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So You've Found the Perfect Mate: What's Next?
Posted: 2/18/2011 | Relationships Comments
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Ah, amore!

Most intimate relationships begin with the glorious experience of eros. Eros is that “falling in love” feeling that includes an aching for the other. It’s that longing for romantic and emotional closeness. When we fall in love, it seems little else matters. Our heart is wide open and we experience our lover and all of life as beautiful. We see the very best in the other, and are probably being close to our very best selves, too. It’s hard to be irritable when we feel “in love.” When we are in it, this feeling flows across the board- we love our job, the laundry, the car next to us in traffic, Hawaii, all with the same generous, euphoric spirit. But what happens next?

This early stage in our relationship can last from a few weeks to a couple of years, and it’s important for many reasons. One is because it helps us bond with the other person and in certain ways actually replicates the bond we developed as babies with our mother, or primary caretaker. When moms nurse and bond with their babies, oxytocin is released leaving them both relaxed and peaceful. Even bottle feeding, mother and child gaze into each others eyes, connecting and creating an attachment. This experience keeps Mom attentive and her baby alive. We’re also experiencing the sweet influence of the “love hormone” when we fall in love. If our bonding with our mother was disturbed in some way, we might have trouble falling in love later in life or we fall in love too much or we can’t sustain healthy relationships.

What happens next? Sooner or later, the intensity of the feeling fades. You’ve got to return to earth and reality eventually. You finally notice you’re not sleeping enough, eating enough and sustaining your lifestyle. Our culture is permeated by romantic movies and songs perpetuating the myth that being in love is THE peak life experience, and if we’re not in love something is very wrong. Sure, it feels great to be in love. It can even be an addiction for some. We are so disappointed when the euphoria stops. We think, what could be better than that euphoria?

Eros is what takes us to true love.

It can feel so disappointing when our lover becomes utterly human again. It’s the natural progression and there’s something much bigger available. People often mistake the feeling of eros with real, abiding love. Just as falling in love replicates our bonding with Mom for better or for worse, individuating from our lover replicates the same process with our parents. There are two things at play. First of all, whether it’s obvious to us or not, we fall in love with the best of our mother and father and are attracted unconsciously to the best and worst in the other person. It’s part of design of true intimacy and connection. It’s how we learn and grow. And second, we learn to know ourselves and others as individuals with separate thoughts and feelings. Then we can we really love them and not our image of them.

Even though this might not sound so romantic, it’s empowering and deeply satisfying! We become more fully ourselves when we know ourselves as separate and at the same time remain connected with others. True love develops as we navigate our own internal thoughts and feelings when we’re not happy with that other person, and it will happen. Individuation is a life long process. You’re never completely done, and here’s how you know: you still react to other people. When we still get triggered by others it highlights that we are still a work in progress.

This process of oneness and separateness is even necessary in growing spiritually. Plato said that eros helps the soul remember beauty, and contributes to an understanding of our spiritual truth.

We can delight in the hearts-and-flowers feeling of eros knowing that our journey brings power and fulfillment beyond the experience of eros. It’s why we’re here- to grow, play, learn and evolve into all we are born to be. Our awareness and understanding give us the freedom to enjoy the ride!


Nicolette E Brown       Posted: 10/25/2011 6:28:49 PM

Hiiii Dr Jennifer,

I so enjoyed reading your post/blog, so much so, I decided to join your daily inspirational quote email list! Refreshing to read your work. It has helped me tremendously with being able to quote YOU with my own clients. I have enjoyed your video clips also. Do you have any published books that I can share?

Warm regards,
Nicolette :)

Miranda       Posted: 2/22/2011 8:31:16 PM

So, suppose we feel we have found the right person. How do we know we are liking or loving the person as the 2 are different?

terri hoagland       Posted: 2/24/2011 4:18:58 PM

Hello Dr. Jennifer,
I really enjoyed reading your article. I am currently go through a divorce, it will be finalized sometime next month, it is hard. Divorce is like a death. I cried everyday for six months. I do not cry anymore, because I feel more alive and look forward to dating again. I do not fall in love right away, I like getting to know that person first, because attraction is not everything, it helps, but love is important too. Thank you for sharing Dr. Jennifer

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