Experiencing Love

While most parents love their infant or toddler what they don’t realise is how that infant experiences that love i.e. the infant’s perception of love.
Because their brain isn’t on line up to the age of three they cannot rationally figure about the love they receive – they either experience the parent overall as a positive, loving, empathic, nurturing force in their company….. or not. They can’t decide ‘mmm that was a loving gesture’ – they just experience a sense that it was OK ……or not …… and that shapes their brain along with their behaviours and future view of the world.
Consider an infant whose loving mum can’t deal with their upsets and shuts them in their room. Without a brain ‘on line’ they cannot think, ‘Oh she’s in the other room’. Gone means gone, along with the terror of escalating insecurity. That’s all they can experience at that young age.
While each of us is different there is a good chance – if it happens regularly – that they will see mum as untrustworthy and develop anxiety. Or their perception of mum’s apparent lack of love will be too much for them and being too painful will ingrain the idea that loving is dangerous and cut off their own capacity to love. The same goes for dad. Do they perceive him as loving or distant and unavailable?
We see this played out in relationships as a result of this. A desperately needy partner will constantly be checking on their spouse, likely checking their phone when they are asleep to ensure there is no one else. Or, on the other extreme the partner who never lets their spouse ‘in’, is independent, because they fear that should they (the partner) leave if they do let them in, the loss will be devastating. So they avoid closeness.
Or you get the partner who experienced mum as loving and grows up secure with the capacity to love, along with a trusting relationship. About 50% of couples experience this type of relationship.
How do you experience love?
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Colin Mills

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