Romance: Reading Fate into Coincidence

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Gary Bobroff examines how the hopeless romantic will give away his or her power by believing that “fate” will lead to their destiny.

Romance: Fate or faux?

For those of us of the romantic disposition, imagining new love objects to be Ms. or Mr. Right is a chronic condition.

Such idealization is made even more irresistible when there are ‘fated‘ events, when we run into him or her coincidentally or when other synchronicities to do with them occur. When we meet them and, for example, after a lengthy chat, we reveal that we’ve been holding in our hand a black heart-shaped rock all this time and she opens her hand and shows us a white one just the same.

When a real out-of-the-ordinary meaningful coincidence happens, we fall immediately and blissfully into the presumption that ‘it’s fate’that this person is ‘the One.’

However, while synchronistic events are known to occur at the beginning of life-long happy partnerships, they also occur as a part of less successful, or even tragic, relationships. Coming to understand the truth of this latter possibility involves a loss of naïveté, but if we are lucky often something else is gained too.

Jung observed that synchronicities arrive in relation to the emotional activation of an individual “we observe them relatively frequently at moments of heightened emotional tension, which need not however be conscious.”[i] In noticing such a pattern in our world however, Jung was not discovering something entirely new, such an understanding is found throughout the ancient world.

In the East, it was the basis of the Tao and I Ching and in the West we find one example of it in the writings of a teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas:

“A certain power to alter things indwells in the human soul and subordinates the other things to her, particularly when she is swept into great excesses of love or hate or the like. For a long time I did not believe it…[but] I found that the emotionality of the human soul is the chief cause of all these things.”

~ Albertus Magnus, 1200-1280

It is a profound revelation and deeply meaningful, that we live in an era in which we are becoming aware of the way in which feeling extends beyond the body in these special moments but conscious apprehension of the meaning of these events also requires discrimination on our part.

Synchronistic incidents are drawn into form by the presence of emotional conditions in us and they point toward something active and alive, but unconscious in ourselves; toward something that we can come to learn about ourselves.

Here, a special meaning is evident—the ancient person might say that it shows the presence of the Gods—but we cannot say whether it is a blessing or a curse. Seeing past romantic illusions allows us to begin to draw insight from such experiences and to start to uncovering the meaning behind the larger patterns of who we are attracting.

In general, attributing to fate the role of bringing us our ‘right‘ or best romantic partners, gives away much of our power. “Faith is a disability insofar as it constrains you from self-interest,[ii] says Solomon and having too much faith in the universe demonstrates an abandonment of the power to choose; a natural authority given up; an unwillingness to exercise conscious, mature choice.

And it is just this royal authority in us, the ability to consciously say no to some and yes to others, that is a necessity for entering into mature partnership, for choosing to say ‘I do.’

Part of the shadow of the romantic type is pointed to here. Archetypally, the inability to choose consciously reflects the absence of the inner King or Queen, the quality in us that blesses and places value appropriately. The King or Queen archetype represents the natural flow of libido and feeling toward those qualities that serve our interests.

The psyche of the romantic type is often dominated by the opposite archetype, that of the child—that in us that resists parenting ourselves and prefers play and following the dictates of feeling. Going with the flow has its place, but it also reflects a refusal to stand up when it is needed, and often this is an on-going and regressive life-pattern.

However, within all of us there is also a larger instinct toward wholeness, toward the integration of all the parts of who we can be, toward the discovery and conscious development of our inner King or Queen.

Sometimes we must struggle to recover this part of our natural inheritance.

Synchronicity in our romantic lives is often a signpost pointing us that direction. While it may not indicate the blessing of a relationship, it almost always directs us toward pieces of ourselves that we need to reclaim to become more whole. These pieces might be recovered through loving, but they may are also sometimes recovered through leaving the relationship.

Sometimes we gain what we need in ourselves by learning to say ‘no.’

In synchronicity, the world reveals its nearness to us. It is active and responding to our inner life producing meaning to help us grow, but can we drop our ego’s need to make that meaning fit into a pretty little heart-shaped box for us?

It is terribly difficult not to get swept up into assuming that a new relationship is fated and blessed when synchronicities abound. Tragically, however, not every synchronicity is a blessing from Aphrodite. And, in an era infused with New Age thinking and naïve romanticism that sees all synchronicity as a simple romantic blessing, it is especially important that we learn that there is more than one God alive in us and seeking redemption.

Can we drop our ego’s agenda and still feel the wonder of being alive in a world filled with such mysterious, mischievous and occasionally un-pretty, meaning-making magic?


[i] Letters, vol. 2.

[ii] Far From The Tree, p. 33.

Originally appeared at Elephant Journal 
gary.bobroff.blue_-100x100Gary S. Bobroff, M.A. has a Master’s degree in in Jungian-oriented Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute of Santa Barbara, CA and is the author of Jung, Crop Circles & the Re-Emergence of the Archetypal Feminine (available on North Atlantic Books in Spring 2014).  His website is He also hosts the Best Synchronicity Ever! page on Facebook.




Lead image: Flickr/Gianni Cumbo

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  1. There’s an article out there that misunderstands what I am saying as this article, as seemingly is inaccurately suggested by the title as well. I do think synchronicity exists . . . read the article carefully.

  2. Glad to help ep – attraction on its own is definitely neither good nor bad. A good (therapist) friend of mine says that the degree of attraction is always commensurate to the likelihood of abandonment. I don’t go that far but I know that he’s talking about one kind of attraction (the dark, unhealthy kind). So a lil consciousness can (hopefully) go a long way, but we’re all still “victims of love.” 🙂

  3. This is very relevant to me – especially right now when I am caught up in powerful mutual attraction with someone I barely know. It occurred to me, that by taking the view that this attraction is necessary and good just because it is mutual and instant, I am not only being narcissistic but I am also giving up the ability to make an intelligent choice about something that may not serve my real needs. Thank you for reinforcing that understanding. I feel like I will be able to make the right choices when the time comes.

  4. Thank you Dorine. It all comes from experience on my end too . . . 🙂

  5. Dorine Moore says:

    Wow! Powerful. So much wisdom in this short article. I see my romantic 20 year old self in this piece, clinging to those signs, especially the ones I chose to acknowledge. I also see my emerging Queen, still romantic, but more aware, stronger, much more inclined to choose wisely.

  6. Then you have the contemporary twist of “The Secret” – a.k.a. the Law of Attraction – which artificially injects agency where there is none, by taking credit for “signs” and outcomes that are merely serendipitous, and often blames negative outcomes on factors truly beyond anyone’s control. I don’t think the author is pitching the law of attraction here, but much of the description of how people perceive signs and fate sounded like that kind of thinking. I think his conclusion is that people should *not* think like that, in which case I agree, even though I follow a less Jungian line of reasoning to get there. 🙂

    • …and often blames negative outcomes on factors truly beyond anyone’s control.

      That didn’t come out right. I meant “often blames negative outcomes on a person’s psychological state, even when all or most of the reasons were beyond that person’s control.”

    • What I’m very precisely spelling out is the need to go beyond such over-simplifications as are served up for our easy consumption by “The Secret” etc . . . I then go into detail about how a psychological approach does that . . .

  7. Joanna Schroeder says:

    I am really fascinating by the idea that believing in romantic “signs” or fate removes agency from the individual. I think that’s so insightful, and never thought about it that way.

    • Thank you Joanna! I do believe that there is a “magic,” a meaningful coming together of events in a way that is not simply random going on, but that our ego’s desire to turn such incidents into blessings from Venus can be a childish response. Going further takes us into deeper lessons . . . 🙂

      • Gill Ashton (@Baumflough) says:

        I found this insightful and fascinating. For many MANY years I was an Evangelical Christian and I realised looking back that ‘the Church’ had taken away my autonomy (or rather I allowed that!) by teaching that I had to take every dicsion to God. The cruel twist being, when things went right it was a blessing from God, and when things didn’t, I had somehow got it wrong…

        I do believe we attract things, for good or ill, but I think that isn’t the whole picture and personally I like to keep superstition out of it where possible.

        Thanks for a great article!

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