I was listening to Loveline with Dr. Drew the other night. I overheard him say this to one of the callers, “Intensity is not love.” I sat with that for a moment and began to unpack what it means to have intensity in a relationship.
Intensity is not what the majority of us know as “Butterflies;” that initial warm tingling feeling that we get when we see that person or when we think about them when they are away. Intensity is much different. Butterflies are driven by the same oxytocin hormone, but the intensity is like an addiction and can be driven by negative triggers in the oxytocin. The intensity lies in large and fast amounts of this “love hormone” resulting later in opposite behaviors like jealousy and envy; although these emotions might not come through at the beginning of the intensity, these emotions can take effect after the intensity is over or during its intensity.
Intensity is mostly felt by those who experience relationships through insecure/anxious attachments or avoidant attachments. Secure attachments are the healthy attachments that allow us to get the proper doses of oxytocin at the proper times and allow for quality trust and bond building.
When the brain and body illicit butterfly feelings, once those feelings go away our bodies do not crave or seek out those feelings. We have landed in a comfortable place when we stop feeling those initial rushes of emotion; comfort and security override those feelings. However when we feel intensity, it is never enough when it goes away; it is the chaos that we constantly feel or seek out in the unhealthy relationship.
When thinking about a specific someone who makes you have intense feelings, some of which can even create some anxiety, listen to your body more and take the time to acknowledge what the relationship or person is actually doing in your life.
You can also take this QUIZ to review your attachment style. Ask yourself if intensity is something you crave. Look into understanding your attachment style to make better and healthier connections with your partners in the future.
The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.