Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D.

Love Doc

The Art of Listening to Your Lover

Why do we have two ears and one mouth?

Posted Dec 18, 2011

Ken looked up at me and said, "I'm so in love with her. She's beautiful but it's more than that."


"She knows what I'm about to say before I say it. It's not like this happens once or twice. We know what we're going to say before we say it, almost always. We can tell each other what we're about to say. It's amazing." Ken said.

I interpreted, "It sounds like you're attuned to each other."

Ken asked "What do you mean by attuned?"

"You're emotionally connected to each other at a deep internal plane. I think you listen and try to understand each other." I explained.

Ken associated to my response. "You know I like to talk a lot, and she listens to all my stories and feels what I feel."

"And you?"

Sure enough, Ken said "I do the same. Lara's my soul mate."

When we speak of soul mates we think of a deep connectedness between two people. That connection is explained by mirror neurons, the newest most exciting discovery. Mirror neurons are miniscule brain cells located behind the eye sockets that connect intimate partners at an internal level. Each partner mirrors the other partner's actions and feelings of attraction, romance, love, lust, moods, erotic desire, memories, and intentions.

Not only that but love inducing brain chemicals ─ vasopressin, oxytocin, dopamine, testosterone, natural opoids ─ triggered by mirror neurons, bathe lovers like Lara and Ken with these wonderful feelings.

Part of why Ken is madly in love with Lara is because she really knows him, understands him, and "gets" him.

All of which reminds me of Henning Mankell's article The Art of Listening, New York Times, Dec 11. 2011. OPED, page 4. He aptly writes that we have two ears and only one mouth so we should listen at least twice as much as we speak. But how many of us do that?

In our fast paced society, with both partners working, we barely have time to talk, let alone listen to each other's stories. I see couples in such a hurry to respond, they don't listen to everything their partners have to say. Instead they are in their heads planning their response. As a result, they have information but no knowledge of their partners. Mankell writes that people confuse information with knowledge. Knowledge means that you listen and interpret the information your partner conveys.

Unlike animals, we can listen to and understand our partner's dreams, fears, joy, trauma, intentions, failures, and successes and our partners can listen to and understand ours. And that's what humanity, intimacy, and love is all about.

To learn more about listening, emotional resonance, and intimacy read my new book The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011).

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