You fall in love through the impulsive, emotional, and volatile limbic system, i.e., the toddler brain that reaches structural maturity by age three. But, you stay in love in the prefrontal cortex, i.e., the most stable and most profound part of the adult brain that reaches full maturity by age twenty-eight.
In the beginning, toddler love involves joy and wonder. It may be fun for you when you emphasize affection, wonder, and curiosity. However, when you retreat to the toddler brain under stress, you become demanding, self-obsessed, reactive, and impulsive. This kind of love inevitably faces pain and conflict because of its cognitive limitations, particularly the inability to see your partner’s perspective or to see them apart from how you feel at the moment.
This kind of love adds many good things to your life, but it also exposes your deepest vulnerabilities in a way that you have not experienced since childhood. If you love like a toddler, you probably believe that your partner needs to feel and think the same way you do. You probably want your partner to be more like you and know what you need.
But, adult love rises from your most humane values of nurturance, kindness, compassion, and desire for growth.
Toddler Love Only Lasts Several Months
In fact, relationships are difficult, as love is easy in the toddler brain. Boundless energy and euphoria flow from hormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones are instrumental in pair bonding, sexual motivation, and social behavior. If you love like a toddler, you probably attribute your best emotional impulses and states to the object of fascination.
Once the bonding hormones that brought you together start waning — they only last several months — the euphoric feelings of falling in love start fading. Then, you stop the idealistic attributions as well as start seeing things in your partner you do not like.
How to Turn Toddler Love into an Adult Relationship:
You can engage in a romantic relationship in one of two ways: either from the perspective of an adult or from that of a toddler.
If you want to pursue love from an adult perspective, you should look for a life partner, romance, and companionship. You should be realistic about what your partner has to offer but you shouldn’t settle for less than what makes you happy. You should remember that although love is meaningful and enriching, it cannot be the center of your existence or make up for what is missing in your life.
You shouldn’t stay in a toxic relationship just for the sake of being with somebody and you shouldn’t tolerate being treated poorly, as it is not preferable to being alone.
You and your partner should be intact, fully-functioning members of society with your own interests and lives. You should bring out the best in each other and feel good about yourselves when you are together.
You shouldn’t be constantly frustrated with them, passive-aggressively leak anger at them or complain about them. You should work on your relationship if you both feel it is worth saving. However, you should be able to walk away when you feel like it no longer makes sense to stay together.