A baby is born with a need to be loved and never outgrows it. ~Frank A. Clark
Falling in love is the ultimate dream of many – young, middle-aged, and even older people. We all want to experience that sense of being totally and unconditionally loved by another. It is the theme of countless movies, songs, and books, yet it is guaranteed not to last. Couples who been married for 60+ years will tell you that they are still in love, but they did not stay in that space of total bliss that we all mystify as “falling in love.”
While we are in the “falling” state, we cannot imagine it ending, and certainly not badly. If you are reading this as someone who wants to learn from a failed relationship, you probably once experienced this euphoric state of being giddily infatuated with another person – to the point of losing sensibility and reason.
Stephanie Ortigue, a professor at Syracuse University conducted research on the effects of falling in love. She determined that falling in love not only has the same euphoric psychological sensations as cocaine, the body actually goes through a physiological change as well. She termed this phenomena “The Neuroimaging of Love.” In 2010, Syracuse University released an article written by Donna Adamo. Here is an excerpt:
When asked, “Does the heart fall in love, or the brain?”
Ortigue responded, “That’s a tricky question always. I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa. For instance, activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, butterflies in the stomach. Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain.”
So falling in love is not only psychological, it is physical as well. You may recall feeling like you could stay up all night, so eager to spend time with your new love that you rushed through the “have-tos” and “must dos” to be together. Hours without that special someone dragged on endlessly, and the time you were together sped by with the speed of light.
Looking back at this phase, you may question whether or not you really were in love, or if you simply wanted it so badly you told yourself you were experiencing this widely publicized and sought after state. When you look at how you regard this person now, it may be hard to remember what those early days were like. Like I suggested in previous posts, look back at emails, texts, journal notes, and love letters to transport you back to that time. While this may seem counterproductive to our ultimate goal of realizing the gift in your ultimate breakup, it lays a foundation for why you made the choices you made that got you to where you are now. So reflect back to that time. Recall the details and allow yourself to revisit those mystical moments.
While reflecting back, it may be helpful to ask some of the following questions:
- Was falling in and out of love so easy that you worried that you would never find a long-term partner, the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with – until you realized that this was “the one”? Or maybe you convinced yourself of this.
- What fears and concerns plagued you as you were going through that falling in love phase?
- Did you worry that it would not last, or never really be the magical experience you had been promised?
Again, we are aiming for objectivity and owning who we were at this point in the relationship? What did you do or not do that your instincts were telling you to pay attention to? What were the things that you chose to ignore from the get go? Be as objective as you can. Again, try stepping back and thinking of this as someone else and see if you can see your past with new clarity.
Looking back on falling in love is like recalling stories from your childhood or from a vacation that you particularly enjoyed. Too often these memories add salt to the wound of having gone through the break up. It can even make you fantasize about getting him/her back and seeing if you can’t make it work out this time.
Warning: Neither one of you has changed. Whatever caused you to breakup is still there. Now is the time to be honest with yourself while looking hard and long at this phase of the relationship. It may be painful to revisit these sweet memories, yet they hold telling details of what lay ahead.
As I look back at my story, I am amazed by reading an email that I got from him after our first date in which he is struggling with whether or not he deserves to be happy. In the restaurant when we shut the place down on our first date, we talked about my habit of creating positive affirmations when I feel unsure. He wrote that one of his affirmations is: “I am worthy of Pat’s love.” “Me loving Pat is good for her.” Many of you are probably thinking, “Too much, too soon.” A part of me did too, and another part of me loved it. I grew up wanting to be loved emphatically, so for this guy to be espousing his love for me after one meeting was elixir for my soul.
Reflect on your own first date, and capture ideas in a journal that you can continue to add to as we look for the gold in this experience.
The advantage of love at first sight is that it delays a second sight. ~Natalie Barney
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