Monday, September 10, 2012

Addicted to "Love"

Scroll through a thousand online dating posts, ask a couple dozen friends, go on a dozen dates, and you'll find that most of us are, either consciously or unconsciously, looking for fireworks. Hot chemistry. That mad attraction that we can't soak enough of up.

And when we meet someone that doesn't, for whatever reason, elicit it from us, many of us will move on. Fast. Even if the person otherwise might be a great partner.

So, what gives?

In my own experience, the relationships that started with hot, passionate chemistry died a quick death. The fire brought us together, but once it cooled a bit, we really weren't a good match for each other. Some psychologists argue that such passionate, fire-filled beginnings often are coming from matching wounds from the past. That the coming together isn't about love and longevity, but more about co-habiting dysfunctions hoping to heal each other. Most of the spiritual teachings I study also caution against believing the stories we have around desire, precisely because they are designed to get us to go out and pursue whatever it is that is desired.

Related to this is another set of issues. People want it All to happen Now. Many of us don't want to "waste time," and find out later that someone "wasn't right." But how can you know, if you don't actually take some time to get to know someone? An hour and a half over coffee or dinner isn't enough to get to know anyone, but you'd be hard pressed to find a roomful of singles who don't believe that these days. Furthermore, in addition to being impatient, many of us fail to register more subtle passions for another because we're too busy looking for, or "trying to will," something that will burn a city block down when/if it comes.

I also think there's another issue here. Addiction. The U.S. is truly a society of addicts. There are high level addicts who destroy their lives and the lives of others. Some make it into therapy and/or recovery groups, while others never make it. However, beyond these folks, I'd argue that a large percentage of us "normal functioning" folks are actually low level addicts. Some absolutely "need" those two or three cups of coffee every morning. Others are miserable if they don't get their video game fix, or miss their favorite TV show. And still others are addicted to "love," which is actually lust. They chase the high, and then burned, again and again.

Are you one of these people?


  1. I've been wondering about this a lot myself lately. I've had relationships where things were white hot from the get go and they never lasted. Now, I'm dating someone that I like...we have good conversations and have a lot of the same interest and opinions...but, the chemistry isn't where it's been when I was head over heels in the past with others. How long do you wait for something like that to build is my question. I hope I'm not like one of the people you describe, but slightly skeptical.

  2. A few things. First off, it's good to consider if there is some chemistry between you and the person you are currently dating. Is this person attractive enough to you to want to kiss them? Touch them? Or does it feel like another friendship where you really don't feel interested in being physically intimate?

    The second thing is that even in long term relationships with "good chemistry," there is a natural ebb and flow that occurs. Couples have times when things are "hot" and other times when things are "cool." I think it's mostly fiction, the idea that you can find someone you'll be "hot" with continuously for decades.

    In terms of how long - I guess it depends on how you answer the questions above. If you really don't feel anything other than a platonic connection, it's best to move on. However, if there's something there, and you otherwise get along well, it's worth giving it some time - I'm talking months here - to see if things gradually warm up.

    It's important to consider that with someone who is a great match for you over the long term, you might never feel the boiling over attraction you've felt with others in the past who were poor matches. That's hard to swallow probably, but more and more, I think it's true. Which is not to say you should stick it out with someone you feel nothing for, or feel luke warm with. There should be some "heat" - but maybe not like that six week fling you had in the past.

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