Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is all this about love and romance anyway… and how does love work?

Dr. Sue Johnson says:

Love is not some kind of weird morass of sex and sentiment that comes and goes mysteriously.  It’s an ancient, wired-in survival code designed to keep those you can depend on close.   It’s the human survival strategy par excellence.  The bonds between parent and child and between adults are our safe haven in a potentially dangerous and random universe.  There are now hundreds of studies that show this and also tell us what the key elements in these bonds are what defines them, makes or breaks them.

This map shows us how to actually shape and create love to the point where trained guides, can now take a relationship that is going down in flames and show couples how to turn it around into - No, not just a comfy relationship - but a vibrant, close, loving bond. Moving out of despair and disconnection into the kinds of bonds we all dream about and long for.

For years we had studies showing that our way of working with couples shifted relationships into less conflict and more satisfaction.  But this is not the same as showing that it is possible to deliberately sculpt attachment - the special, deep emotional bond that our brain codes as crucial to survival.  This kind of bond predicts:

  •         Strong sense of self
  •         Good mental health
  •         Resilience under stress

It is now possible to deliberately isolate the key elements in love, such as emotional responsiveness, and in a short time to systematically guide two disconnected people to shape these elements so as to change the security of their attachment bond.

Terry and Tim (fictitious) came into our office talking about divorce. “He never talks” says Terry.  We have zero connection.  I don’t know why I stay.  I am lonely and mad all the time. “Yep, that is about right” replies Tim.  “All you do is complain and demand stuff from me and tell me how damned disappointing I am.  So I just shut down and turn you off. Just 8 weeks later, Tim and Terry see each other differently.  Their dance and the emotional music directing that dance has changed.  They can now see how they trigger fight and flight responses in each other, and how each of them gets stuck in defensives and distance.  After another few weeks or so, they start doing something incredible-they begin to build a loving, responsible bond. In just 20 weeks we didn't just change our problems. And we didn't just fall back in love, she says.  We went to a whole new level.  We never knew love could be like this.

Our study showed that, whether your secret insecurity is that you are anxious and always worried about being abandoned or dismissed, or that you are usually numbed out and defensively denying your need for closeness, this process that we call Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) works and moves you into new levels of emotional connection. The big shift is that people open up emotionally and become more attuned and emotionally responsive to each other's vulnerabilities and needs.  And we all know that this is what love is all about in the end.  It`s all about emotional presence, being there for each other, no matter what.