Just about everyone is scared of love and why not? It’s probably the most important thing in life and we have a strong fear of “getting it wrong” or “making a mistake”.

But for some people, it is more than this, they actually experience and react to Love as if it is an enemy that poses a threat to their survival. Millions of years of our evolution has honed the act of love as the most important survival tool of the newborn infant. At a time when we are completely helpless, defenceless and vulnerable, love is supposed to create a connection to someone that will protect us and make us feel SAFE so that we can develop and grow in a safe and secure environment, knowing that our needs will be looked after when we are unable to look after them ourselves.

But, unfortunately, we also have other survival systems;

The Amygdala is our DANGER WARNING system. On its own it experiences our emotional responses. It is already operating in the mother’s womb, experiencing and learning from what our mother experiences from 3 to 4 weeks after the egg is fertilised; 36 weeks (8 months) before we are even born.

If the first emotional connection we make causes us great distress and fear, then the amygdala remembers this, and, every time, throughout the rest of our life, when we are threatened by an emotional connection (LOVE) the amygdala sends the signal DANGER!!! Eventually this danger signal is interpreted as coming from the person that we approach an emotional connection with rather than the true source of our own act of emotionally connecting. Love is experienced as a DANGER by the amygdala and this creates anyone with whom love begins to grow as THE ENEMY. It causes you to react to them as if they want to hurt you, as if they mean to do you harm, as if they threaten your destruction. In extreme cases it may even cause you to provoke conflict and violence in the partner in order to justify the perception of the other as the enemy.

What do we do when we think someone threatens our destruction? We try to destroy them first so that we may survive. It’s only natural.

There’s more going on here than just amygdala memories, though, because the infant distress, if prolonged, actually interferes with brain development. Most importantly the connections our brain is making as it grows. The brain ends up, in effect, less connected to itself. Like a room full of people speaking different languages and trying to communicate, the brain isn’t able to communicate with itself very well. The brain cannot talk to itself effectively to reach a unanimous position so it has conflicts of interest constantly bombarding it with noise from those people in the room (the different areas of our brains) and their foreign languages. This causes us to send out conflicting messages in our behaviour, actions and words. The asat connections the brain makes are those in the prefrontal cortex. These, generally, even under the best conditions, don’t fully develop until around the age of 25. In some cases, later, and in some cases, they don’t fully develop at all.

So, essentially, what you’ve got is that; because the amygdala reacts to love as it is a threat to survival, it causes you to react to the partner as if they are the enemy, as if they need hurting or destroying in order for you to survive. It causes you to build evidence that the partner means to harm you or otherwise poses a danger …. and because the necessary connections to overcome this amygdala dominance never fully developed, the amygdala is allowed to run riot within the self, calling the shots whenever love threatens.

Now because love is experienced in another part of the brain, the love may exist. You may have someone that wants to love and be loved, desperately. They may see others loving and be jealous and want that. They may want the happiness that they see in other lovers. They may go through the actions of loving like; getting in to relationships, getting engaged and married, having babies, etc. But these are just the behaviours of loving, not the emotions. When the emotions of loving are experienced it triggers intense fears and intolerable feelings of vulnerability. So the emotions are kept in check, but should anything cause the control over these emotions to slip, out comes the raging monster intent on destroying the enemy ….

So, every time love begins to surface, the partner becomes the enemy. Even if the enemy was only ever patient, tolerant, generous, understanding and supportive …. The Amygdala still says “Danger!! They’re the enemy! Destroy them!”

In fact, the more lovable the person is, the more likely and more quickly they will be perceived as the enemy intent on destroying us.

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