insane in the membrane
February 12, 2009 6:07 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop having 'bipolar' feelings of excitement and fear at the first stages of a relationship?

This question made me think of mine.. And I saw this one but it wasn't exactly my question.

At the beginning of every relationship I've had, I have never been able to control my brain. I would go from feeling super elated and ecstatic about the guy leaving a sweet voicemail to my heart beating like crazy with fear about the guy no longer being intersted if he didn't call back when he said he would all in one day. Or if we're hanging out my thoughts see-saw back and forth between wanting to blurt out "I can't do this anymore" because it's so scary to me, to wanting to blurt out how much I like the guy.

All these thoughts go away a few months into the relationship, or as soon as I know for a fact that the guy definitely likes me in a more long term way, but during the initial stages of relationships (before you know if you're just dating, or if you're bf/gf and exclusive), it is so hard to control my brain and make myself ACT normal and not act too needy or crazy. This only happens with guys I am actually really interested in, and I don't want to screw anything up with the current guy by having him think that I am crazy. Once I actually know the guy definitely likes me the craziness goes away and I am totally chill and normal.

This is happening now because for the first time in over 2 years I am dating a guy for over a month, and I guess I have some irrational fear about him just changing his mind any minute about liking me, just like it usually happens.

My question is this: Any way to control these thoughts?? I want to deal with it, even though I appreciate how exciting new relationships are, I want to not have the constant change in my mood because of the guy. I have plenty of hobbies and I am busy with full time work, part time grad school, clubs, leagues, hobbies, etc, but during all of these activities my mind is obsessing and overthinking everything the guy ever said, trying to overanalyze what he said and figure out if he is interested or if he's hinting at breaking it off and wondering what will happen between us tomorrow, next week, and in a month.

Therapy is expensive and not covered by insurance, so all other suggestions would be welcome!
posted by KateHasQuestions to Human Relations (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is just life. There's nothing you can do about it. Don't look for a "solution" to every emotional up or down you may have.
posted by jayder at 6:18 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you just has to suffer through. I HATE that early part of relationships for exactly these reasons, but I haven't found a way to deal with it other than just to sort of get through. One of my favorite relationship moments is that first time I realize I'm comfortable and calm around the person in a very real way.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:36 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The key is accepting the feelings when you do have them and letting them pass.

Also if something else is bothering you at any one time it often happens that I turn myself to little dramas like this to avoid thinking about what is bothering me. So I usually try really hard to think about those things.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:49 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some people, during the first few months of romantic attachement, experience lowered serotonin levels, something akin to that like OCD - as you've observed for yourself.
Links here & here.

If it is causing problems, you could treat it like a very short-term case of OCD, using non-prescription methods.
Even knowing that your brain chemistry is literally out of whack, might help.
One of the major aggravator of OCD like symptoms, is stress - so take b-vitamins, get exercise, and hang out with friends.
Take 5-htp as a temporary, non-prescription way to increase serotonin levels.

If you think some of your decisions might be on the crazy-side, discuss them with someone you really trust.

And hey, fortunately - it should wear off eventually.
posted by Elysum at 7:38 PM on February 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

Sounds like infatuation to me.

Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love; addictive love. Usually one is inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone.

Infatuation is a common emotion characterized by unrealistic expectations of blissful passion without positive relationship growth or development. Infatuation is distinguished by a lack of trust, loyalty, commitment, and reciprocity. In the case of infatuation, there is more often than not an obsessor and an object of desire (generally unattainable). One may come to the conclusion that unlike love, infatuation is not usually mutual.

posted by Carol Anne at 6:22 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am diagnosing you as being human. You are not meant to be on an even keel all the time. You are meant to have feelings, some of which are uncomfortable. You are meant to be irrational sometimes. You are not meant to control your brain. You ARE meant to control your actions, which you can do through mindfulness and practice.

If it helps, just repeat "This too shall pass." And/or research vipassana meditation, especially meditations on impermanence.
posted by desjardins at 7:21 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Enjoy the ride, say I. Once I accepted that the roller-coaster was part of what it was like for me to be in love, I learned to throw up my hands and just go with it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:46 AM on February 13, 2009

Or if we're hanging out my thoughts see-saw back and forth between wanting to blurt out "I can't do this anymore" because it's so scary to me, to wanting to blurt out how much I like the guy.

Me too! It also makes me a little crazy.
posted by lunit at 1:19 PM on February 13, 2009

I don't think there's anything you can do to control your own thoughts, per se, but you can try to focus on other things. Meditation, such as "this too shall pass" as desjardins suggested, or something more concrete... Think about this: you likely don't feel this way when you've just met and are getting to know someone as a friend, right? And they are your friend for you, for who they perceive you to be in your interactions. Presumably (hopefully?), a guy would be into you for who you are as well. If you're freaking out in your head but trying to keep your cool on the outside, my guess is that a little bit of your anxiety could leak through, subconsciously, perhaps presenting you as not quite who you really are (e.g., a little more tense, or high-strung, or nutty). Maybe your mantra could be "be yourself"...

Isn't it funny how, in your average relationship, each partner feels powerless, like the other has the power to break our hearts and is in control of the whole thing? We're simultaneously powerless and in control. That said, I'll tell you what I said to the OP of the other question: just remember that he's probably freaking out about you, too, and as such you're not 100% out of control.
posted by penchant at 1:29 PM on February 13, 2009

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