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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Theory #37: Relationships: When Is It Love?

While talking with my daughter about her convoluted love life, I was struck with an intriguing notion.

She was complaining about being susceptible to bad-boy syndrome, saying that whenever a guy treats her badly, she really wants to make him like her, and then conversely, when that same guy is being sweet to her, she wants nothing to do with him.

And it works the same way in reverse. When she tells them she's finished, they want nothing more than to get back into her good graces. When she's being nice, they treat her like crap.

It's a vicious cycle, and I have theories about why it works that I'm not getting into now. But a light bulb went on when I thought about my own romantic history.

I, too, experienced the intense desire to please a guy that acted like a jerk, and felt nothing but uncomfortable disdain for a guy who'd do anything for me. And I'd always assumed it was the "nice guys finish last" syndrome, and that guys who were too nice lacked the confidence I was looking for.

I don't think that's so. Because there was one glaring exception, and I married him. Before, if a guy wanted to spend all his time with me, it would be nice for maybe a week or two until I'd just get disgusted with it. And the only guys I wanted to be around all the time were the ones who didn't want me around all the time. But Carl wanted to be around me all the time... and I wanted to be with him, too. The difference: I suppose you could call it timing or chemistry, but I think it's True Love

I told Dagny about it. Now, if she can just get off the merry-go-rounds long enough to find somebody she really loves to complete the experiment....

For now, though, that's going to be my answer when the kids ask me "how do you know when you're really in love?"


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It's a good theory but only works if one has the same way concerning men ;-).
I never liked it when anyone treated me badly, I react like a turtle or some such kind - hurt me and I will never again come truly out of my shell. So I never had a bad boy habit. My clue to finding out who was the TRUE LOVE for me was communication. Usually even though there was attraction on at least my side I ran out of things to talk. And awkward silences aren't nice. With one guy though I never ran out of things to say and share and vice versa, I'm happy to say :-) When separated for some months due to overseas studies we sometimes wrote each other more than once a day. The postal services were surely happy. I could and can pour my heart out and know that he understands me to the last bit even without spelling out what bothers me.
But how to know that such a guy isn't just the very best friend-type but the true love? In my case a whole bunch of us went dancing, and though I had come with the other guy, after the first minutes into the first dance my body just knew this wasn't the right one. My "friend" got bruises on his shins that night from me hinting we might dance yet again :-) And my body hasn't let me down, this guy is THE one for me and I'm glad he felt the same because I just can't imagine life without him anymore - 16 years and it gets better all the time, yay!

Doris in Munich
Doesn't work for me, either. Karen and I have never had that dynamic, nor was it that way with the gf back in high school. But then, it was love both times, so maybe you're right.
I've been thinking about this quite a bit in the back of my head all week and only now feel qualified to offer a comment.

For me I think I needed to learn to love myself first before I could believe that someone could love me just as much. Witness, say, 1987, which, granted, wasn't kind to everyone, but was maybe especially cruel for an eighth-grader, newly judged on looks (c'mon, junior high) and saddled with a, erm, challenging appearance (one that remains sadly unremedied). It took me another ten years or so from that point to really believe that I was worth any kind of attention.

So, in short -- when someone treats you as you perceive yourself, there's some attraction there. It's when you begin to believe that you're worth more that maybe the nice girls and guys come out of the woodwork (or blend into the wallpaper less, maybe) and in sync with your life.
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