Fight, Flight, or Fall?

Most people will tell you there’s a lot of fighting and flight going on in our love-lives. Have we gotten to the point of thinking all of this is normal yet? Is it really a necessary drama that goes on when people try to make a go of it?

Well I’d like to offer you a different perspective. I think the increase in fighting and flight that is taking place in people’s love-lives has something to do with a growing problem with tolerating love and sustaining a connection. If you listen carefully to the complaints people are making these days there seems to be something about love and connection that’s gotten harder for people.

As the two most popular ways of reacting to a threat, fight or flight usually occur when someone is trying to avoid danger and needs to defensively protect himself or herself. It usually comes down to running if you can and fighting if you have to.

So here’s the big question, what is so threatening about love that all this fighting or flight is taking place? The answer to this question may not be forthcoming at first. People ordinarily don’t like to admit that love is scary.

My best guess would be, since love is the last bastion of what is unpredictable and uncontrollable in this world of emotional control and manipulation most people might find falling in love a bit unnerving at least at certain times in their lives. The mad part about this is, we could be fighting with and running away from something that’s good and very much needed.

So how did we get into this kind of predicament anyway? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’ve created a world that values other things more than love.

Nowadays, more than a few people consider love an odd inconvenience at best and at worst something you have to avoid at all costs. Of course there’s love and then there’s connection. They overlap in some areas but they can be very different too.

Love is the free emotion that can come over you in a moments notice and leave just as fast. It’s beyond control and prediction and requires connection and ultimately commitment to thrive and grow, still there’s no guarantees. For some of us, fighting and flight take place as soon as love shows up.

As if we are running for life itself. There is a kind of sadness in this because love is life. There’s a good possibility that these people will live somewhat disconnected from others because of this perceived threat. The real problem here is not being psychologically prepared for love.

The rest of us fight off and run away from connection and commitment because they feel too controlling. For these individuals it’s not the feeling of love that threatens. It’s more the arrangements people want to set up with each other when love shows up that scares.

Because of love’s unpredictability and resistance to control, some people set up very controlling relationships to counterbalance this inability to manage the feeling. Who wants to be smothered, disrespected, or ignored when trying to love somebody?

Now what you have is a person with a heavy heart running away from or fighting with someone he or she loves. Once again we’re back to the sadness and I think a bit of tragedy as well. If you ask me what to do about this, I would have to suggest that we come up with a better way to relate in love.

What this means is learning how to create and maintain love relationships that support and grow love. In a sentence, love relationships where trust, honesty, equality, and freedom rule. Of course, this is certainly an ideal since most of us have experienced some form of injury in these areas. As a practical person, I like to think of the repair as a practice.

Once you know something is wrong, you can then work on making it right even if making it right takes awhile. The best part about being human is you can learn something new at any age. By the way, it’s a relief to stop fighting or running. And you won’t need to take such long breaks between relationships due to exhaustion and wariness.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


Dr. T. Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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