Love Doc

Plumbing the depths of the psychology and neurobiology of love.

After the Loving

Why do so many stay in long term abusive relationship?

"What happened to her? I don't know this woman." Steve implored me.

I was puzzled, "She changed so much?"

"Yeah. She was so sweet, loving, and lovely; now she's angry and she blames everything on me. She even filed for divorce." Tears welled up in Steve's eyes.

"You told me she‘s an alcoholic, that she was mean and cruel and verbally abusive. At times she was even physically abusive." I reminded him.

Steve responded, "All that is true, but she wasn't drunk all of the time."

"Is that enough for you?" I asked.

"I don't know. All I know is that I'm alone and I hate it. I dread waking up in the morning. To top it off, New Year's Eve is a week away. I miss her and I miss the marriage." Steve said.

Steve is one of people who remain in long term dysfunctional relationships that are toxic. Many of these relationships come to a painful end before the New Year. And many of these people are left heartbroken.

You could argue that Steve's self-esteem took a blow, that he is too depressed to move on, that he likes the familiar even if it is toxic, that change is hard or any other scenarios. But there is something more to it.

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A key to his despair is that he has lost his meaning system that revolved around pair bonding. An intelligent, kind man with looks and money,Steve aches to love and be loved in return ─a universal wish. Is this deep need for pair bonding, to love and be loved in return, a cultural or a genetic one?
Let us take a look at what science has to say about the pair bonding. Nicholas Wade of New York Times, Science, Dec 19, 2011 Genes Play Major Role in Primate Social behavior, Study Finds sheds light on the subject.

It seems that new research findings reveal a genetic basis to primate and human social needs. Related species have similar social structures even in vastly different environments. And pair bonding is inherent in human and gorilla behavior, with multi-male, multi-female inherent in baboons and chimpanzees. That means that we are wired to love and be loved in return.

As to Steve, he is in therapy to love himself again, to recreate a more independent and satisfying life on his own. He knows this is temporary as he is wired to bond again. He will, then, take a journey to seek a new partner who he can love and who loves him.

For more on how to recreate your life after the loving, read my new book The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011).


Email: drpraver@cs.com
Web : www.drfranpraver.com
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Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst and author.

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