On Falling in Love
Compiled and edited, or paraphrased,
by David Van Alstyne

1. Is it Love or Infatuation?
2. Wise Love
3. The Fruits
4. Elements of Health
5. What Love is Not
6. Love of Self Comes First
7. The Paradox of Separateness
8. To Start the Work of Real Loving
9. The Art of Loving
10. Beyond Emotion
11. The Need to Be Visible
12. A Friend is Another Self
13. Visibility and Self-discovery
14. Self-esteem
15. Love At First Sight
16. Sense of Life Affinity
17. One Way to Asses Love
18. Complementary Differences, part 1
19. Complementary Differences, part 2
20. Maturity, part 1
21. Maturity, part 2
22. Creativity
23. Biological Rhythms
24. Autonomy
25. Self-disclosure
26. Shared Excitement
27. Mutual Admiration

Is it Love or Infatuation?

Infatuation is aroused by your outward senses, like sight, smell and hearing. But with real love you can see far more about the person than appears on the surface.

With infatuation, the things that attract you are relatively few, but seem very enticing. However, with love, many or most of the person's qualities attract you.

Infatuation tends to rise up quickly. But love develops more slowly.

During dating and courtship, smooth and consistent interest in each other can tell much about a couple's romance. In an infatuation, interest comes and goes. Mature love is evenly balanced and temperate. Whereas romantic love (infatuation) is hot, mature love is warm. Mature love is not an extreme, but a way of life.

Your mind will naturally seek the easiest person to be with, one with whom there is no struggle, no rough edges to work out, one with whom it is easy and comfortable.

But your heart, your true inner self, will seek the person who can best help you in your search for truth.

The mind seeks an easy relationship. The heart more wisely seeks a spiritual partner.

(Love, or Infatuation: How Can I Really Know?, by Ray E. Short)

Wise Love

In wise love each divines the high secret self of the other, and refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees a better image to copy in daily life.

- William Butler Yeats

Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited by it. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.

Love is quiet understanding and the mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength. You are warmed by his presence, even when he is away. Miles do not separate you. You may want him nearer. But near or far, you know he is yours and you can wait.

Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing him." Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. Plan your future with confidence."

Infatuation might lead you to do things you'll regret later, but love never does.

Love is an upper. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before.

- Ann Landers

(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)

The Fruits

Romantic infatuation has a disorganizing and destructive effect on your personality. Infatuation makes you less effective, less efficient, less your real self.

Real love has an organizing and a constructive effect on your personality. It brings out the best in you. There is an intense and satisfying feeling of greater self-expression, of your own personality being reinforced, strengthened, and enriched. Love gives you new energy and ambition, and more interest in life. It is creative and brings an eagerness to grow, to improve, to work for worthy purposes and ideals. Love is associated with feelings of self-confidence, trust and security. The person who loves makes an effort to be more deserving of the beloved.

(Love, or Infatuation: How Can I Really Know ?, by Ray E. Short)

Elements of Health

Elements of unhealthy dependency can creep into even the most mature love relationships. But how do we know if our love is in some ways addictive? People who mistake love-addictiion for real love:

Play psychological games
Try to change their partner
Experience little individual growth
Need the other in order to feel complete
Irrationally fear terminating the relationship
Experience anxiety when routinely separated

Both power players and their victims play at the same game. The victim sees benefits too, because submitting to manipulation keeps the other person around, as if an honest relationship would not. Some of the power plays that sabotage mature love include:

Smothering, over-nurturing the other
Giving advice but not accepting any
Finding it hard to ask for love and support
Being judgmental and habitually finding fault
Finding it hard to admit mistakes or to apologize

In true love, on the other hand, people characteristically:

Allow for individuality and personal differences
Feel open to internal exploration and change
Affirm equality of power for self and partner
Have personal security in high self-esteem
Welcome closeness; risk and vulnerability
Bring out the best qualities in the partner
Encourage self-sufficiency in the partner
Do not try to change or control the other
Express true feelings spontaneously
Do not seek unconditional love
Enjoy their own solitude

(Is it Love or Addiction?, by Brenda Schaeffer)

What Love is Not

In real love you want the other person's good.
In romantic love you just want the other person.
- Margaret Anderson

In the presence of the loved one we rest in a serenity which permits the best expression of ourselves. There is not even a thought of doing or saying anything unnatural just to please the other. We know that whatever we spontaneously are will be enjoyed and appreciated simply because it is an expression of our own uniqueness. In place of our furtive search for the acceptable phrase or look, we experience a calm which permits us to move into our real self and to discover its riches.

- Joseph Simons and Jeanne Reidy

Perhaps the biggest source of unhappiness in the world today stems from the idea that there is someone out there who will meet all our needs, because it turns us into needful children, waiting to be fed, instead of healthy adults asking if there is anyone who might need us. We should not be vessels in need of filling up, but persons in our own right with resources of our own.

- Merle Shain

Love is generally confused with dependence; but in point of fact, you can love only in proportion to your capacity for independence.

- Rollo May

(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)

Love of Self Comes First

The ability to laugh, to smile at others, to put your problems into perspective, is an evolved skill. Those who come from a high level of self-love are often humorous, have a great wit, and love to bring out the childlike playfulness in others. They are willing to be spontaneous, often find reasons to smile, and are able to make others feel at ease and be happy themselves.

- Sanaya Roman

The cure for loneliness, strange as it may seem, is not in more active involvement in the world, but in seeking active unfoldment, from within, of our essential self which has been isolated. The lonely person needs to cultivate the art of creative solitude, to plumb the depths of his inmost self through meditation, to get away from people and relationships and become established in the roots of reality - in God, in love. Loneliness is not a longing for people but for God.

- Eric Butterworth

My true relationship is my relationship with myself - all others are simply mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation from others that I desire. My willingness to be intimate within my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. Enjoying my own company allows me to have fun with whomever I'm with.

- Shakti Gawain

The man and woman who can laugh at their love, who can kiss with smiles and embrace with chuckles, will outlast in mutual affection all the throat-lumpy, cow-eyed couples of their acquaintance. Nothing lives on, so fresh and evergreen, as love with a funnybone.

- George Jean Nathan

(A Dictionary of Love, compiled by Gil Friedman)

At least subconsciously, we are on the lookout for people who seem to accept and love us. When we find a person who appears to feel even some love for us, it's a tremendous event. But some of us believe that love is so scarce we have to do something proactive about it. Cage it. Tie it up. Don't let it get away! Marry it!

Whoops! A relationship may at first give the illusion of working smoothly even your separate egos are still in hiding. But eventually you must relax the facades that conceal who your really are, and how you really feel.

Dating, friendships, and work relationships usually don't get anywhere close to addressing the deeper expectations hiding in the subconscious part of your mind. To the sorrow of many, living together can explode these buried bombs. The more you're involved with someone, the more that person will tend to trigger any unfinished business from your childhood. And you'll trigger theirs, too.

So what to do? Get in touch with your true feelings. Know who you are. Develop an honest relationship with yourself before getting involved with another person. Why? The inner work necessary for self-knowledge and self-acceptance is a lot easier outside of a relationship. This is because a relationship is like a mirror right there at the tip of your nose constantly reflecting where you're not loving yourself - and it won't go away, constantly reflecting your unresolved mental and emotional baggage.

(The Power of Unconditional Love, by Ken Keyes, Jr.)

The Paradox of Separateness

A common misconception is the idea that dependency is love. A person says, "I cannot live without my husband (wife, girlfriend, boyfriend), I love him (or her) so much." But that is not love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other well only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other. Whereas, dependency is the inability to feel whole or fully functional without the other person. People with this disorder have no real sense of identity, and they define themselves by their relationships.

On the other hand, a major characteristic of genuine love is that the distinction between oneself and the other is always maintained. The genuine lover always perceives in the beloved a totally separate identity. Moreover, the genuine lover always respects and even encourages this separateness and the unique individuality of the beloved.

It is the very separateness of the partners that enriches the union. Great marriages cannot be built by people who are terrified by their basic aloneness and thus seek to merge themselves into a marriage, as so often happens.

Genuine love not only respects the individuality of the other but actually seeks to cultivate it, even at the risk of separation or loss. The ultimate goal of life, for any of us, remains our spiritual growth as individuals. That is ultimately a solitary journey to lofty peaks that can only be climbed alone.

Yet happily, with all genuine love, "sacrifices" we make for the growth of the other person result in equal or greater growth for ourselves. When I genuinely love, I am extending myself, and when I am extending myself I am growing. The more and longer I love, the larger I become. Genuine love is self-replenishing. The more I nurture the spiritual growth of others, the more my own spiritual growth is nurtured.

(The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.)

To Start the Work of Real Loving

Most of us feel our loneliness to be painful, and we yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition where we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. Falling in love allows us this escape - temporarily.

The essence of falling in love is a sudden collapse of our ego boundaries, permitting us to merge our identity with that of someone else. The explosive pouring out of our self into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries makes us ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!

But the experience of falling in love is invariably temporary. No matter whom we fall in love with, if it lasts long enough, we sooner or later fall out of love. This is not to say that we stop loving the person, but that the immediate ecstasy of falling in love always passes. The honeymoon always ends. The bloom of romance always fades.

Sooner or later, in response to the problems of daily living, in the privacy of our hearts, we begin to realize that we are not really one with our beloved after all, and that the beloved has his or her own desires, tastes, prejudices, and timing different from ours. Gradually or suddenly, our ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, we fall out of love. Once again we are two separate individuals. At this inevitable turning point we begin either to dissolve the relationship or to finally start the work of real loving.

(The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.)

The Art of Loving

Love and labor are inseparable. One loves that which one labors for, and one labors for that which one loves.

Love is primarily giving, not receiving. Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, we experience our strength, our wealth, our power. This heightened vitality and potency can fill us with joy. We experience our self as overflowing. Far from sacrifice or deprivation, to give is more joyous than to receive because in giving lies the best expression of ones aliveness.

What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of his joy, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness - everything that animates his being. Happily, in thus giving, he enhances the other's sense of aliveness by actually enhancing his own.

With unselfish love, there is no room for domination or possessiveness, nor any desire for exploitation. Rather, we see the loved one just as he is. We fully welcome his unique individuality. We want him to grow and unfold for his own sake and not just in ways that might better suit our own purposes. Thus the ability to truly love is linked to our character development, and is possible only to the degree that we are personally whole and independent.

(The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm)

Beyond Emotion

More than a passive emotion as we often think of it, love is a judgment or evaluation. In the person of someone we love, we find to a compelling degree many of those traits and characteristics that we happen to feel are most appropriate to life and therefore most desirable to our own well-being and happiness.

Love is an attitude, deeper and more enduring than any moment-by-moment alteration of feeling or emotion. Love represents a long-range disposition to experience the loved one as the embodiment of profoundly important personal values.

Our need to give love can be at least as powerful as the need to receive love. Many of us have known the pain of a capacity for love that did not have an outlet. We long for the sight of human beings and achievements we can truly enjoy and respect. And if this longing is not satisfied, we feel alienation. We wish to see the triumph of life, to associate with representatives of humanity who inspire.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

The Need to Be Visible

I once sat on the floor playing with my dog, Muttnik. We were jabbing and boxing with each other in mock ferociousness. What I found delightful and fascinating was the extent to which Muttnik appeared to grasp the playfulness of my intentions.

But suddenly I wondered: What is the nature and source of my pleasure here? If Muttnik were an automaton without consciousness or awareness, then there would be no enjoyment. But he was aware.

The key to this epiphany was my little dog's consciousness and thus the self-awareness which came to me from the feedback he was providing. To say it again, were I to push or jab at an inanimate object like something loaded on a spring, any reaction from it would be purely mechanical; it would not be responding to my personality. But the effect of Muttnik's behavior was to make me feel seen, to make me feel psychologically visible (well, to a modest extent). And as part of the same process, I was experiencing a greater degree of visibility to myself as I made contact with a playfulness in my own personality which I would more normally have suppressed.

What is significant about this is that Muttnik was responding to me as a person in a way that I regarded as appropriate, that is, in accordance with my view of myself.

We do not wish to be loved blindly. If someone professes to love us for reasons that do not bear any relation to our self-perceptions or values, we do not feel gratified or even really loved because we do not feel visible; we do not feel that the other person is responding to what is actually us. The love we desire cannot seem to be based on unseeing support, but on conscious perception and understanding. Visibility may not necessarily entail love, but "love" devoid of visibility is delusion.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

A Friend is Another Self

Why do we so much enjoy the self-awareness and psychological visibility evoked by the appropriate response or feedback from another person?

Normally, the sense we have of ourselves is a very diffuse feeling interwoven with all our other feelings. Since our spiritual being cannot exist apart from our own consciousness and thus cannot be perceived as part of the "out there," we want, and need, the fullest possible perception of the external, objective reality of our self.

When we look into a mirror and see our own face as an object in external reality, we normally find pleasure in contemplating that physical entity "out there" which is us. There is value in being able to look and think, "That's me."

But is there a mirror in which we can perceive our unseen psychological self as concrete objects "out there"? Yes. That mirror is another consciousness, another person.

Other people's perception of us is expressed through their behavior - in the way they look at us, the way they speak to us, by the way they respond, and so forth. If this is consonant with our deepest vision of ourselves, we then feel truly perceived, and psychologically visible. We experience pleasure in an objective projection of our psychological state of being.

On the other hand, some people are so alien to us that the "mirrors" they provide give wildly distorted reflections of who we are. The experience of truly significant and pleasurable visibility can come only through that other person's consciousness which is meaningfully congruent with our own.

The joy of optimal self-awareness and visibility only be found with someone who has an equal range of awareness, a person who thinks as we do, who notices what we notice, who values the things we value, who tends to respond to different situations as we do.

And while the mere fact of holding a conversation with another human being entails a marginal experience of visibility, it is only in an intimate relationship with someone we deeply admire and care for that we can find far more profound visibility, involving highly individual and personal aspects of our inner life.

"A friend," said Aristotle, "is another self."

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Visibility and Self-discovery

One of the main roots of the human desire for companionship, friendship, and love, is the need to perceive our self as an entity in external reality, to experience our objectivity through the reactions and responses of other human beings.

As a child grows, the reactions and responses of other people open the door to various self-observations that ultimately contribute to his self-concept. Visibility for the child often entails self-discovery, and this same theme plays a paramount role in adult relationships.

An intimate relationship, a sustained experience in which we feel truly seen by another human being, irresistibly generates contact with new dimensions of who we are. This is one of the most exciting elements in any human encounter - the possibility of this expanded awareness of self. If I think back on any of the significant relationships in my life, I see that each one of them took me to a deeper understanding of who I was.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)


The desire for visibility is by no means just an expression of an uncertain ego, or of low self-esteem. On the contrary, the lower our self-esteem, the more we feel the need to hide. But the more we take pride in who we are, the more transparent we are willing to be.

A lack of confidence is evidenced by excessive preoccupation with gaining approval and by a hungering for validation. Some people dream of finding these things in "romantic love," but that hunger is not really for visibility; rather, it is for self-esteem - which cannot be supplied by others. Romantic love should celebrate, not generate, self-esteem. Its purpose is not to create it in those who don't have it.

We should be hoping and expecting that others will perceive our value, not create it. At the risk of oversimplification, when meeting a new person, the healthy, autonomous individual tends to begin with the question, "What do I think of this person?" The immature or dependent individual tends to begin with the question, "What does this person think of me?"

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Love At First Sight

Attraction, even passion, may be born "at first sight." But love cannot be. Love requires knowledge, and knowledge requires time. People sometimes speak of "falling in love at first sight," because that is how it can seem in retrospect, when the powerful emotional response of the first moment has been validated and confirmed by later experience in such a way that love does indeed evolve.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Sense of Life Affinity

Sometimes, one of the most eloquent signs of a sense-of-life affinity is common likes and dislikes in the field of art. Art is a sense-of-life realm, more explicitly so than any other human activity, and an individual's sense of life is crucial to determining his or her personal aesthetic responses.

Mere abstract, intellectual accomodation or agreement on particular subjects is not sufficient by itself to establish an authentic affinity. In fact, such agreement can be misleading; it can make the two parties believe they have more in common than they really have. I have seen a number of young people mistakenly marry because they assumed that sharing wide areas of philosophical agreement was a sufficient foundation for intimacy. Unfortunately, they were oblivious to the deeper sense-of-life differences that divided them.

Without a significant sense-of-life affinity, no broad, fundamental, and intimate experience of visibility is possible.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

One Way to Assess Love

One way to gain deeper insight into a love relationship is to ask: with what parts of myself does my lover bring me into fresh contact? How do I experience myself in this relationship? What feels most alive within me in the presence of this person?

In answering these questions, we can come to appreciate some of the most important reasons why we have fallen in love with a particular person.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Complementary Differences
part one

In romantic love, optimally experienced, we are admired for the things we wish to be admired for, and in such a way that is harmonious with our own view of life. We are drawn to consciousnesses like our own.

But it is not simply a literal mirror-image of ourselves that we are seeking. While the foundation of a relationship lies in basic similarities, the excitement lies, to an important extent, in complementary differences.

In order for differences to be complementary, rather than antagonistic, they must fall within the realm of what is optional. They cannot pertain to the fundamentals of existence.

Personal differences really do matter when they are between self-esteem and self-hatred, or honesty and dishonesty. Those choices are not equally valid or acceptable. Furthermore, such opposing orientations as those are fundamentally defining to those that hold them and, in such fundamentals, we need affinity.

But in less important matters such as cognitive or personality styles, we can welcome and enjoy differences, within a certain range, because these differences can be equally acceptable.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Complementary Differences
part two

Just as there is specialization in labor, so there is specialization in personality development. To illustrate: One person actualizes more of his or her verbal-intellectual skills than another; another moves more in the direction of the intuitive function. One person is predominantly action-oriented; another is more contemplative. One person is more artistically inclined; another is more "worldly." One person may be deeply in love with the physical aspects of existence; another with the intellectual; another with the spiritual. We possess, and actualize, these and other potentials to different degrees.

It sometimes happens that a dishonest person is attracted to the honesty of another, just as an insecure person can be attracted to the self-esteem of another, seeking that which one lacks in oneself. But that attraction is one-way, looking upward. Honesty is not attracted downward by dishonesty, self-esteem is not attracted by self-doubt. Here, there is no foundation for mutual love.

Complementary differences between partners can powerfully stimulate growth and enhance self-discovery. Each represents to the other a doorway into new worlds. The firmer the self-esteem of the participants, the more likely this is to occur and the less inclined they are to perceive these differences as threatening.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

part one

When we speak of "maturity" and "immaturity" we are always dealing with matters of degree. A given relationship may be mature in some respects but not in others. Highly evolved, mature men or women may still have moments of "immaturity," but these tend to be accepted for what they are. The decision to flow with such feelings involves a choice, not a blind compulsion. A mature man or woman accepts occasional immature feelings as normal and even pleasurable. Sometimes one can play the child and the other the parent - and it doesn't matter, because it is only a game, only a moment's rest; each knows the ultimate truth and is not afraid of it.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

part two

Without any implication of immaturity, there exists in each one of us the child we once were, and there are times when that child needs nurturing. We need to be aware of the child in ourselves and to be in a good relationship with that child.

Nurturing someone we love means to nurture the child within that adult person, and to accept that child as a valid part of who that person is. To nurture is to love not only our partner's strength but also his or her fragility, not only what is powerful, but also what is delicate.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

part one

Creative people exhibit a childlike quality, a freshness and spontaneity in their way of perceiving and responding to life. The essence of creativity is retaining the capacity to see life afresh every day and therefore be open to the unexpected and the unfamiliar. This is precisely the attitude required for the sustaining of passion. We keep our relationships alive by sharing this inner world, by exposing it, by expressing it, and by making it part of the lived reality of our existence.

Creativity requires leisure, an absence of rush, time for the mind and imagination to float and wander and roam, time for the individual to descend into the depths of his or her psyche, to be available to the barely audible signals rustling for attention. Long periods of time may pass in which nothing seems to be happening. But we know that this kind of space must be created if the mind is to leap out of its accustomed ruts, to part from the mechanical, the known, the familiar, the standard, and generate a leap into the new. Something very similar happens when a couple create time and space for themselves.

A person who schedules every moment of the day out of fear of ever being bored or having nothing to do is condemned to live on the surface of his or her mind, living superficially, living mechanically, living tethered to the known and the familiar, because that which is new resides in the depths and, for entry into the depths, time without activity is needed. This also applies to couples.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Biological Rhythms

Biologists have discovered that every person possesses a peculiar biological rhythm which shows up in speech patterns, body movements and emotional responses. This is part of what we think of as "temperament." Some people are naturally more energetic than others, physically, emotionally and intellectually. They move and seem to think faster or slower. They seem to experience different relationships to time.

It sometimes happens that two people meet and are on the verge of falling in love based on many affinities and complementary differences; yet there is a subtle, often mysterious friction between them. They feel strangely "out of sync" with each other and have difficulty accounting for their feelings of irritation. In such cases, the barrier to their relationship may well be incompatible differences in biological rhythms and energy levels.

The person who is naturally faster feels chronically impatient, and the one who is naturally slower feels chronically pressured. Often, the faster of the two responds by becoming still faster, and the slower of the two responds by becoming still slower.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)


Our self-esteem affects virtually every aspect of our life including our feeling worthy of happiness, and the sense of our right to assert our own interests, needs, and wants. People with similar self-esteem levels tend to seek each other out.

Autonomous people understand that others do not exist merely to satisfy their needs. They know that no matter how much love and caring may exist between persons, in an ultimate sense, we are responsible for ourselves. They are ready for romantic love because they do not experience themselves as waifs waiting to be rescued or saved; their egos are not continually "on the line."

In the best of relationships there are occasional frictions, unavoidable hurts, times when individuals "miss" one another in their responses. The tendency of immature people is to translate such things into evidence of rejection, of not really being loved. Thus, small frictions or failures of communication easily escalate into major conflicts.

Autonomous people have a greater capacity to "roll with the punches." They respect their partner's need to follow his or her own destiny, to be alone at times, to be preoccupied once in a while, not to be thinking about the relationship constantly. No matter how passionate the commitment autonomous men and women may feel toward the one they love, there is still the recognition that space must exist, freedom must exist, and sometimes aloneness must exist. Their harmony with aloneness is what makes them uniquely competent to participate in romantic love.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)


One of the characteristics of love relationships that flower is a relatively high degree of mutual self-disclosure - a willingness to let our partner enter into the interior of our private world and a genuine interest in the private world of that partner. Couples in love tend to show more of themselves to each other than to any other person.

Of course, they must first be willing to know and encounter their own selves. Self-alienation tends to make self-disclosure impossible. Many people suffer from a sense of personal unreality. They have lost touch with themselves. Too often they do not know what they feel, and they act with numb obliviousness to what motivates their actions. For romantic love, the results are disastrous.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Shared Excitement

Fear of excitement kills romantic love. I sometimes take a group through a simple exercise. Students are asked to close their eyes and imagine themselves as children playing alone, feeling happy and joyous and filled with energy, and then to imagine first Mother and then Father entering the scene, and then to notice what happens to their emotions. The majority report a tensing, a shutting down, a relinquishing of their excitement.

I will sometimes say to the group, "Never marry a person who is not a friend of your childlike excitement." If our partner is not comfortable with excitement, in the end he or she will not be comfortable with love. If we do not feel that our partner is the friend of our excitement, then no matter how much he or she may profess to love us, we cannot feel fully visible or fully loved - nor can we feel that our love for our partner is fully accepted.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

Mutual Admiration

Mutual admiration is the most powerful support system a relationship can have; the most powerful foundation. For many people it is frightening to ask, "Do I admire my partner?" This is to risk discovering that I may be bound to him or her more through dependency than admiration, more through immaturity or "convenience" than genuine esteem.

Where admiration is lacking, it is much harder to tolerate what we perceive to be our partner's defects.

In receiving admiration we feel visible, appreciated, loved, and thus reinforced in our love for our partner. In experiencing and expressing admiration, we feel pride in our choice of mate and strengthened in our feelings of love. Two lovers who profoundly admire each other know a form of delight that is a continuing source of fuel to romantic love.

Which leads us back to the importance of self-esteem. When high-self-esteem people fall in love, admiration is most likely to be at the core of their relationship. They are most likely to admire and to be admired.

(The Psychology of Romantic Love, by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.)

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