When I first met my fiancé, Joe, I was dazed and a little breathless. We were talking about travel or something like that, but I can’t really remember the details. What I do remember was his hand brushing mine at one point. I let my hand linger there so that the moment would last. He kept his hand there, too. It was a small moment, but the weight of the connection was enough to send my head spinning.
The next day we went on a hike. By the end of the month we were “official,” and a year later he asked me to be his wife. Looking back now, it feels as though our entire relationship was a blur of inseparable bliss. But in reality, the real infatuation didn’t set in until the last three or four months of our dating relationship.
It’s not that we weren’t crazy about one another—believe me, we were—it was just that neither of us wanted to become a lovesick zombie. You know that type? Lovers walking around with hearts in their eyes—ignoring friends, family, and personal hygiene.
Laugh if you will, but anyone who knows what it’s like to have chemistry and timing align knows what I’m talking about. In fact, research by anthropologist Helen Fisher shows that those in the midst of a whirlwind love function like cocaine addicts desperate for their next fix. When you are in the early stages of dating, commonplace tasks you used to do daily can suddenly take herculean effort. All of your focus seems to shift to this new person and your desire to be with them. So, yeah, there is a real danger of, well, letting yourself go when you have been bitten by the love bug.
Now don’t get me wrong, my girlfriends and family definitely saw less of me when I was first getting to know my fiancé, but deciding early on that we would make an effort to prioritize friends helped. We made a point to encourage one another to spend time with the people who were important to us, to work out, to pray, and to sleep. We wanted to build something together while maintaining the other important aspects of our lives that we cherished. Honestly, one of the greatest gifts my fiancé ever gave me was the gift of balance during the beginning of our relationship.
This served us well for the first four to five months of our relationship. But now, I must confess, the more we have gotten to know one another and the deeper in love we have grown, the harder balance has become. My friends have mostly written me off for walking dead, and my room looks like I am losing a game of Jumanji.
So, for me and for you, here is a list of five ways to keep yourself sane and balanced when you are doped up on love.
01. Talk to your man.
Talking to Joe about staying balanced was the most important part of staving off love zombie–dom. Actually, he was the one to broach the topic of balance. At first I bristled at the thought that he might not want to spend every waking hour with me, but I knew he was right. Helping one another prioritize friends, family, and hobbies actually helped to unite us and made us both feel like we were contributing to one another’s personal growth.
02. Cling to your routine.
When it feels like you and your significant other are getting ready to shoot into hyperdrive, the best thing you can do is to set up a daily routine. When I feel like life is getting a bit out of control, I set out a daily plan for myself. I’ll work out at 6 a.m., shower, pray, and do the breakfast dishes. These are the things that make me feel less like a prisoner of love and more like a fully functioning human being.
03. Have a schedule.
Prioritizing what is important to you by working it into a schedule ensures that you won’t push it aside when it comes between you and your love fix. Back in the day, I had a running list of weekly goals on a chalkboard in my room; things such as “read for an hour” and “hang out with Alanna” were constant reminders to stay balanced. It took some forethought, but I would sit down on Sunday and input my schedule into the calendar on my phone. Knowing that I had plans with the girls, a night for laundry, and babysitting for my sister in the week ahead kept me from making every night boyfriend night.
04. Find a new hobby.
When you feel like the love hormones are screwing up your hierarchy of needs, double down on a new interest, or reinvest in a hobby you already enjoy. When I first started dating Joe, I knew I didn’t want to be sitting around pining for the next date, so I joined a gym and got into yoga. On the off nights, when I had no plans with friends and was wishing my boyfriend and I could be hanging out, I hit the mat, and it quickly became my new thing. Whether it’s working out, art, dancing, or getting into a new book, distractions can be a good thing when you are in danger of falling off the edge.
05. Set aside time for QT.
Getting only little bits and pieces of your significant other, while watching a movie or hanging out with friends, can make your desire for quality time feel unfulfilled and thus feed your desire for more and more. Satisfy your need for quality time with your man by setting aside one intentional date a week. For my fiancé and me, Sunday was almost always hiking day. This whole day of good conversation and alone time (almost) always filled my love tank for the week.
Try cooking, adventuring, dining out, or hiking (I highly recommend it!). Whatever it is, reserve one day or night a week to really date one another, and it will help you get to know one another without the zombie love getting in the way.
An all-consuming love is a great feeling, but no one wants to be that girl who ditches her friends and her former life for a man. Striving for balance and making a conscious effort to balance love and life will make you a happier person all around.