But Sometimes the Intensity is Hard to Handle – The Dark Side of New Relationship Energy.

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A couple of months ago I wrote about New Relationship Energy and the wonderful things that it can bring to our lives. However, there is a dark side to all that intense emotion. It can also lead to anxiety and even obsession. So this month I’m going to explore the darker side of New Relationship Energy.

As with all things an energy as intense as NRE is going to come with some challenges. This post is a guide to help you navigate that intensity before it gets out of hand.

In the throws of a new relationship it is totally normal for you to think about him a lot. Sometimes an image, a smell, or a memory of him bring a smile to your face. But what to do if those thoughts impact your ability to function.

If you can’t get him off your mind you’re moving into obsession. You begin to fantasize about him. Perhaps even imagining conversations. When you see him you likely project those fantasies onto him. You see a version of him that isn’t him at all. This isn’t the same as the idealized version that comes with a new relationship. Over time your version of him may not resemble him at all.

If you recognize that you’re starting to obsess the best thing to do is enforce some clean thinking. Stop imagining him, look at pictures instead. Rather than conversations in your head, have real ones. Even text interactions can keep you grounded. Push yourself to have real-world interactions until your feelings calm.

The earlier you catch yourself obsessing, the better. One of the warning signs that your excitement is out of balance is if you can’t stop talking about him. Perhaps your affair feels more like a crush than a relationship.

Another, less troublesome emotion related to NRE is anxiety. This shows up as an inner dialogue that’s something like “He’s so great, does he really like me”. Some of this is perfectly normal, but when it starts to feel like panic it’s time to get hold of yourself.

The best way to deal with anxiety is to talk to someone who can give you perspective. A good friend who can see what’s really going on. Sometimes he’s the right person to talk to, but only if the anxiety is mild. There’s nothing wrong with communicating your needs if they’re reasonable. But, make sure that what you ask for isn’t too much at this point in the relationship. Again, someone to run your ideas by can really help.

These were hard won lessons for me. A number of years ago I was in a long distance relationship and let myself spin out of control. It destroyed the relationship and resulted in a lot of heartache. I learned from that experience and now, even in the midst of enforced separation, my feelings for my new man are in balance.

Any negative emotion can spin out of control in the midst of the intensity of a new relationship. If your feelings seem to be controlling you, it’s time to look at them. Much of what you feel is a reaction to the powerful hormones that come with new love. It’s your job to recognize that you’re headed into the danger zone and do something about it. Once you’re stable again you’ll be able to enjoy all the good things that come with a new bond.