Dating is confusing enough, but three little words can send you reeling. When you have been together for a while and are comfortable in your relationship, you might long to hear that your boyfriend loves you. When your relationship is new, however, you might feel confused or even repelled rather than thrilled. While it is true that some guys will say anything in hopes of reaching the next physical level with a girl, most guys actually mean their declarations of love. The problem is that what he feels at this stage is something very different than lifelong romantic love.
Stages of Falling in Love
According to therapist Zoe Hicks, in an article for Psych Central, falling in love is a five-stage process. The early days are marked by infatuation -- a powerful, intoxicating biochemical reaction that makes you feel very strongly attached. This stage is blissful and filled with the sense that your partner is perfect. Many people, especially those without a lot of relationship experience, mistake infatuation for true love. Your boyfriend is in love with the feelings that your relationship creates, rather than with you as a whole, complex human being. Only after you go through the other four stages, which involve a crash landing from the chemical high and surviving the intrusions of real life, do you get to long-lasting intimacy, also known as true love.
Components of Romantic Love
The article "Why Do We Fall in Love?" from TeensHealth points out that romantic love has three components, all of which must be present for real, lasting love. Attraction is the chemistry part of the equation -- the hormonal rush that makes you feel jittery and excited around your partner. Closeness is the bond that ties you together through shared memories, trust and honesty. Commitment is the decision that two people make to stick together through the bad times as well as the good. If any component is missing, it is not true love.
Caught in a Crush
Romantic crushes occur when one person projects an idealized fantasy onto someone else, according to Dr. Carl Pickhardt in an article for "Psychology Today." Attraction and commitment are present in a romantic crush, but not enough time has passed for closeness to emerge. If your boyfriend had a crush on you before you agreed to go out with him, he had a lot of time to build you up in his mind as a perfect fantasy woman. He didn’t know you, but he thought about you constantly. Once you agreed to make his fantasy a reality, he was ready to proclaim his undying love. Unfortunately, he was in love with an idealized version of you. Give him some time to get to know and love the real you.
Real Love or Pseudo-Intimacy
In the article "What's Your Intimacy Quotient?" for "Psychology Today," psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne points out that true intimacy requires what she calls the “three C’s”: closeness, communication and commitment. These factors determine whether someone is able to form the bonds of real love. While some people are naturally intimate, or high on all three C’s, and others are naturally isolate, or low on all three, another type of person exists that is confusing and maddening to others. A pseudo-intimate person is capable of commitment, but not of true closeness or communication. This type of person is often eager to get into a relationship, but deals with partners through avoidance or superficial involvement. If your boyfriend happens to be this type, he might say he loves you because he genuinely believes it to be true. Without the capacity to fully engage in love, he assumes that since he’s willing to commit, what he is experiencing must be love. If your boyfriend says he loves you but his actions show differently, he might be pseudo-intimate. Teen and young adult guys often grow out of this over time.
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