The Love Hangover: The price for euphoria
It’s happened, you’re in love! You’ve found your soulmate, the one. Life is complete. And it’s as good as you ever dreamed it could be. This person is…different.
It doesn’t matter that they don’t match your sensible must-haves-in-a partner list. Or that friends and family have concerns. This person is special. You don’t know what it is about them, but you feel like there is something special there, something that supersedes rational thought.
And there is. It’s an involuntary chemical cocktail of hormones: testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. It’s a euphoric emotional storm that has provided an endless muse for poets, artists and songwriters—and for the rest of us, a strong feeling of love and desire unlike we’ve ever had before.
But, like any cocktail, all those good vibes don’t come for free.
Welcome to the love hangover. Suddenly being away from that person is unbearable. You are consumed with thoughts of your next meeting with them. You can’t focus. The withdrawal begins. You start overanalyzing. You begin overthinking text silence or unreturned phone calls, overplaying scenarios in your head. Their absence sends you into paranoia or panic. You’re acting out of character—and you know it. But that desire for ‘just one more taste’ throws all rational thought out the window.
When the predictable end happens and you start to sober up, it can feel like waking up from a bad dream; was that you? How did you let yourself get so wrapped up in someone so wrong for you? Maybe not for the first time. Can your head and heart ever agree?
THE WISE MIND
In dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) there is the concept of marrying our rational head, with our emotional heart into the Wise Mind. Here’s how it works:
Our Rational Mind is governed by logic, understands cause and effect, is non-emotional and makes decisions based on sound reasoning (like a must-have-in-a-partner list). On the other hand, Emotion Mind is, as you can imagine, a wild ride on the emotional sea–the butterflies, the excitement…the jealousy, the anxiety. Some people live the bulk of their lives in one or the other. But what we want to be working towards is Wise Mind.
Wise Mind marries the Rational with the Emotional. This means taking an action that honours how you feel, but simultaneously respects your rational wisdom. Sometimes this is described as our gut feeling or inner voice that ‘knows better’. Very easy to ignore when we are under the influence. It is a twofold process: taking action, that is in your best interest. Wise Mind feels good—we don’t just think we are doing the right thing, we feel it.
In a relationship this could look like:
- Setting and respecting healthy boundaries
- Addressing red or orange flags
- Walking away from people who do not align with your values
- Genuinely hearing and considering concerns of caring family or friends
- Talking to your spouse about difficulties instead of having an affair
- Spending time with people other than your partner in healthy ways
- Respecting the other person’s right and need to spend time with other people
- Finding support or resources to leave an abusive relationship
- Not making excuses for unhealthy behaviour–in yourself or your partner
- Maintaining your own interests and pursuits outside the relationship
- Learning how to build and be open to real intimacy
- Getting outside feedback/support if you’re not clear-headed about it
- Treating each other with respect
- Honouring and taking care of yourself
Of course, there will be times where we regret not following our heart—or times where we think we should have known better—but at the end of the day, it is a journey. Your journey. And if your journey includes chemical cocktails, cheers. But remember, cocktails are best enjoyed in moderation.
If you think you’re in a pattern where it feels like you’re dating the ‘same’ person repeatedly, or you’ve already checked your messages multiple times this hour, or you just can’t seem to get to that Wise Mind space, let’s chat. Sometimes an outside perspective can help us find that middle path.