Why am I not ‘falling in love’?

Is your dating a series of meeting wonderful people but then no real feelings or sparks? There is a phenomenon where some people won’t get that heady spark during dating. But it does come later in the marriage.

It could be that you have difficulty bonding. There may be nothing you can or should do to change that. That is your makeup. But, do not withdraw from the relationship. Instead, learn how to connect meaningfully with another person, and then the loving feelings will come.

Understanding the Bonding Process (The glue bottle metaphor)

Typically, how does someone decide who they want to spend the rest of their life with? They meet someone who is quite close to what they are looking for in a spouse. If they feel that this person is compatible with their needs and values, then they give them serious consideration and the relationship bond deepens.

What’s really happening:  When meeting someone who they feel is compatible, it brings on a sense of relief: “Wow, there really is someone so compatible with me!” This then leads to a growing level of enthusiasm, as they discover more and more about the person and realize just how well they gel. Of course, there are some little things that they may not particularly like, or maybe even find unappealing. But, the general excitement takes over and some of these issues – especially minor ones – get steamrolled.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. The human mind is designed so that when there is a feeling of compatibility, it sends out signals to the brain – sometimes with ferocious intensity – calling for deeper bonding with this person. In other words, the mindful view of the person automatically results – in most cases – in chemical reactions in the brain. Those reactions bring on more and more feelings of closeness to the other person. If both parties are experiencing the same thing, a growing closeness will result. The couple in this situation are hurtling head-first into marriage.

You may think of this as glue in a glue bottle. The process of getting to know the person and increasingly finding more in common, or that is compatible, results in the glue bottle in the brain bursting open. And then the two of them stick to each other. This stickiness has the effect even if there are certain reservations, or they see some faults in the other person. The gluing effect means that they find it hard to separate, and in fact find themselves increasingly bonding.

This often reaches a point that any rational assessment of the situation is impossible, and the emotional connection is now running the show. This is what is meant by ‘falling in love’. It is the transition from making a decision to falling off a cliff into an exuberant motivation to bring the other person into a permanent bond. Marriage!

When the glue bottle does not burst

So far so good. What happens, though, if your glue bottle is not designed to burst open? No matter how much you think this individual would make a great marriage partner, you just do not have those loving feelings you expect should happen. Regardless of much you feel the other person is compatible, you just never ‘fall in love’?

The vast majority of people are likely to conclude that this person is just not for them. The reasoning is completely logical: “If this person were really someone I could marry, I would be more enthusiastic about being with them. If I can go home and not think about them, then there is clearly no connection.” According to the process described above, this seems utterly reasonable. Compatibility leads to growing closeness, which directly results in those “butterflies in the stomach.” No butterflies, no marriage.

Butterflies-marriage is the path for most people. But not everyone. Around three percent of all people have a brain that works differently. They do not fall in love; rather, they grow in love. They have a pot of glue in their brain, but it does not burst. It opens very slowly – mostly as a reaction to a real relationship. Every one of the people I have ever met who are in this group have great relationships with their parents, siblings, friends, and work colleagues. They are great at relationships.

They struggle only with romantic relationships.

The reason: all those other relationships are long-term. The feelings of closeness or love they have in those relationships are the product of years of actually interacting with them. With dating, those bonding feelings are expected to emerge in a relative vacuum. And that is not how they are designed; it does not happen for them in that way.

So, they often go through endless dating effort. Each time, they walk away because “there are no feelings.” The rejected party is utterly confused by the failure of the relationship. From their perspective, everything was perfect. And it was.

A different dating experience than most people

If you are in that group, you are going to have a very different dating experience from most people. Even in this group, there is a range of how intense it might be. It is vital that you understand that. If what is set out here in anyway describes you, speak to someone who can help you get around this obstacle.

Good news, people in this group do get married – successfully. I have worked with my clients to better understand themselves and how they experience dating. They have been able to master themselves and go on to have successful marriages.

Next steps

Speak to a [relationship coach or therapist].

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