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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Building Mature Love

May 07, 2012 12:29AM ● By Sue Pearson, Ph.D.

Research has shown it takes 12 to 14 months for romantic love to transform into mature love. While there are exceptions, the divorce rate attests to the lack of success when romantic love is rushed along.

Thus, a mantra for turning romantic love to mature love might be considered “slow and easy.”

Romantic love can be addictive, because it is such a wonderful feeling, but when mistaken for mature love, it can and often does turn into a painful emotional experience. Forgiveness, in the early stages of a relationship, most often proves instead to be ignoring reality, which then rears its ugly head, because no one is perfect.

So often in forming relationships we are seeking someone to make us whole, which can only lead to disappointment, because no one can accomplish the impossible. Yes, we want an intimate companion, but others may only augment or enhance us, not complete us, because we are each already a complete person.

The problem is not with another person or relationship; it is with our not accepting that we are a unique, unrepeatable miracle. Take note of the phrase, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” It doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor: then love yourself.” First, we must love ourselves.

Many times, the failure of a relationship occurs because either we or our partner do not love ourselves first. Unfortunately, we may confuse loving one’s self with arrogance and an inflated ego, but nothing could be further from the truth. The arrogance of ego is a smokescreen that arises from insecurity: concealing the fear that someone will find out who we really are and will be disappointed.

Self-love is about facing and accepting who we are as we are, including flaws and virtues, and then using our strengths to reduce the impact of the weaknesses on our daily lives and our relationships. Love yourself enough to give your love of someone else time to grow into something lasting—mature love.

Dr. Sue Pearson is a psychologist at Stepping Stones Professional Counseling. To explore more aspects of couple communication and understanding, call 850-226-6430.

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