“Rather than looking to marriage to serve our basic needs for survival and companionship, we’re now seeing marriage as a vehicle for self-fulfillment.”
The trifecta of a romantic relationship --intense love, sexual desire and long-term attachment-- can seem elusive, but it may not be as uncommon or unattainable as we’ve been conditioned to think. 91% of women and 86% of American men report they would not marry someone who had every quality wanted in a partner but with whom they were not in love. Psychologists who study love, marriage and relationships point to a number of factors that contribute to long-lasting love. Sustaining it over many years, has a positive function in the brain, which understands and pursues romantic love as a behaviour with cognitive rewards, according to psychology researcher Adoree Durayappah. The couple maintains a sense of “love blindness.” A University of Geneva review of 500 studies on compatibility couldn’t pinpoint any combination of two personality traits that predicted long-term love --except for one--. The ability to idealize and maintain positive illusions about one’s partner --seeing him/her as good-looking, intelligent, funny and caring, or generally as a “catch”-- was key for couples who remained happy with each other on nearly all measures over time. Boredom can be a major obstacle to lasting romantic love. Successful couples find ways to keep things interesting. Neediness is the enemy of long-lasting desire (an important component of romantic love), Neediness and caretaking damper the erotic spark, psychologist Esther Perel explains. But if couples maintain independence and witness each other participating in activities at which they’re skilled, they can see their partner in an ever-new light. Psychologists say that a strong passion for life can sustains passion in a lifelong romantic relationship. “If you want your relationship to have passion, put that emotional energy to work in your hobbies, interests, and even your political activities”. They see their relationship as a journey together towards self-fulfillment. Rather than looking to marriage to serve our basic needs for survival and companionship, we see it as vehicle for self-fulfillment. This directive facilitates long-term love, so long as each partner is willing to put more into the relationship.