Falling in love again? Are you addicted to romance?
13th April, 2013
What a wonderful feeling! That fluttering and confusion, that total preoccupation with the object of our desire, that certainty that this time we've found THE one. Then that gradual realisation that yet again we have chosen a lemon (and are fed up of trying to make lemonade).
The cynic in me says that falling in love is 50% sexual attraction and 50% projection. Its easy to explain the first 50% - nature wants us to procreate so we have that overwhelming urge to get it together. (This applies whether straight or gay, seriously interested in starting a family or not - I'm talking about our biological drive to have sex). And of course sex that goes well can be enormously pleasurable and rewarding in so many ways that its no wonder we continue to seek opportunities for it. But that's the obvious bit.
What is projection? Well that's the fantasies we each hold about who our ideal partner would be and how they would behave towards us. Someone only has to show some semblance of some of these characteristics (at the same time that we are feeling those sexual tingles of attraction) and we will fill in the rest with our imaginations. Not only that, but we will discount any information coming our way that opposes this view!
So if you are addicted to falling in love, consider some advice that was once given to me - "Ask yourself what you know now that it will take you a year to find out". What this means, is that if we stop and pay attention we will have picked up some information that tells us this person is not simply our ideal, but a real living person with faults as well as good qualities (just like us) and that although falling in love is a delightful process, we owe it to ourselves to remain aware of the full range of data coming our way. And owe it to that other person to take time to get to know them as the person they truly are.
There can be many issues from our early life that prompt us to project particular qualites onto a series of potential partners - we are often trying to make up for aspects of love we deserved but never got enough of - attention, acceptance, approval - to name just a few. When someone (who is attracted to us) pays us attention, it can feel as if at last, we are going to have that deficit made up.
The best "cure" for the serial falling-in-love-followed-by-disappointment trap is self-awareness, forming a deeper relationship with ourselves. Each of us has a unique biography and by exploring this in detail we can often find out what particular projections we are likely to be making and why.
Not only does this allow us to start coming to terms with the early loss of "perfect" love that might be driving us, but also to really own the positive projections we are putting on to the loved one. You have imagined this person to be perfectly faithful? That means you value and want fidelity. You are certain that they are endlessly fascinated in everything that interests you? That means you value and seek companionship and shared ideals. Own these desires, and that is the beginning of you being able to seek them openly, to evaluate all the information that you have about the way they behave, to have the self-esteem to avoid people who don't genuinely offer these.
If all this feels a bit hard to do alone then try a counsellor who is able to work with you identify your own personal drivers, to help you build your self-esteem and identify and take back your projections. Counselling is after all a relationship - one where the focus is on developing healthy ways to live the life that brings out the best in you! This leads to self-love of the best kind and makes us much better prepared to find real love with others.
Related articles from our experts
- Young people and unhealthy relationships
Balwinder Hunjan BSc (Hon) Dip Counselling Psychology Registered MBACP17th October, 2017
- Couple relationships and microfrictions: what is it, what can be done about it?
Graeme Armstrong MBACP13th October, 2017
- Are there benefits of having an affair?
Gill Sanders: Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor, COSRT: BACP: UKCP:11th October, 2017
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.