In Love: The Elizabeth Taylor Syndrome

How many times have you been in love? And has it cost you grief? Of course you know of two-time Oscar winning actress Elizabeth Taylor: National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butterfield 8, Cleopatra, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Despite her fame, however, it seems that now she is more famous for having married 8 times than for her exceptional acting and stunning beauty. If you believe the tabloids, at age 78 she is ogling a potential number 9.

What has led to this atrocious marriage record? Well it seems that Liz is not the only one; the divorce rate for the past four decades has hovered around 50% and unhappy marriages adds another 30%. One problem is that we “fall in love” before we take a serious look. Not only that, we live in a culture that celebrates songs and movies that revolve around romance. And haven’t you enjoyed them? I do…even when I roll my eyes and think, “yeah, right—that’s not believable.” But while we enjoy the Hollywood-style romance, let’s look at the in-love condition through the eyes of a researcher.

 Studies have shown that the in-love condition lasts on average about two years. If that is true, what happens after the two years? Let’s say that from when a couple meets and falls in love they marry after a year and a half. Now there’s only six months left before their string of “in love emotions” run out! What are they gonna do for the next 59½ years? In our book, The Compatibility Code, we say this couple must transition from the in-love state to real love. No one can sustain the intensity of emotion that the “in-love” condition demands. We’ll talk in future articles about real love but for the moment let’s stay on topic.

 Keep in mind—being in love is not wrong; it is one of life’s most joyous events. The problem is that love blinds. To tell the truth, almost any intense emotion eliminates clear thinking. As my husband’s dad once said, “write a letter when angry and you will write the best letter you have ever regretted.” Love has an equal and opposite effect. It makes one vulnerable to the entire array of gullible errors. “Oh, he’s so nice and I love him so,” can blind one to the reality of, for instance, deep-seated prejudice, chronic negativity, and future disaster.

 So first and foremost is to learn to take a serious look before that first kiss. Find out what’s right for you and turn down the ones that aren’t. And if you are already in love—remember that being in love is a little like skiing. It’s a thrilling experience, but it’s greatly enhanced if you stay on course and avoid going over the side of the cliff! The answer in dating is to enjoy being in love but keep your eyes open. If you are aware that your feelings are really exaggerated then you need to get back on course. Maybe it’s not too late for Ms. Taylor to learn that lesson!

Posted by Elizabeth George in Understanding Love and tagged , , , on January 30th, 2011.


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