Tags: taking it slow, dating, boundaries, emotional intimacy
I’ve been given the relationship advice lately to “take it slow” and I’m realizing I don’t actually know what that means. Embarrassingly, I had to search online for tips. Yeah, I’m the one that falls into a relationship directly after the previous (serial dater). New people and new bodies are just so exciting, I can’t help but fall into the web of infatuation. Noticing this pattern, my older mentors worry about my tendency to jump into things much too fast.
One of the most concisely written webpages I found (here) lists seven things to avoid/engage with in order to give the relationship time to develop naturally–and most importantly, give you time to process your feelings regarding the potential of the relationship. Maybe I’m becoming an adult, because I followed most of the steps quite naturally. All good advice, though I ignored Step 2 because the guy I’m dating is too irresistibly sexy to be rational about it all.
Step 1: Recognize the butterflies as infatuation and not true love. Sure, I don’t even know this person. I completely understand that; this is what makes infatuation so exciting and enticing. I am instantly drowning in emotional intimacy, yet somehow I can always keep my distance in order to see the situation as it truly is. I can switch feelings off so fast, it’s disconcerting. Maybe I’m a sociopath… or maybe I’m just realistic. Or maybe I never invest enough in a person to allow myself to be vulnerable. Hmm.
Step 2: Banish sex (for awhile). Aww, come on. I just think it’s important to recognize sex for what it is: most often an expression of desire.
Step 3: Focus on personal growth. Yes. Yes, yes. That’s the best part about being “single.” This is one of the major steps I’m sure my mentors are trying to point out to me. Explore options. Explore your potential. Don’t jump on the first guy that comes your way. Well, that’s what is so beautiful about my current escapade. We see each other once a week. Busy lives keep us occupied the time in between; keeping our distance helps quell the lust for constant companionship and makes the time we spend together so much more absorbing.
Step 4: Align values. See… for me, this is a conversation that illustrates things moving too fast. I feel this topic should come up when considering becoming exclusive. This is not early dating conversation material. I don’t like to waste time with throwaway relationships, but I also want to get to know a person pretty well before having such a deep and truthful conversation.
Step 5: Don’t rush into meeting friends/family. Something clicked the other day. I really like this person and with that realization, I knew immediately that I needed my best friend to meet him. Meeting a friend or two helps maintain that distance by offering an outsider perspective. When I’m with this person, everything is very intimate, close, blurry. You also learn so much more about a person in group dynamics. I’d rather know early on if I’m missing some major red flags.
Step 6: Don’t call/text every second. It’s hard when he’s on my mind constantly, but seriously, nothing is so important that I need to text him incessantly. Especially early on in the relationship, it’s best to ease into things rather than drop in like an unexpected explosion leaving shrapnel on every part of his life. Read: Maintain space. Don’t be annoying.
Step 7: Don’t move in together. This seems so obvious now, but having lived with my last three boyfriends, I most certainly took my time learning this lesson. This is a difficult one because my ex and I spent so much time together, and the future looked bright, so it seemed logical to save money and share the romantic things like waking up next to each other, sharing a kiss in passing, and an assortment of unpleasant sounds. But having a horrifyingly awkward and brutal breakup while still living together (times three) finally taught me that it’s best to live on my own. What’s the rush? When I was younger, it was so hard to leave boys’ arms to meet my midnight curfew. Now I actually want to go home to the vast, unshared space my bed offers and enjoy my freedom to slouch around. I can’t be on my game at all times. I also feel that’s where the fun is. It’s so exciting in those early months where you and your crush seem flawless: no weird noises, no bowel movements, no bad jokes, no sweatpants. It’s fun to prolong that state of perpetual perfection.
So maybe I just grew up. I automatically took things slow. That doesn’t mean I didn’t dive headfirst into emotional and physical intimacy. No no, I’m in reaaal deep. But I’m keeping perspective on things and allowing us space to maintain our autonomy in the relationship. Maybe even thinking about taking things slow after the third date is rushing it; should I be debating these things right now!?!
I’ll take advice from this Slow Loris, who eats its rice ball one delicious bite at a time, savoring the sweet contents, stopping to smell the fork every once in a while, and hesitant, but accepting, of the unexpected grains that come its way… all while being ridiculously cute.