“I wish I liked him more. He’s so sweet and thoughtful. He is always on time. He calls when he says he will. And I’m not worried about being hurt this time. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted…but I don’t want him!” she cried.
I was sitting on my couch with Raquel, a client I’d been coaching for only a few months. She had been dating Anthony, a software developer with a small start up business, for only a few weeks. When she had met Anthony, she had just broken up with Jay, her on-and-off boyfriend of three years. She was trying to move on but she was having great difficulty. Raquel’s former relationship was filled with highs and lows. She and Jay were hot and heavy one minute and not speaking to each other the next. Their chemistry was great, but their communication was not. Despite all the head butting though, Raquel was deeply in love with Jay and always thought he was the one. Why they couldn’t just make it work, frustrated her to no end.
Now she was dating Anthony – a guy that made her feel good about herself. A man that wanted to hear her point of view and valued her opinion. Things that, over time, Jay had lost interest in. Besides that, Anthony was cute! He was tall, he had a great body, and he had these adorable dimples that came out whenever he laughed. So why wasn’t Raquel feeling it?
“I keep thinking if I give it more time, I will like him more. But I just don’t get that rush of excitement like I did when I was around Jay. I don’t feel the butterflies,” she told me.
“Is that what you think love feels like? Having your stomach always tied up in knots?” I asked.
Raquel wasn’t sure how to answer.
“I just know that for three years, I had butterflies with Jay. My heart even flutters when I think about him now! Doesn’t that mean something? Isn’t that true love?”
“No,” I told her. “Butterflies after three years of being someone that you couldn’t get along with, does not mean it was true love. It means it was exciting – and it was exciting because Jay was unpredictable. He would spend a whole weekend with you and then not call you for three days. You never knew when you would see or hear from him again and that is why your heart always jumped when he came around. Not because it was true love.”
Adult Love: What does it feel like?
Everyone likes the feeling of falling in love. It’s a beautiful high that carries you throughout your day. It makes average living more lively. It turns the mundane into something remarkable. And when you come in contact with the object of your affection, the rush is nothing short of intoxicating.
We’ve all felt this way at one time or another. My husband gave me the such bad butterflies I could hardly eat around him. Ask him if I have that problem now though, and he’d probably break into a fit of laughter. Eating more now doesn’t mean I love him less, on the contrary, I love him more today than I did the day I married him. But real love doesn’t make you feel so nervous that you may lose your lunch. It feels like something ten times better and a lot less nauseating.
When love is the lasting kind, you don’t feel like you are standing on the edge of a 400 foot cliff (I should know, I’ve actually stood there.) Sure, you may get the butterflies in the beginning but when love is real, it goes deeper than, as Lindsay Lohan put it in Mean Girls, “feeling like your stomach is going to fall out of your butt.” It feels like home. Like a warm cozy room with a fire place. It’s happy. It’s safe, and I’m elated to say, it’s super comfortable. No, you don’t get tongue-tied around your partner after so many years – but you do feel a rush of utter happiness when they walk through the door after a long workday and you would absolutely jump in front of a moving bus if it meant saving them from any harm.
Keeping the Butterflies Alive
Some people mistakenly fight off real love. Have you ever known someone that religiously breaks off every one of their relationships at the same time point in time? Maybe they hit the seven month mark and suddenly decide they “aren’t feeling it” anymore. Or perhaps once the chase ends and commitment begins, they start to lose interest? These people are what experts call, “love junkies” – they chase the high that comes when you start to fall in love, and once they come down from it, they either create turmoil to get the high back, or they move on to someone else to create it all over again. They unknowingly prevent themselves from ever getting to the true love phase. Raquel had become an love junkie, which is why she was still couldn’t let go over her tumultuous past relationship and fall in love with someone stable. If a guy didn’t give her cardiac arrest, she was convinced it meant she didn’t like him. The truth is that Raquel and most love junkies are addicted to the feeling of excitement that uncertainty brings. Not knowing if someone liked her, not knowing when they would call or want to see her again, drove Raquel nuts. It made her feel extremely low. That’s why when the phone finally did ring, the high was so great, it felt like a full on episode of “When Butterflies Attack.” Her relationship with Jay was always in a state of flux, so the butterflies never went away, and she always assumed it meant it was love.
If you are like Raquel and you think a relationship is boring without ups and downs, then you are still dating with a high school mentality. If you are still attracted to guys that aren’t good for you because they keep you on edge, realize that you will be signing up for a stormy relationship, and later a rocky marriage. Yes, you get a rush of adrenaline when after three days and no calls, your phone rings. It’s exciting when you are dating, but it will be hell when you’re married. You don’t want to be at home, pregnant and wonder where your husband is, do you? How your relationship functions right now, is how it will be after you’ve walked down that aisle. Men that are unpredictable (my nice way of saying unreliable), don’t miraculously transform into steady and dependable husbands once they wed. If you have been with someone for years and you still aren’t able to fully relax and be comfortable with them, you aren’t in love… you’re an addict.
Raquel was so used to her roller coaster relationship with Jay, that the stable happy one she had with Anthony seemed lackluster… that is until Anthony broke up with her for not appreciating him.
My advice for any love junkies out there. Be careful chasing butterflies. The good, dependable guy in front of you isn’t boring. You are just strung out. If you need some excitement in your life, don’t get it from boys. Sign up for skydiving. It’s a lot less dangerous.
For more tips on landing the guy you want, make sure you read “You Lost Him at Hello.”