“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body.
No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
~ Shawn Slovo
Maybe they swept you off your feet. Maybe you’ve never met anyone like this before. No one has EVER treated you this well.
It feels like you are soul mates and it was meant to be. It’s like you’ve known each other forever. Is it love or is it that tricky mistress EROS? It’s that high we feel when we first connect with someone on a romantic level.
Oxytocin is flooding our brain.
You can NOT stop thinking about them. You want to text and call and send cute and funny pics. You’re already planning vacations with them and what your dream home will look like (in your head of course).
No? Maybe it’s just me.
It feels like you have a new perspective on life, you see things differently than before. It feels like we want to be our absolute BEST selves. Just thinking about it gets me excited.
Our physiological responses; heart pounding, nervous sweats, butterflies in our stomach, our heart in our throats, it can all be overwhelming.
You can’t ignore it.
It can be really hard to tell what’s real when you’re in this state of mind. Some people believe these thoughts and feelings ARE love. Some people are addicted to this, to EROS, don’t worry if you’re one of those people, I’ve been there too.
Once these really intense feelings dissipate we can no longer ignore the RED FLAGS that we saw before-but painted them over with “love.”
We CAN NOT sustain EROS love, no one can, it’s exhausting. Eventually we let our guard down and so does the other person. I think in this space of vulnerability and authenticity we can begin to explore if this is truly love.
When we can be ourselves completely and comfortably in the presence of another who is also themselves completely and comfortably, this is unconditional love, isn’t that what you’re looking for?
Love comes in many forms and it surrounds us all.
- Start focusing on all the love you already have in your life; do you love your pet, your family, your home, your car, your job, what about nature, or your friends, or cartoons, do you love to learn?
- Do you love you? I mean really love you, all of your flaws, mistakes, woopsie doodles and f-ups?
- Have you taken the time to really appreciate what an amazing, unique individual you are?
If you do really love yourself and you are NOT looking for your worth in this special someone, and together you’ve made it through EROS –
let your guards down, accepted one another, flaws and all, AND you’re both still obsessed with each other – we might be talking love.
If you think you’re still in the early stages of EROS wait it out, enjoy the high while it lasts and prepare for the come down, opportunity for growth, and exploration of your relationship and its meaning to you.
Jessica Ellison, M.A., L.P.C.C. – www.jellisonandassociates.com
The best way to tell the difference between obsession and healthy love is to inquire within.
What are the motives behind your feelings? Obsession most often reigns from a “needy” position and healthy love often reigns from a “wanting” position.
The difference between the two is: Obsession is trying to fill a void inside oneself through the presence of a partner. Healthy love is already “full” but desires a partner to share his/her life with.
- Needing your partner gives the “I can’t live without you” feel.
- Wanting your partner gives the “I enjoy having you in my life” feel.
- Needing your partner is: “I only feel good about myself when you are around or giving me attention and/or compliments”.
- Wanting your partner is: “I feel good about myself all of the time”.
- Needing your partner is: “I will do most anything you say to make you happy”.
- Wanting your partner is: “I will honor you while honoring myself as well”.
- Needing your partner is: “I need to keep him/her happy or he/she will leave me”.
- Wanting your partner is: “I love you and if you need to exit the relationship, I will be ok”.
- Needing your partner is: “I can’t stand others giving you attention because it is attention that is taken away from me”.
- Wanting your partner is: “I love seeing/watching how others interact with you”.
- Needing your partner is: “I have very few boundaries when it comes to you”.
- Wanting your partner is: “My boundaries are the same with you as they are with others”.
- Needing your partner is: “Your goals and desires can come before mine because your happiness matters the most to me”.
- Wanting your partner is: “Both of our goals are equally important and we will work together to support each other”.
- Needing your partner is: “I am jealous”.
- Wanting your partner is: “I am secure with who I am”.
- Needing your partner is: “How did I get someone as great as you?”
- Wanting your partner is: “I deserve a wonderful person equally to what you deserve.”
- Needing a partner is: “I have a hard time expressing my authenticity because I am too busy making up in my mind who you want me to be.”
- Wanting a partner is: “This is me. All of me. Authentic me.”
- Needing a partner is: “I will adjust my morals and ethics to accommodate a space in my life for you”.
- Wanting a partner is: “I am strong in my morals and I will not be with someone who is not in alignment with them.”
- Needing a partner is: “I always have to look my very best when I am around you”.
- Wanting a partner is “Sometimes I am not dressed to the nines and that is ok.”
If you found yourself leaning more toward the “needing” department, it is an indicator that there is work to be done.
Through and with a dedicated self-improvement plan, you can and will shift from “needing” to “wanting”.
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.sweetempowerment.com
- Are you new in a relationship and wondering if what you are feeling is love or obsession?
- Are you worried that your feelings are developing too fast?
In the beginning of a relationship, women can find themselves asking these questions and more. The feelings can be confusing. The true nature of the feelings can be muddled.
And to make matters worse, at times, women are expected to keep their emotions in check in order not to “scare off” the guy. So you find yourself in doubt about your true feelings.
Here are some suggestions to explore your true feelings and distinguish between healthy love and obsession.
1. Look into the length of the relationship and the experiences you have had together
There is not a time table on love; however if you have just started dating and you begin to wonder if you are feeling obsessive love versus healthy love, chances are you are experiencing the obsessive type.
While feeling love and expressing love can come at any time, deep love for a person takes time to build.
- What type of experiences have you had together?
- Has he done something out of his way to make you feel special?
- Has he met your friends and family?
- What red flags have you seen but have explained away?
2. Look inside to your inner knowing for the answer
Only you know how you feel. Check in with yourself and see what is coming up. Journal about your feelings and get it down on paper. There is something cathartic about writing out your feelings and thoughts. It will give you a look into your heart and mind. Interested in meditation?
There are many great meditations available on YouTube designed to help you get in touch with your inner being. Take ten minutes of your day and do a meditation on love and see what comes up.
3. Look at past relationships to see if you had familiar feelings
- Do you have a pattern of falling too quickly in relationships?
- Do you love easily and end up getting hurt?
- Do men present their red flags later in the relationship?
It’s important to know your pattern of dating and to see if any of these patterns are repeating themselves now. Unless you have done some work around relationships, chances are you will repeat the same patterns.
4. Look at your family of origin to see if you see a pattern
- Is your father emotionally unavailable?
- Did your parents model appropriate relationship behavior with you?
Our family of origin issues definitely come up in our relationships.
It is important to have a good understanding of your own issues in order to be more aware when you are going into relationships.
If you have an emotionally unavailable father, chances are you will find yourself attracted to emotionally unavailable men. If that is the case, then you might be more prone to obsessive love.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com
When we are deeply in love with the man of our dreams, it can certainly feel like an obsession.
We can’t wait to see him, think about him all day, do little things for him, and just want to spend as much time with him as possible.
So how can we tell when we’ve gone from madly in love to just plain madness?
There are two very easy rules to follow to keep the love going:
1. Don’t lose yourself.
Don’t give up your interests and your hobbies for someone else or to get that extra time in. If you go to the gym three days a week, keep doing it. If you meet friends once a month, don’t stop. If you are on an after hours planning committee at work, stick to it.
Your partner may not even be asking you to do these things. It could very well be all your idea.
While at times it can certainly be tempting to ditch our routine to get that snuggle time in, its crucial to our relationships and ourselves as individuals to maintain who we are.
Play this tape through – girl meets boy, girls stops everything to be with boy, relationship ends, girl has lost herself and is starting over.
Now look at this one:
Girl meets boy, girl and boy spend time together and also maintain own interests, relationship ends, boy and girl move forward OR relationship continues and boy and girl continue to develop as the person their partner first fell in love with. Doesn’t that feel better?
2. Maintain ownership of your actions and emotions.
Many times when a person has gone from love to obsession an outsider can easily see that this person’s actions and emotions are completely reactive. Their entire disposition is based off of someone else.
Everything this person says and does is in response to what their partner may do or say, has done or said, or will do or say.
If you find yourself editing your conversation and behavior so that you are pleasing him or avoiding discomfort, you may want to take a closer look at what is happening.
By keeping your interests a priority and being mindful of your emotions, you will not only continue to develop as the person your partner fell in love with, but you also will have your eyes and ears open to any warning signs in the relationship.
Brynn Cicippio, MA, LMFT – www.therapywithbrynn.com
Love is in the air, birds’ songs are sweeter and life is dreamier! But wait, hold on, is it love or infatuation? In my experience love is not chemistry, connection, or an intense feeling. It is a behavior!
In the whirlwind of romance, we tend to get caught up in how good everything feels.
The loneliness and boredom goes away, we feel loved and lovable. Our smiles get bigger and brighter, our stress and irritation with life softens. It is quick and intense and just what we needed when we needed it. If any of this sounds like you put the wedding on hold. It is probably infatuation.
All to often we fall for a feeling not a person.
That feeling will fade within three years which leaves us wondering who this person is and how do you get the feeling back? Well, you can’t because it wasn’t real to begin with.
Very rarely can infatuation turn into love. For that to happen there has to be a lot of self and mutual respect and a lot of excellent communication.
Because the feeling is strong it clouds our ability to see who the person really is that is standing in front of us.
We are wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses and are actually seeing who we want to see not who they really are. When the feeling is gone we find ourselves confused, heart broken, in a financial mess and thinking, “I don’t like _____.”
Love is not emotion based.
Because there is no intense emotion you can clearly see whom the person is and can consciously evaluate their faults and flaws. Love is not overlooking the red flags.
Love fully sees them and says, “over the next 5-10 years this is something that will fit with me and my life?”
Real love is not a feeling but a flow that has developed over time between two people. It is based on a deep like, friendship and mutual respect. It is very honest; it is a behavior. I hope this helps!
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com
I recently saw a comedian who started out with a question that we all thought was going to be another joke.
He asked the following question “How many of you ladies had a man say to you – Girl, I love hard?”
A few ladies raised their hand and some clapped. He then said, “You just told me that he is kicking your [butt] and following you around in slippers and a housecoat.” [I cleaned it up a little bit].
At that moment, the crowd ceased laughing. We were immediately forced to think about love, obsession and abuse.
You know how you get when you first meet someone.
You think he is cute. You want to spend time with him. You talk for hours every day and even text during the times you can’t talk. In essence, you start to become accustomed to certain behaviors and attention.
And then it happens, something in the atmosphere changes – somebody does something different [e.g., called at 3:00 instead of 2:00; decided to go to the store instead of coming right home after work, etc.]; somebody shows up at your job; somebody starts texting your friends – the list can go on and on.
So, let’s talk about healthy relationships.
Because a healthy relationship suggests that growth, support, and respect of each other exists, we surmise it should be reciprocal.
In other words, are you actually in a relationship with this person? If you are, do you each support each other, equally – are you meeting each other’s needs in this relationship?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I always want him to ‘check-in’ with me during the day? Or when out with friends? Or when he is at home?
- Have my interests changed? If your mate is your only interest where you no longer hang out with friends or stopped that spinning class, there might be cause for concern.
- Has my schedule changed? If you adjust your entire schedule to make sure you are available when (or just in case) he or she calls.
- When (…or if) I am with my friends, is he the only thing I want to talk about?
- Does how I feel about my day depend on whether or not he is having a good day?
- Do I get physically ill when he doesn’t call me or when we’re not together?
- Is the only time you are happy is when you are with him?
If you’re finding yourself saying yes more than no, I suggest you re-evaluate your emotions, your definition of love, and your relationship.
What are your feelings and behaviors really saying when you begin a new relationship?
Behavior: I smile a lot when I’m with him.
- Meaning: He makes me happy.
What are your needs?
- Needs: I want to be happy.
How would you meet those needs as a single woman?
- Meeting My Needs: Engage in activities that make me happy.
Once you can meet your own needs, you will know what love really is.
Dr. Maurita Hodge – www.movingmountainsconsultingllc.com
- Do you think about him all the time?
- Does he preoccupy your thoughts and impact your decisions?
- Are you in love — or are you obsessed?
A healthy love relationship starts out with both parties thinking about each other all the time.
You’re both infatuated with each other. You like what you see and the more you see this person, the more you like.
There is nothing wrong with that. But the difference between healthy love and obsession is that one evolves into something deeper and more meaningful and the other becomes a “sickness.”
1. Healthy love allows both parties to have outside interests and friends.
Obsessed love would be threatened by the lack of attention and time.
2. Healthy love is respectful of the other person and honors the boundaries set up by the individual.
Obsessed love oversteps and ignores the wishes of their love interest and does what they want regardless of what they are told.
3. Healthy love matures into a strong commitment, friendship and trusting bond.
Obsessed love is controlling, extreme in its behavior and wants to keep the love interest close by at all times.
Which have you experienced or been guilty of? Sometimes obsessive love can be less extreme, but it can still be smothering, so be careful.
What can you do to ensure you’re not allowing love to become an obsession?
1. Improve your self-esteem so that you don’t constantly have to be reassured that your significant other loves you.
2. Respect your partner and don’t feel the need to call, text or see him all the time.
3. Keep your outside interests, friends, commitments and social activities. This is especially important while dating and in any long-term relationship.
4. Be objective about your partner. This means you understand his good and bad qualities, weaknesses and strengths. You will not be deluded or misguided into thinking he is what he isn’t.
Healthy love is wonderful. When you experience it, you will have the ability to enjoy comfort, contentment and joy deeper than you’ve ever known before!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
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