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The Trouble with Love.

Counselling — admin @ 1:36 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we have been talking about love. A good deal of our work could be described as being about love; frequently this is when love goes wrong. Love is elemental and universal; it is complex and difficult to put into words. If it eludes description it is not timid or withdrawn about letting us know when it is present. It can take over to the extent that when it strikes we hardly know how to think straight and feel butterflies in out stomach. And when it is lost or rebuffed it will protest loud and long. It can take a long time to get over love in the coming or the going.

The reasons why people come to us to talk about love have to do with the pain that losing love or not being able to find love can cause. One of the features of this is how little control we seem to have over love. It seems that our love will invest itself wholly and completely in another with no thought at all as to the consequences. In this regard the old saying is true; love is blind. Sometimes at an early stage of a new romantic attachment we will become aware that our love is running away with itself and try to apply the brakes. Paradoxically this process only seems to increase the attraction.

Trying to calm the raging passion of love may have resonance with our experiences with the objects of our early affections. Indeed understanding our relations with our mother and father during infancy may hold clues to how we learn to love. It seems that one aim of our instinct to love is to merge ourselves absolutely and completely with the other. This may be how we felt about our mothers when we were babies. This may also give us some clue as to why losing love might feel so devastating.

Our way of loving as an adult may be related to how we felt when we were coming to terms with periods of separation as a baby. An example of this kind of thing is in the fun that a baby takes out of the game of peek-a-boo. The joy that is experienced is in the reassurance that the other person goes or disappears and then reappears again and again with a happy, smiling face. The game loses nothing in its repetition. If the other person goes and does not return the loss can seem overwhelming and almost impossible to bear. Aspects of this prevail in our adult romantic lives.

It seems likely that in any adult relationship traces of our early experiences of love will reappear. Longings that may have been lying dormant within us for years can suddenly burst back into life and seek expression. It seems that the wish to merge with another and feel fully known and understood is part of this process. We can also feel frightened by the prospect of a loss of self in the act of trying to bring this situation about. This can present as deliberately scuppering relationships when they get to a certain point of closeness.

With a bit or work and self awareness and maybe even bitter experience we can gain some control over the wild stampede of our love. We can learn to see our partner as a separate person with their own needs and independence. We can tame the more fervent aspects of our own love and blend it into a mature, adult companionship. There is a love to be found that is quieter than the raging passion of our younger love. In this by a beautiful paradox we can come closer to experiencing that togetherness of our fervent dreams. It comes with a fuller and deeper understanding of both our own self and that of our partner being separate and together.

Counselling Connections, Dundalk.

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