More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.
Lovers' Dreams: Are They Always Illusions?
By Caroline J. Simon, Ph.D., Bringing Sex Into Focus
March 14, 2012

Romantic love combines intense emotional attachment with desire to be loved in return. It also involves seeing the person that you love as embodying your personal ideals of manhood or womanhood. Whether romantic idealization happens on a first meeting or the hundredth, it is as if a veil has been lifted from your eyes. A vision descends upon you. The vision strikes you as a revelation of something true and important. If it didn't, it wouldn't feel like falling in love.

In romance, idealization is part of the deal. Does romance always involve a fantasy of a perfect love? Often, but not always. Idealization is different from fantasy.

Susan Cheever's frank memoir of sexual addiction, Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction. Cheever says, "We tell our young men and women that 'falling in love' is the basis for building a life; it is not....Falling in love is a wonderful, addictive, obsessive experience that usually lasts less than twenty months...." (65-66). Cheever found herself addicted to the dopamine-rush of infatuation. As soon as the newness of the love experience wore off, she needed to move on to a new partner in order to experience the same "high."

Rodgers and Hammerstein have their Prince in the musical Cinderella ask the crucial question: "Are you the sweet creation of a lover's dream or are you really as wonderful as you seem?" The Prince wants to know whether his feelings are true love or infatuation. Infatuation is an ideal vision that's wildly out of sync with who the person you are in love with is.

Cheever seems to think that falling in love is always infatuation. Who could possibly be as perfect as he or she seems to us when we have freshly fallen in love? But here is a contrasting proposal: "true love" is when your idealization ascribes features to the beloved that are part of what that person can and should become. In cases where someone ascribes a level of intelligence or compassion to her beloved that he at present lacks but can and should grow into, seeing him through the eyes of love is genuinely creative. What it creates is not fantasy but reality.

Is this true love or infatuation? That's not an easy question to answer. Even if you could be sure that it's love instead of infatuation, another very large question remains unanswered: Will love endure? No one, when in love, can at the same time believe that he or she will ever feel differently than they do at present. But often at a corner of one's awareness there is the fact of people who have been in love and then ceased to love. Whether idealization is a genuine insight or delusional, it is often ephemeral. Sometimes the vision involved in romantic love disappears as suddenly and involuntarily as it comes, though more often it recedes gradually.

For some it lasts for a lifetime. I've seen it done.

Dr. Simon's most recent book is Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity.

Daniel E.
An Interview With Marianne Williamson: The Essential Steps To Finding Love

...Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it. There is a current mythology in our culture that anytime we meet someone and have that "enchanted evening" experience, that experience of looking into the eyes of the other and falling hopelessly in love-- that this is nothing more than a delusion; a mutual projection, a fantasy that will only last until reality sets in.

The spiritual perspective is exactly the opposite. It says that this enchanted evening experience was in fact a temporary experience of enlightenment; a kind of temporary gift from the gods to show us the romantic mountaintop, so that we will have such an appetite for it, such desire to return to its bliss, that we will be willing to do the inner work necessary to climb back up there ourselves.

That moment when most western psychotherapeutic traditions would argue that reality set in, is actually the moment when, from a spiritual perspective, unreality set in. It's the moment when the personality-self, in its egoic nature, reasserted itself. At that point, due to childhood wounds and past triggers, we could not avoid the temptation to attack, to defend, to find fault, to make conditions on love, to withhold our approval, and so forth...

Love is all around us all the time. Love is the ethers that we swim in. Love is the amniotic fluid of the soul. The issue is that we, with our fears, our attacks, our judgments, our blame, and our constant emphasis on the realm of the body rather than the realm of love, eclipse the experience of true love...

---------- Post added at 08:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:57 PM ----------

Romantic love vs. True love and why happy marriages are rare in the West ? 1000petals…

Romantic love is the single greatest energy system in the Western psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy…We are so accustomed to living with the beliefs and assumptions of romantic love that we think it is the only form of “love” on which marriage or love relationships can be based. We think it is the only “true love”. But there is much that we can learn from the East about this. In Eastern countries, like those of India and Japan, we find that married couples love each other with great warmth, often with a stability and devotion that puts us to shame. But their love is not “romantic love” as we know it. They don’t impose the same ideals on their relationships, nor do they impose such impossible demands and expectations on each other as we do.

Romantic love has existed throughout history in many cultures. We find it in the literature of ancient Greece, the Roman empire, ancient Persia, and feudal Japan. But our modern Western society is the only culture in history that has experienced romantic love as a mass phenomenon. We are the only society that makes romance the basis of our marriages and love relationships and the cultural ideal of “true love”.

One of the greatest paradoxes in romantic love is that it never produces human relationships as long as it stays romantic. It produces drama, daring adventures, wondrous, intense love scenes, jealousies, and betrayal; but people never seem to settle into relationship with each other as flesh-and-blood human beings until they are out of the romantic love stage, until they love each other instead of “being in love”...

Daniel E.
The Idea of Soul Mates
by Ram Dass

...What you have found from your past marriages is that what you are attracted to in a person isn’t what you ultimately live with. After the honeymoon is over...then you are left with the work to do. And it’s the same work. When you trade in one partner for another, you still have the same work. You’re going to have to do it sooner or later when the pizzazz is over. And it just keeps going over. And you can’t milk the romanticism of relationship too long as you become more conscious. It’s more interesting than that. It really is. And people want to romanticize their lives all the time. It’s part of the culture. But the awakening process starts to show you the emptiness of that forum. And you start to go for something deeper. You start to go to meet another human being in truth. And truth is scary...

---------- Post added March 19th, 2012 at 09:05 PM ---------- Previous post was March 18th, 2012 at 11:35 PM ----------

Susan Cheever's frank memoir of sexual addiction, Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction.

I just finished reading most of that book, which was both entertaining and insightful.

An excerpt:

Yet obsession serves a purpose. By blotting out all other thoughts, it eliminates fear. We are afraid of dying, we are afraid of illness and indigence, we are afraid our children will come to harm, we are afraid to lose things we already have, things that we have earned. We are afraid that in the future we won't get what we need. We scare ourselves with our own thoughts of despair—maybe we should step in front of a bus—and rage—if we had had a gun there are many times when we might have used it. This is what it means to be human, but it's scary.

A temporary, high-cost cure for these thoughts and feelings that worry us is obsession. If we are obsessed, we don't think about anything else. We don't have creative urges. We don't plan our next vacation. Instead we are living fantasies of what might happen with the object of our obsession and combing the past for clues about the object of our obsession and treasuring past moments with the object of our obsession. We are useless, but we are protected by the invisible wall of obsession from the terror that wakes us up at three in the morning and won't let us go back to sleep. In this way obsession, a symptom of addiction, actually functions as an addiction itself. It blocks out the world.

For me, obsession started with men...

Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction - Susan Cheever - Google Books

Some other points in the book are the importance of community as well as a theory of why SSRIs are helpful for both anorexia and sexual addiction:

The Monoamine Hypothesis for the Pathophysiology of Paraphilic Disorders

Daniel E.
Fall in Love and Stay That Way: Scientific American Mind (PDF version)
December 22, 2009
By Robert Epstein, PhD

...Young couples in India generally have a choice about whether to proceed, and the combination of choice and sound guidance probably accounts for the fact that studies of arranged marriages in India indicate that they measure up well—in, for example, longevity, satisfaction and love—against Western marriages. Indeed, the love experienced by Indian couples in arranged marriages appears to be even more robust than the love people experience in “love marriages.” In a 1982 study psychologists Usha Gupta and Pushpa Singh of the University of Rajasthan in Jaipur, India, used the Rubin Love Scale, which gauges intense, romantic, Western-style love, to determine that love in love marriages in India does exactly what it does in love marriages here: it starts high and declines fairly rapidly. But love in the arranged marriages they examined started out low and gradually increased, surpassing the love in the love marriage about five years out. Ten years into the marriage the love was nearly twice as strong...

Daniel E.
Mindfulness in Love: Love is Not Enough
by Joseph Rhinewine, PhD (Portland Mindfulness Therapy)

...To resolve conflicts skillfully requires viewing one another and oneself realistically, without a significant degree of idealization or devaluation. Viewing one another in this realistic way is far easier if one is not in the state known as being In Love, because the main defining feature of that state is idealization--viewing the other person as perfect, consciously or unconsciously (or both). Mindfulness involves going beyond idealization and really seeing others for who they are. It is not a matter of just accepting that others have flaws. It's cultivating the intention to be FULLY PRESENT to another person, even when you don't like what they're saying, even when you are disappointed in him/her. When we are fully present, we are less likely to speak unkindly and act unskillfully in a conflict. We are more likely to collaborate with the other person to find common ground and useful solutions.

What's the take-home? Stop looking for a person who makes you feel like you're high on drugs. A little euphoria is fine, but seek a person who has the qualities that you value in a long-term mate, regardless of whether they give you a jumpy stomach and make you bump into lampposts. Among the people you perceive as "not exciting enough" are those who are in fact the ones most likely to make wonderful long-term partners.

Daniel E.
Control Your Crush | Women's Health Magazine

...Crushes often are less about the person...than about the person you want to be. When you find yourself going weak in the knees over a guy, try to pinpoint the attributes in him you like--compassion, attentiveness, a sense of humor--and make a point of nurturing them in yourself. "That most likely will require doing things you normally shy away from," says psychologist Noelle Nelson, Ph.D., author of Your Man Is Wonderful. "If you're attracted to someone who's the life of the party, it's time to bust out of your shell and host more dinners or vow to introduce yourself to at least one stranger at every get-together you go to."

Bottom line: Forget about the guy and focus on what you're really after--a new and improved version of yourself...
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