How to Lean Into Liking Someone

Following a cataclysmic breakup in my late 20s, I started dating....my first boss (it does not get more rebound cliché than that). I hadn't worked for him since I was 21, and aside from the occasional reference for a new job, we hadn't been in touch. But I carried that crush for years. 

Flash forward to 2014 and we both found ourselves single at the same time. I mustered up the courage to reach out, and despite the fact that he now lived on the other side of the country, a flirty correspondence took shape. A few months later I planned a "work trip" that happened to be where he lived. He immediately invited me to crash at his place.

Upon arrival I was greeted with an $800.00 bottle of wine and a note to "enjoy myself" in his sprawling abode. Our phone and text banter quickly transitioned to in person banter and soon we found ourselves spending hours upon hours in bed, breaking for expensive meals (his treat)deep, rich conversation, aaaand show sex. Our relationship and connection was everything my previous relationship was not and I was drinking.it.up.

As wonderful as it was, as most rebounds go (and holy hell was THIS a rebound) it ended. Suddenly. Abruptly. Completely. On my second trip to visit him things just weren't the same, and shortly after getting back to NYC we ended all communication.

I was devastated. I'd grown so dependent on this person's companionship to lift me up and now, it was totally gone.

Often time my clients will express concern over how much to let themselves indulge or revel in liking someone. We fear if we like them too much, we'll either drive them away, or risk getting more hurt in the long run. At the same time, those early butterflies of liking someone are one of life's greatest pleasure! They're so fun and yummy and juicy. We all deserve to feel a little swoon-y. So how do we embrace the swoon without losing ourselves completely?

Back to my rebound story...

Here's what was ALSO going on while I was in dreamy rebound lala land:

  • I was in the midst of closing down my freelance business, had little to no income coming in, and was no longer doing work I enjoyed. I faced the daunting task of finding a completely new job.

  • I hated where I was living. The apartment was lovely but the neighborhood made me feel incredibly lonely.

  • I was, understandably so, still reeling from my previous breakup, but I'd gone and foolishly put my heart and happiness in the hands of someone else. 

In short, my personal foundation was flimsy as hell. I had nothing to ground me, nothing to look forward to, nothing to enjoy (at least that's how I felt) in my own life, and it was all my own doing. This was not the time to lose myself in the swoon. 

It's embarrassing to admit this, but it took the better part of two years (TWO YEARS, PEOPLE) to get over this guy. I did finally make it to the other side, but it definitely shook me. The next time I felt something significant for someone again, I was flooded with fear. I got all "Ooooooh NO. Nope. Not this again."

But by letting that fear take over, I was robbing myself of the beautiful and necessary process of falling for someone. If I was ever going to experience the relationship I dreamed of, I had to figure out a way to balance the swoon with reality. 

I started to think about my personal foundation, the things in my life, separate from the individual, that were feeding and grounding me. Was I satisfied in my work? How were my friendships faring? Was I taking care of my body? Was I cooking, reading, hitting my yoga mat (all the things that make me feel good consistently) consistently? I saw all those elements as my roots. The stronger my roots, the less a crush (or really anything in life), could shake me. It didn't mean I was unshakeable, it just meant if he did respond to my text right away or didn't express interest in a second date, I didn't lose my shit. I didn't fall into a complete pile of despair. 

If my story feels familiar and you're looking to become a lot less shakey yourself, here are a few key questions to get you started:

  1. How strong is your foundation? How could you make it stronger? More importantly, is it SO weak you feel any small action would knock you down? (<--- This is where you take a break from dating and work to strengthen!)

  2. Is this person and their actions somehow filling up your self worth? How strong is your worth on your own?

  3. Are you tossing away your own life — not sticking to workout classes, going into work late, cancelling plans with friends— or doing anything else that makes this other person that you're just getting to know the main priority?

The more honest you can be with yourself, the better. 

Let yourself fall. Just make sure you've got cushioning all around :).

Clara Artschwager