Meeting someone and falling in love changes a lot in your life, right? So much of pop culture sells the idea that love is the signifier of a complete change in your life. So many romantic movies, like the classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding or newer movies like A Star Is Born, show that the moment you fall in love with someone, everything changes entirely. But is that true IRL? Sort of. Life after meeting "The One" is definitively different, but you shouldn't lose sight of who you are," says Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show. "When you meet 'The One,' you still must think about and consider your career path, your thoughts about family and friends, your morals, your preferences for fun, your fears, and your desires.
He explains that falling in love with someone that you will likely be with forever means that your life can change a ton because there's a whole new person in your life that you want to care for and make plans with. Hopefully, though, you both have similar goals and intentions so that your entire trajectory doesn't shift based on this person. Even though this love may seem revolutionary for your life, it is imperative that you recognize that there are just new exciting features to your life instead of the fact that your life has been irrevocably altered in and of itself.
"What this means is that the configuration of your life does completely change, but it doesn’t erase who you are or your individuality in the world," says Klapow. It is exciting to find "The One," though, because you can face the life you have built on your own with someone who loves and supports you and ultimately wants to be a part of it.
"Ultimately for the sake of yourself and the relationship it is imperative that you are able to be you in the world," he says. Being in a partnership creates a new three-dimensional configuration in your life: Klapow explains that, "Relationships are comprised of three components person one, person two, and the relationship itself. You now are a member of a triad that must be thought about, cared for and requires compromise and collaboration," he says. Thinking of your partnership with someone as a thing separate from yourself that needs care and work to maintain it is can be helpful. Part of falling in love means that you may not be sure that this is your forever person, but instead, you're focused on pouring work and care into the partnership you're building together.
"You can have an unbelievable connection with someone and feel as though you never felt that way before, but that doesn’t mean that your relationship won’t have problems or that you will never break up down the road," says Trina Leckie, relationship expert and host of the podcast breakup BOOST. She explains that it can be easy to get lost in the daydreaming of finding true love, but she warns that one should be careful about believing that everything they are currently dealing with will get better or go away. "It takes an adequate amount of time to get to know each other and see each other in both good and bad situations. You need to give the relationship time to develop naturally. You should not be making any drastic life changes right off the bat," says Leckie.
It's so exciting to fall in love, and it can feel like running downhill sometimes. You're hurtling towards something fast, and at some time it may feel hard to stop or slow down. Keeping in mind that who you are doesn't have to disappear into the relationship can help pump your internal love breaks. Because, as the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.