I just thought this was useful when I stumbled across it in my DBT book because it helps me filter out some of my addictive behaviours and thinking when it comes to love. (I am 30+ days sobriety without slips! woohoo!) In the emotion regulation module it talks about how emotions can feel in the body, how they can look in terms of expression but also what kinds of things can prompt that emotion. So when I saw the ones for love it was interesting:
- offers or gives you something you want, need or desire. So I guess this could be the whole romantic side of things, open gestures, presents, listening to you, to supporting you with practical day to day things.
- Does things you want/need – helps through favours, e.g. needing a lift, dropping you.
- Does things you particularly value or admire – now this one stood out to me because when I acted from a place of BPD impulsivity or addiction I didn’t always end up with people who did things or acted in a way I admired or found impressive/sensible even. It was more a need to have someone then I’d ‘fall in love’ regardless. They could be rude, or speak to me rudely and I would still be in ‘love’ (not really something to admire!) or be lazy and not work properly or moan about contributing financially etc. and I’d be in a relationship with them still. Reading this helped me because I know now that I do want someone who’s behaviour I admire and respect and who’s values I admire and agree with. I want to be impressed by them, like what they do, how they carry themselves, what they believe in. I didn’t always have that. Now I am willing to hold out for that.
- Feeling physically attracted to someone – this one also meant something as when I ‘scan’ or end up noticing someone’s good looking I tense up. My therapist said it’s because the moment things can go even the slightest bit forward into the potential of a relationship or some form of romantic/sexual bond I become afraid. My poor boundaries and bad experiences mean I am very afraid at the moment. But I can see now that while attraction might be one of the things that can prompt feelings of love it’s not the only thing I’d need to decide whether it’s love and/or the potential of a relationship. It’s not enough at all, and if I feel too pulled in by this I’d need to check some of the other things to make sure theyre present.
- Being with someone you have fun with. Also not always been the case for me. I had an ex who was so clingy that I couldn’t have fun with him and other people he’d get upset the attention wasn’t on him. Then I had an ex who wasn’t fun to be around because he’d just get drunk and be rude/sleepy/inattentive then I had been with someone who made terrible rude jokes, we didn’t share the same interests. I have had ex’s with whom this did hold true but now I see I really do need this. It’s important and I’d have to know whether we can have fun together before heading into something.
This ex I didn’t admire his behaviours, I didn’t feel physically attracted to him, I didn’t always appreciate his values and I didn’t have fun with him – so obviously this was from my addiction and desire to quell emptiness as love couldn’t be formed on that.
You spend a lot of time with someone. Makes sense. In impulsive relationships you may spend a very short fragment of time (maybe just sex, anyone?) or you rarely meet and yet your ‘heart’s broken’ because youre so in ‘love’. I guess what I mean to say is, you need to spend a lot of time with someone. I do, and I’ve seen how less time can ruin a relationship that did once have love in it.
You share a special experience with someone. Positive experiences, soul fulfilling experiences. Not mini traumas. If I’m not feeling happy and having any kind of experience that is positive or special then it’s more likely not worth it.
You have exceptionally good communication with a person. This is a no brainer I guess, but I always thought about this once youre in a relationship, that’s how people usually (I find, anyway) talk about this. As in, when you’re in a relationship people are always quick to say that ‘you need to communicate’ or ‘talk it out’. But I never thought of this before the relationship. If I can talk to someone openly about my diagnosis, about my issues, about when I’m upset or angry it would be a worthwhile relationship as we’d cut out the potential for a lot of arguments and I’d feel a lot more validated.
I guess the main thing all of this has taught me is that love definetly takes time. You need time with someone to know whether you enjoy time together. You need to talk to know if you have good communication with the person and across time, across situations and moods. You need to know them well enough to see how they behave and act and morally carry themselves to know whether they are someone you admire. All of this is a timely process and most likely explains why people who start off as friends can form such a good bond because they already know a lot of things about the person and about their interactions together. When I was acting out before in addiction and BPD, I would sleep with someone too soon or engage in sexual activity too soon, couple up almost straight away and then learn all of this about a person. No wonder it wouldn’t last then because I would then find out all of the things I didn’t like, or that there isn’t much for me to admire or that we don’t spend enough time together so on and so forth and then there’d be a lot of heartbreak. In the future (whenever that is) I think I want to really change this, I really want to take my time and really know who it is I am investing my time and feelings into.