Falling in love plays with your mind -- here are some tips for keeping your cool.
As has often been observed, love affects us much as a drug does (remember “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News?).
Why does this happen? Hormones play a significant role in it. They’re responsible for that natural high you experience when you fall in love. The comparison to drugs isn’t an exaggeration, because the hormones our body releases when we fall in love work to enhance the same sensations as some drugs do, all by altering the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain.
What does it feel like when you’re in love?
When we fall in love, we become fascinated by the object of our affection, and are ineluctably attracted to them. Their presence and attention are our drug. At the very sight of them, our hands start to shake, our heart races, and we start to breathe faster. It may seem like there are a million butterflies in our stomach, and our pupils dilate. Sometimes we feel like we have so much energy that we could move mountains. Our emotions are all over the place. Passion surges within us, and we look for physical closeness, contact, and cuddling.
Strong emotions distort judgment, so we aren’t objective regarding the one we love, seeing only an idealized version of them. If some defect does slip through our rose-tinted glasses, we quickly rationalize or downplay it. They seem perfect to us; they have no flaws.
We become obsessed with our loved one, and often daydream; our mind is with the person we have fallen for, even if we are physically somewhere else. We may even have a hard time remembering things, because when we’re in love, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything besides the person who has won our heart. Of course, when it comes to them, we have no trouble remembering countless things, calling to mind their gorgeous smile, beautiful eyes, etc. We’re feeding our “addiction”; even just thinking about the one we love can cause another shot of the natural hormonal narcotic.
The main causes of all this mayhem in our body are phenylethylamine, serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and endorphins — all chemicals produced by the brain. The amount produced, and the sensitivity of the receptors, vary from person to person; different people can be affected with varying intensity. However, everyone reacts to them in a similar fashion, and if you ever fell “head over heels” in love, you know what it’s like.
There is also the other side of the coin: all our emotions are multiplied, including the unpleasant ones. We feel lots of positive emotions, but also plenty of negative feelings; we feel delight, desire, and joy, but we are also unusually susceptible to hurt, anxiety, jealousy and longing. We might even experience insomnia.
The anguish of doubt is quick to assail us as well. “Why isn’t he texting me back? It’s been 10 minutes! Doesn’t he love me anymore?” The anxiety that we feel when something in the relationship isn’t quite the way we hope is difficult to bear.
You can’t win with the hormones, but neither are we damned to be tossed around like a ship in the stormy ocean. Here are a few strategies that can help us stay sane and avoid mistakes when falling in love.
1. Don’t rush
Even though you may feel that this is “The One,” give yourself time to get to know the other person better. Don’t rush; don’t act on impulse. Instead, give yourself time and observe how things turn out between you after the first rush of emotions settles down.
2. Stick to facts and evidence at hand
It’s very easy to make plans and to dream about your future together while under the influence of the hormone cocktail of love. Instead, try to stay in the here and now; there’s no point in planning the future until you’re sure you know what’s really going on in the present. With this type of attitude, you are more likely to see the truth about your relationship and avoid being part of an imaginary one. That said, it’s important to talk with your potential partner about what you want for the future. You may be attracted to each other, but if you don’t have similar hopes and expectations regarding things like children, employment, etc., you’re destined for trouble.
3. Create your support group
Your family cares about you, so it’s worth listening to what they think about the person you’re in love with. They could notice positive or negative things that you don’t see. If you don’t agree with their opinions, don’t reject them right off the bat. Instead, take the time to think about their point of view, and only then reject or accept it.
Being in love is a wonderful, heady sensation. There’s nothing wrong with riding the wave, as long as we have our eyes open and make sure the wave takes us somewhere we really want to go, and doesn’t drive us into the sand or worse — drown us.