Falling in love is a death-defying act.
You’re head-over-heels, topsy-turvy, with zero gravity, zero certainty, and no way of knowing which way is up.
When you fall in love, you have no control, no grip, no balance. You’re vulnerable, powerless, dizzy, exposed. You don’t know how you’ll land, where you’ll land, or if you’ll land safely.
You take a chance when you fall in love. You throw caution to the wind. You leap and hope the net shall appear. You open your heart, cross your fingers, and hope not to die.
Falling in love is risky business and scary as fuck.
For a control freak with an anxious attachment style, falling in love always caused too much stress. Were those butterflies in my stomach or gastritis? Was my heart aflutter or was it anxiety? Was I high on life, or was it the weed calming me down? Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE, but I hated falling into it.
Love fucks with your head, and it’s not my imagination. According to science, falling in love causes all kinds of crazy changes in your brain chemistry, which Dr. Rosemary Guerguerian MD explains:
“When you first fall in love, your heart may also be pounding. You might have sweaty palms and nervous butterflies. You might feel exhilarated, elated, and full of energy. This is the effect of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter closely related to increased levels of dopamine. Norepinephrine controls the fight-or-flight response. It makes us hyperalert during times of stress–so you may notice you feel unable to eat or sleep. Love is a stress we actually crave and search for the world over.”
I’ve been in love enough times to know it’s an exquisite experience, but it’s also a trigger for hurt and rejection. This lead me to OCD-level worry and rumination: I wonder if he’s into me? I wonder if it will last? I wonder how he feels? I wonder if he’ll call? I wonder if I’ll ever stop wondering?
Even as the relationship started to develop, there’d be a whole new list of things to worry about: What if he loses interest? What if we don’t share the same goals? What if I’m honest and he thinks I’m nuts? What if he finds out I’m not perfect?
What I should’ve been wondering is: Where the hell was my self-worth?
Why was I so worried about someone liking me, when it should’ve been the other way around? Why was I allowing a guy to determine my value? Why was I waiting for someone’s approval, when all I had to do was give it to myself?
It took me until I was 51 to get married, and it took me about that long to understand the problem: When you lack confidence, when you question your worth, and when you look outside of yourself for validation, falling in love will always be frightening.
And if you’re still nervous or fearful after the initial love high wears off, if you’re still in fight or flight mode and your heart’s still pounding as the relationship goes on, you’re either with the wrong person, in the wrong relationship, or you need to talk to me.
Falling might be scary as fuck, but landing should be as uneventful as hell. It took work on myself and a good man to tell you this is true. No one should feel unsafe, and no one’s palms should be sweating beyond the first few weeks of a new relationship.
Whether you’re dating, in a relationship, married, or in the middle of a break-up, having a strong safety net of self-worth underneath you will save the day. Having your own sense of security is what will bring calm and stability into your partnership, or single life.
The truth is, there are no guarantees when it comes to love. We all take our chances; we throw caution to the wind and leap.
Love should not feel like a high-wire act. It shouldn’t give you gastritis or anxiety or make you need a bong hit just to deal. It shouldn’t make you question yourself or worry incessantly. When I finally met and married someone who accepted my neuroses and imperfections after being honest with it all, it all became clear AF:
If you accept yourself first, and your partner does too, you know you fell for the right person.