Help me get over the honeymoon phase.
December 11, 2009 7:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm extremely infatuated with my boyfriend of 1 year, to the point where it's getting a little annoying. Advice?

I began seeing my current boyfriend in August of 2008, and we became exclusive a couple of months later. I was quite smitten with him from the beginning, and I was expecting that "honeymoon phase" to last two or three months, like it has in all of my other relationships... and it still hasn't subsided. We even lived together over the summer, which I figured might dull my enthusiasm a bit. But it didn't at all. If anything, I have a bigger crush on him now than I did when we first started dating.

I'm normally very even-keeled, so this feeling has puzzled me from the very beginning, and now it's starting to feel a bit... cumbersome. I don't act crazy or clingy -- in fact, I'm really not very demonstrative about my affections at all -- but I feel like I think about him way more than I should. I'll catch myself daydreaming about jumping his bones during class, or in a free moment I'll randomly start feeling giddy about how lucky I am and how great my relationship is. Every time he kisses me (which is nearly every day), I get that butterflies-in-my-stomach, squeeee-I-can't-believe-this-is-really-happening feeling. It's EXHAUSTING.

I tend to think that, when people obsess over things, it's often because they're subconsciously trying to avoid thinking about something more difficult - i.e. some aspect of their lives that's lacking, or something that's worrying them (this seems to be a widely-held view here on AskMeFi). I don't really think that's the case here though. I'm pretty content with everything that's going on in my life right now. I'm about to graduate from college, my career path seems pretty solid and I'm excited about it. I have a close-knit group of friends, no shortage of hobbies, and I get along great with my family. So it's not that my "crush" is providing a distraction from something unpleasant. Nor is it interfering with my productivity. It's just emotionally taxing, and I feel like I should calm the hell down already.

(Factors that probably have some bearing: I'm 23, boyfriend is 28. I've been in two other long-term relationships, and had a handful of casual flings, but this is the first time either of us has been "in love".)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Consider yourself lucky, and go with it. Enjoy every moment.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 7:32 PM on December 11, 2009 [14 favorites]

"You see, my problem is that I just have too much money, and it's starting to become annoying."

Seriously, though, you say he "kisses you almost every day" which seems like, erm, not often enough. Do you not see each other very often? Maybe your honeymoon phase has been prolonged due to not really being able to see each other as frequently as you might like? Nothing in your OP suggests some kind of weird subconscious avoidance issue.

Either you have an embarassment of riches and you should probably stop complaining, or your honeymoon period is a bit longer than normal. Or, you know, both. Normal people wish they had your problems, y'know?
posted by axiom at 7:47 PM on December 11, 2009

I had crush once that lasted 3 years......Yes 3 years!!!!!! And I loved each and every minute of being with her.......its ok...enjoy it, it will be fine.....your question made my night!
posted by The1andonly at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you really consider this a problem I recommend that you get married to this guy. Presto! Within a year or two, no more problem.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Then the priest said, "So then why are you telling me?"

Seriously, I wish you and yo' SO many, many more years together dealing with such problems.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Maybe everything else going on is the taxing part - circa-graduation months can be emotionally and physically taxing. It sounds like you have a great outlet and great support in each other. Make the most of it.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Inspector.Gadget. Even positive changes are stressful. It's not that you have anything obviously unpleasant to avoid in your life, it's just that you have some major changes ahead.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:02 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're describing a good relationship. Keep it up.
posted by rokusan at 8:26 PM on December 11, 2009

I have the same exact long-lasting honeymoon feelings with my SO, and have for the past 1.5 years. And now ... we're engaged :)

Go with it! You're in love and it's totally exhilarating.
posted by kthxbi at 8:30 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hello there. I believe you paged me? You, happy-go-lucky, giddy-with-love 23-year-old, sort of uncomfortable with being so SQUEE-inducingly goggle-eyed with infatuated glee over this guy you've got? Yes, you're the one. I am (fanfare please) 30-year-old divorced-five-months-ago bitter angry man. I am glad you asked for me; I hardly ever get to wear this costume.

That giddy feeling you're describing? Not love. Definitely not love. So if you're looking for something to bring you back down to earth and into reality, just remind yourself that what you're feeling is not love. To start with, it's a feeling, and love isn't a feeling, it's an act of will, a decision you make to care for and be cared for by another person. You're clearly aware that this feeling will go away, and love will remain, so I think you already know this.

You ask this question, however, as though you actually find it difficult to let go of those crazy feelings. I hate admitting it, but those feelings are a great part of life, and worth enjoying. However, the perverse part of me, the wellspring of bitterness that is my particular gift at the moment, doesn't mind taking the chance you've handed me and trying to poke holes in it. And it's quite easy. Here, just consider these things:

(a) Do you love his family? In particular, do you really, really like his mother? Is she just the tops? She is his mother after all; she's the one who raised him. If you haven't met his parents, then meet them; after a year, I'm guessing you already have. This is a great time for you to be asking this question, as there's an easy answer to it: spend this Christmas with his family! He will be a different person around them. Trust me. And I have a strong hunch it won't be the dude whose bones you constantly want to jump. If you still think he's tops after spending lots of time with his family, that's great, and you're making real relationship-style progress, so it's a win either way. There are two subsets of this one, of course: first, does he love your family, and want to spend as much time as you do with them? Second, as I alluded to above, where are you going to spend different holidays?

In any case, if that doesn't do it, move down the list:

(b) Do you both agree entirely on things like money, what careers you're going to pursue, and what you want to do with your lives? These are realms that mean a lot to people and that cause some of the biggest disagreements, and it's unlikely that two people will ever agree on all of them. You don't mention whether you two live together at all, or even whether you plan to. No matter what, that's a question in itself: do you both agree on whether you want to live together, when you plan to - is it something on the horizon? Are you both likely to be in the same area a year from now? What the hell is going to happen?

And then there's always:

(c) Are you guys going to have kids? Does he want to? Do you? If so, how would you raise them? If not, what plans do you have beyond that, since there are plenty of other things that couples place at the center of their relationship?

My psychiatrist (bitter-man's trusty sidekick, of course) tells me that this is the trifecta of relationship issues which are at the center of love: family, money, and children. (There's also religion, but that sort of mixes and mingles, and isn't quite as universally troublesome as those three.) As he puts it, the work of the couple is to carefully deliberate over those three, determining which direction to take on them, and building its own approach to them. That 'work' actually involves a lot of honest-to-goodness arguing, since you can't possibly agree with him on everything and since, even if you could, it's better to carefully consider all of them and wrangle with the issues before jumping to a decision.

If you look over those things, I'm positive you'll find some disagreement that you can work on with him. And that's really what a loving relationship should be doing: uncovering hidden contradiction and reconciling it, moving forward in the world, and creating a niche for you two to hide out in and live out your lives.
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 PM on December 11, 2009 [58 favorites]

I am the king of something else is bothering you on AskMeFi. Check my posting history.

You're just in love. Enjoy and deal.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 PM on December 11, 2009

If you have something better to do -- I mean something that, when you're older, you'll think, "Man, I wish I had spent less time feeling wonderfully happy and more time doing xyz" -- then, uh...

Weird, I can't think of a way to finish that sentence.
posted by Nattie at 11:15 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

How about CBT? It's useful for all sorts of mental disorders, and if this is as bas as you say it is, I'd say it's a disorder. I don't know how you'd work it, though.

Basically, apply some logic to the situation. Your body is producing these brain chemicals because you're asking it to, for some part. When you obsess, you add a little more fuel to the fire and a few more molecules of oxytocin to your brain chemistry. It's kind of like a feedback loop or a Catch-22.

When you find yourself obsessing, stop and analyse it. And take a more realistic view of your boyfriend. Does he leave the toilet seat up? Pick his nose? Scratch himself in company? Basically, you're looking for something that will cause you to go "ugh". This will help bring you back to reality, which is a good place to be.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When it passes from being pleasurable to painful, that's the time to stop it, as you've wisely realised. People use safe words for a reason.
posted by Solomon at 12:26 AM on December 12, 2009

Its really good that you are asking that question. My 2 cents are:

Enjoy your time but I agree with koeselitz. If you really, really want to make it work over the long haul, take it from someone older that you need to eventually figure out how strong your relationship stands based on questions about family, money and children, etc.

Regarding infatuation, here is one answer:

It should be moving to a more companionate love soon since you are near the high end of the 18th month of infatuation.

Or you could be one of the lucky ones and be infatuated much longer which would be great unless it interferes with how you function.

But definitely clarify both your long term goals to minimize heartbreak for either of you.
posted by simpleton at 5:10 AM on December 12, 2009

I actually really disagree with the "something else is bothering you" idea. You're bothered by this feeling, not something else. Take the facts on their face.

For what it's worth, I also totally understand why you'd find this feeling cumbersome. I really feel uncomfortable the early "squee" period of a relationship, and look forward to calming down and moving onto a more even-keeled phase. It's just more enjoyable to me to have quiet companionship and togetherness than it is to have the butterflies.

How is your boyfriend acting about all of this? Do you think he feels the same way?
posted by yarly at 5:35 AM on December 12, 2009

A year isn't so very long for butterflies -- I think the conventional wisdom is that the infatuation period lasts a year and a half to two years. That's why you'll see people recommend that you be together for some time after those feelings subside, to make sure you're left with abiding love for each other (those warm waves of feeling, rather than the squeeing butterflies) before making long-term decisions. And yeah, as koeselitz says, that you make those long-term decisions based on evidence of compatibility as well as strength of feeling.
posted by palliser at 7:35 AM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some polyamorous people feel this way, actually, because the NRE (new relationship energy) wrecks their judgment.

The best way to make this go away is to do super boring things with him as often as possible, and avoid doing anything exciting or new with him.
posted by kathrineg at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2009

It sounds like you have the makings of something special going on. Put some effort into figuring out if this could be a relationship that leads to your version of Happily Ever After.

Do you want to get married someday? Does he?
Do you want children someday Does he?
Do you want a house in the burbs with a little white picket fence? Does he?
...figure out what matters to you and what matters to him.

If there aren't any dealbreakers, enjoy yourself and celebrate the relationship.

posted by 2oh1 at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2009

I'm intrigued because you haven't mentioned how you think he feels, and have mentioned that you're: " really not very demonstrative about my affections at all".
Do you think he's feeling it as much as you are? Are you worried that you're more into it than him? Because uncertainty and not being able to have something you want is a sure way to keep you on your toes and 'in love'.
posted by whalebreath at 7:59 PM on December 12, 2009

You are in a state of Limerence. And as as koeselitz points out it sounds like you are also in Love.

Limerence + Love = TOADLY AWZOMZ!!!!

Love - Limerence = TOADLY AWZOMZ!!!!

Either way, congratulations. And savor every second of it.
posted by MiggySawdust at 8:07 AM on December 13, 2009

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