You see someone across a room filled with people, It feels as if a vortex of energy is grabbing you. You’ve just met your “soul mate” and you know it. You feel it in your entire body, from your brain, to your heart and guts. Your brain explodes with the feeling of pure dopamine and phenylethylalmine. You think that this feeling of “love” is so real and so pure that nothing could possibly match it, and while you are partly correct, there’s more to the story of human attraction to one another.
As per the research of Freud, Jung, and other renowned psychologists, You’re choosing your partner based on the composite image of your primary care-takers when you were a young child. These people provided you with everything and you were completely dependent on them. In their human ignorance, they made mistakes raising you. They may have been controlling, distant, or even cruel. On the other side, you may have had caretakers who were kind, supportive, loving and patient. You probably experienced a combination of these traits from the time you were in the womb, until you were 3-5 years old. This is when your concept of the entire world & love was created deep inside your brain.
The romantic attraction you have for others as an adult is just a subconscious need to heal the wounds that your primary caretakers may have inflicted. On a conscious level, we want euphoria and all the things that come with idealized “romantic” love. The love in the beginning of a relationship when we are idealized into the person that they want to see and vice versa. Also known as the “honeymoon” phase.
On a subconscious level however, there are deeper needs which are each vying for attention. These can play out in what’s been called an “imago match.” The “imago” is the subconscious part of your mind, which behaves much like the child who was present when these needs were first formed.
The subconscious mind is almost its own entity in a way. It acts on its desires, emotions and far more. It ignores reason, it tosses out social norms, politeness and sometimes even compassion. It truly wants what it wants and it will get it one way or another. It’s like a computer, storing all your memories, good and bad, things that happened to you when you were a child and things your conscious mind may not have even registered. Certain things you believe to be true about yourself, which often don’t make sense. These are all formed in the subconscious mind when you were that innocent, vulnerable child.
Stage One of Love: The Honeymoon Phase
In the first stage, often referred to as the “honeymoon phase,” We feel like the golden child in our families. We feel all the validation, support & love that we may not have gotten as a child. Neurotransmitters flood your brain, from dopamine, norepinephrine and even phenylethylamine. These make our stomach fill with butterflies, our palms sweat profusely, and our hearts race with pure joy and wonder. This is quite literally a high, a high that is necessary for us to connect with someone who can help us heal the wounds we have carried since childhood. The best part is our subconscious minds know exactly who that person is.
Sadly, this phase cannot last forever. Like many things, the initial spark & wonder fades. We start to enter the “struggle.” Fortunately, this stage is not meant to last. If the person you are with belittles you, ignores you, keeps you from your truest dreams and passions, it’s time to move on. They are not truly in love with you. This person who your subconscious mind thought was your soulmate is not. They are not the person that is going to help heal that inner child, they are not the person that is going to give you the full love & healing that your inner child deserves.
Stage Two of Love: Power Struggle
In the second stage of love, you are likely to feel unwanted or unloved, as you begin to consciously realize that your partner does not fulfill all your needs. You will begin to learn how to get these needs met in a better way, in this stage it often looks something like this.
You don’t feel loved so you will begin to become reclusive and pull away from the other
The other partner feels abandoned and alone so they start to act out in various ways
One is constantly crying, the other is yelling;
Blame & excuses begin to become normal between the two
We forget the loving positive memories and only see the negativity
The euphoric feeling we once knew with them is now replaced with despair and sadness
We feel like our every button is being pushed and triggered
The connection becomes to feel less genuine and strong
There may be an unhealthy cycle of explosion behavior & reconciliation
As the emotional patterns of each partners childhoods come out, there is constant anxiety & pain in both partners as they repeat these patterns.
It is important to understand that this phase will end. Most partners will not make it through this stage, they fail to see and understand its significance and necessity. It is here that we will do one of two things: Have a truer relationship break through, or end the relationship and break up.
The Third Stage: True Love
Eventually we become exhausted from these struggles between our inner, wounded selves battling it out with their wounded inner self, here we may choose to “give up.” Alternatively we may choose to take the relationship to a conscious level. This conscious level is not based in unhealthy emotional battles or honeymoon phase chemistry. There is no longer emotional abandonment, or a battle of tug-a-war trying to manipulate the other into receiving the validation & love we desired all along.
It is here that we learn to grow. We find better ways to express our needs, our hearts and our feelings of sadness, abandonment, and rejection.
Both people begin to understand how they created these behaviors and outcomes as a way of coping for their hurt in the past. The two become more open and able to give love to the other person in ways previously unavailable due to their emotional blindness. They can now become truly committed and interested in supporting the other, it is no longer a selfish game but a beautiful unity of two souls. It is here that the great shift occurs.
We can now begin to drop the coping mechanisms and defenses that we developed and used our ENTIRE lives due to being wounded as children. We can now start to open up to true intimacy, on a physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual level.
We will feel alive and fulfilled, the same neuro transmitters which rushed through your brain during the honeymoon phase will be replaced by an almost enlightened chemical concoction. One of compassion and true love, like the Buddhist monk, We can now respond to life’s challenges & tribulations differently, with compassion and understanding. It is here that the inner child begins to walk free, unburdened by the previous weight of childhood experiences.