A couple of my friends have recently asked my opinion about their respective relationships, which are all in the same general phase: things were moving along smoothly for several months but both my friends felt they should be emotionally further along than they are. They wonder if they should break-up with their significant other because something is perhaps missing, or if they should continue seeing each other and hope it progresses?
Is there a timeline for when you should be in love?
For one of my friends I supported her decision to break-up with the guy. He already had incredibly strong feelings for her and she was only finding reasons not to fall in love with him. It would be inconsiderate of her to continue dating him because she would be basically leading him on since she didn’t have anywhere near the same feelings.
For my other friend, I supported his decision to stay with his girlfriend and give it more time. Although she felt stronger towards him, she was also aware that he wasn’t in the same place yet. He likes her just fine and is having fun and doesn’t want to put pressure on the relationship to move any faster, and she says she is okay with that. I told him to make sure she wasn’t saying that to him just to placate him because she is hoping he will fall in love with how easygoing she is.
There’s no right time for when you should have the feelings of love, but you do need to know the difference between love and lust, and understand when someone is unfairly feeling far more into you. Don’t waste your time or someone else’s, especially when feelings are involved.
What exactly does it mean to be “in love”? If you love someone deeply but no longer have the butterflies in your stomach, is that enough? Do you need the butterflies or is that a feeling which means you are actually insecure in your relationship because you don’t know how the other person feels? That butterfly feeling is exciting, so does that mean your relationship is over once that feeling goes away? When someone tells you “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is that a bad thing? If you lose that “in love” feeling, does it mean that you fell out of love and should no longer be with that person, or does it simply mean that it became a deeper kind of love and is not just a fleeting feeling? Is being “in love” the same thing as lust?
You need to answer these questions for yourself. There’s not a right or wrong answer necessarily, but you should decide what feelings you want and need. What is acceptable for you to feel towards the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? And how do you want your partner to feel towards you? Is it okay if you are in love with your partner but your partner loves you just isn’t “in love” with you? Or vice-versa?
Try to differentiate what the difference is – to you – between loving someone and being in love with them. Define and describe each and determine what is what.
There’s that moment when you’re dating when you realize that if you hold on just a little bit longer, it might take off and become something more. Something significant. Something notable. Something to write home about. When this happens, you can’t help but feel inflated with excitement, passion, joy, and if you’re anything like me, a large amount of fear. That’s right. The girl who is the JDate blogger, the one who has been going on dates for the last three years, in and out of short relationships, only one of which wound up in a head over heels kind of love, and wants more than anything to find Mr. Right, is afraid of relationships.
When I got into my last relationship early last winter, I remember falling asleep one night laying next to my ex as he stroked my hair until my eyes finally closed. He kissed me gently before turning over to fall asleep himself, and all I could think was that this was everything I had wished for… and I am scared out of my freaking mind. I knew that from that very moment, I could no longer pull back my feelings or keep my walls up. It was all hanging out. Every piece of who I am was revealed and extremely vulnerable. And if that’s not scary, I honestly don’t know what is. Okay, horror movies are scary. I can’t even watch scary movie trailers without covering my eyes, but that’s a totally different story. But I’ve realized that this fear is the most difficult thing to overcome. You can be a serial dater, or in my case a serial first dater, if you’re always dressed in your suit of armor. No one can hurt you, disrupt your daily routine, or embed themselves in your life when they’re standing at arm’s length.
That’s what happens when you date the way I have, recently had your heart broken, or don’t have much experience in dating at all. You learn to keep your distance as a defense mechanism. You might go to the dance, but that doesn’t mean you will actually dance. It means you’re thinking about dancing. Then when the moment finally comes when someone offers to take your hand and lead you to the dance floor, you have two options. You can say, “It was nice of you to ask, but no thank you.” Or you can let it all go and shut up and dance.
Everyone wants to be in love, but how do you know when you’re in love and when you just can’t see straight because you want it so bad? Chemistry, lust, compatibility, all of that can confuse you. You can think, believe, swear to G-D, you’re in love, but how do you really know? No one does. Each time you think you fall in love it’s going to be more impactful than the time before and will make all your past loves pale in comparison. But then how do you know this is the one and that he or she isn’t just another stepping stone on the way to your true Beshert?
Crazy to think about right? There’s no answer. There’ no way to know. You have to take a leap of faith at some point, but try to do so in an educated manner. Try to know what you really need in a mate to live happily ever after. Hint: it’s not chiseled abs or big boobs. You need to find out how that person reacts under pressure and if that is on par with how you react. Does he or she close up and stop communicating? That is not conducive to a healthy, successful relationship. These are the types of things you need to find out before taking that leap, but please, do take that leap eventually because being in love is tremendous and amazing. It is also difficult, but so worth it. Do it. Go for it.