Are You In Love?Posted on: 26 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
How do you know when you are really in love?
Prince Charles, at the time of his engagement, gave a rather astonishing answer when asked if he was in love by reporters. While Diana answered with a shy, ‘Of course’, the Prince replied, with a laugh, ‘Whatever that means’. Years later we understand more about his wariness and his reluctance to be more positive, unlike most newly engaged men.
How do we fall in love? First of all, the time has to be right. We have to be willing, and whether consciously or not, ready for love. The man or woman who feels that either he or she is unlovable or avoids contact with the opposite sex, in unlikely to find a soul mate. On the other hand, anyone desperate to find a lover will transmit this sense of urgency and need, and frighten away any possible suitor. Many adults are surprised that it is when they have settled into a happy phase, when they are just getting on with life, that they find that special someone to love and who loves them back. Happiness, and a love of life, is a strong aphrodisiac.
Why do we fall in love? On a conscious level it is relatively easy to elaborate on why we find someone attractive or loveable, but the unconscious also comes into play and we often sense that the other person will truly understand us and meet our deepest needs. Hopefully this will turn out to be true: our instincts have lead us to a partner who has the qualities we most admire, and there is a mutual psychological ‘ fit’. If this is not the case, then hearts can be broken. When one person projects qualities onto the ‘other’ that he does not possess, the mistake can cost dearly. Taken to its extreme, are stalkers; they often feel that the person in whom they have invested a great deal of care and thought, and even imagine themselves in love with, returns their passion.
Why do we fall out of love? Perhaps the cruellest of all words are: ‘I don’t love you any more’. To have love taken away, and perhaps not understanding why, can shatter the most confident person. As anyone who has ever had a sad love affair knows, the heart, and pride, can take a long time to heal. The pain is felt physically as well as emotionally, and it can take a long time to trust someone else in that intimate way.
Finding love can be a minefield, and falling in love has often been described as being under a spell. In a way we are, and that is an accurate description, and the enchantment of falling in love is quite addictive and can often blind us from seeing the reality of a relationship. Some people find themselves unable to move on to a more everyday kind of loving, and continue to search for that heady unreal feeling of walking on air we all experience at the beginning of a relationship.
Being in love means many different things to each person. Quite possibly it means something different to men and to women. But remember our first experience of falling in love was with the adults who cared for us as a child. Our experience of being in love will have been formed by the way they loved us back. Quite possibly we all continue to search for a repeat of that first blissful experience. The adolescent falling in love with a pop or film star is no bad thing. It can be a rehearsal for the real thing at a safe distance. The trap can be if a young girl falls for a man and mistakes sex for love. Many a bewildered girl is left crying, ‘But I thought he loved me’.
On the road to love we also meet others who have their own agendas, which can often lead to a collision or head-on crash. But with all the ups and downs of an intimate relationship, in the words of the song, ‘Being in love is better than being out’.
I think most of you will agree with me about that.
By Jill Curtis
Jill Curtis is a senior psychotherapist working in the UK. She is the author of a number of books on parenting issues: Where's Daddy?, a book about helping children after a divorce; Making and Breaking Families, 'The Way Ahead for Parents and their Children'; Find Your Way through Divorce; and Does Your Child have a Hidden Disability? All these books have been warmly received by parents, counsellors and everyone seeking help with family difficulties. Her latest book, How to Get Married ... Again, a guide to second weddings, is published in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
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