You see a woman or man in a crowded room, and it feels like a vortex of uncontrollable energy is trying to pull you toward them. You have met your “soul mate, ” and you can feel it viscerally – your guts, your loins, your brain all explode with cupid’s phenylethylamine-tipped arrows, while they graze your skin. You believe that this feeling of “love” is so true, and so pure that nothing can match it, and while you’re partly correct, there is much more to the topic of human attraction.
According to the research of Jung, Freud, and several other psychologists, we choose our partners based on the composite image of our primary caretakers when we were kids. These were the people who we relied upon for everything. We were totally dependent upon them, and in their human frailty and ignorance, they probably made some mistakes in raising us. Maybe they had been distant, controlling, shaming, or even cruel. In other situations, we might have had loving, kind, patient, and supportive caretakers. We might also have experienced a combination of these characteristics from the womb until we were about three to five years old. That’s when our concept of the world and love was formed.
The visceral attraction we feel to another person romantically when we are adults is just a subconscious desire to heal any wounds which our primary caretakers inflicted. Consciously people want euphoria and all those things that come with idealized romantic love.
Nevertheless, subconsciously, there are deeper needs which are shouting for attention, as they play out through an “imago match.” The imago is the subconscious mind that behaves very much like the kid which was present when it was formed.
The subconscious mind is acting on its feelings and desires, and little more. It ignores all reasoning. It wants what it wants, despite social norms, politeness, compassion, and other significant developments in the human psyche to the wind. It’s acting like a bio-computer storing all our memories, including things that happened to us when we were so small, they might not register in our conscious memory. Certain beliefs we have about ourselves, which don’t seem to make sense, are usually formed in the subconscious based on those very early memories.
The First Stage of Love: The Chemistry Experiment
The first stage of love is full of passion, euphoria, and lust. Image: “Passion” Oil Painting by Leonid Afremov
During the first stages of love, we tend to feel like the “golden child” in our families, even unless we were treated that way when we were kids. Norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine, and several other neurochemicals turn our bodies into a real chemistry-experiment, as we’re flooded with substances which make our palms sweat, butterflies dance in our stomachs, while our hearts race. The “high” we feel is necessary for us to enjoin with somebody who can help us heal the deepest wounds we carry from our past, and our subconscious mind knows exactly who that is.
When the love begins to feel mundane and tiresome, we have normally entered the second phase of romantic love, which now becomes the “struggle.” It is critical to understand that this stage is not meant to last. If you are with somebody who belittles you, ignores you, withholds affection, or doesn’t truly love you, then remember there’s always another bus coming. It’s time to move on. For whatever reason, they’re not the person who is going help you to complete the healing you need to have a fully functioning, romantic love.
The Second Stage of Love: The Power Struggle
Instead of a feeling of excitement and euphoria, in the second stage of love, we are likely to feel unwanted and unloved, as we consciously realize our partner doesn’t fulfill all our emotional needs. Ultimately, we learn how to get these needs met more compassionately, but in this stage, we tend to feel abandoned, while excuses have become the norm. Partners blame each other, while frustration takes the place of elation and bliss. Both partners repeat the emotional patterns of their childhoods which lead them to low-level anxiety and pain.
It’s important to realize that this stage will also end. Many relationships don’t make it through this stage, as they fail to understand its significance and necessity. It’s here that our Higher Selves will either end the relationship or have a relationship breakthrough.
The Third Stage: True Love
The 3rd stage of love resembles compassion.
When we are finally exhausted from the struggles between our wounded inner selves and another person’s wounded inner self, we might choose to “give up.” We might also decide to take the relationship to another, more conscious level. Conscious love isn’t based on crazy chemistry or constant fighting. There’s no emotional abandonment or push-pull of trying to convince somebody else to give us what we need to feel adored.
Instead, we begin to grow. We stretch into improved ways of expressing our needs, our desires, and our feelings of abandonment or rejection.
Both parties start to see how they create behaviors by their own actions in the partnership. They are now more open to giving love in the ways they need to receive it. They’ve stopped using force, manipulation, or withdrawal.
We begin to drop the defenses we’ve developed as survival techniques when we were wounded kids, and begin to open to true intimacy.
This article (The True Reason We Are Attracted To Others, According To Science) was published by Thinking Humanity and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to thinkinghumanity.com.
Featured image source