Bring it to Barb Answering your questions on mental health, relationships and life issues

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This week’s question:

 

I met my current boyfriend a few months ago and I fell in love. This is not the first time I have fallen in love but I always seem to change my feelings within a short time. It is happening again with my new boyfriend. I start to see him differently. I get anxiety when we argue or he doesn’t text me. Things I didn’t notice before that he does, now bother me. Is there really such a thing as a honeymoon stage? Is it possible to remain in that stage forever? 

Signed, Loved and Lost Before

Dear Loved and Lost Before,

When you first fall in love, you may be completely smitten. The way your significant other smiles, talks, and even moves fills you with delight. This early stage of the relationship, known as the honeymoon phase, makes you feel so good that it’s almost like an addiction. You can’t think of anything else but them, and you can’t imagine life without them.

Depending on the situation, this state of euphoria can last a few months and wanes over two to four years. Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase, as wonderful as it may be, doesn’t last forever. Once the infatuation fades, the feeling your partner can do no wrong is replaced by more realistic thoughts. Here are some signs that the honeymoon phase is officially over.

You don’t get that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling every time you see your partner.

There are often more disagreements. They could become more intense.

You start to question your feelings for the other person because those same feelings of complete euphoria are no longer there.

Less kissing, and the constant cute lovey-dovey text messages turn into a once-in-a-while thing. Sex may soon become less frequent.

You feel less of an earnestness to wow your partner. You can relax in each other’s presence and watch movies at home in your sweat pants or forgo make-up.

It’s okay to not have that love high forever! Intuition is a subtle knowing, while anxiety “screams” at us every time we try to step out of our comfort zone. Intuition leads to quiet wisdom and informed decision-making, while fear is loud and relentless, leading to a racing heart and a catastrophic mindset. 

The trick in a relationship is to step back and figure out how to keep the loud anxiety (fear) from drowning out the subtle knowledge of your intuition (feelings of love).

Even after the honeymoon stage has waned, when you’re physically together you naturally will release oxytocin and vasopressin. These chemicals are associated with attachment. 

Think of the building of a relationship as a learned dance. You know the dance well because you have practiced and perfected it since childhood. What has worked for you in the past, may not work now. 

We need to be able to connect or dance with our lovers without letting our lovers control the whole dance. If our relationships tend to send us into fight-or-flight mode, it is a sign that we need to rechoreograph the relationship dances that we learned in early childhood. Rechoreograph it to include a new partner and make it flow easily for both. 

When we give our lovers all the power for how we dance or how we feel, it may cause us to shut down, or feel anxious about the relationship. Dancing together is the key. The awareness of your partner’s steps will put you in the exact synchronization for any situation. It requires work to stay mindful and in step with your partner. It should not make you anxious, instead should build confidence.

The great news is that if your relationship makes it past the honeymoon stage, you have a chance at developing true love and a new dance. “Honeymoon” love is nice, but love in stages two and three is better and you have to do the work to get there. You have to see the reality about the one you love and risk allowing someone to see the real you.

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