I am asked, quite often "why did I fall in love with him or with her? I want to change me and to choose better for myself, an easier partnership, something is wrong with my choices, it should not be this hard.......they all say!"
I proceed to explain the blueprint of love which was intricately designed during the first 18 months of life. Difficult for most to accept because, in my office, they are experiencing pain and difficulty with their lover/life partner and wished that they had chosen differently meaning having a different blueprint. Well, we do not have a different blueprint, we will never have a different one, our job is to embrace, examine, redesign, redefine and treasure the one we have found. Leaving and searching for another one will only give us a replica of the original and the frustrating process repeats itself without an enriching and healing outcome. All that is required is two caring individuals who both understand and commit to this concept & willing to work hard on it. Here is the science behind the concept.
Ability to Love Takes Root in Earliest Infancy
While those attitudes can change with new relationships, introspection, and therapy, in times of stress old patterns often reassert themselves. The mistreated infant becomes the defensive arguer; the baby whose mom was attentive and supportive works through problems, secure in the goodwill of the other person.
This is an "organizational" view of human social development. Explains Simpson: "People find a coherent, adaptive way, as best as they can, to respond to their current environments based on what's happened to them in the past." What happens to you as a baby affects the adult you become: It's not such a new idea for psychology -- but solid evidence for it has been lacking.
Simpson, Collins, and Salvatore have been providing that evidence: investigating the links between mother-infant relationships and later love partnerships as part of the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation. Their subjects are 75 children of low-income mothers whom they've been assessing from birth into their early 30s, including their close friends and romantic partners. When the children were infants, they were put into strange or stressful situations with their mothers to test how securely the pairs were bonded. Since then, the children -- who are now adults -- have returned regularly for assessments of their emotional and social development. The authors have focused on their skills and resilience in working through conflicts with school peers, teenage best friends, and finally, love partners.
Through multiple analyses, the research has yielded evidence of that early encoding -- confirming earlier psychological theories. But their findings depart from their predecessors' ideas, too. "Psychologists started off thinking there was a lot of continuity in a person's traits and behavior over time," says Simpson. "We find a weak but important thread" between the infant in the mother's arms and the 20-year-old in his lover's. But "one thing has struck us over the years: It's often harder to find evidence for stable continuity than for change on many measures."
The good news: "If you can figure out what those old models are and verbalize them," and if you get involved with a committed, trustworthy partner, says Simpson, "you may be able to revise your models and calibrate your behavior differently." Old patterns can be overcome. A betrayed baby can become loyal. An unloved infant can learn to love.
- J. A. Simpson, W. A. Collins, J. E. Salvatore. The Impact of Early Interpersonal Experience on Adult Romantic Relationship Functioning: Recent Findings From the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (6): 355 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411418468