By Chika Ekemezie
Everyone’s relationship pace is different. Sometimes you can feel like you’re falling for someone a lot more quickly than you originally anticipated, and that might work. But for others, moving fast doesn’t feel right. Maybe you just got out of a relationship, or maybe you’ve been hurt by moving quickly in the past. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing wrong with slowing down a relationship if you think that’s the right thing to do for you. But what do you do when you want to pump the brakes? Let these experts explain how to take a relationship slow.
Communicate with your partner
Taking it slow means different things to different people; for some, it may mean pacing yourself when it comes to physical intimacy or defining the relationship. For others, taking it slow can refer to incorporating yourself in your new partner’s life, like meeting their friends and family. And for others still, taking it slow may refer to major life decisions, like moving in together or having a child.
If you feel that your relationship is moving too fast in any way, Dr. Sarah Schewitz, psychologist and founder of Couples Learn, recommends having an open, honest conversation with your partner. Start by telling your partner that you’re enjoying the time you’re spending together, and then move into talking about checking the pace. Relationship expert Natalie Lue adds that it’s important to be specific so that your partner understands what parts of the relationship you want to slow down. For example, if you’re okay with things moving quickly physically but are uncomfortable with labeling your relationship after only a few dates, tell them exactly that.
Don’t feel pressured to move fast
Sometimes relationships move faster than we’d like because we’re scared that we’ll lose our partner if we don’t keep up with the pace that they’re setting. But if your partner isn’t receptive to slowing things down after you have a conversation with them about it, that could be an indicator to take a second look at the relationship entirely. “If someone can’t hear that they’re expecting too much too soon or take a step back to talk that out with you, then they may not be the best partner for you long-term,” says sex and dating coach Myisha Battle.
Focus on the present
If you’re the person who usually speeds things up, reflect on if you tend to fantasize about things like moving in, children, or marriage after only a few weeks or months of dating. This is important to be aware of because when you’re focusing on the future or getting carried away with ‘what ifs,’ it’s more likely that you’re going to accelerate your relationship to match those expectations or fantasies.
In order to counteract this habit, Battle advises her clients to practice methods of centering themselves. “Some folks like to check in with all of their senses as a quick way to ground into the current moment, while others prefer journaling about what they are feeling,” she says. By focusing on the present, you can avoid moving too quickly without disengaging from the dating process.
Reflect on your dating history
Lue says that one of the best ways to learn when and how to slow the pace of your new relationship down is to consider your past ones. She encourages clients to reflect on when specifically they tend to be intense or move fast—not because it’s right or wrong, but so that they can understand their patterns.
For example, for some people, integrating their partner with their close friends from the start of the relationship feels like a no-brainer. But, if you notice that your relationships begin to accelerate in a way that you’re not comfortable with afterwards, then you might want to make a conscious decision to wait before inviting your close friends to spend time with you and your new partner.
Whether you’ve been seeing your partner for a few weeks or a few years, you’re in the driver’s seat for how fast or slow you want your relationship to move. You should always feel empowered to take control and create a pace for your relationship that makes you both feel comfortable.