The Emotional High that Will Bring You Down
Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.
Isn’t it amazing how women suddenly develop ESP when they meet a new guy?
Suddenly, they just “know” he’s “The One.” Your perfectly rational, intelligent friend gets married to a man she’s known for 3 months because, as she puts it, “When you know, you know.”
But, what do you really “know” after only a few months? This “knowing” is based on strong feelings. The problem with strong feelings is that they feel real, but that doesn’t make them true.
There is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence about how new love (infatuation) affects the brain. Similar to cocaine, the emotional high of a new romance triggers dopamine - the “feel good” hormone that makes us super-energized and leaves us feeling like we can conquer the world on only four hours of sleep. Everything seems more colorful, and we feel more “alive,” which helps us believe our new man has brought meaning into our lives.
Add to that the oxytocin production that occurs when we are physically intimate, which makes us feel bonded to our partner, and you will feel high and connected to this new man.
All of this is taking place during the first few months of courtship, which is the most critical time for you to be observing behavior and paying attention to red flags. However, your brain is drunk on a chemical love cocktail and you either cannot see red flags, or you will excuse them because you are already bonded to this guy.
As time goes on, the real person starts to emerge. This could be good, or it could be disastrous. Either way, the “new relationship shine” starts to wear off, and you’re left with a guy who has good points (hopefully) and bad points (not too bad, hopefully).
Many women spend years trying to get back to the early days of the relationship when things were great and he was so loving. We think if we are better or more understanding or more available, or when things are better at his job or he’s less stressed about money or when we can just have some quality time together, things will return to “normal.”
The problem is, those first few months of the relationship are NOT the “normal.” They are the fun days of new infatuation.
Everybody is excited, everybody is the best version of themselves, everybody is extra forgiving and nobody is very critical. Fast forward six months, and the way he slurps his coffee - which used to seem so cute - now makes you want to bash him over the head with the coffee press.
A friend of mine was married for 12 years when she confessed to me that she wanted a divorce. Why? The marriage just didn’t feel the way it used to.
This belief that the initial days of being punch-drunk on love and romance are the “norm” will keep you bouncing from relationship to relationship wondering why you can’t find the Right One.
Is chemistry important? Yes, I believe it is. I’ve tried to have successful relationships where I felt no chemistry, and they failed. You need to have chemistry because men place a high value on sex, and if you’re not excited about having sex with your man, you’re placing an incredible strain on the relationship.
That said, it will take more than chemistry to have a long-term relationship because eventually the chemistry will change. It may fade, it may deepen into feelings based on respect and shared values. It will change. You WILL NOT stay at the same level of crazy new-love because (1) you can’t live like that; and, (2) at the very least - your brain will adapt in the same way that it adapts to any other stimulus (like drugs or alcohol or sugar).
Think about it: you don’t act the same way you did when the relationship began because you settle in, you feel more comfortable and more accepted so you feel you can be the Real You. He feels that way, too, and now instead of spending hours talking, he wants to watch TV.
We are fed a steady diet of social media, movies, books, and television programs that tell us that “the right relationship will change our lives.” From Cinderella to Sex & The City to Scandal, we are shown stories that revolve around Prince Charming (or Mr. Big or Fitz) giving us that happy ending.
Yes - relationships should bring happiness and blessing. But every relationship will also have challenges. The key is to get to know the person while you let the challenges unfold.
If it’s “meant to be,” what’s the harm in getting to know each other for 12 months?
Sometimes, when a man is rushing the pace, we think he’s Mr. Right because he seems so convinced you should be together.
It’s true that men fall in love quickly. They also fall out of love quickly.
My experience has been that frequently, when a man is moving quickly and pressing for marriage, he has something to hide that he doesn’t want you to uncover until you’re legally committed.
Slow down. Get to know him. Check out his background. Watch how he treats others. Pay attention to how he treats you. Does he respect your opinion and put your needs first? Are you able to work through difficulties together?
The best way to approach a new relationship is from a life that is already One-Derful. This means you are already content, peaceful, and happy. This is important because then you’re not swept off your feet by the sudden dopamine jolt. You can enjoy it, but because your life is already full and joyous, you don’t “need” things to work out with this new man.
Question: What do you think about moving fast in relationships?
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