William James, the father of psychology, used magnetic force as a metaphor to describe human connection and love. He explained that if we took a magnet and hovered it over safety pins the pins would connect to the magnet. And, if you put a paper on the magnet and hovered it over the same safety pins - the pins would still gravitate to the magnet and connect. For the pins, there is no difference between being connected directly to the magnet, or if there is a paper between itself and the magnetic force. However, humans are different.
When people are drawn to one another they are not satisfied with being “just” near one other. A person who is in love will find a way to directly connect to his or her lover. They will pursue relentlessly until they find a way to touch and be directly connected to the person they love.
We tend to stigmatize those who pursue their love, chase them to the ends of the earth, or never give up. We see this as lame, pathetic, and insecure. We often judge people who pursue their love by claiming that they don’t have an identity or they have poor self-esteem.
I would like to pause here to make a clear distinction between pursuing love and stalking. Stalking is when one person made it clear that they are not interested in a relationship. Pursuing love is when both of you are in love with one another but your lover is worried, anxious, confused, and afraid of taking the relationship to the next level. Or sometimes it is just circumstances; they need to move to a different state or they are overwhelmed by family obligations. In those instances, committing to the relationship is appropriate. Do not be afraid to be relentless, to work hard, to make changes, and yes – sometimes you will have to negotiate what you are both willing to compromise. If you love someone you will find a way to directly connect - you wont be ok with just being “near” the person you love.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC is a psychotherapist in New York City. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc
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