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July 23, 2012 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Hi, Are the fireworks of love sustainable? My ex girlfriend thinks the 'explosively, massively mental' feelings we have when we are together cannot last. (Hence we have split up). If it is true love will it last? Thanks Andy
Love in London
This is such a great question. First of all, we need to be clear on our terminology. The fireworks of love that you speak of is also known as sexual chemistry, passion or lust. To be clear, people can have sexual chemistry, passion and lust for each other and not be in love. But when a couple is truly in love, the kind of romantic love that lasts a lifetime, their passionate chemistry also lasts a lifetime too. While lust generally fades, true love does not.
Many people mistakenly believe that sexual attraction or lust cannot be sustained. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, research proves that couples who romantically love each other can sustain their passion for each other until the end. But there’s a catch. You need to learn how to properly handle the negative feelings that arise in all relationships. If you don’t handle your anger well, you passion will deflate faster than a tire that’s punctured by a nail.
What your girl did was turn tail and run. There are only two possible explanations for her behavior. The first is that she knew deep-down that you both only have lust for each other, and nothing more. She decided to cut her losses since she knew the lust wouldn’t last. I’m not convinced that this is what happened.
I think she became terrified. Stay with me.
I suspect that she unconsciously decided to resort to what I call the Die By Your Own Sword Defense. This defense is driven by the universal human desire to be in control. If your girlfriend believes the misconception about sexual passion dying in time, she very well may have decided to turn tail and run rather than suffer the pain of dwindling passion.
Or perhaps also she was afraid that she would come to love you. Perhaps she was terrified to risk loving and losing. I suspect that this girl has been very wounded in life. She has known great loss and pain and her running is an attempt to protect herself from more of the same.
Rather than be disappointed, she took a preemptive strike in order to take control of the disappointment and avoid pain. So, in the end she died by her own sword.
How sad for her and for you that she needed to eclipse her joy in order to protect herself.
What if you both have more than lust going for you?
If I were you, I would reach out to her and tell her what I said about the fact that lust doesn’t fade when a couple romantically loves each other. And, I would also tell her that lust doesn’t fade when couples learn how to properly handle the negative feelings that destroy love and passion. That’s what my book Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) is all about!
You have nothing to lose by reaching out. If she’s willing to talk, explore further whether she’s also protecting herself from the pain she imagines will be coming down the line (either when passion fades or the relationship ends). In response to both fears, we have the answer for her. Read my book and you will be armed in advance with the skills you need to face the relationship challengesChallenges are, in the words of the Serendipity prayer, "things you cannot change". The challenge is to have a joyful, fulfilling relationship in spite of them. that will come your way.
I would also tell her that the high level of passion that you both share for each other is a sign that you really click.
Is she really willing to risk losing this possible once in a lifetime gift in order to play it safe?
Please let me know what happens. I really want this relationship to work out for you.
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