New Relationship Nerves? Why You Can Stop Obsessing
"Did I seriously just eat that whole cheeseburger in front of him?" "Okay, I know we're going jogging, but if I don't wear makeup, he'll see how awful my skin is!" "Hmm... If I just run the water, he'll never know what I'm really doing in here."
Sound familiar? Join the party. When you start dating a great new guy, everything changes. You happily RSVP to Evites with "2" rather than "1," and you no longer fear that you'll "never find a boyfriend." But if you're like most women, a steady date on Saturday nights doesn't mean your worrying days are over. Not when you're haunted by the most common
question of all new relationships: Will he still like me when he finds out that I'm not perfect? Yep, the fear of dying alone has been replaced by obsessing that your one-of-a-kind quirks will drive him away.
And you're not the only one. Though there's nothing like that new-romance rush, the flood of good emotions often comes with a touch of insecurity that it won't work out. Unfortunately, this fear can be taken too far. Ever known someone who lost perspective and worried that her real -- or perceived -- imperfections would threaten her newfound happiness? Thirty-year-old Ruthie Bennis has... herself. She admits sheepishly, "It takes six months of dating before I'm comfortable eating at a restaurant with a boyfriend." The reason, according to the real estate agent: "I'm afraid if he sees me eating too much -- and I have a hearty appetite -- he'll think I'm unfeminine." Laurie Waldo prefers to keep her hang-up in the dark. Literally. She refuses to let her boyfriend of three months see her naked, which means that sex is a lights-off-only activity. The 28-year-old paralegal says, "I hate my body. If Dan sees my thunder thighs, he'll be so turned off he'll dump me."
But the fact is, you can probably stop worrying about most of your idiosyncrasies. After all, your new boyfriend has plenty of his own, and you can rest assured that they don't keep him up at night. According to Los Angeles-based relationship therapist Suzanne Lopez, MS, MFCC (suzannelopez.com), women are constantly scrutinizing themselves for so-called flaws, while men are mildly, if at all, self-critical. Lopez says, "He doesn't notice that there's hair growing out of his ears or that he snores. And those little things you obsess about [regarding yourself] don't bother him either. The reality: He either wants you or he doesn't. You won't change his desire because you have a little stomach flab."
So what's the best way to soothe these new relationship nerves? Turn the tables. "At this stage of the relationship, you should be figuring out what you think of him by observing his actions and what they reveal about his character," says Tina Tessina, PhD, author of It Ends with You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. "Focusing all your energy on what he thinks of you feeds your obsession. Actually, it's not only obsessive, but also narcissistic -- like trying to look at yourself through his eyes. Trying to alter your own traits through guessing what he will like and not like will not lead to a real relationship."
Plus, most men enjoy getting to the heart of the relationship and finding out who a woman really is. Ben Tallins, a 34-year-old pilot, was relieved when he finally saw his girlfriend eat a Big Mac. "I was worried that she was anorexic. To me, eating is fun, and I want to be with someone who feels that way, too."
The moral of the story: It's not a secret from (nor a big deal to) your boyfriend that you urinate, snore and get pimples. Bill Wilson, a 35-year-old lawyer, sums it up best: "I want a girl who doesn't intimidate me by being perfect. This may be hard for anyone who knows me to believe, but I've got flaws, too."