We will feature a new article here each month written by one of our group members.
WHAT MAKES ROMANTIC LOVE LAST ANYWAY?
Don’t you want somebody to love?
Many clients ask this question at some point within the psychotherapy relationship. Artists, poets, psychotherapists, philosophers, writers, teenagers, and parents have sought the ultimate answer to this puzzling question. Many clients feel that they have not experienced romantic love, or saw it modeled by their parents.
How do we find such a relationship? Dating is very hard. The entertainment industry likes to portray creating a loving relationship as easy and effortless, leaving all of us feeling a little bit inadequate. However, in the movies, actors and actresses get to use as many ‘takes’ and ‘cuts’ as it takes. In real life, we have to make instant decisions about what to say, how much to tell, when to touch, when to have sex, or when to “make love” after the relationship is developed enough to talk about STDs and other personal private matters. Healthy relationships that last forty to fifty years are made slowly, deliberately and carefully with thought and verbal sharing, resulting in a common consensus. Forging the beginning of a romantic relationship can feel as difficult and intrusive as taking the SAT or GRE, going for a job interview, and enduring physical examination.
Engagement to the right person is a lovely and joyful experience. It is both a commitment to the long term future, and simultaneously an enormous relief that the complex dating game has concluded. As we recognize just how difficult dating is, we can then “cut ourselves some slack” as the normal mistakes occur when we only have one “take.” The long-term relationship takes many years to mature, starting with the honeymoon period putting only our best foot forward. As the love and respect is earned, we dare to admit more about the questions, vulnerabilities and the growth that is still needed to mitigate problem areas. Two people grow together, with tolerance for each other’s mistakes, and pride in the progress made. No one can or has to be perfect.
Dr. McArthur is a Diplomate Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Silverlake, and is President of the Independent Psychotherapy Network. Dr. McArthur can be reached at 323-663-2340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2016 by Dorothea S. McArthur, PhD ABPP
Copyright Independent Psychotherapy Network 2008-2016