Falling in love is such an amazing feeling isn’t it? The butterflies, the sparks, and the excitement of a new relationship – ahhhh! But what about the other sorts of feelings that come up when you start deeply connecting with someone and letting them into your world? It can be terrifying being that vulnerable with someone relatively new! People rarely talk about this side of falling in love. I wanted to paint a more realistic picture, share my own personal experience about falling in love as an adult, and give insight into what I’ve learned along the way.
Growing up, I was exposed to two polar opposite examples of love and relationships. The first kind, was one that many of us are familiar with; the Disney movie version where a beautiful damsel in distress is saved by a handsome prince. The story always goes something like this; love at first sight, followed by bad guys trying to break the couple a part, a dramatic rescue, and then they live happily ever after and ride off into the sunset…
The second kind, was my own reality – growing up with parents who had a tumultuous relationship. From a young age, I always knew that my parents were unhappy being married to one another. The resentment and frustration between the two of them was always there lingering… up until the day they got a divorce (25 years later), when I was a senior in high school. I never really grew up seeing my parents show genuine affection to one another, I never saw them work as a team, lift each other up, or have that twinkly look of adoration in their eyes. If they had an argument, fight or disagreement they never talked through it – they just gave up, walked away and added it to the already heaping pile of resentment between them. It wasn’t anything close to the whimsical and romantic dynamics I knew from my favorite movies, so as I got older, I became more and more confused on what a relationship – and love for that matter – actually looked like between an adult man and woman. Despite their relationship with each other, my parents poured so much love into my sister and me, and for that I am forever grateful. My dad actually just got remarried this past weekend in Hawaii and I could not be happier for him!
My mom raised me to be fiercely independent. She told me to never rely on a man, always make my own money, always have at least 1 separate bank account from my future spouse, and that if I ever wanted something – I could go out into the world and get it myself! Her advice has without a doubt played a huge role in my business success. But what about personal success? For most of my life, up until 2 years ago actually, I got so used to being fiercely independent and thinking I could do everything myself, that I never really let anyone – especially a man – fully in. I didn’t want to show a side of myself that I perceived as “weak.” It was until recently, that I realized being vulnerable, accepting + asking for help, and admitting you don’t know it all, is actually the opposite of weak. Being vulnerable is actually really f*cking hard and it’s what creates those deep, lasting connections with people. Being vulnerable allows you to live your most authentic life.
When I met my now boyfriend; Derek, I had finally gotten comfortable with being single and alone again (I had been in a long term relationship years prior.) I had stopped dating just to date, and I started to really enjoy my own company – every night was basically face masks and reality TV – aka heaven haha! So when I did meet Derek, it was a complete surprise and I was not expecting it at all (of course that’s how the universe works right? ;)) As cheesy as it sounds – he instantly blew me away. His presence, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his authenticity were so impressive – I had never met anyone like him! We both started falling for each other immediately, and as the weeks went on, our feelings progressed – and I began falling in love with him. I was floating – I felt like I was on cloud nine and I couldn’t have been happier. As even more time went on though, something strange started to happen within me; I started self-sabotaging. I started to play out this really negative internal dialogue and I had this sense of impending doom and fear that he’d leave me, and that I’d end up alone and heartbroken again. Just thinking about the possible pain that could happen and remembering how long it took me to heal from my last relationship, made me want to RUN FOR THE HILLS and hide! This whole new love thing completely and totally stressed me out – I felt paranoid and anxious. I felt guilty for feeling this way, confused – and totally out of sorts. My whole world, this safe new cocoon I had just built for myself prior to meeting Derek, had been turned upside down and invaded! I started to overthink everything and pick Derek and our entire relationship a part. It was like I was trying to find something wrong with him, so I didn’t have to fully connect, let him in, and open up the possibility of getting hurt again…
Thankfully, as time went on, I started trusting Derek more, trusting myself more, and trusting our relationship. He was really an angel during that rocky time, and unwavering in his love, patience and commitment to me. I had to remind myself that past relationships were just that – in the past, and I had no use for them in the present. I also had to tell myself that just because my parent’s relationship didn’t work out, didn’t mean that mine wouldn’t. I decided to really do some serious reflecting on all of my past traumas and experiences, face them head on, and learn from them. There is a lesson in everything if you look for it! BTW this is all wayyyy easier said than done – and TBH I’m still a work in progress, but aren’t we all?
Falling in love brings up a LOT of emotions within us – both good and bad. Falling in love requires us to be vulnerable and open up to a partner – and yes, there’s a chance we could get hurt. It’s exciting, amazing, and special, but also scary, stressful, and uncertain all at once! (This podcast episode from Goop perfectly explains it – highly recommend listening.) Here’s my advice if you’re feeling scared, going through the same thing, or having trouble connecting…. First, just accept and acknowledge that there will be a wide range of emotions when it comes to love. Try and think about each emotion as you’re experiencing it individually, and really ask yourself where that feeling could be coming from – is it directly from your partner’s actions, or could it be something that is unresolved from your past? Remind yourself that no breakup is ever a failure – it’s only a learning experience propelling you in the direction you’re actually supposed to go in. It’s all about mindset, and giving yourself those much needed positive pep talks until your thought pattern starts changing and you start trusting more. Third, talk to someone about your feelings! A friend, a family member, and/or a therapist. I can’t say enough good things about therapy! Lastly, read any or all of these Brene Brown books; Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection, and Rising Strong. Brene’s books, along with these books, have helped me tremendously!
I would love to hear if you’ve experienced anything similar, can relate, and/or what helped you open up more! <3