The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden (Part 2) | Made of Lovely

Relationship House: The Psychology of Romantic Love (Part 2)

In the last post (part 1), from Nathaniel Branden in “The Psychology of Romantic Love”, we saw how important it was for two individuals to show up from a place of fullness which comes from a strong and properly developed sense of self for romantic love to stand a chance.

Romantic love is one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest adventures of our existence.

Some people believe that understanding romantic love kills it. This is tantamount to saying that consciousness kills. The exact opposite is true. Unconsciousness kills. Ignorance kills. Blindness kills. If we cannot deepen our grasp of at least some of the essentials needed for the success of romantic love, then there is nothing waiting ahead but more centuries of the same suffering we have behind us.

Love is not at first sight. Love requires knowledge, and knowledge requires time. However, it’s not uncommon for future lovers to experience a sudden “shock of recognition” an odd sense of familiarity, a sense of encountering a person already known on some level and in some mysterious, seemingly inexplicable way (more on that in a minute).

The experience of love, desire, and pleasure does not flow along a simple, unidirectional pathway but rather through a reciprocal cycle of continuing mutual reinforcement.

Ergo, we perceive them as a source of real or potential happiness → Desire is born → Desire generates actions that results in the pleasure or joy → pleasure makes you repeat the cycle with an intensity to desire, love, and so on. Thus, love develops & strengthens within this cycle with time and in the right environment (which is comprised of the individuals and their dynamic).

Couple Essentials Needed For The Success of Romantic Love

We’ve already covered what each person needs to have on an individual level, but now it’s time to look at the dynamic of the two individuals coming together. The environment that this dynamic creates is really about: core needs being met (specifically: psychological visibility, joy/pleasure, admiration, and a place of safety).

When people are discussing the challenges and the difficulties of romantic love, there is an issue they rarely mention: romantic love can be terrifying.

When we fall in love we can experience another human being as enormously important to us, enormously important to our personal happiness. We allow that person to enter a private world within us, which perhaps no one else has ever entered or even known about. So there is a surrender, not a surrender to the other person so much as to our feeling for the other person. Without that surrender, love is aborted at the outset.

Allowing another human being to become so vitally important to us creates the possibility of loss. It lies in the possibility of the other person’s not loving us in return. Or falling out of love with us. Or dying.

Need creates a vulnerability that can be frightening and enraging.

There is a tendency not to own the fear, not to face it honestly, not to recognize it for what it is, but to rationalize it, to justify it in terms of sweeping generalizations about men or women, to avoid confronting the anxiety and hurt that is at the real root of such talk.

Since most people have already experienced painful feelings of rejection in childhood, they are in effect primed for catastrophe, primed for tragedy when, as adults, they fall in love. They “know” that love means pain, hurt, nonacceptance, and loss. In addition to childhood experiences, they may have been emotionally bruised or battered in earlier love affairs. Therefore, they “know” that love means torment.

In the last post, we talked about the importance of communication. However, this fear is itself a massive barrier to communication. When a couple in love quarrel, it is very common to see each of them shut down, disconnect from the depth of their feelings for each other, disconnect from the depth of their love, so as to protect themselves in case things don’t work out.

They become impersonal, remote, and even hostile.

They are afraid, but they do not acknowledge that they are afraid; instead, they throw up defenses, throw up barriers.

They do not remain open and vulnerable.

In consequence communication becomes blocked. When they talk they rarely express what they are actually feeling. Their communication is a distortion because their deepest feelings are a forbidden expression. This is why resolution in conflicts can be so difficult. They do not talk to each other from their core, they talk from behind their masks.

Again, this is why romantic love takes courage and maturity.

The music that inspires the souls of lovers exists within themselves and the private universe they occupy. They share it with each other; they do not share it with the tribe or with society. The courage to hear that music and to honor it is one of the prerequisites of romantic love.

Nathaniel Branden
photo credit: Christopher Burns via Unsplash

The Proper Context for Romantic Love To Be Born

The foundation of a relationship lies in basic similarities. The excitement of a relationship lies in complementary differences. The two together constitute the context in which romantic love is born. We are most likely to fall in love with the person who we experience basic affinities & complementary differences with simultaneously.

The principle of basic affinities and complementary differences applies equally to immature love.

Immaturity is the failure of an individual’s biological, intellectual, and psychological evolution to an adult stage of development.

When we encounter a person who has learned survival strategies similar to our own, whose manner of being-in-the-world is one we recognize intimately, whose coping and adapting processes resemble those that we ourselves have acquired, there is the shock of recognition, the sense of a profound bond (aka the base/foundation of a relationship) — it is an illusion of affinity.

In mature love complimentary differences refer to complimentary strengths.

In immature love complimentary differences tends to refer to complimentary weaknesses. These weaknesses include needs, wants, and personality traits that reflect some failure of healthy development, some failure of psychological maturation. The main issues are that of separation & individuation, with an individual’s success/failure at that task of reaching an adult level of autonomy.

The different but complimentary acts, masks, roles, games that allow each to have the experience of having encountered a soul mate.

If the other were to change, to mature, then the passion/the love would die because they are no longer able to play out the drama from childhood.

It’s important to note that you may have parts of both mature love & immature love. It’s the degree of each that matters.

The Necessary Affinities

Partner Is A Mirror: Significant Mutuality

“In loving you, I encounter myself. A lover ideally reacts to us as we would react to ourself in the person of another. ” This is the essence of authentic friendship & romantic love.

A mirror gives objective self-awareness. To live successfully is to put ourselves out into the world, to give expression to our thoughts, values, and goals. Our life is unlived precisely to the extent that this process fails to occur.

Yet our most important value our character, soul, psychological self, spiritual being, whatever name one wishes to give it can never follow this pattern in a literal sense, can never exist apart from our own consciousness. It is only through the consciousness of another can we experience a psychological mirror.

And when a partner is experienced as a similar being, or there is significant mutuality of intellect, basic premises & values, fundamental attitude toward life (outlook, orientation toward life, development of consciousness) there is the experience of objectivity & visibility — the sense of “That’s me.”

This sense of sameness is what often contributes to “love at first sight”.

In successful romantic love, there is a unique depth of absorption by, and fascination with, the being and personality of the partner. Hence there can be, for each, a uniquely powerful experience of visibility. Even if this state is not realized optimally, it may still be realized to an unprecedented degree. And this is one of the main sources of the excitement and nourishment of romantic love.

Same Sense of Life

Our sense of life is the emotional form in which we experience our deepest, broadest attitudes & conclusions concerning the world, life, and ourselves. Sense of life forms our values; value choices rest on our implicit view of ourselves and how we must act in the world.

“When we encounter another human being, we feel the presence of that music within him or her. We sense how that individual experiences themself, the joyfulness, or fearfulness, or defensiveness of his or her approach to life. We sense the level of excitement or the level of deadness, our body and emotions respond faster than thought can take shape in words. Romantic love is the affirmative response of each party to the sense of life of the other.”

Nathaniel Branden

When there are affinities things are easier, there is less friction. Do you view learning as an active pleasure vs. a necessary evil, viewing mental effort with fear/resentment? How does your partner view learning?

Do you accept responsibility of thought/judgement willingly & realistically, prepared to bear consequences vs. longing to escape responsibility, shrinking away the area of awareness? What about your partner?

Do you look at facts of life without self-pity, preserving your ambition for values vs. rebelling in resentment against a universe that does not grant instant gratification, seeking only the sort of values that can be attained easily/swiftly? And where does your partner stand?

If there’s such contrasted ways of thinking, acting, & being, neither partner will experience visibility. Thusly, affinity in sense of life is imperative for the experience of visibility.

We want to be admired for the things we wish to be admired for, and in a way that is in accord with our own view of life. We are drawn to consciousness’s like our own.

Discussion & intellectual agreement is not sufficient by itself — in other words, you can’t just say where you stand or where you think you stand.

Sense of life impacts:

  • The ability to defer immediate pleasures and to endure unavoidable frustrations.
  • The status to which we ascribe to suffering / the significance we attach to it in our life and our view of existence; is happiness/success normal, natural and pain/defeat/disaster/disappointment are abnormal & accidental… or is the reverse viewed?
  • Observed in: each other’s values and disvalues, manner of talking/smiling/standing/moving, expressing emotions, of reacting to events, reactions to each other, by things said & not said, by explanations not necessary to give, by sudden, unexpected signs of mutual understanding, personal artistic responses, cognitive styles (way of thinking & processing experiences), way of relating to time/action/the world etc.

In romantic love, we feel implicitly, “My lover sees life as I do. He/she faces existence as I face it. He/she experiences the fact of being alive as I experience it.”

Rhythm & Energy

The variable of whether love ignites pertains to the differences among human beings as to their biological rhythm and natural energy level. Biological rhythm shows up in speech patterns, body movements, emotional responses, and is part of what we call temperament.

Some people are more naturally energetic physically, and/or emotional, and/or intellectually: they move, feel, think faster or slower; they seem to experience different relationships to time.

A lack of sameness in rhythm & energy could result in a subtle, often mysterious friction. They often feel irritated and have difficulty accounting for their feelings. 

The person who is faster feels chronically impatient; the person who is slower feels chronically pressured. This is an incompatibility. However, sometimes there are enough other positives in their relationship – and the couple has the art & wisdom – so that the couple are able to rise above the difficulty.

When in sync in this area there can be exhilarating experience of harmony, of rightness about the relationship (in conjunction with other affinities); when relatively synchronized in their biological rhythm and inherent energy level, we often sense a marvelous kind of resonance between them, as if they are moving to the same silent music.

Complimentary Differences Foster Self-Discovery

When a partner has complimentary differences, it generates contact with new dimensions of who we are. When visibility goes to any significant depth, and especially when it lasts across a significant period of time, it always stimulates the process of self-discovery — taking a person deeper & deeper in an understanding of who they are.

Self-discovery looks like:

  • unrecognized capacities
  • latent potentialities
  • character traits that never surfaced to the level of explicit recognition
  • an adventure/challenge of always seeing deeper and deeper into each other (ex: learning the power of vulnerability because your partner has emotional openness & willingness to be transparent; letting others see how you feel and who you are without defense or apology.)

When we see the embodiment of a part of our self that has been struggling to emerge, and the other person sees a similar possibility in us, then an explosion of love can take place — the sense of an excitingly increased experience of aliveness through contact, involvement, and interaction.

Differences can be complimentary only when the traits of each individual are valuable & desirable.

You can have differences in the “Sense of Life” category with specifically the differences in cognitive style (eg verbal-intellectual vs. intuitive) and if both view the difference with respect & appreciates/finds value in the other’s style they will experience it as enriching & stimulating. Conversely, if they experience it as antagonistic, conflict & dissonance result.

However, values & disvalues are not complementary. You will not find romantic love between someone with high-self esteem & low-self esteem; high intelligence & aggressive stupidity. Such differences are inherently antagonistic.

Thusly, complimentary differences must fall within the realm of that which is optional.

In cognitive or personality style we can welcome and enjoy differences.

Differences cannot pertain to the fundamentals of existence (eg self-esteem & self-hatred, honesty & dishonesty), or in the fundamentals (aka orientations or states of being) that we desire affinity.

It’s true that, for example, a dishonest person can be attracted to an honest person, or low-self esteem to the high-self esteem person, because this is what they lack within themselves. However the attraction is unilateral, not reciprocal. Honesty is not attracted to dishonesty; self esteem is not attracted by self-doubt. The foundation for mutual love does not exist.

Therefore, complimentary differences in certain categories create the experience of stimulation, challenge, excitement — a dynamic force that enhances feelings of aliveness, expansion, & growth. Differences must be experienced as mutually enriching, capable of drawing out untapped potentials in each other so that their encounter is an adventure in expanded consciousness and expanded aliveness. Each person represents to the other: a doorway into new worlds.

photo credit: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

Core Needs Romantic Love Fulfills

We outlined some of the basic needs in part one that romantic love fulfills, but throughout Branden’s book there was a repeat of a few core needs (psychological visibility, joy/pleasure, admiration, and a place of safety) as significant.

Psychological Visibility

The willingness and ability of each person to genuinely see the other at the most fundamental level determines the degree to which each will experience visibility.

When we don’t feel visible it kills romantic love, causing a chasm between the two people.

Visibility meets our human basic need to feel truly seen, known, and understood. It meets the need to form objective self-awareness and self-discovery. It meets our need to admire and be admired, to love and be loved. Visibility fosters our ability to be able to fully express ourselves, to have emotional closeness & intimacy. And much more.

The longed-for “knowing” of each other is all-embracing. We wish to explore our lover with our senses-through touch, taste, and smell. We explore and share feelings and emotions at greater length and to greater depth, and with greater regularity, than we almost ever do in any other kind of relationship. The fantasies of our partner can become the subject of our own deep, intensely personal interest. The most diverse traits, characteristics, and activities of our partner can acquire a powerful spiritual-intellectual-physical-emotional-sexual charge.

It’s true that many things can contribute to the experience of visibility, as we’ve been seeing throughout both of these posts, but there are two more worth mentioning: self-concept and feeling understood as related to self-perceptions.

Self-Concept

In order for a person to experience visibility there has to be some level of self-concept, which is the extent to which each:

  • corresponds with the actual facts of each’s psychology
  • knows & perceives themselves realistically
  • inner view of self conforms to the personality of the projected behavior

The main premise of self-concept is commonly referred to as projection or potentially transference.

An example: a self-confident and healthily assertive woman encounters an anxious, hostile, insecure man. The man reacts to her with suspiciousness and antagonism; whatever she says or does is interpreted by him malevolently. He sees her self-assurance as the wish to control & dominate him. This is not based in facts, but rather his own lack of self-concept (aka not seeing/accepting his insecurity and his control wounds). And she will not feel visible.

A different example, a man is inclined to rationalize his behavior to support his pretense of self-esteem by means of totally unrealistic fantasies. His self-deceiving image of the kind of person he is conflicts inevitably with the actual self conveyed to others. He will feel chronically frustrated & invisible to others because the feedback he receives is not compatible with his view of himself.

“But if, without condemnation or contempt, someone would see past this act, would see to the root of the insecurity that generates his felt need for an act, such a person would have the power to afford him the experience of actual visibility.”

Two people hiding could offer, pseudo-visibility because each would understand why the other is hiding (deep in their psyche). They can relate & reinforce each other by a kind of silent, unspoken understanding — but this is another example of immature love.

Understanding

We do not wish to be loved blindly, we wish to be loved for specific reasons. And if another professes to love us for reasons that do not bear any relation to our self-perceptions, values, or standards, we do not feel gratified or even loved because we do not feel visible.

Therefore, getting understanding from our partners in the same way that we understand ourselves meets our need for visibility, or more specifically our need to be truly seen, known, and validated.

That looks like:

  • Must be able to love me for characteristics I think I possess & admire
  • Understand my happiness/pride of an achievement, it’s personal meaning to me, understand and attach importance to the reasons behind my emotions
  • Understand my likes/ interests
  • Understand my plight & that my emotional state has reality
  • Give consciousness, perception & understanding
  • Give empathy, sympathy, compassion, respect, appreciation, admiration

Joy & Pleasure

The experience of being loved is when we feel that we are a source of joy to our partner. There is nourishment in affinity of passionate virtues, and compliments that have specific meaning /emotional charge. It’s the smile of pleasure on our partner’s face when we enter the room, a glance of admiration aimed at something we have done, and expression of sexual desire or excitement, and interest in what we are thinking or feeling, a recognition of what we are thinking or feeling even when we have not explained, a conveyed sense of joy from being in contact with us or simply from watching us – these are the means by which we experience visibility & being loved.

Joy and pleasure gives two experiences in our unfolding & development.

They provide knowledge in the vividness & intensity of direct experience which allows us to experience the sense that life is a value, worth struggling to maintain, and to experience the sense that we are a value (we are efficacious, appropriate to life, in control of our existence).

Pleasure is a deep psychological need; It is through the state of enjoyment, through the state of happiness, and pleasure that we experience the sense that life is of value; gives us a direct experience of our own competence to deal with reality, to be successful, to achieve values — to live. Pleasure entails a sense of personal efficacy “I am in control of my existence. I like my relationship to reality right now.”; just as pain contains a feeling of helplessness, of inefficacy “I am helpless.”

Sex As A Source of Pleasure & Joy When Rooted in Self-Awareness

We recognize, of course, that sex and love though related are obviously different. Sexual desire does not necessarily entail love. Gratifying sexual experiences can occur without great love. However, we recognize also that the greater and most intense sexual experiences occur in the context of love, occur as an expression of love.

What is the torment, then, of those who claim that when they feel love, they do not necessarily feel ardent desire, or who claim that their best sexual experiences take place when “unencumbered” by love? These are the sexually self-alienated men and women whose love lives are inevitably unsatisfying.

Sometimes their “solution” is to declare with casual indifference that they are not really interested in love, that it “gets in the way.”

We need to remember that sexual self-alienation, like every form of self-alienation, is a state of mind. By this it’s meant that, in fact, our sexual responses are always an expression of the self, always an expression of who we are, but that is not necessarily how we experience them.

Sexual self-alienation can have many roots.

To the extent that we are alienated from our self, our sexuality, our partner, we are cut off from the most ecstatic possibilities of sexual union.

To the extent that we enjoy a strong sense of spiritual and emotional affinity with our partner, the sense of having harmoniously complementary sexual personalities the result is the deepest possible experience of self — of being physically and spiritually naked.

Sex is the ultimate act of self-assertion; sex is most intense when it is simultaneously an expression of love of self, of life, and of our partner. It is most intense because it is most integrated.

  • Sex integrates body & mind (perceptions, values, & thoughts)
  • Most intense form of experience of our total being/ experiencing our deepest & most intimate sense of self.
  • When not diluted/undercut it becomes a direct, immediate source, vehicle, and embodiment of pleasure.

“If sex involves an act of self-celebration, if in, sex, we desire the freedom to be spontaneous, to be emotionally open and uninhibited, to assert our right to pleasure and to flaunt our pleasure in our own being, then the person we most desire is the person with whom we feel freest to be who we are, the person who we (consciously or subconsciously) regard as our appropriate psychological mirror, the person who reflects our deepest view of our self and of life. That is the person who will allow us to experience optimally the things we wish to experience in the realm of sex.”

Nathaniel Branden

Sex is the ultimate form of acknowledging the value of the person we desire and of having our own value acknowledged — perception of our efficacy as a source of pleasure to the person we love — more than good at sex; “Because I am what I am, I am able to cause them to feel the things they are feeling.” We see our soul and its value in the emotions on the face of our partner.

Through the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure lovers continually reaffirm that they are a source of joy to each other. Joy is a nutrient to love; it makes it grow. Sexual neglect is hard not to be experienced as rejection or abandonment, no matter what the partner’s other protestations of devotion. Sex is not all there is to romantic love but can one imagine fulfilled romantic love without it? Sex at its highest potential is the ultimate celebration of love.

It’s important to note that love goes through stages, so maintaining a level of sexual intensity is not realistic as decades wear on. The frequency of lovemaking is not the issue here. A relationship remains sexual as long as two people retain the vision of each other as sexual beings, and as long as that mutual vision is alive in their interactions.

Admiration

Sexual Passion alone cannot sustain a couple across a lifetime, cannot provide support for all the weight that a relationship must carry. Only admiration can do that.

The admiration between two people is the most powerful support system a relationship can have, the most powerful foundation. Consequently, there is the greatest likelihood that the couple will be able to handle the pressures and weather the storms that are inevitably part of every relationship. 

Aside from how your partner treats you, how do you see them as a human being?

Is it a risk to ask if you admire your partner? It typically feels less risky asking, do I love my partner? Do I desire my partner? Do I have a pleasant time with my partner?

It’s a risk discovering that the bond may be more through dependency than admiration, more through immaturity or fear or convenience than genuine esteem.

Any number of internal or external pressures may cause our love to falter, during the long course of a relationship, on just about any virtues we’ve discussed; admiration may sustain a relationship when this happens. We are more likely/easily able to tolerate our partner’s defects when we genuinely admire them.

Besides providing support in the middle of a storm, admiration is enriching in many ways. It makes us feel visible, appreciated, loved and thus reinforces our love for our partner. In experiencing and expressing admiration, we feel pride in our choice of mate, confirmed in our judgement, and strengthened in our feelings of love. Two lovers who profoundly admire each other know a from of delight that is a continuing source of fuel to romantic love.

A Place of Safety: Love As a Private Universe

Two selves, two senses of life, two personalities, two islands of consciousness have found each other and interpreted & developed a space they will inhabit as long as the relationship lasts. The new universe is an intermingling. It is a universe made of silent understandings, unspoken words, of eloquent glances and humorous shorthand signals — a universe of shared subjectivity.

Anyone who has been in love knows that each relationship has its own music, its own emotional quality, its own style — and its own world.

It provides support & fuel to handle the outside struggles — whether that remains through the duration of the relationship depends on the individuals who create it.

And whether it is a universe based on shared sight (romantic love) or one based on shared blindness (immature love), whether it is a universe shaped by happiness or one that is merely a fortress against pain, it is by its nature, by the nature of love, mature or immature an emotional support system, a sanctuary, a source of nourishment and energy, apart from the outside world.

The creation of their unique universe begins in the first moment, then keeps evolving as the relationship evolves, as each of them evolves. Having fallen in love, having committed themselves to each other, having chosen to join forces, they now stand before one of the most formidable of all human undertakings: to make their relationship work.

photo credit: Pablo Heimplatz via Unsplash

An Ability to See The Whole Picture

The sustaining of romantic love requires a paradox: the ability to be present (to be in the moment) while not getting lost in what immediately confronts us. We need to be able to see both the forest and the trees.

Sometimes couples fight; sometimes they feel alienated. Sometimes our partner may do something that hurts or exasperates us. There are going to be times we, or our partner, want passionately to be alone for a while. None of this is unusual or abnormal. None of it is inherently a threat to romantic love.

One of the characteristics of mature love is the ability to know that we can love our partner deeply and nonetheless know moments of feeling enraged, bored, alienated and that the validity & value of our relationship is not to be judged by moment to-moment, day-to-day, or even week-to-week feeling fluctuations. There is a fundamental equanimity, an equanimity born of the knowledge that we have a history with our partner, we have a context, and we do not drop that context under the pressure of immediate vicissitudes.

We remember. We retain the ability to see the whole picture. We do not reduce our partner to his or her last bit of behavior and define him/her solely by means of it.

In contrast, one of the manifestations of immaturity is an inability to tolerate temporary discord, temporary frustration, temporary alienation, and to assume in the face of distressing conflicts or difficulties that the relationship is finished. Some couples seem to decide this several times a month.

They have little or no staying power, little or no ability to see past the immediate moment, little or no ability to reach for a broader perspective on their immediate problems. So their life, and their love affair or marriage, hangs always on the edge of an abyss. This is not an environment in which love grows. It is an environment in which, sooner or later, love tends to wear out.

We need the ability to remain in contact with the essence of our relationship in the face of temporary mishaps, conflicts, hurts, or estrangement. We need the ability to see the essence of our partner, past what our partner may be doing at this moment. Also, we need not to step outside the moment but to see the essence of our relationship and our partner in the moment, even when the moment is not a happy one.

Then, even our times of struggle can strengthen love.

TO SUM IT ALL UP

As stated at the start, Branden sees romantic love as one of the great challenges and one of the great adventures of our existence. It requires much of us. It demands a high level of personal evolution. And it is pitiless-like the law of gravity. If we are not ready, we fall. If we are not ready, we fail.

Romantic love takes maturity and courage. Acknowledging a person’s value to us, staying open & honest feels very vulnerable and can be down right scary. But we must be able to stay open otherwise the tendency is to block ourselves from our feelings — both the negative and the positive. 

Romantic love can be born when there are enough affinities in our intellect, basic premises & values, sense of life, and rhythm & energy. And when we have complimentary differences. Both of these meet our deep need to be seen and experience a deepening of self through self-discovery

Our need to be psychologically visible can be continuously met through romantic love. However, in order for this to be fulfilled, each person must have a level of self-awareness (aka self-concept) as to not project their past and own insecurities onto their partner and the relationship. 

We also can only feel truly visible when we feel understood. That understanding must align with our own self-perception, values, and standards otherwise we will not feel visible or gratified, or even loved. 

Joy and pleasure are also two experiences that help in our unfolding and development inside a romantic relationship. Sexual pleasure can continually reaffirm that each are a source of joy to each other, and sex at its highest potential is the ultimate celebration of love. 

But sexual passion cannot carry the weight of the relationship. That is a job for admiration. When people admire their partner, as a human being & not what they do, it enriches each individual in many ways — providing support in the middle of a storm.

It is through the intermingling of two consciousnesses that a private universe is formed. If both parties are healthily contributing to this it can provide support & fuel for the outside struggles.

Truly, love takes maturity. And it is only through maturity can an individual retain the ability to see the whole picture. To know that love is a dance of connection and disconnection, but to remember their deep love for their partner and not break under the pressure of immediate vicissitudes. 


Compatibility Questions

(From Part 1) Am I Ready For Love:

  1. Do I have good self-esteem?
  2. Do I understand that love is selfish?
  3. Am I able to nurture another?
  4. Am I connected to myself?
  5. Do I have good self-concept?
  6. Am I able/willing to self-disclose (vulnerability)?
  7. Do I have a desire (& the ability) to truly see my partner?
  8. Does excitement exist within me?
  9. Do I view the success of a relationship as important as other areas of my life?
  10. Am I in a position/point of my life to have a relationship & love?
  11. Do I use sex as an expression and celebration of love?
  12. Am I willing to create a private universe with a partner?
  13. Do I possess the ability to see the whole picture? (*Positive sentiment override)
  14. Can I tolerate temporary discord, frustration, & alienation?
  15. Do I know how to self-regulate / self-soothe?
  16. Am I able to handle conflicts in a mature way (ability to communicate & repair) or do I get hostile, mean, withdrawn, shutdown, etc.?
  17. Am I willing to be accountable?
  18. Am I curious about my partners inner world?
  19. Am I able to be truly committed (aka conviction, cherishing my partner, denigrating alternative matches, intentionally choosing my partner)?
  20. Do I nurture gratefulness or resentment when it comes to a partner?

(From Part 2) Is This Person A Good Fit For Me:

  1. Is there significant mutuality of intellect, basic premises & values, and fundamental attitude toward life?
  2. Is there affinity in ‘sense of life’ and ‘rhythm & energy’?
  3. Are most of our differences viewed as complimentary (aka valuable & desirable, enriching) or are they antagonistic?
  4. Are our differences in the realm of that which is optional (like cognitive style or personality) vs. fundamentals (eg self esteem, values like honesty, or ways of being that we desire)?
  5. Do I feel psychologically visible (aka truly seen, known, understood, and validated)? (*Quality of friendship)
  6. Do I feel that I am a source of joy to my partner?
  7. Is my partner a source of joy for me?
  8. Do I admire my partner?
  9. Do we have shared meaning and purpose?
  10. Do I trust my partner?
  11. Is my partner trustworthy?
  12. Is my partner individually ready for love (list above)?

In this two post series, I’ve only scratched the surface of what you can learn from Nathaniel Branden. If you’re like me and you want to learn AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN, then don’t you worry, I’ve got you. 

Here are my top recommended resources that will help you gain an even deeper understanding of what we went over in this post:

*Disclaimer: some, or all, of the products in this are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission.

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