I heard a grandmother say that when she told her 3 three-year-old granddaughter that she loved her, the child responded, “Grandma, love is confusing.”
Love IS confusing. It is supposed to be wonderful and affirming yet many times, it feels confusing or even scary. Since there is not much of a life script when it comes to falling in love, many people feel that they are on their own without any guidance or skills. Hanging out with someone who shares your love for adventure but who is difficult to talk to one-on-one is confusing. It is exhilarating to be with them in one context, but in another context, one or both partners may feel uncertainty asking, “Is this the real thing? Is he/she right for me? Will he/she leave me? Does he/she feel the same way? If I let myself love this person, will I lose myself? Can I be vulnerable? Can this person be trusted with my heart?”
In a recent study of 100 newly-in-love young men and women who completed a series of questionnaires asking about their physical and psychological symptoms concluded that they were depressed and anxious. “Romantic love is not entirely a joyful and happy period of life,” the authors wrote. Data suggests that for young adults, falling in love might be a critical life event associated with uncertainty. Another study outlines that romantic love can be addictive by flooding the brain with the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine that hijacks cognition and reasoned thought. Many times, this experience of falling in love becomes destabilizing. Even the verbiage of “falling in love” becomes suspect. I ask workshop attendees, “What is so great about falling?”
This confusion and uncertainty is common among new romantic partners. What needs to enter the picture is attachment and trust. This takes time, skill and intentionality. Dr. Scott Stanley, Director of the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies declares that a healthy long-lasting relationship is nurtured and kindled when each partner “Decides rather than Slides” into coupling.
Additionally, to minimize the confusion and uncertainty one must learn about the compatibilities of the partner relationship. According to Dr. Neil-Clark Warren, Ph. D, founder of e-Harmony, there are 50 compatibilities that one must discover about one another. Feelings come and go, but these compatibilities are the glue that keeps the relationship together. Dr. Warren opines that opposites attract, but it is the compatibilities that keep you together.
Finally, we all need to learn and remember that love is not just a noun, it is also verb.
This is what love does:
Love gives, trusts, respects, affirms, honors, accepts, forgives. Love laughs, cries, resolves conflicts, is tender and kind, seeks to understand, allows for change and growth, promotes dreams. Love is patient, loyal, committed and exclusive. Love promotes emotional safety and vulnerability. It is a behavior not a feeling. When love is all about feelings, it is confusing.
For a copy of the 50 Compatibilities, contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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