Last month I suggested a simple strategy for predicting romantic success. Yet as you well know, all relationships hit rough patches. So let me suggest a guide to those patches, expecting them makes them easier to prepare for and next month, how to survive and grow with them. The challenge of romance is captured in the word relationship. It is a Latin word. Lation means “to connect”. Ship is from the Latin meaning “the ability to”, and re means “again”. If we put the three parts together we get: the ability to connect again. Childhood connections get triggered by a committed relationship. For example, if you grew up in a family where one parent harshly dominated the other, you may have looked at the painful scene and promised yourself while very young, that you would never let that happen to you. That decision doesn’t stay in your awareness decades later. But you are now choosing unreliable partners or running from loving partners. Your brain is keeping the promise you made when you were two feet tall to never be dependent on another person, and the only way to keep the promise is to choose undependable people. Consciously you want all the good things a relationship can offer: intimacy, vulnerability, commitment, etc. But the emotional brain keeps the promise and runs from healthy choices and is drawn to unhealthy partners.
If you grew up with parents whose emotions were out of control through substance abuse, violence, or mental illness, you may have promised yourself to never lose control. This can allow you to achieve much success in your work life, but can make the emotional roller coaster of romance far too dangerous. So you may avoid relationships or choose partners you can control.
Romance is where we are most vulnerable to another person. Next month, we will explore our ability to recognize, accept and transform the fear that love brings with it.