Heather Hans, LCSW, MBA is a public speaker, psychotherapist, and author of The Heart of Self-Love uses science to explain why you should be listening to certain relationship advice in her piece on YourTango.
Brain science says that love is truly blind, so follow these tips to find your way in the dark.
Science recently found that love truly is blind.
According to research conducted by the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience at the University College London, when both men and women are caught up in the initial passionate phase of falling in love, overlapping activity throughout various parts of the human brain causes them to ignore negative emotions as it simultaneously impairs their ability to make solid social judgements about their new love interest.
In other words, no matter how much relationship advice you've memorised by heart, your brain's chemistry is wired to make you throw it out the window and go gaga for that new guy or girl.
To improve your self-confidence and help you build healthy, sustainable long-term relationships, it's crucial to remember that your typical good judgement is impaired during the early and exciting stages of dating and getting to know someone new.
In order to do that, it's helpful to keep some helpful hints on hand and glance back at them from time to time.
So here are five seriously important pieces of relationship advice both men and women ignore way too often when they're caught up in the chemical rush that comes along with falling in love.
1. Take it slow and avoid making major decisions too early.
Beginning with our earliest experiences as infants, bonding with others occurs over time and not overnight.
Parents learn about their children by attuning to their inner world and responding appropriately. If a parent tries forcing their own agenda or attempts to rush the bond, an insecure attachment forms, setting a stage for instability and relationship problems throughout the child's life.
Likewise, in order to create secure self-love, we need to be slow and gently with ourselves. People so caught in the rat race of life that they neglect their own needs and bodily messages are more likely to be sick more often.
By learning to be slow and patient with ourselves, we learn to be slow and patient as we form a romantic relationship.
Making any type of major commitment, including marriage, cohabitation, and a having a baby, when you're still in the early stages of a relationship is unwise. You simply cannot rely on your own judgement about such serious decisions when that intoxicating mix of hormones is running through your body. Instead, you must play the role of a sober parent setting boundaries for their immature child (i.e., you).
The act of making a commitment does nothing to guarantee sustainable love, so when you rush into a major decision, you simply create a complex mess you'll need to deal with cleaning up in the future. People rush into commitments based on the fear of losing these fleeting feelings of bliss, and as they say, fear is the opposite of love.
As it it, the Western model of marriage is fraught with man-made limitations that often inhibit our growth and happiness as individuals and as a couple. Making a contractual agreement to stay the same, cater to each other's needs, and meet each others' expectations 'til death do you part often backfires, as locking things into place is in direct conflict with the life-affirming process of change we all need.
Over time, you will change, your partner will change, your lives will change, and your love will change. Remaining open and willing to let go of "what is" creates space for true unconditional love to emerge.
2. Remain true to yourself and always speak your truth.
When people fall in love, they often sell out some aspects of themselves in order to become their partner's ideal. Like rushing into commitments, this behaviour is also based on fear. You feel so good that you are willing to twist and bend in ways that are inauthentic for you in the hopes of staying in your lover's good graces and keep the spark alive.
But doing this leads to resentment over time, because true love is based on each person encouraging the other to become the highest version of themselves and letting whatever happens over the course of that process happen.
By speaking your truth, you have a greater chance of being loved authentically because you can rest assured knowing the other person loves who you for who you really are and not for some fake, idealised version of yourself.
When you each see each other and let each other be seen as you really are, you find love that is real and built to last.
3. Be friends first.
When a physical attraction exists between two people, they often skip over important steps of healthy relationship development. In order to have long-lasting love within which you are able to grow into your highest self, you must, at your core, be friends first.
Friends know each other deeply and grow to respect one another from that knowing. They don't place demands on each other to meet each other's needs the same way casual partners do. Instead they embrace each other's own uniqueness.
Friendships are life's treasures. When something goes awry in romance, friendship is the insurance policy that can hold it together until the problem is repaired.
Respect, more than anything, is needed in relationships, and that is a tenant of true friendship. If you quickly hop into bed with someone, you miss an opportunity to find out if you truly respect them, and if you later discover that you don't, you're likely to feel angry with yourself and in that anger, your self-esteem suffers.
4. Keep your outside interests and relationships alive.
Young, naïve lovers tend to let everything else in their lives go when they are in love. Older people need to learn better. Due to the exciting love hormones, the initial passion you feel may last for two to three years, and it's natural that while it does, you'll want to spend as much time as possible with your new love interest.
But just like anything you pursue in life without properly pacing yourself, over-indulging carries the risk of leading to burnout.
Other facets of your life are meant to keep you whole and balanced. Only when two complete individuals join together can they have something real. If you are seeking your other half, you need to be balanced and well-rounded yourself.
5. Pay attention to red flags.
Red flags exist to warn us of danger or problems ahead. Your intuition acts immediately to notify you of the red flags when you meet someone new, and it's important to pay attention to those sensations in your own body.
When people are falling in love, they have a tendency to ignore these gut instincts because they don't want the good feelings to go away.
You must realise that the good feelings are your own. They won't go away just because the current object of your desire goes away. If you love one person, you can love another.
Your love is not dependent on any one person in particular.
Check out more great stories from YourTango:
- If You Do These 10 Things, Your Relationship Will Go the Distance
- 6 Pieces of (Surprisingly Popular) Relationship Advice You Need to Stop Following
- 47 Essential Pieces of Relationship Advice For Strong Women Who Refuse to Settle