In the beginning, love brings a flood of intense emotions. It’s excitement, fluttering butterflies, and soul-stirring magic.
It’s also nervousness, craving, and gut-wrenching fear of rejection. And in the end — when it’s right — it’s a feeling of home; safe, warm, connected, delightful, and hopeful.
Romantic love makes the world a better place, but how does it begin?
Some say that falling in love is completely random; others claim it’s fate. Complete randomness would mean that there is no rhyme or reason to pairing; it happens without design or conscious thought.
At the other end of the spectrum is fate: love that’s predetermined, inevitable, and on purpose.
To some extent, there is randomness, such as being on the same dating site carousel or bumping into someone on the train at a specific time because you missed your regular train. As we go about our day, we make a series of decisions that result in outcomes, which in turn create more effects, not unlike the “what ifs” in the movie Sliding Doors.
Life brings many twists and turns, and if you subscribe to the notion of fate, it can be lovely and reassuring to imagine that you’ve experienced all the heartbreak and loss for a reason. There you are, one day, ready for the promise of something new because it is meant to be.
You must be able to recognize this person as your ideal partner and know what to do with them when they arrive.
And it may not be love at first sight. Research into emotional connection suggests that love at first sight “is not a distinct form of love, but rather a strong initial attraction.”
It starts with chemistry.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher says that you have a biological makeup that naturally draws you to others and drives you to focus your energy on one person, in order to “win life’s greatest prize: a mating partner.”
She describes the process of falling in love as a chemical cocktail of sex hormones in the first stage (lust), dopamine and norepinephrine in the second euphoric stage (attraction), and oxytocin and endorphins in the last stage (attachment) to promote an overall sense of well-being.
Even though you find your new muse’s smile intoxicating and you have been hit by the addiction-forming love drugs, you can ultimately control the course of falling in love which leads to a more mature form of lasting attachment and love.
Let me clarify what I mean by control. It’s not coercing or manipulating anyone. It’s not pretending to be someone you’re not, doing a bait and switch, or engaging in wishful thinking that someone will change after you’re committed. You can’t force someone to fall in love with you as much as you can force yourself to fall in love with someone else. Control in this case is about taking honest, authentic, deliberate action to create a connection.
Here are the ways in which you can influence falling in love:
1. You control if and how you show up.
If you’ve made a conscious choice to look for love, you’re more likely to find it.
If you do nothing, no prince or princess is going to land on your doorstep with a glass slipper. You need to go to the ball.
You can increase your odds of falling for someone by exponentially “meeting” new people and creating opportunities for a connection. The guy who’s reaching for the same last eggplant at the grocery store might never be more than a stranger — unless you smile sweetly and tell him about your plans to make a delicious parmigiana tonight.
2. You determine what you want in a partner.
Finding your perfect match starts with understanding and loving who you are first. Reflect on who you are as an individual — your values, personality, needs, wants goals, and the vision you have for your life.
Once grounded in that, take the time to consider what you want from your next relationship. And don’t forget the one thing many people miss: Ask yourself how you want to feel with the one you’ll give your heart to and how you’ll know when you’ve found them.
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3. You signal to others what matters most.
The search for a partner is quite like the search for a job (and ideally the relationship lasts considerably longer). The organization puts out a job posting, and you respond by submitting your resume, extolling your virtues, qualifications, and enthusiasm for the role. Through discussions, more information is shared about the job, and more is revealed about the person’s ability and interest to perform it.
A similar process unfolds with set-ups from family or friends and in the dating application world. Online dating is increasingly successful and particularly expedient, with 39% of American adults now meeting their partners online.
The dating profile is a critical way to share insightful information about yourself and declare what’s important to you in a match. The best outcomes arise when both parties have put a great deal of thought and effort into it so they will instantly know when they see someone of interest.
This is the logical part of falling in love, and it’s good to vet someone at this stage before becoming emotionally attached.
4. You assess your compatibility.
Once you’ve decided you’re drawn to someone, getting to know them is a process of discovery and assessment. You delight in similarities and explore whether the differences are likely to be exciting, expansive, or a potential challenge. From there, you can choose to allow feelings to grow or shut them down if or when you realize that you’ve run up against a dealbreaker.
5. You decide how much you want to engage.
Falling more deeply involves a choice to get vulnerable or hold back.
Gradually sharing parts of yourself — slowly and starting small — opens the door for another person to do so, too. All too often, though, people get in their own way and put up walls due to insecurities, unrealistic expectations, or reliving ghosts of unions past, and this can stall the relationship.
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Dr. Arthur Aron has studied how people develop and maintain romantic relationships and has theorized that the main motivator for forming relationships is to allow ourselves to grow and expand our sense of self. He developed 36 Questions that Lead to Love, proven to heighten and hasten attachment and fall in love more easily.
When you actively engage with your romantic interest, reveal more about yourself, and ask for what you want, you enhance your authenticity, increase communication, and create trust with another person — all of which solidify your bond.
6. You choose to be a loving partner — one who is present, curious, and kind.
Love is a verb, not a destination. And every day is an opportunity to act on it, beginning with the ‘becoming smitten’ stage.
Approaching your relationship with a mindful attitude can help you to connect to what matters most to you and to see your love interest with fresh, accepting eyes. Dance at the moment, noticing their sexy quirks and their ability to make you laugh, and how being with them motivates you to expand your thinking and grow to new levels.
If you are in a new relationship, it can be empowering to learn that while it might begin with a spark, much of falling in love involves thoughtful and purposeful action.
Be yourself, stay present, provide the right balance of fuel and space to breathe, and then let go so love can take its natural course. This is how you create the type of relationship you have always wanted.
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Lisa Petsinis is a certified career and life coach – and self-described hopeless romantic — who works with individuals who want to show up fully for their lives. Contact Lisa to learn more about her coaching services.
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