Finding Life Balance in the Swirl of New Love
I’m in a new relationship. And it is awesome. We are having four, five, six dates a week, cooking each other meals, and learning all about each other. In other words, it’s quite delicious, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.
But what I’ve realized is that it is easy for me to get overwhelmed by the boatload of affection and attention that’s being now being directed at me, and also the radical way my life has changed in terms of how I spend my time. Previously, I’d come home and do my own thing; I’d do some chores or write or watch Parks and Recreation. Now I spend a lot of that time with Captain Sexy, which feels really good, but I’m realizing some desire for balance.
And so, in good Eve Elena fashion, I will now write a tutorial I wish I had on how to navigate this situation with grace and spirit and aplomb.
Ideas For Finding Life Balance in the Swirl of New Love
1) Acknowledge to yourself what’s going on. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or out of balance, the first step is to admit it. Don’t just think it (it’s too easy to brush away those thoughts); write it down in a journal, talk about it with a friend, or discuss it with a counselor like I did. My life coach brought to my attention how I appeared to be bowing to my “social” self while ignoring the wishes of my “essential” self, leading to discord.
My social self told me that I had should spend the vast majority of my free time with Captain Sexy, even if it meant sacrificing much-needed sleep or previous leisure activities, or things would go south. This was not because the Captain indicated as much; it was based on old, outdated insecurities of mine. The social self keeps you in line with the outside world’s rules and regulations, and it has its place, but listening to it exclusively can lead you into a hollow shell of an existence. My essential self, meanwhile, was piping up that she would enjoy some more alone time and time with platonic friends to balance out her life, in addition to plenty of quality time with the sexy Captain, and that this would ultimately benefit the relationship.
So ask yourself what is driving your behavior in the relationship, and if it’s your social self to the exclusion of your essential self, see what you can do to even out the balance and speak up for your individual, innermost desires, even if they fly in the face of what society thinks you’re “supposed” to want.
2) Thank you gets you more. Thus saith one of my inspirations, Regena Thomashauer of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, a New York City-based school that teaches women to explore their pleasure in every facet of their lives. Her point is that it’s too easy to take in lots of good things in your life without acknowledging them, and eventually you can get over-full and cranky, often without knowing why. Whereas expressing gratitude acts like digestion, allowing you to take in more goodness.
When there is a boatload of goodness being delivered to me daily, it’s useful for me to double down on my practice of gratitude, for my sake as well as the Captain’s. So that means gratitude lists, acknowledging how sweet it is to other people (instead of minimizing it so as not to call attention to myself), and most of all expressing my pleasure, enjoyment, and thankfulness to my sweetheart for all the excellent things he says, does, and brings into my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
3) Take sex at your own pace. Sometimes people rush into intercourse because they they’re too uncomfortable talking about other, potentially less intense acts they might explore as they get to know each other. You don’t have to be those people if you don’t want to. Me, I like to ease into sex, so at the point where we decide to have intercourse it’s not some radical departure from our previous romps.
Starting the conversation about sex can feel quite vulnerable and awkward at first. I encourage you to get the ball rolling; one you’ve begun the conversation, it will set a precedent for open sexual communication in your relationship, building a foundation you can benefit from as long as you’re together.
Say what you enjoy sexually, and ask them what they like. Talk about protection, possibly getting tested before swapping too many bodily fluids. Talk about consent and what it means to you. Suss out each other’s feelings and philosophies about sex and what it means. In my experience, partners can be very receptive and glad you initiated these conversations, even if they felt new and unfamiliar in the beginning. Wanting this knowledge indicates that you are a) taking responsibility for your own health and pleasure and b) interested in theirs. Sexy, no?
4) Don’t abandon your previous life. Continue doing what brought you pleasure before this enticing new person entered your life. Yes, they’re awesome, they make you feel all tingly and you want to spend every minute cuddled in bed reading each other historical fiction out loud. Or whatever. But, if you’re like me, jumping ship on your own life, even for a little bit, will soon start to feel uncomfortable and unsustainable.
This goes back to negotiating the social/essential self tension; ultimately, you’ve just got to be you, and if you can’t be yourself in your relationship, what’s the point? So, claim an evening for yourself in which you go biking or watch cat videos or sequester yourself in your room with your toothpick model of the Lucitania, or whatever it is that gave you so much enjoyment before Honey Bear entered your life and do that, without guilt, knowing it will bring you back to yourself and make you a better partner, too.
5) Give up trying to control the situation and the other person. You knew it was futile, anyway, didn’t you? All you can control is yourself, and even that can be a challenge sometimes, given all the different forces at work within us. When I feel big feelings or find myself in unfamiliar (even if they’re desirable) circumstances, my impulse is sometimes to start attempting to micromanage the situation in an effort to ensure that I won’t get hurt. Resist. Allow yourself to stay in the present and enjoy what is going on.
A mentor of mine told me that discomfort is OK; it’s pain that you really need to heed. So, if all the exciting feelings are merely making you uncomfortable because they’re new, endeavor to move past the urge to control the situation so you can see what’s actually going on and appreciate it for what it is. Is it new? Yes. Can new feel strange? Yes. Can strange be good? You’re going to find out.
6) Practice transparency. Be honest with your partner about what’s going on with you. This is especially relevant if you’re having some adjustment issues, getting used to being in an intense partnership after years of being single and just casually dating like yours truly. Express yourself or else you may be prone to erupt Vesuvius-style at a later date.
Resist the urge to act like a Stepford wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner… would you want to be dating one? I thought not. It can be awkward, revealing my foibles, but ultimately I want to be with someone who sees and loves the whole package that is me. So, no time like the present to practice some transparency.
7) “The man who never gets carried away, should be,” -Malcolm Forbes. Sometimes, it’s cool to let go of one’s regularly scheduled stuff and go a little loopy in the name of this new love/lust/what have you. Did you spend eight hours sequestered in their apartment, making strudel and making out? Did you send each other 53 goofy texts today? Is your list of pet names growing embarrassingly long? Great. Let yourself relish it. This is such a juicy part of life. Allow yourself to fully soak it up. Enjoy!