Love seems effortless when it is new. Riding a wave of excitement and endorphins, its natural to look forward to every moment together. During the first few weeks or months of a relationship we put our best foot forward. Some call it putting on a “mask,” it is the best version of ourselves (see Your Real Self and Your Projected Best Self). During this time, we appreciate our beloved and notice almost everything about them and perceive their traits in the most positive light; also know as “looking through rose-colored glasses” or having “hearts in our eyes.” After weeks, months or years, however, we integrate other aspects of ourselves that were not previously revealed to our partner.
We begin to get a clearer picture of each other and what makes us tick. In healthy relationships, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to our partner. We reveal our authentic self. We recognize that although we are not perfect and neither is our partner, we deeply value and appreciate our partner and our relationship on many levels.
If both partners in the relationship accept each other for the more realistic version of themselves, things settle into a more comfortable pace. If both partners have a true appreciation for each other this can be a very satisfying time. As we have explained in other articles, love is an emotion that brings people together. Love must have a foundation of friendship with equal measure of respect and passion. Without any of these three key elements, love falters or fails. As time passes, couples bond and build greater attachment (see What Keeps People Together Over Time). As time passes, one or both partners will be challenged by any number of factors that life brings, and the relationship will be tested most likely many times. If the three key elements of love remain for both parties as the relationship progresses, and the couple remains open and communicates honestly, it is highly likely the relationship will thrive and love will persist.
People become involved in relationships for different reasons at different times in their lives. Not all love lasts a lifetime. For others, even when relationships end the love remains. Not all love lasts forever. But, with the proper foundation of friendship, respect and passion along with some healthy understanding and appreciation, love is likely to flourish for many years or a lifetime.
Let us know what you have experienced and how you keep your love alive.