Shakespeare famously wrote about the experience of being “blinded by love” in three of his plays to caution audiences about the slippery nature of ignoring the faults of those we adore.
It turns out, The Bard was onto something. Science tell us that love does perform a bit of trickery on our minds, especially in the beginning of a relationship when we’re flooded with a powerful cocktail of chemicals that mimic the experience of being high on cocaine.
We feel “high on love’ … because we literally are!
In The Merchant of Venice (Act 2, Scene 6), Shakespeare writes: “But love is blind, and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit.” Or, in modern translation: “But love is blind, and lovers can’t see the silly things they do around each other.”
As we fall in love, doing whatever it takes to ensnare our beloved becomes fair game.
We put on our best attitude, behavior and efforts to encourage that special someone to fall in love with us. We aim to impress and we want their love in return.
But the cold hard fact is — much of this “wooing” behavior stops once the relationship is established. Therefore, who you meet (and fell in love with) at the beginning isn’t always the person he or she really is on the inside. To meet that true version of your partner, you have to stick around long enough for the romantic chemicals to wear off.
And the “love drug” euphoria is not long lived. Research tells us that 18 months to 3 years after a relationship has begun, it wears off.
What sustains a relationship at that point are the shared feelings of love, trust, friendship and sexual connection that are not chemically induced, but rather, genuinely felt. From that time forward, our feelings for our partner are led by the complicated relational elements that tie us together.
In other words, we’re left to judge our partner based solely on his or her actions.
And this is when things can get tricky because promises of love can only take us so far if they’re not also uplifted by the chemicals in our brain. Facing this time in a relationship (and truly seeing each other clearly, often for the first time) is very hard on many couples.
In the light of reality, if their shared expectations and dreams for a future together don’t line up, many couples believe that’s the signal they should breakup.
Being blinded by love caused them to willingly ignore signs along the way that they weren’t truly an ideal match or that aspects of their relationship didn’t work well.
- What IF your partner has traits or flaws that aren’t in your best interest?
- What IF your partner behaves in ways that might harm your ability to reach your life goals?
- What IF your partner isn’t the person he or she claimed to be during the wooing phase of your relationship?
All too often, couples take the BIG leap into living together or getting married during these chemical induced years. For example, it’s not uncommon for engagements to happen two to three years after couples start dating.
Making major decisions like that becomes more challenging when you’re suddenly faced with your partner’s real flaws. Choosing to remain blind to that reality doesn’t ultimately serve you. What was once a smartly-turned “blind eye” can now lead you down the path of relationship disaster if you don’t find the courage to face your life, your choices, and your partner honestly.
Considering that we all eventually experience this sobering up from the “love high” in ourrelationships, we wanted to bring the topic to our Experts to discuss the price we pay when we choose to stay blind to qualities/traits in our partner … at the start of a relationship, and further in.
Our panel is made up of anthropologist and research scientist, Dr. Helen Fisher. Helen has written extensively on the science of the brain in love, and for this discussion, she is joined by host and YourTango Senior VP of Experts Melanie Gorman, behavioral analyst Steven Sisler, divorce coach Kimberly Mishkin and author Cathleen Miller.
Understanding the power of being “blinded by love” can really open your eyes to why you’ve made silly decisions about a mate in the past. Watch the video above for tips on how to make sure you’re finally seeing clearly when it comes to making decisions about matters of the heart.
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