Devolution of Infatuation: Chemistry to Bickering
Posted on July 25, 2011 by Deborah Cluff
You figured out how to be on your own, to do life well without a partner but, honestly, the yearning to be in love still loomed inside until one day..
I’ve often heard successful and otherwise happy people say all that’s missing in life is the right partner. Are you, or have you been, one of these people? You figured out how to be on your own, to do life well without a partner but, honestly, the yearning to be in love still loomed inside until one day (when you weren’t looking, of course) you met someone who seemed pretty close to perfect – a person that met all the criteria and the chemistry was off the chain – very hot! What happened next? Here’s one common and potentially avoidable scenario of unanticipated pitfalls: the devolution of infatuation to bickering.
A few weeks or months go by and you realize that this relationship may actually be something that could last. Your partner is the kind of person you’ve always wanted in a relationship – someone who asks sincere questions about you (your fears, hopes and dreams) and genuinely listens to your responses. You’ve met the friends and family – you like them, they like you. You feel you can be your best self and you are comfortable in deep moments of emotional and physical intimacy. Everything is rolling along in all the ways you imagined it should. You are so happy that you smile and tell yourself it’s all too good to be true – ahhh, love finally!
You’ve been spending 24-7 together because you just can’t get enough – somewhat to the chagrin of your friends since you are completely off the grid. Then slowly that voice in your head that’s been saying it’s too good to be true gets LOUDER. You begin to get scared, disoriented – what if it IS too good to be true? You reflect on your past relationships, which also started with high hopes, and remember the pain of disappointment or betrayal and start to wonder why this one should be any better. Doubts crop up in your head about whether you’re really ready or if your partner is the “one.” Maybe to protect yourself (unconsciously), you begin nitpicking the not so lovely parts of your partner and the bickering starts. Let’s consider just a couple of several possible reasons for this to come about and what functions this behavior serves.
Possible Reason 1: You have become really good at being alone, despite having yearned for a partner. However, since you met your partner, you’ve forfeited your alone time, time with friends and family, time for hobbies, etc., leaving very little physical or psychological space for yourself. So to reclaim some space, you start pushing your partner away. Bickering is a great, if unconscious, way to create some space between you and your partner!
Possible Reason 2: You’ve done a lot of work on you being single- therapy, yoga, reading, journaling and you feel good about who you are. However, all that stuff that can only be worked out in a romantic relationship comes up – fears of intimacy, commitment, trust, whatever ails you about relationships in general – because now you’re in one! All that work you did for you is wonderful but these unresolved issues were shelved until you were close enough to someone for it all to matter. In short – you are being TRIGGERED like crazy! Whether your partner is a good match for you becomes obscured by the fact that you’ve got some more stuff to work out before you are clear on that. Some of this triggering process is unavoidable. It’s AFOG (Another F-in Opportunity for Growth, as one wise professor said to me) that can actually lead you to a more satisfying, conscious relationship but that’s another blog.
If I may make a gentle suggestion to offset some of the insanity of new love – DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR LIFE – no matter how in love you feel. Enjoy the excitement that newness brings but if it all possible – keep your other relationships and your interests alive – even if you have to push yourself to do so. This is beneficial because you don’t alienate your friends but also because you are also less likely to lose yourself. That way, when things come up in your relationship, you’ll be more grounded and not so susceptible to have dramatic reactions to the fears and triggers. When you make a partner the center of the universe, it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship. Since we’ve lost perspective, we tend to get hyper-focused on every little thing our partner does and says.
The beginning is SO juicy and enticing – irresistibly so. However, there’s not much rooting in who you if you give up all you know and are within that beautiful chemical vortex of falling in love. You’ve lost your bearing and so has your partner. It’s key to remember that one reason you found one another so attractive was likely to do with that strength and independence you each had when you started off. As much as it can feed the ego, being the sole source of a partner’s fulfillment can be suffocating – a real turn off. If you want to keep the chemistry alive, also keep in mind that most of us find it more attractive when someone has their own life and (almost) nobody gets turned on by being nitpicked.