"Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires." – François de La Rochefoucauld
Let me start with a confession.
My previous two relationships went from being strangers to living together two months later.
How in the world did this happen? Were we madly in love? Or were we fooled by chemicals?
As humans, we pursue the wrong kind of chemistry. We want relationships to be explosive and exciting like fireworks instead of steady and comforting like a bonfire.
When we start a new relationship, our brain releases the same kind of chemicals that are released when you use cocaine. Your decision making while under this influence is unreliable. It's impossible to practice discernment.
In the words of an article which coined the term “intimacy bubble” from the long-defunct xoJane.com:
"Don't fall for the intimacy bubble. It is real. It is dangerous and any assumptions you are making are coming from the fact that you are in THE ZONE. You are not necessarily cock-drunk, but you likely are oxytocin-fucking-stupid.”
And that's how I ended up cohabitating with a stranger after two months, only to break up and then make the same mistake six months later with someone else.
We confuse motion with action. We move so quickly up the relationship escalator, not realizing that we are rapidly climbing to the top of the wrong building.
This isn't surprising.
If you're only staring into each other's eyes, how can you tell where you are going?
In “Wind, Sand, and Stars”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” I've seen this pan out with my own happily married friends. When I ask what it was like meeting their spouse, they all tell me how they would hang out and spend hours talking. Whether they spent those hours side-by-side at a bar or a few steps apart on a hiking trail, the common factor is looking in the same direction and facing the world together. It's a stark contrast to the commonplace societal projection of grand gestures and flowers and boom boxes outside of windows.
My takeaway for my next relationship?
I want to coax an ember into a bonfire, instead of lighting off bottle rockets.