Tag Archives: Love

“If ONLY I found the right person to love, then I would be happy.”

"Light" by Mimi Stuart©
Live the Life you Desire

While I am all for the right person, happiness, and love, it’s more likely that you will experience all three if you live your life knowing that No one can fulfill your unfulfilled deepest needs and desires but you. If you are generally unhappy, no one can or will make you happy.

You may imagine that a particular person’s love and care will make you feel whole. But eventually any dependency on someone else for your feeling of wholeness will lead to disappointment and resentment.

When you fulfill your deepest needs and desires the best you can and engage the world from a sense of wholeness (not that anyone is perfectly whole) rather than from a sense of emptiness and need, then you are more likely to dance in and out of the realm of happiness and fulfillment.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Why didn’t you call me?”

“It hurts that my fiancé thinks I am smothering him. He wants me to let him catch his breath after he gets off work. I’m scared that I’m going to lose him because I’m needy or clingy.”

"Pressure Control" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Pressure Control” by Mimi Stuart ©


You are right. You will scare your fiancé away by smothering him. Give him the distance he needs. Love means having the self-discipline to respect the other person’s wishes and needs despite your own desires.

Desiring someone is a wonderful thing. But when the feeling becomes one of overwhelming or urgent need, then it’s time to find more fulfillment in your own life. You must try to reduce the psychological burden you are putting on to your fiancé.

Self-sabotaging Behavior

Sometimes people sabotage their relationships because they unconsciously conclude from painful past experiences that they are not worthy of reciprocal love. In such cases it’s important to resist the temptation to act in ways that tend to push others away. For example, by

• smothering a person
• giving too much advice
• using guilt trips, or
• playing games.

Balance Desire

The pursuer/distancer dynamic you are experiencing will only become more exaggerated once you are married if you don’t find some balance now.

As you know, when you are waiting for someone, your desire for that person increases. It would be more balanced if he were sometimes waiting for you while you were working, at a class, at a friend’s, on a walk or at the gym. You will see a shift in your one-sided dynamic if you were busier with some of your own interests, friends, sports, or work. If you pursued some interesting activities, you would feel more whole yourself, smother him less, and become more interesting – and more desirable.

Love out of fullness

Loving someone out of fullness is more sustainable than loving someone out of need. Fullness comes from leading a more full, balanced life with ongoing growth. Your relationship will be more mutually satisfying if you balance your desire for your fiancé with your own independent pursuits.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen
Healthy Relationships and
Effective Communication


Read “Pursuit and Distancing: Intimacy vs. Needing Space.”

Read “Pursuing passions or partnership? ‘You should spend time with me instead of going fishing!’”

“I’ve fallen out of love with her.”

"Song of Spring" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Falling in Love

Falling in love involves an unconscious as well as physical and chemical response to another person, which is much more compelling than simply finding someone to be attractive and compatible. Often, when we fall in love, we get a feeling of wholeness because we have met someone who carries qualities we lack in an irresistible way.

For example, a practical, rational man falls in love with a spiritual or emotional woman, even though most women of that type annoy him. Or a strong, assertive woman falls in love with a sensitive, artistic man, even though she finds most such men to be weak.

The conscious mind seeks similarity and is repelled by the opposite. The unconscious, however, seeks balance, and is drawn to the qualities one needs most, but only when they are expressed in an acceptable and appealing way.

Being in love creates an anticipation of fulfillment because the unconscious senses the possibility of becoming whole, if only we could integrate those unfamiliar qualities that reside in the Other without rejecting our own primary personality. The initial falling in love, like infatuation, overwhelms us with a feeling that involves a chemical response akin to being intoxicated. We’re in a state of awe and wonder regarding our partner, which often inspires our partner to feel confident, happy, and open — three enticing qualities that keep the magic going.

Falling out of Love

Later in the relationship, the chemical cocktail of oxytocin and dopamine from the initial romantic attraction wears off. At that point, unless we are the exception and continue to cherish our partner and integrate some of those needed contrasting qualities of our partner, those same qualities that drew the unconscious in often start driving us crazy. The conscious mind is back in charge, viewing our partner’s differences with negative judgment.

For example, the practical, rational man can no longer stand his partner’s emotional melodramatics. Or the strong, assertive woman is now turned off by her partner’s vulnerability.

The irony is that as partners reject those contrasting qualities, they polarize into extremes, exhibiting their opposing qualities in an increasingly unattractive way. No wonder many people ask themselves, “What happened to the person I married?”

The rational man becomes cold, causing the emotional woman to become histrionic in an effort to get him to show his emotions. When he finally does show his emotions, they are the emotions of anger and resentment, not love and compassion.

Or the strong woman becomes demanding and tough, causing the sensitive man to feel helpless and unseen. “Be a man!” she demands, which only causes him to feel utterly impotent. She loses her opportunity to gain some needed sensitivity; he misses out on developing some needed strength.

Love as a Chosen Attitude

How we treat another person affects the other person’s confidence and often causes him or her to gain or lose desirability in our eyes. The more we appreciate our partner, the more he or she carries the qualities we fell in love with in an enticing way, and thus, the more likely we are to get that loving feeling back again.

The conscious act of love involves choosing to have an attitude of appreciation for our partner, and particularly for his or her differences as we did when we fell in love. Thus, love is in large part dependent on our intention, appreciation, and action.

Invest in the Person

To reclaim the feeling of love, both partners need to choose to invest their time and energy in their relationship, particularly where their most stark differences lie. That doesn’t mean that they should spend every minute together, becoming fused and codependent. However, they both must choose to make their relationship a primary focus in their lives by doing some of the following:

1. Respect each Other: We need to speak as though the other person has influence over us, without being dismissive or condescending. We need to repeatedly interact with each other in ways that show that we think the other is competent and capable. Again, this requires that we don’t let our conscious preferences, such as being practical, sensitive, or tough, be in charge of our reactions.

2. Plan the Future: When couples no longer talk about their dreams, hopes, and plans, this often indicates that their relationship is in decline. Talking about plans for the future—this weekend, next year, and twenty years from now—creates anticipation for the future as a couple. Current difficulties are easier to deal with when couples have something to look forward to.

3. Trust:
A loving relationship is based on trust, that is, on having faith that our partner is dependable, honest, and faithful. Showing faith and trust in our partner often helps develop trust. We do this by gradually disclosing more about who we are to the other person without fearing that we will be judged and rejected, and without manipulating the other person into approving and agreeing with us all the time. We must also have the discipline to avoid re-actively criticizing our partner when he or she discloses personal thoughts and feelings.

4. Enjoy:
Enjoying the other person’s company with his or her differences is an important feature of love. We should get pleasure from doing things together and from supporting and caring for the other person.

5. Take Action: Doing things for another person can be an expression of love. We can create feelings of love through acting out of love, rather than passively waiting for those feelings of infatuation to overcome us. If both people are passively waiting to feel in love again, they are likely to be disappointed.

6. Be Affectionate: With loyalty, affection, and faithfulness, intimacy deepens into something even more meaningful than the initial feelings of falling in love.

7. Cultivate Passion: Sustaining passion requires intense engagement, fascination, and thinking about the other person with desire. This is something we can actively conjure up rather than passively waiting for it.

Sustaining love is an art, which requires conscious cultivation. Yet, it can be deeper, more meaningful, and just as passionate as the initial infatuation. It starts with our own conscious choice to appreciate and enjoy the differences between us.

As the rational man in our example opens his heart and expresses some emotion, his partner may learn to contain some of her emotion rather than gushing, which will benefit both partners and the relationship. As the strong, assertive woman accesses some sensitivity and restrains her desire to be in control, she makes room for her partner to become self-empowered and less driven by his vulnerability. Ideally, both partners strive for more balance within themselves, which is part of the journey toward individuation.

Often, the more we embrace and try to integrate our partner’s different way of being, the more our partner will gain a more balanced way of being as well, resulting in both partners blossoming into more whole and individuated people.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “We broke up because of sexual incompatibility.”

Read “I always fall madly in love; we do everything together; and then, out of the blue, I get dumped.”

Read “Falling in Love & the Unconscious: ‘I’m crazy in love. But friends say I’m setting myself up to be rejected again.’”

Falling in Love & the Unconscious:
“I’m crazy in love. But friends say I’m setting myself up to be rejected again.”

"Marilyn Silver Screen" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Romantic passion calls forth intensity, excitement, and focus of desire.

Intense emotions are generally fueled by psychological “complexes,” that is, heated reactions (positive or negative) to a person or situation reminiscent of a past experience that left a mark on the unconscious. A “complex” is a core pattern of emotions, perceptions, memories, and desires in the personal unconscious triggered by a common theme evoking past emotional experiences.

For instance, being in love with a smart and cold woman, who by coincidence is like your mother, may be driven by a projection of certain characteristics of your mother. Unconsciously, you hope to resolve your disappointment with that initial relationship by finally having someone similarly smart and cold be responsive and appreciative of you.

Does the fact that desire and even falling in love are possibly the result of a psychological complex taint their authenticity and beauty? Does one’s past experience of hope and disappointment with a similar type of person make a current love affair less authentic and meaningful?

Even if infatuation and love are complex-driven, they are no less real and important. The very fascination with the beloved reflects the entanglement of unconscious processes with falling in love. Falling in love involves projection, which is loaded with powerful affect.

Projection, however, is fraught with dangers. Consider the repeated disappointment a person will feel when the beloved becomes withholding or neglectful, just like his mother. What’s important in this case is that we don’t repeat our same ineffective ways of dealing with those who bring forth our complexes.

Emotionally-committed relationships are one of the best vehicles that can assist us in becoming aware of our unconscious and our complexes. They give us the opportunity NOT to repeat the past. But this takes awareness and effort.

Does passion driven by a complex fade when we become more integrated and whole? Does the fantasy of the “Magical Other” subside when we become more grounded and less neurotic? Perhaps.

If so, is it worth the cost?

We can hope for some progress toward wholeness, but few of us need to worry about losing our passion because we’ve become wholly-integrated and enlightened. So, we might as well enjoy the intensity of falling in love on our path to insight and understanding.

Even with great strides toward increased consciousness, the crazy feeling of infatuation might be replaced by the mindful intention to love — not a great cost after all for such a transformation.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Positive Projection: ‘He is so amazingly intelligent and articulate!’”

Reference: James Hollis’ “The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other.”

“Can’t you see that I’m busy!”

"Love me do!" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

So what I really meant was…
“I’d love to talk to you. Just give me 15 minutes to finish this project/write this letter/make a phone call.”


“I have some work to finish, but I do have a few minutes for you. What’s on your mind?”

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Desire: “I’ve got needs, but she pretends she’s asleep.”

"Desire" Marilyn Monroe, by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

When you translate your desire into a need for biological gratification, it’s a turn-off. Your partner will resent feeling used to feed your self-esteem and needs. Desire out of a need to be satiated is consumptive and can never be fully satisfying to either party.

However, sexual intimacy deepens the vitality of long-term relationships and should definitely be pursued. So talk to your partner to discover how you can both deepen the intimacy between the two of you. Ask your partner what she’s feeling and express how important it is for you to have passion and intimacy on all levels in your relationship.

In addition to talking to her, change your view of sexual intimacy from one of need to one of desire. Make her feel desired, loved and cherished rather than needed.

Martin Prechtel, a Guatemalan Shaman, distinguishes between seduction—the act of getting what you want—and courting—the act of giving blessing to what you love.

This art of courting comes from desire out of abundance, which leads to more desire and intimacy for both partners. Desire out of fullness arises out of a sense of self worth and an appreciation for the other person.

Show her your love and appreciation. Share more of yourself. Remember those attributes that attracted you and TELL her. Tell her your fantasies and ask her to tell you hers. You might be pleasantly surprised.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Emotional Intimacy.”

Read “You never touch me! You’re not attracted to me anymore, are you?”

Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Recommended: Schnarch, D. (2003). “Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in your Marriage,” and Schnarch, D. (2009) “Passionate Marriage.”
Listen to “Schnarch, D. “Problems of Sexual Desire: Who Really Wants to Want?” (Audio)”.