By Dr. Nero Cavaliere
Relationships usually begin with attraction. One individual is drawn to another. It could be physical, or maybe they like the same things or share the same interests. Sometimes it’s the personality that draws one to the other. If the attraction is strong enough, a friendship evolves. The strength of this relationship depends on how congruent both parties are in their personal interests, value systems, and compatibility. Simply put, the more we are alike, the stronger we feel. But, for the male, who usually has one eye on a female’s body and the other on a bed, it is a relationship that is immersed in sexuality. Male hormones flood the male’s brain and filter sensory input as visions of sexual conquests consume rational mindfulness. In short, the male has only one thing on his mind. For the female, however, the relationship is usually more personal and emotional. Her interests lie in the direction of a relationship where trust and intimacy evolve sufficiently to warrant sexual activity, which, for the female, is an expression of intimacy. It is at this stage that the idealistic and romantic falling in love begins to emerge and it is also at this stage that the foundation of their relationship, in terms of future goals and commitment, begins to take shape. And, as sexual behavior becomes a part of the ensuing intimate relationship, the female wants to hear the “L” word from her partner more often, especially during sexual behavior. The female, who is “falling in love” with her partner, would prefer to label the sexual encounter as “making love” rather than ”having sex” which connotes the degree of intimacy she believes they share.
When two individuals enter into this intimate relationship the law of “ who cares most” comes into play: one party always cares more than the other. This is a simple fact of dyadic relationships (relationships between two people). The one who cares more, usually possesses the least power. They are the ones who are the first to defer to the partner’s wishes and preferences. This is a very powerful concept and should not be taken lightly. While it is true that two individuals can enjoy a somewhat equitable relationship where sharing is the norm, the strength of one’s feelings cannot be equally shared. Because two people say “I love you” doesn’t mean they actually are feeling the emotion we call “love” quite the same. This may be to state the obvious, but many relationships turn sour because the party that cares more believes the other party feels the same way and expects reciprocity in their relationship. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If John feels more strongly about Mary than Mary feels about John, then Mary will have the advantage. This doesn’t mean that the situation cannot change. Over time and circumstances, the feelings could be reversed. Mary could feel more strongly about John than he does for her. This is not unusual, especially when time takes its toll on our bodies in terms of attractiveness and fitness. The fact remains, however, that one does care more than the other and this inequity can shape the future of that relationship. This doesn’t mean that deep, affectionate love cannot be shared between two people. We have to keep in mind that the measurement of love is by degree and not kind. In other words, two people can experience intense feelings of love for each other and the degree of difference could be insignificant. This is especially true if both parties are committed to the relationship and to each other. And, the longer two individuals spend together in a committed and affectionate relationship, the stronger the bond becomes. Commitment is the cement that adheres one party to the other and provides the foundation of an intimate relationship. The most important component is self -disclosure. Without it, there cannot be true and lasting commitment. The sharing of one’s inner self to the person of choice creates and shapes the commitment, itself.