FALLING IN LOVE OR PICKING WHOM WE LOVE
It is an age old question. Do you fall in love (spontaneous) or pick who we love (spend some time to consider everything)? Which one is forever?
While some people never have to ask this question (lucky ones) for some of us we need to decide. It might seem like quite an irrelevant question but it is a very important one. Do you let all your emotions do all the work in your love life or do you give your brain a chance to help out?
One sunny afternoon while in university, two of my female friends came over to my house in school because it had been a while since we were able to catch up. I was so excited to see them. The only thing was that they had forgotten to tell me that they would be coming with someone else. Where do I even begin to start in describing this lady? She was so beautiful to me. She had the perfect smile, the perfect size, the perfect height and she even dressed perfectly. Her name was so unique; I had never heard it before. Ooh! It was love at first sight.
Days after the visit, I could not get her out of my mind. I just had to see her again. I asked my friends who eventually introduced us. I spent every day over the next 3 weeks with her. We had exactly the same experiences, our families were alike, we coped with things the same way and even knew exactly how the other one felt about certain things even before we discussed it. It seemed like we grew up together and saw the world the same way. It was so exciting I missed classes just to be with her and I simply could not get enough of her. Everything you can imagine you feel during love. I felt it all (heart beating fast, nervous to the point it becomes draining).
We started to date and within a month she said “I love you” and I said the same back. I was so happy I cannot even begin to express by how much.
One evening while at home I decided to give my new love a call (just to see how she was doing), we had only been dating for about 3 months then. It was a short call and at the end I parted with the usual “take care of you, I love you”. Then I waited for the reply but all she said was “take care, ok”.
This was a little weird but I could not make a big deal out of it. I ignored it and tried the same thing the next day. I got the same answer. I tried it the third time and I got the same answer. I could not ignore this anymore so I gave her another call and asked if there was anything wrong or happening with her that she wanted to talk about. After several reassurances that her life was fine, I asked her why she could not say “I love you” anymore.
She simply replied that “she did not know if she still felt the same way anymore”. I was relatively calm when I was told this and I asked her to take time out to figure this out (obviously assuming she would come back to me) and to tell me when she is ready to start dating again).
Two and a half years later I still did not get that phone call. Talk about a long wait, right?
I expect everyone would have their own example of a time when they fell hopelessly in love at first sight and how it ended. It might have taken longer to end than mine but ultimately it must have happened in the same cycle ( Meet, like, love, reason, end). No matter how much you care about a person today it could all be over in a month. That’s just life.
I had spent all my time concentrating on the emotional side of things. The excitement and everything that love at first sight came with had completely clouded my reasoning. When I take a look back, this girl could not have been more wrong for me. Her history and signs showed so much and to be honest I should have known better. I got so lost in feeling lived that I forgot and made excuses for everything I had seen. I learnt it doesn’t matter why someone is the way they are, it just matter who they are now. If you are selfish from being alone, you are selfish and that’s all that matters, after-all every character a person shows gets there somehow. Remember humans are born with no character at all.
You see the main problem here was we had the same characteristics and my chance of becoming emotionally whole would have been eliminated. I am a big fan of being an individual and that’s not what I am talking about here. I know it would have been comforting to have someone who thought like you but it would have inevitably been crippling to have someone who never criticised or challenged you.
As I grew older I learnt to discard all those attributes and things we feel when we meet a new attractive other and focus on the things that make her “perfect for you”. It is important to be attracted to your partner but it is not the most important thing. This is simply because as human beings we already have the ability to identify and be passionate about even the simplest items (like a pen or book) if it is presented to us with the right perspective. So worrying about attractiveness is relatively unimportant.
Each and every one of us holds an innate psychological design containing some-what exact details about our life and the scars left by our experiences. This contains our fears, anxieties, defence mechanisms, our coping mechanisms and in some cases it is something we are not even aware about ourselves.
The amazing thing about this innate item is that it works like a scanner and gives us the capacity to identify another person’s psychological map. I believe that the people we are most attracted to are the people whose psychological design complements our own. We are often searching for similarities but we should be looking for differences. Please note that I am only talking about complimentary differences, nothing else.
I think I must state at this point that we should have already differentiated between our “real” self and our “ideal” self before thinking about this. If we do not know who we really are we might be searching for the wrong type of complementary characteristics. Like I tried to explain earlier If your first reaction to a very complex situation is anger even though it might be advantageous to see yourself as being gentle do not deceive yourself that you are gentle. This could result in you making a terrible mistake in relationship choices. We usually know ourselves best by how we re-act when we hit rock bottom not when things are great for us.
Now here is the kicker believe it or not but opposites attract. The purpose of this unconscious fit is to find someone who can complement our experiences. This could be someone who’s the same as us, but most likely we would be looking for someone we think we might be able to learn a thing or two from; someone who has developed coping mechanisms and defence mechanism that are different from our own. This would be someone that can provide a different perspective to any problem we might find ourselves. This is often someone who has struggled with similar problems along the course of life but has come up with a different way of dealing with it. A way that we personally can appreciate them for. To put it quite simply, our ideal partner would be our best chance of becoming psychologically whole. The sad part is very often he could be the one you have trained yourself to ignore because her/his words are too close to the truth.
Although no two relationships are ever the same, there are still some ways to classify them. These classifications often happen unconsciously and shape our roles in our relationships.
Idol and worshipper– This happens when one partner puts the other on a platform, this often indicates an issue with competition or a fear of failure. To avoid any form of comparison, both partners unconsciously agree to play this game.
Master and slave–This is often found in relationships that existed before the feminist movement. There is uneven distribution of authority and control. The partner who avoids responsibility often obeys the rules of “Master character” and they often describe this as a laid back attitude and describe their partner as control freaks.
The run-a-ways– This type of relationship typically exists amongst teenagers but is not exclusive to them. Both partners have a fear of intimacy and in some cases rejection and they keep chasing each other. Occasionally the chase will swap around.
Birds of a feather– This is typically the couple that most people love to hate. They often believe they are in their own perfect world. They dress like each other, finish each other’s sentences, they hate the same things , share the same interests and believe it is them against the world. Chances are that you know at least one couple like this.
Parent and child type–This is actually more common than you might think. It is a relationship status characterized by dependency and trust in which one partner takes on the role of a child and the other the parent. The general idea here is that if they act needy and dependent their partner would take care of them. This however this often leads the “Parent partner” to deny the need for dependency and thus create later problem if they ever feel they might need it.
Warriors – on the surface these partners look as though they should never have even met. They argue incessantly over anything. They both avoid intimacy by living in a war zone. This are very intimate people and it usually a very bad idea to take any sides during an argument or to attack any one as they very often gang up when threatened.
My classifications are a little un-orthodox, based purely on observation and it is very possible to see some elements of your relationship in all or some of these categories. For example, in a time of grief and vulnerability you may act out the parent and child model, while many couples become like babes in the wood following the birth of a child. Or in times of financial struggle take on the warrior role.
Good or bad chemistry?
All categories serve a single purpose. They are designed to protect ourselves from potential anxiety. Chances are that we are not aware of this until something happens to change it. We all grow and mature, our needs change and our relationships need to adapt to those changes.
Very often in life we spend our time growing up through the years and we look for characteristics that complement our view of our self when we were kids (our ideal self) and we never remember to discard some of this as we grow up and become who we really are.
This often leads to varying interpretations of chemistry. What is good chemistry? Good chemistry is really simple to identify. It is when your relationship is simply effortless. When you feel like you could be naked and have a body full of embarrassing illnesses and still be able to show your SO (significant other). This is very rare to find and should be cherished when we are lucky to find that person.
Most people confuse an effortless relationship to signify a boring relationship. I believe it is quite the opposite. Along life either through television, books and instruments of socialisation we have been conditioned to believe that all the attributes associated with anxiety (such as a fluttering heart, butterfly in your tummy, getting hot all over) are actually signs of a fantastic relationship. While they may be signs of passion they are not signs of a lasting relationship and this is why very often when these feelings disappear people often assume their relationship is heading for the gutter. Understanding that an ideal partner is simply someone that is good for you, someone that makes you feel safe, someone you don’t have to be polite around or mind your quirky habits around, someone you can always count on and someone who you know will do anything to keep you safe. This would normally be someone that can see things differently from you and can provide you with a different perspective on any issue without disregarding your opinion. Like having two sides to a coin they are the ones that give you a shot at being psychologically and emotionally whole. This could be the difference in finding happiness and remaining happy. Let’s face it, people like that (designed specially to deal with you and all the additional stuff you bring) do not come very often.
However be alert and try to see people for what and who they really are. Do not project characters onto people just because they seem like they should be the one.
Most people learn this the hard way and very often they learn this is when the “ideal partner” has come and gone. This usually happens because as we grow up we often forget to discard the information we thought we knew about ourselves. We see the perceived best of us (based on our aspirations and what we feel we need to succeed) and often ignore the reality.
To explain that statement let me use an example. Stephanie wanted to become a singer when she was only 4 years old. It is all she has ever wanted to be and with every passing day her desire to be a world famous singer starts to grow. She spends every day practicing her tones and training her voice. The only problem here is that no one told Stephanie when she was growing up that she could not sing to save her life. Stephanie grows up projecting certain characteristics that are found with singers onto herself. She thinks she sounds marvellous, is very composed, courageous, very hardworking, very dedicated and a bit of a diva.
Along life Stephanie gets several very bad reviews but she always managed to convince herself that they were all not worthy of her “enormous” talent. Stephanie spends all her life trying to make a career in music and she never succeeds. At 60 years of age it finally sinks into Stephanie that maybe she was not as talented as she felt she was.
Stephanie thinks; “It is a pity it is too late to go change my career path, maybe I could have been a success at something else in life. Why wouldn’t anyone tell me I really could not sing?”
When you think about it with that pespective in mind, who would Stephanie’s ideal partner be? Would it simply be someone that saw her for what she was and managed to re-direct her without killing her passion to succeed? Would it be someone that complements her characteristics and will help her succeed not someone who is the same as her and who deludes her into continuing on this fruitless journey all her life. Wouldn’t you agree that the two sound more likely to be true?
When you pick whom you love, remember that it is not about using a person. You have to let the person pick you and you also have to be someone that can be loved. What I am trying to say is that to have a perfect fit you have to complete each other and not just be a one sided affair.
Love at first sight is a fleeting emotion. How do you really love someone you do not know? How do you love someone you cannot yet trust? How do you love someone that you don’t know their bad side (everyone has some)? I love the idea and the concept but to pursue it vigorously is unfortunately responsible for a number of failed relationships. When you meet someone for the very first time discard whatever feeling you might have for them (if only for a little while), good or bad and learn what makes them unique and right for you.
Take your time when you find yourself attracted to a person and learn the ways in which you can complete each other. See the fun in the person and when you meet someone that makes you feel safe, someone that makes you feel like you and someone that provides you with a psychological, emotional or mental edge. Hold it tight and know that it is yours for later in life all beauty and physical attraction passes away and nothing else matters.
Most men in their forties don’t brag about having the most beautiful wife. They brag about having the most caring wife. The most devoted mothers and the most thoughtful partners. To be perfectly honest you could probably find a similar argument in women of that age.
“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse for impossibility, for it thinks all things are lawful for itself and all things are possible.” Thomas A. Kempis
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