We have come a long way from a still popular belief that love is a random mystery which shows up and then vanishes beyond our control. When it ends, we become helpless and we cannot reignite our love or consciously keep it up. Nowadays, we already know how to define the shape of love.
Dr Sue Johnson mentioned the study which shows that in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy – therapy for couples that focuses on emotions) therapists and researchers finally managed to define the shape of love just as people have learnt how to define the structure of water, crystal or DNA. In our most precious relationships, we don’t have to just surrender to incoming and departing feeling of love. We learn that we actually can create strong bonds that are based on a sense of emotional security.
Sonia and Dawid 1 came to my office fearing the inevitable breakup. They could feel that they were drifting apart. Dawid said: “I can feel how Sonia is closing up to me and we begin to have less and less contact with each other. Sometimes, when I go back home after work, I want to turn back my car and drive ahead instead of going back to a home that feels so cold. I don’t know why do I come back. I feel lonely and angry at this whole situation.” “This is correct,” said Sonia, “ I think that I am the problem. Dawid constantly complains that I can’t open up. He’s disappointed that I’m unable to talk to him. Just as I am. I’m also disappointed that there’s this blockade in me. I can’t open up. Sometimes I think that it would be better if we broke up.”
After only 6 weeks, Sonia and Dawid looked at each other differently. Their emotional scheme and communication formula have changed. They could see how they bring mutual reactions of the fight and escape and how each one of them got stuck in defence and distance. Dawid noticed that when he complains, criticizes Sonia or accuses her of not wanting to talk to him, she doesn’t hear him asking her to share her emotions with him nor that he wants to be closer to her so he can support her. In those moments, Sonia thinks that she can’t do anything correctly and make Dawid happy. For this reason, she moves away from him, she can’t talk about her difficult relationship with her mother because she feels ashamed and doesn’t want to burden Dawid with problems that he’s not the cause of. When Sonia is silent, Dawid feels that he can’t reach out to her. He does many things to get an answer from her, any answer, but nothing works. Only now they can see how they bring mutual reactions of the fight and escape and how each one of them got stuck in defence and distance. They can see their usual dance and hear emotional music that leads this dance. However, this is just the beginning of the work.
After a couple of weeks, they begin to do something terrific – they start to build a bond that is full of love and sensibility. “During those weeks we’ve not only learnt how to solve our problems but we’ve also got to a completely new level,” said Sonia. “We never knew that love can be that way,” Dawid added. Sonia figured that Dawid doesn’t expect to learn all the details of her relationship with her mum and that he realizes that it must be difficult for her to go back and talk about it. He only wants Sonia to
take a risk and share with him her shame. When she talks about her emotions that have been sparked by conflicts with her mum, he feels needed and close to her. This is the only thing that he always demanded. When on the first session Sonia shared with Dawid what she feels, the blockade that was inside her got looser. She got her problems off of her chest and she no longer felt in the pit of her stomach. Instead, she felt lighter, therefore, closer to Dawid. She believed that Dawid won’t push her away.
Regardless of whether you have a hidden feeling of a lack of safety, you’re feeling anxious and always worry that you will be left or pushed away, or maybe you’re usually numb and defensively deny the need for being close with someone, this process, that we call the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) works and leads towards new level of emotional connection. It is called EFT since the biggest change that occurs is that people open up themselves emotionally, become more in tune and more responsive to the weaknesses and needs of other people. We all know that this is what love is about. It’s about being emotionally present.
When people like Sonia and Dawid become more emotionally open, in tune and deeply responsive, they begin to accept and explore their subtle feelings, fears and longings. They start to put all these things together in a clear way, they risk opening up and telling the other person about their sensitive spots. This is what brings the loved one closer. When people place their vulnerability and their heart in someone’s hands, that’s when love is being born.