James Hollis


“The other” is a catch all phrase that references anyone who is not you. The term is most relevant in regards to our intimate relationships though. Jung felt that we have a tendency to project all of our hopes and dreams and desires unto “the other” early in a relationship. During that phase, they appear perfect and certainly do their best to live up to those projections. However, that’s not the real them, anymore than a movie projected upon a screen is the real screen. Eventually, “the other” collapses under the weight and responsibility of all those expectations. They may even come to resent them, feeling wounded that you are unable to appreciate them for who they really are. In later phases of relationships, we transition to projecting our fears and inadequacies onto the other seeing them as much worse than they are. It should be noted, they are doing the same to us as we are doing it to them. The frightening/unfortunate thing is that through much of that process, we don’t see them for who they really are (and they don’t see us). Is it any great wonder that so many relationships fail and so many others are unsatisfying? As James Hollis said, the quality of our relationships can never be any better than the quality of our relationship with ourselves. If we are not in touch with all the things we are projecting out on “the other”, we are doomed to vacillate being an idealized and a devalued other.