Wrong Love. Why Do People Love The Wrong Person? - Relationship Advice
James Asked a Question:
Hi veronica, me and my girlfriend have been together for about 2 years now, Im tottaly and fully in love with her now, I love her so much, Im so good to her, its been an on and off, this has happend about 9 times now, I cant help but want her, right now were not together, And Im not sure if we will get back, shes changed alot, she used to be shy, innocent, cute, now its asif She used me to get populer kind of thing, shes cocky and ignorant and horrible to me, She likes flirty boys who just want her body, Im trying to back off from her more now, maybe it will help, to show her how i am, help?
Thanks for asking me your question. You didn't post your age but I'm going to assume you're in high school judging by the term 'getting popular.'
Anyone can tell you she's wrong for you, stop loving her. And they'd be right. But did they help? No, not at all. It didn't change anything, and it didn't give you any insight. If anything, it may have even made you feel misunderstood, or bad about yourself, and that's not good.
There are real reasons why you want this girl. In this Hub I'll explain to you why you feel like you feel. And then we'll go from there.
Love, like alcohol and GuitarHero, can be addictive. Once you get a taste of something that sends new overwhelming chemicals and reactions through your brain and body, you want more of it.
There are 3 distinct phases that you physically endure when falling in love.
First, there's testosterone and oestrogen. These hormones react in under 3 minutes of meeting someone you find attractive. The degree to which they soar determines that undefinable "chemistry" that you have for another person. It can be very lustful and very animal. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's perfectly healthy and normal.
The next phase is induced or at least quantified by your neurotransmitters. Dopamine is raging, and this is where things get complicated for someone like you in particular. Dopamine has a huge job in your brain. Basically it is the chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. But it only comes from doing something rewarding. It associates that behavior, like eating cheeseburgers, with a positive response.
Initially you said this girl was shy and sweet and everything was different. This is probably the time in which your brain imprinted with the idea that being around her, receiving attention from her, and connecting to her, results in happiness and positiveness. Have you learned about Pavlov's dogs yet? It's kind of like that. Your mind chemically learned that it wants her. And it hasn't processed 2 key points: change, and consequence. I will come back to those.
The third stage of physically falling in love is the bonding. Sometimes this is false bonding, like when you see a certain actress's movies and television appearances over and over, you create a bond from reinforcement. But, that's not mutual and it's not a relationship, it's just a fantasy.
Sometimes the bonding is happenstance. Have you ever heard one of your friends say something like they kind of liked a particular girl but it wasn't a big deal. But then they started working at the same place with her, and after seeing her every day, they began to really like her? That's an example of bonding by reinforcement.
There are 2 powerful hormones that create that feeling of bonding. They are released in your body after physical relations. So if you've shared some of your initial physical experiences with this girl, that would explain a lot. And even if you haven't, if you've thought about her during those very private times, that's imprinting as well. The two hormones are vasopressin and oxytocin. The first involves staying power, or commitment to a certain object your focusing on. The second is called the "cuddle hormone" and one of the things it does is to scream at your brain that the dopamine was right. It's like a solidifying force that says, "I KNEW we liked her! See how happy we are now that we're with her?"
OK, getting back to that second physical stage, let me re-use the cheeseburger analogy.
When you're 16, 17 years old, eating cheeseburgers may feel awesome and taste great and they're cheap enough at fast food joints, and there's no problem. You want one, you go get one. Easy-peasy.
Then something happens. A part of your brain that didn't exist, grows. When you're about 21 (somewhere from 19 - 23, usually around the age of 21) your brain develops its frontal lobes. This is the part of the brain that governs consequence. It conceives of notions that you didn't actually grasp before.
This has nothing to do with intelligence. Yes, it is part of the maturing process but it doesn't mean you're being immature now, it just means that you will be maturing even more later. This is a physiological change. It's not something you can just learn, which is why people telling you she's wrong for you means absolutely nothing. The part of your brain that actually works this kind of info doesn't exist for you yet.
When you're 24, and you want a cheeseburger, of course you can still go grab one. But, the difference is, you'll stop to think about it first. You think about your health, and cholesterol, your body and your appearance. You think about the long term effects of eating too much fast food, and you decide to pace yourself. You think about a healthier alternative like a turkey burger, and that it's actually even more cost efficient to buy a box of Boca burgers and cook them up yourself at home. You think about spoiling your dinner, or the person who's expecting you for dinner, or the gas money to drive to the fast food joint, or where you really need to be right now instead of running out for a snack. Lots of things go through your mind in a cohesive way; things you knew before, you just never really thought about. It's a whole new ballgame once those frontal lobes are telling you, "Woe, let's think about this. What's the consequence of this action?"
Your Dopamine and your love and your chemicals are all still into this girl. You patterned. You met her, you went through the 3 physical stages in one way or another, and you fell in "love." The problem is, that with no frontal lobes whispering consequences at you, you aren't really comprehending that she changed. The results have changed. You aren't really conceiving the consequence of devoting so much of your energy and emotion to her at this time, now that things are different.
Just like the cheeseburger, in the future your brain would be telling you how crappy it feels to be treated badly, and that being around her now produces that crappy result. It would be explaining to your brain thatthe first result you grabbed hold of when she was cuter and shyer is gone. It doesn't exist anymore, it has changed. Your frontal lobes would be telling your brain to re-pattern; to take in this new information and process it. It would be pointing things out to you like the really nice girl you aren't getting to know because you're wasting time with the one that makes you feel bad. Your frontal lobes would be filtering through tons of information that you would be able to process and listen to.
Right now, none of that is happening. You're left with teenager brain chemicals and hormones doing their dancing for the first time without any chaperone telling them what's dangerous, what's worth the risk, and what's not.
I hope you can take a breath and read through what I've explained to you a couple of times. Sweetie, there really isn't anything I can say right now that will stop your brain from wanting what it wants. But I can tell you two things for sure, and I hope it helps you deal with this.
1 - You're normal. You're healthy. Don't feel bad about yourself, don't let anyone else try to make you feel bad about this dilemma. What you're experiencing is absolutely something that lots of people your age go through. It's not weird, it's got a completely physical scientific explanation to it. Maybe understanding that can help you to pull back as much as you can from her and deal with the new imprints, the new reality of her.
2 - This shall pass. I promise. You will not spend the rest of your life feeling as you do right now. That's a fact. Your brain is going to physically change. When that happens you are going to see the whole world differently. You will fall in love with new girls, different girls. You will figure out how to assess situations in a clearer way without a permanent imprint of oestrogen misguiding and driving your brain. You will see consequence in a new light, and you'll figure out what actually does trigger real dopamine and oxytocin for you; in other words you'll be able to pursue what actually makes you happy.
For now, do your best to let go. Try to limit your interactions with this girl as much as possible. Don't stare at pics, don't re-read emails, don't go where you know she's going to be. Try to diminish that constant reinforcement. Fill your time and head instead with other things. Artwork, music, skateboards, create a comic, take Tae Kwon do, get a job at a second hand clothing shop, or walk dogs at an animal shelter after school. Don't do the same things. They will only reinforce the same brain chemistry. Mix it up. Change it. You will be very surprised at how much your thinking changes, when you change.
Relax and enjoy something silly. Laughter is the best medicine.
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