I am receiving lots of emails from, and engaging in many conversations with, people who are alive with the titillating excitement of meeting a new love. Wholly consumed by infatuation, lust and the hope-filled seeds of love, my friends are dreaming of wedding plans, baby names and decades of sheer, uninterrupted bliss. It is a tremendous feeling.
I almost feel like a softer, sweeter incarnation of Judge Judy when I tell them to snap out of it and be mindful that all bubbles burst sooner or later; the bigger the bubble, the greater the burst.
The way we fall into “OMG I’ve found my soulmate!” instant love is by projecting our definition of the perfect mate onto the new person. The mind is infinitely powerful and adept at turning the new prospect into the person of our dreams. Instead of being curious about what we don’t know about the person and noticing the little things that we normally dislike in others, we take a lifetime of our stored dreams and ideals and wrap our new love in them. At this point, we tell people, “I’m in love. I think this is ‘the one.’”
No matter how well matched we are, we do not really know the other person well. It takes years to develop the deep understanding and relationship qualities required to support a lifetime commitment. Unfortunately, more often than not, new couples rush into emotional, sexual, financial, and legal attachments. Infatuation masquerading as love is absolutely intoxicating and, because we crave it so, we allow it to blind us.
When the initial glow dims (it always does) and the problems, imperfections, incompatibilities, families, and philosophical divides come into clear focus, people tend to feel duped. They say things like, “She wasn’t who I thought she was.” or “He acted one way and turned out to be the opposite.” In truth, they were duped and misled, but not by the other person. They were duped by their own minds.
In the end, if they are lucky, they find themselves heartbroken and angry. If they aren’t so lucky they have legal matters, heavy emotional baggage, children, and debt to go along with their upset. When those same people blame God, life, marriage and their ex for their misery, I cannot help but reflect on the early days of their relationship. If they had stepped off of the merry-go-round of love long enough to assess the visible and discomforting traits, challenges and shortcomings of their relationship, they would have seen their natural results.
It is, of course, far easier for those on the outside to explain the smart way to approach new relationships. We have the benefit of uncolored logic and sound thinking. From inside the lovers’ bubble it is very difficult to gain the perspective necessary to see clearly.
Go slow. Delay everything (sex, emotional attachment, marriage, children, financial & legal entanglements).
By inserting the buffer of time into relationships we allow the negatives to surface where they can be addressed. We also plant seeds to grow the roots we require to sustain the weight of a lasting relationship. If you think you are already going slow, go slower. Take the time to enjoy what is. If you are right for each other, or destined to be together, you will be. If you aren’t right for each other, you’ll figure it out and make the good decision to let go before you’ve irreparably complicated your individual lives.
Real love begins with self-love.