Falling in love

We all carry an image of our dream partner within us according to our individual wishes and longings: how they should look, what they should represent, how they should see us, etc. This image is partly conscious and partly unconscious.

When we meet someone who triggers the idea that he or she could fulfil these wishes then the process of falling in love can initiate.
Because our strong need to belong we have a tendency to idealize the object of our attraction and the relationship we will have with him/her.
To fall in love always entails a reference to the future: How beautiful will it be! We imagine the ideal partnership with the beloved person, that all our wishes will be fulfilled, no conflicts will disturb it, and mutual agreement will occur without many words.

During this process our awareness becomes more tendentious. We tend to only see what fits with our ideal picture and ignore indicators which could question its realization. By this we vault ourselves into a delirium of an image supported by a biochemical process (release of dopamine, serotonin, etc.).
The partner appears spotless, as we would like them to be. And if we are lucky enough, and our affection is returned, we can collaborate with our partner to keep each other's ideals alive.
The single ideals of two lovers usually don't match in all areas due to their different backgrounds and personalities. Despite that they both might be convinced that the partner shares the same ideal as them. By this the partners, unconsciously, sign two different 'contracts' about each of their roles and duties in their relationship: "that's what you are for me, that's what I am for you, and that's what we are together".

But sooner or later the exhilaration of falling in love is over and the harsh reality catches up with the lovers. They look at each other and have to admit that certain expectations were not fulfilled. Disappointment replaces the affection for the partner, as does anger, because they 'broke the contract'. This is a natural process which most couples have to go through. And it is here, at this point, that they set the course for the healthy or unhealthy development of their relationship.

In the worst case, both defend their individual view as the only right one, conflicts turn into fights and both get entrenched in their positions. Over time they give up hope for the desired changes in their partner, and resignation, for sure, is the number 1 love killer.

 

Love through growth

On the other hand a couple can see their differences as a challenge to learn more about each other and find ways to overcome their difficulties together. This certainly requires the modesty not to put personal opinion over a partner's opinion and the confidence in the possibility of change.

The ability to grow together is the best guarantor for the genuine feeling of love for each other. In fact, it's not only your partner for whom you can develop strong affection, but also for the partnership itself, the common creation, the unit which you formed together, which has grown like a tree over time. Looking at it every now and then and recognizing its improvement (less conflicts, better teamwork, more enrichment, etc.) will raise both partners estimation of what they have reached together, and further difficulties (midlife crises, unemployment, bereavement, etc) will not shake the foundation of their love. Neither of them would want to give up what they have developed together.