Negative life experiences can harm developing capacity for love

Do you make the same mistakes in love over and over again? For example, do you always seem to pick the wrong partner or always experience the same negative romantic outcome? If so, you need to understand your developmental history of love and break the pattern, according to Dr. Mark Beitel, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at Greenwich Hospital's Center for Integrative Medicine in Cos Cob, CT.

"Certain conditions for loving, and being loved, are created and then maintained across a person's lifespan," explains Beitel. "Negative life experiences can damage the developing capacity for love. People get stuck because the conditions that they have set up for loving tend to operate just outside of awareness."

We all yearn for the kind of love that works. In fact, the very experience of loving is good for your health. Beitel explains that brain chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins are released during the experience of love. These substances are associated with pleasure and well-being.

There are simple ways to put yourself on the path for a healthy happy love life. It starts by taking better care of yourself. "It is much easier to develop the capacity to love yourself and others when your biology is in balance," says Beitel, who works with patients on their mental health while encouraging them to seek help with nutrition and exercise as well.

One way to iron out the developmental wrinkles in the capacity for love is simply to be more present, or mindful, in everyday life. "The practice of mindfulness can also help us to see our loved ones as they are rather than as we want them to be. Negative expectations run outside of awareness, so increasing mindfulness gives them less room to operate. Seeing others clearly reduces the confusion, biases, and inappropriate expectations that prevent us from connecting authentically," says Beitel. Psychotherapy is designed to help a person become aware of repeating negative expectations about love and to correct them so that a more enjoyable love life can be pursued.


Center for Integrative Medicine


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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