The Key to Love

Unlock the Door

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Love is vital to our existence. Love is essential to our well-being and health. For most of recorded history, however, love has been an undefinable puzzlement. Benjamin Franklin said love is “changeable, transient and accidental”. Love might well be the most sought after experience and the basis for most of our motivations. Yet we seem to know so little about what it is and how we find it, keep it and repair it when it seems to go off track. Fortunately, starting about 20 years ago, there has been extensive research into love and emotional bonding, and for the last 10 years a new approach to couples therapy has been available based on years of empirically validated research.

This ground breaking and new science of love, fueled by research in neuroscience and attachment with couples, shows us that love is a vitally important emotional bond – our need for connection to those closest to us is a primary survival tactic. My own personal and professional commitment to this new science of love and Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples and families is that it makes complete sense, is practical and the outlook for couples is both positive and extremely optimistic.

“Rigorous studies have shown that 70-75 percent of couples who go through EFT recover from distress and are happy in their relationships. The results appear lasting, even with couples who are at high risk for divorce. EFT has been recognized by the American Psychological Association as an empirically proven form of couple therapy.” (Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson, Ph.d.)

We have had an understanding of infant and child attachment, also known as emotional bonding, beginning in the 1940’s. Newer research into attachment in adulthood and adult bonding has revealed that we adults, unsurprisingly, have the very same needs as children: adults also need attachment to be healthy and function at our best. Our innate need for safe emotional connection, or, as Mary Ainsworth coined in her dissertation (An Evaluation of Adjustment Based on the Concept of Security), “Where familial security is lacking, the individual is handicapped by the lack of what might be called a SECURE BASE from which to work.”

The key to love then is to create a secure base, a close and trusting bond with those closest to us. We unlock the door to our love’s potential when we accept that we need others and allow them then to need us. We must do this in a world where cultivating secure attachment is competing with every conceivable distraction and concern. This is possibly even more potent when we didn’t experience a safe and secure childhood base since we did not learn what we most need, so we cannot give it to ourselves and our loved ones. This is where the good news abounds. We are wired for emotional connection. It is our design, our actual biological design to open to love – to open to the experience of love. If we have had difficult experiences with love and safe connection in our past we often need to review the strategies we used in the past when it was not safe. EFT teaches us that we can learn to create safety when safety previously did not exist. Another optimistic aspect of EFT is that once we learn the language of love and how to access our tender needs for love, we can provide a secure base to one another and heal each other.