The Best Love Story Ever

The Best Love Story Ever

Highlights from Symposium 2019

By Susan Johnson

May/June 2019

Our stories about love are more than a little crazy.

Romeo and Juliet is not a love story—it’s a three-day relationship between a 13- and a 17-year-old. It’s a story of infatuation, which is a word derived from fatuous, or “inanely foolish.” Gone with the Wind is not a love story—it’s about a woman who can’t make up her mind, and when she does, it’s too late: her lover buzzes off! In psychology, our stories are even worse. They’re all about companionate love being the place where lust goes to die, or about how we lose the self in love. In other words, they seem to be mostly about how love limits us and gets in the way of our freedom and independence.

More and more couples are seeking out therapists to try to repair their relationship, but what story do we give them? How do we repair what we don’t understand, really understand? It’s time to use a different story for our own love lives, and for how we frame love for our clients through interventions. This story is called the science of attachment, and it’s a tale of how we struggle with our vulnerability, a tale of trauma and how emotional isolation is poison for a human being. It’s about how we grow into who we are and habitually engage with the world. It’s a great tale: ancient, timeless, bred in the bone, integrating inner self and social interaction. After all, the self is a process, constantly constructed in key interactions with those closest to you.

The story…

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019 2:35:04 AM | posted by Dr Delia Anastasia Bernardi
I agree that healthy human connection is vital. A hallmark of abusive relationships is social abuse (e.g. perpetrators typically isolate themselves and the victim from friends and family members). Human beings are not only wired for connection but have also been created to be loved and God is love. In contrast, insecure attachment fosters shame which is fundamentally about a broken connection between an individual and others. The disconnect can result in a breach in the understanding and expectations when relating to others and to be a valued member of society. Integrating faith in a batterer intervention programme can provide an unprecedented and extraordinary platform to detoxify shame and disconnection as the group members come to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ (Ephesians 3:19). In God, one is able to discover and experience the epitome of a secure base and be assured of hope in all things, because He is able to do superabundantly above all that one can ask or think, according to the Holy Spirit that operates in the human spirit (Ephesians 3:20).

Monday, June 3, 2019 9:52:49 PM | posted by Steven Landman
The message is optimistic, I am an optimist. But, I work with domestic violence men and women. They love each other without question, but their love is sometimes very dangerous. How do we make love safe?

Monday, June 3, 2019 8:37:34 AM | posted by Barbara j Stern
Sue is so right. Attachment theory offers an "operational definition" of love across the lifespan right down to the prenatal period.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 10:27:39 PM | posted by Barbara Mulski
Yikes! Have you thought about “Women Who Love Too Much” that their sense of self becomes eclipsed by who they love or loved by? This following quote is emotionally and spiritually dangerous unless a person is acutely self aware of all aspects of self:: A loved one is a resource that our brain incorporates into our sense of self and efficacy. If I face life alone, every hill looks bigger; but if you hold my hand, every task and terror loses its edge. Our brain takes the availability of loving support into account, even when we do simple physical things, like calculating the height of a hill. Romantic love is a second chance to define ourselves, to revise childhood models of self and other, to deal with core vulnerabilities in a new way, and to grow into vibrant aliveness.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 2:30:49 PM | posted by Lyn Winslow
Lovely and beautiful, Thank you, Dr. Johnson.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 1:15:37 PM | posted by Jim Thomas
Helpful reminders from Sue Johnson, thanks for posting this