Oh, it’s a powerful feeling. It affects all the senses, one’s preferences, one’s decision-making, one’s desires … EVERYTHING.
And then, it’s gone. You’re not in love anymore! After a while, things return to normal, and you look back and see how blinded you were to so many things you should have seen. Or how much you liked things you don’t normally like. And it’s disconcerting and confusing, to say the least! I mean, what’s the deal with these passionate periods of infatuation? Do we actually lie to ourselves about who we are and what we want? Kinda disturbing, isn’t it?
Fortunately, there are things we can do to both (1) not let the overpowering feelings of LUUUV obliterate our lives, and (2) channel such LUUUV healthily, so that once it is not uncontrollably rampaging through our brains, we can celebrate it and feel the glory of such connection in all its splendor.
The difference between love and infatuation
True love is not an intense feeling that blows everything else away like this – that is the biggest error people often make. It’s kind of confusing that we use the term “in love” for something so fleeting, in the grand scale of things. People don’t stay constantly “in love.” At most, they go in and out of such states of “in-loveness” – which is a very healthy thing, because if we were in love all the time, we’d probably get chronically nauseous!
Some folks, particularly in polyamorous circles, have taken to calling this experience of infatuation “new relationship energy.” I think this is a much better, more accurate way of looking at these strong, overpowering feelings. Because it’s true – they do tend to happen during that “honeymoon period” at the beginning of a promising relationship. So… “new relationship energy” it is.
And now that we are correctly separating new relationship energy from “love,” it becomes easier to keep a cooler head about things, at the very least. New relationship energy is by its very nature always new. As son as it gets old, it ceases to exist. It’s not going to last – and sometimes, it can be very comforting to remember this, because such feelings not only feel good, they can also feel scary sometimes. The way that you see things when this new relationship energy overwhelms you often become so radically different from the way you saw things before that it can feel jarring even as you are also enjoying the ride.
We all know people who fell deep, deep “in love,” and then, a month or two later, it’s all gone – leaving you wondering, “was that real?” And that’s the thing: real love is not something that is going to be proven in the space of 1 or 2 months of torrid connection! In fact, the more blinding the feelings of new relationship energy become, the less likely it is that you will reliably see what your real feelings about love are and will be when the period of heavy infatuation has run its course.
So the solution, both to avoid burnout now and disappointment later, is to do things that keep these pangs of infatuation in their place. There is no avoiding such feelings, and neither should there be; this kind of rollercoaster ride is part of life. And so the best possible way to keep your head on straight when feelings of being infatuated overtake you is to immerse yourself in everything about your life that is ordinary. Make a point of not blowing off your friends, continuing your daily activities as they were before, not twisting your life around in order to accommodate the ravenous feelings.
Don’t completely shut yourself off from your feelings,either, but remain in the driver’s seat. You are in control, ultimately, and you can make decisions to reduce your exposure to heart-pulling stimuli, the same way that you turn off the lights and go to a quiet place in order to sleep. The fact that you are “in love” does not negate your other basic needs and desires, even if it is harder to see them at the moment. You must continually make a corrective adjustment in order to stay balanced, until the sharpness of your feelings is better under control.
The benefits of keeping yourself balanced go beyond just not going crazy in the moment; I believe that slowing down the process of new relationship energy also has the effect of helping it to last longer. After all, the less sharply you and your love interest dive into each other, the less likely it is that you are going to hit a sudden state of saturation – the point at which you finally hit overload. The last thing you need when you have strong feelings already jerking you around is another wrenching shift, where you go from sizzling to frozen in an instant. But that’s what can happen when we aren’t prepared to take full responsibility for our overwhelming feelings.
There’s no guarantee, ever, that feelings won’t get hurt, especially in matters of love – so don’t issue or accept such a guarantee! However, by slowing down the tide of infatuation that comes with a new relationship situation, you give yourself and your love interest the best chance for having a soft landing once the mystery is cleared up and things return to normal. And remember… soft landings don’t mean that you’ll never fly again. In fact, you maximize your chances of flying again in the future when you take care of the present.
If a long-term relationship is what you do want, there is no way at all that you are going to be able to construct this off of a period of mad infatuation. A good relationship needs a sense of mutual trust and comfort to thrive, and part of what drives the intensity of new relationship energy is the fact that there is so much mystery – so much that you don’t yet know about the other person. Even if you feel like you’ve known them forever – you haven’t! That’s a fact. You need more time.
It’s a wonderful thing to feel yourself go vroooom for somebody. But if you want to know if these sudden feelings are good or bad, I would counsel you to ask yourself this: Can you and your love interest talk about things that don’t fit with your wonderful feelings? Differences you may have , habits you may dislike about each other, even those “unspeakable” things that you tell few other people, if anybody? If you can, good. Continue doing it. Be real and sober about who your are, what you want, and what your situation is, and encourage the same in your love interest. And if you run into unresolvable snags? Get out. Conflicts do not just go away – they are either resolved or continuously, openly, and carefully managed. It is disastrous to try to ignore this reality.
Let these things be the test of whether a passionate attraction has staying power of not, and you’ll have a much better chance both of finding the right person [or people] and of not getting tied up with the wrong person and then missing out on the right ones. Good luck.