Dating 101

Can Justin Timberlake Help You Understand Gay Relationships?

By: Cory Schneider

Are you having trouble creating or sustaining meaningful relationships in your life? Maybe you just need to Windex your mirror.

Who would have thought Justin Timberlake’s new song “Mirrors” could unintentionally yet articulately explain the experience of same-sex relationships?

It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me.

Webster defines a mirror as “a polished or smooth surface (as of glass) that forms images by reflection; something that gives true representation.” When this definition is placed in a relationship context, such as The World According to JT, what is it that is being reflected back? Surely, we don’t fall in love with identical representations of ourselves.

Remember that old cliché that the longer a couple stays together, the more they start to resemble one another? I know my partner and I do. And in our community we often see bears partner with bears, butch lesbians with butch lesbians, muscle boys with muscle boys — the concept of reflection from a gay-affirmative perspective can often be quite literal. However, there is a lot more to it.

Theorists like Freud and Jung have long postulated that heterosexual relationships are complimentary and soul completing in origin. Do you recall the iconic Tom Cruise line, “You complete me,” from Jerry Maguire? Jung conceptualized love on the basis of anima/animus, the complimentary yin to the opposite’s yang. The common term most often used to describe this might be soul mate.

But what do we do? This premise inherently excludes the experience of same-sex love. So, Gay-Affirmative theorists like Mitch Walker integrated “the double” to explain same-sex love. The “double” is an external archetype that reflects your inner most essential self, the homosexual identity and desire deep down within you — aka your reflection. When we gay men get a tingle down below for another man and feel the giddiness of love, it’s because the other man is a reflection of our inner experience. He is our “double,” reflecting back our essential experience. We call this attraction.

You reflect in this heart of mine…
I'm lookin' right at the other half of me

This soul mate was coined “soul-figure” by Jung, who conceptualized it as, “the internal personification of the ideal beloved who is projected out onto another person when falling in love.” In other words, the object of my affection is actually a constellation of attributes located within me that is projected onto someone else. Many of the attributes you like about your partner will be the attributes you have within yourself. Think of these as the things you have in common or shared interests.

Even attributes that you believe to be polar opposites are more similar than you might think. Say, for example, your love interest is completely secure with their gay identity and “out,” but you are less out and secure with your identity. The attraction to their sense of pride suggests that you, too, want to be as secure with yourself, but maybe haven’t figured out how yet. Luckily, the double also acts as a helper, an initiator of sorts, to push you into the right direction.

What is essential to understand is this: Your innermost self is being projected onto others and attracting them. If you believe your inner most essential self is bad, broken or should be devalued and shamed… guess what. Chances are you will attract someone who feels the same. 

Just put your hand on the glass
I'm here tryin' to pull you through

You just gotta be strong. 

Walker says the double, “is a special, erotic, powerful helper to aid in an individual’s struggles.” Relationships are supposed to keep us comforted and safe. To help us feel loved. If you’re finding that your relationship is stunting your growth, or even constantly in turmoil, perhaps you just need to remove the smudges that distort the image of yourself that you are projecting. Go within, before lashing out. In other words, clean your mirror. Windex, anyone?

Cory Schneider M.A., MFT Intern, is a gay-affirmative psychotherapist in West Hollywood, CA. Cory is an associate at and under the supervision of Ken Howard, LCSW. Visit for more info.

Tags: DATING 101