‘Love,’ as it is vulgarly understood—or rather, misunderstood—is seldom a positive, healing force radiating disinterestedly from the lover, but a kind of lack or deficiency that the lover hopes will be answered or supplied by the beloved. Thus, someone with homely looks and a lot of money teams up with an obliging partner long on looks and short on cash. Or perhaps a cool-hearted, subtle-thinking type and a warm-hearted, simpler-minded feeling type are attracted to each other. In a third, hypothetical case, an older man with much worldly experience—tainted perhaps with a certain encroaching Weltschmerz—and an innocent, young sheltered woman (who is deeply impressed with his accomplishments and adventures in the world) are drawn together.
The first example most closely approximates a strictly commercial arrangement—and a conjugal bond between two such persons, based solely on the stated terms, would amount to little more than prostitution hiding behind the conventional cloak of marriage.
In the second instance we move more decisively into the realm of psychological complementarity. The partnership between the lopsided, emotionally-disengaged thinker and the minimally-thinking, equally extreme feeling type comprehends within itself more psychic territory and sensitivity than either partner would command on his own, but unless there is genuine, sympathetic understanding and trust between them, the actual relationship is likely to contain a great deal of unlit, shared space. (Such a space is typically—if not unavoidably—filled by projections from both persons.)
If the first two hypothetical examples of ‘need fulfillment’ may be labeled ‘economic-sensual’ and ‘psychological-functional,’ respectively, the third example might provisionally be called ‘spiritual-existential.’ Both parties are seeking a kind of refuge or protected haven at some remove from the slings and arrows of existence. The world-weary elder member, who, through his ordeals has seen through many of life’s exaggerated promises and steadily diminishing pleasures, seeks peace, repose, tenderness, and simplicity in lieu of his former, more boisterous enthusiasms. The younger, innocent and inexperienced partner is content to encounter the fullness of life vicariously—through the eyes, thoughts, and measured judgments of her trusted elder guide and faithful ally.