relationship, and the many instances of these Archetypes in our lived experience have become clearer. I also hope that my description of rape culture has not left you reeling; I’m aware of how sensitive a subject it is, but these things need to be said.