We tend to fall in love through the magnificent, emotional, impulsive, and volatile limbic system of the toddler brain, which reaches structural maturity by the age of three. The prefrontal cortex, which reaches full development at the age of 28, is the most profound and stable region of the adult brain. Toddler-brain love is full of surprise and excitement at first, but owing to its cognitive limitations, such as the inability to perceive different perspectives or see other people apart from how we feel at the time, it inevitably meets conflict and grief. Adult love is born of our most humanistic principles of compassion, kindness, nurturing, and growth.
Despite their moodiness and occasional temper tantrums, most people believe that toddlers are joyful, caring, curious, and entertaining. And that sounds eerily similar to the experience of falling in love. When adults encourage curiosity, wonder, and affection, toddler love can be a lot of fun. We become impulsive, reactive, self-obsessed, and demanding when we withdraw to the toddler’s brain under stress, as we are prone to do.
In love relationships, we’re prone to reverting to our infantile mentality. Love exposes our deepest vulnerabilities in ways that most of us haven’t experienced since we were toddlers, despite all the beautiful things it brings to our lives. Most lovers have not been so emotionally dependent and powerless over their core vulnerable sensations since they learned to walk during early relationship turmoil when habits of interacting are developed.
Adults who love like babies frequently conflate intimacy with having their partners share their thoughts and feelings. When loved ones think and act like the distinct persons they are, with interests, tastes, and vulnerabilities that fail to mirror the fragile sense of self ingrained in the toddler’s brain, they detect rejection and betrayal. “Why can’t you be more like me?” is the most common criticism in toddler love. Why can’t you just figure out what I need and do it?”
To a Toddler’s Brain, Love is Simple
“Love is easy; relationships are difficult,” as the adage goes. but in reality, Relationships are difficult because love is so easy in a toddler’s brain. Hormones like vasopressin and oxytocin, which are involved in social behavior, sexual motivation, and pair bonding, provide euphoria and limitless energy at first. They have the ability to make us feel as if we are walking on clouds, with no need to eat or sleep. There’s also the hyper-focus of newly acquired love when we can’t think of anything else than the beloved. In a restaurant, you can spot the “in love” couples because they hardly pick at their salads, oblivious to the sights and sounds around them. The toddler’s brain supports bonding by using projection, which is its primary method of determining other people. We attach our best emotional states and impulses to the object of fascination as the toddler’s brain falls in love.
The ecstatic feelings of falling in love fade as the bonding chemicals that brought us together weaken – they only endure a few months — we cease making utopian attributions and start seeing flaws in our partners. It’s not that we don’t enjoy our loves for who they are; it’s simply that they seemed to be everything we liked before. It wouldn’t be so horrible if we just quit making idealistic attributions. The self-obsessed toddler brain, on the other hand, is unable to quit projecting. It puts undesirable attributes onto the now-disappointing loved one when it is in a poor mood. Couples begin to dispute about this inevitable disenchantment as early as the second year of living together. They are attempting to balance what is referred to as the Grand Human Contradiction in the wrong portion of their minds.
Humanity’s Great Contradiction
Humans are the only animals in the world who must balance two competing drives. The need to be autonomous — to be able to control our own thoughts, imagination, creativity, feelings, and conduct — must conflict with a want to connect with others. We want to be free and self-sufficient without feeling enslaved. At the same time, we want to rely on significant others for support and cooperation, and we want them to rely on us.
Other social animals, such as those that live in groups or packs and create rudimentary emotional relationships, have no sense of identity to assert and maintain. Unsociable animals are free and independent, but they do not create long-lasting ties with others beyond motherhood. Only humans are plagued by enormous forces that pull us in opposite directions, causing emotional investment in one area to be harmed by emotional investment in the other.
The struggle between the need for autonomy and connection is so strong that it manifests itself fully in toddlerhood, which is why the “terrible twos” may be so distressing. Toddlerhood is the initial stage of development during which youngsters appear to recognize their separation from their caregivers and become aware of emotional states other than their parents. They used to have a sense of merging with caregivers, which gave them a sense of security and comfort. The new realization of distinctions arouses enthusiasm and interest, but it also jeopardizes the comfort and security of the united state. They now have to contend with an ill-defined sense of self that is prone to negative identification. They do not know who they are, but they are aroused what they do know is do know who they aren’t – they’re not whatever you want them to be. As a result, there are toddler’s favorite two words: “Mine!” and “No!”