Love is a stomach flu…

I love analogies. I love analogies even more than I love a good pun. Although, to hear my husband talk, there is no such thing as a good pun, but that’s besides the point. Some of my favorite analogies are about love and dating. Having run a dating advice forum for more than a decade, I’ve got a lot of them.

Love is… a stomach flu. Well, love itself might not be. Love is more like butterflies in the stomach. If it leaves you doubled over in pain, it’s probably not quite love.

To be more precise, getting over a breakup is like a stomach flu.

You’ve probably been on one or both sides of this fence. Boy and girl break up. Girl meets new boy. Girl likes boy, and boy likes girl. Girl wants to go out with boy, but after one date, gets cold feet and says, “I’m not ready for a relationship!!!” Boy scratches his head and thinks, “WTF?!”

This also applies when genders are reversed, or if both genders are the same. No one is immune to this particular virus.

Think of the stomach flu. You get sick. You feel awful, can’t eat, and everything you try to eat either bounces back up, or shoots through you with the force of a fire hose. The mere thought of eating makes you shudder, gag, or clench your buttocks.

But after two days or so, you’re feeling better. You’re hungry, because all you’ve only been able to nibble on a few Saltines for two days. You’re beyond hungry, you’re ravenous. You want to eat everything in site. And you’re feeling pretty good, at least compared to how you felt the day before. You. Want. Food.

The last thing you want to do is stick with the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). Bleah. You’re sick of bland food. You want REAL food… greasy, meaty, carby, spicy and cheesy. You know, the five basic food groups. So you go to your favorite restaurant, and order up a dish of Cheesy Southwest Chicken Bacon Ranch Potato Skins. They’re beautiful. The most beautiful food you’ve ever seen. They smell amazing. They taste even better.

Then, about halfway through your dish, it hits. A rumble. Uh-oh. You recognize that rumble. You spent a lot of time with that rumble over the past few days. You rush to the restroom and, hopefully, get there just in time. And you realize, “I thought I was ready, but I’m not.”

Dating after the breakup of a long term relationship is the same way. You feel awful, can’t eat, and swear you’ll never date again. But after a time, you want to get back out there. You meet someone, and they seem perfect. They’re beautiful. The most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. They smell amazing. You’re hoping they taste even better.

Then, about halfway through the date, or sometimes the morning after, with the possibility of another relationship staring you right in the face, it hits. A rumble. Uh-oh. Maybe not the rumble that makes you run for the restroom, but you feel nauseous. You’re not quite fully healed from the last time you were infected with the virus of love, and you’re about to be sick. And you realize, “I thought I was ready, but I’m not.”

There was nothing wrong with this person. It really was a simple case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” Just like there was nothing wrong with the Cheesy Southwest Chicken Bacon Ranch Potato Skins. Aside from the calories, cholesterol, and sodium, that is. At any other time in your life, that person, or that great big dish of cheesy heaven, would have hit the spot.

Our brains, hearts and stomachs aren’t really all that well connected. Sometimes what we think we want and what’s actually best for us are two very different things. And we don’t know what’s best until we’ve had a little more than a taste of what’s worst.

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Updated: November 19, 2013 — 3:55 pm

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