Love-Life Tip: Answer This Question?

The most important question to ask yourself when you’re trying to make a change in your love-life is: How do my past experiences influence my love-life? It’s important to have some idea about what you’ve learned about love earlier in life and whether or not what you’ve learned is helping or hurting your love-life.

What you’ve learn about love occurs by observation and/or direct participation in family relationships. When you observed your mother relating to your father in a certain way as a small child, what you observed will be registered in your mind as a reference. You might not consciously think you’ve learned anything from your mother about love, but in reality you’ve learned quite a bit. The same applies if in your relationship with your mother you were treated in a certain way, that treatment is going to shape certain expectations in your love-life now as an adult. It’s important to know what those expectations are so you can decide whether or not you want to change them.

You see, if you never take the time to find out about what you’ve learned about love that now influences your love-life, not knowing doesn’t mean it’s not influencing your love-life thoughts, feelings, and behavior anyway. To be sure, it is in the background influencing your love-life in ways you won’t know directly or be able to change. The obvious advantage to knowing that something exists is your enhanced ability to change it.

The same is true for what you’ve learned about love. If you’ve been able to identify something in your history that taught you something negative or limiting about love, chances are it is influencing your love-life in ways you don’t need or want. Becoming aware of what you learned is step one, challenging it’s negative influence is step two, and practicing something more loving is step three. Let’s describe a more complete example of this problem as an illustration.

Let’s say you witnessed your father mistreating your mother as a child. To keep it simple, let’s say you learned that a love relationship incorporates two roles, one is the victim of abuse and the other is the abuser. Now as an adult lover influenced by the emotional memories of what you’ve witnessed, you could find yourself in one or the other of these roles in your love relationships over the course of your adult love-life.

What you’ve learned about love in a nutshell is that it is mixed with emotional and/or physical violence as taught to you by two of the most important teachers in your life. This mixture can be so familiar (of the fam-i-ly) that you unconsciously gravitate toward it (or re-create it) in either role or in both roles in any love relationship you form. The tragic part is, if you don’t know that this is happening you could replicate this painful love-life scenario over and over again in the course of your life.

This post was created to put the question: How do my past experiences influence my love-life? squarely into your mind. Hopefully you”ll be interested enough in your own love-life to think about what you’ve learned and the ways in which what you’ve learned can control your love-life experiences. The great thing about this realization is that what you’ve learned about love can be unlearned and something more loving relearned in the course of your love-life. This is clearly one of the great advantages to being human. Dr. T. Jordan





Dr. Jordan

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

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