“I’m in love. I thought I would fall in love when I was much older, maybe 15. Not today. I was sitting in class, reading, when the door opened and this new kid walked in. As soon as I saw him I knew. I felt excited, like I suddenly had a secret. “Our eyes locked.” I read that in a book that my mom had by her bed. It was true. When I looked into his eyes, I felt we had known each other forever. Looking at him made me feel all fluttery inside. I wanted him to sit near me so badly I could have died. (film dialogue for ‘The Truth, a Short Film’).
Falling in love can be sudden, as it was with the girl in my film, based on my book, The Truth, Diary of a Gutsy Tween or it can be slow and steady as many couples have reported who started their married lives with an arranged wedding.
The sudden burst of attraction and then the obsessional thinking that goes with it, is what I’m talking about in this article. Is there anyone who hasn’t been there? Certainly most of us can remember the first time we were overtaken by an uncontrollable attraction.
It may happen as young as five, at least that’s what several women have reported to me.
For me, I was thunderstruck by a boy at nine years of age. Of course I didn’t run off with him into the sunset. In fact, he probably was totally unaware of my passion. It lasted for three years, although by the third year, I had just about given up and stopped thinking about him. The fact that I had grown taller than he didn’t help either.
What advice to I have to the delicious dilemma of falling in love? Should I just say, enjoy it? That depends. If you are of age to date and the feelings are reciprocated then you can proceed. I would say, with caution.
Why with caution? Simply because our biological response that we call ‘falling in love’ comes along as a normal biological reaction to keep the race going. That said, the instruments used to arouse the feelings of being in love may not be the wisest parts of us. That aroused sensation that floats between our minds and our lower parts is lovely, but probably hasn’t much ability to do higher level cognitive thinking.
The truth is, we have to be smart about fall in love. Otherwise it can take us to all the wrong places. Here are some tips if your young daughter falls in love:
1. Don’t make fun of her. Listen, be sympathetic and share some of your own early feelings about love and even some of your early adventures. You being real will be very helpful to her.
2. Encourage her to stay involved with her school work, hobbies, sports, etc. This is the time of her life for her to develop talents and skills that lead to a successful career and the opportunity to be financially independent if she chooses.
3. If it is appropriate for her to spend time with the kid she is in love with, encourage her to invite him over to your house.
If on the other hand, it is you that suddenly finds yourself in love, here is my advice:
1. TRY to not rush into a full romance. Get to know him a bit, and his friends, his hobbies, his values, etc.
2. Do a variety of things together, some you choose, some he arranges, and see how each feels.
3. Watch for deception. You don’t have to be a detective, but just be alert. People are not always who they say they are.
4. If you keep feeling in love, move ahead, whatever that means to you. Just realize that the first waves of infatuation are biological and eventually simmer down. Then what you are left with can be a real attraction, a sharing of values, a sharing of interests, a sharing of goals and desires. If this is the case, move ahead with all the excitement, fun and planning that joining up with a partner demands.
5. If you find you are not sure and it just isn’t feeling right, then by all means get out of the relationship. Falling in love is just one stage of being with the right person.
Going back to me, I moved at age 11 and fell in love with someone else at age 13. Oh, and then I fell in love with someone else at age 14. Oh, and then…. at 23 which is when I felt all the right feelings and guess what? I got married.
Good luck. All of this biology has been with us for tons of years. It helps us meet raise children and have relationships, but it isn’t perfect. However, it is good enough!! Happy Loving!