Here's something beautiful and horrifying and true: the Love of Your Life will not necessarily be the happiest relationship ever. In fact, the more your feelings are deeply involved, the scarier it's going to be. The more worthwhile you find a person, the harder you're going to have to work and fight for your relationship with them. The more you care about someone, the more your own fears and insecurities are going to rise, and you're going to have to deal with them.
If you pick and choose your relationships (or anything, really) by what feels easiest, and best, you're going to be cheating yourself out of things that are most worthwhile.
The thing about love — the kind of crazy, beautiful love that most people are after — is that it abides by nobody's timeline, looks nothing like you thought, comes when you're least ready, and makes it impossible to think clearly. It's seriously a trip. But it also does a lot more than just make you happy. It makes you better. And that's how you know it's worth it.
Everybody gets a little nuts when they start really caring about someone, and never is the insanity at such a fever pitch as when it's brand new. The fact that you're overthinking your new relationship doesn't mean it's wrong, it means you care. But, if you really want it to work, you're going to have to learn how not to totally lose your mind every time something doesn't go exactly as you planned for it to.
Welcome to the world of real, scary, grown up love. Here's how to stop psyching yourself out about it:
Stop Thinking That It Has To Be Perfect To Be Right
Sometimes, the relationships that are the most "right" don't work out immediately, or red flags pop up at first, or you're completely convinced that it will never, ever happen. This doesn't mean it's actually bad or wrong — it means you care, and you're scared. Don't confuse "perfectly good" for "ultimately very right."
Let Go Of "The Rules"
People will tell you that if someone doesn't commit within three weeks, they don't care, or that if you don't feel sparks at first, you never will, or that if the timing is wrong, the relationship is wrong. Listening to these will not help you one bit. Ask your friends, your parents, anybody you know who has lasted in a relationship — it never works out because it's perfect, it works out because you care enough to move past the imperfections and keep going.
Let Go Of The Timelines
Are you focusing on how soon your friends think you should be Facebook official, or how genuinely bonded and connected you feel as a couple? Sometimes you have to date for six months before you're ready to be together. Sometimes you have to be friends with someone for years before your romantic relationship blossoms. It completely depends. No two relationships operate on the same timeline.
Stop Trying To "Hurt Yourself First"
By letting go too soon, picking out every possible flaw and issue, or writing people off before you've really given them a chance, what you're doing is protecting yourself. (This is not how you actually protect yourself. This is how you cut off your chances of finding real love.) How you really protect yourself is by knowing that you will be okay whether or not the relationship works out. That's all.
Talk About Something — Anything — Other Than Your New Relationship With Your Friends
Don't let your entire life become consumed by one person's (new) presence in it. Maintain your normalcy as best as you can. (This will be the biggest challenge of all.)
Don't assume and respond as though you know what someone else is thinking, feeling or intending. There's a difference between using your intuition and trying to predict something, and the it's this: your intuition can tell you what's happening in the moment. Mind-reading tries to imagine an outcome that's unlikely and harmful.
Stop Believing That Commitment = Security
Just because someone commits to you doesn't mean they'll commit forever. It doesn't mean you won't break up one day. It doesn't mean you'll love one another more. It doesn't really guarantee anything. Accept this now, and you'll be better for it in the long-run.
Admit, And Accept, That You Don't Know What The Future Holds
Get comfortable with uncertainty.
Tell Your Friends To Intervene Only If They See You In A Truly Bad Situation
Ask them to let you know, gently, if they see you with someone who is hurtful, or sincerely doesn't want to be with you, or doesn't have your best intentions at heart. This will take some of pressure off.
Otherwise, Stop Asking For Other People's Opinions All The Time
People can only offer advice on what they know, or have known. This means their ability to guide you will be proportionate to their own experience.
Seek Guidance In People Who Are Coupled, Not Single
If you absolutely need to talk to someone, talk to your coupled friends. Ask them how they navigated their relationship at the beginning. Ask them to tell you about how it was difficult, and what obstacles they ran into, and how they overcame them. This, if anything, is the kind of advice you'll want and need.
Focus On Actions, Not Words
People say things they don't mean all the time. All the time. It's how we protect and defend ourselves, and it's also how we try to "manipulate" people. Don't worry about just the words — focus on actions as well. Trust actions. Seriously, trust someone's actions. They're showing you who they really are.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle(2); Getty Images (3)