When was the last time you felt smitten?
People who are smitten live in a different world than everyone else. The normal world includes highs and lows, work, fun, joy, chores, bills, worries—in fact, all the pleasures, pains and responsibilities of real life.
Not so when you’re smitten.
These words come to mind in describing the feeling of being smitten: intoxicated; heartful; adoring; cherishing; enthusiastic; enchanted; hopeful; erotically charged; passionate and feelings of tenderness.
When you’re smitten, there is an easy assumption of good will, benefit of the doubt and an absence of malice. There is an infectious and affectionate connection between the two of you that gives each person the feeling that s/he is walking on air. That anything is possible. That all my hopes and dreams are coming true—and I feel fully and totally alive. My active—not passive—participation is required of me in this process.
There is a difference between being smitten and being in love. Being smitten is about hope and promise and enchantment. To love someone is to love his/her person which implies that you actually know the other person, are attached to him/her on multiple levels and that you have a high regard for his/her feelings, thoughts, desires and needs.
One task of being smitten—other than the experience itself—is to get to know the other person better, so that a more mature, stable, long-lasting love becomes possible.
In order to do that, you’re going to have to share your stories with each other, and you’re going to need to be an attentive and respectful listener. Consistently.
Another vital task in the smitten phase of a relationship is to bond with each other. Bonding is similar to tying hundreds (or thousands) of tiny threads together—that keeps the two of you tied together heart to heart. Things such as shared experiences, forming ties with each other’s friends and families, making future plans together (actual plans, not dreams), going through quandaries, dilemmas, life decisions and/or traumas together, etc.
The way couples migrate from being smitten to being in love requires a set of intentions to view the world as binocular rather than monocular, mutual rather than individual, interdependent rather than independent. It also involves a set of behaviors and skills, such as willful self-revealing communication, trust, good listening skills, good conflict resolution skills, benefit of doubt, fidelity, affection and endearments, to name a few.
Connecting with someone, being smitten, deepening a relationship, bonding and falling in love is not a safe process, and it absolutely requires you to risk getting badly hurt. Loving requires surrender. As threatening as that sounds, surrender is also what makes the experience magical and even life-transforming. People grow by stretching their edges and by challenging their fears, not by being safe. We grow by risking ourselves, not by being protected or guarded. People get close to each other when they are willing to risk themselves and their hearts.
“Love is, above all, a giving of oneself.” —Jean Anouilh