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To us, being loved in a relationship is perhaps the highest ideal. It gives our lives meaning and purpose. Being loved validates our sense of self-esteem and soothes our fears of loneliness.
Our brains are also wired to fall in love. Dopamine provides a natural high and ecstatic feeling that can be as addictive as cocaine.
There is an amount of healthy idealization that helps us fall in love.
However, if we’re depressed or have low self-esteem, we’re more likely to idealize a prospective partner and overlook signs of trouble, such as unreliability or addiction, or accept disrespectful or abusive behavior. A lack of a support system or loneliness might also blind us to potential faults.
It is far better to first deal with these concerns before entering into a relationship.
As romance and idealization fade, we enter the ordeal stage. We learn more things about our partner that displease us and discover habits and flaws we dislike and attitudes we believe to be ignorant or distasteful.
Two things can damage a relationship during this period.
Getting to real love requires self-esteem, courage, acceptance, and assertiveness skills. It requires the ability to honestly speak up about our needs and wants, to share feelings, compromise, and resolve conflict.
It requires a commitment by both partners to get through the ordeal stage with mutual respect and a desire to make the relationship work.
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