The transition from casual friendship to love to commitment is powered by emotion for many people. Does the “rush” mean it’s all good? What happens when big gaps appear in how you understand and know each other? It’s hard to know ahead of time what really matters in making a good choice to get more serious. Strong attractions? Compatible tastes and dreams? Shared interests? Similar backgrounds? Traditional gender roles? Let’s explore both the emotions which are the glue, and also step back to look at the larger picture.
Unveiling the Mystery of True Love
We used to think love was a mystery. Our high divorce rate shows that having a thriving marriage IS a mystery and is difficult for a lot of people. That’s because we often don’t know our own fearful spots, the ones that send an alarm to our hearts: I’m not loved or lovable, I’m not safe, I’m scared.
Which leads us to the biggest clue that love can thrive in your relationship: do I feel emotionally safe with my partner? Does he or she feel safe with me? How can we create safety to be open and vulnerable with each other? When I show the dark and messy parts of me, or selfishness, or neediness, am I still accepted and loved? When we argue, blame or avoid, and hurt each other, can we make good repairs to our connection?
How Love Grows
To create and re-create a strong bond and connection, couples need to shape a sense of “us together in the world.” That desire for a strong bond is innate, part of being human, yet sometimes it’s been shaped into an experience of uncertainty by our first families, or later betrayals and broken hearts. And then from that shakier sense of being loved and loveable, we question how much our partner cares, looking for the small and larger signals that we are valued and connected.
Good Questions to Help Decide Whether to Commit more Deeply
Ask yourself: do I like who I am with my partner? Do I feel supported, strengthened, cared-for, that my back is covered? Can I be my whole messy self with him or her? Can we talk about all the necessary things, pretty well? Do we recover and repair our connection when something interrupts it? If those qualities are in place for each of you, then differences in tastes, political views, role expectations and family expectations are ones you can handle.
It does help to be enjoy things together, to laugh and play, to enjoy each other’s company in and out of bed. It helps to have a shared vision for your future, in the shape of your life: family, work, friends, exploring or staying home. Yet if you tend to your connection, those things will usually work out.
Life throws us curves, and our plans will almost certainly change. Is this person someone you want by your side? And are you for him or her?