The “Yo-Yo” Effect 

Love sickness has deep roots of mistrust.  Falling in love and staying in love are highly vulnerable experiences which require lovers to expose themselves as if they were children being taken care of by a parent.  I sometimes ask patients about helpless times in their lives.  Who helped them through such times?  When they were scared of the dark, who sat with them and soothed them?  When fearful of going to a summer sleep-away camp, or a new school, who listened to their doubts and offered reassurance.

Falling in love is both grand and terrifying; most of us remember the grandness of the experience, less so the scary parts of love.  Will it last?  Will my lover always be with me?  Will he or she find someone else?  Or fall out of love?  There are many more songs about abandonment and the loss of love than music depicting the joy of affection.

I call the highs and lows of a lovesick relationship “yo-yo” love because the union is always in motion.  But unlike the real yo-yo that we played with as a child, yo-yo love can be fast or slow.  Some couples separate and come together in weeks, some in months.  I do not mean that the separation is necessarily a physical separation.  Partners can live under the same roof and even share a bed, but they emotionally detach from one another and then attach, only to wander away in hurt.  Couples can generate arguments to facilitate separation.  The point here is that being in a “yo-yo” relationship precludes any self examination.  Or to put it another way, the man and mate are too consumed with the instability to think about why as individuals they cannot love with a sustained commitment.  No one looks inside, only at the other person.

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