Taking it slow in relationships
It can be tempting to throw out the old relationship advice in the modern world of dating. Who wants to take things slow? Why not just jump in, run with it, and see where it takes you? We’re only young once, why do we have to be so serious about everything? Sexy is perceived as many things, but it is never depicted as slow. Relationships are sold to us as fast and intense, never slow and cautious. But here’s the dirty little secret of whirlwind, intense relationships with that feel so right: when you hurtle towards love at breakneck speed you risk the big crash. As much as you think you’ll bounce back from it (and you will) you probably underestimate the damage it does, and how long you can carry that damage with you. Slow might not be sexy, but it’s smart. Here’s some reasons why:
1). Slow can help protect you from abusive relationships
One of the common characteristics of abusive relationships is that they tend to get really intense, really quickly. Don’t brush this one off now and say it won’t happen to you, the statistics don’t lie. If the person you are dating is pressuring you to commit to the relationship before you feel ready, or becomes aggressive when you try to put the brakes on, that is a hint that this could be headed towards an unsafe relationship.
2). Slow allows time for the ‘mask’ to drop
Let’s face it, we are all on our best behaviour at the beginning of relationships, but eventually, keeping up an appearance is too much work. At some point, the ‘mask’ will drop, and the real person reveals themselves. With any luck, that person will be pretty close to their ‘first date’ person, but if not, it is so much better to know what you’re in for before becoming too committed.
3). Slow allows you to see them at their worst
Everyone has bad days, and life has a way of dealing us disappointments, frustrations and loss right alongside the adventures, celebrations and surprises. Seeing your potential partner at their worst is a powerful insight into their character. When life throws them a curve ball, do they lash out? Become impossible to be around? Blame everyone else? Fall into a deep depression that they struggle to get out of? What you should be looking for is someone who is able to grieve, grow and move on.
4). Slow allows you to see them at their best
Nobody is perfect, and soon after you begin dating someone you will start to notices the areas that need a bit of improvement. Part of a healthy character is the ability to grow and become better versions of ourselves, and during your time together, you should see evidence of them working on their areas of weakness and overcoming them. Being part of someone’s life as they slay their demons and take on the world: awesome!
5). Slow means you will experience conflict (and that’s a good thing!)
Conflict is inevitable and healthy in relationships, and those first few fights can give you an insight into how you as a couple can handle conflict in the future. During conflict, you should both feel heard, respected, safe, validated and that you were able to resolve the issue.
6). Slow gives you the opportunity to become vulnerable
In healthy relationships, vulnerability and intimacy increase with time, and it makes sense. As you get to know someone, you open up a bit more, and when they respond with love and respect, it encourages you to continue to open up to them. If, however, when you try to be vulnerable your partner is harsh or uninterested, you will be less likely to open up to them. If over the course of the relationship you find yourself less inclined to open up them than you were at the beginning, that can be sign on unhealthy dynamic.
7). Slow allows time for friends and family get to know them
Your relationships are so much bigger than just the two of you, you are joining two families and two social circles together. Give your family and friends time to get to know your potential partner, and make the effort to get to know theirs. Life will be much more enjoyable for you as a couple if you can both have positive relationships with each other’s friends and family.
8). Slow allows enough time to work through potential issues and areas of conflict
If marriage, starting a family and building a life with a significant other is your ultimate goal, you will need to discuss a variety of topics before you commit. From how to handle finances, to kids, to how you’ll celebrate the holidays etc are all necessary to discuss and agree on before you commit to the relationship. You can’t have all these conversations over a couple of dates, it takes time to work through them and to come to an understanding of what each other’s expectations for the relationship are.
9). Slow gives you a long overview of the relationship dynamics
Relationships are hard work, but they shouldn’t be hard work all the time. Taking it slow in the relationship allows you the chance to see how the relationship is affecting your life. Do they help you to be a better person, and encourage you towards your goals? Are you happy, relaxed and feel safe the majority of the time? Have your friends or family noticed a change in you? Is it a good change or a negative one?
10). Slow means your relationship will be more likely to last the distance
Research consistently shows that the ‘sweet spot’ for commitment is about the two year mark, and couples who wait this long before getting married have are much more likely to have successful relationships than couples who get hitched prior to this.
I wish I could tell you that all relationships are risk free, that you can just dive in at that first ‘spark’ and never look back, knowing that this person you are drawn to is kind, genuine, cares about you and is committed to you and the relationship. I wish I could tell you that your first love will last forever that you don’t have to protect your heart, or be discerning and cautious about who you give your heart to. But life isn’t that simple, and there are many, many people out there that are not genuine, not kind, and not interested in building a safe, mutually satisfying relationship. You deserve to be cherished, and treated with respect by the person you decide to commit your heart to. Don’t make that decision lightly.