Psychological Self-Help

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916
Love blots out all other interest in other people--or--You can
love two people at the same time. 
Love is just between a man and a women--or--Love between
two women or two men is exactly the same as between
straights. 
Sometimes both of these different statements are true. Often both
of the "beliefs" are questionable. Yet, they may play a role in our
thinking about love. Skepticism about any "saying" is usually healthy;
we know very little for sure about love. Borcherdt (1996) tries to help
us be rational about love. 
I will briefly review for you a sampling of the additional research
available. Some of the findings may be of little more value than the
contradictory "wise sayings" above, but what other knowledge is
available? There are interesting classifications for types of lovers
(Goldstine, et al., 1977) and for types of loves (Fromm, 1956;
Lasswell & Lobsenz, 1980; Brehm, 1985). Being aware of these types
may help you recognize some aspects of your own love relationships. 
 
Kinds of lovers
There are many kinds of lovers. Love is expressed and felt in many
ways. Falling in love can be frightening, as we become vulnerable. It
can also be ego-boosting, reassuring (that we are OK), and fun. So,
courtship becomes a complex combination of approaches and
avoidances, of come ons and defenses. The specific ways we protect
ourselves often determines what kind of lover we are. A prime
example is the dance-away lover (Goldstine, et al., 1977) who is an
expert at wooing but fears permanence so he/she fades away after a
few months. This lover, although initially successful, assumes the
relationship will fail and he/she will be rejected in due time. 
The anxious ingenue or beginner is also so insecure he/she
rushes into romances without honestly evaluating the partner. Later,
when the relationship settles down, he/she begins to see the mistakes
he/she has made. The disarmer is warm and understanding, he/she
tries to protect the lover from all stress and pain, often denying
his/her own rights and emotional needs in order to please the lover.
This self-sacrifice may get tiresome in time. The provider is more
action than words, more tactile than verbal. Because of underlying
insecurity, he/she takes care of the loved one, provides well, and
thinks this is the way to show love. When the partner says, "you never
tell me you love me," he/she is taken aback. The prize winner seems
to do everything right. He/she is "the best," doing well at work, a
great lover, and a good parent. However, the self-confidence and
emotional security may gradually change into a callousness towards
the spouse. 
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