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Voorkant Pines 'Falling in love - Why we choose the lovers we choose' Ayala Malach PINES
Falling in love - Why we choose the lovers we choose
New York-London: Routledge, 1999; 283 blzn.
ISBN: 02 0390 2602

[Pines is sociaal psycholoog en klinisch psycholoog / therapeut als Rubin. Het gaat haar om het aspect 'falling in love' / 'romantic love'.]

(xi) Introduction - About falling in love and about this book

"What sparks it [love]? Why does one particular person ignite it, while another person, who seems so much more appropriate, does not? Throughout history people have tried to understand and control the mysteries of love with magic potions, spells, prayers, and the powers of witches and sorcerers. This is not surprising, given the fact that, for most people, falling in love constitutes one of the most emotionally intense, exhilarating, exciting, and significant of life’s experiences."(xii)

"Even after many years, couples can describe in great detail how they fell in love with each other. Occasionally, but it’s rare, their love is at first sight; a little more frequently it springs from a long friendship. At times it’s the beloved’s look that sparks the romantic attraction, at other times it’s a wonderful and endearing quality, or a deeply moving, shared experience. The infatuation may evolve into a rewarding, committed love, or end in a destructive and painful relationship, or, it may just fizzle out. These last cases make us wonder. Since there was obviously nothing there to love, what was it that made me fall in love with this person? The inevitable conclusion is, I was blinded by love. () Thus many people, both lay and professional, do not believe that falling in love is a good enough reason for getting married. After all, love is blind, irrational, and temporary, while choosing a marriage partner is serious business. Because it is expected to last forever, marriage is, and should be, given careful thought and consideration."(xiii)

[Is liefde wel blind?]

"A large body of theory and research, as well as my own research and many years of clinical work, have convinced me that the answer to this question is a firm no! In this book I will try to show that we fall in love neither by chance or accident. Rather, we choose those with whom we fall in love very carefully in both conscious and unconscious ways. "(xiii-xiv)

"A caveat. The last two parts of the book present falling in love from a psychodynamic perspective. This perspective has been criticized for putting too much emphasis on childhood experiences and unconscious forces and not enough emphasis on people’s conscious goals, hopes, aspirations, and spiritual quests. This is an important point to address because people today, more so than in other periods of history, have very high hopes when they fall in love. Despite the subjective feeling of lovers that love is timeless and boundless, it is nonetheless true that romantic love exists within a particular cultural context (Lindholm, 1998)."(xix)

[De onderliggende vragen]

" *What situations increase the likelihood of falling in love?
*What traits and behaviors make some people easier to love?
*What selection process precedes and later underlies falling in love?
*What is the role of beauty in falling in love?
*Are the things that make men and women fall in love similar or different?
*Is it true that men fall in love with women who remind them of their mothers and women fall in love with men who remind them of their fathers?
*Why do some people fall in love easily and find happiness in their relationships, some want desperately to be in a relationship but are not, and some avoid love altogether?
*How do we choose our lovers?
*Why do some people fall in love repeatedly with people who are bad for them?
*What is the dynamic of obsessive love?
*Where in the brain does falling in love happens?
*What brain chemistry is responsible for the elation associated with falling in love?
*Why can we fall in love with only one person at a time?
*What is it about certain men and women that makes many people fall madly in love with them? "(xx)

"Our definition of romantic love reflects a particular time period and a particular culture. Love is a social construction. Societies differ in their understanding of the nature of love; cultures in different time periods define love differently. In some time periods, for example, we see a belief that love includes a sexual component, whereas in other eras, love described a lofty, asexual experience (Beall & Sternberg, 1995)."(xxiii)

(1) Part One - Conscious choices - Increasing the likelihood of falling in love

(3) 1 - Proximity - The hidden matchmaker

"An analysis of the interviews suggests that in well over half of the cases, the romance started between two people who had known each other previously."(4)

"Robert Zajonc showed that repeated exposure to practically everything we encounter, from Chinese characters all the way to the faces of unfamiliar people, increases our tendency to like them. In all his studies, a relationship was found between the frequency of repeated exposure and the level of liking."(6)

"The positive effect of repeated exposure seems to arise out of an inborn discomfort that we all feel around strange and unfamiliar things, an inner programming that warns us that the strange can be dangerous and should be avoided."(7)

"Advertisers know that the more contact we have with a certain brand name, or a new product, the more we are likely to prefer them. Similarly, repeated exposure to a person who lives, works, studies, or spends leisure time near us is likely to increase our comfort with, our liking for, and, at times, our romantic attraction to that person.

Could this process also work in reverse? Could we develop liking, attraction, and comfort because we know we are going to spend time with a certain person? If we know that we are going to meet a certain person often—because he is going to work next to us, study in the same class, or live next door—don’t we have a vested interest in seeing him as warm, pleasant, and friendly? After all, who wants daily contact with someone who is cold, nasty, and uncooperative? Once we convince ourselves that a person is warm, friendly, and pleasant, we treat him as such, which makes him respond in a way that confirms our expectations."(9)

"In other words, repeated exposure intensifies the dominant emotion in the relationship.When the dominant emotion is anger, repeated exposure enhances the anger. When the dominant emotion is attraction, repeated exposure enhances the attraction."(11)

(13) 2 - The elixir of love

"In one-fifth of the romantic attraction interviews, the relationships described started during stormy periods in the lives of the men and women interviewed. Sometimes the heightened emotional sensitivity followed an experience of loss, such as the death of a parent, or a painful breakup. And at other times, the heightened emotions followed an exciting adventure, such as a trip abroad, leaving home for college, or a particularly dramatic event, such as miraculously surviving an accident."(14)

"Obviously, arousal is not enough to make us fall in love. As noted in the two-factor theory of love, after being aroused we still need to meet the right person."(21)

"When we are in a good mood we tend to feel good about the people around us.When we feel happy, satisfied, excited, interested, curious, we show greater interest in people and are friendlier and more open than when we are sad, depressed, or despairing (Clark &Watson, 1988). Our mood also influences our romantic attraction (Kaplan, 1981)."(25)

(29) 3 - Beauty and character

"Which attracts us more, personality or appearance? Analysis of the romantic attraction interviews reveals that over 90 percent of all the men and women interviewed mentioned some aspect of a partner’s character when they tried to explain why they fell in love. Women mentioned personality traits more often than men, but the gender difference was small and insignificant. A smaller portion of the interviewees, about two-thirds, mentioned the beloved’s appearance. But here the gender difference was very large. Significantly more men, 81 percent, than women, 44 percent, were attracted to the physical appearance of the beloved. In other words, personality traits play a more important role in falling in love than physical appearance, and appearance plays a far more important role for men than it does for women. This last finding was replicated in many other studies (Feingold, 1990).

Is physical attractiveness really less important than character? And are women really less influenced by it? Or is this finding an artifact, the result of people’s tendency to underreport the impact of physical attractiveness on their dating preferences? A recent study attempted to find out.(...) Apparently, a social norm tends to inhibit us, especially women, from admitting the importance of physical attraction. In addition, it is possible that people, especially men, assess first a potential candidate’s appearance. Only after the candidate passes this initial screening, does the appraiser notice the personality traits that lead to a perception of something deeper and more significant than beauty alone."(30)

"Because it serves as a screen in our selection of a mate, physical appearance plays a crucial role in the beginning of a romantic relationship. If someone’s appearance is repulsive, the chances for a romantic involvement are slim. But as the lovely story “Beauty and the Beast” suggests, on those rare occasions when people are forced to spend time with an unattractive person and get to know that person well, they may discover that under the repulsive appearance lies a hidden treasure of wonderful traits. In such a case they may fall in love with the person despite the initial disdain. The following example is a case in point."(31)

"Unfortunately, most of us reject outright those whose appearances we don’t like, and we don’t give unattractive people a chance to reveal their personalities."(31)

"Of course, what is considered beautiful is different for different people, in different periods of history, and in different cultures (Hartz, 1996). Nevertheless, studies repeatedly show a relationship between finding people attractive and evaluating them positively. We tend to believe that attractive people possess positive personality traits. We want to meet and get to know them, and we want them as friends and romantic partners. We view attractive men as more masculine, and beautiful women as more feminine (Gillen, 1981). And we see beautiful people as more desirable partners for sex, romance, and marriage."(33)

[Toch wordt hier weer opvallend weinig gedaan met die culturele en historische achtergrond en wordt verderop weer vrijwel uitsluitend uitgegaan van interviews met westerlingen zonder dat zelfs maar de invloed van de media op de waarden en normen hier genoemd wordt.]

"This positive bias toward beauty can even be found in people’s attitudes toward beautiful babies (Karraker et al., 1987) and young children (Berkowitz & Frodi, 1982). Beautiful children are not only more popular among their peers, but they tend to be treated more kindly, blamed and punished less by their kindergarten teachers as well (Dion, 1972).

This prejudice toward beauty was found in young children as well as people over sixty (Johnson & Pittenger, 1984). It was found in men as well as in women, even though the gender difference may be larger when men and women talk about what attracts them to a potential partner rather than when one examines what really attracts them (Feingold, 1990). And it was found to be more important than other qualities, including, for example, quality of communication (Sprecher & Duck, 1994)."(33-34)

"He found that the men ranked two types of faces as most attractive: the “baby face”—a childish face with big eyes, a little nose, and a little chin—and the “sexy woman”—high cheekbones, high brows, wide pupils, and a big smile. The same features were ranked as attractive for white, black, and oriental women (Cunningham, 1986). Another cross-cultural study showed that 17- to 60-year-old men and women in five different cultures show attraction to large eyes, small noses, and full lips (Jones, 1995).

Besides a beautiful face, a beautiful body is obviously very important for the general attractiveness of men and women.Actually, a woman with a very pretty face and an unattractive body gets a lower attractiveness score than a woman with a very attractive body and an unattractive face (Alicke et al., 1986). The most attractive body type for women is of normal weight, rather than skinny or fat (Singh, 1994). An important contributor to the attractiveness of a woman’s body is her bust size. The most attractive bust is medium size, not too big and not too small (Kleinke & Staneski, 1980). An interesting feature, related to the physical attractiveness of women is the waist-to-hip ratio. It turns out that men, from young adults to 85-year-olds, find women with a low waist-to-hip ratio more attractive (Singh, 1993). A low waist-to-hip ratio means a narrow waist and wide hips, an impossible physical ideal that causes women to do unhealthy things, from wearing corsets to cosmetic surgery, to their bodies. An examination of the winners over the last thirty-to-sixty years of the Miss America contest and Playboy’s “Bunny of the Month,” shows very few changes in the waist-to- hip ratio of these declared beauties. Narrow waist and wide hips are important contributors to a woman’s sex appeal. (Marilyn Monroe is a famous example. See her perfect waist-to-hip ratio in Figure 6.)

The most important contributors to the attractiveness of a man’s body are narrow legs and hips, wide shoulders, and small buttocks (Lavrakas, 1975). Height is another contributor. An analysis of eight different studies published between 1954 and 1989 supports “the male-taller norm” in romantic attraction (Pierce, 1996). Responses to lonely-hearts advertisements show that men who mention the fact that they are tall get more letters from interested women than men who don’t mention their height (Lynn & Shurgot, 1984)."(35-36)

[Derde en vierde alinea dus bijzonder Amerikaans qua waarden en normen zonder dat dat zelfs maar opgemerkt wordt.]


One explanation is that we enjoy the company of attractive people because their appearances give us aesthetic pleasure. Just as we enjoy a beautiful art object, we enjoy beautiful people.

A second explanation derives from an assumption about appearance and personality, namely, that whatever looks good on the outside is also good inside. This assumption can influence attraction in one of two ways. First, if what is beautiful is also good, then we not only double our reward from an attractive person, but a person who can give us greater rewards seems more attractive to us. Second, it is possible that our belief creates reality.If we believe that beauty implies goodness, and we behave accordingly, our actions can encourage attractive people to develop the positive traits we expect from them.

A third explanation is that attractive people have more social skills. Since they have long histories of rewarding relationships, they develop social skills that, in themselves, attract people around them. Studies show that attractive people indeed have better communication skills (Brehm, 1992). A fourth explanation points to the social benefit we get from associating with attractive people, the reflected glory that shines on us. A person of average attractiveness is perceived as more attractive when in the company of a highly attractive person of the same sex. The same person looks less attractive when in the company of a highly unattractive person (Geiselman et al., 1984).

Yet another explanation rests on our need to believe in a just world, a world in which people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. In a just world, good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.Therefore, we want to believe that people of unusual good looks deserve them because of their wonderful personality traits. Indeed,it was found that the more people believed that the world was just, the more likely they were to attribute positive personality traits to beautiful people and assume that they were going to be successful in their lives (Dion & Dion, 1987).

Finally, the explanation offered by evolutionary psychologists. According to this explanation, cultural stereotypes of beauty are the result of evolutionary processes and are based on requirements for breeding and survival. Romantic attraction plays an important role in the development of the human race (e.g., Buss, 1994). During the thousands of years of evolution, physically attractive men and women had a higher probability of finding a mate, reproducing, and raising their offspring to maturity. In this way they ensured that their genes—including the genes responsible for their good looks— were passed on to future generations. Why are large breasts and a low waist-to-hip ratio considered attractive in a woman? Because, argue evolutionary psychologists, there is an assumed connection between big breasts and the ability to nurse a baby. Babies of women with breasts full of milk had a higher chance of survival. A narrow waist and wide hips create the assumption that a woman is healthier and more able to bear children. Good skin and rosy cheeks are evidence of good health and youth that are also related to fertility. Why are height and an athletic body considered attractive in a man? Because, in the far away past, these features marked an ability to function well as a hunter, protector, and provider. Offspring of men who were good hunters had a higher probability of survival and thus passed on the genes responsible for their height and athletic build to future generations.

Are attractive people really better? The answer, overall, is no. Attractive people do not seem to have more positive traits, skills, or abilities than unattractive people (Hartfield & Sprecher, 1986). Nevertheless, attractive people have several important advantages. They tend to have better social skills and are correspondingly more popular (Feingold, 1990). Attractive people, women especially, have more friends and pursuers; they communicate with members of the opposite sex better than unattractive people do (Reis et al., 1980); and they have more active sex lives (Curran & Lippold, 1975). In addition, attractive people are less at risk for emotional disturbances than unattractive people are (Archer & Cash, 1985). They tend to work in better jobs, make more money, and, in general, report more satisfaction from their lives than unattractive people do (Umberson & Houghs, 1987). In one study, 737 yearbook pictures of business school graduates were given attractiveness ratings. Results showed a correlation between the attractiveness rating and level of earnings. The more attractive the graduate, the higher his or her future earnings (Frieze et al., 1991).


Despite the importance of beauty and despite the positive stereotypes we associate with beautiful people, beauty does not guarantee happiness, and does not ensure success in love. It may even be the case that the positive effects of our prejudice toward beauty and the negative effects associated with it, such as envy, hostility, harassment, and distrust of people’s evaluations, cancel each other.

Unusually beautiful women tend to be viewed as snobs, insolent, materialistic, and unfaithful (Cash & Duncan, 1984). I have often heard such women complain that their beauty scares men away. At parties, men whom the beautiful woman would like to have gotten to know don’t dare approach her. In addition, attractiveness can cause envy and hostility in members of one’s own sex and constant harassment by members of the other sex. And since beauty tends to fade with time, its loss can be devastating. A woman who was exceptionally beautiful in her youth grew up to be a merely beautiful woman. When people see her they often gasp and say, “You were soooo beautiful.” It doesn’t comfort her when they continue, “Now you are a 10, but then you were a 12!”

While good looks may be good for future earnings, they are not always good for self-esteem. Actually, the opposite may be true. While attractive people may feel more comfortable in their interactions with the opposite sex, they are not more self-confident. The reason is their concern that they are liked and sought after because of their looks, and not because of who they really are (Major et al., 1984). A beautiful young woman, currently in therapy with me, is an example. Her problem is a severe lack of confidence, because all her life people only saw her pretty face, and didn’t see her obvious intelligence. “And what will happen to me when I am old and no longer beautiful?” she asks with real pain and anxiety."(38-39)

"There is extensive evidence that the lovers we choose share with us a similar level of attractiveness."(39)

"For unattractive people, disheartened by the unfairness of the bias toward beauty, there is the comforting evidence that beauty doesn’t guarantee finding the best marriage partner or succeeding in romantic relationships."(40)

"What, then, are the personality traits that attract us to a romantic partner? The traits that were mentioned most often by both men and women were nice, friendly, and a sense of humor. The traits that were mentioned several times by the men were easy-to-talk- to, understanding, warm, sweet, smart, energetic, funny, self- confident, quiet. The traits that were mentioned several times by women were easy-going, sensitive, and intelligent."(43)

"The behavior of the men reinforced the shy woman’s self-confidence and perception of herself as an attractive and desirable woman, which, in turn, caused her to behave accordingly."(45)

"Self-fulfilling prophecies and positive illusions have positive effects on romantic relationships. Satisfying romantic relationships reflect, at least in part, the ability of people to see their imperfect partners through adoring eyes."(48)

"People without well-developed senses of identity are afraid of intimacy because they are terrified of being engulfed and losing themselves in relationships. It was shown that when people with a low sense of identity fall in love, their feelings are unusually intense, overwhelm them, and cause obsessive, tumultuous loves (Sperling,1987).

Self-confidence influences our ability to give and receive love. People who have a high frequency of love experiences tend to have high self-confidence and low levels of defensiveness.(Dion & Dion, 1975). In order to be able to love, we first have to love ourselves and feel secure in our own lovability."(49)

(51) 4 - Birds of a feather or opposites attract?

"Like Narcissus, many people are attracted to their reflections, that is, other people who share the same characteristics. "(51)

"People are more likely to choose, as a lover, someone who has similar traits than someone who has different traits. Furthermore, the more similar couples are in terms of personality, the more comfortable they are with each other. This is manifested in greater compatibility and greater satisfaction (Mehrabian, 1989). Why does similarity enhance attraction and satisfaction in intimate relationships? One explanation suggests itself: similarities are generally rewarding whereas dissimilarities can be unpleasant."(53)

"The greater the similarity between a couple, the greater their satisfaction from the relationship. People who come from similar cultural and social backgrounds have similar expectations and assumptions. This makes communication between them easier and prevents conflicts. They don’t need to discuss who does what and how, these things are mutually understood and accepted. Similarities in attitudes, interests, and personality also make communication easier; consequently, married couples who share these characteristics report greater happiness and satisfaction from their marriages (Caspi & Harbener, 1990)."(55)

"The effect of attitude similarity on attraction has been known for a long time. When Charles Darwin listed the causes for people’s attraction to each other, similarity in attitudes and interests was at the top of his list. Darwin also mentioned expertise or excellence in some area, returned affection, and traits that are pleasant or admirable, such as loyalty, honesty, and goodness (1910)."(58)

"Yet, several studies have found that husbands and wives tend to assume that they are far more similar to each other than they actually are. In one of these studies, spouses were asked their opinions on various political issues, and, then, asked to imagine how each thought his or her spouse would repond. Results showed that the discrepancy between the real opinions of the husbands and wives was far greater than the discrepancy between their assumed opinions. It was also found that the more couples assumed that they shared attitudes and opinions, the more satisfaction they drew from the marriage (Levinger & Breedlove, 1966). This suggests that a couple’s attitudes don’t really have to be similar as long as the couple assumes that they are similar. It is possible, too, that in the interest of harmony, husbands and wives tend to emphasize their similarities and conceal or avoid areas of disagreement."(60)

"However, the evidence for an attraction between people with similar personalities is far weaker than the evidence for an attraction between those with similar attitudes.(...) In other words, we choose to love and marry people who are similar to us because the choice helps us maintain a stable personality."(61)

"The evolutionary psychologist Ada Lumpert (1997) quotes a series of studies that testify not only to the existence but the advantages of attraction between genetically similar couples.The greater the genetic similarity between romantic partners, the greater their fertility rates, the smaller their rates of natural abortions, and the healthier the children born to them. In addition, the more genetically similar a couple is, the greater their marital harmony, stability, mutual support, help, and satisfaction from their lives together. If the greater the similarity, the greater the attraction, why aren’t we attracted to members of our family who are most similar to us genetically? The reason is the operation of another genetically imprinted mechanism—the incest taboo. At the opposite end of the scale, neither are we attracted to those who are very different from us genetically, such as people of a different race."(63)

[Dat is nu zo'n ding: incest taboe genetisch bepaald? Lijkt me sterk. Evenmin lijkt me dat we een neus hebben voor mensen die genetisch op ons lijken.]

"There is a great deal of clinical as well as anecdotal evidence that opposites attract. Highly cerebral men are known to be attracted to highly emotional women, submissive people to dominant partners, strong women are attracted to weak men, soft and gentle men are attracted to aggressive women. There is also some research evidence that people in complementary relationships, specifically, submissive people with dominant partners, report more satisfaction than do people with similar partners (Dryer & Horowitz, 1997). Differences can be more exciting than similarities. One of the early studies on this topic showed that while it is very nice to discover that we are liked by a person who holds views similar to our own, it is much more exciting to discover that we are liked by a person whose views are very different (Jones et al., 1971). The reason? When we are liked by a person who holds opinions different from ours, we assume that the person likes us because of who we are and not because of our opinions. There are other rewards that differences can provide. When we interact with someone who holds different attitudes we are more likely to learn something new and valuable (Kruglanski & Mayseless, 1987). We are also more likely to find out that we are special and unique instead of being just like everyone else (Snyder & Fromkin, 1980)."(65)

"Are we more attracted to people to whom we are similar or to people from whom we are different? Despite the evidence for the rewards obtained from people to whom we are different, the lion’s share of the research on attraction indicates that similarity has far greater influence."(65)

(69) 5 - Satisfying needs and receprocating love

"In this chapter, we focus on two more variables, namely, what the beloved does for us, and the amorous effect of knowing that the beloved is attracted to us."(69)

"This rather unromantic view of romantic choices is shared by other psychologists and sociologists who are convinced that we are attracted to people who provide us with the most rewards for the lowest price. If people behave like rational, calculating, business people in other social relationships with colleagues, neighbors, and friends, wouldn’t they be much more likely to do so when choosing a mate? Accordingly, it has been argued that the ideology of the marketplace has invaded and altered love and sex by transforming intimacies into commodities (Lee, 1998); people pursue the important goal of making a good deal by evaluating, rationally, the alternatives in the market."(71)

"While we may like people who are positive and pleasant, who compliment us and express appreciation for our views, we respect more the people who are critical. We tend to view such people as more intelligent, even if unpleasant."(73)

(83) 6 - Falling in love as a process

"Content analysis of the romantic attraction interviews shows that in one-third of the cases, falling in love was described as a gradual process. Only in about one-tenth of the cases was love at first sight."(84)

"People screen first for those they consider unsuitable. They don’t notice these people when they meet, and they forget them right away. A typical example is screening for age. Many young people don’t even notice older people because they don’t perceive them as potential romantic partners. When someone doesn’t fit our selection criteria we simply don’t notice them. Thus the unsuitable becomes invisible. In the second stage, people select the most appropriate partners among those who are judged suitable.

The initial automatic screening of unsuitables is influenced by social norms that dictate for us the category of people that contains suitable marriage partners. Robert Winch coined the term “candidates field of eligible spouse” to describe the range of people with whom we are permitted to fall in love and marry (1958). In other words, the society or specific sub-culture in which we live determines the first stage of screening that happens even before we start operating our own love filters. The Berkeley sub-culture, for example, tolerates inter-racial marriages more than most other sub-cultures in the United States.

Most societies use similarities in background and social assets as their main selection criteria. Societal norms tend to prefer that marriage partners be from the same race, social and economic class, religion, and age group. A person who doesn’t conform to these social dictates, such as an old man who marries a very young woman, is often criticized and ridiculed, and can become the object of jokes and gossip. Reactions of this sort teach both the person to whom they are directed, as well as the people watching from the sidelines, who is appropriate and who is inappropriate as a marriage partner.

Societies influence the screening process of romantic partners in two major ways. Most prominently, social norms reward people who follow the norm and punish those who deviate, as, for example, when friends and relatives shun or express outright criticism of an unsuitable, potential partner. Secondly, societies arrange meetings between people who are judged to be suitable romantic partners, meetings such as parties in schools, workplaces and clubs, or social events arranged for single people of a certain age group and a certain social or economic status (Kerckoff, 1974). Societal agents such as parents, teachers, friends, and the media teach the social norms. They reward and encourage suitable romantic connections and discourage unsuitable ones.

Only after people pass through this social screening and choose a suitable partner from the field of eligibles can falling-in-love take place."(85-86)

"One of the most complex and comprehensive stage theories of love was proposed by Avner Ziv (1993). (...) When a couple first meets, if there is an attraction between them, the romantic relationship will start. If there is no attraction, it will not. As the relationship progresses, and they examine each other, if there is no social, intellectual, or emotional compatibility, the relationship will end. If compatability exists, the relationship will continue evolving. With intimacy growing between them, the couple starts revealing vulnerabilities and negative sides to each other. If either partner doesn’t understand or fears what is revealed, the relationship ends. If they understand and are empathic to each other’s vulnerabilities, the relationship continues to the stage of mutual expectations. If partners don’t satisfy each other’s needs and expectations, the relationship is terminated. If the needs and expectations of both partners are filled, the result is love—mutual dependence respectful of each partner’s independence."(89-90)

"Men were more often initially attracted to the physical appearances of the woman, followed by a discovery of their personalities. Women, on the other hand, frequently felt no initial physical attraction. The attraction followed the development of friendship and emotional intimacy. To put it more bluntly, for many men, the physical attraction caused the relationship; for many women, the relationship caused the physical attraction."(93)

"What is the reason for this gender difference? One explanation has to do with gender stereotypes and gender roles that define the correct courtship behavior for men and women (Basow, 1992). During the getting-acquainted stage, men are supposed to take the initiative. Women can hint their interest by flirting, but not initiate directly. One study discovered fifty-two nonverbal courtship patterns of women flirting with men to attract their attention (Moore, 1985). Despite the sexual revolution and the openness and tolerance that characterize romantic relationships today, women who take the initiative with men are often still perceived negatively (Green & Sandos, 1983). (...)

The feminine script of courtship behavior emphasizes attractive physical appearance, ability to carry on a conversation, and control of sex, usually by refusal. The masculine script covers planning the date, be it a dinner, a concert, or a movie, paying for it, and taking the initiative in sex. For example, women who break the script by taking the initiative sexually, are perceived as aggressive and masculine. Men who break the script by demanding that the woman pay her share of the meal, are perceived as cheap and ungentlemanly. These scripts structure and exacerbate the differences between men and women. The penalties for breaking their scripts force men and women to comply with them."(94-95)

"Women’s cautiousness, especially about sex, can function not just as part of a script, but also as part of a social norm. In a survey conducted among American female students, for example, it was discovered that 30 percent of these young and educated women sometimes said no to sex when they actually meant to say yes. Women’s token resistance to sex is culturally prescribed and is part of the mating game (Muehlenhard & Hollabaugh, 1988)."(95)

"Before concluding the discussion of gender differences in the process of falling in love, I want to address an assumption in the evolutionary theories. According to this assumption, these gender differences, because they result from evolutionary dictates, are universal. This assumption has received a great deal of criticism arguing against a universal, biological, explanation and in favor of a cultural explanation. The findings of an anthropological study that examined the courtship patterns in several North American countries support this criticism (Perper, 1989). These findings show that courtship is a well-defined process of specific meaning and prescribed verbal and nonverbal content. The subjective experience of this process is the development of strong mutual feelings of attraction and sexual arousal. None of this is very new, of course. But the findings are augmented by comparing the parts of the falling-in- love process that were shared by different cultures to the parts that were not shared. Since the latter were found to be unique to each culture, it was possible to conclude that the gender differences in courtship are not universal. This suggests that the evolutionary theories that present themselves as universal, may be nothing more than ethnographic theories that describe how men and women in certain cultures view the process of mate selection, a description that includes some very narrow assumptions about the roles of men and women. In other words, even if there are certain differences between men and women in their approach to falling in love and choosing a mate, there are also some powerful social and cultural influences that can account for these differences."(95-96)

(97) 7 - On gender and love, status and beauty

"While men emphasize physical attractiveness, women more often look for social and economic status, ambition, strong character, and intelligence in a potential mate.The greatest gender difference was found in the attraction to status and ambition, which are related to a man’s earning ability. Indications that men are more romantically attracted to beauty, and women to status, were found to be valid in studies totaling hundreds of subjects in different age groups and in different cultures. No gender difference was found in the attraction to such traits as a pleasant personality and a good sense of humor: both men and women like and value these qualities equally."(99)

"Here is the paradox. Both men and women play their prescribed sex roles and then complain about the results. Couples are first attracted to each other because each fits the stereotype. She is attracted to him because he is strong, silent, masculine, assertive, and skilled. He is attracted to her because she is warm, sensitive, open, and verbal. Later she will complain that he doesn’t talk and he will complain that she’s a nag (Tavris, 1992).

Why are people attracted to potential mates who are stereotypically masculine or feminine in light of the evidence that relationships of men and women in traditional gender roles are far from optimal and are generally worse than those in androgynous roles? One answer that was offered is that the attraction to stereotypes reflects a conflict between what old genetic imprints and past values dispose people to do and what the present culture prescribes, such as more androgynous relationships (Ickees, 1993)."(113-114)

"While both the evolutionary and psychoanalytic theories assume that gender differences in attraction are real, studies of sex-role stereotypes assume that they are not real, but rather an attempt on the part of both men and women to behave according to prescribed social norms. An even more extreme position is taken by social constructionists who argue that the similarities in romantic attraction between men and women are far greater and more significant than the differences between them. The individual differences among men and among women are more important than the gender differences between men and women."(120)

(125) Part Two - Unconscious Choices - How we choose the lovers we choose

"Somehow missing from the studies and theories, interesting and amusing as they may be, is the most important, significant, and mysterious element—the magic of love. The studies do not explain why it is that we fall in love with one person and not with another who is more similar in background and attitudes, whose personality is more pleasant, appearance more impressive, and whom we see more often. The theories do not explain why one person makes us “walk on air” as if we had found our “match made in heaven,” as if we had known him or her our entire lives, even though it’s been only two weeks. Why does another person, who is a far more appropriate mate according to all the relevant criteria, leave us cold? These are the kinds of questions the second part of this book addresses. Here, we will focus on the unconscious processes in falling in love. Because they are unconscious, these processes are difficult to observe directly and study empirically. As a result, unlike the first part of the book, the second part relies less on empirical research, and more on clinical evidence."(125-126)

(127) 8 - Openess to love

"Why is it that some people can find love and a romantic relationship easy and satisfying, while others want desperately to have a truly intimate relationship but fail? Why do still others avoid relationships all together? The answer to this question is not simple. One major explanation has been provided by Attachment Theory, formulated first by British child psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1982).(...)

The major premises of attachment theory are that:
* intimate relationships of adults are guided by internal working models constructed from early childhood relationship experiences;
* these models shape an individual’s beliefs about whether he or she is worthy of love and whether others can be trusted to provide love and support;
* these models also influence the kinds of interactions individuals have with others and their interpretations of these interactions."(128-129)

"Mothers of securely attached babies were found to be more responsive to the hunger signals and crying of their infants and to readily return the infants’ smiles. Mothers of anxiously attached babies were inconsistent and unresponsive to the baby’s needs. Mothers of avoidant babies rejected their infants either physically or emotionally (Ainsworth et al., 1978)."(130)

"A famous series of studies conducted by Philip Shaver and Cindy Hazan used a measure of adult romantic attachment that was inspired by Mary Ainsworth’s work (Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Shaver & Hazan, 1993). These studies, as well as numerous others, demonstrated the existence of three romantic attachment styles.

Secure. Adults with a secure attachment style are comfortable depending on others and having others depend on them. It is relatively easy for them to become emotionally close to people. They feel themselves valuable and worthy of love and respect. They can trust people; they believe that people have good intentions and can be counted on in an hour of need. They develop intimate relationships easily and don’t worry about being alone or about someone getting too close to them. They are not overly concerned about abandonment or dependency; and they tend to score high in sensitivity to others, and low in compulsive giving.

Avoidant. Adults with an avoidant attachment style tend to be isolated. They are uncomfortable being close to others; they find it difficult to allow themselves to depend on others, or to trust others completely.They are nervous when anyone gets too close; and, often, their partners in a relationship want them to be more intimate than they are comfortable being. They have many separations but suffer less from relationship termination. They are loners, uncomfortable in relationships involving intimacy and closeness; they have more one-night stands and are more likely to be unfaithful and enjoy loveless sex.

Anxious-ambivalent. Adults with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style see others as reluctant to get as close as the adults would like. They often worry that their partner doesn’t really love them, or won’t want to stay with them. They are seeking such high levels of closeness and commitment that they scare away potential partners who often view them as clingy and suffocating. They are insecure and invest too much in relationships. They tend to think that people don’t value them as much as they should and that, in general, people are untrustworthy. They often separate again and again from the same partner and tend to be jealous in relationships. They have low self-concepts and reveal too much about themselves. They worry about being abandoned and their love not being reciprocated, and they worry about being too close and dependent. They tend to get a high score in compulsive giving and a low score in sensitivity."(131-132)

"Childhood adversities such as physical abuse and serious neglect have the most consistent association with insecure, adult attachment styles, and relate strongly to anxious and avoidant adult attachment."(132)

"While attachment theory has inspired a large and steadily growing body of research, it has also raised a fair amount of criticism. Some criticized Ainsworth’s “strange situation” for being an artificial base for data that could not generalize to real life situations. Some criticized the overemphasis on the influence of the relationship between the baby and Mother. Doesn’t Father have an influence? And what about siblings, other relatives, teachers, and close friends? Others criticized the tendency to blame Mother for everyone’s problems. Doesn’t a romantic relationship that ended badly have more of an impact than Mother’s handling in the first months of life? Still others criticized the overemphasis on childhood experiences. After all, we continue to evolve and learn from relationships throughout our life."(134)

"Although sexual attraction may be the most important component at the falling-in-love stage of a romantic relationship, those relationships that depend entirely on the sexual or reproductive component are likely to be short-lived. As the relationship persists, the attachment and care-giving components become more important and sustain the pair-bond even when sexual interest has waned."(134)

"Results showed that the students who reported the highest number of falling-in-love experiences had high self-confidence and low defensiveness (Dion & Dion, 1975). In order to love others, we first must love and respect ourselves. Attachment studies indeed show that secure individuals are more self-confident, less neurotic, more extroverted, more agreeable, and more open to new experiences than avoidant and anxious individuals (Mickelson et al., 1997, Shaver & Brennan, 1992)."(135)

"Does self-confidence always imply greater openness to love? Not necessarily. With greater self-confidence come higher expectations and standards for an appropriate romantic partner."(135)

"The less sure of themselves people are, the more they need love and respect, and the more likely they are to be attracted to people who offer those rewards. The more sure of themselves people are, the less they need approval, acceptance, and love; they are likely to be more choosy and less likely to fall in love with just anyone who offers them love. Like a hungry person who will eat anything, an insecure person is likely to choose someone less attractive because that kind of person is less likely to reject him or her and more likely to offer love and appreciation."(136)

"The man, who loves folk dancing and is a wonderful dancer, often falls in love with his female partners. He dazzles them with his openness, readiness to talk about feelings, his ability to express love. Each is delighted to receive the love poem he left at night in her mailbox and is ready to join him in this larger-than-life love story. Their amazement lasts a week, or two, or three, and then it turns to distress. He is simply 'too much'."(137)

[Weer een psychoanalytische theorie ... :]

"It is important to note that this view of the separated and individuated person as a model of mental health has been criticized by feminist writers as being a masculine model. In other words, the ideal of mental health is in fact a masculine stereotype. What is described as normal development is characteristic of a patriarchal society where Mother is the primary caregiver rather than a partner in shared parenting."(142) [Noot 7 verwijst naar Chodorow]

(145) 9 - The son falls in love with "Mother", the daughter with "Father"

[Geeft eerst de psychoseksuele ontwikkeling volgens Freud, de fasen en zo.]

"It is important to note, however, that with the intellectual honesty characteristic of him, Freud admitted that he didn’t understand the psychosexual development of women with the same clarity that he understood the psychosexual development of men."(151)

"The most consistent criticism of Freud’s theory, however, came from the ranks of women psychoanalysts, including his students and followers, who criticized his ideas on female sexuality.These women analysts believed Freud conceptualized as he did because he was a man and lived in the Victorian era. One of earliest and most prominent of those critics was Karen Horney (1922; 1967)."(158-159)

"Postmodern feminist psychoanalysts argue with every idea suggested by Freud including his “anatomy is destiny” axiom."(159)

"Despite these and other criticisms, there is no doubt that Freudian theory makes an important contribution to our understanding of the unconscious processes involved in falling in love. The most important conclusion we can derive from his theory is that it is not by chance that we fall in love with a particular person; we fall in love with careful, even if unconscious, consideration. Our romantic choices, even if we are not fully aware of them, are influenced by childhood experiences. And these childhood experiences are different for boys and for girls."(160)

[Het valt me op dat ze braaf de kritiek noemt die er bijvoorbeeld door feministes gegeven wordt op de psychoanalyse, maar toch steeds zelf blijft doorharken in die psychoanalytische opvattingen van de invloed van de ontwikkeling van het kind etc., de rol van de moeder - vader zie ik bij haar nooit - en zo verder. Ik geloof er niet in: die grote invloed van de kindertijd wordt wel erg deterministisch neergezet.]

(163) 10 - The internal romantic image

"The more similarity people saw between a childhood relationship with their parents and an adult romantic relationship, the more likely they were to describe themselves as feeling secure in the relationship, to be themselves in the relationship, to have fewer conflicts and to handle well the conflicts that came up."(164)

"“My lover is mine and I am his” says the woman in the biblical Song of Songs and her words are echoed in love songs of all ages. Lovers feel as if their ego boundaries have melted away as they blend into one entity. In many respects it is possible to see in this melting-into-one a return to the primal symbiotic bond with mother. Both partners feel that all their emotional needs are totally satisfied, the way they were in their infantile Garden of Eden."(165)

[Een ander ding dat me ergert aan haar verhaal is dat ze zo overduidelijk gelooft in monogamie, huwelijk, de ware, partners die elkaar aanvullen, etc etc. Tussen de regels door is dat de hele tijd aanwezig. Zou ze in haar therapie ooit adviseren om om het half jaar een andere vrouw of vent te nemen of om er drie tegelijk te hebben? Ik denk het niet. De psychanalytische theorie op de achtergrond maakt dat ze er heel traditionele opvattingen over relaties op na houdt. Daarom is de feministische kritiek op de psychoanalyse zo interessant. Dat doorbreekt ongetwijfeld die simpele patronen.]

"In summary, according to object relations theory:
* People actively, albeit unconsciously, create their romantic relationships. Childhood experiences, especially those of deprivation, rejection, and abandonment, exert the greatest influence on the choice of a romantic partner. The explanation is linear: childhood experiences are reenacted in adult love relationships.
* A couple’s relationships are “object relations” that are most powerfully influenced by the childhood relationships both partners had with their parents. Falling in love does not happen by chance. People choose a person who fits an internalized “object” and “object relation.” The reason? Only such a person can help them re-enact childhood experiences and gratify needs that were not satisfied in their childhood. When they find such a person, they experience tremendous excitement, joy, and hope—and fall in love.
* The unconscious needs of couples reflect the introjects of both partners and tend to complement each other. Couples collude in gratifying these unconscious, complementary, psychological needs by creating such unwritten contracts as: “I will express your anxiety if you will keep me calm”; and, “I will think for you, if you will express my emotions.”
* The ability to love and function successfully in a romantic love relationship reflects an individual’s level of differentiation, which depends on childhood love experiences. When the childhood relationships with the parents were warm and loving, the person will become a differentiated individual capable of mature and satisfying love relationships. When the childhood relationships with the parents were frustrating or injurious, the person will grow up with a low level of differentiation capable only of immature love relationships. Relationships in which both partners are undifferentiated tend to arouse very powerful emotions, both positive and negative, and be experienced as obsessive love.
* People tend to fall in love with partners who are in a level of differentiation similar to their own, but whose defensive style is opposite—abuser and victim, sadist and masochist. When a certain conflict or pathology is found in one of the partners, it can be assumed that it is also found in the other. "(173-174)

"Just like Jungian theory and object relations theory, evolutionary theory assumes that early childhood experiences of love play a critical role in adult romantic relationships. The key concept, however, that explains the reenactment of childhood’s love bonds in adult romantic relationships is not “archetypes,” or “object relations,” but positive imprints. According to evolutionary theory, humans develop according to a program constantly exposed to environmental influences. There are “critical periods” in which environmental forces can shape and mold us. This molding process is termed imprinting. Imprinting happens very fast during a critical period in the life of the young of every species, causes neural changes in the brain, and is probably irreversible. It has significant long-term effects on behavior. Every new stimulus, in order to give it meaning and significance, is compared to the pattern that already exists in the brain. Concepts such as love are created in the brain in a network of neural wiring. Once a concept is imprinted in the brain, we continue to use it in order to make sense of the world around us."(180-181)

"In summary, whether we are talking about a “love object” of the object relations theorists, or an “archetype” of the Jungian theorists, an “imprint” or a “lovemap”of the evolutionary theorists, it seems clear that we are discussing the same thing—an internal romantic image that plays a key role in the choice of a person with whom we fall in love."(184)

(191) 11 - Four stories

[Niet samengevat]

(211) Part Three - Romantic love in long-term relationships

"This part shifts the perspective from the individual to the couple and addresses the relationship between falling in love and the issues a couple is likely to struggle with later on. It is based on my strong belief that an intimate relationship provides us with one of the best opportunities for mastering unresolved childhood issues and achieving existential significance in our lives."(211)

"The unconscious, however, more than anything else, dictates with whom we fall in love."(212)

"When a couple is in love, the unconscious of both partners dictates their mutual selection.The interweaving of both their core issues creates their core issue as a couple. When, after many years of marriage, a couple comes for therapy and disentangles what seems like an endless morass of problems, conflicts, hurts, and disappointments, what emerges is the core issue at the center of most of their problems."(212)

[Ik bedoel maar ...]

(215) 12 - Turning love problems into opportunities for growth

"Like other psychodynamic therapists, I believe that unconscious forces operate in both romantic attraction and relationship problems. The unconscious dictates the choice of a partner who can help the individual master a “core issue” that is the manifestation of an unresolved childhood problem. If a person’s core issue is fear of abandonment, this person’s unconscious will direct the choice of a partner who can help him or her master this fear. And who is more appropriate for the task than a person whose core issue is a fear of engulfment?"(220)

"In my work on couple burnout, a work that involved hundreds of couples, I also found that the qualities that initially attract partners to each other eventually cause their burnout. A woman who was attracted to her husband because he was “the strong silent type,” which she saw as “very romantic,” later feels burned out in her marriage because “he doesn’t communicate.” A man who fell in love with his wife because of her strong personality, later feels burned out because she argues with him about everything (Pines, 1996)."(225)

"From everything said so far in this chapter and throughout the book, it is possible to draw a number of conclusions.
* An intimate relationship provides one of the best opportunities for mastering unresolved childhood issues.
* Unconscious forces more than logical considerations dictate those with whom we fall in love.
* The unconscious choice is of the most appropriate person with whom the individual can reenact childhood experiences. Such a person combines the most significant traits of both parents.
* Negative traits have more of an impact on romantic choices, especially in obsessive loves, than do positive traits, because the injury or deprivation caused by them needs healing.
* The more traumatic the childhood injury, and the greater the similarity between the partner and the injuring parent, the more intense the experience of falling in love.
* In falling in love there is a return to the primal symbiosis with Mother, a perfect union with no ego boundaries. This is why we only fall in love with one person at a time. The return to the lost paradise recreates the expectation that the lover will fill all infantile needs.
* Since falling in love is dictated by an internal romantic image, lovers feel as if they have known each other forever. And since it involves a reenactment of very specific and very powerful childhood experiences, lovers feel that the beloved is “the one and only” and that the loss of the beloved is unbearable.
* When a couple falls in love, their unconscious choice is mutual and complementary, enabling both partners to express their own “core issues.” Together they create their “core issue” as a couple, the issue around which most of their later conflicts center.
* Understanding the connection between unresolved childhood issues and later problems reduces feelings of guilt and blame, and helps both partners take responsibility for their parts in the relationship problems. It helps couples turn problems into opportunities for personal and couple growth.
* Couples who listen to each other’s feelings and needs, express empathy, and give each other the things they ask for, can keep the romantic spark alive indefinitely. The reason for this is that expressing empathy and granting the partner’s wishes that grow out of the connection between the couple dynamic and childhood issues, is the best way to bring about personal and couple growth. As the partners grow psychologically, their relationship grows. And growth is the antithesis of burnout (Pines & Aronson, 1988)."(231-232)

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