Here we go again, stressing over the old bugaboo of romantic chemistry. This has been going on for centuries. Poems, stories, novels, songs and whatnot have been dedicated to extolling praises of the undying love syndrome. There are many theories about romantic chemistry and falling in love. Some even think they can identify it through modern technology using diagnostic machines. Still, it remains an elusive mystery.
We all know how it works – we’re pulled into the vortex of romantic chemistry for a particular person. The hormones rage. We forget to eat, we can’t sleep, and we hang on that person’s every word. Carefully, we study each sentence they utter to look for clues as to how that person feels about the beginning courtship. We ask ourselves: Do I sense a cooling down? Have I become boring? Do I come across as intelligent? Do I still exude sensuality?
Once struck by cupid’s arrow, we perceive our environment in a different way. The world around us is much brighter, colors more vivid, honking horns sound like tinkling bells and everything, including rank sewers, smells like roses. The object of our desire can do no wrong. We are forgiving, lustful and madly in love.
Given these overt symptoms, I have to ask why so many relationships that started all starry-eyed and with great promise eventually breakup?
Let’s take a delve into romantic chemistry because so many of us depend on that spark and sizzle in order to hook up with an individual. Without that intense draw we would just walk away. Although we rely heavily on our emotions that revolve around love we need to question if this is the best way to select a mate. Despite all the signals and whistles going off in our heads when we meet that special person we must consult our brain as well. Lots of you will disagree, but I’ll spell out my reasoning.
Why, in the game of love, do some people to hit a home run and others strike out? Not only do they strike out, they continue to be attracted, over and over, to the same personality type that is toxic for them? We all know at least one person like that. I know several.
Okay. When you are very young, it is easy to make a mistake. How do you prevent that from happening again – and again – and again as we mature? Sometimes, what is a good romantic fit for one person is another’s poison. Why? If we do depend on our emotions to rule in that department, in my opinion, you had better be a very stable person. If you know that you have some unresolved issues, then the heart is not enough in making this momentous decision – the head must be involved as well.
Let’s take an in-depth look at what some experts in the field are saying. You might not believe the theories presented, but here goes. For one thing, we’ll look at opposites attracting, keeping in mind the adage that, opposites attract and then kill each other. It’s especially important that when opposites attract there has to be some plan in place for when the novelty of courtship wears off.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D, marriage counselor and psychotherapist, says online, “…I often see people drawn to their opposite – because it’s new and exciting. However, what’s exciting in the newness of romance often becomes unbearable in the constant contact of a long time relationship.
“…Although times are changing, most men and women are socialized differently as children, and these differences can trip us up in romantic relationships. Women’s and men’s brains, and therefore language processing and reasoning, are organized differently. Cultural anthropologists theorize that it’s because of the different survival skills they needed to learn. They maintain it takes different perception, ideation, cognition and communication skills to raise a baby versus hunting down a mammoth. Whatever the case, the differences can be bridged…women take a meandering mental route, full of emotional (and distracting for men) side trips, which are rich in meaning for the female. It is why research shows that women are so good at multitasking, cooperation and relationship-building, and less focused on reaching a specific goal.
“Men value competency and problem solving. Women value intimacy and emotional connection. Women you may think he’s focused entirely on time, power, or money, but what he’s really trying to do is create enough security that he can feel safe to let his guard down. Men, you might think she’s illogical or irrational, but she’s responding to emotional cues you haven’t been trained to see.”
It is these very issues that introduce the needed component of rational thinking. As the article suggests, not only is it imperative to delve into what makes each individual tick, but we must be aware of the societal impact on us as well.
I firmly believe that when we have had an unstable or dysfunctional upbringing we are more easily driven to choose the wrong person. You must be aware of the red flags flying in your face that tell you this is not a good match, despite the allure. There are almost always signs, but so many choose to ignore them because the adrenaline rush of new love can be addictive.
Now here is a fascinating theory that I believe is true. The emotional gaps we experienced in childhood come into play when we are aroused by someone who is very bad for us. This personality may stimulate buried problems that are unrecognizable on a conscious level. The object of our obsession might remind you of what was lacking in childhood because they have the same flaws as those people who raised you.
Sparks fly because another opportunity is presented to us to make right what was wrong in earlier years. For instance, if we grew up with an emotionally distant parent/s or guardian, then we are likely to select a similar personality in a mate to replay history and attempt to achieve what we missed. In all probability, the present person will not change into a devoted, giving soul, the very thing we are seeking. What we are actually doing is putting ourselves in the same emotionally deprived situation that eventually causes great distress. We’ve all heard it said that we are often attracted to someone who is like one or both parents.
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., “is a Clinical Counselor and co-originator of Imago Relationship Therapy with his wife, Helen LaKelly Hunt. Dr. Hendrix frequently appears in the media to discuss his ground-breaking therapeutic work with couples, including the concept of “conscious partnership.” His groundbreaking approach to couples therapy has inspired many psychotherapists and received international recognition.
Dr. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., is the co-author of several highly influential books on relationships, including the New York Times best-sellers Getting the Love You,Want: A Guide for Couples, which has been translated into more than 50 languages, and Keeping the Love You Find: A Personal Guide.
Dr. Harville Hendrix writes:
“Our unconscious need is to have our feelings of aliveness and wholeness restored by someone who reminds us of our caretakers. In other words, we look for someone with the same deficits of care and attention that hurt us in the first place.
So when we fall in love, when bells ring and the world seems altogether a better place, our old brain is telling us that we’ve found someone with whom we can finally get our needs met. Unfortunately, since we don’t understand what’s going on, we’re shocked when the awful truth of our beloved surfaces, and our first impulse is to run screaming in the opposite direction. (from Imago website).”
If these theories resonate with you, and given that few of us come from a perfectly healthy rearing, we have to be wary of following lethally-tinged, romantic chemistry. How do we do this? Again, I hark back to the need for self-examination. We must explore what it is that attracted us to the wrong person to begin with. Taken one step further, it might help to examine the reasons why we rejected the much nicer person and probably the one who was right.
I believe that by digging deeply into our psyches we can re-route our destructive chemistry into a healthier approach. Once we unearth the issues that have emotionally impoverished us as adults, we can develop the kind of understanding that will improve our mental health. Ask yourself what events helped form your behavior? If we take the answers and apply it to our lives perhaps disastrous relationship failures may be averted.
Blindly following that emotional yank of chemistry might push us off-track into an oncoming train. It is far better to walk away from a potentially bad relationship and avoid the bitterness of dissolution. Insights reaped and reinforced will give you a better chance to a happier ending. No one said the road to love and happiness would be easy! Even the white picket fence can rot through if not cared for.
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