When you can handle facing the unknown and the possibility of getting hurt, then falling in love can be one of the best times in your life — full of intense feelings, desire, and vitality.
However, people who drop everything in their lives in order to be with the person they’re in love with tend to get hurt repeatedly in their love relationships. They think they are driven by love, but in fact they are overly-impetuous and short-sighted, and are doing the very thing that is likely to put out the flames of desire.
Merging with another person too quickly or too completely is a big mistake for several reasons:
1. Being together constantly can take away the magic of mystery between two people. Long-term desire requires imagination and some time apart. It’s difficult to desire someone who is with you all the time. In fact, when there’s too much togetherness the contradictory desires for separation and possessiveness kick in.
2. Extreme merging leads to dropping everything else — other friendships, family relationships, community activities, time alone, and hobbies. You stop feeding your soul through the multifaceted ways your soul likes to be nourished. Eventually this makes you lose your sense of self and your passion, which makes you less interesting to yourself and the person you’re in love with.
3. If you spend all your time with one person, you start defining yourself according to that person’s terms and reactions, which causes you to lose objectivity. This can lead to the gradual descent into an unhappy and even abusive relationship.
4. Worst of all, you become dependent upon the person you spend all your time with. Dependence promotes need, which is based on fear rather than love, while love is based on abundance and free choice. Dependence also feeds resentment and fear of abandonment. Both are a cause for conflict, which leads to falling out of love and hurt.
For those who tend toward extreme merging, here are some ways to minimize the probability of being devastated, without closing your heart and shutting down desire.
Retain your relationships with friends, family and the community. Continue to follow your passions and pursue your hobbies and sports. This will help you maintain your passion for life, your sense of self, and your confidence that you’ll survive even if the relationship doesn’t goes forward. It is always painful to have a relationship end, but you’ll still have many parts of your life intact even without the other person.
When you go slowly, take your time and relish falling in love, you can enjoy the mystery of the other person longer. You also retain objectivity, that is, an ability to see red flags without turning them into red hearts. When you get emotionally involved too quickly and deeply, brain chemicals similar to those of a drug addict get activated and overpower more rational, forward-looking parts of the brain. While there’s nothing wrong with a love-buzz, getting drunk can lead to stupidity and great regret.
For example, it helps not to call the other person five times a day, see them every night at the expense of your other interests and friends, or to move in together too quickly.
As paradoxical as it may seem regarding the intense emotions of falling in love, moderation seems to be crucial here. While you can’t control how hard you fall for someone, you can usually avoid falling down too hard by keeping the rest of your life in motion while enjoying the thrilling ride of falling in love.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD