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Romantic Obsession IS NOT Love: An Excerpt from ‘The 5 Love Languages’ By Dr. Gary Chapman

4 November 2011 3 Comments

Right now I’m enjoying this AMAZING read, The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman, that explains how there are five, completely different “dialects” of deep, emotional connection and that we each come predisposed for a particular one. (“The personality types of love,” if you will.)

Unfortunately though, *we only understand OUR OWN language*, so too many great relationships and marriages eventually grow cold by us not VALIDATING one another – not “speaking love” to one another – on the frequency that other person is attuned to. Essentially, most relationships become the equivalent of someone speaking German to another who only understand Chinese.

So the five languages Chapman discovered are – write this down – (1) words of affirmation, (2) quality time, (3) receiving gifts, (4) acts of service, and (5) physical touch, but before he “breaks down the science” and gives techniques for each one, he covers two VERY important points:

(A) That the need for love is not simply a childhood phenomenon… that it’s something we ALL need even in our adulthood, and (B) that the initial romantic infatuation we go through IS NOT REAL LOVE, that it’s guaranteed to fade away with time (even though it seems perfect midstream), so we need to approach loving our mate in a more disciplined, conscientious way.

So for your reading pleasure (thank me later…or thank YOURSELF by buying the book), here’s an excerpt on that last point. Enjoy…

On “Falling In Love”

“Some researchers, like psychiatrist M. Scott Peck and psychologist Dorothy Tennov, conclude that the ‘in-love’ experience shouldn’t be called ‘love’ at all. Dr. Tennov coined the term ‘limerence’ for the in-love experience in order to distinguish it from actual, genuine love.

picture of couple getting counseling

Dr. Peck says that falling-in-love isn’t real for three key reasons: first, it’s not an act of will or conscious choice. No matter how much we may WANT to fall in love, we never actually “make” it happen (it’s often when we’re NOT seeking it that we’re overtaken) and that’s why we tend to fall in love at inopportune times and with unlikely people.

Second, falling in love isn’t real because it’s effortless. Whatever we do in the “in-love” state requires little discipline or conscious effort on our part:

book cover image of the 5 love languages by gary chapman>> the long, expensive phone calls we make to each other,

>> the money we spend traveling to see one another,

>> the gifts we give and

>> the professional work and projects we sacrifice

…are as nothing to us. Just like a bird, by instinct, builds a nest, so being in love, by instinct, pushes us to do outlandish and unnatural things.

Third (and most importantly), someone who’s ‘in love’ is not genuinely interested in the personal growth of the other person: our main purpose is *to terminate our own loneliness* and perhaps ensure that termination through marriage.

Again, being ‘in love’ DOES NOT focus on our own development OR on the development of the other person. Instead, it gives us the (false) notion that we’ve “arrived” and need no further development at all. When we’re in love, we’re at the apex of life’s happiness and our only desire is to stay there: certainly our beloved doesn’t need to grow…she’s *definitely* perfect, and we simply hope she’ll remain that way.

So What IS Real Love Then???

If falling in love isn’t real, what is it? Dr. Peck concludes that it’s (brace yourself…we’re about to get analytical):

A genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior: the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species…”

(NOTE: Now if you’re thinking “WTF???” after reading that, don’t worry…I was too. Basically, we’re wired to fall in love so the species can continue: limerence exists to insure that we keep getting our freak on.)

picture of couple laying in bed

Whether you agree with that or not, you can’t disagree that the experience catapults us into emotional orbit like nothing else and DIS-engages our reasoning: we do and say things we’d never do and say if sober and – after we come down from the emotional obsession – wonder why we even did them in the first place.

When the wave of emotions subside and we’re back in the real world, we see our differences and ask ‘Why did we get married? We don’t agree on anything.’ But at the height of in-loveness we *thought* we agreed on everything…at least everything that was important.

So does this mean that after our genes trick us into marriage we either (a) resign ourselves to a life of misery with our spouse or (b) jump ship and try again??? Most of our generation has chosen the latter, but statistics prove – with 40% of first marriages ending in divorce, but 60 and 75% of second and third marriages ending in divorce, respectively – that the chance of living happily ever after the second or third time around is insubstantial.

But research indicates that THERE’S A THIRD AND BETTER CHOICE: to recognize the “in-love” experience for what it was – a temporary emotional high – and pursue ‘real love’ with our spouse…the kind that’s emotional in nature but not obsessive.

It’s a love that unites reason AND emotion. It involves will and requires discipline, AND it recognizes the need for personal growth.

Remember, our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love, but to BE genuinely loved…to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me…who sees in me something worth loving.” ~ Dr. Gary Chapman



  • Sepia Prince said:

    “our main purpose is *to terminate our own loneliness* and perhaps ensure that termination through marriage.” – My goodness, I nominate that as a candidate for one of the best quotes I have read/heard all year!

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Yup, yup…the book is FIRE too. You can tell he knows A LOT more then just relationships, and he gives you a simple framework to develop your own personal relationships in life from henceforward.

    His book is one of the few that “teach fishing” if you catch my drift…

  • Chrysler Kuba said:

    Awesome! This is a great information that many people need. Knowing what love truly is, will only bring happiness to the relationship and wisdom. Which brings more happiness.

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