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“But when you are attracted to people, it’s because of the details. Their kindness. Their eyes. Their smile. The fact that they can get you to laugh when you need it the most”

  • Anonymous

You look across the room, catching the eye of the attractive person in the corner. It feels as though everyone else disappears, and you are the only two left in the room. The only way to describe it would be love at first sight – an attraction that cannot be matched!

What is truly behind this feeling of attraction? Is it nothing more than a physical connection, or is there some deeper explanation for the magnetism that you feel? Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt revealed their explanation for this sensation in their book ‘Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples.’ It was here that they discussed their Imago Relationship Therapy, a form of marriage therapy focusing on the relationship approach to problem-solving in a relationship. The word ‘imago’ is Latin for ‘image’, selected to describe the root theory of their therapy, the “unconscious image of the opposite sex that you had been forming since birth.”

They believe that your attraction to any one person is based on their ability to help you recreate the conditions of your childhood, allowing you the opportunity to use your skills to finish ‘growing up.’ They explain this concept with three underlying root causes:

  1. Unconsciously falling in love is caused by your need to meet a specific need, and our attraction to one particular person is based on their ability to match a profile that you have been creating since childhood in your mind. The call this profile your ‘imago’, which Hendrix explains as being “the person who can make me whole again.”
  2. We most often find ourselves attracted to someone who has experienced the same childhood wounds that we experienced, however, went about coping with them in a different way.
  3. We are attracted to those that will match our own personality, exhibiting the parts of our personality that have been ‘lost.’ For example, if you are shy you will subconsciously seek out someone who is outgoing.

This, in turn, explains the underlying reason many relationships fall apart in time. Once you move past the initial attraction, couples are left facing their differences, suddenly left realizing that they have nothing in common with one another. Leaving the newlywed phase behind them, they must now face the reality of life together. If more couples were aware of the root of their attraction going into their relationship, would this change this sensation? Would couples still chase their attractions, or would they instead choose to consciously pursue those individuals with whom they will share common interests down the road? We can only speculate…