How to Follow your Heart without Losing your Mind

Jill Bertelsen
Love doesn’t have to be a game of chance. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see your relationship and look at it logically? How can we use our heart and head together. It seems when people fall in love they lose their mind. When you are dating, how do you know if this is the person that you want to spend your entire life with?

Dr. John Van Epp, Marriage and Family Therapist, has made some major breakthroughs in this field. He created what is known as the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM). The RAM is a tool to measure and define a relationship. There are 5 aspects to the RAM. Throughout this month we are going to go through all of them in depth. In his book, How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, he talks about these different aspects in the context of dating. But these apply in marriages and in parenting.

The 5 aspects are:

1. Know

It's important to know their likes/dislikes, hobbies, family background and culture, how they respond to stress, hopes and dreams, etc. This is more than just knowing their favorite food and color. It is knowing what kind of habits they have and knowing if and how to live with these things.

2. Trust

This is the mental picture we have of someone. I trust that my husband is a kind father. the mental picture we have of someone. I trust that my husband is a kind father.

3. Rely

This is when we put trust into action. I see my husband be a good father and I depend on him to be a good father.

4. Commit

Commit is a little bit easier to measure for a couple that is dating. There is committing to a first date, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance, and spouse. But also with married couples there are different levels of commitment, how often do we keep in mind our spouse and keep them in the forefront of what we think.

5. Touch

Touch is also a little bit easier to measure. There is hugging and kissing all the way to sexual intercourse. But touch when up way higher than the others can blind us to who this person really is and if the relationship will last. 


Each of these are their own section and they are in this order for a reason. Imagine that in each of these sections there is a slider that can move up and down. For example, if you know someone really well then the slider would be all the way at the top on the Know section, but if you don’t trust them the slider would be all the way to the bottom of the Trust section.

When dating you want know to be higher than trust, trust to be higher than rely, rely to be higher than commit, and commit to be higher than touch. This is a healthy pattern for getting to know people and dating. For example, if touch is too high we release hormones like oxytocin and we fill in the blanks that our partner is great. You feel good about them because you are making out with them all the time. But if that is the case we could end up with someone who is a jerk, or not compatible with us when our “chemical high” comes down.

For example let’s see if you can figure out which aspect is too high. Kelsie meets Marcum at Starbucks in January and they decide to leave afterwards to get a shake. She loves her date and talks with her roommates that night about how he is the perfect husband material. They go on a date the next night where Marcum asks her to be boyfriend and girlfriend. She totally agrees and they text constantly for the next 36 hours before they decide to go home to Marcum’s house to meet his family. Kelsie loves his family and loves Marcum. Marcum calls Kelsie’s parents and asks for permission and then proposes to Kelsie the following night.

From this scenario we can see that the Know aspect is too low and the commit aspect is really high. Falling in love does not need to blind side us. We can think logically with our heart. This month we will have a blog covering these aspects and how they apply to dating and how to keep them high in your married. Stay tuned!