As children we are weaned on Cinderella and acculturated by an endless parade of romantic fantasies in novels, television and movies. It would be easy to assume that if we are not madly in love there is something wrong with us.

The euphoria of being in love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties. The object of our affection is perfect; any problems we see in them will disappear because of love; we feel more alive than ever; our sense of self worth is at its peak; we don’t get sick (immunity is actually strengthened during the phase); and we even look better. It is indeed one of life’s pure joys.

But the dizziness ends—for everyone. That’s why the stories about the spoony prince and princess never go on to talk about what happens next. The altered state of consciousness resulting from the shower of love chemicals that bathe the brain can only last for about two years. From a biological point of view, this is long enough to conceive a child and for the man to be held in the relationship while the mother and child are most vulnerable.

Since sex is primarily for the purpose of procreation, men are inclined to bond to women for short periods of in-love engagement, and then move to the next opportunity for being in love and disseminating genetics. There are longer-term considerations for a woman. She may end up with a child that will be her responsibility to suckle and nurture. Being at such risk, she is inclined to be more deliberate in her selection of a mate since long-term security and stability are of utmost importance for her and the child she will bear.

Men are the initiators of relationships and women more choosy and careful. This is not because of tradition, but because of these innate differences. Women flaunt their looks and sexuality; men flaunt their money (security) and strength (protection). Note how our hunter-gatherer origins are manifest in the way men are inclined toward sport and career (hunting, protecting, and providing), while women are inclined toward shopping, housekeeping, nurturing (gathering, sheltering, child rearing). It’s all a human version of a mating dance.

Even the male and female sexual responses mirror these fundamental differences. The man is quickly aroused and more easily fulfilled, whereas the woman is slower to arousal, giving her more time to opt out if she determines the guy is a real loser. None of us have to think through these things. It is just who we are at our core; behaviors emanate from there.

In a pre-civilized world in which survival and perpetuation of the species was the imperative, moving to the inner urge of spreading seed far and wide was fine and dandy. But today’s world is one in which stable, peaceful relationships and families, as well as intelligent population control are necessary for the very survival of the species. New rules are in order, the first being that mind, not gonad reflexes, must take priority.

Without realizing that the in-love altered state of consciousness will inevitably pass, and acknowledging the fundamental innate differences between the sexes, people are doomed to frustration when the intense feelings masking differences and excusing foibles abate. Then couples sense that they may have made a mistake and are missing out on the one true love that lasts forever. But the search for the perfect sustained love relationship is quixotic and doomed, like trying to nail Jell-o to the wall. If people understood that the euphoria of being in love is only sustained for a short period of time, they could then approach relationships with, so-to-speak, full disclosure so that relationships could be rationally built with realistic expectations.
A long-standing, intimate, and exciting relationship requires creative adaptation and needs to be continually nurtured as it evolves. It is a work in progress, never truly finalized. Instead, people feel betrayed when in love feelings ebb and tend to blame their partners for failing. If resentment builds, thinking about one another in a sexual way can fade like a memory. Studies have shown that if couples stop thinking erotically about one another for about five years, the ability to do so cannot be recaptured no matter how hard they may try.

The solution is not more closeness. The exact opposite is usually what is needed. Once a compatible mate is found and each has agreed to be locked to the marital ball and chain, mates need to be given slack. Two is not really one. Wedlock should not be more lock than wed. A woman’s family orientation (nurturing), although different, complements a man’s occupational (hunting) endeavors. A division of duties and interests and separation to accomplish these is normal and harmonious in the context of a stable family.

A warm and amiable relationship with unanimity of purpose is a realistic hope. However, we-ness, if taken to extreme, can hasten the demise of erotic zest and intimacy. By attempting to negate differences, neglecting independent friends and interests, and always attempting to think and feel as a unit, couples lose sight of the individuality that sparked the original interest in one another. Mary Sarton wrote: “Clutching is the surest way to murder love, as if it were a kitten not to be squeezed so hard, or a flower to fade in a tight hand.”

The fundamental human problem of being a distinct individual who is ultimately alone can uniquely find a solution in a long-standing intimate relationship between two individuals who maintain their identity. However, the constant effort by couples to shape and mold one another into a cookie cutter version of one another is a tyranny that will demolish intimacy and fulfillment. Bonding and intimacy must not be taken to mean limitation of freedom or abandoning privacy. Everyone needs his or her own non-relational sphere of existence that should not be questioned or challenged. The knowledge that a free and independent person voluntarily chooses us also brings a sense of pride, affirmation, validation, and self-esteem. Such cannot come from feeling obligated and forced to conform to we-ness.

Curiously, therefore, the desire to be in love is at odds with itself. Falling in love and courting is like a wrestling match, the goal is to get as close as possible and win. But winning is at odds with the goal. After all, what is passion but a desire seeking fulfillment? But fulfillment satisfies desire. Unless the relationship is understood to be cyclical, with an endless series of desires and fulfillments that must be nurtured to be sustained, passion will end.

It is a paradox in life that satisfaction of any kind sows the seeds of discontent: we lust until we conquer and obtain, treat that which we have conquered with casualness, disrespect, or even contempt, and then set our sites on new horizons. But if relationships are understood to be a natural series of arousal, passion, fulfillment, satisfaction, and then a degree of disinterest, unrealistic expectations need not burden nor doom the relationship.

A sustained intimate relationship requires an act of will to maintain the attraction. In this regard, once one imagines that another person is no more than an extension of themselves, they let their guard down and can lose the dignity that privacy affords. For example, a mate may complain about their personal faults to a partner. The partner may not see them, but most certainly will if they are continually highlighted. It’s like commenting to a friend on the tipped ear of another person. Your friend may have never noticed it, but now that is all they can see when they look at the person. People must permit their mates some fantasy even if they do not see themselves in such a favorable light. We can pretend we are perfect without saying it or acting like we think it. In this regard, Alfred Hitchcock’s remark applies to either sex: “A woman, I always say, should be like a good suspense movie: the more left to the imagination, the more excitement there is.”

It is also the duty of any person who expects another to remain faithful to them for a lifetime to be the best they can be. Letting oneself go because there are supposedly no obligations once locked into marriage, or because a mate tells us they “love us just as we are,” is a crime against self and a betrayal and injustice to the partner.
Time itself can also wear thin the desire for intimacy unless a conscious effort is made to not let it happen. Simply remembering the physical and mental features in a mate that originally elicited the attraction can prove to be a powerful stimulus. A man in his 70s may see a certain look in the eyes of his elderly wife that reminds him of the special attraction that originally brought him to her. She, when seeing his glances, may recall her fondness for his strong assertive and confident personality. This, in turn, causes her to look at him in that special way again which in turn stimulates his pride and confidence. And on the cycle goes. Such seeking out of comely characteristics in the other (not succumbing to the ever-present human tendency to be critical) can be an ongoing strong aphrodisiac that nurtures and sustains intimacy.

When people come together voluntarily to embark on a life-long relationship, they must accommodate rhythms. These include desire, euphoria, fulfillment, frustration, boredom, self-doubt, and disappointment. Accommodating this reality and not the fantasy of a continual in-love experience is an achievable objective that can bring inner peace, happiness, and the answer to a lonely existence.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Wysong is author of thirteen books on health, nutrition, self improvement, philosophy, and the origin of life. He is a pioneer in the natural health and nutrition movement, and is the first to put the creation-evolution debate on rational footings. His blog, books, updates, mind-stimulating content, interactive forums, and FREE thinking matters video-rich newsletter can be found at To contact Dr. Wysong, email:

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