THE BLOG
08/17/2011 05:29 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2011

Romantic Love, What It Is, What It Isn't, How to Get It and How to Keep it!

So how's your love life? Is it stellar or does it suck like a bucket of tics?

If by chance yours falls into the latter category, know that you are not alone. In fact, of all the questions you send me, inquiries about romantic relationships are always at the top of the list.

So I decided enough already, let's get to it. And so today's article was born: romantic
love, What it is, What it isn't, How to get it and How to keep it!

That famous chanteuse Tina Turner of Ike and Tina Turner fame, once musically posed
the question about the nature of romantic relationships thusly -- "What's love got to do
with it?" Well, I don't often get the opportunity to respond to a rock and roll icon but this
query, I think, must not go unanswered. So Tina, the fact is that love has everything to do with it, absolutely everything!

Romantic love is one of life's great levelers. Regardless of your sex, occupation,
socioeconomic status, race or ethnic origin most everyone seeks it, yearns for it and yes, even covets it.

Mature romantic love is both extremely simple, and is at the same time unbelievably
complex. Now right from the get go let me address something really important. There are certain disorders and forms of mental illness that make initiating and maintaining intimacy quite challenging. Some of these are depression, bipolar disorder, various personality disorders and schizophrenia.

Many the time that a deeply troubled couple has sought my help and unbeknownst to
them one of the above is part of the problem. But we're not going to talk about love and
mental illness today. What we are going to focus on is a set of linear, stepwise, how to, by the numbers, love lessons.

So all you stud muffins and love monkeys out there put on your thinking caps and use
your listening, not just your hearing ears because we're about to embark on a crash
course in the art of amore at the college of conjugal connectedness, the school of snuggles or dare I say it Love U. Hmmm, that has real T-shirt potential.


Lesson 1 -- Romantic Love, What Is It?

Mature adult romantic love is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding relationships you
will ever have. It combines friendship and sexuality in such a way as to inspire
monogamy and lifelong devotion.


Lesson 2 -- What Romantic Love Isn't

It will not solve your problems, it will not make you happy and it will not turn you
instantly from a child to an adult or from an immature person into a mature one. Those
are things you need to do on your own. Preferably before you attempt to choose an adult
romantic life partner.

Well, that answers to first two parts of our question, now let's move on to How to Get It
and How To Keep It.


Lesson 3 -- Important Questions

People live together and/or get married for a myriad of reasons. Some of them are really
healthy and others not so much...

There are some questions you really need to ask yourself if you're thinking about
spending the rest of your life with someone.

1. If this person weren't going to change at all for the next 30 years would you be
happy with them just as they are today?

2. Who do you become when you are in the company of this individual? And do you
like that person?

3. Who do they become in your company? And do you like that person?

4. Would you be happy if you had a child, or children, that was just like the person
you are planning to marry? So, there would be you and George and three mini-
Georges.

If the answer to any of these questions is not a resounding yes then please put the brakes
on and don't send out the wedding invitations just yet. If you already have there's still
time...

Believe me getting married or moving in together before your potential partner has
resolved his or her drinking problem, spending problem, sex addiction and any of the of
the other ills that flesh and soul are heir to is an invitation to disaster and just plain won't
work. And oh by the way, having a baby won't fix any problems you may have either. In
fact it will make matters worse. A child is the greatest single stresser that you can put on
a marriage or relationship. Just thought I'd mention that while we are on the subject.

Lesson 4 -- Whom Will I Fall In Love With?
Now I hope you're sitting down because this is a big one.
There is a lot of 'brew ha ha' these days about internet dating sites and how, with their
proprietary formula, they and they alone will find you the perfect
woman/man/hermaphrodite or intergalactic hottie. Now, how do I know about the
intergalactic part? Well I've read some of the profiles on various dating sites and I know
some of these folks are from another planet!

While there is nothing wrong with making sure that you and your 'sweetie to be' have a
lot in common and possess similar values, there is a glitch in the system and that glitch is
chemistry. And no dating site in the world can guarantee you chemistry and without
chemistry, there's no match.

Lesson 5 - What the heck is 'Chemistry' and is there an app for
that?

Let's do the easy one first. No, there's not an app for that. Chemistry is, well, it's a
feeling. Different people experience it in different ways physiologically but the bottom
line is it's sexual attraction.

Now here's the problem with dating sites. While it's great to find someone with whom
you share values and have lots in common or, to put it another way, find someone who
looks great on paper it doesn't guarantee chemistry. You can find someone who is a great
match socially and psychologically and you can even find him or her incredibly
physically attractive, but you may find, surprise, surprise, that there's no joy, no magic,
no butterflies in the stomach, no tingling in the loins, in short, no chemistry. And yet, you
can find another person who's not model perfect physically, who doesn't like to do
everything you like to do and is possibly of a completely opposite political persuasion
and yet, you find you fall madly in love despite everything: its instant chemistry!

Join Dr. Cochran on November 6th, 2011 in Los Angeles for A JOURNEY THOUGH ROMANTIC LOVE workshop where she focuses on techniques for how to manage, and what to expect from one of the most challenging developmental tasks of adulthood: the many faces of romantic love. For more details email mcochran@drcochran.org or visit www.drcochran.com.

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The reality of being a woman — by the numbers.