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11-07-14How to Create Real Relationships: a conversation with Belden Johnson

Solving the “I love her/him, but I am not ‘in love’ with her/him” riddle.

In a very informative and quite personal conversation, meet an esteemed colleague of mine, Belden Johnson, who will take us on a journey through the mystifying world of human relationships, especially that most mysterious of all, the love relationship.

You know how it goes . . . you meet her/him and suddenly, like the proverbial bolt out of the blue, the magic happens. Feelings of love are ignited, you feel vibrantly alive, and it hurts to be apart. Deep commitments are made to one another. Life is beautiful… at least for a while. But soon – perhaps a year or two later, or even sooner — love’s sweet rose loses its intoxicating fragrance. Things that you once found endearing now begin to irritate you, and sadly, as BB King would say, “The Thrill Is Gone.” Not surprisingly, someone at work begins to look awfully attractive and the relationship to which you are committed unravels completely. If this scenario hasn’t happened to you, it has probably happened to someone you know. That’s how it seems to go these days – 80-90% of our love relationships come crashing down. Even when we go so far as to get married, 43% still end up in divorce – and perhaps an equivalent number end up being zombie relationships. I remember a New Yorker cartoon in which a gift counter salesgirl says to a wealthy middle-aged fellow, “Well if she already has everything, why not take her in your arms, look deeply into her eyes and say ‘Je t’aime?’” By the look on the chap’s face, you can tell.

In our conversation with Belden, we learn about the “love cocktail” that nature serves us, and where the “seven year itch” comes from. In fact, as Belden will confide, it is actually a “four year itch,” for this is when there is the peak in divorces. Belden suggests that we have developed into “serial monogamists” and he explains how a potent brew of hormones sets us toward a thrill seeking addiction which develops a tolerance and needs a bigger kick each time to turn us on. Beyond the biochemical, anthropological and evolutionary aspects, we explore some of the very wise, thoughtful, and practical solutions that Belden presents in his fascinating book, “Real Relationship: Essential Tools to Help You Go the Distance.” Together, we examine the unfortunate fact that serial philanderers have such a huge evolutionary advantage over those who mate forever. And we will learn what we can do about this destroyer of our closest friendships.

Belden explains ways to keep our important relationships strong. He suggests that through a better self-understanding, exposure to the beauty of nature, and physical touch we can secrete oxytocin. Oxytocin, best known as the hormone women secrete while giving birth that creates the initial mother-child bonding, is actually an important part of every human system, male and female alike. It has been referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” the “kindness hormone,” or even the “moral molecule,” because it is so central in providing the ability to feel empathy. Through guiding our lives wisely, we strengthen our relationships.

Join us in this enlightening conversation that addresses our love relationships holistically. Look at your relationships and build them into strong stable and satisfying commitments.

Belden Johnson, MA has trained as a primal and couples therapist, as well as in play therapy and family systems. He is a licensed marriage, family therapist (California License MFT #12706) and still operates the Primal Center of Nevada City, along with The Center for Inner Visions with Yashi. Belden received his AB from Harvard University, both an MA and an MFA from The Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, and an MS in clinical counseling from California State University at Hayward.  He developed and has been leading the “Contacting Mother Earth” seminars for over 35 years. He is also a writer. You can order his novel, Fathers and Teachers, about a boy coming of age in America on His latest book, Real Relationship, will also be published by

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