New relationship - how can I learn to chill the *&#! out?
May 2, 2016 7:11 AM   Subscribe

So, I'm in a new relationship, we've been together about 2 months. Although I liked him from the beginning, he was slightly keener and always the one arranging dates, etc. I told him I was a slow burner, he was ok with that and happy to go my pace.

However, over the last few weeks I have really fallen for him, and have feelings I've never experienced before; its embarrassingly cliched, teenage stuff: I'm not hungry, I can't sleep, I smile randomly walking down the street, songs on the radio suddenly ring true, I'm in a good mood all the time, I find myself fantasising about the future, I actively want to do things I don't usually enjoy (e.g. going to a football match) because I want to do them with him. He makes me laugh until I cry, and vice versa. He's absolutely right for me on paper too - similar interests and backgrounds. For the first time in my life I can see a long term future with someone without being in any way freaked out. Although I have loved previous boyfriends, I have never been head over heels before and at 37 had stopped expecting the big feelings, so this is an amazing and largely welcome surprise.

I'm not a big heart-on-sleeve person and tend not to gush, but we had a heart-to-heart the other day and I told him exactly how I felt. He said he was over the moon, relieved, excited, felt the same and had been holding back so that he didn't freak me out. And we immediately started talking about where our first holiday would be. So, all good, right?

However, I am now crippled with this overwhelming fear (presumably driven by the urge to protect myself from heartbreak). I suddenly feel incredibly needy, anxious and jealous and am overanalysing everything. I know this is irrational and have absolutely not admitted any of this to him, but it's subtly changing the way I am around him. Because I'm a little bit more on edge I'm more inhibited and less likely to be confident and goofy (one of the best things about our relationship is that we can be silly and can make each other laugh until we cry). I know that these negative thoughts must be making me less attractive, and that makes me feel worse and do it more. Vicious circle.

He's away this week so it's text/phone only until next Sunday.

I'm not even sure what my question is - apart from how do I chill out? Is this normal? Will it go away? It's exhausting!
posted by Britchick35 to Human Relations (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome to limerace! It's fun and thank the gods it doesn't last long. He reciprocates! He's into it! YAY!

When this happened to me it was with Husbunny, we'll be married 14 years in July. It's been fabulous the entire time, but we did calm down and it's better.

Just keep being honest. Tell him, "I have so many feelings I'm jittery. I'm so excited and nervous all of a sudden!"

Once you start talking about what you're feeling it takes the power away from the feelings.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:27 AM on May 2, 2016 [15 favorites]

These are typical feelings of limerence, including the fear of rejection. It's likely he feels them too! There's not much you can do other than try to relax. I still remember those feelings from when I was first dating my wife, a quarter century ago. These days our bond is calmer, but a lot stronger.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:46 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is normal! It also goes away on its own. Sometimes relationships come out of this stage and the people in them feel an absence and blame each other or circumstances and the relationship breaks down. Other times this stage melts beautifully into a strong and calm bond and, as the previous comments attest, that's how you get those gross married people who seem effortlessly supportive of each other. (Obviously it takes tons of ongoing effort, but it doesn't look that way on the outside.)

Try to use your limerence to your advantage while it lasts. You said you wanted to go to a football match to be with him - pay attention to your excited, happy feelings and how experiencing new things feel, now while your brain chemistry is doing cool and different stuff. Then try other new things, and encourage him to do the same, while noticing these cool and different feelings. The two of you might find some awesome stuff to do together that is just for you both and not something either of you would have been interested in separately or before. Little stuff, like new foods or music or different ways to get places, and bigger stuff like hobbies and challenges.

You'll be okay!
posted by Mizu at 8:03 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

However, I am now crippled with this overwhelming fear (presumably driven by the urge to protect myself from heartbreak). I suddenly feel incredibly needy, anxious and jealous and am overanalysing everything. I know this is irrational and have absolutely not admitted any of this to him, but it's subtly changing the way I am around him.

There's your problem. Tell him! You've articulated yourself nicely here. He'll understand. It'll make you feel better. Being able to talk about these crazy feelings with each other is one of the best parts of finding someone like this. Give it a shot.
posted by juliplease at 9:16 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wait, so you told him you were crazy about him, and he told you he felt exactly the same?

Yaayyyyy!!!! You have nothing to worry about!

Look, I am the original relationship overthinker. I have been known to roll over in bed to ask my fiance, who I live with, and who regularly tells me that he loves me, "So, like, do you like me? You know, like, LIKE me like me?"

But at a certain point, if you can't stop and just bask in the joy that is loving somebody who loves you back, I don't really know what to tell you.

One thing that helped with this in my current relationship was just to decide to be open. Anytime I felt jealous or insecure early on, I just talked it out. Not in a big serious We Need To Talk kind of way, but casually, as if talking about this stuff was as normal as "Where do you want to order takeout from?" I was also open with my positive feelings: I was the first to say "I love you", almost by accident. I also decided to listen to the answers my partner gave about this stuff, and to actually hear and trust him. For example: very early on he went to a party without me (I was doing other stuff probably?) and a picture of him and another woman ended up on Facebook. So I just... asked him who that was. It's an old friend he ran into at the party. I have since met her. It's super obvious that he's into me and not her, not secretly dating her or anything, etc. I didn't ask about her in a Big Scary "SO WHO WAS THAT OTHER GIRL AT THE PARTY????????" interrogation kind of way, just "I saw a bunch of pictures from the party on Facebook. Who's so-and-so?" as anyone might ask anyone about something like this.

You need to get comfortable talking about stuff that makes you feel a lot of feelings with this dude, and you need to start trusting him. This is the only way the exciting early infatuation type of relationship becomes a real serious thing. If you can't say, "I wish you'd come to my company picnic this weekend and it kind of bums me out that you're not" (or whatever), you're not going to be able to say "I hate the name Colin and don't want to name our baby that" or "My student debt: let me tell you about it." You know?
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 AM on May 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I laughed out loud when I read this post. I could have written this exactly, right down to the "actively want to do things I don't usually enjoy" and being embarrassed about feeling like a teenager at what was in my case 30 years old.

I did two things that have made me feel a little more sane. First, I started writing a running list of times where either he did something that I thought was really a testament to his outstanding character, or when he did something that showed it was obvious he also really liked me. I read the list when I need to talk my anxious, overanalysing self off the ledge. (Added bonus: This list is also a great tool when you are mad at him!) The other thing I did, which was harder for me because I was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing, was that I told him how I felt. Including the fear, anxiety, needy part, and how embarrassed/uncomfortable all of this made me. Turns out he didn't freak out and run away, and I felt a lot better.

So yes, in my experience, this was "normal" (though seems to me that it might hit older and more analytical folks a little harder because we're used to having a little more control over our feelings) and it did largely go away as I felt more secure in the relationship.
posted by mjcon at 10:11 AM on May 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is my favourite brief page on limerence on the web. Just relax and enjoy (though try not to make any life-changing decisions until you have come back down to your regular orbit)...!
posted by kmennie at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2016

Will it go away? It's exhausting!

I guess my experience is a little different from most people's. I was going to say "bad news: it may not totally go away", but then I realized it isn't bad news per se. I got together with my husband 9 years ago, and I have felt the way you describe practically non-stop for most of that time. In fact, it kind of has gotten worse with time.

We have been married for seven years and I am still getting used to not feeling 100% self-reliant emotionally ( I feel needy sometimes and I hate it), which is insane because all my life I was willfully and happily heading to Crone Island. I always thought "lovesick" was quite a ridiculous way of talking about love until I actually felt literally sick with love and I guess I had to learn to live with chronic love sickness (excuse me while I try not to vomit).

So yes, seven years married and I still giggle like an imbecile, do mental gymnastics to adapt every romantic song I like to our story, etc. At staff meetings at work sometimes I start doodling and end up writing his name with little hearts around it, and I am 32 years old. Every Monday when I get to the office I miss my husband so much I have to fight the urge to pretend I am sick so I can go home and hug my cat until he comes back. The good news is you kind of get used to it, and you learn to handle the fact that your soul mate (ugh) will sometimes be away from you and out in the real world, where idiots are driving and scary things happen. You learn to control these feelings and enjoy the good parts of being in love.

If you are used to being independent, self sufficient and in control of your emotions, this can be quite scary. I never lost my cool about anything until my husband showed up in my life. It's the trade off because the good parts of being in love (the good mood, being open to new things, being hopeful about the future, the intimacy of sharing your life with someone) cannot come unless you trust a person, and there is no way to actively trust someone without making yourself vulnerable emotionally.
posted by Tarumba at 1:17 PM on May 2, 2016 [8 favorites]

Nthing everyone above but especially Sara C. - just be honest with your fears but don't make a concern into A Big Thing. This is so exciting!
posted by getawaysticks at 1:46 PM on May 2, 2016

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