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两人为何会相爱?

2011-05-31 17:24:18 评论(0)
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Recently, my girlfriend Jane kept asking me the same questions: why I love her, why she deserves my love, whether I love her because I love her or because I feel lonely…

I seem to have answered the questions in some instances immediately after I heard the questions previously, but this time, I would like to think about the answers for more a while.

In Psychology, if we refer to behavioural theory, we can find these claims:

If a behaviour is followed by the removal of something unpleasant, then the behaviour is going to be reinforced.

If a behaviour is followed by the addition of something pleasant, then the behaviour is going to be reinforced.

Let’s talk about something unpleasant first. For singles, they don’t have a person to talk to when they are facing troubles. I understand one may talk to their close friends, but for some topics, they may even not be willing to talk to their close friends. When wanting to go out to do something, they may hesitate, because it would be an unpleasant experience going out alone. For example, you won’t go to a high class restaurant on your own. Not to mention not being able to fulfil their sexual desire in the natural way.

For those who are in love, it is the opposite. You have someone to share your happiness and to help you with any troubles. You feel comfortable when you are with your loved one. Generally, if you combine your incomes and expenses, it will turn out that the your financial situation will be better than that when you are living on your own (e.g., saving money on rent, mortgage, meals, home appliances, etc.), so you would conclude that being in love make your life better and you want to maintain and improve the relationship.

Counter Conditioning

Counter Conditioning

Let’s have a look at the famous “Little Peter” experiment by Mary Cover Jones. Little Peter was provided with a snack of milk and crackers, food he enjoyed and associated with positive feelings, that is, the alternative unconditioned stimulus. As he ate the snack he was presented with the feared rabbit, firstly at a comfortable distance. Subsequent sessions involved moving the rabbit closer and closer to Peter while he enjoyed the milk and crackers. In doing so, Jones was able to establish a relationship between the rabbit and a positive stimulus such that Peter eventually played with the rabbit comfortably.

“Love” is similar. If you consider that the rabbit represents loneliness, which is a conditional stimulus, and the snack represents love and the benefits that love brings, which is an unconditional stimulus, you will find that, when you are in love and when you are alone, you may not feel as lonely as when you were not in love, because you can make a phone call to get the connection again, which is similar to using snack to compete with the “scary rabbit” in the Little Peter experiment.

Based on the above rationale, there is always a reason for falling in love. Some people are just not aware of the reason as the reason is usually deep down in our mind. Some people think they know the reason, but actually not, because they may have misinterpreted the relationship. Some people have a clear idea about the real reason, but they don’t want to disclose it (because sometimes the reason could be ugly).

If you have been already in love, you have not had a clear idea about your real reason for falling and being in love with your loved one, until you have identified the “rabbit” and “snack” deep down in your heart! If you want to know why your loved one loves you, try to find out their “rabbit” and “snack”. If you can successfully do so, try to keep your loved one’s “rabbit” away. By doing so, your relationship is more likely to survive over time. Why? Bear in mind that Little Peter’s being comfortable with the rabbit is a conditional response (CR). The condition is the snack. If you don’t feed Little Peter with snack while he is with the rabbit, he is going to cry, because the condition, the snack, is removed. Similarly, if you fail to remove something unpleasant from and add something pleasant to your loved one’s life, the relationship could be in danger.

So there’s some of the techniques for identifying unhelpful thoughts. It’s quite a complex business and I want to leave you today understanding that it is not as simple as simply asking an individual, “Well why are you anxious, why are you afraid, oh ok we’ll just challenge that thought you’ve given me”. It’s far more complex. We try to analyse behaviour, we try to analyse the person’s past, I haven’t talked about that but we’ll look closely at the person’s past to see what sort of thoughts and beliefs might they have acquired across their life, we’ll use downward arrowing and so on. It’s quite a complex business to decide what are the unhelpful thoughts in a given case that might be leading to the anxious emotion.

Once we have done that, and we have some unhelpful thoughts to target, we come to the second part of this lecture today, how do we go about challenging them?


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