What Makes For Lasting Love?
Lasting Love: A Study
One question I have been asked before is "why do some relationships last while others fade?" For a long time, I could not find a satisfactory answer to this question until recently when I read an article regarding romantic love and relationships (Beste, Bergner, and Nauta, 2003).
Here is a summary of the findings of this empirial study:
According to this research, the biggest reason that couples who were at one time in love split up is because one person in the relationship (if not both) came to believe that the person they were with is not the person with whom they fell in love.
Example: let us say that I, Sally, fall in love with Mark. Mark and I become a couple are together for a number of years. Over time, however, I come to believe that the Mark I am with now is not the same as the Mark I fell in love with initially. This realization -- often slow -- has me fall out of love with Mark because, in my mind, I was never in love with this Mark at all.
So, in this way, regardless of whether or not Mark had changed at all over the course of our relationship, I, Sally, have come to believe that he has or that I was misled in some way in the beginning.
Believing that the person you are with is not the person you fell in love with engenders negative feelings and may easily lead to the dissipation of the relationship.
Further, the researchers indicate that “as long as they continue to believe that the other is the person they originally took her or him to be, they are likely to remain in love” (p.135)
Given all of this information is seems clear that one way to keep love going is to be aware of your love.
Importantly, because everyone changes over time and this includes people in romantic relationships. When these individuals change in divergent ways, this can lead to the above described scenario. However, when two people grow and change together (achieved by open communication and convergent interests and life paths) the bonds of love seem more likely to be strengthened.
Source: Beste, S. A., Bergner, R. M., and Nauta, M. M. (2003). What keeps love alive? An empirical investigation. Family Therapy, 30(3) 125 – 142
Another hub of mine on love: Romantic Love versus Sexual Desire