NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Falling In Love With Love: Have You Rushed Into a Relationship Too Quickly?

One of the main reasons why people often feel disappointed in love is that they've rushed into a relationship before they really knew their partner.  This is often called "falling in love with love" (see my article:  Dating vs Being in a Relationship).

Falling In Love With Love

Early on, before you know the other person, you might be tempted to "fill in the blanks" with romantic fantasies about who this person is before you've taken the time to get to know him or her, especially when there's a strong sexual attraction or when you've missed being in a relationship for a while.

These romantic fantasies are often unconscious, so you might not even realize that you're creating "castles in the sky" until you're hit with a reality that's completely different from your fantasy.

At that point, rather than coming to grips with the fact that they've created this fantasy in their mind, many people feel disillusioned.

There's no doubt that, in addition to fantasies, potential romantic partners sometimes present themselves as being different from who they really are.

Let's take a look at a fictionalized vignette, which is a composite of many cases with all identifying information changed:

When Mary met Bill, she had been very lonely for a while.  She had been out of her prior relationship with her fiancĂ©, John, for two years.

Mary and John, had been together for several years, starting in their senior year of college, and they planned to get married.  But, several weeks before the wedding, John ended the relationship abruptly, telling Mary that he wasn't ready to get married.  Mary was devastated.

A year after the breakup, Mary decided, somewhat reluctantly, to start dating again.  She dated many men that she met online, but her experiences were mostly disappointing, and she began to worry that he might not meet anyone else that she liked.

Then, Mary met Bill at a friend's party, and they hit it off immediately.  From the evening they met, they spent most of their time together.  After a couple of months, Mary began fantasizing about getting married to Bill, who was so handsome and charming.  She couldn't believe how happy she felt, especially after she spent so much time feeling lonely and disappointed after the breakup with John.

So, two months after they met, when Bill told her that his lease would be up soon and he suggested that they move in together, Mary was delighted to invite Bill to move into her apartment.   Mary's best friend told Mary that she thought it was too soon to move in together.  But Mary was sure that it felt right, so she helped Bill to move in with her a few weeks later.

At first, Mary and Bill were thrilled to be living together.  Mary was convinced, at that point, that they would probably get married within the next year or so.

But after a few weeks, Mary noticed something that concerned her.  She began to see Bill's mail from collection agencies.  When she asked him about it, he brushed it off at first.  But when Mary persisted, Bill admitted that he owed over $100,000 in credit card debt, and he also owed the IRS another $25,000 in unpaid taxes.  Then, he admitted to her that he expected to have his paycheck garnished and he wouldn't be able to pay his half of the rent.

Mary was shocked, angry and deeply disappointed that Bill had never mentioned this to her before.  It was obvious that he knew about the upcoming garnishments before he moved in with her, and he also knew that he wouldn't be able to contribute to the rent.  But he didn't bother to tell her.  She also felt manipulated.

When Mary demanded to know why Bill didn't tell her beforehand about his financial problems, Bill told her that she was being insensitive to his needs.  From his perspective, he was under a lot of stress and Mary was making it even more stressful for him by making demands of him.  He told her to get off his back.

Mary couldn't believe that Bill, who, until recently, had been so kind and loving towards her was now treating her in this way.  She kept thinking to herself, "Who is this man?" and "How can this be the same person that I fell in love with?"

After that, Mary felt herself slipping into a depression.  She and Bill co-existed in the same apartment, but they barely spoke to one another.  When she tried to talk to Bill, he ignored her.  She knew he was avoiding her.  He stayed out late at night and he was hardly around on the weekend.

Mary wondered whether he had started seeing someone new.  So, one night when he wasn't around, she checked his email and found explicit, sexually charged emails, including photos, between Bill and an older woman.  Mary realized that Bill and this other woman were having a sexual affair.

As Mary continued to read the emails between Bill and this other woman, she began to feel dizzy.  She discovered that this woman was encouraging Bill to move in with her.  This woman also offered to take care of Bill's financial problems.

When Mary confronted Bill about the emails, he told her that he didn't love her any more, and he planned to move in with the other woman.  He didn't apologize or allow for any discussion.  Within a few days, he was gone.

After that, Mary began therapy to try to pick up the pieces of her life and to try to understand why she had such a hard time with her past two relationships.

As Mary began working through these issues in therapy, she realized that, even though they had dated for a few years, there had been "red flags" all along about John that she ignored. She also realized that she had never worked through her grief about this breakup.  Her unresolved grief and disappointment about her relationship with John helped to fuel her romantic fantasies about Bill, whom she didn't really know well before she got into a relationship with him.

Although the work was difficult at times, Mary learned to take her time to date men before she rushed into defining their status as being "in a relationship."

She learned to tolerate the ambiguity and doubt that comes with the early stages of dating until she could really get to know someone.

After dating the next man, that she liked, Vince, for a year, she and he agreed that they wanted to take things to the next level, a monogamous relationship.  Then, once again, she took her time to get to know Vince, making sure that she didn't ignore any potential "red flags," she and Vince moved in together after another year.  At that point, Mary and Vince had a happy, stable relationship.

Getting to Know Someone Before You Rush Into a Relationship
In life, none of us can avoid getting our feelings hurt or experiencing disappointment.  This is, unfortunately, a part of life.

But no one wants to go through the type of heartbreak that Mary went through in the fictionalized vignette above.

With self awareness and a degree of forethought, you can avoiding rushing into a relationship before you know the other person.

No doubt, there will be things that you'll learn about him or her after you've moved in together or gotten married.  But, hopefully, they won't be the kind of relationship-destroying things that Mary discovered after she really got to know Bill.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you have a tendency to get romantically involved too quickly, only to be heartbroken afterwards, you might have underlying issues that make getting involved too quickly so compelling for you.

If you've tried on your own, without success, to work through these issues, you could benefit from working with a licensed psychotherapist who has expertise in this area.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many people with unresolved trauma and relationship issues.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.