Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Why do we fall in Love?

Lets start by looking at how and why couples fall in love - why we choose our partner and what happens to our senses.
It’s horrifying but true that the majority of both relationships and businesses fail within two years*. And for similar reasons!  Lets look at how two people ‘fall’ for each other. "Attraction" is the first stage.
When we fall in love, Nature tricks us into a state of unreality which stop us from seeing our partner’s faults with a cocktail of chemicals. These ‘stars in our eyes’ lull us to undertake overwhelming tasks ahead with little logic. Similar perhaps to when we start a business.
These are Dopamine, Serotonin (the happiness chemical) and Adrenaline which get the heart racing; similar to those induced by Cocaine!  This stage of love, featured in films, becomes addictive for some people.  It lasts six months to two years- then reality emerges.
There follows an “Attachment Stage” that allows us to get on with our lives together. There, Oxytocin  and Vasopressin  known as the ‘cardigan and slippers’ hormones allow us to feel comfortable and secure.
Once we are in a long-term relationship we have to choose between the two modes: Attraction (excitement) and Attachment (security)  Some couples steer a path between the two.  Changes often push a couple move towards one or the other; a new baby, work changes, a house move or even an affair! Long relationships usually successfully steer a path backwards and forwards with enough safety and excitement to sustain them.  Many couples choose one and you can clearly see which choice they have made by how they act, dress and socialise. Some take risks other like routine.
The average length of a marriage is now seven years*. bearing out the old “seven-year Itch” when partners become disillusioned with each other.Research (Lawrence Kurdek in Developmental Psychology) says ‘dysfunctional beliefs’ or unreal expectations were to blame.  These include thinking that arguing is bad, sex should be perfect and that your partner should understand you. According to Relationship Researcher, John Gottman, the four things that destroy relationships are sneering, contempt, criticism or withdrawal. All of these faults are over-corrections from our irrational first attraction. But surely there is a better, saner way to do it.
Moving from idealisation to realism is a tricky but essential stage for any couple - in love or in business. It is the post-honeymoon stage where we become aware that our partner has warts and the serious business of working out a way to live together with joint goals and hopes is done.
*Office of National Statistics

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