What does true love look like

What Real Love Looks Like

What Real Love Looks Like

Throughout our lives we compile a picture of what we think real love should look like. Often this process begins early, as little girls listening to fairy tales at bed time will envision their very own knight in shining armor.   As we grow older, we often imagine finding a soul-mate, that perfect person who we were destined to spend our lives with.  To borrow a phrase from Shel Silverstein, we set out looking for our missing piece.

The trouble is that the reality of love is not quite as simple as the fantasy picture we create in our heads. Our fantasy idea of love often leads us to choose romantic partners for the wrong reasons. The romantic, rom/com idea of “You complete me” has potentially negative psychological implications. When we set out to find a partner to complete us by filling in the gaps we see in ourselves, we make the assumption that we are not a whole person on our own and try to find a partner to plug-up our self-perceived deficits. For example, someone who is shy and has a hard time being outgoing in social situations may gravitate toward a partner who is loud or even socially domineering.

There are several ways that loyalty to a fantasy can interfere with real love. For instance, many people cling to a fantasy of finding an unrealistically perfect partner and are critical of any individual they enter into a relationship with because the person cannot live up to the picture they have painted so meticulously in their heads. Other individuals tend to idealize anyone they wind up in a relationship with, overlooking negative qualities in an effort to hold on to a fantasized image of their partner.

Even when we choose partners for the right reasons, creating fantasies can interfere with the real connection two people naturally share. My father, psychologist Dr. Robert Firestone, coined the term “The Fantasy Bond” to describe an illusion of connection that many people cling to in relationships. In article I wrote for PsychAlive. org, I described the difference between real love and a fantasy bond.

A fantasy bond is created when two people replace real acts of genuine love, admiration, passion, and respect with the role and ritual of “being” in a relationship. Though this process is often unconscious, people can begin to recognize patterns and behaviors characterized by a Fantasy Bond that are destructive to their closest relationships.

Individuals in a fantasy bond are often satisfied by the idea of loving and being loved by someone. They tend to focus more on what they are getting from a relationship, instead of looking at what they are giving in the relationship. I appreciate Dr. Pat Love’s definition of love as both “a wish to make someone happy” and taking the actions that will make the person you love happy, because really loving someone means making your actions match your words.

Real love may seem less exciting than our shiny fantasies, but it is a million times more rewarding.   Here are the qualities that I believe make up a truly loving relationship.

Honesty — Honesty is an essential component for a healthy relationship. Part of treating someone lovingly is being honest with them about your feelings. Often people try to shield their loved ones from the truth, believing ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’ or that they are protecting their partner’s feelings, however being lied to is even more painful than hearing painful truths. Part of real love is learning to trust one another, so betraying someone’s trust does a tremendous amount of damage to loving relationships.

Affection – Physical affection and sexuality are vital components of a loving relationship. Affection and sexuality are not only important in developing an intimate relationship, they are also essential aspects of keeping a relationship alive and exciting throughout the years. Once a relationship becomes more routine couples often fall into a pattern of placing less importance on physical intimacy and casual affection. However, simple acts of affection such as holding hands, making eye contacting and engaging in small flirtatious behaviors can help people feel closer to one another.

Companionship – It is important to share activities and do things with your partner that light both you up. Often when people first fall in love, they bond over a shared love of certain activities and mutual interests. To maintain a healthy relationship, I suggest that couples  continue to share their mutual passions and be willing to try new things together.

Respect – Respecting your partner’s individuality is a key factor in having a truly loving relationship. At the beginning of relationships, people have a natural respect for one another as separate individuals and they tend to relate to each other with kindness and genuine interest. As time goes on, couples often lose this sense of autonomy and relate to one another as part of a unit. When we lose perspective and stop thinking about our partner as a separate person, we often begin to act in ways that are more intrusive, manipulative or disrespectful rather than being sensitive, understanding and independent.

Openness – Issues are bound to arise in long-term relationships. Being open to dealing with issues is one of the most significant factors in creating and maintaining a successful partnership.  It is important to be open, willing to look at yourself and make changes, in order to develop a meaningful relationship. Rather than acting defensive, overly hurt or angry when your partner gives you feedback, try to adopt an attitude of openness and curiosity about what they are trying to tell you. When we are closed to suggestions, criticism, or new experiences, we limit our self development and often begin to resent our partners. When we are open, however, we are able to develop ourselves and our relationships further.

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Tags: fantasy, fantasy bond, love, real love, relationship advice, relationships

What Does Love Actually Feel Like? 10 Feelings To Look For

It's important to clarify that everyone experiences and expresses love in their own unique way.

However, with that in mind, clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner, Psy.D., says, "What we do know is that there is a difference between lust, attraction, and attachment, which combine to what I define as love."

The attachment stage is key for long-term love, Wegner adds.

Attachment is about feeling deeply connected to someone beyond physical lust and attraction. "It can be sexual and romantic or not (such as infant-bonding, close friendships, and loving family relationships)," she says.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Linda Carroll M.S., LMFT, explains the idea of wholehearted love as the last of five stages of a relationship.

A couple must go through deep interpersonal connection but also doubts, disillusionment, and ultimately a decision about whether to stick it out, all before experiencing true, wholehearted love.

Notably, both experts say the idea of one soul mate seems to be a wash: "I think you can make a choice to spend your life with another person," Carroll tells mbg, but "I think there's more than one right person—I think there are many kinds of soul mates. "


It's more than lust

It's important to recognize the difference between lust and love. While lust is one stage on the way to love, you're going to need more than physical attraction to make it last. In time, the deeper you get to know them and the more you bond, the more you'll grow to care for who they really are—and the more they'll care for who you really are, too.


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You're not concerned with the risk

If anything, risk is what makes it exciting. Love pushes you to open yourself up completely to another person, to really be seen and understood. And in spite of the possibility of heartbreak, we do it anyway. Love is a huge risk, but it seems to be the one we're all willing to take.


You feel calm and content around this person

Eventually, as the honeymoon phase dissipates and you and your partner really begin to see who the other is, there's a sense of calm familiarity. You feel grounded and content in their presence. This is partly due to the hormones released during the attachment phase that facilitate bonding, oxytocin and vasopressin1.


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It just feels right

Love doesn't always have "good reasons," which is where the idea of unconditional love comes from. As holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora, Ph.D., describes to mbg, it almost feels as though "there's a divine force telling me I'm on the right path. It doesn't always feel easy or even necessarily positive, but it always feels like I'm right where I need to be."


You feel like a complete individual

Your partner shouldn't "complete" you; in fact, feeling that way is a good sign that you're more in the infatuation phase than true love. Love happens between two whole people, which is why Carroll refers to it as "wholehearted love."

Both people are free to be their whole selves. Couples experience "true individuation and self-discovery" when they're truly in love, explains Carroll. In this way, you don't feel incomplete without them but rather that you're two whole people who work well as a team.


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You accept the good with the bad

Before getting to the wholehearted stage, couples have to go through disillusionment (the end of the honeymoon phase when faults start showing up) and ultimately, a decision about whether to stay together. There's really no way around it. "Loving is realizing all the ways you're not perfect together and making it work anyway," Carroll says.


You actively choose them

Once you've accepted those things about your partner that aren't exactly your favorite—congratulations!—you've actively decided your love for them is more important. Long-term love is very much a choice. Carroll notes, "I think there's more than one right person—I think you can make a choice to spend your life with someone. "


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You trust your love will last

Despite the risk and any other difficulties, there's a deep knowing that you want this person in your life, and trust they'll be around for the long haul. And building this trust is no easy feat, according to Carroll, who notes it's a process that takes time.


You've overcome obstacles and challenges

Carroll explains that developing true love takes going through rough seasons and finding out all the ways you're not compatible. But the more your relationship is put to the test, the stronger you become as a pair. Of course, every relationship still takes effort, but once you reach wholehearted love, you've really sharpened your communication and conflict-resolution skills.


You could live without them‚ but you don't want to

Going back to the idea of being a complete individual with and without a partner, there's the part of you that knows you would be OK without your great love. But with that said, you know this isn't what you want because you simply, genuinely love having this person in your life.

How long it takes to fall in love will depend on the individual and the couple. There's no set timeframe that applies to everyone.

Physiologically speaking, the dopamine rush begins to drop off after about four years together. Dopamine plays a big role in the attraction stage2, before oxytocin and vasopressin come into play to allow for true attachment.

"I think it takes one second to fall in love," Carroll asserts. "I think to stay in love—trust that love is gonna last—takes years." In that case, it's important to remember falling in and out of love is not uncommon when we really get into time-spanning years.

There's really no script dictating when the right time is, Wegner adds. "All is fair in love and war," she notes—but she does offer one word of warning: "If you find yourself frequently lusting after, attaching, or being attracted to everyone, and it is not reciprocated or feels different from what most others experience, it's worth becoming curious why. Is it true love, or are you repeating an old relational habit?"

If you've made it this far and believe without a doubt you're in love, you might just be thinking about how to tell your partner. As with any big relationship step, keep things honest and open.

"As we have all learned from Brené Brown, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is key to a wholehearted life," Vora says. "Get in the ring and tell someone how you feel. If they don't feel the same way, you want to know that sooner than later."

Take some time to really think things through. Once you're sure it's love (and usually, your gut will give you a pretty good idea), let your S.O. know—and enjoy it! After all, that's kind of the point, isn't it?

What is love: 5 sure signs

“Why are you still with him (her)?” How many times have we asked this question to friends stuck in painful love relationships, how many times have we thought about what makes people cling to their burdensome connection ... Oh no, this is not love. But then what is love? A feeling that can make us happy forever? Of course not, answers psychoanalysis. Love, if it is real, does not give serenity. Even when the initial delight from the merging of souls subsides, contrary to popular belief, she does not calm down - she excites and shocks us, mysteriously weaving two destinies into a single plot that defies logic. Let's take a look at some of its facets. nine0003

1. To feel a mystery in another

Love is a mystery both for those who are seized by it and for those who become its witnesses. We see it, we feel it, but we don't understand it. Why? Yes, because the bonds that bind us to a loved one are inexplicable. To someone we truly love, we are attracted not only by his appearance (beauty, resemblance to someone) and not only by the images or values ​​\u200b\u200bthat he symbolizes for us (father, mother, power, money), but by the mystery, that we feel in it. It is impossible to call it in words, but it seems to be addressed to everything that we ourselves secretly keep in our souls: longing for what we did not receive in childhood, some kind of unaccountable suffering . .. “Two people, even merging in a single feeling, they still remain separate people - each with their own inner world, their own secret, ”says Galina Berezovskaya, an analytical psychotherapist. nine0003

“Love touches that part of our personality that is unknown to us,” explains psychoanalyst Patrick Lamboulet. - In the soul of each of us lies a particle of destructive emptiness that can destroy us. Love is nothing but the meeting of two sufferings, two imperfections. In love, we share with another person what is painfully lacking in ourselves. True love is expressed not by asking, "Give me what you have and what I lack," but rather by saying, "I love the path you found to healing, the way you deal with your trouble." nine0003

And here the legend of “two halves” has nothing to do with it, according to which love, uniting us into a perfect whole, thereby makes us happy! - When a person notices that, despite a love relationship, he still feels some dissatisfaction with life, he may decide that he simply has not found his “soul mate” and should change his partner. But this, of course, is not the case." To truly love means to admit: "I'm interested in you." nine0003

2. To be afraid of losing him

To love means to be afraid. And constantly. In his work The Dissatisfaction with Culture, Freud explains it this way: we fall into dependence on the other because we constantly need him to support us in our existence. Hence the fear of loss.

“Love involves risk,” explains the philosopher and psychoanalyst Monica Schneider. - This feeling is dizzying, sometimes we are even drawn to reject it, to push it away: a person, fearing the power of his love, can destroy it or downplay its significance, plunging into activities that will strengthen his self-sufficiency. All this is to protect ourselves from the frightening power over us of another person. nine0003

After all, as Freud emphasized, Eros and Thanatos are inseparable: I love you - I destroy you. Eros is our desire to connect with each other in a loving feeling; Thanatos is the death drive that pushes us to break this connection so that our "I" remains omnipotent. And since love takes us beyond ourselves, our "I" fights with it.

“It's hard to give up on yourself,” explains psychoanalyst Jean-Jacques Moskowitz. “Love always brings pain. It touches our very being—what we are in this world. Only a few realize this. Once alone, they enjoy it because they feel protected from the love-related impulse of death. But if we manage to overcome the torments and strife of love, we enter into a different, wonderful space, where the feeling is revealed with renewed vigor. nine0003

True love is not a business contract. Her fury is a danger to both partners. We should not forget about this if we are visited by doubts, if it seems that we have been “out of love”. If the other tries to pull away, it does not always mean that he does not love. Perhaps he is just afraid of losing himself.

3. Willingness to go into the unknown

In love, nothing is predetermined. “None of us can either guarantee the constancy of mutual feelings, or predict the future life and development of relationships with a loved one,” says Galina Berezovskaya. We habitually believe that passion first flares up and then predictably declines, but this is just a prejudice. Love in its development can also go in an ascending direction. nine0003

“When we fall in love, we enter a world in which will and reason have no power,” adds Monika Schneider. - And on this way we will have to go through completely different segments. Of course, having once soared to the heights of happiness, then by contrast we can feel that we are falling into the abyss. But if we are convinced in advance that love is always unreliable, this only means that our past prevents us from believing in ourselves and in another person. To truly love, one must almost believe in a miracle. Freud speaks of expectation filled with faith. It is necessary to maintain a fire that can flare up again without requiring an immediate outbreak. Embrace the unknown, be patient...

4. Feel desire

There is no doubt: to love a person means to desire him. Moreover, confirms Jean-Jacques Moskowitz: “Physical intimacy really helps us to love. Without an exchange of caresses in love, something important remains unfulfilled. Lovers who love each other deeply enjoy sex in a special way. In the act of love, the difference between the sexes disappears: the two merge into one. Their members themselves are no longer given independent value - lovers in moments of passion have one body for two. Pleasure is all-conquering." Without love, we can find relaxation in sex, relieve tension with pleasure, but in order to fully enjoy, you need to love for real. “When we love, we reach other heights of pleasure,” confirms Galina Berezovskaya. nine0003

And if desire weakens, does this mean the end of love? Not at all, Galina Berezovskaya is sure: “There are happy moments when it is enough for us that the beloved exists, that he simply is.”

However, there are women who separate love from sexual desire outside of such moments of blissful contemplation. “It's not that their feelings are weaker,” explains Jean-Jacques Moskowitz. - Against. They are afraid that, indulging in love too selflessly, they can disappear into it. In all likelihood, they are fettered by some unresolved problem of childhood, an ideal of love that is too closely connected with the image of the father. Experiencing a strong feeling, these adult women seem to become little girls again ... and what is happening is more like incest. For them, the image of the father comes to the fore, perhaps as a defense against the fear of dissolving in physical intimacy. nine0003

Such women seek refuge in love-adoration and are wary of sexual relations. They allow themselves to be tamed only gradually, passing through the stage of a less intimate physical connection - hugs that allow you to surround your loved one with caress, as if carrying him inside yourself. And when the desire returns, the sex drive inevitably follows. The ebb and flow of love never stops in its perpetual motion.

5. Feel the fullness of life

“To be loved means to feel that you have the right to exist,” said the philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre. True love is a unique feeling of the justification of one's being in this world, it is an illusion that our love is the only one. Love returns us to the position of a child, confident in his omnipotence, convinced that if he were not in the world, the world would lack something important. nine0003

By choosing each other, we make the other one the chosen one. In making a distinction between true love and loving-kindness for the good of one's neighbor, Freud uses the biblical theme of the Chosen One, the Messiah. In love, we endow the other with special significance. We recognize its indisputable importance: we respect it, we appreciate it, we believe that it is irreplaceable. We made a find, found a treasure. We are no longer alone in the world.

Another person brings us his world, openness to other horizons, feelings that we did not experience with such vivacity before meeting him. We seem to be awakening to a new life. We have a sense of security - because he was able to see our value. “Love helps to find the meaning of existence,” sums up Galina Berezovskaya. “When we truly love, we feel more strongly that we are alive.” nine0003

5 signs of true love | PSYCHOLOGIES


Man and woman

What is love? A feeling that gives absolute happiness? Or an experience that plunges you into emotional chaos? Neither one nor the other. Even mutual love does not give a sense of harmony and serenity. But it excites and shocks us even after years. Love is a multifaceted feeling, here are its components.

1. To see a riddle in another person

Love is a mysterious feeling. We feel it, but we don't understand it. The force that pulls a person is inexplicable. We aspire to him not because we like the way he looks, is rich or endowed with power, not because he looks like one of the parents or other significant person. If the union can be explained logically - "she replaced his mother" or "they are together because of the money", true love is out of the question. In her case, we are always driven by mystery. nine0003

“Love appeals to our unconscious: to some kind of childhood experience, loss or longing for what we could not get. It affects that part of the personality that is unknown to us, ”explains psychoanalyst Patrick Lamboulet. - That is why it is a mistake to think that two “halves” should merge in a relationship, which give birth to something whole. This notion is the reason why many couples break up. When a person in a relationship feels understatement, he can decide: this is not his soul mate. But this, of course, is not the case. To truly love means to always remain intrigued by the other person's mystery." nine0003

2. To be afraid of losing

And constantly. And not only another person, but also yourself, dissolving in it. In The Dissatisfaction with Culture, Sigmund Freud explains this phenomenon: “We fall into dependence on the other because we constantly need him to support us in our existence.” Hence the fear of loss.

“Love means risk,” explains philosopher and psychoanalyst Monica Schneider. “This feeling is so dizzying that sometimes we are even drawn to reject it in order to protect ourselves from the frightening power over us of another person.” nine0003

Freud emphasized that Eros and Thanatos are inseparable: I love you - I destroy you. Eros is our desire to connect with each other. Thanatos is the death drive that pushes us to break this connection so that our "I" remains omnipotent.

If we manage to overcome all doubts and fears and surrender to love, we enter a wonderful new territory. “Love always brings pain. It touches our very being—what we are in this world. Only a few realize this. Once alone, they enjoy it because they feel protected. But if we manage to overcome all doubts and fears and surrender to love, we find ourselves in a new wonderful territory, where feelings are revealed with renewed vigor. nine0003

True love is not a successful business deal. A whirlpool of feelings is a danger to both partners. Therefore, we often doubt otherwise. But even if he tries to pull away, this does not always mean that he does not love. Perhaps he is just afraid of losing himself.

3. To be ready to take a step into the unknown

In love, nothing is predetermined. No one can guarantee that feelings will be permanent, and life together will be long and happy. “Love relationships are a special world in which everything is not controlled by reason,” explains Monica Schneider. But don't set yourself up for the worst. nine0003

Sometimes, because of past experiences of failed relationships, we convince ourselves in advance that we are doomed to suffering. To truly love, you must be able to believe in miracles again, accept the unknown and learn to be patient.

4. Feel the desire

Here, at first glance, everything is simple: to love a person means to desire him. Research confirms that physical intimacy helps maintain relationships, keeps the fire of love alive. Without an exchange of caresses, lovers turn into roommates. You can have sex without love, but when it is, intimacy gives true pleasure. nine0003

If desire weakens, does this mean that the relationship is over? Not at all! Our feelings are influenced by many factors, they are cyclical and constantly go through periods of ups and downs. You may not want intimacy right now because you're just tired, you've eaten too much or too little, you're stressed out, or, conversely, you're pleasantly excited about some grand change. “There are days when it is enough for us that the loved one is just there,” explains Monica Schneider.

5. Feel alive

“To be loved is to feel that you have the right to exist,” said the philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre. True love is finding the meaning of one's existence in the world.

Love brings us back to childhood when it gives us the feeling that everything in the world revolves around us. By choosing each other, we highlight it, endow it with special significance.

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