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All human beings have an overarching need for a profound and lasting connection to a few safe others. If you look at all of your motivations and strivings you will see a common denominator – Human Connection. It drives all of our behavior and is the reason behind all of our existence. There is an old adage that on your death bed you will not be revisiting your material accomplishments, but the extent and quality of your love and loving relationships. Why then is it so difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible to have and hold? I am going to be writing a series of articles exploring the new research that describes what actually is this thing called “love” that we are all longing, searching, and struggling with. What is the evolutionary bases of love? What are the how to’s, how do we create love, how do we keep it, and then how do we repair it when it goes wrong.

It was originally hard for me to believe that there actually is hard science that can describe the process of love. Now, however, it does make complete sense to me after studying and applying the principles and methodologies developed in the last decade. I want to share this information with as many people as I can. As a practicing psychotherapist I see the difficulty many families and couples experience. I am privy to the problems of alcoholism, depression, anxiety, divorce, family conflicts, defiant and mixed up children, and others. On a community and societal level I believe we have to work harder to keep families together. The new research can help. It leads to a fundamental change in the way we think about and understand love: a paradigm shift, if you will.

Twenty years ago – and especially thirty years ago when I went to Graduate school – love didn’t get much respect as a topic of study. No emotion did. René Descartes, the French philosopher, associated feelings with our lower animal nature and thus considered them something to be overcome. This basic tenet has ruled much of our cultural thought patterns and biased researchers away from any focus on emotions. What marked us as superior animals was our ability to reason, to bypass emotion. Cogito ergo sum - “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes famously proclaimed.

Emotions, our basic feelings, began to emerge as legitimate topics to study in the 1990’s. Happiness, sorrow, anger, fear – and love – started to be considered legitimate research topics. We then began to understand that feelings weren't random and senseless, but logical and “intelligent” (Love Sense, Johnson, 2013). Using the new techniques of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neurophysiologists were able to see what parts of the brain light up when we are afraid, sad, and when we are in love. We can finally look at “your brain on love”. This new science of love is overthrowing long-held beliefs about the purpose and process of romantic love and well as our sense of the very nature of human beings.

The basic purpose of a person’s life is to build a solid foundational base so they can explore and adventure into the world. This is, in fact, the basis of the research into love. John Bowlby, who did the original research and study of “attachment” (the basis for EFT) proposed that we are designed to love a few precious others who will hold and protect us through the squalls and storms of life. It is nature's plan for the survival of the species. Sex may propel us to mate and bond, but it is love that assures our existence.