You see a woman or man across a crowded room and it feels as if a vortex of uncontrollable energy is pulling you toward them. You’ve met your “soul mate” and you feel it viscerally – your guts, your loins, your mind all explode with cupid’s phenylethylalamine-tipped arrows, as they graze your skin. You think that this feeling of “love” is so real, and so pure that nothing could match it, and while you are partly correct, there’s much more to the story of human attraction.
The visceral attraction you feel to another person romantically when you are an adult is just a subconscious desire to heal the wounds which your primary caretakers inflicted. Consciously we want euphoria and all the things that come with idealized romantic love – that love that we all so easily fall into in the early stages of a relationship when we are idealized and fantasized about, and offer, giddily, to our romantic partners.Per the research of Jung, Freud, and other psychologists, you’re choosing a partner based on the composite image of your primary care-takers when you were a small child. These were the people who you relied upon for everything. You were totally dependent upon them, and in their human frailty and ignorance, they made mistakes in raising you. Perhaps they were distant, controlling, shaming, or even cruel. In other instances, you may have had caretakers who were loving, kind, patient, and supportive. You may also have experienced a combination of these traits from the womb until you were about three to five years old. This is when your concept of the world and love was formed.
Subconsciously, however, there are deeper needs which are screaming for attention, and these play out through what has been called an “imago match.” The imago is the subconscious mind which behaves very much like the child which was present when it was first formed.
The subconscious mind acts on its desires and emotions, and little more. It ignores all reason. It wants what it wants, tossing social norms, politeness, compassion, and other important developments in the human psyche to the wind. It acts like a bio computer storing all your memories, including things that happened to you when you were so small, they may not register in your conscious memory. Certain beliefs you have about yourself, which don’t seem to make sense, are often formed in the subconscious based on these very early memories. Some say they were even carried over from past lifetimes.
The First Stage of Love: The Chemistry Experiment
In the first stages of love, we get to feel like the “golden child” in our families, even if we weren’t treated that way when we were small. Norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine, and other neurochemicals turn our bodies into a literal chemistry-experiment, as we are flooded with substances that make our palms sweat, butterflies appear in our stomachs, and our hearts race. The “high” we feel in the first stage of love is necessary for us to enjoin with someone who can help us heel the deepest wounds we carry, and our subconscious minds know exactly who that is.
When the love starts to feel mundane and tiresome, we’ve usually entered the second phase of romantic love, which becomes the “struggle.” It is important to understand that this stage isn’t meant to last. If you are with someone who belittles you, ignores you, withholds affection, isn’t truly in love with you, or treats you less than magnificently, then there’s another bus coming in five minutes. It’s time to move on. For whatever reason, they are not the person who will help you to complete the healing that you need to have a fully functioning, real love.
The first stage of love is full of passion, euphoria, and lust. Image: “Passion” Oil Painting by Leonid Afremov
They may have served the purpose of wounding you in the same way that you were wounded before so that you can become conscious of the need for healing, but they will not be the conduit through which change ultimately happens.
In the first stage, though, love feels like an altered state of consciousness – the closest thing we know to spiritual bliss – and it can feel amazing!
The Second Stage of Love: The Power Struggle
In the second stage of love, the signs are almost as universal as in the first. Instead of a sense of excitement and euphoria, you are likely to feel unwanted and unloved, as you consciously realize your partner does not fulfill all your emotional needs. Ultimately, you will learn how to get these needs met in a more compassionate way, but in this stage, it often looks like this:
- He or she doesn’t feel loved so they start pulling away or becoming reclusive
- The opposite partner feels abandoned and acts out
- Someone cries a lot; someone yells a lot
- Excuses and blame are the norm
- We tend to see only the negatives in our partners and forget about all the positives
- Frustration and despair take the place of elation and bliss
- Every button we have feels like it is being pushed or triggered (and it’s supposed to be!)
- There is a lack of true connection
- There may be explosive fighting and reconciliation
- It is probable that there will be constant, low-level anxiety and pain in both partners as they repeat the emotional patterns of their childhoods
It is important to understand that this stage will end. Many partnerships don’t make it through this stage, because they fail to understand its significance and necessity. It is here that our Higher Selves will do one of two things: end the relationship and break up, or have a relationship break through.
The Third Stage: True Love
Once we are exhausted from the struggles between our inner, wounded selves being in communion with another person’s wounded dinner self, we may choose to “give up.” We may also choose to take the relationship to a conscious level. Conscious love is not based on crazy chemistry, or constant fighting. There is no emotional abandonment, or constant push-pull of trying to connive, bribe, and convince someone else to give us what we need to feel loved.
Instead, we learn to grow. We stretch into better ways of expressing our needs, our hearts, and our feelings of abandonment, rejection, or fear.
Both parties begin to see how they create behaviors and outcomes by their own actions in the relationship. They become more open to giving love to their partners in the ways they need to receive it, instead of using force, manipulation, or withdrawal. They become truly interested in supporting the other person instead of just having their own needs met, and in the process, a great shift occurs.
We start to drop the defenses we developed as a survival technique when we were wounded children, and start to open to true intimacy – physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually.
We may feel alive and fulfilled, but the same neurochemicals which were present in the first stages of love will be replaced by a chemical concoction similar to what advanced meditators on compassion experience – like a Buddhist monk, we begin to respond differently to life’s“slings and arrows.”
The 3rd stage of love resembles compassion.
More plasticity in the brain evolves, and we even experience a boost in our immune systems and a relaxing of the nervous system. We aren’t constantly in fight or flight, and though we will still face challenges, we accept full responsibility for all that transpires in our lives – freeing us to love in an ascended way.