Love Yourself

True love starts with self-love. You must love and respect yourself in order to unconditionally give and receive true love. The choice of a mate necessarily requires a deep understanding of who you are and what you desire as well as what you don't want in a lifelong partnership. Otherwise, you may tumble into a romance based on physical attraction and chemistry and only after you have become emotionally invested will you discover fatal flaws in the relationship.

The Law of Attraction will bring you excellent candidates for your life partner. You help it accomplish that goal by a thorough understanding of your personality, the aspects that drive your choices, and your most important core beliefs and values. Then you must decide what you seek in others.

Brain chemistry changes depending on how long you have been in love. Blind attraction does not necessarily ensure a long and lasting commitment.

Relationships often end because one or both of the individuals in the relationship could not live with some quality, habit, or trait of the other once their brain chemistry returned to normal and the attraction stage of love shifted to the attachment stage at around 30 months. Lack of attachment during the cooling off may account for why divorces hit a peak at around four years.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., professor and human behavior researcher at Rutgers University and author of Why We Love, says that biological programming is why people get antsy after about four years of marriage. The drive for a couple to remain together to see a child through its infancy (or about four years) dates back millions of years. The normal duration for infatuation is two to three years, according to Fisher.

The three stages of romantic love include lust, attraction (overidealizing and fantasizing about the other person), and attachment (where fantasy love is replaced by real love and commitment). Falling in love, your brain becomes flooded by dopamine (which stimulates blissful feelings) and norepinephrine (which produces heightened attention and excitability). Serotonin levels drop, which suppresses the neural circuits involved in assessing others.

Probing Below the Surface of Who You Are

Psychologists say that emotionally healthy people who thrive in strong, committed relationships may have had the advantage of having healthy relationships modeled for them. Their interpersonal relationships include such elements as respect, boundaries, truthfulness, and transparency.

Others, who don't seem to be able to make successful relationships, may have had less nurturing models or are driven by psychological factors (such as the need to rescue, seek father figures, or date bad boys or divas) to choose bad partners because their own self-esteem is low.

Carrying Forward Old Wounds

Those who have studied human relationships assert that on a deep subconscious level, we carry psychological patterns and wounds from previous relationships that can sabotage our current ones. These wounds may not even be ours; they may have been inherited from our parents.

Spend some quiet time reflecting on how your answers to the following questions might be impacting your current relationships. Then consider whether you desire to have someone in your life who triggers or engages in such behaviors.

  • Were family members verbally abusive? Was that tolerated in your family?

  • Did members of your family practice manipulation instead of truthful integrity as a means of winning?

  • Did the adults in your family stoically conceal their emotions? On the other hand, were they emotionally volatile?

  • Did either of your parents ever have an affair? If so, was trust ever restored?

  • Did anyone withhold love or intimacy as a means to manipulate?

  • Did someone suffer an addiction and hurt others as a result?

  • Was hitting or spanking a child acceptable punishment in your family?

Evaluate the choices you have made in selecting romantic companions. Try to identify patterns. Do you keep attracting the same type of person? At first, you believe your new love to be the ideal romantic partner, but you eventually discover that you are not good together. Are you an incurable romantic who falls in love at first sight and all too soon has to accept the end of the relationship? Maybe you prefer romantic partners who remind you of someone in your past or in your family — a father figure, for example. Do you seek people whose attitudes are compatible with yours but whose personalities are not? Does it seem that you are always attracted to your mirror opposite?

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