- Thursday, September 25, 2003
Everybody loves Love. The notion of being carried away by romantic passion is one of the most common storylines of film and literature. It feels good to be swept up in a rush of love and euphoria. Life looks different. Flowers smell sweeter. Food tastes better. We walk with a spring in our step.
These reactions to a new relationship are the result of chemical processes deep within the brain. They are important to relational bonding and have a powerful impact on our ability to think and make rational decisions.
In fact, love, like other primary emotions such as fear and anger, can easily overwhelm us and cloud our judgment. The key to creating a relationship that lasts past the initial "falling in love" stage is falling in love with your smarts intact. Relationship experts Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott coined the term "Smart Love" to explain the ways that singles can begin a deep emotional relationship with their eyes wide open.
Smart Love seeks a good match—Smart Love knows that for a relationship to have a good chance for success, both partners need to be similar in the important ways. The Parrotts point out that couples well matched in age, educational ambitions, intelligence, and physical attractiveness have a better chance to resolve whatever differences do occur during their relationship. Their common ground binds them together.
Smart Love pays attention to values—Smart Love carefully observes a person's actions. Discovering a person's value system is priority number one. How do they treat service personnel, like waiters? How do they treat their family? What makes them laugh? Do they often see themselves as the victim? Most people are on their best behavior while dating, and these questions are great litmus tests to reveal their true values.
Smart Love doesn't try to change others—One of the worst and most common relationship mistakes occurs when one person decides they will "fix" their date. They are aware of the flaws in their partner and decide that with enough time and "love" they can repair them. These people are often so desperate to be in a relationship that nothing can convince them that theirs is untenable. The Parrotts explain the simple proposition that, "What you see is what you get, and your chances of changing it are very slim."
Smart Love doesn't play games—The list of supposed dating rules is a mile long. Don't call her the day after you meet her. Never talk longer than ten minutes on the phone. Never accept a date for Saturday any later than Wednesday. On and on they go, turning dating into a game of cat and mouse. The best way to explore a person and consider them for a long-term relationship is to be real.
As the Parrotts say, "Games are meant to lure, even manipulate, another person into seeing you as someone you are not." The only way to build a successful relationship is to have the other person fall in love with you as you really are.
Smart Love doesn't run from conflict—The first fight of a relationship is often a cold, harsh awakening. Ever since the first date you have both been on your best behavior, smiling, flirting and basking in the glow of new love. At the end of that first serious disagreement, it is common for both parties to wonder if they should even be in the relationship. Smart Love knows the value of a good, fair, loving argument. During the heat of battle, people often reveal their weaknesses and sore spots, allowing for great growth. In fact, couples that practice effective, heartfelt communication after an argument are the couples that build successful long-term relationships.
Smart Love knows the bottom line—Smart Love has a set of personal guidelines to which it adheres, no matter what it is "feeling." Smart Love thinks through dating issues before a relationship starts, to determine its position on things like seeing other people, common courtesy, and the degree of acceptable physical expression. The Parrotts explain: "The point is to know what you want from a dating partner and where you are willing to bend, and where you are not."
The Parrotts' Smart Love concepts are about taking control of a potential relationship and not leaving things to chance. Smart Love works at building successful partnerships on a consistent basis, with firm guidelines and faith in the permanence of love. It accounts for the ebb and flow of attraction, and helps couples to anticipate change and make it their ally.
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