We all know that exhilarating, butterflies in the stomach, heart-pounding feeling of beginning a new relationship with the fun-loving, good-looking person who shares your interests (one of which is YOU!). But, since we live in a fast-paced world, and because that feeling is something akin to smoking crack, we can often rush into a relationship simply because it’s providing us with the connection we crave! That said, it’s critical that you stop, breathe and take a “40-foot view” of your relationship so you don’t overlook some very important factors that could eventually lead to heartbreak.
Here at Dating with Dignity, we recommend taking a relationship slowly in order to closely consider to whom you’re giving your valuable time and attention. Reciprocated interest and attraction can be exciting at first, but they’re not the only boxes a guy needs to check off to be worth a relationship. While it can be tough to walk the fine line between taking it slow and appearing disinterested, we’ve provided a few tips on how to ease up and increase the likelihood of a lasting, fulfilling relationship.
Adopt a Mantra: The Slower You Go, the Faster You’ll Get There
Remember that the man who wants to rush into a relationship with you, talks marriage on the second date, and has a pattern of serial monogamy may be a serious “pink” flag. If it seems too good to be true, it may actually be too good to be true. A man who is relationship-ready, mature, confident and self-aware will also realize that good things come to those who wait. Finding out if your new guy subscribes to the same mantra can help you both keep a similar pace with reasonable and realistic expectations.
Make Time for Yourself
It can be easy to spend all your time with a person you’ve just started seeing; after all, the beginning is the most exciting part! However, it’s important to make sure you’re sprinkling in some “Me Time” to let the dust settle a bit and really think about whether or not this person is someone you want to be with long term.
Spending too much time together can create a false sense of comfort and cause you to overlook significant red-flag behavior, so make sure to take a couple of days between dates and check in with yourself to keep things in perspective. If there’s a personality trait or behavior of his that continues to nag at you as you spend time with him, don’t ignore it. Something that needs to be “explained away” will likely come back to haunt you should the relationship continue. Keep in mind, however, that some seemingly negative qualities are situational and may be irrelevant over time (such as being unemployed); but inherent personality traits are almost always unchangeable.
Encourage Group Dates
Alone time is crucial, but your friends’ opinions are important too. Organizing group activities with your friends and his can be a great way for you to blend your lives in a natural way while providing an opportunity for you to observe how the two of you interact as a couple. Hanging out in a group opens up your relationship to fun “quality time” without the intensity of constant one-on-one time; it’ll also give you the opportunity to meet and bond with his friends. In addition, seeing your new guy through the eyes of others who know him well can help you connect to why you like him in the first place.
In the grown-up dating world, the notion of “playing hard to get” is seen as immature. Guys can misread “taking things slow” for “uninterested,” and you may lose them before you even get a chance to decide whether or not he’s worth pursuing. You also may sense some frustration on his end that things aren’t progressing faster, whether commitment-wise or sexually. These feelings are totally natural.
But just to ensure you’re on the same page, it’s important you let him know why you prefer to take things slowly. Share only so much as you’re comfortable with: a mere “I don’t want to rush into anything” should suffice. But being honest with him will put his mind at ease and let him know you want the relationship to have clear communication. This could even encourage him to open up and feel more comfortable expressing how he feels about how the relationship is going. If he can’t respect the pace you’re comfortable with, then there’s your answer. The right guy will understand.
Hold Off on Sex (At First)
Sex is certainly an important indicator of compatibility, but introducing it too early in the relationship can create a false sense of intimacy that clouds your judgment. Before you get too ingrained, set a guideline for how long you’ll wait (e.g., after X number of dates, X number of weeks, etc.) and pledge to stick to it. Waiting to sleep together until you have a stronger sense of who he is will better allow you to determine how you feel about the whole package.
There’s a lot of thinking involved in this process, but don’t forget to have fun! If you spend all your time together analyzing and trying to come to a concrete conclusion, you’ll miss out on the actual experience. Try to focus on him and having fun while you’re with him, and then gauge how you feel later when you’re alone or discussing with friends. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your partner can sense when you’re feeling guarded or preoccupied; so don’t let that affect how you interact with him or the things you’re doing together.
If you know what you want out of a relationship going into it — and a guy meets those standards after you’ve taken the time to get to know him — then you’re golden. Always remember that the right person will understand your desire to take things slowly and will appreciate the time to get to know you as well.