Psychological Self-Help

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912
have been just friends--there may be good, continuing reasons for
remaining just good friends. Explore the reasons for considering
romanticizing the friendship now--is one of you temporarily feeling
lonely or rejected or vulnerable or low in self-esteem? Don't act rashly.
If you decide to try becoming more romantic, go slow to protect the
friendship (this is hard to do if one person becomes deeply involved
and is rejected). 
Mate selection is a difficult task for many reasons: each person
may pretend to be something he/she isn't, each may honestly describe
him/herself but change later on, each may change his/her mind about
what he/she wants and on and on. Let's consider the selection process
further. It might seem, from what has been said thus far, that being a
slow starter (a friend long before becoming a romantic lover) would be
an advantage. The friends could objectively get to know each other.
That sounds reasonable but recent research has suggested that
persons who have stronger needs for emotional intimacy and who
have already been in love (with someone else) are more likely to be
warm, caring, sincere, appreciative, loving, and happy (McAdams &
Vaillant, 1982). Perhaps such people would fall in love rather quickly
and become very desirable partners. 
Conventional wisdom has it, however, that marriages based on
romantic "love at first sight" don't last, but there is no clear data for or
against this dire prediction. There are many couples who fell in love
instantly and it lasted forever. On the other hand, most of us have
known immature people who impulsively become infatuated, getting
into trouble repeatedly. (And we all know the opposite: wonderful
people who avoid fast intimacy.) In short, the advantages and
disadvantages of quickly getting emotionally involved are complex and
not yet well researched. Perhaps, the pros and cons of instant
infatuation doesn't matter much because you may not be able to
change that basic part of your personality anyway. (You can learn to
rationally control it to some extent, however.) 
Regardless of whether we get into love quickly or slowly, once we
are intensely involved with the other person, from that point on, while
we may continue to experience ups and downs in this relationship, the
issue becomes condensed into a simple question of staying or leaving:
Will I stick with this person (and make the best of it) or leave and lose
him/her forever? Thus, we often stay with a person even though we
are unhappy and fear there will be serious problems. We have limited
experience with other partners and, thus, can not be assured of a
better option. We become stifled by our own indecision and
dependency or fears or possessiveness. Love is powerful, especially
when threatened; it isn't something we can turn on and off (while we
try out another relationship). Maybe some of us can't make objective
decisions while in love, but I don't believe that is entirely true. We
can't eliminate all the craziness of love, but we can learn to be much
more realistic by recognizing our denial and our needs (and by
listening to others' opinions). 
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