I am the king of psyching myself out. And I have an acute fear of success. (opens in new tab) These two things result in the sabotage of a lot of would-be relationships.
This self-sabotaging is actually very common. The more serious a relationship gets, the more energy and investment you put into it, the more you risk — and fear — failure.
That fear is a defense mechanism. Despite our quest for love, we're scared of it (opens in new tab) and often try to control our feelings in an effort to minimize the chances of a broken heart.
There are a list of "rules" people use to control love and dating. Here are a few:
The Timing Must Be Right
I used to think I had to be with someone for a certain amount of time — usually six months — before I could agree to a relationship. This may have stunted something that could have been meaningful. It's not possible to control your feelings when it comes to love.
There shouldn't be a time limit or required amount of time. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen whether you like it or not.
Men equate marriage with the end of personal growth. (opens in new tab) In other words, remaining single will give you more ability to move to a new town (opens in new tab), or test out different careers, and develop as a person. This may be true, but in a healthy marriage, both individuals are able to grow while remaining a team. (opens in new tab)
Of course, it's easier to be mobile when you're not married. And you never want to look back and say "What if I had tried this?" But you don't want to let that special person get away. (opens in new tab) It may be worse to look back and say: "What if I still had that person in my life?"
When you start a new relationship, you want to see each other all the time. In the back of your mind, you tell yourself to temper the time you spend together to avoid relationship burnout. (opens in new tab)
But, if your feelings are destined to burn out, they'll burn out regardless of how much you hang out with each other. (opens in new tab)
The healthiest approach is to do what your feelings tell you to do: Hang out as much as you want to hang out with that significant other. At some point, your friends may say something, or you may miss your friends. (opens in new tab) If you're in a healthy relationship, you'll be able to spend time apart when the time is right.
These rules are classic cases of head vs. heart. You could be disappointed if you listen to either — you could miss out on something special if you listen to your head, but you could miss out on certain experiences if you listen to your heart. I've always lived by my heart's rules, but there's no right answer.
What are your thoughts on the above, and what other "practical" rules do you try to apply to relationships?
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