There is a dream in our culture, which is both persistent and misleading.
It is the intrusive fantasy of falling head over heels in love at first sight, pursuing and receiving reciprocated affection, and living happily ever after. Truth is, this type of romance is purely and simply fiction. Falling in love (lust) at first sight is propelled by biochemical releases (e.g., dopamine among others) in our brains. Psychologists refer to this whole concept as “limerence.” Colloquially, we call it a “crush” or “infatuation.” It can last anywhere from six to eighteen months.
Limerence can, but often doesn’t, grow into a lasting, deeply loving relationship. And that’s usually the difference between the two. Limerence is temporary and fades quickly, while deep love endures the test of time and the strain of life’s typical (and sometimes atypical) challenges. Limerence says “I don’t have to fight, change or work at the perfect relationship.” Real love knows better.
Why does a deeply loving relationship last? Because both partners are wholly invested (not 50/50 split for each partner but 100/100 – meaning 100% from each) in doing the work of the relationship, which is to help nurture and meet the needs of their partner, in addition to nurturing and meeting their own needs. Real love is not dependent (“I need you”), but neither is it completely independent (“I don’t need you”). Deep love requires interdependence (“we mutually benefit from helping meet our partner’s needs”).
Want to know how to create that mutual, satisfying, lasting love? Tune into to my next micro-blog on the research-driven “secrets” to successful relationships.
Suzanne E. Grandchamp