How Your Shadow Personality Critically Affects Your Love Life

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depressed woman

As Valentine’s Day approaches, our collective focus is drawn toward the sunny side of love. We’re encouraged to exchange tokens of affection, as we're told that romantic demonstrations like flowers, chocolates, and lingerie are the glue that holds together the necessary good feelings required for long-lasting, healthy intimate relationships.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with gift-giving on February 14 or any other day of the year, these surface actions really have no bearing on the overall health of our relationships.

It’s the energy we put into our relationships — not the actions we take with, or for, our partners — that determines how satisfying they are. It’s how you really feel that matters.

This is why understanding the shadow aspect of your personality is invaluable in manifesting the love life you want and deserve.

Everything that manifests as a tangible, observable outcome is first created in the unseen and little-understood realm of energy and vibration.

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What we do in the shadows

In everyday terms, a "shadow" response means you can send your girlfriend all the flowers in the world, but if her underlying vibration or attitude is one of feeling ignored or disrespected, the gesture itself will not overcome her negative momentum.

Likewise, you can light candles and prepare an intimate dinner for two, but if you’re feeling disrespected or insecure, this is the energy you’ll leave your partner with.

When it comes to creating relationship harmony or disharmony, everything comes down to energy.

Our chronic thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, moods, and expectations all vibrate at a particular frequency. Some of the vibes we give off support the happy partnerships we desire; others repel them.

Even if we never speak our discord to our significant others in words, they pick up on them anyway, because everyone, whether they know it or not, is sensitive to vibration.

So, your partner can sense your bad mood the moment he or she walks through the door. That’s not such a big deal, right?

It turns out that it is because the vibrations we generate within the privacy of our hearts and minds eventually culminate into physical manifestations.

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Contentment begets contentment

If you’re feeling secure, loved, beautiful and cherished, your vibration of contentment and appreciation will elicit behaviors from your partner that will enhance your experience even more. But if you’re feeling unimportant or ignored, you’ll attract behavior from your partner that reinforces or justifies your point of view.

This is why it’s imperative to the health of your relationships — all of them — to understand the shadow aspects of your personality.

In psychological terms, the shadow refers to any aspect of ourselves that does not fit within the image we wish to project to the outside world.

As defined within the context of Jungian psychology, "the 'shadow', 'Id', or 'shadow aspect/archetype' may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side."

It’s made up of the qualities in ourselves that we dislike or reject.

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Hiding our qualities to protect ourselves

And so, we believe that in order to receive the love, acceptance, or success we desire, we need to hide these qualities from others — and even from ourselves. But, the problem with trying to hide our shadow qualities from our mates is that they inevitably end up surfacing anyway.

If there is some aspect of yourself that you are not at peace with, you will unwittingly drag your own lack of acceptance into every relationship you have.

If you’re trying to conceal your resentment, frustration, or jealousy from your partner, for example, life will arrange the very circumstances to provoke them.

Anything that we’re unwilling to accept about ourselves is mirrored back to us by the universe at large. And very often, through the behavior or attitudes of those closest to us.

If the same types of issues keep resurfacing in your intimate relationship, it could be that your shadow side is sabotaging the happiness you desire.

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Here are three steps for uncovering, healing, and loving your shadow personality

1. Start noticing what you notice

There are positive and negative qualities in everyone you meet. But the ones you react to can offer clues that can lead you to the discovery of your own shadow.

Notice the qualities, personality traits, and behaviors that you judge, disapprove of or find unacceptable in others. In particular, what aspects of your partner evoke a strong negative reaction within you?

For example: Do you judge your partner for being lazy or selfish? Do you find yourself criticizing him or her for saying yes when you wish they’d say no?

The qualities you find most intolerable in other people are often qualities within yourself that you’ve disowned, denied, or repressed.

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2. Trace back the root of your own reactions

Our negative reactions towards others always point to our shadows. And when followed and understood, they will lead us back to the aspects of ourselves that need our acceptance and love.

Look back at your list of your partner’s less-than-desirable traits. As you reflect on each one, ask yourself, “What do I make this characteristic mean about me?”

For example, if you judge your partner for being selfish, it’s not the selfishness itself that is hurting you. It’s what you’ve decided her selfishness means about you.

Maybe you’ve concluded that his selfishness means that you’re unimportant or that he doesn’t care. Or maybe you’ve decided that it’s only a matter of time before the relationship breaks apart.

These deeper interpretations can be painful to acknowledge, so approach this with an attitude of compassion and sincere self-discovery.

With this step, you’re proactively looking for your own emotional hot buttons so that you can feel and release the energy stored within them.

This is not only the secret to great-feeling, present-moment relationships, but also to emotional autonomy and self-empowerment.

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3. Use the healing energy of love and acceptance to illuminate your dark side

Healing your shadow requires loving and accepting all aspects of yourself, even those you deem as bad or wrong.

Unless we love ourselves, we can’t truly love another, and unless we accept ourselves, warts and all, we will develop a dependency on the approval and validation of others.

There are many approaches to cultivating self-love. Having compassion for our humanity and our imperfections; practicing daily self-care rituals; forgiving ourselves for past mistakes; honoring our own needs and boundaries, and coming to the understanding that all aspects of ourselves — including our anger, our vulnerability, our conceit, and our weakness — are valuable. All serve a purpose, and all aspects of us deserve our love and acceptance.

Shower your so-called dark qualities in the healing energy of love and acceptance, and they will no longer exist in the shadows.

You’ll no longer have to worry about accidentally saying the wrong things, or having your true feelings discovered. In self-love, we are immune to the criticism of others, and far less likely to take things personally. Instead, we arrive at each encounter with our loved ones with clear energy and positive expectations.

Yes, you can still bring candy and chocolates, but energy mastery is the real secret to keeping love fresh and alive.

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Christy Whitman is a transformational leader, celebrity coach, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance