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Andres Larios: What's love got to do with it?

by Erica Borowski '16 (journalism)

Andres Larios saunters through the College of Education (COE) doors wearing a polished midnight blue velvet suit, bowtie, and flawless wing tip shoes. He exudes positivity, patience and genuity when asking seemingly simple questions such as, “How are you? How’s your day so far? Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend?” His calm demeanor immediately leads you to realize you have his undivided attention, an essential quality for therapy and counseling.

Born and partially raised in Utah, Andres and his family moved to a “tiny little agricultural community” in Northern California when he was seven. Returning back to his Utah roots, Andres graduated from University of Utah with a double major in psychology and human development and family studies. He is currently a first-year graduate student in the COE pursuing his master's degree in couples and family therapy.

He said his parents’ relationship while growing up influenced his perception and interest of love.

“I kind of love the idea of Romeo and Juliet where they’re star-crossed lovers and love isn’t exactly perfect, and maybe that comes from my family. I don’t think I can be isolated from my parents. I think it may be a personality characteristic as well,” he said.

Wanting to contribute to the world in a meaningful way, Andres established making people happy as his first priority in life. Guided by an internal drive to study passion and love, he decided at the age of 12 to one day become a marriage and family therapist. Knowing his career path at an early age allowed Andres to cater and develop his interests central to his dream. 

“You should see my Netflix account, it’s full of these documentaries on love and relationships and dating. Say Yes to the Dress is my favorite show because I love weddings and everything about love, and so the idea of being able to help maintain this level of happiness even after the wedding is over, 20, 30, 40 years later sounds amazing to me, and it’s fun,” Andres said.

One of the most exhausting aspects of Andres’s focus within love and relationships is learning to recognize personal complexities in addition to understanding others’ as well.

“It’s dealing with a lot of introspection within your own life, and having to overcome issues that maybe you haven’t wanted to. So that’s been the most challenging thing. And some days you go to class for 12 hours and then you stop, but you can’t ever stop thinking about your relationships whether it’s romantic or not.”

As he transitioned to the graduate program at the UO, Andres faced several overwhelming changes that made the shift more intense. Optimistic by nature, he conquered the difficulties of moving from Utah to Oregon without knowing anyone, quitting his day job, and finally coming out to his family.

The support and community of friends he discovered within his cohort and faculty advisors reaffirmed the UO and COE as his new home.

“You’re surrounded by compassionate people who want the best in everybody and they’re there to listen to you; I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent working with my own issues, but then also listening to my friends work through theirs.”

Being able to “make it through” the graduate program is Andres’ first step when it comes to mapping out his future. Once he obtains his master’s within the following year, Andres is considering pursuing a doctorate and focusing on gender roles within same-sex couples or maintaining relationships within a religious community. In any event, he wants to work with couples and perpetuate healthy families and relationships more than anything.

Fast-forwarding 10 years ahead, Andres pictures himself married with his own family—a personal goal he’s always longed for. He also hopes to be working on research or a book of some sort that would deepen our understanding of love and relationships.

“I hope we never come to a point where we’ve got love down to a complete science—where we almost get rid of any of the enjoyment, excitement, and mystery, and intrigue of what makes two people click.”