Falling In Love

February 14, 2012

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Category: Awareness, Communication

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Falling In Love

On Valentine’s Day we are all sup­posed to be in love. We seem to be expected to fall in love just because a pope in 496 AD pro­nounced a day in the cal­en­dar to honor mar­tyrs, includ­ing one St. Valen­tine. And what if we are not in love? Can we make our­selves be in love, or even bet­ter, can we make oth­ers fall in love with us? These are the ques­tions that peo­ple whose rela­tion­ships are falling apart des­per­ately want to know. Any kind of magic would do the trick. Unfor­tu­nately there is no shortcut.

Falling in love seems to be a purely chem­i­cal process that has noth­ing to do with our inten­tions, will or plans. Falling in love is a genet­i­cally pro­grammed process with the pur­pose of pro­cre­ation, of mak­ing babies. Our genetic intel­li­gence urges us to pro­cre­ate so that genes can keep liv­ing, and uses our bod­ies to that end, it seems. And it does so by excret­ing hor­mones into our blood­stream by mak­ing us want to behave cer­tain way.

Dopamine, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter, makes you focused on the one you are in love with. You want to spend more time with her/him. When you do some­thing that gives you plea­sure, dopamine is the one that urges you to do it again. Dopamine is released when you eat choco­late, do novel things, hit a hole in one etc. Dopamine gets released when you use drugs, which explains the feel­ing of being “addicted” to your loved one. In other words, dopamine helps you get attached to each other. So, falling in love is a kind of addic­tion. It cer­tainly feels like it.

Nor­ep­i­neph­rine is a stim­u­lant closely related to dopamine and gives you the energy to keep being together: it keeps you awake, you lose your appetite, and it gives you but­ter­flies in your stomach.

The pres­ence of sero­tonin, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that keeps you calm, is curi­ously low­ered when you are in love, so that you can be kept in a state of excite­ment and obses­sive think­ing about your part­ner. Being in love is closely related to anx­i­ety and fear. When you are newly smit­ten by love the level of the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol shoots up. Also, men who are in love show low­ered lev­els of testos­terone, while women’s testos­terone lev­els go up. This may explain why men in love are more timid, while women are a lit­tle freer and wilder.

Oxy­tocin is what cements the trust and bond between peo­ple. This neu­ro­chem­i­cal is released in both men and women when they have sex. It is a bond­ing chem­i­cal that women also get a dose of when they give birth and breast-feed.

There is also an auto­matic reac­tion that reg­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of these chem­i­cals. It involves our senses and how we per­ceive the per­son we fall in love with. Besides the many con­di­tion­ing aspects of what we find attrac­tive in another per­son, there are some uni­ver­sal signs com­mon to all men and women that may reg­u­late the pro­duc­tion of the neurochemicals.

It is no sur­prise that there are whole multi­bil­lion dol­lar indus­tries that sup­port men and women in show­ing their “goods” in order to make the oppo­site sex “fall in love” with them. Every sense is addressed: hear­ing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

Visu­ally men are gen­er­ally attracted by looks, i.e., signs of fer­til­ity and health in a woman. Besides age, these may include breasts, waist, hips, hair, etc. Women, on the other hand, would be attracted to signs of healthy genetic make-up (mus­cles, demeanor, height, strength, intel­li­gence, etc.) and signs of abil­ity to be sup­ported (money, posi­tion in soci­ety, etc.). Think fash­ion and what’s “in”.

Smell may play a deci­sive role in which chem­i­cals our body is going to pro­duce. The whole fra­grance indus­try is work­ing very hard to make smells attrac­tive. Con­sider the myr­iad of lotions, soaps, oils, can­dles, etc., on the mar­ket. Just imag­ine how you can be put off by a bad smell no mat­ter how attrac­tive a per­son may be in any other respect.

Hear­ing is just as impor­tant. Con­sider the music indus­try and the amount of love songs, and sooth­ing, roman­tic music that is pro­duced. All for one rea­son: to stim­u­late the pro­duc­tion of  “love chem­i­cals” and to sup­press the ones that may keep you dis­in­ter­ested. Con­sider the words “I love you.” By the same talken con­sider how attrac­tive it is to quar­rel, make your “loved one” wrong, not lis­ten, call each other names, put down your part­ner, etc.

Touch is just as impor­tant as any other sense. Women are espe­cially sen­si­tive to being touched. Man love to touch women, as we all know, and skin prod­ucts abound.

The ques­tion begs to be asked: If falling in love is purely chem­i­cal, what hap­pens when the body stops pro­duc­ing them? Do we fall out of love? The bad news is: yes.

But, wait! There is good news. We still have our senses that trig­ger the pro­duc­tion of our per­sonal chem­i­cal fac­tory. Also remem­ber that our mem­o­ries are very real to us. Remem­ber­ing good times can also acti­vate our per­sonal chem­istry pro­duc­tion. So, all is not lost. Stud­ies also show that peo­ple can stay in love for a very long time. And even bet­ter news is that the level of cor­ti­sol in cou­ples who have been together for a long time is much lower than in newly enam­ored cou­ples. Which means that they may be in love with­out the cus­tom­ary fear and anxiety.

And you think your choice and will power count for some­thing? Think again. In most cases we func­tion like any other mam­mals, when it comes to mat­ing games, on auto­matic. Sorry.

And yes! Isn’t it great when you are in love?! No other feel­ing comes close.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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Valentine’s Day Expectations

by Sara Aboulhosn

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  Radomir and I were casu­ally dis­cussing V-day and the crass com­mer­cial­iza­tion of just about all aspects of it and we started think­ing about what to write about for this so-called hol­i­day.  What topic would hit the nail on the head?  For me, it was easy to see – Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions.  Sorry Charles Dick­ens, not Great Expec­ta­tions but the unful­filled ones. They just pop up every­where, in all places, at all times; not just in romance. They do tend to stand out more on Valentine’s Day, though, because of the hype our cul­ture has built up around what we should do, what we should have and most, most, most impor­tantly what we SHOULD GET!

Oh, to be a woman (and I am) on V-day. We should get the flow­ers, the choco­late (even though we secretly or maybe not so secretly com­plain it makes us fat), the can­dles, the romance and yes, THE RING (if that’s where we’re at in our rela­tion­ship).  Hey, even if we’re past the ring stage, tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials tell us our man SHOULD be shop­ping at Jared Jew­el­ers or the like and buy­ing us a trin­ket from this or that lovely Valentiny col­lec­tion of jew­elry.  Depend­ing on the man, he might even be spring­ing for Tiffany’s and buy­ing us way more than a mere trin­ket.  The point is, though, he SHOULD be doing some­thing for us.  He SHOULD be show­ing us he loves us.  He SHOULD be spend­ing more money on us that he usu­ally spends and if he doesn’t usu­ally spend money on us, this is his chance to make it up and really show us he loves us.

I was so poignantly reminded of this whole nasty can of Unful­filled Expec­ta­tions by watch­ing the Valen­tine episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Yes, you can pick up rela­tion­ship advice from these dra­mas, if you’re pay­ing atten­tion.  A cou­ple comes into the ER, he on a gur­ney, she walk­ing on her legs, both exit­ing from an ambu­lance that had picked him up from a car acci­dent. He was chas­ing her in his car – she ran out on him when she found out that once again, after 8 years, he didn’t give her an engage­ment ring.  Once again he got her hopes up with a small box, but instead of a ring, it had a “cheap neck­lace” inside (as she put it). She was harangu­ing him as he was being wheeled into the treat­ment room lying flat on the gur­ney, strapped down to pro­tect his neck, a gauze pad under his nose to sop up the blood, since his nose was broken.

Once again, after 8 years her expec­ta­tions were unful­filled. She couldn’t even open the neck­lace, which was a locket neck­lace. All she could do was run out of their home to escape the noise in her head which was prob­a­bly say­ing some­thing like, “He doesn’t love me, he’s using me, he’s this, he’s that…”

He needed surgery and after the surgery, as she was sit­ting by his bed­side watch­ing him hooked up to tubes and wires, look­ing washed out and gravely hurt, she told one of the doc­tors that although she had the ring picked out for when he finally pro­posed, look­ing at him there, she real­ized that all of that was crap. All she wanted was for him to be OK.  Unfor­tu­nately, it was too late and he crashed. They couldn’t revive him and he left the earthly plane with all of its unful­filled expec­ta­tions float­ing around.  Later, the doc­tor with whom the girl­friend had been speak­ing found his effects and in the midst of them was the “cheap neck­lace”. The doc­tor decided to open the neck­lace and what did she see?  Writ­ten on the left side of the heart, “Will You”, writ­ten on the right side of the heart, “Marry Me.”

That par­tic­u­lar story line ended right there. But can you imag­ine the anguish of the girl­friend if she was given the neck­lace?  Or if she wasn’t given the neck­lace? Either way, her unful­filled expec­ta­tions would be what she would have to live with vs. what was so.

All that really hap­pened was that her boyfriend of 8 years had not yet pro­posed on Valentine’s Day morn­ing, when she was hop­ing and expect­ing he would.  SHE was the one who had it mean some­thing.  And there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to get mar­ried (sorry guys who’ve been drag­ging your feet – this is not a “get out of jail card” for you to jus­tify foot drag­ging).  It’s just that we need to take respon­si­bil­ity, each and every one of us, for our expec­ta­tions and own them as our expec­ta­tions. They are not our part­ners’ expec­ta­tions, our pets’ expec­ta­tions, our boss’s expec­ta­tions. They are OURS.  If our expec­ta­tions are not being ful­filled or met, we can decide if we wish to pro­ceed or not. As Ein­stein said, the def­i­n­i­tion of insan­ity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect­ing to get a dif­fer­ent result.  (Radomir reminds us of this often too, in his blog posts). Prob­a­bil­ity wise, a dif­fer­ent result might be got­ten at some point but is that good enough for liv­ing a ful­filled life?

What should the girl­friend in the show have done?  I can’t say – I wasn’t there dur­ing the times she was dis­ap­pointed pre­vi­ously, dur­ing the talks they had, dur­ing the wed­dings she men­tioned she attended with him where she cried her eyes out nos­tal­gi­cally think­ing of HER non-wedding.  I do know that she could have taken respon­si­bil­ity for her role in their rela­tion­ship. She could have quit blam­ing him. She could have grown up and decided if it was worth wait­ing for some­one 8 years, even if you loved them, if mar­riage was your ideal and not his.

I do know she could have decided what was really impor­tant to her and taken that as the credo by which to live her life. This way, when Valentine’s day came along and no ring showed up, there would be no drama, no run­ning out of the build­ing in a frenzy.  Just an abil­ity to be with what was so — that what was impor­tant to her was not there in their rela­tion­ship.  And finally, then she could have opened the neck­lace, or not, while the man was still alive.

I wish you a guilt-free, calorie-free, expectation-free Valentine’s Day!

Sara

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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Change

February 4, 2012

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Category: Awareness, How to, Marriage

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Change

Change is a very pop­u­lar topic. You either want it, don’t want it, or it is forced upon you. In any case, change is inevitable. They say it is the only thing that stays con­stant. Very clever, and deeeeeep — in a cos­mic sense. But how do we deal with it in our lives, on the court?

When change occurs it hap­pens on all lev­els: per­sonal, social, behav­ioral and cul­tural or rela­tional. Or rather, if change is to take effect it has to occur in all of these four areas whether we like it or not.

Change may be thrown upon you, such as when you are being unex­pect­edly dumped by your loved one. The change in your rela­tion­ship is a cul­tural change. It occurs in a rela­tion­ship between two peo­ple. And not only two peo­ple, it has a rip­ple effect on most of the peo­ple you know. Their rela­tion­ship to you may also change.

Spa­tial change occurs in your envi­ron­ment; you may need to move out, change or find a job, etc.

Your behav­ior is bound to change as well. Things you used to do you don’t do any more, or you start doing things you never used to before, like drink­ing, etc.  Remem­ber, you have been dumped. It’s not easy on your emo­tional life. You may be dev­as­tated. You may be going through emo­tional stages sim­i­lar to peo­ple who hear that they have three months left to live.

All in all, you are in a big hole, emo­tion­ally and oth­er­wise. Changes like these can be dev­as­tat­ing. So, where do you start the recov­ery process? In The Rela­tion­ship Saver I say, “be happy”. Yes, right! Eas­ier said than done, you will notice.

Here is the first step. Start from your inter­nal processes, with your­self. The rea­son being that the only ele­ment you have con­trol over is YOU. (I know: it would be much eas­ier if oth­ers would change to accom­mo­date your wishes, but that’s not going to hap­pen.) Since change is thrown upon you, in order to turn it around, the first thing you need to do is CHANGE YOUR MIND. About what? You might ask.

First, let’s dis­tin­guish what I mean by mind in this case, before we go about chang­ing it. What I mean by your mind is your point of view, lit­er­ally, the point from which you see the world. Since every­one has a dif­fer­ent point of view, obvi­ously there is not ONE point of view to observe the world, or in this case, the present sit­u­a­tion of being dumped.

Chang­ing your mind or point of view is often dif­fi­cult to do because we iden­tify with our point of view, this is who we are, this is what we believe and let­ting go is as scary as los­ing our­selves in obliv­ion. We think if we change our point of view we have a weak char­ac­ter or that we are aban­don­ing our val­ues and beliefs, which we think make us who we are. Noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth. Open-minded peo­ple often change their mind depend­ing on the real­ity with which they are pre­sented. You may believe in the sanc­tity of mar­riage, for instance, but such mar­riages are sup­posed to be per­fect mar­riages, noth­ing like the one you may be in now. Chang­ing your mind by real­iz­ing that your mar­riage is what it is now and not what it should be, is the first step. Is this mar­riage what you want or some­thing that you used to have? Obvi­ously not. So instead of hold­ing onto your idea of how things should be, start think­ing about what to do next. Many peo­ple in such a sit­u­a­tion say: “But I love him/her I don’t want us to sep­a­rate.” No, you love the per­son who was, not the one who is now.

Chang­ing your mind about your needs is another big step. You really do not need him/her. It is your fear talk­ing. Do not lis­ten to it. Do you con­sider your­self “brave” or a “weak­ling”? Fol­low your high­est self and you will change your mind much more eas­ily. Being a vic­tim brings a sweet cozy feel­ing for a while, but in the long run it is pathetic and dis­gust­ing, espe­cially if you are a self-proclaimed vic­tim, which is how it is most of the time. You HAVE every­thing you need. Change your mind about that and your life will change.

When you change the way you look at your­self every­thing changes, includ­ing your behav­ior. Chang­ing your cir­cle of friends and/or the place you live and work will most likely be a wel­come change in the long run. Stop con­trol­ling your des­tiny. You can­not. You will only make more mis­takes. You can only cre­ate your future and the time to do it is ALWAYS now.

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.

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