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Be In Love Forever: 5 Simple Steps
By Jed Diamond, Ph.D.
Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a marriage and family counselor for the last 44 years. He is the author of 8 books, including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Male Menopause, and The Irritable Male Syndrome. He offers counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To contact Dr. Diamond, send an e-mail to Jed@MenAlive.com or visit him at www.MenAlive.com All of us are searching for love that will last “’til death do we part” but secretly believe that passionate love and “hot sex” are doomed to die as soon as a relationship moves out of the romance phase. We are told to settle for “mature” love and forget trying to recapture the feeling we remember when we first fell in love. Even most marriage and family counselors believe that passionate love can’t last. I’m here to tell you that you can be “in love” forever. I can’t tell you how many people have told their partner, “I love you, but I’m not In Love with you.” Whether you are on the saying or receiving end of such a statement there is a sad, cold feeling that runs through you. You are aware that something precious is no longer alive in your life. But as a psychotherapist, marriage and family counselor, I can tell you that you can keep that “in love” feeling forever. I don’t mean every moment of every day for 40, 50, or 60 years. But I do mean that love doesn’t have to leave a relationship. There are reasons love dies and there are ways you can insure that it doesn’t happen to you. Here’s how. 1. Recognize that old ways of viewing love actually kill off love. Some believe that love is all about sex, romance, and the indefinable “chemistry” that magically occurs between two people. No one can really understand it, promote it, or make it grow. Benjamin Franklin, who was so astute about many things, was mystified by love. It said it is “changeable, transient, and accidental.” In this view, you just have to let love find you, be grateful when it comes, and understand that it can leave as quickly as it came. Others see love as bargain that two people make in order to get the things they want. He’ll make the money and she’ll stay at home and raise the children. Or if you’re a modern couple, she goes off to the hospital and treats her patients and he takes care of the kids and goes to school board meetings. Very practical, but not very romantic!
Some, more historically inclined, look at love as a sentimental social custom created by the minstrels of the thirteenth-century France. We longed for love and agonized when we were away from our lover. This kind of romantic love, it was believed, worked best when the lover was unavailable. What these, and many other approaches, have in common is that they don’t allow love to grow, deepen, and last through time. They kill love, rather than nurture it. 2. A more scientific view would have us believe that love is about hormones, neurotransmitters, and brain chemistry. In this view there are three stages of love: Lust, Attraction, and Attachment. The first stage of love, the lust phase, is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen – in both men and women. In the second stage of love, the attraction phase, you are truly love-struck and can think of little else. Scientists think that three main neurotransmitters are involved in this stage; adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. During the third stage of love, the attachment phase, couples stay together long enough for them to have and raise children. Scientists think there might be two major hormones involved in this feeling of attachment; oxytocin and vasopressin. 3. The revolutionary new science of emotional bonding gets to the core of true love. One of the most articulate proponents of this new conception of love is Dr. Sue Johnson. I met Dr. Johnson at the recent Evolutionary of Psychotherapy Conference. Some of the most articulate and well-known people in the field were there including Aaron Beck, Deepak Chopra, Robert Sapolsky, and Andrew Weil were there. However, it was Sue Johnson, who really knocked my socks off and opened my eyes to the true nature of love. In her newly released book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, she says: “We now know that love is, in actuality, the pinnacle of evolution, the most compelling survival mechanism of the human species. Not because it induces us to mate and reproduce. We do manage to mate without love! But because love drives us to bond emotionally with a precious few others who offer us safe haven from the storms of life. Love is our bulwark, designed to provide emotional protection so we can cope with the ups and downs of existence.
4. The key to love is our drive for attachment. This drive to emotionally attach—to find someone to whom we can turn and say “Hold me tight”—is wired into our genes and our bodies. It is as basic to life, health, and happiness as the drives for food, shelter, or sex. We need emotional attachments with a few irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy—to survive. It was the British psychiatrist, John Bowlby, who first discovered the critical importance of emotional bonding in our conception of love. Most of us have never heard of Bowlby. Here’s what Sue Johnson says about him. “Let me be honest. As a psychologist and as a human being, if I had to give an award for the single best set of ideas anyone had ever had, I’d give it to John Bowlby hands down over Freud or anyone else in the business of understanding people.” What Bowlby saw clearly was that the quality of the connection to loved ones and early emotional deprivation is key to the development of personality and to an individual’s habitual way of connecting with others. It’s also at the core of what it means to be in love. Bowlby believed that there were four behaviors that were basic to attachment: 1. That we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved. 2. That we reach out for this person when we are unsure, upset, or feeling down. 3. That we miss this person when we are apart. 4. That we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world and explore. We recognize these behavior’s as critical ways in which a parent expresses their love for a child. But most of us think there is some kind of “mature love” that we must grow into as an adult. We think it is childish to cling to our partner, or reach out to them when we are afraid. We use words like codependent, emotionally immature, or too needy to describe this kind of emotional dependency. Men, in particular, have a difficult time doing this. We might accept that is OK for a woman to reach out in this way, but men are not supposed to have these dependency needs. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth or from the core of what it means to be in love.
In fact, the feeling of being in love, is really about feeling secure that our partner is there for us. When we fall out of love, it is because we have lost our emotional responsiveness. 5. Emotional Responsiveness: The Key to a Lifetime of Love The writer Peal S. Buck observed that “A person’s heart withers if it does not answer another heart.” Sue Johnson developed a system for helping everyone to develop and maintain the kind of emotional responsiveness that is at the core of true love. She calls it Emotionally Focused Therapy. You can learn about her approach by visiting her website. The emotional responsiveness that is at the core of EFT has three main components that she abbreviates A.R.E. 1. Acccessibility: Can I reach you? This means staying open to your partner even when you have doubts and feel insecure. It often means being willing to struggle to make sense of your emotions so these emotions are not so overwhelming. You can step back from disconnection and can tune in to your lover’s attachment cues. 2. Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally? This means tuning in to your partner and showing that his or her emotions, especially attachment needs and fears, have an impact on you. It means accepting and placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner conveys and sending clear signals of comfort and caring when your partner needs them. Sensitive responsiveness always touches us emotionally and calms us on a physical level. 3. Engagement: Do I know you will value and stay close? The dictionary defines engaged as being absorbed, attracted, pulled, captivated, pledged, involved. Emotional engagement here means the very special kind of attention that we give only to a loved one. We gaze at them longer, touch them ore. Partners often talk of this as being emotionally present. One easy way to remember these is to think of the acronym A.R.E. and the phrase, “Are you there, are you with me?”
These are the qualities that really contribute to being in love, not trying to return to some early stage of lust or trying some new sex position. It’s also the glue that begins to harden and become brittle when people are together, but have stopped becoming vulnerable to each other. Fortunately, it is never too late to rekindle the essence of love. We can, in truth, be in love, forever. We just need to learn how to hold each other tight. To contact Dr. Diamond, send an e-mail to Jed@MenAlive.com or visit him at www.MenAlive.com
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?