Setting Good Expectations

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“He’s just not that into you.” That one now infamous line — pulled from the legendary romance:

  1. Don’t rush into sex.
  2. Let the relationship deepen slowly over months.
  3. Think about what you bring to the relationship, not what you get from it.
  4. Understand that heady passion may not last, but love does.
  5. Work through problems to have a stronger relationship in the end.

Keep It Light at First

While the wisdom may seem a bit conventional, experts say one of the best ways to win at love is to hold off physical brain chemistry than flutters of the blood tests, researchers screened all three groups for levels of a chemical that shuttles the mood regulating neurotransmitter serotonin in and out of brain cells. It was already known that serotonin levels drop in folks who have OCD. It’s part of what drives their obsessive behavior. So, it was no surprise to find a low level of the transport chemical in this group. And, by comparison the group of normal folks had normal levels.

But what was exciting and new: The discovery that couples who were newly in love had the same low level of this serotonin-related chemical as people with OCD. This, say experts, could mean that what we feel for our partner at the very early stages of love — and to some extent the headiness of being in love — may be hard wired into our brain chemistry, and pretty much out of our control.

Working It Out When That Loving Feeling Goes

But while the exhilarating feeling of new love may fade as time goes by, Lowe says that’s not a reason to run for the hills the minute problems in the relationship arise.

In fact, Lowe tells WebMD that couples who stay together and work through their difficulties often find that happiness — and a good deal of the passion — returns in the long run.

That was precisely the finding of a survey conducted by the Institute of American Values. In this study, researchers questioned hundreds of American couples who said they were very unhappy in their marriages. Five years later the experts re-examined the same couples to see how their relationships fared.

The finding: Of those who worked through their difficulties and stayed together, over 80% reported that they were once again very happy — and glad they stayed together. Those who got a divorce were no happier on their own.

What we learned from the study applies as much before marriage as after we tie the knot, says Lowe.

“In many ways, couples who go through difficult times before they get married and find a way of working it out have a better chance later on in marriage — better than those who live in a fantasized existence before marriage and expect it will always be that way,” says Lowe.

By acknowledging that there will always be challenges and difficulties along the way, Lowe says couples can develop a more realistic expectation of married life, one that will go a long way toward keeping a couple together.