December 20, 2013
by Casey Truffo, LMFT
How many times have you heard, "I love you, but I'm not “in love” with you."? How many times have you said it? This sentence is commonly used during a conversation that will end the relationship. But guess what? It's a myth. That’s right, it is 100% fiction that you are supposed to be, or are expected to be, “in love” with your partner all the time, forever and ever. Most likely, many relationships could have been saved if only people were aware of this fact.
That feeling of being “in love” is actually the result of physical chemistry and hormones that come into play at the beginning stage of a relationship - the lust, the instant attraction, the glow, the smile that will not leave your face. Being “in love” is nothing more than that. Being “in love” has nothing to do with a long-term commitment or long-term compatibility. That being said, problems can develop when two people connect and their hormones are raging – like jumping into marriage or swiftly deciding to cohabitate while they are still in the “in love” stage. Secondly, we’ve been taught that if we are not “in love”, there is something wrong with the relationship or we must not be with the right person. Both of these things are major issues as the raging hormone stage normally occurs for the first three to six months. Additionally, truly loving requires both partners to commit to each other and the relationship. Relationships are not fairy tales; there must be a commitment to do whatever it takes to keep the bond intact.
So, that brings us to the next question. Is there a way to tell if you will love your partner when the “in love” phase wanes? There are some things to consider.
- Never decide to get married or live together until at least 6 months has passed. This will give the “in love” phase time to dissipate, and you will both be better equipped to make such a serious decision and commitment.
- Keep your closeness with your friends. Do not be consumed by your newfound love so much that you abandon your friendships. Listen to what your friends have to say about your new partner.
- Discuss what you want your future to look like. Talk about whether or not you want to have children, if you have specific career goals, what your long-term goals may be, and where you want to be in 5 or 10 years from now. And be honest, regardless of whether or not your partner wants the same things.
- Be sure to touch your partner, non-sexually, i.e., hugs, hold hands, etc. It is very important to keep this type of affectionate, non-sexual connection alive. These things are what long-term love is made of.
- Again, be honest and communicate your true feelings, and expect your partner to do the same. Understanding each other is a big factor in long-term relationships and honesty from the start builds a strong foundation and ups the odds of having a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
- Talk about your fears. If you are afraid you may have jealousy issues, communicate that. If you're wondering what will happen to your sex-life after you have children, talk about that. This will show that you are considering taking that leap with your partner, but will also show that there are things you hold important that need to be communicated.
When you think about love for the long-term, you should really forget about love in that fairytale sense and adjust your thinking to commitment. Can you commit to the person you are choosing, and can that person commit to you? Can you both commit to communicating and working together to compromise when necessary? Can you both see yourselves together, with or without children, in 15 to 20 years from now? What will you be doing? Where will you be in your life, in your career, in your parenting responsibilities?
Remember, feeling “in love” is limited in the amount of time that it will last after you first meet and feel the attraction. Feelings of love will come and go, just like feelings of sadness, but true love can grow or remain through the rest of your time together if there is effort on both parts. There will be many emotional ups and downs in your relationship but commitment is what will keep you together and keep your relationship strong. Nobody stays “in love” forever and ever, like characters from a fairytale, but true love can last if commitment doesn’t waver.
Your marriage was once your most important investment. We’d like to help you keep it that way. If you are considering couples counseling, let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you. Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.