This is article #23 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
In this week’s article, Steve gets into the dangers of making someone too great of priority early on and “losing yourself in love”. A must-read for the helpless romantic, heart on your sleeve types out there. Enjoy!
We all have dreamy fantasies of completely losing ourselves when we fall in love.
For some of us it’s more than idle daydreaming – it’s a routine we go through again and again.
It’s natural to become consumed with a new partner – especially when that shiny new relationship bliss is still fresh, making the other areas of our lives seem like just an empty way to kill time until we’re back in the arms of that special person again.
I like the initial mania of a new relationship. But it can also be a time when you need your more rational head to prevail, especially if you notice other areas of your life deteriorating because of your fixation on your currently blossoming romance.
As Matt has said before: “The most dangerous time in a relationship is the moment you decide you like someone”.
You can throw yourself down the rabbit hole for six months, watch your career and friendships suffer – and then if something goes wrong and you find yourself single again, you suddenly have to pick up the shattered pieces of a life you let fall apart.
This sounds like a killjoy article I know – and I may risk a kicking for going against the poetic ideal of being a hapless slave to our passions when it comes to love.
But here’s the thing: You can still charge into something with all your heart AND keep your life in order.
In fact, this is precisely the healthy attitude that sets up the relationship for a good future, instead of leaving you simply chasing short-term bouts of romance to hide from other areas of your life. When you keep this healthy attitude, you’ll find yourself more attractive to your partner, you’ll feel less needy, and you’ll have fulfillment because you bring massive value to the relationship.
So here are three things you need to be strong enough to not completely lose yourself in the early stages of a relationship:
1. Derive fulfillment from multiple areas of your life
People tend to over-invest in relationships too early when they don’t have fulfillment in other areas of their lives.
They get addicted to that early relationship stage and put the ‘initial romance feeling’ on a pedestal – usually because they’d rather get lost in one relationship after another than deal with other problems in their lives.
Resist the temptation to immediately make relationships your full-time project – it puts too much pressure on it to succeed and scares the other person off. The best way to be an incredible partner is to be self-fulfilled and not rely on someone else to be your only source of fun and fulfillment.
Just because something is enjoyable and the most fulfilling area of your life, it doesn’t mean it’s the only good thing for you in the long-term.
If you need to diagnose whether you’ve lost yourself in a relationship, ask yourself these questions:
- Are many of your close friends constantly complaining that you’ve gone off the radar and never see them anymore?
- Is your career/work starting to fall behind and are old priorities taking a complete backseat? Are you letting others down due to poor performance?
- Do you tend to obsess about every interaction with your new partner and worry to an unhealthy level about how they feel towards you?
If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to get back on track and re-adjust your priorities to avoid losing other important areas of your life outside your new relationship.
2. Be strong enough to speak your mind and set terms
In the early stages, your instinct is to be agreeable, and even let important conflicts slide because you’re so infatuated with a guy. But that urge can lead to a lot of trouble later on.
Be strong-minded enough to communicate what you need early on and state your expectations – it’s the easiest and quickest way to find out if it will work in the long-term.
3. Be a realist
Relationships are always incredible to begin with. Which is why it’s important not to get ahead of yourself in the early stages and be aware of how little you actually know about this person yet.
Remember, for the first few months they are still on their best behaviour.
In the early stages of a relationship, it’s easy to get hooked because you have ATTRACTION and COMFORT. And the combination of the two (especially if you’ve gone from being single and having neither of these things) can make you sink into the relationship and become hooked on the enjoyment of it.
But it’s important to remember that you still have an essential element to develop: CONNECTION.
That’s the part you have to wait and allow to develop. To avoid losing yourself then, be a realist and remind yourself that even if you are totally smitten with this person and feel completely comfortable with them, you still don’t know them on a deep level, and there is still all kinds of potential for you to learn things about them that might make them less than ideal as a long-term partner.
This isn’t pessimism – it’s just realizing that you have a lot to learn about this person yet, and to be aware of the potential for things still not to work out in the longer term.
Be careful not to assume you are made for each other too quickly. See things as they really are right now and not how you wish they will be in the future.
I know this can all sound negative and like I’m taking the shine off of the initial romance phase. But that’s only because it’s a common moment when people tend to let their life go off the rails if they’re not careful.
And a relationship should never derail you – if it does, it’s either because you need to balance your priorities, or it’s because you’re taking on a passenger (i.e. your new partner) who is only going to cause more problems later on down the line.
That’s why keeping on track and moving forward in other areas is the best long-term investment you can make for sustaining romance.
Besides, no-one ever got excitement from a train that stands still.
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