Numerous researchers have examined the phenomenon of being in love. This refers to the stage of feeling whole and complete once we have found someone who matches the image we carry around with us of the person we have been searching for – that is, someone who has the positive and negative qualities of an imperfect parent from our childhood.
The experience of being in love happens when two people first meet, when the holes in our lives are filled with each other’s positive qualities. This is followed eventually by a power struggle when the partner’s negative qualities begin to emerge. One theory says that “romantic love is supposed to end.” Once the power struggle is resolved, a more mature, committed love can begin.
The first quality of being in love is recognition. This is the strange feeling of familiarity with someone we have just met. “I feel as if I’ve known you my whole life.” The qualities of the person we are attracted tap into our needs from childhood – and, in a sense, we have held this image in our minds since childhood. When we find a person with these qualities, we do feel as if we have known this person forever.
Next is timelessness. “Even though we just met, I can’t remember when I didn’t know you.” Lovers can spend hours with each other, embracing and drawing on the feeling of being alive with that person, so that time seems to vanish. The cocoon of love becomes everything.
Third is reunification. Lovers find the parts of themselves that are missing through the other person. “I no longer feel alone. When I’m with you I feel complete and connected to things. I feel at one with the world.” In truth, they have found through each other what was missing in themselves.
Last is a feeling of necessity. We come to feel that we need the other person. “I can’t imagine what it would be like without you. I don’t think I could live without you.” You feel safe with your partner, and, for perhaps the first time, you feel that your life needs have at long last been met. Predictably, however, the initial feeling of being in love is followed by a much longer journey – an adventure that leads to true maturity and integrity. It’s worth the trip.
The emotions we feel when we think we have found the right person can be overwhelming. We might be reminded of past relationships that may not have worked. Childhood memories can surface. Having many questions come to mind is normal,but a pattern of self-doubt can interfere with making this important choice. If this happens consulting with a professional couple counselor can help.
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