Each of us can recall those first giddy feelings of love we experienced in our teen years. How our hearts fluttered like a swarm of butterflies at the sight of our crush and how we wandered through life in a dreamy fog for days on end. Ahhh…swoon!
Here’s the thing; those giddy feelings aren’t just for teenagers. For many adult daters, it’s quite common to fall blissfully head-over-heels with someone new quite quickly. This can be the result of shifting hormones, desiring some excitement after the heartache of divorce, a need for commitment, really meeting your soul mate, or a number of things. However, as fully-grown adults, the stakes are higher and the consequences of lightning-fast love can be more serious if not handled well. While I don’t want to stifle your fun, there are some ways to follow your heart but take your brain along for the ride, too!
Despite an immediate connection, allow the relationship time to unfold. These days, many people use online dating as a means to meet new people. I am a firm believer in the usefulness of these sites! However, one thing I’ve witnessed is that meeting online can create a false sense of intimacy. You read a profile that paints an amazing picture of someone so you already have an idea formed of who they are before ever speaking to them. Through this process, you might discuss “deeper” subjects sooner than you would had you met this person in line at the grocery store. Talking in-depth with someone about who they think they are does not equate to truly knowing them. Knowing a person’s true character only comes as a result of spending time with them over the course of days, weeks and months in a variety of situations. Don’t fall in love with the idea of someone, fall in love with who they really are!
In addition to giving the relationship time to unfold, make sure you follow common-sense safety practices. This goes for both men and women! Be careful of the personal information you share with anyone new. Meet in a public place the first several meetings; tell at least one friend where you are going and check in with them a few times through the night, especially once you are home safely. In addition, you have every right to look this person up online. Public records, court records, and sites like LinkedIn can verify this person is who they say they are. And it goes without saying, never “loan” money to someone you don’t know!
Maintain some normal routines. Yes, I totally get it, the two of you are love-struck and want to spend as much time together as possible. However, you are both grown-ups and have existing responsibilities. Your children, your career, your friends, your home are all priorities. Allow this new person to blend into your life rather than take it over. An approach like this is smart for a few reasons. One, you won’t neglect your priorities, causing unnecessary stress should the relationship not work out. Two, a person who sees you as a long-term partner understands that you have existing responsibilities. A person who pushes you to ignore other important areas in your life? Take that as a giant red flag!
Also, when children are involved, use a lot of caution and grown-up judgment before introducing them to this new person. The younger they are, the more caution, but even teenagers need consideration and time to warm up to seeing mom or dad with someone new. Make sure this new person is worthy of meeting your kids and intends on becoming part of your life before making introductions. As mentioned above, let this relationship unfold a bit before you start playing “happy family”. Time is your best friend in this situation!
Stay grounded and breathe! Keeping connected to your physical body helps to keep you from living only in the space of your heart and emotions. During this swirl of excitement, take a few minutes several times a day to be totally physically present. One easy exercise to try is to stand up, plant your feet firmly on the floor, and take a few very deep breaths. Imagine that “roots” are extending from your feet, through the floor, and into the ground. Visually secure these roots into the core of the earth and tether yourself. It may sound a little woo-woo to some of you, but it does help to maintain grounded-ness!
Cheers to new love and smart dating! Do you have a story about how you navigated the excitement of new love and kept your sanity? Share in the comments below!
Kelsey Foster is a dating coach and author based in Edmonds. She helps smart singles date with confidence and success! Her website is https://www.kelseyfoster.com.