For years now, I’ve been pondering the notion of love and intimacy between two people. Where does it all begin? How do people meet? What happens after they meet? How do couples progress (or regress)? What is true connection between humans all about? What is real love, and how can we make it last – even a lifetime?
Now don’t get me wrong; Honeymoon Periods are great; so new, so fun, so novel, and so potentially hot! And I make the point in my latest book, Honeymoon Forever: Secrets to Life Long Intimacy, that if you go into a new romance with your head on straight, you’ve done your “psychological homework,” and approach new love in a conscious and focused way, then long lasting love will not only be possible, but inevitable!
But, alas, we hear it all the time; two people meet, they fall in love, and then all-too-often comes that familiar divergence, the inevitable parting of the ways. Hopeful romances starting out with a brain-chemical bang then deflating like a useless flat tire, grinding to a meaningless halt. “Damn,” we say. “They seemed so great together!” “We thought it would never end!” (Where did I hear those ones before?)
So, here I am, making such a big deal about the beginnings of love through my writing, (and therapy practice), and all around me are deflating relationships! (The divorce rate doesn’t lie!) So how can we really make it to the Promised Land and grab the Golden Grail of that seemingly elusive “Honeymoon Forever”? How do we make love last?
So I looked around for some more answers and found a recent study conducted by Dr. Arthur Aron, Professor of Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook. In his research, he lays out five basic factors that are involved in long-lasting love which, by the way, I agree with wholeheartedly.
Here’s Dr. Aron’s list including my brief comments that follow:
1) The couple is not facing terrible external stressors like war or the death of a child.
It stands to reason that awful life stressors can easily blow apart any hopeful love relationship before it gets a chance to gain momentum and eventually grow. New lovers need to stay focused on the positive and each other for true intimacy to emerge and flourish. This is not to say that life conflicts can’t draw people together, but it sure helps if external stressors are at a minimum as two people move through time together.
2) One partner is not highly depressed or anxious.
This is not an easy one, and kind of mirrors the first point. If one partner (or sometimes both) is chronically dealing with debilitating depression or pervasive anxiety, it’s going to be very difficult for intimacy to deepen over time – it often ends up stressing out and ultimately sabotaging the relationship. Building and sustaining love relationships is hard enough without the devastating effects of a significantly impactful mental condition gumming up the works. We’re not talking about the inevitable ups and downs of just living life, but real mental illness that goes on far too long – that can too easily overpower the chance for lasting love.
3) Good communication between the partners.
No surprise here. Seems like almost everybody in the relationship field (including myself), has written veritable tomes about the notion of good communication between partners. I believe it’s a real learned art and better be a part of any evolving love relationship if it is really to last – that includes excellent listening skills. Check out my post on effective communication, if you haven’t done so already: http://honeymoon-forever.com/?p=45
4) The couple does new, challenging things together
I like those words “new,” “challenging,” and “together”; a great combination if love is to endure. Keeping a relationship fresh and constantly in a state of renewal always needs to have these basic elements running through the partnership. Innovation, experiences that are not always easy, and that are mutually experienced, is surely a prescription for a long life together.
5) When one partner is successful, the other celebrates the success
I really love Dr. Scott Peck’s notion of true love in his classic book, The Road Less Traveled. He simply states that real love is about supporting the dreams of the other. And with that loving support, I would add (as with Dr. Aron’s fifth point), the act of celebrating each others’ successes. And shouldn’t true love entail the empathic ability to celebrate the achievements of another? Makes sense to me!
So here we have some good, hopefully helpful, points to remember on your road to love that lasts – your Honeymoon Forever!