"Falling in love again, never wanted to. What was I to do? I can't help it."
I remember seeing Marlene Dietrich sing this in an old movie, and at the time, my hopeless romantic self didn't get it. Why would anyone not want to be in love? For many people, it seems like the best of all possible worlds.
According to Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of "The Male Brain" (it took a woman to write that one), "Despite stereotypes to the contrary, the male brain can fall in love just as hard and fast as the female brain, and maybe more so. When he meets and sets his sights on capturing 'the one,' mating with her becomes his prime directive. And when he succeeds, his brain makes an indelible imprint of her. Lust and love collide and he's hooked."
When that happens, many guys can't think, have trouble remembering the simplest of things and generally don't care about anything but getting the girl.
There are many stories of how falling in love broke up families and even caused people to commit murder. Love is the subject of millions of poems and songs and is truly inspirational. It can also make you just plain crazy.
I have said before that falling in love is temporary insanity and one should work on creating real love instead. But sometimes, you just can't help it. When that happens, your brain chemistry takes over and you just go with it, much of the time without thinking because the feeling is so amazing and so powerful.
This emotional engagement, when done in tandem, rivals Al Pacino's tango in "Scent of a Woman." Steps are magically choreographed, and you are there for one another as if it were all meant to be. If one person is more into it than the other, it can create some internal drama, but even if everything is going well, the dance can be quite the workout.
Our courtship rituals are important. If you want someone too much, it can push the object of your desire away. If you do not show enough interest, he or she may seek out another who can provide the necessary attention.
Brizendine also states: "Not surprisingly, the different objectives that men and women have in mating games put us on opposing teams -- at least at first. The female brain is driven to seek security and reliability in a potential mate before she has sex. But a male brain is fueled to mate and mate again. Until, that is, he mates for life."
And isn't that the goal: to find a life mate, soul mate, best friend, partner and love that will last forever?
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a marriage and family therapist in Westlake, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." He also hosts "Emotional Fitness" on NPR. E-mail him at barton(at)bartongoldsmith.com.)
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