Q. Why is it that so many people can make good, well thought out decisions about their jobs, careers, choice of cars, where they vacation, etc but in matters of love they seem to have no working brain cells? Love seems to be the most difficult road to navigate. Why?

A. First of all, decisions about love are usually not made from a cognitive, well thought out plan. Love is about emotion, its a feeling. You may “tell” yourself, “I have made up my mind, I am breaking up with Larry,” but then Larry calls, says all the right things and you forget your previous plans. Your emotions are now rewriting your script.
The hardest battle to be fought is between what you KNOW and what you FEEL. How do you stay in your head long enough to make good, healthy decisions when it comes to love?
When you read the writing on the wall that tells you the relationship has many flaws; do you erase it and pretend it will be ok, do you read it and try to change the word “flaws” to something less toxic or do read it and realize you are losing more than you are gaining (you move from your emotions to your cognitive problem solver).
If more people in dysfunctional, toxic relationships could choose to be single and take some time for themselves then there would be an opportunity to learn more about choosing healthier people. If this “alone, down time” could be viewed as “self care time” then insight could be gained and different choices made. But being ALONE scares some people into staying, no matter how abusive.
People are wired to love and be loved. Love can be healthy, warm, nurturing and just makes you feel good. Having someone to communicate about the day, the world, what to have for dinner; to hold and feel the warmth of a hug, a kiss; to protect and support………now that’s healthy love. It really does exist.
I was talking to a friend who has been married for 25 years and she said the key to her marriage has been friendship. She and her husband developed a friendship before and continued throughout their marriage. They don’t just talk, they communicate. They both have a strong self worth, respect for each other and for themselves.
Before you feel love, think about it. What does love mean to you? If you don’t have a “deal breaker” or two, stay home. It’s dangerous to date and not know what you won’t accept. At least try to do some “cognitive brain cell work” before your emotions jump into high gear.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

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