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From a date to a relationship

Lovestruck

You’ve lost your appetite, your knees are weak and you’ve got that floating feeling ... Congratulations, you’re in love! Find out more about the condition - and glean some tips from Parship’s psychologist Nicole Schiller.

Lovestruck

Catherine (33), a book editor, has a faraway look in her eyes and she seems to be glowing from within. Her girlfriends say she’s looking like a teenager. Catherine’s in love and she’d rather focus on Mike (38), a man she met on Parship, than eat, sleep or think about anything too demanding.

Giant butterflies in your stomach
When you’re in love, you are in thrall to a force of nature. Never has life seemed more worth living. What happens is that a heady cocktail of natural hormones turns you into a borderline psychiatric case for up to three months before your body chemistry go back to normal. Being in love feels so good that some people seek to stay on a high by seeking out a succession of new partners - but the trouble is that each time they end up falling off Cloud Nine.

When we’re in love, we put the other person on a pedestal and ignore any negatives, but when we come to our senses we need to decide whether we are prepared to make compromises - to tolerate the faults that this person inevitably has - for the sake of being with them. It’s at that point, when the butterflies have calmed down a little, that the relationship really starts. This is the point where you find out whether the two of you can really work together at building something worthwhile.

Love is blind
“Enjoy being in love,” advises Parship psychologist Nicole Schiller. “But when you’re on a high, don’t make any major decisions about the future.”

It’s important every now and then to try and get your feet back on the ground. Examine your feelings and try to see how deep they go. Do the two of you have the same vision for your life - do you share aims, desires and dreams? And does your new love match the image that you have built in your head. “When we come back down to earth,” explains Schiller, “it often bothers us that the other person is not what we thought.” Another point worth considering: is the other person really what you are looking for, or is it just that you are in the mood for falling in love?

When it doesn’t work
In the time he’s been online dating, Edward (34) has, as he admits, fallen for a number of women - but the relationships have never lasted. Imogen (40), on the other hand, complains that she would love to fall in love, but it’s never happened, “because the right man hasn’t come along”.

Nicole Schiller has a view on these syndromes: “The possibility of love is there, but if you find that it never happens, or that it is always over too quickly, maybe it’s time to take a close look at yourself.”

The cause might well be a fear of commitment, of being dependent on someone, of being intimate with them. Or it could be that you haven’t got over a past relationship. It is only normal - and healthy - to harbour some uncertainties when you are letting a new person into your life. If you need a little time to get used to an idea, you are taking a more grounded approach than someone who acts on the spur of the passionate moment. This more cautious mindset will stand you in good stead for building a relationship that lasts beyond the first flush of excitement.

Love finds a way
“It was as if Mike and I had known each other for years,” says Catherine, also admitting that she had actually fallen in love with Mike after the first few emails.

Can there really be chemistry on the basis of an online profile, a few emails and a photo? It’s difficult to say, because both novelty and familiarity play their part in the process of falling in love. You might feel comfortable with another person, and warm towards them, because they remind you of someone close to you, but a prospective partner is also like a new country waiting to be discovered. It might be tempting, but don’t rush into anything. You might feel ready to make an exuberant declaration of love, but you can’t make any assumptions for the other person. What you can do is to keep an eye out for signs that he or she wants to take things further. And if it all works out well, you could look forward to booking a table for two on Cloud Nine.

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