Many of us know the feeling of being swept away in the heady rush of a new relationship. Time ceases to run at a normal speed. Work commitments seem trivial. Texts from friends reminding us of Friday night drinks threaten to burst our loved-up bubble.
But common sense tells us that abandoning reality to fall deep into a new relationship is risky business. While it might feel crazily good to speed from zero to one hundred in a matter of hours with a new partner, feeling such emotional intensity for someone you’re only just getting to know could lead the relationship to burn out later down the line.
When you’re reflecting on your dating habits, it’s important to take stock of your relationship goals. If you want to enjoy dating a few people while figuring out what you’re looking for in love, then dating at a breakneck speed might not be the worst thing. However, if you’re looking for a long-term partnership, then a slower pace may pay off.
Going slowly might not be the most hedonistic way to embark upon a new love affair, but relationship experts maintain that developing your partnership at a natural pace means you may well be reaping the benefits for years to come.
What are some reasons to take it slow?
Spending every waking moment with your new partner is an easy trap to fall into when you’re obsessed with discovering everything from what songs they sing in the shower to exactly how many freckles are on their left cheek. But uninterrupted time with one another can lead to you losing sight of your own values, interests, and friends as your partner becomes the most important person in your life.
There are some very valid reasons to take things slow in a new relationship.
For example, if you’re recovering from a recent breakup or are looking for a long-term commitment, a slower pace may be the key.
Jumping into a new relationship soon after ending another can be a tricky situation. By their very nature, rebound relationships often speed along at a faster pace than is healthy. After a breakup, it can feel natural to replace the comfort your ex provided with affection from a new partner. But moving on too soon by throwing yourself into a new relationship could mean you’re getting swept up in a rush of endorphins without allowing yourself to heal.
It’s also important to check the pace of your relationship if you’re looking for a healthy, long-term commitment. Sometimes things moving too quickly can be a sign of a toxic dynamic. Love bombing is another key red flag to watch out for. The term refers to emotionally manipulative behavior in which narcissists or abusers shower a new partner with love, affection, gifts and words of affirmation. After the relationship is established, a love bomber will become cold, distant and manipulative.
The blame should never lie with victims of love bombing – the practice is difficult to spot, and so pervasive that the hashtag has accrued over 100 million views on TikTok – but a relationship moving at double speed could provide an ample opportunity for a love bomber to take advantage.
How does moving too quickly impact your relationship?
I recently interviewed Sarah Louise Ryan, Dating Expert & Matchmaker at Tailor Matched. She told me that, “Rushing into a romantic pairing can mean you are being driven by lust, and confusing those feelings for love. All too often I hear of how people feel they have wasted time, energy and emotion on people who turned out to be wrong for them.”
She added that, “Sometimes two people don’t feel sexually or emotionally connected but are choosing each other on a level that feels superficial and almost like a box ticking exercise for their wants in life. Moving too fast can lead to a forced romantic connection, rather than one that’s progressed naturally.”
What makes a slower, healthier pairing?
Learning about a new partner is a complex process that will only happen with time. Sarah highlights how going slowly allows individuals to focus on their values, telling me that, “When there’s time to truly know each other, there is little room for oversight on what’s important in a relationship for each individual.”
Making sure there are gaps in between your dates is a great habit to establish. Instead of letting a Friday night dinner turn into a long weekend in bed together, try making space in your schedule for friends and time by yourself. Similarly, don’t feel the need to be digitally connected all the time – you’ll get a much better idea of your feelings for your new partner if you close Whatsapp and make space to miss them. If this is a method you choose, try and be respectful and consistent about it, though. It can be difficult to be on the receiving end of sudden and unexplained lack of communication. With some respectful boundaries from the outset, however, these gaps will feel mutually beneficial.
How to communicate the pace you want
Even if you’ve decided to take your relationships slowly, it can be tough to establish a certain speed if the person you’re dating has different ideas. In my last relationship, the guy I met told me he loved me after two weeks of knowing one another.
I was freaked out, and explained that while I really liked him, my feelings would take time to develop and I wanted to take it slower. When he broke up with me out of the blue a few months later, I wasn’t just hurt, but shocked and confused. I never doubted his feelings for me because he’d expressed them so strongly from the outset – the false safety net this created meant I had complete trust in him and the budding relationship. In reality, the net had worn thin without me realizing, and there was nothing to break my fall when heartbreak hit.
How can you express to someone that you do want to get to know them, but that spending every hour of the day with one another isn’t fulfilling for you? Sarah recognizes that this can be a tricky line to walk. “Talking to your partner about slowing things down comes with practice, knowing what it is you would like to communicate and not being afraid of a conflicting conversation,” she said. “Focus on the potential outcome of a deeper connection with your partner.”
Are there ever positives of speeding up your relationship?
Sarah acknowledged that, “When you move quickly it feels exciting and thrilling – endorphins are running around the brain and giving us a hit of feel-good-factor. You will definitely learn lessons about yourself and what does and doesn’t work.”
Making mistakes is an essential part of life, and getting swept away in a love affair at breakneck speed is an experience we can all enjoy and ultimately learn from. But if you’re recovering from a previous heartbreak or want to settle down with a partner for the long-term, taking it slow might be the best way to build a long-lasting relationship for the future.