That Initial Spark and How to Sustain It: The Psychology of Attraction

Mar 21, 2017 by Dr. Bob Weathers

The Psychology of AttractionHave you ever wondered what it is that attracts us so powerfully, both romantically and sexually, to one another? Contemporary psychology has a lot to say about this universal experience, including both what may contribute to that mysterious chemistry and those early butterflies, as well as what may be required if we want to nourish and sustain life-giving passion and vitality beyond just the honeymoon period of our being initially smitten and head over heels.

After an informative introduction by online TherapyCable hosts, Dr. Gerry Fishkin and Julie-Ann Goode, CalSouthern’s own Dr. Bob Weathers discusses a wide range of relevant insights here: from evolutionary psychology’s perspective on our forming beginning passionate attachments; to social psychology’s views on increasing emotional intimacy (“mutual self-disclosure”) to sustain novelty, hence passion; then into exploring integral theory’s thorough appreciation of spirituality’s front-and-center role in drawing us to one another in meaningful and reciprocal unions.

Falling in love may often feel like it simply happens to us, but maintaining a genuinely loving connection across time requires a concerted commitment to working on what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung calls our own shadow material (i.e., vulnerabilities and developmental wounds which virtually all of us bring to relationship). And it certainly takes enormous courage to face, much less all the focused energy it takes to effectively repair, the ruptures which are surely inevitable in any depthful relationship.

The math, of romance and beyond, goes something like this: if we both want authentic closeness, I have to risk being open and vulnerable to you, and you to me. And with that vulnerability is conjured up whatever still is in need of healing within both you and me, respectively. Closeness simply will not continue, nor will it deepen, if we sweep significant emotions under the carpet. So it is that intimate relationship affords --- oftentimes along with a skilled, professional facilitator --- the single best opportunity to at last face, and ideally work through, our emotional wounds of a lifetime (most of which, if you think about it, were themselves relational in origin).

One of my favorite poetic evocations of this incredible healing potential, placed right in the center of deeply loving connection, comes from that great British chronicler of passion and vitality, D.H. Lawrence:

Remember, the undaunted gods give vitality still to the dauntless.

And sometimes they give it as love, ah love, sweet love, not so easy!

But sometimes they give it as lightning…

You might as well take the lightning for once, and feel it go through you...

You'll not get vitality any other way. *

Hear CalSouthern’s Dr. Bob Weathers as he points the way toward vitality and creativity in our central love relationships. Also, as a closing treat, witness creativity and passion in real time, with Dr. Bob’s jazz quartet offering up such classic tunes of love and attraction as “In the Mood for Love.”


About the author:
A highly regarded educator and university administrator, as well as recovery coach, author, and public speaker, Dr. Bob Weathers holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with an M.A. in religious studies. Over the course of his professional career, “Dr. Bob” has provided tens of thousands of hours of therapeutic counseling and recovery coaching to satisfied clients. He has also committed the past 35 years to teaching, training, and inspiring graduate-level mental health providers at several southern California universities, most recently here at California Southern University.

Dr. Bob is currently academic effectiveness coordinator at CalSouthern, engaged full-time in ongoing initiatives for improving the educational experience of our learners, including his chairing the brand-new Student Advisory Council (more about this soon to be announced in a future newsletter). Additionally, Dr. Bob has published numerous articles in a broad cross-section of respected professional reference books, journals, and edited volumes.

Dr. Bob’s current writing and in-demand public speaking focus on applying the principles of Integral Recovery (a body/mind/spirit approach) to healing from the shame and stigma of active addiction on the way to sustained, successful recovery. For fun, he loves to perform locally, as an avid, lifelong drummer, in his own widely praised jazz ensemble.

* From The Complete Poems, pp. 470-471


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