The early “romance phase” should be renamed the “romance haze”
For the month of January 2005, a theme about falling in love emerged with my clients. I’ve heard it described as bliss, enmeshment, as if we are the same person, as if we are one, etc. And, of course, your friends wonder where you went. I once heard a professor say that falling in love was a bit like a psychotic break. Now, I won’t go that far but I will say it can be a bit of an altered state of consciousness.
I entitled this months E-zine the way I did because I keep seeing clients in a fog (haze) as they have the experience of falling in love. I’ve seen it so many times over the years and the hard part for me is when the client is disillusioned after the initial romance phase. They end up in shock when the person turns out to be different than originally imagined. And it’s that word “imagined” that’s the key here. We often imagine people to be who we want them to be by seeing the best in them and ignoring what might not be a good fit. At the same time, that person may be putting their best self forward to the point that you don’t interact with their true self. It isn’t exactly lying to you, but on a deep level it is misleading, much like your denial of their darker aspects is misleading yourself.
The danger in not choosing wisely is the bad breakup after falling madly in love. So, you have to be on the lookout for your own denial and minimization of who the other really is, as well as making sure the other person is not only putting their best face forward. One way to check yourself is to be mindful enough to notice if there are any fatal flaws, such as uncontrollable anger, substance dependence, etc. You have to notice this before you risk moving forward into intimacy and sexuality, because that can put you into the haze when your heart opens. Another safety check is to have friends meet the person and give you direct and honest feedback about what they see. And, finally, be on the lookout for the other person’s authenticity/congruence and for their consistency. Also, review the article on my Website about Choice Partnering and make sure you are not going down a relationship path with someone that does not meet your minimal criteria.
In summary, be mindful, ask yourself about what doesn’t match, ask your friends, check the other person’s authenticity, do varied activities together and meet their friends and family too. That is, be friends first. The goal is to watch out for the haze and be mindful and get multiple sources of feedback.
It’s not my intention to have this be a negative or bad experience, just a mindful one, because you can go unconscious and miss things and then go down the intimacy path with the person and end up close to someone who is a bad match and then you have to go through another difficult breakup.
Thanks again to my amazing clients that keep teaching me things like this.
Copyright © 2005 Russell Wilkie, MFT