Instant chemistry may reflect a negative attachment pattern from childhood
Love patterns from childhood repeat in adult romantic relationships. When being cared for in childhood meant dismissal, rejection or invalidation, people are more likely to seek these same traits out in their adult romantic relationships.
Each time you are exposed to a similar life experience, the brain fires a specific pattern of neurons. Over time, familiar patterns of circuitry develop which the brain activates automatically and with little effort.The brain works each new experience into its memory by fitting it into the already existing neuronal pattern. If early in life loving one or both of your caretakers left you feeling rejected, dismissed or undervalued, then these are the feelings you will automatically call up when you experience love in your adult relationships.
Likewise, you may unintentionally pick undependable or inattentive lovers who tend to dismiss your needs or emotional experiences. When you do date someone who is directly loving toward you and interested in knowing the real you, you may not feel the ‘spark’ simply because he does not match your early learning history and resulting neuronal wiring.
As I describe in Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy: Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships, Sextimacy becomes a dysfunctional way to get the unmet, and very normal, childhood needs for attention, affection and genuine care met. Sextimacy at first can feel like love at first site or instant chemistry. It can be intoxicating for a woman to meet a person who triggers old love patterns. Sadly the intrigue and allure that he will become something she has never before experienced gives way, and she is left feeling once again hopeless about finding real love.
Many women who struggle with low self-esteem have difficulty being attracted to men who unequivocally state their interest in getting to know them on an emotionally intimate level. These women equivocate when asked why they are not attracted to this type of man who outwardly demonstrates his interest and often cite quirky criticism– “He sleeps with his dog!” The reality is until a person works on feeling okay about who they are it is extremely difficult to become attracted to someone who is healthy.
Although a woman may not like that she is attracted to the same types of men, her brain remembers through associating new experiences with older experiences. In order to change the wiring a person must repeatedly engage a new experience. A simple example of this is a desire to learn to play tennis. If you only play sporadically, you are unlikely to become at ease with the sport. Alternatively, if you make a commitment to yourself to play regularly and even to surround yourself with good players or acquire a coach, your brain is more likely to imprint this new learning experience and you will probably become better at tennis.
When a person has a negative self-image, their neuronal circuitry effortlessly screens out those people who see them more positively than they seem themselves. As they form a healthy relationship with themselves and purposefully choose to get to know men who outwardly and unequivocally demonstrate their interest in getting to know them on multiple levels, they will overcome their dysfunctional history with love.
For those women who have a negative history with love it can feel uncomfortable and even burdensome to develop relationships with men who are attentive and interested in the whole woman. Yet, developing these kinds of attachments (with interested, emotionally available and open partners) single handedly changes chronic negative assumptions people hold about themselves so that they begin to see themselves in a much more positive way.
1. Lewis, T. Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2000). A General Theory of Love. Random House: New York.
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