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How to turn adversity to your advantage.

The Early Stages of Falling in Love

Stay well despite feeling euphoric, endangered, and exhausted, altogether.

There's nothing quite as exhilarating as the early stages of a romantic relationship. Just the thought that you may have found your one-and-only can be so thrilling. But, the early stages of falling in love can be as frustrating as they are wonderful. Your new love life may consume your energy, focus, and time to the point where everything else going on in your life may feel like a rude intrusion. You can't stop thinking about your lover. You get up and go to sleep obsessing about the relationship and what your future will look like together.

To some of you, this reaction to love may seem over board. But, many of you know first-hand how falling in love can turn you into an obsessed, needy, and insecure person for a time. You don't have to have emotional issues from the past to feel this way. Of course, if you do, this stage will be particularly difficult for you.

Remember, the saying is not staying balanced in love, it is falling, losing your self to love. So, if you are in the early stages of falling in love right now, and you feel a little crazy, don't worry, you kind of are. You are under the influence of your hormones that are making you feel, all at once, euphoric, endangered, and exhausted. Let's call these the Three E's of falling in love. Researcher Donatella Marazziti of the University of Pisa, Italy helps us to understand the euphoria we feel in the early stages of romantic love. She says, it is more than two hearts igniting, when people fall in love. Their hormones ignite as well. The nerve transmitters adrenaline and phenylethylamine (PEA-also present in chocolate) increase when two people are attracted to each other that puts them in emotional overdrive. Additionally, the relaxation, feel good hormone serotonin lowers, causing you to obsess about your lover and consistently reflect back on the romantic times spent with him or her.

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Falling in love produces a biological state that is a high similar to being on cocaine. More interestingly, Donatella Marazziti discovered that falling in love also alters testosterone levels in men and women. This is the male sex hormone that makes men hunters and gatherers and more able than women to be sexual without an emotional commitment. Increased testosterone levels in women during the early stages of romantic love make them more sexual and aggressive. While decreased testosterone levels in men make them more emotional and receptive at this time. This finding makes me smile. I have heard more than one man say through the years, "What happened to her sex drive? When we first went out, she was sexually wild? I couldn't keep up with her. She tricked me." If you yourself have felt this way about your female lover, now, you know that it was her hormones that made her into a girl gone wild.

Why can love's early stages make you feel personally endangered as well? First, the euphoria that you feel can disorganize you. You are adding a dating relationship to your normal, busy routine. Your normal responsibilities at work and home may fall to the wayside, as you put more energy into solidifying your love relationship. This can make you more anxious than normal. Also, loving asks you to lower your defenses and loosen up your personal boundaries so that you can merge your needs and desires with those of your lover. This process can be threatening and make you feel unsafe. Nonetheless, this is the making of a strong, healthy relationship attachment. It takes time to trust each other and to know that this attachment will not hurt you. No wonder we can feel anxious and unsafe when we first fall in love. There's much to gain and to lose, in the process. The fear you feel is palpable. Many of you may unconsciously create emotional issues and dramas to give voice, and make tangible, the endangerment that you feel.

With all of the hormone changes and fears going on inside of you, it is no wonder you may feel exhausted in the early stages of falling in love. I've heard several people say that they can't wait until the honeymoon period is over so that they can get some rest. It's no wonder that some of you may rush to seal the relationship deal, just to put an end to these uncomfortable feelings.

Knowledge is Power

Hardy persons arm themselves with knowledge. They approach new experiences as a chance to learn something new about themselves (the hardy attitude of challenge), and learn what they can to cope effectively with stressful situations (the hardy attitude of control). Indeed, the early stages of falling in love are stressful. The following recommendations will help you to navigate the falling in love stage more smoothly, so that you can treasure this very special time in your life.

  1. Enjoy the high, but don't lose yourself in it.
  2. Keep your schedule, no matter how much you want to throw it over.
  3. Acknowledge you are under the influence of some powerful hormones.
  4. Get the nutrition, rest and relaxation that you need to stay physically, emotionally, and mentally sound.
  5. When concerns and fears come into your mind about your lover, ask yourself if you are just trying to discharge the anxiety that you feel about the unknown, so that you can stop a personal drama in its track.
  6. Don't rush to seal the relationship, just because you can't stand the anxiety of having to go through the stages of falling in love. Accept your anxiety and learn to work with it.
  7. Research shows that falling in love also makes you more creative (Scientific American, Does Falling In Love Make Us More Creative?). So, work out that anxiety and fear through some creative activities.
  8. Don't lower your defenses, personal boundaries, and expectations to the extent that you are denying what you really desire and need. This never works out well. You want to build an authentic relationship attachment, rather than one based on fantasy alone.

You will handle this wonderful time much better just by knowing what I've shared with you today about the process. Accept the process and let love unfold in its natural way.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like button that immediately follows. I welcome your experiences, thoughts, and comments. Warmly, Deborah.

 

Deborah Khoshaba, Psy.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Training and Development for the Hardiness Institute, Inc., Irvine, California, since 1989.

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