Can love last?
Is it possible to keep Love alive? Well, the answer may be a mixture of Yes and No. The truth is that romantic love ebbs and flows during
long term relationships. Love has two distinct sides. It's worth thinking about both of them and how they interact to find a
satisfactory answer. You can think of it as the the science of love.
There are two main stages of Romantic relationships; Attraction and
Attachment. Most problems start after the Attachment phase.
Stage One; Attraction: When we fall in love, Nature tricks us into a state of unreality which stop us from seeing any faults in our partner, with a cocktail of chemicals or 'stars in our eyes'. We are simply besotted and blind to all faults. These lull us into attaching ourselves, often quite irrationally and undertaking all the associated overwhelming tasks of committing to another human being, bringing children into the world and taking on commitments and mortgages!
In those early days Dopamine, Serotonin (the happiness chemical) and
Adrenaline get the heart racing; similar to the chemical mix of Cocaine!
This stage of love is addictive for some people and is the stage featured in
fiction. For some people this stage lasts six months, others can enjoy it for two years. Some never experience it at all.
Stage Two; Attachment: This is the longer lasting component that
allows us to settle down and get on with our lives together.
The ‘cardigan and slippers’ hormones, Oxytocin and Vasopressin, now come into play to allow us to feel comfortable and secure. They slow us
down to keep us nearer to our cave allowing us to build a home.
Once in a long term relationship we weave our way between two states:
Attraction (excitement) and Attachment (security).
The average length of a marriage is now seven years according to the
Office for National Statistics, bearing out the old “seven year Itch” when
partners become disillusioned with each other.
This takes us right back to medieval times when marriages lasted a similar length of time - due to early death and hazardous childbirth.
Research (by Lawrence Kurdek) showed ‘dysfunctional beliefs’ were to
blame for the breakdown of relationships.
These are our unreal expectations. These include thinking that arguing is
bad, sex should be perfect and that your partner should understand you
According to Relationship Researcher, John Gottman, the things that
destroy relationships are Sneering, Contempt, Criticism or Withdrawal.
These Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have proved that presence of them in a couple's communication predict if the relationship is doomed.
So to answer. Love develops and changes throughout relationships. It is
not love but respect that is crucial. Once respect is lost, then relationships falter.
Learning to communicate effectively and understand how to deal with conflict and difference are corner stones to help relationships improve.