BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2015 (edited 2018)
Love is created not found. We naturally are attracted; but from attraction we build lasting love.
Attraction happens; intimacy is created. The passive participant doesn’t earn the reward of intimacy. We must create intimacy through consistency of action; not blind reactions dictated by emotions. We have little control over attraction; biological makeup and social upbringing influence attraction. We are attracted or repelled (or indifferent). We over simplify, confusing the underlying tugging of our heart strings that push us closer or draw us away as either love or hate; they are just learned preferences. Love is much more than a preference.
Romantic novels and movies thrive on mysterious attractions and their uncanny power to provoke stupidity. But the boring work between 'falling in love' and happily-ever-after is often ignored. Hollywood recognizes the grind of building bonds doen't have romantic appeal, too boring for a two-hour romance.
The normal conflict and resolutions of new love appears dysfunctional on the silver screen. When lovers in the real world discover differences, the shocking pull to reality dislodges the idealism of attraction (soul mates, love at first sight). It is at these cross roads that partners that the blistering work of bonding begins. Reality grounds the ecstatic joys of a soul mate, introducing the work of reconciling differences. When the relationship morphs from fantasy to reality, we may errantly ask, “What’s wrong with my partner?”
Our response to the changing landscape of connection is critical; choices either strengthen bonds or destroy them. We may discover toxic traits that first were suspiciously hidden. Breaking free from a destructive attachment may be appropriate when dangerous truths are revealed. While we had minimum control over the initial attraction, we do, however, have significant control over the continued direction of the relationship. We should exam new surprising revelations exposed as the relationship drifts back to reality, revealing the true character of the once mysterious lover.
Romance energizes the soul, thrilling our experience. We should enjoy the flashes of exhilaration from the euphoric rendezvous in a glorious fantasy world, where those nagging unmet needs are momentarily satisfied. If too protective, we miss out on these spectacular feelings, dousing the romantic flames with skeptical fear; enjoy first. Soon enough, time will reveal whether the relationship is worth preserving or stinks of spoil. In the beginning stages, little is known, attraction is king and the relationship feels perfect. The romance feels natural and undemanding; falsely suggesting no strenuous work will ever be required. The feelings promise enduring happiness; a fairy tale ending to our own story.
"If too protective, we miss out on these spectacular feelings, dousing the romantic flames with skeptical fear; enjoy first."
Because we know little about new partners, we fill the gaps with bright idealistic qualities. We assume the best, assigning positive motivations, and ignoring a few blips of bothersome shortcomings. Over time, we bond, relying more on each other for security, forming a connection that creates the beginning of vulnerability. Character traits are illuminated, and flaws more apparent. Soon realities replace the idealistically filled gaps. The momentary illusions of stress free love dissipate with the frightening realization that our hurts, fears, and unhealthy desires still haunt our souls. Pasts still remain.
The greater the childhood hurts, and the more traumatic the suffering, the greater the desire for an idealistic partner to gallantly will save us from reoccurring pains. Perhaps this hope drives the desire for a rapturous new lover that will solve the anxious lovers troubles. The fantasies block normal wisdom and skepticism. Some foolishly charge across several states to meet their proclaimed soul mate, recently discovered on-line. A few emotionally charged e-conversations seem sufficient to induce insanity. The hopeful (mostly unknown) lover seldom rescues the broken heart, eventually leaving more hurt in the wake.
Perhaps those harboring an injured souls, who have deep fears of intimacy, may be less inclined to scrutinize potential partners. Their blindness creates a greater susceptibility to predators who purposely project perfection while hiding serious characteristic flaws; both partners hiding hurts, social fears, and unrealistic expectations until a bond of codependency is forged. The painful cycle then repeats causing further harm, dragging the couple to new depths of hell, denying the security desperately sought. Instead of healing, the new relationship inflicts new injuries.
By mindfully watching our relationships, attuning to accompanying feelings and reactions, our inspection may illuminate warning signs early, unveiling dangerous incongruent behaviors and distorted explanations.
We will never find perfection; but we may discover a caring human being willing to co-create intimacy, working with us to build foundations of trust and hope, while providing the warmth necessary for healing. There are no short-cuts. Careful and concerted efforts of openness, acceptance and compassion build the framework for the happily-ever-after ending that would please Hollywood. Secure relationships, created with care, eventual nourish our wounded souls, giving freedom from the demons of our pasts. The new bond carefully forged can weather many storms and make us smile.