Have you ever had that experience where your opinion of a partner does a complete 180 over the course of a few months? You know the one - you’re head over heels with them, they’re the best thing since sliced bread, they can do no wrong, you’re dreamily imagining your wedding…and a year or so later you’re racking your brains trying to remember what on earth you saw in that pig?
Well, it often happens because lots (and lots!) of human brains are total love junkies. And these junkie brains are prone both to shoving people into totally inappropriate relationships and to ruining promising relationships by taking things too fast.
Seriously, love is just as addictive as heroin (if not more). Love, attraction, and physical intimacy release hormones like oxytocin, adrenaline, and dopamine in your brain. That’s a pretty potent cocktail - and it’s also pretty much exactly what other addictive substances are giving your grey matter.
Once you get that initial rush of reciprocated attraction, your brain launches itself down a slippery and very fast slope to full blown addiction. And what it’s addicted to is your new partner (or crush). That’s why breakups are so painful. You’re not just heartbroken - you’re in withdrawal.
My point here is that an addicted brain will do anything to get its love high, including hiding your new partner’s faults from you and pushing you to move the relationship along in order to increase the ‘hit’.
This isn’t to say that romantic love is a bad thing. Far from it! But if you’ve got a pattern of wrecking promising relationships by moving too fast, it might be worth treating love in the same way that many people treat alcohol: enjoy it in moderation, treat it with respect, find a healthy balance which lets you get the best out of it, and remember that bingeing on it can do serious damage.
I know, I know - easier said than done! If you’re a slave to your love-junkie brain, here are some brief practical tips which might help you to take relationships at the right pace.
Let your partner know that you’d like to take things slowly, and why. Explain your history of rushing things. Make it clear that if you deliberately take some space it’s not because you’re ghosting them, it’s because you think it’s worth building the relationship on strong and rational foundations. If they don’t understand your reasoning or appreciate your honesty…well, you know what to do.
Enjoy the moment
Rather than always leaping ahead to future plans, try and focus on the moment. Enjoy what you have in the present. Concentrating on what you are experiencing with your partner right here, right now will also help you to truly understand the way that they truly do make you feel (as opposed to the way they could make you feel).
Get to truly know your new partner
Love-addicted brains will attempt to drown any less-than-perfect impressions of your new partner in a chemical swamp of love-hormones. Try and work around this by asking questions about things that are important to you (and otherwise working on getting to properly know them as a person as well as a lover). If it helps, write down your impressions and come back to them after a short interval. Remember, the high of initial love will eventually wear off, and then any incompatibilities which seem trivial when you’re ‘high’ will become a lot more important.