Why You Should Never Trust That Lightning Bolt of Attraction

Countless romcoms and magazine articles are wrong. Love — or more often lust — at first sight means a relationship is unlikely to last

Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash

If you think that million-watt zap of attraction means you have found the love of your life, I’m afraid you will probably be disappointed

Schema chemistry means your ‘schemas’ have been triggered. And schemas are neural networks that fire up when you encounter something stressful that reminds you of similar stressful experiences from childhood. For example, you may have an Abandonment schema, because your mother left the family for a new love when you were young. You will then, understandably, be highly sensitive to feeling abandoned or rejected as an adult.

Re-enacting old dramas

If you then meet an attractive woman who seems enticing but untrustworthy, you will feel strangely drawn to her, because you are playing out old dramas — sadly, you are feeding that painful schema by choosing someone who will probably cheat on you and break your heart.

Attachment is key

Of course, your schemas don’t tell the whole story. Another important factor in how you choose romantic partners is your attachment style. Depending on your relationship with your earliest caregivers, you will develop either a secure or insecure attachment style. If the latter, you will either be anxiously or avoidantly attached.

A kind person will be there for you, no matter what. They will love you on good days and bad, whether you are happy or sad, thriving or struggling

So, if you shouldn’t trust that spark, how should you choose a partner to ensure long-term happiness? Here are three pieces of advice, based on helping hundreds of clients (and eventually figuring this out for myself, after multiple heartbreaks):

  1. What’s the most important quality in a potential partner? Kindness. Pick someone who seems kind, decent and trustworthy and you have a good chance of making that love last. A kind person will be there for you, no matter what. They will love you on good days and bad, whether you are happy or sad, thriving or struggling. Kindness is like gold dust in a partner — take that from someone now happily married for a decade to a kind, supportive, loving wife.
  2. Their past will predict your future. Is this person good at being faithful, or do they often cheat on partners? If they tend to wander, I’m afraid they will probably do so with you. That’s not to say people can’t change — of course I passionately believe they can, or I wouldn’t be a therapist. But change takes commitment, hard work and responsibility-taking. If your potential new love displays none of these qualities, they will probably revert to type, so move on to someone that knows how to commit. After all, you deserve love, kindness and respect, not heartbreak and disappointment.

Dan is an Advanced Accredited Schema Therapist with a private practice in London. He is also a teacher, supervisor & writer. Find out more at danroberts.com

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