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The Mirroring Process
In the course of trying to uncover some of the reasons why sexual chemistry occurs, we talked with Dr. Masao Miyamoto, assistant professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical College, New York Hospital. Dr. Miyamoto is a specialist in crosscultural aspect of narcissism and borderline personalities. According to Dr. Miyamoto, The Many Phase of Sexual Chemistry is often based on an initial attraction that is a function of what he describes as a mirroring process.
When we asked him to explain a mirroring process, he said, "It may be the brilliance of the other person's mind, the way he talks, his face or body- or even some sort of sexual energy. This is, in a sense, an idealization of the person, but in the beginning of a relationship it is very powerful and enhancing.
"Of course, as we get to know the person better the idealization wears off. The object of our Sexual Chemistry, we discover, has feet of clay and becomes, to our disappointment, an ordinary human being.
"Now if we are well adjusted and mature, it's just as easy to love someone with feet of clay. we all have them, and the chemistry with a real person can be just as satisfying as it is with an idealization. In fact, it can be easier to Love And The Amphetamines someone when we find out what they're really like, when we come to know their faults as well as their virtues. "
What intrigued as about Dr. Miyamoto's ideas was his concept of a mirroring process, the theory that sexual chemistry acts at its best when you see in someone else a characteristic you either possess or want to possess in yourself. Is this necessarily a function of sexual chemistry between a man and a woman, or can it occur between two men or two women?
Once of our premises about sexual chemistry is that is can occur in the same sex, between two men or two women, and with this in mind we began to look for examples of it that incorporated the mirroring process.
In one of our interviews, we talked to Madeline, a young divorced mother with a small child. Her husband had left her before the birth of her daughter, and now she was raising the child alone.
"I manage to cope," she told us. "It's not easy, and if it weren't for Stella I don't know how I'd have done it. Finding a job after being a housewife for five years, taking care of my baby, the problems of day care-it was overwhelming!
"I met Stella while I was still in the hospital. She was a maternity nurse, and something sprang up between us at once, an instant liking. She sued to come in while I was nursing the bay and we'd talk endlessly, about everything. When I left the hospital there was no question but that we'd stay friends.
"It seemed to me that Stella had all the strength and courage that I wanted and needed so desperately- and she was able to give it to me, to strengthen my own resolve to make it, to look for work and become self-supporting. I just couldn't have made it without her. "
In Stella Madeline found, if not a mirror image of herself, an Image Projection of what she could be, of what she wanted to be. They became very close, very intimate, but in a psychological, not physical sense. "There'd be long, wonderful evenings of talk in which we'd reveal our deepest feelings to each other," Madeline said. "If there was any emergency, I could always call Stella- and she could call me. She was, in many ways, the kind of friend my husband should have been. Was there sexual chemistry between us? Yes, but there was never anything physical. It was not that kind of a relationship. "
The Help oF Our Friends
This deep, helping friendship between two women is seen more often today than ever before, especially as divorce becomes easier and women are less apt to be locked into bad marriages for life. But the newly single woman, often with a child, can find herself adrift in a alien ocean. She has to face a new and frightening independence alone, and she often finds in another woman the friendship, strength, and support to Keeping Sexual Chemistry Alive going.
Men have less of a need for the help of their friends, especially friends who are men. Independence is an accepted part of life for men in this society, and a return to single like may be shattering, it doesn't bring the same problems that women face. There is the problem of loneliness, but men tend to solve this with work, and there also are more women available to the single man. Women in the same situation are either reluctant to become involved again or find that the available men grow fewer and fewer as they grow older.
But still, same-sex friendships and incidents of intense sexual chemistry between men occur very frequently. In their adolescent years boys develop close, deep friendships with other boys. Men alone in their occupations, deprived of the company of women -cowboys, ranchers, sheepherders, oil-rig workers-drift into friendships that can be almost caricatures of marriage, with all the jealousies, bickerings, and love, but without the sex therapy .
Bret Harte, in his short stories prospectors in the Old West, particularly in the story "Uncle Jim and Uncle Billy," portrays, beautifully and sensitively, the deep sexual chemistry that can develop between two isolated men. In our own study, Hal, one of the men we interviewed, said he had experienced this same type of friendship at work.
"I was running a medical laboratory, and we hired someone, not a trained technician, but just a man who could help out in general, sort of a chief cook and bottle washer. Johnny got the job. He was a pleasant-enough guy, not too well educated, but a willing worker.
"The first day I worked with him, showing him the procedures, I felt a quick sense of response, a willingness that impressed me- and there was an air about him, a kind of independence I admired. I come from a protective family, and Johnny, to me, seemed to have a wonderful quality of always landing on his feet. He learned the work very quickly, and began instituting his own, rather good systems.
"We began to go out after work for a few beers, and we'd talk -or I'd talk and Johnny would listen-and sometimes we'd drift on to a singles bar and pick up a few girls for the evening. That was something Johnny was very smooth at. There was a quality about him that attracted people, men and women. Part of it was his looks, and part his manner. For an uneducated guy he was very smooth, very self-assured.
"I liked him for that, for qualities I didn't have but very much wanted, and he, as he told me one night when we had had a good many drinks, liked me for my brain. 'You're guy I can sit and listen to for hours, Hal,' he said. 'I'd give anything to be like you!
in Hal's friendship with Johnny, there was a clear case of the mirroring that Dr. Miyamoto spoke to us about. Both men were attracted to qualities in the other that they wanted in themselves. "The trouble was," Hal told us, "we finally became too close- I guess you can say unhealthily close."
"In what way?" we asked.
Frowning, he said, "It got to the point where we were seeing so much of each other, almost every night, that I think both of us were afraid."
"But afraid of what?" we persisted. .
Hal shrugged, embarrassed. "I guess, to be blunt, we were afraid of it turning into a homosexual affair. Now don't get me wrong. Neither of us is gay, but it's just that we both, mutually, began to back away from the friendship just because we didn't want it to be physical. We pretty much cooled it, and though we both still work together, and I like, Johnny as much as ever, it's just.well, one of those things. "