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Does “Feeling in Love” Come from Real or False Love?

Does Feeling in Love Come FromMini-Love-Lesson #179
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Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson presents ‘feeling in love’ and the lost wisdom about it; the harm that comes of relying on it; the questions of if it doesn’t come from real love where does it come from; what to do with “feeling in love”; does it always fade; what the brain does about “feeling in love” and “ being in love”; another big danger; then ends with the good news about feeling in love. (Who do you know that might benefit from mentioning mini-love-lesson?  You might mention it to them.)

Lost Wisdom about Feeling in Love

Not so long ago it was widely recognized that because you felt wonderfully “in love” it did not mean for certain you were in a state of real love.  Many instead knew it could be infatuation, or a crush or maybe just lust.  Others thought it could be that you were temporarily bewitched or merely enamored, enraptured, besotted, hart struck or, my favorite, twitterpatted.  In any case it was common wisdom that these words meant that what you were feeling might not last and, not for sure, were real love.

This was rather helpful because it assisted people in being patient and waiting long enough to see if ‘feeling in love’ would last and was real.  Two world wars seem to be what changed all that.  ‘falling’ in love quickly replaced long engagements and got much more popular.  So did quickly having sex and quickly getting married before the war or one of its horrid ancillaries killed one of you.  That seems to be the way it often works in desperate times.  The trouble with that is it set the new norm of believing that ‘feeling in love’ was all it took to mean it was the real thing.  The wisdom of “wait-and-see” was lost.

The Harm Done by Relying Only On ‘Feeling in Love’

Listen to Dolores, “I knew I loved my husband but was no longer ‘in love’ with him.  Then I met and fell head over heels in love with Chuck, had an affair with him, divorced my husband, devastated my kids, had arguments with my family and friends and generally messed up everything.  But at the time I didn’t care because I knew I was totally and passionately ‘in love’ and that was all that really mattered.  Two years later Chuck and I were done.  My ‘feeling in love’ just turned off.  So did Chuck’s and he quickly found another woman.

“With professional help, I now know what I felt for Chuck was a false form of love called “Limerence”.  I tried to go back to my husband where I now know real love existed but it was too late.  He had a new lady in his life who was busy making him and my kids happier than I had.  If only someone had taught me that ‘feeling in love’ could not be relied on.  Somewhere I had learned just the opposite that ‘feeling in love’ meant it was the real thing, but it wasn’t.”

Dolores’s story sadly is the story of countless others.  Real love lost, traumatized children, needless divorces, and much worse – these are the tragedies of relying too greatly only on ‘feeling in love’.  And this is all because so many people now believe merely ‘feeling in love’, even if intensely, means it must be the real thing.  (Check out the Problems and Pain section of the Subject Index.)

If It’s Not the Real Thing, What Is It?

‘Feeling in love’ can lead to the real thing but more often it does not.  ‘Feeling in love’ is frequently the result of one or another form of false love.  The false love called Limerence that Dolores identified lasts 2 to 4 years on average.  The ‘I’ phase of an IFD pattern romance seems to have a super strong ‘feeling in love’ component which also almost guarantees profound disappointment, demoralization and depression in the ‘D’ phase.  Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome and Thrill and Threat Bonding frequently appear to sort of do the same thing. (For more complete descriptions and cures for these false love syndromes check out the e-book, Real Love False Love .

What to Do with ‘Feeling in Love’

When ‘feeling in love’, enjoy it fully!  Know it may lead to the real thing but no matter how good and strong the ‘feeling in love’ is, don’t rely on it as proof of real love.  It is not enough.  Learn the other signs of what is real and what is false and don’t be in a rush.  Remember, real love is patient. (See “How Love Works – 7 Basics” and “Falling Out of Love – or Was It False Love” mini-love-lessons at this site).

Does ‘Feeling in Love’ Always Fade?

So many people report that after a certain amount of time the passion, the romance, the sexuality and the intense ‘feeling in love’ experiences fades away.  They also often report those are replaced by a calmer, steadier, often deeper and more profound sense of love.  Many do not seem to know that if they purposely think and do the right set of actions they can bring back the ‘feeling in love’ experiences.  However, those feelings probably will not be constant or seemingly automatic as they once were.

In truth, you would not want them to be intensely with you all the time.  This is because there would be little room or time left for all those other wonderful feelings of ongoing, deep and profound love.  Also there is the occasional, often high sense of spiritual love that can come later in always growing, love relationships.  It sort of is like this.  You would not want a meal of your most favorite food to be your only food, day after day, after day, after day forever.  Love can be given and received in far more wonderful ways than just the passionate, romantic way.  But remember, you can bring that back too from time to time with the right love skills.  (See “Learning About Love – Together”, “The Three 3’s of Love” and “Is Love Ignorance the Problem?” mini-love-lessons at this site)

The Brain and Both ‘Feeling in Love’ and Being in Love

We now are beginning to have evidence about how the brain processes love.  There is evidence that suggests our brains process real love and false love differently.  This evidence also suggests that real love is very healthy for the whole body and false love usually is not or, even worse, it often is toxic.  However, we don’t have enough evidence to say these ideas are proven.  The thing we call ‘feeling in love’ by itself seems to operate like a precursor to lasting love which may or may not then follow.

Real love seems to activate certain regions of the brain, alter our brain chemistry and perhaps cause important bio-electrical changes.  Some think every cell in our body has at least a little to do with processing love and certainly is effected by love.  All these processes can go on whether you are consciously aware and feel them or not.  It is important to know that feeling something is not the thing itself.  We may sometimes feel and sometimes not feel our breathing or certain digestive processes but they are there whether we feel them or not.  Likewise, the evidence suggests real and lasting love is there all the time but we only feel it from time to time.  We, however, can develop the skill to purposefully tap into it, or become consciously aware of it whenever we wish.

Feeling in love often is quite strong and gets a lot of our attention for a while, maybe even a long while, then it changes.  It changes either into just going away or being something you temporarily can re-create from time to time in real love relationships, if people in the love relationship have the skill and know-how to do that.

Another Big Danger of ‘Feeling in Love’

‘Feeling in love’ in the brain operates in ways quite similar to certain kinds of serious drug addiction.  The evidence suggests healthy, real love doesn’t do that.  Withdrawal from ‘feeling in love’ is, in neurochemistry terms, rather similar to withdrawing from an opiate addiction.  ‘Feeling in love’ and several forms of false love sometimes trigger the brain chemistry of obsessive-compulsive disorders.  Indeed, much of the ‘feeling in love’ experiences associated with false forms of love sometimes involves destructive, obsessive-compulsive and addiction-prone behavior.  At least that is what the evidence is pointing to.

Healthy, lasting, real love, as we currently understand it, does not lead to those reactions and disorders.  This is one of the reasons that people in addiction recovery are advised to stay away from ‘falling in love’ and ‘feeling in love’ until their recovery is well established.  Otherwise relapse and its horrors become much more likely (See Recovering Love: Codependency to CoRecovery).

The Good News About ‘Feeling in Love’

Feeling in love can feel great, be part of a great life adventure, get you to do a lot of things you will be glad to have done that you never would have gotten into otherwise, can involve incredibly great sex, help you discover a lot about yourself you otherwise might never know, uninhibitedly experience another person, have incredibly intense emotions – both high and low and, best of all, just possibly might lead you into the wonders of healthy, lasting and fulfilling, real love.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: Like a good chef, are you occasionally or even frequently learning new recipes for creating fresh, ‘feeling in love’ experiences?

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