You’ve “Fallen in Love.” What Happens Next?
You’ve fallen in Love, that mysterious emotion we humans are unable to predict or control. My description of the emotion with the little “in” before the word Love would be: a cross between acute excitement, emotional and physical needs you didn’t know you had, mild to moderate upset some call “butterflies,” a dose of anxiety concerning the unknown, euphoric expectations, a tendency to obsess about the person you are in Love with and mild to moderate disruptions of the routines in your lifestyle. All of this is taking place inside of you. It’s a one person show so far.
So the first order of business is to tolerate the emotion. If not, many kinds of defenses are available to suppress, ignore, distract away from, or simply deny the experience, probably due to some hurtful history that has not yet been resolved. By the way, denying that you’ve fallen in Love does not extinguish the emotion, it just buries it in the backyard. Remember, we don’t get to control this feeling.
Next task is to figure out if this emotion you are experiencing will be a one way experience or reciprocated. One way means you are the only one having the experience. The person you are in Love with is not matching the emotion. A painful state to say the least. Being in Love with someone who is not in Love with you. Not as bad as years of reciprocal Loving gone bad, but why compare. Best thing to do is accept the reality, grieve the loss of what could have been and move onto another when the emotion happens again.
If coupling is a possibility and the feeling is shared, the next order of business is to form a healthy love relationship. Let me point out that one of the greatest tragedies in this life is to fall in Love, however many times in life, and be stuck on repetitively forming unhealthy love relationships that lead to repetitive disappointments over the course of a person’s love life. How many times will a person fall in Love? Remember, falling in Love is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Who knows? Once, twice, three times, a bunch, never? The tragedy, quite simply, is being unable to establish a relationship that nurtures and grows the unpredictable Love that two people feel for each other. This we can predict and control, to some significant degree at least.
Too many people are unaware of how they stifle, destroy, snuff out any Love they fall into by always setting up a relationship wherein Love cannot survive. Love can die quickly or slowly over time, years in fact, in some instances. I like to think of the healthy love relationship, the kind that preserves and grows the in Love emotion as intimate. Quite simply the formula is: interpersonal intimacy grows the feeling of being in Love. In my book, Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, I show readers how to identify the unhealthy learning that is always responsible for any repetitive difficulty forming an intimate love relationship when a person falls in Love. I also describe a clinically proven method of unlearning what was learned that is ruining a person’s ability to establish that intimate love relationship when they fall in Love.
In that book, the last step in my unlearning method involves correcting what we’ve learned. If I list the most common corrections for unhealthy learning about love relationships, the list will provide us with a “roadmap” of what is essential when forming an intimate love relationship that preserves love. The ingredients, so to speak. Here’s the list, judge for yourself: Commitment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Equality, Consideration, Restraint, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, Mutuality. In my love life research, so far, when any one of these healthy relationship experiences is absent or compromised, our ability to establish an intimate love relationship that grows Love begins to weaken and the emotion of Love is threatened.
All comments are welcome. Tell me about your love life experience.
Dr. Thomas Jordan, Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalyst, author of Learn to Love; Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, founder of LoveLifeLearningCenter.com