Who can forget the all time number one love story, Casablanca? The movie, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was a sacrificial love story about Rick, the pessimistic nightclub owner, and Ilsa, the ex lover who broke his heart. Why did Ilsa break his heart?
And why do so many intense romances have to end in disaster?
According to Ken Page, LCSW, a New York based psychotherapist, author and lecturer specializing in the search for intimacy, it might be because we are all attracted to a particular “type” and this type may not be the best choice for us.
In Ken Page’s article, Recognizing Your Attractions of Deprivation-why we fall for people who are bad for us, he shares his insight.
“Even though we may be adults, we often have unresolved childhood hurts due to betrayal, manipulation, abuse and neglect from our caregivers. Unconsciously, we seek healing of these wounds in our intimate relationships. But that means we're most attracted to people who can wound us in just the way we were wounded in our childhood!
Each of us crashes into the painful wall of our parents' dysfunctions, and the cruelty of the outside world. This experience feels like a deep loss; a betrayal of what we know life should be like. So we create a "myth of lost love" to explain why this loss occurred. Like any powerful myth, this one frames our understanding of how life--and love--works. As we grow into adults, it becomes the mold that shapes our love lives.”
That might be the reason why some individuals continue to select partners who continue to bring them heart ache. Instead of looking for a “new type”, one that doesn’t support the romantic myth of the love gone wrong, some individuals keep choosing the same “type”, who will time and time again, deprive them of the emotional intimacy they need.
I’ve always been annoyed listening to a woman say; “I want to find my soul mate…that someone who will complete me.” I’ve had to bite my tongue from saying; “If you’re not complete yet, why search for a partner? Doesn’t that mean you have more work to do on your own?”
Why can’t we think of dating the same way we decide whether or not to add a condiment to that ball park sausage?
Shouldn’t that deliciious ball park sausage, the one that was way over priced but worth every cent because it tastes so much better when eaten at the stadium, be great when eaten all by itself after it's handed to you? If the guy grilling it asks you “mustard or relish?” shouldn't you think long and hard and decide carefully which one to pour on, and that's only if it will add to the already fantastic flavor? Like the condiment compliments, shouldn't that be the same rule for a dating partner? You don’t NEED to add it at all because the meal is complete by itself. But if it makes it better, then bon appettite!
I remember my father trying to console me after my first real heartbreak, right after I had graduated from college: “Lu-Angie, don’t wait for someone else to bring you flowers. Go out and plant your own garden.”
I’ll never forget those words. What they meant to me were: Love comes and goes but don’t give another person the power to hurt you so deeply. You’ll be fine on your own. Go make it on your own.
I loved the article, You Do Not Complete Me: Fighting Off “Soul Mates, by Michael Bruce, the editor of College Sex - Philosophy for Everyone: Philosophers With Benefits.
“The concept of soul mates is passed down through fantastic narratives of lovers finding each other through impossible circumstances, overcoming obstacles, and having an epiphany that they have found the one. The inference from complexity or probability to cosmic kismet is a weak one and should be rejected. The fact that something happened, or failed to happen, does not mean that things couldn't have happened otherwise or that there is a larger cosmic plan at work. Just because you love someone, doesn't mean you couldn't feel that way about someone else, or that your feelings will continue (cf. divorce rate).”
I especially enjoyed reading his reference to the show,Seinfeld. Bruce wrote:
“I hear the counterbalance of soul mates in an old episode of Seinfeld, "If there's a woman that can take your presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hold onto her like grim death...which is not far off, by the way."
Romantic love needs to be better understood and some people, like Linda Mayes, M.DD, an associate professor at of child psychiatry at Yale University, is trying to help that happen.
She’s doing a study on the process of “falling in love” and using Yale students in romantic relationships for their study.
Joan Arehart-Treichel reported the news in her article, Falling in Love: Is It All Flowers, Chocolate, and Oxytocin?
“They will then ask the students questions about their mental states during the periods when they fell in love, in hopes of gaining some insights into the process. For instance, they will be asking subjects: “What did you find especially attractive about your romantic partners?”
Mayes said that she suspects that falling in love might be akin to an obsessive-compulsive state because when young people fall in love, they are excessively preoccupied with each other.
If falling in love is similar to an obsessive-compulsive state, it may well be due to a rise in the hormone oxytocin, she believes. One reason why she suspects that this is the case is because oxytocin is known to underlie pair bonding and parenting.”
Believe it or not, with the advances in neuroscience, studies are underway for how the brain responds to heartbreak and the "altered" state of falling in love and what we can learn from the findings.
Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a research professor at Rutgers University and well known anthropologist, presented last to the APA annual meeting, new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data on the brain in love and showed how this brain system affects worldwide patterns of marriage and divorce and crimes of passion. Philip Muskin, M.D., a member of APA’s Scientific Program Committee, reported the news in his article, Imaging Data Uncover Mysteries of Love, in April of 2004.
In his article, Muskin, reported:
“Fisher maintains …changes in romantic attraction across time are adaptations for childrearing; that this brain system is closely integrated with brain networks for hate/rage; that “frustration attraction,” “abandonment rage,” and “rejection depression” are Darwinian adaptive mechanisms; and that romantic love can become a life-threatening addiction.”
So whether you believe in fate (the idea of a soul mate finding you) or Darwinian theory, I still have to ask this question;
What should we instill in our children when it comes to “looking for love”?
Do you search on match.com, wait for love to find you, or sit back and watch proudly as your garden grows from tiny seeds?
I still believe the answer can be found at the ball park. Why “wait” for the magical appearance of relish when you can enjoy life on your own?
Maybe we should tell our kids; life should be enjoyed whether someone is meeting you for dinner or you decide to sit and eat alone at the bar. Who was the one that said we “need” someone in order to be complete? If I ever meet him, I think I might protest.
Too many women hold on to that old notion, set in 1942, after watching those two star-crossed lovers in Casablanca. Instead, shouldn't they listen to Sam, the piano player? That famous scene where he sings to Ilsa:
“The fundamental things apply…” I agree with Sam.
Whether it’s 2011 or 1942, “We’ll always have Paris". Whether we travel with a companion or tour by ourselves, it's important to remember that condiments are never needed when dining on fine French Cuisine. It's beauty stands alone.
Shouldn't our daughters be taught that?
Psychiatric News February 1, 2002
Volume 37 Number 3 Page 21
Psychiatric News April 16, 2004
Volume 39 Number 8 Page 73
Psychiatric News February 3, 2006
Volume 41 Number 3 Page 17