Love at first sight is a romantic notion that became popular during the first half of 20th century since many swore they felt instant love for each other.
However, as the rates of divorce and separations rose, many romantic pairs who swore by it later realized that love was actually not in the air when they started living as couples. That is why around the 1960s, the legitimacy of the love-at-first-sight experience became questionable.
Experts Say Love-at-First-Sight is a Myth
Sociologists like Judson T. Landis PhD, researcher, and author of “Building a Successful Marriage,” said
”Love at first sight is a relationship myth because true love takes some time to develop.” ”Yet it is possible for two people to experience infatuation or an instant physical attraction on their very first meeting”
As the matter continued to be a subject of debate up to the 70s, professor of psychology, Bernard I. Murstein at the Connecticut College also dismissed the “love at first sight” notion as a legit experience. Professor Murstein agreed with earlier research findings that for romantic love to be a genuine emotion, it must have been developed between individuals through a continuing relationship over a period of time.
Scientific researchers presented evidence that the experience is merely a result of a rush of phenylethylamine, an organic stimulant released by the central nervous system when feeling intense physical attraction to another person. It is likely that people started mistaking the strong reaction as love at the very first sight. Researchers said it became a popular notion since, at one point or another, many go through the same experience to a certain degree
However, the notion is being revived in the 21 century, in which the marrying generation is no longer as keen to getting married and settling down as the boomers.
Not unless, they are into a relationship with someone willing to stay true to the traits that generally characterize a good marriage: sense of fairness, empathy and appreciation, as well as willingness to show not only affection but also gratitude. Engaging in open and honest communication is also important, especially in matters regarding sex.
21st Century Researchers Note that the LAFS Syndrome is Re-Emerging
A recent study found out that the love-at-first-sight idea has been re-emerging in the 21st Century. Now called LAFS, many Americans claim it happened to them. Some are even calling the emotion as love-at -first-byte (LFAB), since they fell in love from the first moment they met through exchanges or text or chat messages.
Relationship experts are once again cautioning people about putting much faith in mistaking sexual desire or physical attraction for love. Dr. Howard Markman, a psychologist at the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies, and co-editor of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” says
”Love at first sight is magical and sacred for those who were fortunate enough to have had the experience, but should not be seen as an ideal reason for getting married.”
Psychologists say that there is no exact clinical term in diagnostic manuals about “commitment phobia” or the fear of long-term relationships. Studies about this type of anxiety have been conducted, but mostly, only by way of surveys; suggesting that the results are not entirely comprehensive to provide basis for medical treatment.
Still, survey results were able to establish some common grounds on why most Americans today experience fear of long term relationships. The most common of which is that of being the offspring of divorced parents. Having observed the reasons and circumstances that led to a separation, such as infidelity, abandonment, abuse or even detachment, have made commitment phobes wary about submitting to a long-term relationship.
More often than not, commitment phobes who venture into romantic relationships tend to break-off easily with a partner. They do so without giving their short-term partners concrete reasons why a relationship has to end.
This denotes that some of those short-term partners will also develop a fear of getting into a relationship that could also end abruptly and without clarity. That is why relationships founded on rebound love often times do not work.
Love on a rebound likely looks for telltale signs and at worst, make demands to test their partner’s willingness to commit. Often times, a rebound relationship becomes too difficult to handle, and end up as another failed union.
Which brings us to the question that if “commitment phobia” is a real psychological problem, would it not be best for people to avoid getting into a serious and intimate relationship with a commitment phobe? Lest a person also develop doubts and anxiety over future serious and long-term relationships.
Finding Happiness by Understanding and Altering Distorted Perceptions
Although counseling helps, psychiatrists say there must also be a willingness to understand and change one’s distorted perceptions about serious long-term relationships. After all, the most important element that allows successful marriages to last, is the mutual willingness to commit — to see a relationship through thick and thin; not only during the good times but most especially during the hard times.
In 2016, psychology researchers at Simon Fraser University in B.C. Canada, launched a survey to find out if “commitment phobes’ are happier being single or partnered, however short-lived a relationship may be.
The survey discovered that with today’s generation, those who admitted to being averse to long-term commitments, are more focused in advancing their career or business. They appear to be commitment phobes who have embraced their fear of relationships, yet do not constantly look for a partner on whom they will force their anxiety issues.
Change in perception must also take into account that today’s society no longer view long lasting marriages as the norm of a successful life. David Ezell, the Clinical Director of Darien Wellness in Connecticut said that
”Back then, people had the notion that permanent coupling and raising a family was the only future that people perceived for themselves.” “That is no longer true because people now have other options aside from dependency.”
A recently published relationship study conducted by researchers of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada concluded that new romantic relationships will not have much difference from the last one.
According to lead author of the study, Matthew Johnson, a relationship researcher and a professor in the Human Ecology Department of the U of A, starting a new partnership does not necessarily mean things will be different.
After conducting an 8-year study of 554 people in Germany the results of the research showed that eventually, and once the magic of the honeymoon phase has faded, new relationships tend to have the same dynamics as in past broken relationships. New partnerships will likely fall into the same patterns in many aspects.
The study, which is regarded as among the firsts to explore the issue long-term, surveyed people at four points:
1. In the year before their first intimate romantic relationship ended
2. In the final year of that first romantic affair.
3. During the first year of the new relationship.
4. Finally, a year after the new relationship..
In those four points, several relationship aspects were assessed:
- Ability to open up to a partner.
- Frequency of sex,
- Frequency of expressing admiration for one’s partner.
- Confidence that the relationship will last.
The review revealed that Frequency of Sex and Expressing Admiration for the Partner, remained stable across previous and present relationships, but showed increased frequency in the rebound relationship.
According to Professor Johnson, the two aspects are directly dependent on a partner’s behaviour, which is why changes can be expected in those areas. Although the professor also noted that even if sexual frequency increased in new relationships, the level of sexual satisfaction stayed the same.
Study Author Says It is Important to Have a Genuine View of a Past Serious Affair When Moving into a Rebound Love
Although people tend to feel that there is something different in a rebound relationship, Professor Johnson said that it is because the new partnership is being compared to the point when the past partnership ended. When a new one is started, the relationship exists outside of the drudgery of everyday life like child care and housework. That is why in new relationships, everything is wonderful at first.
Professor Johnson gives advice that it is important to have a clear and genuine view of a past romance before moving into a new one. He reasoned that outcomes of a bad relationship tend to color people’s view of the entire aspects of a relationship, but
”having a more balanced view of the positives and negatives, will give us realistic expectations over a new relationship.”
Although the face of marriage in America has changed dramatically through the years. Nonethless, love still tops the reasons why couples get married. That is, if ever they decide to get married.
The Pew Research Center provided information that the trend of unmarried American adults cohabiting with their partner is currently on the rise. Pew gathered that In 2016, unmarried adults living together numbered as many as 18 million, a stark increase of 29% from the figure established in 2007. About half of those who simply moved in with their partners are below 35 years old. One interesting fact is that the other rising half of cohabiters in America are aged 50 years and above.
Apparently, in almost any group of generation today, whether Z, X, Millennial or Baby Boomers, most think that society no longer minds if couples are just living together or married. In a 2019 Pew Research involving the so-called Silent Generation, or people born between 1925 and 1942 who represent at least 20 million adult Americans, fifty-four (54%) also shared the belief living together without officially tying the knot does not make a difference in the present day society. Still, a sizable forty-one percent (41%) of this generation still think of cohabitation as a bad idea.
Now for those who do get married, a Pew 2013 Survey revealed several reasons why they decided to make their union legally binding.
Love still tops the list. The Pew Survey said that eighty-eight percent (88%) of Americans who responded, cited love as the foremost reason for getting married.
Commitment to a lifelong relationship was cited by eighty-one percent (81%) of the respondents.
Companionship is also a compelling reason for about seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who decided to marry.
Other Reasons have been noted by a few, such as religion (30%), financial (28%) and legal rights and benefits (22%). Such reasons were interesting enough for Pew on which to conduct a survey.
Pew Research on Couples with Different Religion and Political Views
Even if love is still the main reason why people get married, Pew found out that a sizable number of couples got married even if they did not have the same religious beliefs.
According to a 2014 Pew Research about interfaith marriages, many were Christians who married a partner who do not belong to any religious affiliation. About thirty-nine percent (39%) who got married in 2010 settled down with a partner who has a different religion. When compared to those who wed in 1960, the figure reached only nineteen percent (19%). Suggesting that religion in modern American marriages is no longer as important as before.
Yet when it comes to political views, a 2016 Pew Research Survey revealed that seventy-seven (77%) of married or cohabiting Republicans and Democrats, settled or are living with a partner who supports the same political party as theirs.
What makes a marriage last, and what doesn’t? If you are to ask this question from someone who has been married for quite some time, he or she will probably expound on three (3) elements: mutual admiration, mutual respect and compatibility as the main ingredients to a lasting marriage. So if those three (3) elements are absent from a marital relationship,the marriage is likely to end in divorce.
Actually most unions start with couples having mutual admiration and respect for each other; regardless of shared lifestyle. Still,it is important that admiration and respect are not rooted on some superficial reasons such as physical appearance, wealth or influence. Otherwise, those feelings are likely to erode, as soon as such reasons are gone.
More often than not, those who continue to admire and respect each other even during rough and tumble times, as well as beyond youth and financial capabilities, stay married and endure whatever challenges and changes transpire during their union. Simply stated, it is all a matter of being committed to fulfill one’s vow of loving and cherishing a person for the rest of one’s life, no matter what.
The only problem is that it is always a case of “easier said than done.” After all, not all marriages are beset with the same problems.
Now if you are to ask a divorce lawyer why some marriages last, while some do not, he or she will probably discuss with your reasons based on statistics.
Important Studies and Statistics about Marriage and Divorce
Based on a 2016 survey, (the latest conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics), the divorce rate in the U.S. has declined to 3.2 per 1000 population, while marriage rate also declined at 6.9 per 1000 population. Recent studies conducted revealed that millennials who marry later, whilst married millennials staying married longer, are the main reasons for the decline in both aspects.
Although in the U.S., statistics have it that an average first marriage lasts about 8 years before the union ends in divorce. Of the sixty-six percent of marriages that ended in divorce, data showed that wives initiated the filing for proceedings.
According to a national survey, the following are the most common reasons why couples divorced:
73% cite lack of commitment as the major reason.
56% said they argued too often.
55% said they divorced because their spouse was unfaithful.
46% reasoned that they married too young
45% claimed that their spouse had unrealistic expectations
44% felt there was lack of equality in the relationship
41% acknowledged that lack of preparation for the marriage was the main reason.
25% said they suffered from physical abuse or domestic violence
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