Falling in and out of love

Stephanie Toone

Valentine’s Day is known worldwide as the day of love. However, during this time, some are following the lyrics of the popular Alicia Keys hit – “Falling in and out of love.”

Whether falling in love or breaking up, experts say it is important to know when one is actually in love and what to do when the relationship is over.

Psychology professor Bill Greenwalt said it is important to know the difference between love and infatuation.

“When you look at your partner and you have a problem seeing them doing anything wrong, it’s probably infatuation,” Greenwalt said.

He said the reason for the confusion is that some people have a “storybook concept” of what love is supposed to be.

“They think that there will not be any problems between two people who are in love,” Greenwalt said.

He said there are four identifying feelings that characterize love listed in the textbook, “The Marriage and Family Experience.”

* Caring for the other – wanting to help him or her.

* Needing the other – having a strong desire to be in the other’s presence and to have the one care for him or her

* Trusting the other – mutually exchanging confidences.

* Tolerating the other – accepting his or her faults.

Nashville sophomore Adam Nischwitz experienced these feelings when he started to fall in love with his girlfriend three or four months into the relationship.

“I spent more time with her and I started to depend on her,” he said. “If I ever had a problem, I could always come and talk to her.”

He said his girlfriend was the right person, because she could get along with his friends and give him space.

“She’s not real clingy,” Nischwitz said.

Philosophy professor Arvin Vos said people should be careful in a relationship.

“Don’t get involved except, very carefully,” he said.

Vos said people make decisions and should take responsibility when falling in love.

“We decide to fall in love,” he said. “You’re responsible in your actions.”

Greenwalt said there are stages in the process of love: Infatuation, realization and acceptance or rejection.

In the acceptance or rejection stage, people make the decision to dismiss or follow-up on their feelings, Vos said.

“If we find it exciting, we slowly expand our boundaries and become comfortable with the person,” he said.

Louisville senior Katie Jones said when she started dating her best friend two years ago she experienced just that.

“I would get all excited when he would come around,” she said. “Nothing else mattered but us being together.”

After a year, Jones said her boyfriend started having second thoughts.

“He said he wasn’t sure if he wanted a serious relationship,” she said.

There had been talk between them about marriage and children in the future, but his doubts caused the split.

“It became a cycle of getting back together and breaking up,” she said. “I told him I couldn’t handle this.”

Jones gave her boyfriend one final chance, after he seemed ready to commit.

Last December, she said he had his last chance. Jones said he cheated on her.

She didn’t take the news well.

“I was screaming and yelling,” Jones said. “Emotionally, I was completely unstable.”

She said she finally found solace in her mother and her close friends.

“I realized for myself that was not the kind of relationship I needed,” Jones said.

Vos said not all relationships can end with that realization.

“The worst break-ups are the ones where you have a very dependent person that feels they cannot live without the other person,” he said.

Vos said these break-ups can lead to violence or a need for counseling.

“If you find that all you want to do is sleep and you start missing classes, it’s time to seek counseling,” he said.

Greenwalt said the intensity of a break-up depends on the individual person and the reasons for the break-up.

“Break-ups are likely to happen when there is no commitment or when they confuse infatuation with love,” he said.

Vos said it is important to end a relationship before it becomes unhealthy.

“When a relationship is not enhancing you, it leaves you feeling worried depressed and uncertain,” he said.

Though her break-up was painful, Jones said she can see the brighter side now.

“At the time, it feels like there is nothing else,” she said. “I felt alone, but there are better people out there.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at [email protected]