Look Beyond Simply Falling When it Comes to Love

By Jennifer Battisti

While steeped in the dopamine ether of new love, it can be easy to get swept up by the intensity of chemistry and connection. New love is wildly exhilarating. You forget to eat, you stare out windows with a goofy grin on your face. Your partner is every song on the radio. You are full of energy and positivity. New love is cunning and powerfully biological. This is where reason and experience are helpful. Loving a person’s soul and loving a person’s circumstances are two very different things.

Relationships are a lot like a wishbone that a couple attempts to split, but what sometimes happens is someone gets the bigger portion. Someone needs more support, more healing, more assurance that they will not be rejected. And then sometimes the other person, without realizing it, takes less of the wishbone. They decide to need less. To speak their needs less. To compromise their values.

The first problem with this is two broken people do not make a whole person. The second problem is people cannot fix other people. They can support and influence with their kindness and empathy. They can show by example what self-care looks like, but healing one’s soul is an inside job.

The danger in entering a relationship with someone who is not ready to be in a relationship is that we run the risk of depleting our own energy supply to assist with theirs. If neither party is ready, then it’s double the danger as both will be deluded into the idea they can “save” each other.

…two broken people do not make a whole person.

I think as women we can still be influenced by the gendered expectation to be nurturing caregivers. This can be amplified if we are still healing from a loss or have a void that our now grown children used to fill. We may confuse love with pity. We may mistake a red flag for a matador cape and use it as a way to prove our altruism, or worse, unconsciously make another dependent on us to secure we will not be abandoned. I know, this sounds awful! But wait, can we go back to the gooey, magnetic new love feeling, which has a way of distracting us from our actual ideals for a partner and a partnership? It can be tempting to just fall in love, to bend and change and accommodate for love. I have been a victim to the spell of neurotransmitters, the thrill of admiration. But we break a different kind of wishbone within ourselves when we do not speak clearly our expectations in a relationship.

Many of us are driven, successful, confident women, but put a wounded potential partner in front of us and we will dim our lights to feed their egos. That wishbone is our source, our integrity and it is precious. It is likely the very thing that attracted them to us. The risk is, of course, having to walk away from a relationship or potential one that does not serve us. This is a leap of faith.

Communicating about your intentions and your needs feels like a buzzkill in the delirium of new love, but what it can build is the foundation for the rest of a healthy partnership. Lean into the discomfort of those uncomfortable but crucial conversations. It is much more difficult to dismantle a toxic relationship later, and the one relationship we must work on for the rest of our lives, is the one with ourselves. It is braver to stand in love, in truth, than to simply fall.