Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Five Lover Types: Which One are You?
(Me & My Hubby's Happy Sandy Feet, Relaxing on Waikiki Beach)
Continuing with Valentine's week sneak peeks into This is Your Brain on Joy: What type of lover are you when your brain feels out of balance? Below is a summary of the 5 most common brain-related "lover types" that challenge couples. One or both of you may be a combination of types, as is often the case. A big part of Dr. Henslin's marriage therapy is making sure each individual is bringing their best, healthiest, most balanced brain to the marriage. After that, counseling couples through problems is oh so much easier.
The Scattered Lover
The Scattered Lover tends to come in two different forms. One is the hyperactive, bouncy, all-over-the-place version. They are high in energy and low on attention—unless they are very, very fascinated by something in their environment. Then they can become extremely focused. Many spouses of mates with attention deficit disorder are frustrated by their husband or wife’s ability to focus on a video game or hobby they love, but can’t maintain or engage in a focused give-and-take conversation or hear and act upon simple requests. They seem to have endless energy, until they crash.
The second type of Scattered Lover is the classic absent-minded professor. They’re often smart, but just as often lost in their own world. For example, Einstein, who discovered the theory of relativity, but never seemed to find a decent comb. Or if he did, forgot to use it on his wild white mane. These people are typically pleasant, but so easily caught up in watching the flowers bloom, they are often late for things like doctor’s appointments and planes taking off. Sweet-tempered but maddening for mates who prefer punctuality to last-minute panic, and order to creative chaos. (Or “comfy cluttered nests,” as they often prefer to call their messy offices and bedrooms.)
The Overfocused Lover
These are the classic people who are like a dog with a bone once they get stuck on a thought. They have a very hard time shifting their set-in-stone perspectives because their viewpoint feels unalterably right and comforting. They can range from a mate who cannot forgive an offense from years ago, to one who gets fixated on an activity (good or bad) and can’t stop, to one who has compulsive tendencies (to check locks or count cracks in the sidewalk or over-parent). The far end of this spectrum would include people with obsessive compulsive disorder, with the mid-range being seen as control freaks, with the less severe end of this continuum including people who just have a very hard time letting go of being right or shifting from one project to another or one idea to another.
The Blue Mood Lover
Blue moods happen to all of us at some time or another, particularly after any kind of loss. PMS or adrenal burnout can plummet the sunniest of dispositions into a blue mood. However, many people seem to have been born with a gloomy outlook. You try to point out that the glass is half-full, and they’ll not only declare it half-empty, they’ll point out that the glass is smeared and has a small chip in it, and the water tastes a little funky, as well. They look for the worst in everything and seem to take a certain pride in discovering What Could Go Wrong first and sharing it with anyone who might listen. If you’ve ever had a unrelenting pessimist -type on your team, you may have experienced a slow, sure drain in your own energy.
Negativity can become habitual and to some people is as addicting as alcohol. Someone with a true, deep, chemical depression is different from one who has learned negative behavior by osmosis, usually from growing up in a negative family environment. You know the commercials on TV that say, “depression hurts everywhere”? (These commercials are so depressing!) Well, depression also hurts everyone who loves you. If you are suffering from a chronic low mood, your first priority, before working on your marriage, would be to become radically proactive about uncovering the source of your sadness and getting the right help for it. We’ll spend an entire chapter talking about the variety of issues that can cause you to feel sad and how to get you or your mate back on the sunny side of the street.
The Agitated Lover
The spouse of an easily agitated or angered mate will nearly always say, “I have to walk on eggshells in my own home.” When a person is easily irritated or angered— unusually so—I’ve found there is nearly always a biochemical component to this issue. In fact, as I pointed out in my earlier book, This is Your Brain on Joy, I treated thirty couples where one of them had an anger issue so severe that I suspected an underlying brain issue. I sent all to have a SPECT scan, and they were given various treatments according to their specific biological needs. Ten years later, twenty-nine out of the thirty couples are still happily married. One man refused to follow the treatment plan and his marriage, sadly, ended in divorce. So the bad news is that an anger problem is one of the most destructive of marital issues. The good news? It’s now one of the most easily corrected problems.
The Anxious Lover
Many of us come to the table of marriage with a long string of old wounds. Without meaning to, we may accidentally trigger an old trauma in our spouse, who has suffered from some kind of abuse, neglect, or sudden tragic loss. People who have had trauma in their past often become hyper-vigilant—on the lookout for anything that might hurt them again. It’s a bit like living with Chicken Little—trying to reassure them over and over that the sky is not falling; it’s just a cloud passing by. People become anxious lovers in one of two ways: they were hurt or traumatized in the past, or they were simply born with a brain that is prone to anxiety. Anxiety, fear, and panic often run in families. We’ll explore ways to calm the hyper-vigilant anxiety center in a future chapter.
Now that you’ve been briefly introduced to the Five Imbalanced Lover Types, over the next 5 days, we'll explore each type in a more depth and suggest a few solutions for each one. For more information on how to order your own copy of This is Your Brain in Love, just click the book cover on the right.