There is a certain indescribable excitement that consumes your mind when a new love interest appears. You go from a confident, level-headed woman, to a giddy, impractical girl who can’t figure out whether to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’. Despite the fun and intrigue of those early conversations, it is important to learn how to not get attached too quickly.
What does it mean if you get attached too easily?
Getting attached too quickly happens when your emotions overtake reality. Imagine putting down a deposit on a house and then planning exactly how to decorate it before any agreements or contract has come through. In some ways, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
This is how many of us approach dating. We attach ourselves to someone before the contract (or a level of certainty) has taken place.
There are a few reasons why this happens:
Anxious Attachment – One of four different attachment styles proposed by psychologists, people with an anxious attachment style tend to have a poor self-image. They often desire intimacy but worry that others will not meet their emotional needs. Their fear of abandonment can sometimes cause them to act clingy. Anxious attachment is developed in childhood, usually due to a lack of emotional affection.
Boredom – You’re in a boring job, spending your weekends doing the same tasks and activities, until one day a potential partner walks into your life. They seem to be the most interesting, exciting thing happening in your day-to-day, leading you to pin all your energy on them.
Fear – Most of us rely on our age to help us navigate our goals. Some of us want to achieve a certain income in our thirties, while others want to have a partner with kids. The desire to find someone by a certain age can make us attach ourselves too quickly.
Loneliness – You have a big heart and you’re desperate to share it with someone else. Loneliness can cause us to emotionally invest too soon.
Signs you get attached too easily
Wondering whether you show signs of over-attachment? The signs can include:
- Making someone your number one priority before you really know who they are.
- Quickly placing someone on a pedestal, re-arranging your schedule to suit them.
- Overanalysing and rethinking every interaction and conversation.
- Jumping straight in and ignoring major red flags.
Many of us adopt these signs because of what happens in our brains when we develop a crush. According to CNN, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is ignited during the first spark of attraction. Once ignited, the VTA produces the chemical dopamine. High levels of this chemical can lead to euphoria, giddiness and excitement.
How to not get attached too quickly
Thanks to chemicals, it is difficult to stay level-headed when we start to like someone. However, we can and should control our impulses.
Focus on exciting risks
When was the last time you did something that made your stomach twist in knots? Something that felt both terrifying and exhilarating? When someone new walks into our lives, our schedules are often so routine and regular that this new shiny person feels so much more exciting.
They consume our thoughts because thinking of them beats talking about work or going for an evening run. That is why we need to take up challenges that grow not only our self-development but our self-interest. Opting to pick up a new hobby or spend more time with friends is not enough to create sustainable excitement.
Think about an aspirational, incredible goal. Plan to achieve an ambition that you’ve told yourself a million times you’ll never reach. Create a website and start a new business, begin a training plan with a personal trainer… Make your life so exciting that your thoughts cannot possibly be consumed by one person.
Recognise the difference between technology and in-person communication
Technology makes life easier. It is much quicker to send a message or have a 5-minute phone call than meet in person. So do not place too much emphasis on back-and-forth communication.
It doesn’t matter if someone has spent an entire evening asking you questions about your hopes and dreams. Or if you chat for three hours straight. I used to believe that if someone takes the time to write sweet messages, then they must be serious.
But trust, commitment, loyalty – all those desirable traits take time to build and they do not get built through technology. If you haven’t met before, you should not be spending an entire evening trying to write clever sentences. And if you’re only on date two, stop checking your phone every two minutes to see if they have sent you a message.
No one is worthy of your time when they have yet to fully reveal who they are and how they’ll treat you.
Trying to date without boundaries can lead to unhealthy habits. Particularly when you first join online dating. I recommend spending no more than 30 minutes on any dating app in one day. If you sit for hours swiping left and right, you’re going to be feeling drained and potentially desperate (wanting to swipe yes on anyone to create a match).
Likewise, if you are dating someone, do not take it upon yourself to plan your schedule around their digital communication. Meaning, if you are out with friends and enjoying a lunch date, there is no reason to cut what you’re doing to respond to a message. Simply let the person know that you’ll be out with your friends for some time – if you just disappear, they will probably assume you’re playing games.
Step in someone else’s shoes
Whenever I spot a red flag, I imagine my best friend telling me about the same dilemma. We can unfortunately be our own worst enemies – overly critical, refusing to value ourselves properly. Therefore, picturing your best friend can help you see a situation from another perspective.
You may find that while you were going to ignore a guy’s constant disappearing act, you would 100% tell your friend to dump anyone who would frequently switch between hot and cold.
Challenge your self-limiting beliefs
I used to attach myself to men very quickly. I wanted them to shower me with affection and give me all the praise and love that my negative brain was unable to share. When I finally figured out that men were not the solution to my esteem nor were they ever going to play a rescuing white knight, I had to figure out why I thought they were the answer.
It turns out my belief system was all screwed up. I believed that I needed a man to make my life good because I wasn’t going to get there on my own. In my mind, I wasn’t going to get in shape, have a great career or see myself as beautiful.
I decided to write down all my self-limiting beliefs. Everything from ‘I’m not good enough’ to ‘I will never be successful’. I then extended each point and challenged each one consecutively. If I wrote ‘I will never be successful at getting in shape’, I would then go exercise or make a healthy meal. And if I kept writing that I was never going to be a writer, I did one thing each day to improve my chances.
When we don’t value ourselves enough, we make poor decisions for ourselves. We can get attached too quickly, miss red flags and rush into any person willing to take us.
Remember to sit in the moment
You don’t need to always know where something is headed or how much someone likes you. The early stages of dating feel exciting and new because you’re in a process of discovery – remember to enjoy this stage. It’s about learning more than it is about planning.
Read Next: How to Grow Individually in a Relationship