Getting serious too fast is one the most common issues in new relationships. The reason this becomes a problem is that in all the thrill and buzz of the new relationship energy, you are more likely to miss important warning signs. Clues that this isn’t really going to be a healthy, loving relationship for you. This blog offers 10 expert ideas on how to slow things down so that you can really enjoy and trust in a new connection.
One: Keep Your Wits About You
Beyonce wasn’t far off the mark with her hit ‘ Crazy In Love’. A rush of brain chemistry happens when we are attracted to someone. Dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin are all highly active in couples falling for each other. Dopamine is what’s released when we take drugs or perceive pleasure, and the body’s natural response is to want more. This explains why we can’t get enough of our new sweetheart. Just being fully aware that this surge of biochemistry is going on helps to give you perspective. Remember to engage your rational brain as well as your enthusiastic heart!
Two: First Dates
Keep first dates low-key, head for a coffee shop or a short walk in a safe, busy setting. I wouldn’t recommend dinner and drinks. It’s good to stay present without alcohol and in all the excitement it might be a true reflection of whether you enjoyed the company or the experience. There will be plenty of time for long lingering eye-gazing over a candlelit dinner once things progress.
Three: Build Your Circles
One of the reasons it’s tempting to dive in fast, is that so many people today’s society are starved of the affection, kindness and touch they need. In my couples therapy practice I frequently hear about couples who moved in together very quickly, or rarely see anyone else. This puts enormous pressure on the relationship to provide all of the human needs.
Although it’s counterintuitive, when you first meet someone, it’s a great opportunity to see friends, get a massage, get out for a long walk, participate in the activities that bring you pleasure. Talk to your mates and make sure you get lots of support and avoid being in a ‘couple bubble’. Having a rich and full life will also ensure that interesting conversation flows on your next date.
Four: Avoid Intense All Night Messaging
In the early days try not to get hooked into too much intense online communication or messaging. Are you aware that you get a hit of dopamine when you receive a ‘like’ or an IM? The downside of this is that you also feel the withdrawal when messages or replies don’t arrive. It’s your biochemistry! Try to have a conversation about your personal preferences when it comes to communication. Some people like to know there will be an agreement to be in touch at least once a day – for others a few days gap is preferred. Find out what each of you likes and look to agree on a happy medium.
Five: How soon is too soon?
A question that comes up all the time in my work – is how soon should I have s*x? What often seems to happen is that things get physical at breakneck speed, from 0 to 100 so to speak, especially when booze involved. Something I ask clients in therapy to consider is – what are the stepping stones to physical intimacy that you might like to enjoy (consensually) as you get to to know each other? How can you slowly discover and learn about each other bodies? Would you be able to create a dedicated space for exploring your new connection as lovers (without alcohol)? A time when you can be really present to feeling the quality of the touch? You can never have the first time again – why rush it?
Six: Exercise Personal Responsibility
Take responsibility to look at your own behaviours and patterns and to exercise great self-care. It’s temping to confide in your new bf/gf with all your problems and struggles. Be sure to lean in to your other friendships. It’s not really fair to put all your burdens on your new relationship and try and sort everything out there. This can bring a heaviness to the connection and dampen the tiny flickers that could soon become a roaring fire.
Seven: Know Your Attachment Patterns
Do you know about your preferred attachment style? Some people really love being close in relationship and find closeness really comfortable. They might be prone to getting a bit clingy or anxious when the other person goes away. For other people being close in relationship can be a bit scary and challenging. It’s not that they don’t ever want or enjoy closeness but it doesn’t come that easily. For them when there’s too much “we” and not enough “me”, things can get overwhelming.
Often these two, very different kinds of people often end up in relationship with each other. And, the dynamic can be quite challenging for both of them. Many of my clients have found it helpful to have some awareness of where they sit along an attachment continuum. I provide my coaching clients with a questionnaire to help you learn about your attachment style and how it might be playing out in relationship. In my 121 coaching we discuss your attachment patterns. Check out my Relationship Reboot Review to find out more about that.
Eight: Hanging Out With Friends
It’s a good idea to suggest that you meet their friends at an early stage. It’s an opportunity to see how they get on with other people and what they enjoy doing for relaxation. If you don’t like their friends and they don’t welcome you – it could be a ‘Red Flag’*. *see my Infographic 10 Relationship Red Flags.
Nine: Building Intimacy
As things begin to progress, why not open up the depth of communication between you to create more intimacy. Psychologist Arthur Aaron developed a process called ’36 Questions To Fall in Love’ http://36questionsinlove.com which is fun alternative to Netflix and chill! Athough falling in love is the easy part as this Ted talk illuminates: https://www.ted.com/talks/mandy_len_catron_falling_in_love_is_the_easy_part.
I also really love these ‘Pillow Talk’ cards from all the School of Life. They provide an array of conversation starters about sex and intimacy. Just make sure both of your phones are on silent and that you give each other your full, present attention. There is nothing sexier than presence.
Ten: Keepin’ It Real
Try to have realistic expectations. Understand that this person will have flaws, just as you do. Relationship is the place where we can let our defences down and allow ourselves to be loved in all our messiness. How can you listen and help? How can you show your vulnerability and asked to be loved in it? It’s tricky balance to know how much to accept with compassion and when you need to be clear that something is crossing your boundaries. I offer one-to-one coaching to help get clearer on where these lines are for you.
Slow Down To Speed Up
A whirlwind romance is a beautiful thing (one of my all-time favourite movies is Before Sunset with Ethan Hawke). AND! It’s a wise investment to slow down and see and hear the real person in front of you.
Take the time to consider important questions like these:
- What do they need that isn’t easy for you to give?
- What do you need that may be a stretch for them?
- How will you create space between you as well as togetherness?
- Are you maintaining your own growth and autonomy and encouraging them to have theirs too?
If you go slow enough to really understand each other. You’ll be laying a great foundation for a real life, healthy, loving relationship. If you’re looking for one-to-one support, find out here about my ‘Relationship Reboot Review’ coaching offer here.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Conscious Dating – 10 Do’s and Don’ts.