As the poets Nazareth sang in the '70s, love hurts and love scars (ooh, love hurts, ooh). No, getting rejected does not feel good. When you're dating, rejection is just part of life. You're not going to have a mutual connection with everyone. You gotta kiss a lot of frogs apparently (what happens when the frogs run out is what I want to know). That's why knowing the difference between real intimacy and "instamacy"—an often one-sided, indescribable feeling of an instantaneous connection with another person—can be majorly helpful in keeping your expectations realistic, and making rejection sting a little less.
Jill P. Weber, PhD, tells Psychology Today that it's important to be aware if you are overly personalizing a connection with someone. Let it be known that I have literally never done this before in my life (LOL). I asked Dee Stacey, certified sexual health educator for Blume, to expand a little bit on how knowing intimacy versus "instamacy" can be beneficial. There are two key things to keep in mind: depth of connection and time. "Of course everyone is capable of having meaningful and deep conversations right off the bat, but true intimacy—a real sense of closeness—needs time," she adds.
She likens it to the difference between love and infatuation. "People experiencing infatuation often do feel a passion and a closeness, but it's more of an obsession," she says. "It might feel like they need to spend as much time with this person as possible or know what they are doing everyday. With love, we don't have that obsessive infatuation but are more often excited for a partner's many ventures, even if we aren't involved in all of them." The closeness, she says, comes from support and a shared experience where they show up for each other.
I don't know who needs to hear this right now (me), but knowing the difference can make dating less emotionally tiring. "Keeping this in mind when dating can protect you from a consistent pattern of feeling like you're always falling in and out of love, which can be a hard thing to get over every time," Stacey says. "Instead, it's an exploration and adventure with less at stake and a smoother ride altogether."
It's probably "instamacy" if…
- It was immediately intense and passionate. Basically, if it feels like OMG love at first sight but then you get rejected, don't feel too bad! It was "instamacy" not intimacy. New mantra?
- You had an "instant connection." Oh god, writing this I am discovering that I am incredibly guilty of this. I literally used the phrase "instant connection" yesterday.
It could be intimacy if...
- TBH, the biggest factor is time. "If it's been a day, week, or month, the fact is there's just no way you can know this person on a deeper level," Stacey says. (My Pisces sun is crying literal tears hearing this.) It takes time to truly develop intimacy.
And now I'm exhausted. Maybe I will just stay happily single until I am 107, like this woman who is my personal hero.
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