Activities that excite us make us feel good about life, love and ourselves. We are all pleasure-seekers, and there are endless things that can make us feel re-vitalized. We like to be carried away.
Take a closer look at Cookie. She is having a great time. Joe is smart, successful, fun and adventurous. Great qualities, for sure. But remember my previous warning--intense, exciting and stimulating experiences arouse the brain. The brain chemicals dopamine and oxytocin rise. You feel terrific and alive and vital. At the same time your thinking processes take a back seat to your elation--just when you might need to activate your judgment capabilities. Here are some tips to keeping a more level head when you start to fall head over heels.
1. Plan to keep your evaluator button lighted up. Go ahead, enjoy yourself. But keep up an internal dialogue between your head and heart. When in doubt, listen to your head. Know that you will be doing something that will be so much fun that you will be tempted to forego your self-protection.
2. List the temptations. Know exactly what can tempt you. For example, is there a dangerous ski trail that you don’t want to take--but feel you must go along in order to attract, keep or please your man? Are you going to let your high lead you to have sex too early in the relationship?
3. Get a buddy system. If you fear that your resolve will crumble, set up ahead of time a buddy text or phone call system where you can “do a reality check” with a trusted friend or family member. Tell the person what you are considering doing. Ask whether you should have sex with a virtual stranger or with a partner who hasn’t apologized or owned up to very hurtful behavior.
4. Remind yourself of the limits of sex. Fun activities followed by make up sex or the high of “an amazing time” with a date cannot create lasting or deep love. And just what is wrong with sex too soon? For one thing, the good feelings put your thinking brain in sleep mode. You don’t really “see” your man as clearly. Secondly, giving in to sex too soon or when you really don’t want it leaves you victim to your impulses. No one wants to be ruled by out-of-control urges. Finally, don’t allow yourself to confuse sex with respectful and mutual love. Sex in unhealthy relationships can trick you into feeling close. If your relationship is in trouble, I am not saying to stop having sex, but I am warning you not to confuse a good time with good love.
5. Don’t tempt fate. Sometimes, when we can’t make a decision, we allow ourselves to get into compromising positions that challenge our resolve and judgment. Don’t go back to a man’s place (or invite him to yours) if you don’t share mutual feelings of closeness and respect or if you haven’t known each other for a while (usually measured at least in months). Don’t go back to your partner’s place if you fear that he is still angry or just trying to “smooth things over” so you won’t raise hot topics again. And if, after an exciting evening, you do decide to make love with your partner, don’t let the morning-after feelings seduce you into minimizing the importance of talking out your problems.
6. Maintain your life. One way to put the brakes on falling too quickly is to maintain your current life. Don't drop friends or your interests, for example.
7. Build your own inner cheerleader. We can't be everything to ourselves--but another person can't be all to us, either. Healthy love supports and nurtures and makes us better as a couple than we are alone. But make sure you can also soothe and support yourself, too. That overly high feeling is a warning that you might be looking for TOO much to come from outside yourself.
Dr. LeslieBeth (LB) Wish is a nationally recognized therapist and researcher, honored for her work with women and their relationship, family and life issues. The National Association of Social Workers has selected her as one of the top fifty social workers who is making a contribution to the field. She is on the Advisory Board and writes features for qualityhealth.com, a top ten health website, in affiliation with WebMD. She also writes regularly for other top websites. Her own website/blog, lovevictory.com, has been included in the Top 101 Blogs to Watch and The Top Fifty Mommy Blogs. She is an Official Guide to Family on www.selfgrowth.com and is finishing up research for her next book on the relationship problems of today's strong women. Join her research! Go to her website and click on the Research Box in the upper right. You will be linked to a confidential online survey.