Why do we Fall in Love?


Why do we Fall in Love?

Have you ever wondered how much of love is biology and how much is psychology? If you’ve ever wondered if chemistry just happens or can be created, if love at first sight is real and all other things about love, you are living in a wondrous time. Why do we fall in love? Science has some answers. There are three different systems in the brain, that when brought together spell the emotional and biological phenomenon we call love. First is the sex drive created to ensure the perpetuation of our species. The feeling of romantic love helps you focus on one person making sure you don’t waste any time or energy. The last part is the comfort and security you feel when with a long term partner, giving you time to raise children together.

Love feels fantastic because the pleasure centers of the brain are activated when we fall for someone. Dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel euphoric, enthralled, and sleepless mirrors other experiences, such as being high on cocaine. Love at first sight does occur, though more to men than to women. Men are visual creatures. Whereas women fall in love in terms of who a person is, their charm, status or power rather than their physicality. Love at first sight may be an evolutionary advantage, producing offspring in a short amount of time rather than the long, drawn out process we go through today with society as our backdrop.

Timing of course is just as important in falling in love as it is with everything else in life. If you’re too busy with work or focusing on your responsibilities you may not notice the perfect person for you, when they’re just inches away. But with a little free time and the right mindset, a sort of openness, not necessarily looking for it, love can hit you like a lightning bolt. If you want someone to fall in love with you, do exciting things together with them. This releases dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain, mimicking romantic love. There is a difference between love and lust. You can feel love for one person. But lust dissipates after sex. And you can feel attracted to someone without being compatible, or jealous if they are into someone else.

How do you keep the spark alive? By trying new and exciting things together, and doing the things you did when you were first dating. Perhaps someday all of our questions on love will be explained. Will that kill the romance? Or will it give us a finer appreciation of the nuances of love? Only time and intrepid scientists will give us the answers. For more on this topic read, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher.

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage


Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

A divorce can be devastating. It’s one of those pains that you don’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. Not only does it cause tremendous upheaval in your life, it alters how you view yourself and romantic relationships. Some people swear off marriage wholeheartedly, while others jump into the next one as if their last had nothing to teach them. But most of us reflect on the state of marriage and relationships at this time. If a split is anything it’s a great teacher. Here are some things divorce teaches you about marriage. First, marriages are always different for those living them than how they are viewed from the outside. Sometimes when someone gets divorced, others are shocked, thinking they had the perfect marriage. Issues that seem reconcilable to some are end games to others. But some people somehow find a way to make it work. Everyone’s marriage is a bit messy, much like human life, though they may seem picture perfect from where you stand. If we could just break down the walls and talk about what marriage is really like, instead of putting on airs, perhaps we could make everyone’s better.

Another problem leading to divorce is a sexless marriage. Make time to be physical together. Statistics show that 20% of marriages today are sexless. But becoming physically intimate is a way for both people to bond. Being in a sexless marriage itself may be a big warning sign that things aren’t going well for one or both parties. Of course men tend to compartmentalize. With women, if things aren’t going well in the relationship, goings-on in the bedroom suffer. That’s because to a woman the emotional intimacy in the relationship is what’s most important. Though this may be important for a man, most men are more driven by libido. A failed marriage makes us look at other marriages in a new way. What are others really struggling with and how do they make it work? Communication is always crucial. But so is negotiation, not holding grudges, clearing the air and coming to a deep understanding of one another. We also need to accept the flaws in ourselves and our spouse for what they are. Recognition is one thing, acceptance another. One of the common causes of divorce is infidelity. Some people are shocked when they find that their husband or wife was cheating. A person may be an incredible breadwinner, an expert parent, a phenomenal homemaker and still have a spouse who cheats. The reason people go astray is they are trying to heal something wrong inside the relationship through outside means.

One of the problems with modern marriage that experts often point out is that we expect our spouse to take up all of the roles that traditionally an entire village provided. We want them to be our mentor, coach, partner, lover, confidante, best friend, co-parent and more. Find some of these needs outside your relationship if you can, and take some pressure off of your spouse. Spending some time with friends or close family members and becoming more well-rounded people by spending time at one’s favorite pursuits can help replenish each person and the marriage as well. But tenaciously clinging to one’s partner can bring the whole thing down. It’s best when both people are totally fulfilled, realized people who choose to go through life together. Marriage isn’t easy. But for most Americans, they see little alternative. We’ve been called serial monogamists and perhaps it still fits, at least if you are of a certain generation. Statistically, second marriages are less likely to last. Some say the third one is a charm. Be that as it may, don’t wallow in a failed marriage, learn from it and make your next relationship the romance of a lifetime. For more pick up a copy of, Learning From Divorce: How to Take Responsibility, Stop the Blame, and Move On by Robert LaCrosse and Christine A. Coates.

First Date Questions to Be Prepared for


First Date Questions to Be Prepared for

Are you going on a first date soon? The first date, as with a first impression, sets the tone for how you two will interact with each other. And this is the first crucial step to see if there is a mutual interest. They can be so scary and exciting, the butterflies, not knowing what to wear, how you should act and if you will feel the magic are all questions on your mind. Speaking of questions, it’s important to be prepared for what your date is most likely to ask you and how to respond. A first date is kind of like a job interview for love. You are seeing if they are the right fit for you and visa-versa. Of course you should be truthful in all of your answers. But you should be prepared for what they might ask you. You don’t want to be dumbfounded, fumble or be taken aback. Here are a few first date questions to be prepared for.

First, be prepared to talk about your career. If you aren’t working or you are in college, talk about what you’re passionate about. And let your interest shine through. People are attracted to others who share similar goals, passions and interests in life. And if you can let them see you radiate with what your passionate about it may deepen their interest in you, and spark a return of that same energy when they talk about what they’re interested in.

Whatever is asked, don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep everything light and positive. No one wants to hear a lot of complaining on a first date. Not that you have to steer clear of all negative subjects. But don’t dwell on them, and put a positive spin on it at the end. Be ready to talk about your achievement s, background and goals in life. Ask your date about theirs as well. People who are deeply spiritual or religious will ask about your own beliefs or faith. Try to find out as much as you can about their beliefs and faith beforehand and prepare your answers to be truthful. But make sure you are always respectful and interested in what someone else believes. That doesn’t mean you have to believe what they do. A good sign of a relationship’s ability to take root is the ability for a couple to agree to disagree on such matters as politics and religion, if you plan to stray past your own group or groups.

Be prepared to talk about any hobbies you may have. The person is looking for compatibility. These are great for conversations. See what’s in common. Can you see yourself watching movies on the couch with this person? Taking salsa dancing classes or going sky diving together? Prepare yourself for questions about kids, or wanting them. Some people will ask about past relationships. This is usually held to a subsequent date. However, if they feel comfortable or it comes up they may ask. If you or they are divorced it could be more likely to come up. Make sure to put a positive spin on it and don’t bad mouth your ex. Remember to relax and be yourself. Have fun on your first date. For more advice read, The First Date Survival Guide: What to Wear, Where to Go, How to Act by Ryan Magin.

Your Romantic Style


Your Romantic Style

Lots of people don’t know their relationship style, but it affects almost every aspect of your romantic relationships from how you select a mate to how you break up. Your romantic style, or style of attachment as it’s called in psychology, can help you understand yourself better and how you relate to another in a relationship. If you come to understand your style of attachment you can see what positive and negative effects it has on your relationships. Initially, our style of attachment is formed in childhood. But it’s an outline. It develops over time. Our attachment style speaks to how we interpret our needs and go about getting them met. There are many different attachment styles. See which one fits you and other people you know.

The first is secure attachment. This type is secure in relationships. They saw their parents as a sanctuary which they could venture out from to explore their world. This type supports a distressed partner and feels connected and secure in their adult relationships. This is an honest relationship with openness and support. There is an equality of power shared in this model. They provide their partners with a true sense of safety and display real acts of love.

The next type is the anxious preoccupied style of attachment. This style feels insecure and constantly seeks validation from their partner. They want their partner to complete or save them. This is the needy type that clings to their significant other. The anxious preoccupied type are often victims of a self-induced vicious circle. Their insecurity leads to clingy behavior that drives their partner away, validating their “See s/he doesn’t really love me” feeling underlying it all.

The next type is dismissive avoidant attachment. These people need emotional distance from their partner. This type wants to appear independent. They may come off as self-absorbed and overly worried about their own comfort. This semi-independence is a mental fixation. But in reality they need to connect and bond just like everyone else. This person puts less importance on the relationship and in fact pushes their significant other away. This person can shut down emotionally if pushed to open up.

The last type is the fearful avoidant attachment style. This person doesn’t want to be too far nor too close to their partner. They try to put their feelings aside but can’t. These people have episodes where they are overcome by their own emotions. They can be moody, mixed up and unpredictable. They believe you need people to have your needs met, but if you let them get too close they’ll hurt you. To learn more about different romantic styles and how they impact relationships, read the book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT.

Closing Emotional Distance


Closing Emotional Distance

Emotional distance occurs when couples fail to communicate how they feel, what they’re thinking, their values, and what their needs are and how they should be met. Often they then substitute anger for their fear of intimacy or vulnerability. When their partner wishes to probe further they act passive-aggressively, change the subject or even shut down completely. Those who are emotionally distant are afraid that if they do open up and reveal their innermost thoughts, desires and needs, they will be misunderstood or judged harshly by their partner. Another problem may be that their partner isn’t responding to their needs in the right way. The partner for instance may offer advice for a problem instead of listening carefully and offering validation and sympathy, the things that their partner is truly looking for. Some people are scared of intimacy because of parental neglect, abuse, or loss at an early age. They may be uncomfortable with their own feelings and have difficulty communicating them. They may also have trouble dealing with the feelings of others.

In a relationship inhabited by emotional distance, the couple may start to lead their lives such like roommates, living side-by-side but failing to connect on a deeper level. They talk about the chores and routines of the household and other surface talk but fail to pierce a deeper level of intimacy. Over time sexual intimacy may recede. Loneliness, a hollowness or hurt are some emotions that one or both partners may experience. To have their needs met some people in this type of relationship jump into other activities with more gusto such as parenting or their career. They may obsess over their social status, become substance abusers or have affairs. Eventually the couple may split.

The first thing to do to heal emotional distance is to reveal your true self to yourself and your partner. Couple’s therapy could be beneficial in helping to recognize and reverse negative patterns. It could be that one or both people need individual therapy to resolve trust issues. Restoring sexual intimacy means making it a priority and focusing on getting both partner’s needs met, rather than one meeting the others needs at their own expense. Fear and neglect can make us build up walls, but love and commitment can help break them down again. For more advice read, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship by M. Gary Neuman.