Psychology of Romantic Relationships
“The first step in the process of falling in love is the initial attraction,” says Elizabeth Kane, a South University adjunct faculty member who teaches clinical psychology and behavioral science. “It’s the powerful moment when we meet another person and feel energized and are immediately aware of our heart pounding.”
Kane agrees, saying that the human brain supports falling in love, which is why we have such a strong physiological response when we are attracted to another. Once a romantic couple begins to spend time together, they are in a sort of love euphoria.
“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, who is also a marriage and family therapist.
According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and boundedness. Passion encompasses drives connected to both limerence and sexual attraction. Commitment encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other person.
The truth is that you have to put in time and energy and make a conscious effort to sustain the relationship and the passion.
Healthy relationships require regular communication. “Basic communication with your partner on a daily basis is important to continue connecting on an emotional level,” Needle says. “Also, remind yourself why you fell in love with this person.”
Predictability can also dampen desires, so couples should strive to keep a sense of adventure and surprise alive in their relationships. “Break the predictable pattern every so often,” Needle advises.
People can let their partners know how much they love them by the little things they do every day.
“To be romantic is to make a choice to wake up each day and ask yourself what you can do today to let your lover know they are adored,” Kane says. “Have fun in your romance and remember that the more effort you put into your romantic relationship, the more love you will receive in return. Be the partner that you seek and live a life filled with passion and romance.”