Why Love Can Make You Stupid

“…..But love is blind, and lovers cannot see what petty follies they themselves commit.” ~ William Shakespeare

by Pete Ferguson

We’ve often heard that love is blind, but recent research from the University College London actually proves that we turn off reasoning when we are in love.

Using MRI machines, researchers found that “feelings of love lead to a suppression of activity in the areas of the brain controlling critical thought. It seems that once we get close to a person, the brain decides the need to assess their character and personality is reduced.” ~ TheArtofManliness.com

It is great to fall in love, but we all know someone who fell head over heels in love, made the plunge, and then has been paying for it ever since.

That person could be a brother, sister, father, mother, friend, or self.

In my own story of blind love, I was lucky many times. The longest relationship before meeting Stephanie was nine months, with a three month break up in between. It was also when I was 13 and 14.

I fell head over heals a number of times over the next ten years, but they were all quick relationships that ended usually in me being told the divine attributes of friendship … I repeated the favor once or twice, but was on the receiving end the majority of the time. So I was lucky in the sense that someone else was thinking more clearly in recognizing that we weren’t as compatible as my twitter-pated mind would have otherwise had me believe.

Steph and I first met in college. We were both pursuing other people at the time, in fact she was engaged. Over the next two-and-a-half years we dated others, dated each other and then very quickly – while I was playing the field – we became engaged just before summer break and were married the following Fall.

Credit: Relationship Tips by Barbara Peters

Having both been in and out of romantic relationships, the friendship was first, the romance came later. And so the blinders were not on with Steph, we were friends and classmates for some time only later suddenly finding ourselves “in love.”

I spend time regularly with my children discussing those around us who are in disastrous relationships. When I was young, my parents only spoke of these things in hushed tones and I had to wait until my adult years to learn how messed up some of our family and friends’ marriages are (and for the most part I can now use the past tense and say “were”).

Unfortunately my kids get it both barrels at a time. And we regularly discuss with them what constitutes a great relationship beyond just “being in love.”

Thanks to the Art of Manliness website, I’m including some steps adapted from an article entitled “14 Red Flags to Look Out for in a Relationship.”

  1. Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 4.57.38 AMExcessive drama about anything and everything. I’ve seen this one many times. When someone is always the victim of some great tragedy, chances are you will eventually become the victimizer of their sorry, sordid tale in a future act. Drama is for Broadway and Hollywood, steer clear of it in your relationships as life will dish up enough one-act plays. 
  2. Treating waiters, animals and “the little people” like crap. What goes around comes around, eventually it will likely be you. Finding someone who treats others with grace and patience is the key to a happy and long lasting relationship.
  3. You argue, all the time. Does this one really need any explaining? Yet I’m amazed how many unmarried couples drive each other crazy pre commitment. One or both partners will openly acknowledge the strife, but misery loves company and somehow they think things will magically change “if only …” there is a ring, there are children, there is a house, there is a …… Knowing how to debate over important matters is a learned art and skill, but arguing all the time has never been fun in my mind.
  4. They don’t tell the truth. I had a friend many years ago who was dating a guy at work. I saw him spending a lot of time with another girl and – thinking I was doing the right thing – let her know about it. She confronted him, he denied it. She got mad at me for interjecting. I had nothing to gain from telling her what I saw, but love is blind. She’s now married to him and they have several children. I hope he is being true, but experience tells me the odds are not in her favor.
  5. Flexibility. As previously mentioned, life will dole out plenty of drama, conflict, heart ache, and surprises. Flexibility is the key to survival. Having a partner who is willing to roll with the punches is extremely helpful in overcoming adversity.
  6. You want to “fix” your partner. In #4, this is what happened I think. My friend knew what she was getting into, but was convinced she could fix this wayward soul and convert him into good husband material. It is a noble gesture, but so one-sided. Change comes from within, and while change is greatly aided by a good support group, the person needing to change must initiate it themselves for it to be genuine. I have seen some relationships where the “fix” happened after much heartache, trials, and tribulation. I’ve seen many more where the bet did not pay off. Fix yourself first, then look for someone else who is in the same process and work together for continual self-improvement.

While these are just a few of the mentioned items in the article, I can also say that had Steph or I followed all 14 – we wouldn’t have ended up together. So you have to take it all with a grain of salt, but it is sage advice that if followed will at least allow both parties to enter a relationship with their eyes wide open and aware of which areas will need some work.

I’m very grateful for my best friend. She doesn’t read these posts, so I’ll save the details for in person appreciation. Steph and I have definitely learned to be flexible.

Something not mentioned but critical is having common financial goals and avoiding debt like the plague it is. Our marriage hit some pretty hard rocks and they all had to do with money. We spent several years digging out of that mess and are now working on longer term goals like paying off our house and setting up a financially secured future. Sharing the same money goals will do much to exercise flexibility, resourcefulness, creativity, and friendship. It is also great insurance against the toils and trials of life because you will be standing on a solid, unified platform when the storms come.

Good luck in your relationships and I hope Valentine’s Day is a happy occasion. If not this year, you have a year to make plans for a much improved 2014!

Related Articles:

Sorry, I couldn’t resist:

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One thought on “Why Love Can Make You Stupid

  1. Pingback: Why It’s Time … To Let Go | learnactshare

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