You’re head over heels in love and convinced you’ve found your soulmate. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s why.
You’ve fallen. Hard. Fast. And deep. And this time for someone who truly adores you. Appreciates you. Thinks you’re the greatest.
“Where has she been all this time, all this wasted time?” you ask yourself.
“Who cares!” you answer. “I’ve found her now—and she’s mine!”
Ordinarily excitement, enthusiasm, contentment, and delight are solid signs you’ve found a good match, someone you can be happy with and build a life with over the long term. But the line between genuine excitement and euphoria—that crazy, over-the-moon feeling—is thin, and there’s a reason ecstasy is the name of a drug. You may be singing from the mountaintop, but if you’re high on your partner, or rather on your partner’s addictive behavior, you’re actually in need of an intervention. But you won’t see any of this. You’ll only see that you’ve found the one. THE ONE. And you’ll be too busy thanking your lucky stars to notice the black hole you’re about to fall into.
If your partner exhibits all or most of the behaviors below, the chances are good you’re being played, by a charming narcissist or otherwise psychologically unstable person. So watch out for these five signs, especially if they’re grouped together. While I’ve written this for men seeking female partners, it applies regardless of gender or orientation.
1. She worships you. I don’t mean she digs you and thinks you’re terrific. I mean she thinks you walk on water. You’re perfect and can do no wrong. You know you’re not. Far from it. But it feels good to be put on a pedestal, doesn’t it? And you start to believe your shit doesn’t stink, until you and your clay feet come crashing to the ground. If she’s holding you up as a God-like human, you’re being set up to take a fall. Partners who start out worshipping often turn in a vicious 180-degree shift that leaves you cut off at the knees. Learn to distinguish genuine admiration for your good qualities and your actual accomplishments, which is always based on reality, from hollow praise unrelated to your character or your actions. A healthy partner will find fault with you where there’s fault to be found, and she’ll call you on your crap.
2. She always wants to be alone with you. So why, you ask, is this a problem? She loves you. She wants to be with you. And she wants to do stuff with you that lovers do … in private. That’s all well and good and sexy. But if her need to be with you competes with and isolates you from family and friends, if she insists that she’s all you need and vice versa, and if your efforts to maintain friendly ties and your social life are met with jealousy and upset, you’re dealing with an impeding disaster. A healthy relationship has room for other relationships that you consider important. If you’re hearing the words “I can’t live without you,” and experiencing the guilt they induce, remember that this person lived her whole life before she met you without you and survived just fine. A cage is a cage, even if the view is stunning and the bars are gold.
3. She wants the exact same future you do. You want the same style house. The same number of kids. The same names for your kids. The same pets—with the same names … and it’s only your first date. You’ve barely gotten to know each other, and you’ve already moved in together in your heads. The thing is, she’s so convinced, and convincing, that you’re the one for her, that she’s making you feel certain that she’s the one for you. This phenomenon is called mirroring, where you’re made to feel immediately and intimately connected because you have so much in common and share the same hopes and dreams. She likes everything you like, which means you like everything she likes, which means—you’re perfect for each other. Which means … slow … down. First of all, you don’t want to date or marry yourself. You’ll never learn anything, and you’ll never grow through challenge. Second, she’s your long lost twin, but someone who’s molding herself to you to make you more attracted. When the glue comes undone, you’ll find out what she really likes, which most likely includes manipulating you.
4. You’ll do anything for her. Wanting to make someone happy is one thing. When you’re in love, you go all out, push your limits, and stretch your resources to invest in the relationship. But if you’re falling all over yourself, trampling your own boundaries, and blowing through your bank account, it’s not a sign she’s the love of your life. It’s a warning that you’re willing to sacrifice your emotional health, your financial well-being, and even your self-esteem to be with this person. This happens because you believe she’s THE ONE, the only one, and you’re desperately afraid of screwing up and losing her. The truth is, the one for you (and I’m a believer that there’s more than one “one”), is the one who encourages a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. The one would not soak up your self sacrifice but see it as a red flag and tag you as a people pleaser. So yes, you’ll do anything, but always within reason.
5. The sex is mind-blowing and all about your needs. OK. If I meet someone like that, you say, I’d be a fool to let her go. You’d be a fool, all right, to believe that one way sex is long-term sustainable. Like the worship and the mirroring, all-about-your-pleasure sex, often combined with heaps of praise for your attractiveness (whether you’re hot or not), is the flypaper that gets you to stick and keeps you stuck by keeping a part of you stuck in a particular place, or places. An emotionally healthy partner makes her sexual needs and preferences known and expects you to be an equal partner in the bedroom. One-way sex may be intensely enjoyable, but it’s not intimate in the way that two people coming together to give each other mutual pleasure is intimate. I know, it hurts to walk away, but trust me, it will hurt more to stay, because the moment you displease her, all that mind-blowing sex will be withheld.
Love can feel giddy and unreal. But life is real and grounded. Relationships are real and messy and not always happy and never perfect.
You want respect, not worship.
You want to be in the world, not just her world.
You want a future, not a fantasy.
You want self-esteem, not self-sacrifice.
You want intimacy, not service.
You want the one, but not just the one. You want the one who is right for you, who will support and encourage you, challenge you, grow with you, flow with you, and most of all, keep it real.
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Photo– Lian Chang / Flickr