While choosing a partner for a long-term relationship, it would be useful to consider how our brain works when it comes to personal relationships. Here we often have to deal with the internal conflict of “emotions vs feelings,” and it is very difficult to get out of this conflict 100% satisfied with our choice. The thing, as often happens, is that our limbic system (responsible for emotions and the unconscious) and the neocortex (responsible for rationality) are antagonists.
The limbic system is responsible for emotions and feelings that cause hormonal surges in us and make our partner a source of our pleasure.
The neocortex is responsible for our rationality, logic, and strategic ability to get along with a person over long distances.
And while we are looking for partners, guys, and girls for marriage, these systems can collide with each other.
The limbic system can “convince” the neocortex of the seriousness of our feelings as not to lose the source of our pleasure. So, for example, it will easily explain and justify any shortcoming of a person for whom we have a passion. And for the first couple of years, this will work because our hormonal system is firing all over the place and we are experiencing a hormonal high that we call happiness.
But here is the problem: hormones tend to come and go and have a habit of leaving after a couple of years, leaving behind only bare facts about our partners. These facts are what we will have to live with and on which any family always builds upon (or because of which it falls apart in the end).
Why don’t feelings dance to the beat of rationality? Why does the limbic system not coordinate its sympathies with the neocortex? Our unconscious is programmed to encourage us to multiply. This is one of the very deepest programs of any person.
That is why physical attraction and emotional sympathy for another person for the brain signal “Oh! The probability of multiplying increases! Every effort must be made to make this happen!”
At this point, the limbic system goes bananas to drown out these silly rational and logical hindrances to the spread of your beautiful DNA. And although in the end, this may not happen; its main concern is to do everything possible for this, and then whatever happens – happens.
Is everything so hopeless? Not at all.
The fact is that some people (especially reasonable and pragmatic ones) cannot be confused by these “limbic outcries.” Their neocortex, thanks to a large number of neural connections, can turn off this obsessive radio of emotions if it considers it strategically disadvantageous. Such people have a tremendous advantage over others and the greatest of gifts – the right to choose.
They control themselves and their decisions. Even after having plunged into the abyss of hormonal passions, they can “turn on” their awareness. Having considered the possible negative consequences, they can either prevent them or minimize the damage. This is something that those who follow their stormy feelings when making vital decisions are not able to do. Relying only on feelings is like trying to ride huge waves without being able to surf.
But not if you are a trained surfer. Then you can:
a) evaluate all the risks and understand whether it is worthwhile to meddle in the water at all;
b) if you end up deciding to ride the wave, you can come out of the water unscathed.
So how do you know if a person is suitable for creating a family?
For a long-term partnership, we are more likely to be approached by those who are “approved” by our pragmatic and uncomplicated mind – our neocortex. And indiscriminately, the mind approves only one thing: facts. In our case, these are actions that confirm the existence of the partner’s qualities necessary for a happy relationship. What are these qualities? Only you can answer this question.
Does this mean that by satisfying the requirements of the mind we delete feelings from the equation?
Emotional approval is as important as the approval of the mind. Ideally, they complement each other.
A long-term relationship is a marathon, not a sprint. Creating a family involves the constant work of your emotions and intelligence because it is this constant work that will help you continue to see your partner as a source of happiness after many years of living together.
Only with the help of the work of emotions and intellect can you consciously awaken those exciting hormonal bursts in yourself, so similar to those that were at the beginning of your relationship. But for this, help is needed in the form of real positive qualities of a partner, approved first by your mind, and only after – by your feelings.