By Ashley Laderer, Contributor
When you’re in the beginning stages of a relationship, it’s easy for everything to seem perfect and for your partner to appear flawless. You probably romanticize everything they do and can’t get them out of your head. “Early feels” are usually characterized by a whole lot of infatuation, and it can be difficult to distinguish if what you feel is the “real deal.”
The beginning of a relationship is likely when you feel the most chemistry drawing you and your partner together, making you feel like you’re on cloud nine. The struggle for an ongoing relationship that lasts – the real deal – is finding a balance between chemistry and consistency to keep the relationship strong. But how do you determine if what you’re feeling is more than just sparks and if it’s a relationship worth pursuing?
Once the newness and excitement dies down, you’ll likely be able to see a clearer picture of your future (or lack thereof) with your partner. That being said, it might not be possible to really know if what you’re feeling is the real deal while you’re still in the honeymoon phase…because those puppy love feelings and sparks can – and will – blind you.
“There are some people who are able to have perspective during the honeymoon phase,” Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D. says, “However, for most, this period is characterized by so many intense emotions it can be hard to really determine what is infatuation and what is legitimate connection.”
O’Neill’s advice for those of us who struggle with figuring out if our relationship could be the real deal is to simply stay in the moment, which of course is easier said than done.
“In my work with clients, I work to help them stay moment-to-moment focused,” she shares. “You don’t necessarily have to know whether or not this is the real deal or whether it will go the distance. Instead, focus on enjoying the experience as it occurs.”
Plus, the honeymoon phase is one you should want to enjoy and when living in the moment makes sense. Soak up all the happy feelings, be a sappy romantic, and allow yourself to fall. You don’t have to know right away or early on in a relationship if it’s going to be long lasting or serious.
Oftentimes, it can take months of really being with a person to get a better idea of your compatibility and figure out if you really do see a future together. Anybody can fall in “love” at first sight and get swept off their feet and think they’ve met their future spouse…but as time goes on, they may realize their initial feelings didn’t last.
“Infatuation is common during the early stages of a relationship. Because of this, it can be difficult to sort out infatuation from deeper feelings,” O’Neill explains. “Do you share similar values? Do you have similar communication styles? Do you feel heard and validated by your partner? These questions can help determine if your feelings of infatuation might be the real deal.”
Finding the true answers to those questions isn’t something that’s going to happen during the first few dates. While you may not want to “waste time” with someone if you aren’t sure it’s going to work out, exploring the relationship and your compatibility is something that’s going to take time, and there’s no set amount of time that’ll make you sure of the relationship.
Every relationship has a different timeline simply because everybody’s different! It can take some people a lot longer to really open up in order to be vulnerable and let their partner get to know them. It might even take some hardships or arguments to figure out how your communication styles match up. Sometimes you see someone’s true colors when conflict arises.
Conflict can either make your relationship feel more secure and confirm that you’re experiencing the real deal, or it can break your relationship and make you realize that this isn’t the right fit for you.
When you’ve found someone who your really connect with your relationship will last long past the honeymoon phase. Struggles you face together as a couple will make you stronger, and the time that passes will help you bond, even though sparks may not fly as they did when you first met. So when you’re asking yourself if it’s “early feels” or the real deal, be patient, because it’s going to take you some time to figure out. In the meantime, enjoy the journey.
Originally published on Talkspace.
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