I am the first to admit that when I used to get involved with someone, I would fall hard and fast like granite. I know I’m not alone. This is pretty typical, because INFATUATION feels like LOVE…sort of.
Infatuation feels frenzied, intense, overwhelming, like you NEED the person. You are drunk on them, they are your addiction.
Love feels more centered, calm, and REAL. It feels natural, and DEEP. It is so easy to confuse the two, especially if you haven’t yet experienced long-term love feelings, and I certainly had not in my earlier life.
Here’s the guide to getting involved without scaring them off!
1. KNOW that it is not love right away, it’s infatuation.
Infatuation is FUN, but do not confuse it with love. Love at first sight is bullshit. You might argue with me on this because it happened to YOU – but hey! I never said it never works out. Even if you have had a lifelong love affair with the person you “fell in love with” immediately, it was not love – it morphed into it.
You do not know a person, not truly, for years. Everyone is on their best behaviour at first – you start to love how amazing they are, idealize them, and think that having them in your life will make YOU a better person, and you want to do the same for them. You want to drown in each other because your pheromones are off the charts and you want to surf that wave of serotonin every fucking day until you pass out, just to wake up and do it again.
When you start to feel like you are in withdrawal from not being around them, ask yourself if you’re in love with the person and all their faults, or in love with your image of them, or their POTENTIAL (ugh)! In the beginning, that’s all it can be. Love is based on reality. If your partner seems to have no negative side, you are deceiving yourself. Perfection is a fantasy.
2. Have a really amazing life of your own.
Never give up the things you love doing in order to be with someone new. This is fucking terrifying for them. I will never forget this guy I was nuts for in 2005. I was planning to visit him (an addition to an overseas trip I’d been planning already), and at one point he said he loved me so much that he’d pick me over music, which was his major passion. We hadn’t even met in person yet. It was in this instance that I started to feel major trepidations. I should have just ended it there, but lo and behold, when we met, it didn’t take long for me to get absolutely sick of him and understand why clinginess was so absolutely nauseating. I’d never really dealt with it before and it made me look at myself and how I tended to scare people off.
When I got involved with my current sweetheart, I was planning to embark on a solo trip to Thailand and Australia for a month. We were not officially a couple, but we were absolutely smitten with each other and there was part of me that didn’t want to take off for so long.
But I was older, way smarter, super confident and independent. I knew it wasn’t love at that point, even though I adored him (I’d known him for 16 years but not romantically). There was no way in hell I was going to stop my life in order to “be” with him. If it was anything worthwhile then it would continue when I returned. I’d been planning this trip for 2 years – can you imagine if someone just was like “nah” and cancelled their dream vacation to be with someone they just got involved with? Would that make you admire the person? It would give me the creeps. Why would you give up your dreams and passions just to hang out and fuck someone you barely know all day? That can happen the majority of the time outside of everything else, but never make your relationship your ONLY reason for living. Being someone’s ONLY source of pleasure is completely awful, because then you feel pressured to live not only your life for you, but for them, too, and they will always depend on you to feel awesome.
3. Figure out how they feel loved
There are 5 particular ways people show love according to The 5 Love Languages, and you should figure this out pretty quickly if you want them to feel appreciated and cared for. However, at first, keep everything simple, sporadic, and wait a while before doing anything over the top. Do they feel loved when you make time for them? Give them presents? Do they feel most loved when you speak about it out loud? Show them physically? For me, effort means everything. Getting a ton of presents would make me feel awkward and smothered.
4. Do the opposite of what you usually do
One of the best things I ever did in terms of relationships was to do the complete opposite of almost everything I did in previous ones. This is the best way to break out of a pattern, especially if you are in the habit of becoming needy or obsessive, and scaring off potentially wonderful partners! Make a list of your typical relationship habits – dig deep, and then commit to trying everything contrary next time and see what happens. This changed my entire life, and I use this method in everything I’ve struggled with, not just relationships.
‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘ – Tony Robbins.
5. Don’t talk too much shit about your past relationships, if ever
This just makes you seem obsessive, and that’s never a good thing. No one wants to hear about your old woes, unless they ask or it is pertinent to the conversation. If you are endlessly negative, it’s going to push that person away and then they will wonder what you’re going to say about them!
6. Allow them space to be themselves.
Let them know, with actions and not just words, that you want them to be able to express themselves, and that you will not get in their way. Loving someone hard means allowing them to do what they need to do to be THEMSELVES. If you want to be with a musician (for a very good example) don’t expect to come first. Often, when people are intensely into something (which is very attractive), you will always come second, especially in the beginning. Is this bad? Not necessarily. If they feel loved enough to be able to live life the way they want and be who they are, they will respect and appreciate your relationship so much more. To try and hold someone back is the worst thing you can possibly do in a relationship – and the same goes for if someone is trying to do this for you. Even worse, if you find yourself being held back by someone, get out FAST. Sometimes it happens without you even realizing it! You will feel so repressed that you will explode, and probably not in a purely positive way (happened to me). Make sure you let your loved one be who they need to be, and make sure they let you do the same.
That being said, if you are being completely neglected, that person is not right for you, and you should not try to change them. Find someone more suitable.
7. Don’t put in more effort than the other person, make sure it is equal.
If you are putting in everything you’ve got, and they’re not, then it’s completely unbalanced. You might even be putting them off. If they are not matching you in enthusiasm, back off, or just give it up completely and find someone else.
8. Look at the relationship as a journey and not a destination.
Have FUN. Don’t take relationships so seriously, and don’t grasp on as if it’s your last hope. You want to know you are truly compatible with someone, and it really doesn’t take a huge amount of time to figure that out. You don’t want an air of desperation, because that is gross and off-putting to everyone. Get to know someone slowly, and if you feel in your gut that it’s not going to work, then DON’T CONTINUE. That is a waste of time. That is cruel to the other person, especially if they really like you and hope for something more serious.
If you go into something with the thoughts of MARRIAGE! KIDS! then you will probably jump in way too quickly and find out later that it was a poor idea.
9. LISTEN to them and COMMUNICATE
See everyone as your teacher. If you listen and take an interest in what your loved one is doing, even if it’s not what you’re into, the effort will mean a lot. Besides, you should always be learning from your partner.
Also, be clear and don’t expect anyone to know what you want or read your mind. Passive aggressive behaviour and not being open are going to stack against you, quickly. Say what is important and what is necessary.
10. Don’t hide anything important
Your sweetheart doesn’t need to know all your tiny weird habits, but declare anything big that might change their whole perception of you. This may very well scare someone off, but that means they are not right for you, and you have saved both of yourselves some time.
11. Remember things that are super important to them. Little things count the most.
Forgetting important things cannot be rectified by flowers and apologies, unless it’s a rare occurrence. Make sure you pay attention.
12. Make sure that you are well matched before getting deeply involved.
The most unloving thing to do is to ignore your instincts and have someone fall for you if you know early on that it’s unlikely going to work. Your intuition will guide you. Listen to it!
13. Don’t make your whole life about them, and make sure they don’t make their whole life about you.
Put your energy into yourself, your friends, your animal companions, your work – so many people make the mistake of putting ALL their energy into one other person. It does take energy and effort to grow something beautiful with a partner, but in the beginning, chill out and continue to live the life you were living pre-other-person. It’s hard to do, I know, because it’s ultra-exciting. That doesn’t make it love.
14. Things have to grow, not just appear.
This was something I heard from an ex of mine, after we broke up – we were together two weeks. I was 25. I was SHATTERED. I hadn’t felt like that for someone in a long time, and I just threw myself into it – so did he, but he freaked out, obviously. Even though it took me quite a while to figure out what had happened (it seems so obvious to me now), I completely agree with him. Love doesn’t just magically happen. It IS magical, but love grows. Infatuation can be instant, but like I said before, love must be cultivated, tended to, nurtured over time. You can’t just stick a seed in the ground and expect a fucking rose to be there the next day. It takes a lot of patience and coaxing, and it will develop IF everything is right. You can tell fairly quickly what is missing, and if it worth continuing. Some things just won’t grow, no matter how much you pour into the soil.
15. Enjoy YOURSELF
The typical “If you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?” thing is annoyingly true. If you need someone else to validate your existence, you need to turn inward before getting involved with anyone, and make yourself into a person you are proud of. You have to think you are awesome, or you are going to settle for a lot of shit, including shit people. When you are full of love for yourself, confident, and know you are amazing, people notice, and they will flock to you. You will have your choice of amazing people to have in your life.
16. Knock the Jealousy
If you try to own someone, show that you mistrust them, and generally monitor their every move – you’re going to piss them off and scare them off. I mean duh. If you are that mistrusting of someone, either don’t be with them at all, or get confident in yourself. Jealousy is stupid and a relationship killer.
I hope these tips help, because I know they have worked for me. Please leave any other suggestions in the comments!