The fact is dating, sex, love, basic human connection is hard. But we’ve got just the little snack to help. Ask An Alfawhore, the sex and love advice column from the tell-it-to-ya-straight, sex-positive, uber feminist older sister you always wanted is back. This week: crush on and stay centered.

Dear A.W.,

I recently got out of a serious relationship that was very intense. I haven’t been single very long, but I’ve started hooking up with someone I really like. I love spending time with this person and the sex is great, but I don’t want to lose myself again. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m losing myself in the excitement. How can I keep sleeping with my crush without ruining my life?


Crushing Hard

Dear Crushing Hard,

I’d love to watch my brain while I’m having sex with someone I like because it feels like it’s being engulfed by a blazing hot fire. Like my whole body is combusting in an explosion of white light, and I’m just pure energy being hurled to the limits of outer space. Needless to say, I’ve struggled with my own emotional addictions. Lust is some hardcore shit and it tends to make you forgetful, so how do you remember who you are when someone crawls into your brain and sets up camp?

If there’s a way to turn off the butterflies, the daydreams, and the desire to be around someone you want, I’ve never found it. But then, why would I want to? All those things are fabulous! What isn’t fabulous though, is ignoring your own life to obsessively check your phone for texts from your crush.  Losing yourself is no fun. When you forget who you are, you stop doing the things you love and you allow yourself to be consumed by someone else. The times in my own life that were the most unstable have one thing in common: I was sustaining myself with outside validation. Having someone think you’re great is wonderful, but our lovers don’t exist to provide us with an endless supply of affection and attention. We need to create that fountain within.   

Using a romantic relationship to ground yourself is like getting drunk to solve your problems: it’s a great big party while you’re drunk, but the hangover’s a bitch. If you lose yourself in someone, you give them the power to give and take away your happiness which opens the door to feelings of resentment and abandonment. While great sex can be better than a platter of soft cheeses and a vintage malbec served at exactly 62°, it can also be dangerous, and you’re right to proceed with caution, especially if you’re fresh out of a relationship. Those natural, feel good hormones are delicious, but they can also be destabilizing and cloud your judgment, causing you to spiral into unhealthy attachments.

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the … space between you and your romantic partners where you create and maintain healthy boundaries, so you can objectively assess your feelings and actions.

On a practical level, that means don’t stop doing the things you love, even if you’d rather be doing your crush. Sex is good, but have you ever created something all on your own that no one can take away from you? I guarantee you it’s better than rolling around your crush’s bed all day and only stopping to order pizza (that can be fun too, but it’s ultimately not the key to happiness). Eventually one of you has to get out of bed.

I recommend the 80/20 rule, meaning reserve 80% of your time for your friends, family, and hobbies, and share 20% of your time with your lover. It might seem impossible to tear yourself away right now when it’s so easy just to fall right into them, but usually in life what you impulsively want and what you actually need won’t line up. Being a grown-up means looking at the whole picture and understanding that giving yourself what you need in the short-term is the only way to get to where you want to be in the long run. It’s easy to project all of our desires and needs onto others, but do the harder thing, the thing that requires discipline and strength. Stay focused on yourself, continue to do the things that bring you joy, and the love and kindness you show yourself will keep you warm at night.