Beware of Fool’s Love

Flakes are annoying. Ghosting is infuriating. In my experience, however, there is no greater dating hazard than Fool’s Love.

What is Fool’s Love?

When miners came across the lustrous mineral known as Pyrite, they were often overjoyed because they thought they had found gold – but they hadn’t. They had found Fool’s Gold.

Similarly, it’s not uncommon for people to fall “head over heels” for guys and girls they have incredible first dates with. They think they’re in love – but they’re not. They’re in Fool’s Love.

The Chemistry Behind Fool’s Love

We like to think we’re in control of our thoughts and actions, but that’s up for debate. Our emotions are largely dependent on our brain chemistry. When you meet someone you’re really attracted to and to whom you feel a strong connection with, your brain is flooded with various chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. I won’t go any deeper into what these chemicals do, both because I don’t know enough and because others have done it better than I could anyway,

The main point you need to understand is that attraction, lust, love, and Fool’s Love are all feelings generated by brain chemicals that influence our thoughts and behaviors. And we often act irrationally because of these feelings.

We’ve all known someone “in love” who can’t see the flaws of their partner. To them, their partner is perfect. Really, though, their thinking is being clouded by a shit-ton of dopamine and serotonin and whatever-the-hell-else so that they can only see the person’s good qualities.

What does Fool’s Love feel like?

It’s a fucking roller coaster. High highs and low lows. Everything moves fast. You can’t stop thinking about the person whom you think you’re in love with. You want to be with them. You want to text and call them. You want them to text you back. When they don’t text you back… it hurts

That’s a general description – and a vague one at that. So let me be more specific.

The last time I was in Fool’s Love…

Let’s call her Jin. We matched on Bumble a week before she came to Bali. Unlike most of the boring, shallow conversations that I participate in on dating apps, talking with Jin was funny and interesting. We talked about some things we were both interested in and teased each other. We got each others’ jokes. We even had a brief but fun video call.

Jin and I were excited to meet each other. I was surprised and flattered when she even offered to meet me right after she got off the plane at midnight on the night she arrived in Bali. We decided that it was too late to meet that night, but we did meet the following night at a nice, quiet bar near my place.

Jin was already sitting on a bean bag chair at the bar when I got there. She smiled and laughed when she saw me and when I sat down, it didn’t feel like a first date. It felt like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a couple months. We chatted easily. She found reasons to touch me and I found reasons to touch her. When we finished our drinks, I mentioned that I had free drinks at my place and her only question was “How far away is your place?”

There was no pressure. I was very attracted to her but I would have been perfectly fine just talking all night. And that’s almost all we did. First outside in the gazebo, then inside on the couch, and then inside on my bed. We talked from early in the night until 5am in the morning. We slept for an hour before she had to go.

A few hours later, she texted me and thanked me for a great night and I told her the feeling was mutual. I wanted to make plans to see her again immediately, but she was busy. I told a bunch of my friends about Jin. I was so excited to meet a smart, fun, funny girl.

I knew she was busy, so I didn’t text her for a few days. But she didn’t text me, either. Then I texted her and she didn’t text me back. After a few weeks, she did text me back. She said sorry. She was busy.

And then?

I video called her. I pretty much knew it was over, anyway, but I didn’t want to believe it. So I called her. She was so awkward. Jin couldn’t even speak. I asked her what was wrong and she said she couldn’t even talk about it. If she did, she said, she might start crying. Then she did start crying. I said, “Look, should I just forget about you or no?” She said, “You should forget about me.” I hung up.

How can you know if it’s real love or Fool’s Love?

The biggest Red Flag of Fool’s Love is a high ratio of intensity to time spent together. Yes, it felt real with Jin, but I was only actually in her presence for one day. Any time you feel strong feelings of attachment for someone you haven’t spent much time with, you need to be really careful.

What advice would you give yourself? Imagine that you and I are close friends. If I asked for your advice two weeks after my date with Jin, I might say, “Man, this girl has me confused. We had a great date two weeks ago, but she won’t respond to my texts now. We had such an incredible connection. We stayed up all night talking. Blah blah blah.”

If you’re a good, honest friend, you would stop me before “blah blah blah,” and say “Kyle, wake the fuck up. You went on one date with her.”

So this is how it feels to “get played…”

Someone I’m close with analyzed me once and cut me deep with one sentence. She said, “You know how to make people fall in love with you.” It might sound like a compliment, but it’s more of an indictment. It took me a long time to digest those words, but I finally had to admit that they had a lot of truth to them.

I’ve probably confused several girls in the same way that Jin confused me. I made them laugh. I shared common interests with them. We had great sex. For me, it was a good date. For them, it felt real. But really, it was Fool’s Love.

It’s not that I didn’t like those girls. They were attractive and I had some sort of a connection with them. It just didn’t go much deeper than that, though – for me. For them, maybe it did go deeper. And this is probably how it was for Jin. She must have liked me a little, at least. But I was never going to be her priority.

How to Protect Yourself from Fool’s Love

I want to reiterate the number one Red Flag of Fool’s Love: high intensity after a low amount of time spent together. Anyone can make you feel like they love you for one day – but you really shouldn’t trust anyone you’ve only known for one day. Or one week. Maybe even one month, unfortunately. If they keep wanting to meet you over a longer period of time, though, and they’re true to their words, you can probably start to trust them a bit.

During that period of time, here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind that may keep you from getting swept away by Fool’s Love:

  1. Take it slow. I’m not saying that you have to wait three dates before you kiss them or anything archaic like that. However, if you really want to protect yourself from Fool’s Love, you might want to refrain from spending the night with someone on the first date. This is advice I might want to start taking, myself
  2. Don’t share everything right away. Sometimes, when you find someone who understands us and is willing to listen, you want to tell them everything. You start out telling them you did gymnastics as a kid and then three hours later, you’re telling them about how your dad was emotionally absent and hit your mother. It feels good to share… but maybe you shouldn’t share everything so quickly.
  3. Remember: Actions speak louder than words. When Jin texted me after our first date, she said she had a great time with me and that she wanted to see me again. But then she stopped texting me and was impossible to make plans with. Her words were empty. What she did – or failed to do, in this case – told the real story.
  4. Seek advice from people you really do trust. Remember what I said about the brain chemicals that cloud our thought processes? They make us want to believe in something that is so obviously not there from an outside perspective. When you tell your story to someone who is really honest with you, they’re going to be able to identify Fool’s Love immediately. It’s when we refuse to listen to our friends and instead follow the whims of our brain chemistry that we get hurt.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Fool

Yeah, it hurts being played and it sucks falling for love that isn’t real. Really, though, it’s part of dating and it’s part of life. I can tell you everything I know about Fool’s Love and I can give you all my best advice, but that’s not enough. You gotta find out for yourself.

Like anything else, it takes experience to recognize and equip yourself to deal with Fool’s Love. You will get tricked the first time it happens to you. Most likely, you’ll get tricked the second time, too. Probably the third, as well…

With time and heartbreak, though, you’ll get better at telling the difference between Fool’s Love and Real Love.


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