Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to fall out of love with anyone... Does it work the other way around?

Several new people have subscribed to this blog as a result of the upcoming Book Club. Yay! Our first book will be The Happiness Project starting June 1. In preparation for that I will be having a schedule with topics about happiness and chapter topics as well as some resources and questions for discussion. Stay tuned! For those who have blogs, please let me know if you'd like me to add your blog link on my page under Book Club Participants.

Besides blogging about the books, I also blog about love and relationships. I will use the words "Book Club:" in the titles of the posts that have to do with the book club, so that if you're only interested in that, you can ignore the other posts.
I have often debated the question about whether or not someone could choose to fall in love. In fact, this is one of the themes of The Laptop Dancer Diaries. I'm looking for that secret formula. Well, interestingly today in an Psychology Today article titled, Love and Your Thought Life, there was some information about how to fall out of love with anyone.

The renowned psychotherapist Milton Erickson asserted that he could get you to fall out of love with anyone. No matter how much you may appreciate that person now, he could undermine that love, and this is how.

He would simply have you focus on that person and talk (in detail) about 5 things that you can’t stand about the person --- it might be their sloppy table manners OR the fact that they seldom pick up after themselves OR the weight they have gained OR their poor hygiene OR the fact that they are exhausted every night by 8:30 OR the fact that they don’t make enough money OR…..

Erickson also argued that he could get you to grow in your affection and appreciation for anyone. Simply focus on that person and talk (in detail) about 5 things you love about them --- it might be the sparkle in their eyes OR the fact that they work so hard for your benefit OR their patience with the children OR their willingness to help others OR the fact that they don’t go out partying without you……

What you focus on expands in your consciousness.

When I first read this, I thought the implication was that if you focus on the positive, you will fall in love. Upon re-reading, I see that Erickson only claims your affection and appreciation will grow, but you won't necessarily fall in love, by focusing on the positive. Love (at least romantic love) seems to require an element of chemistry... of physical attraction... that you can't force.

I certainly think focusing on the positive is something we should do, not just with romantic partners, but with all relationships and in life in general. Repeating five things we appreciate our jobs every day will help us feel better about getting up and getting to that job. And if we're in a long-term relationship or a marriage, it seems the right thing to do is focus on the positives of our partner and the relationship.

On the other hand, if we're in a new relationship, there can often be a tendency to not want to see the negative. In relationship expert Mary Jo Fay's latest blog post, Seeing Where This Relationship Will Go she warns against staying in dead end relationships.

Every relationship has it's pros and cons. The tough part, especially in a new relationship, is figuring out whether or not the pros outweigh the cons. If you see some red flags (and everybody has something... I know I sure have my share of faults...) do you overlook those because of the positive you are getting out of the relationship? If you are a person who naturally focuses on the positive, are you being blind to a new partner's faults? Might you end up in a bad relationship because you focused too much on the positive? Do you want to be in a relationship so badly that you choose to ignore the negative stuff?

Is there a problem with focusing only on the positive? What do you think?


Rebecca S. Mullen said...

I don't feel qualified to talk about new relationships any more. I've been married now for 22 years and I'm so invested in that "go for the longterm" approach that I don't think I'm good at the test-it-out way of thinking.

However, I can echo the idea that what you focus on gets you more of that. I adore my husband. But, like you say, every person has their down sides. I was recently focusing on a few of these not so glamorous traits in my husband recently and I felt my affection for him waning.

What was this? I wondered. I made myself I promise that for 3 days I'd repeat to myself all the wonderful things about him I crave. You know what? All the romantic feelings returned.

Yvette said...

Yes, focusing on the positive in a relationship seems to always bring out the best of both people.