“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse for impossibility, for it thinks all things are lawful for itself and all things are possible.” ~ Thomas A. Kempis.
We have been discussing the limbic system of the brain, emotional crime scenes and how sometimes we can’t trust what our heart is saying unless we understand some of what is stored in our brain about relationships, trauma and past hurt.
What do you do when presented with a situation where you feel in love, or at least feel unable to let go of a person? She is under your skin. She doesn’t like you as much as you like her, and you persist anyway. Your friends say to leave her. Your mother is worried about you. Your father shakes his head.
There are two people in this relationship. You (let’s call you Ryan) and your gal (let’s call her Beth). Ryan and Beth are both important. They are people with feelings, a past, past suffering and a history of some type or another that involved relationships. What advice would we offer to Ryan and Beth?
We want Beth and Ryan to achieve insight into their relationship. With insight they may make a better decision about what to do.
Both Beth and Ryan would be served by taking an inventory of the current situation. Questions such as these would be helpful to consider asking.
1. Why do you stay in the relationship?
2. What is it you obtain from the other person?
3. What do you give the other person?
4. If you are aware that one of you is more invested than the other, what may be accounting for this?
5. If you can’t stop thinking about the person even though you know it isn’t the best relationship for you, can you think about when you met this person and what other need they may be filling for you? For example, if you met Beth when your mother was dying it is likely Beth and your grief over mother have become joined in your mind. If you met Ryan when you just moved to a new city it is likely Ryan became your rock or your anchor. These things complicate love, rather than simplify it.
6. List three qualities you want in a partner. Does your current love interest have these qualities?
7. If you love someone but know they love you more, examine why you would want someone loving you more than you love them. Sometimes people feel more powerful with the illusion that someone who loves you more will not be as likely to leave. This is an illusion. Likewise, why would you want to love someone who loved you less?
8. Which parent does your partner most represent? Or, if your partner is a composite of both parents write down how your partner is like your mother and father.
9. There is nothing wrong with repeating relational patterns or in choosing people to love who are like one of your parents. The problem is with the lack of examining what you bring with you to relationships.
10. Real love is a process not an event. Real love does involve challenges. Real love is also a business deal. If we are going to spend our life with someone we want to know what is being brought to the table by both parties.
It may take time to examine things in a relationship. This is time well spent.
I often hear couples who examine things in a meaningful dialogue. The next time they are together they throw caution to the wind and let love making and the emotions of being together rule the direction of the relationship. This intensifies the decision-making. It may make it impossible to make informed decisions.
It is best to think through the loving of another. We want to do no harm. We want to be careful with our heart and the heart of another. We are no longer narcissistic little children; we are adults capable of problem-solving around issues of love. At the end of one’s life it will be important how we treated people and how we treated loving.
Take care and be well.
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD
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Last reviewed: 31 Jul 2012