4. When You Don’t Love Them (Enough).
And then there’s Kevin’s problem. He doesn’t love Sheila, although she’s a great person.
Love is globally important—the single most important quality for a mate, in fact, according to the more than 10,000 people in Dr. David Buss’ study spanning 37 diverse cultures. It always has been. Notwithstanding historians’ musings that love is a recent, European invention, it’s always existed—at least as long as written history can attest. For instance, Biblical love-n-lust poem Song of Solomon is an ancient text. All that talk of climbing her palm tree to grasp her fruit was not about arbors.
Love on its own isn’t enough to make a marriage, but a marriage without love is unlikely to last, either. Per science, love is the great motivator; it keeps us together, faithful, and helpful, encouraging us to take care of one another long after passion has waned and body parts need replacing. On the flip side, when partners get committed sans love, the divorce, abandonment, and affair rates are high.
5. When Your Intuition Says So.
You might be surprised to find intuition showcased in science. A few years ago, I sure was. Yet intuition is real—and scientifically confirmed. Seated in the right hemisphere, or half, of the brain, intuition is knowing without factual proof.
In experiments with people who’ve had surgery that keeps their right and left hemispheres from communicating (done to control the spread of electricity that can worsen epilepsy), people do curious things. For instance, if the right hemisphere is exposed to the word “sun” and the left half experiences the word “dial,” they’re only conscious of having experienced “dial.”
But when asked to draw a picture with their left hand—which is connected to the right hemisphere—they draw a sun. The right half knows. It just can’t directly say so, because it’s non-conscious.
Intuition probably exists to save us; the biggest threat to most people is other people. And intuition is particularly accurate in areas where we have lots of expertise or experience. I suspect it also works best in scenarios that would have been vital to our ancestors’ survival and reproduction—like mate selection. Our intuition can tell us we’re with the wrong partner. It might not be an emergency; still, the voiceless voice is there.
The first time my intuition piped up, I was engaged. I didn’t listen at first, so it gradually escalated its alarm, from anxiety to panic attacks to a dream where the voice became conscious: “You must not marry this man!” I left—and all symptoms of anxiety left too.
Why aren’t we better at listening to our intuition? Dr. Brené Brown points out that “most of us are not very good at not knowing.” We aren’t good at following what our intuitive right-brain tells us, because our intuitive right-brain does not offer proof—just hunches.
We also ignore intuition from fear of losing this partner, readiness to be done with the search, and feelings of guilt over leaving a partner who hasn’t done anything wrong.
But your right brain does not care about any of that. It cares about protecting you. Listen. Don’t half-lid your eyes just when you need them wide-open. Remember that you are still investigating this person until you get married.
When a dating relationship needs ending, end it. Nobody ever said, “Thank you for settling for me.” Don’t guilt-trip yourself to the altar, only to stumble in the biggest decision of your life! Break up and set both of you free to find love for a lifetime.
Written by Jed Diamond Ph.D
Originally appeared in The Goodmen Project