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Infatuation Could Easily Seduce You Into Marrying Unwisely

infatuation

Infatuation

Infatuation Could Easily Seduce You Into Marrying Unwisely

Infatuation stimulates fantasies of permanent bonding

New love is the ultimate turn on. In the first moments and days of love, the neuro-chemicals that create feelings of happiness all explode out the starter gate.  But does an explosion of happiness chemicals that triggers the thought “I want this person to be in my life forever!” necessarily mean that you and your new love would in fact make good chemistry together forever?  Or is what you are attracted to now minor compared to what would later lead to your needing relationship counseling?

Before you make a mad dash to the altar, better read on.

Why do decisions to marry that are made in the early exciting stage of love, the stage of infatuation, so often turn out to be a big mistake?

The power of first love

Early romantic experiences leave a lasting imprint on who we are—and who we fall for.

I recently read an exceptionally clear explanation.

Chana Levitan is the author of a particularly helpful ‘Is this the right one for me to marry?’ book.  I Only Want To Get Married Once explains that infatuation is “ the spark at the beginning” that suddenly ignites with a new person or in a situation that has newly switched from businesslike or friendship to romantic and sexualized. Because that spark, that sparkling, delightfully sexually intense feeling when you first fall in love, feels so good, you are likely to want the feeling to last forever.

Alas, it won’t.

Levitan explains that no matter how good the match, the strong sexualized draw of infatuation, even in the best of marriages, is only a temporary phenomenon associated with newness and insecurity.

Levitan quotes the research of psychologist Dorothy Tennov who found that the duration of infatuation typically lasts at most “between approximately 18 months and three years.” Circumstances like a long-distance relationship or chronic relationship insecurity may articfically extend the tingling phenomenon, at the cost of delaying the shift either into a departure from the relationship or into commitment to a mature and reliable love partnership.

Infatuation also poses a second trap. It’s easy to confuse loving the feeling of infatuation with the totally separate issue of how loving you are likely to feel toward that person after the infatuation has worn off. 

Love is blind while you are in the initial infatuation stage.  After that, clarity about reality tends to emerge. Continuing to love someone is likely to depend on how suitable that person is as a partner in the project of living.

Fortunately, it’s possible to look ahead even when you are feeling swept off your feet.  Your capacity for longer range vision can help you evaluate if the person you love so intensely today is likely to become a burden or an asset over time.  Does your current infatuation seem to be with someone who will turn into a stranger from a strange land or someone with whom openness, intimacy and a shared life style would be possible? Would that person be a supportive partner or a controlling tyrant?

Levitan offers a handy list of five signs suggest that an infatuation is not to be trusted. Here goes her Five Signs list:

  1. The infatuation is the whole relationship. There’s nothing else there. No shared vision or values of the life pathways you both want. Minimal shared interests. Not much to talk about after the initial getting-to-know-you conversations.
  2. You’re so caught up in the chemistry of initial attraction that you can’t, or don’t want to, see who the person really is.
  3. You’re infatuated and at the same time know that the person is bad for you.
  4. You’re moving toward marriage but find yourself thinking about someone you’ve dated in the past, or looking at others you might date in the future.
  5. You know at some level that you are wasting your time enjoying being infatuated with someone whom you wouldn’t want to marry.

Is infatuation a reliable guide?

So are all initial strong feelings untrustworthy?  Absolutely not. Strong feelings alone do not a good match make, but strong feelings plus good sense can enable couples to make a marriage choice early on that leads to a relationship that proves to be long-lasting and ever-loving. I knew the man I married for less than two months, and was thoroughly infatuated, when we decided to wed. Now, forty years, four children and ten grandchildren later I’m still thrilled with my choice of mates.

Who to marry is the single most important decision a person makes in their life. It’s especially important, as Levitan puts it so nicely in the title of her book, “I Only Want to Get Married Once.”  So pick thoughtfully. And once you’ve picked, make sure to learn the communication skills for marriage success!

Credit:Young couple in love photo file – Photography photo file from MyStockPhoto.com

Author’s Books

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is a Denver clinical psychologist who specializes in treatment of anxiety, depression, anger, narcissism, parenting challenges, and marital difficulties.
An author of multiple books, articles, audio cd’s and videos, Dr. Heitler is best known in the therapy community for having brought understandings of conflict resolution from the legal and business mediation world to the professional literature on psychotherapy.
David Decides About Thumbsucking, Dr. Heitler’s first book, has been recommended for over twenty years by children’s dentists to help young children end detrimental sucking habits.
From Conflict to Resolution, an innovative conflict-resolution theory of psychopathology and treatment, has strongly influenced the work of many therapists.
The Power of Two and The Power of Two Workbook, and also Dr. Heitler’s  website for couples called PowerOfTwoMarriage.com, teach the skills for marriage success.
In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Heitler coaches boards of directors in skills for collaboarative decision-making and, in the world of professional sports, Dr. Heitler serves as mental coach for a men’s doubles tennis team.

Education
Dr. Heitler graduated from Harvard  University in 1967, and earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from NYU in 1975.

Awards and Accomplishments
The editors of the master therapist video series Assessment and Treatment of Psychological Disorders selected Dr. Heitler from all the marriage and family therapists in the US to demonstrate the theory and techniques of couple treatment.  Her video from this series, The Angry Couple: Conflict Focused Treatment has become a staple in psychologist and marriage counseling training programs.
The editors of the Psychologist Desk Reference, a compendium of therapeutic interventions, selected Dr. Heitler to write the chapter onTreating High Conflict Couples. Other editors of books on counseling theory and techniques have similarly invited her to contribute chapters on her conflict resolution treatment methods.
Dr. Heitler’s 1997 book The Power of Two (New Harbinger), which clarifies the communication and conflict resolution skills that sustain healthy marriages, has been translated for publication in six foreign language editions–in China, Taiwan, Israel, Turkey, Brazil and Poland.
Dr. Heitler has been invited to present workshops on her conflict resolution methods for mediators and lawyers, psychologists, and marriage and family therapists throughout the country.  She has been a popular presenter at national professional conferences including AAMFT, APA, SmartMarriages, and SEPI and has lectured internationally in Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Lebanon, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Heitler is frequently interviewed in magazines such as FitnessMen’s HealthWomen’s World, and Parenting.  Her cases have appeared often in the Ladies Home Journal column “Can This Marriage Be Saved?”  She is often interviewed by Denver TV newscasters for her perspectives on psychological aspects of current events.
In May, 2004 Dr. Heitler appeared on the CBS Early Show where anchor Harry Smith introduced her as “the most influential person in my life—my therapist.”  He encouraged his viewers similarly to seek therapy when they are emotionally distressed and pre-marital counseling when they are contemplating marriage.
Most recently, Dr. Heitler, three of her adult children and one of their friends were awarded a U.S. government Healthy Marriages Initiative grant to produce interactive games for teaching marriage communication and conflict resolution skills over the internet.  Seehttp://poweroftwomarriage.com to experience their fun, low-cost, high-impact methods of teaching the skills for a strong and loving marriage.

Personal
Dr.  Heitler and her husband of almost 40 years are proud parents of four happily married adult children and are grandparents, thus far, of a a baker’s dozen grandchildren.

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