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Being Realistic with Love Increases Satisfaction

In the section of this website titled ‘Life Satisfaction’ we looked at the Freudian concept of Ego.  I firstly outlined ‘Ego-Mechanism’ and then went on to outline a second central characteristic of strong Ego: the ability to be realistic.  I outlined how some individuals who have had difficult experiences in life live in excessive fantasy.  These individuals fantasise in order to escape the emotional unease they experience in life.  Unfortunately, for many individuals, the line separating fantasy and reality has become blurred.  This pattern of behaviour is very applicable to the issue of falling in love. 

Insecurely attaching individuals also tend to be very unrealistic in their fantasies about who will love them.  Since they are so afraid of never finding love, they tend to fantasise about people loving them.  This inevitably means that they begin to think unrealistically about who will love them, since in a fantasy, anyone can love you!  As previously mentioned, the line separating fantasy and reality often becomes blurred for these individuals.  They therefore often become unrealistic about who will be attracted to them.  Instead of looking for good potential partners, who appear to have much in common with them, and (from my perspective) most importantly, with whom there appears to be a genuine ‘spark’ of mutual attraction, they allow themselves to fall for individuals who are not mutually attracted to them.  Their aim becomes to make their ‘fantasy’ lovers become real lovers.  Often they will become infatuated with extremely attractive looking men or women, with no consideration of whether or not their affections will be returned.  This means that many who they ‘fall’ for do not return their affections.  Since they have never learnt to be realistic and pragmatic about their relationship behaviour, they begin to believe that their love is never returned by those they fall for.  As a result, they retreat into fantasy to compensate for their ‘losses’, and this, of course, reinforces the original unrealistic behaviour.  It is not uncommon for very insecurely attaching individuals to spend vast amounts of time fantasising that they will might meet their favourite celebrity one day and that this celebrity might ‘fall’ for them.  The more realistic individual who reads this may think I am exaggerating and that no one would actually believe that they would be able to hook up with their favourite celebrity.  Unfortunately I am not exaggerating.  The potency of our population’s fantasy world is one of the reasons our pop culture, and our celebrity magazines remain so popular.   

Insecurely attaching individuals are afraid that they will not be able to obtain secure love.  It is typical, therefore, for an insecurely attaching individual to fantasise about what love could be.  When an anxiously attaching individual experiences even a hint of love, therefore, she often clings hard to the person offering this love.  They quickly begin to fantasise that all their fears will be resolved in this person and that this person will offer unparalled romance and affections.  There are some typical responses from the receiver of these advances.  One is that the person runs a mile!!  Another is that the receiver of the advances is also an anxiously attaching individual and therefore a roller coaster relationship of unstable and volatile emotions begins.  A third possibility is that the receiver of the affections is a typically avoidantly attaching individual who actually enjoys the fact that this person appears to be offering such intense affections.  This avoidantly attaching individual thinks, ‘Since this person is offering such unconditional love, perhaps there is less need to worry about this person leaving me and me being rejected’.  Typically there is much distress in this kind of relationship since the anxiously attaching individual constantly feels that the avoidantly attaching individual is not ‘opening up’ enough or is not showing enough love.  In any event, insecurely attaching individuals sense the low self-esteem of other insecurely attaching individuals, and tend to have love relationships with each other.  I estimate (on the basis of attachment studies) that this whole ‘cleak’ of insecurely attaching individuals who fall in love with each other probably accounts for around a third of individuals.  No wonder 40% of marriages end in divorce.