Studies Say Slow Your Relationship Down, But I Say Smarten It Up


Even though the evidence says when you rush into love it'll probably fail, the fast track can work if you do it right.
Lasting loveImage by Author via Canva

Love is grand, and when you fall, you fall hard.

You want it all right here, right now.

I get it, I've been there but studies show that rushing into things doesn't guarantee long-term happiness.

In fact, the evidence points to the opposite.

People who get married after being together less than six months have the highest divorce rate.

Which makes sense because impulsive, impatient people don't always make the best decisions.

If you like to get busy right away, that's not necessarily going to be good for your long-term happiness either.

A study done in 2006 showed that women who rushed into sex with their partners ended up less satisfied with their relationships in the long run. Women who waited a bit longer to take it to the next level had better results in that arena.

Some of the reasons you might want to wait are pretty straightforward:

  • It gives you more time to build emotional intimacy, to see if you're genuinely compatible
  • Helps you avoid getting attached to the wrong person — it's possible to bond to someone completely wrong for you since sex releases oxytocin and other bonding hormones that are hard to fight
  • Gives you time to build trust
  • An emotionally unhealthy person is more likely to want to rush you into something

So obviously, taking your time is always a good thing, in general.

But I think that if you play your cards right, you can love hard, move fast, and still have a successful relationship.

I'm not necessarily recommending it, but I'm saying it can be done.

Here's my story:

When I met my husband, I fell hard.

We met in late August and were living together by November.

We were married the following May and had our daughter a year-and-a-half later.

Yes, we moved fast, but it wasn't recklessness. It was because we had something solid, and we knew it was right.

We've been together for 15 years, married for 14, still happy, still in love, and I'm sure it's because of how we handled things right from the beginning.

Even though we fell crazy in love, how we approached it was anything but.

Here is a short story that illustrates our relationship right from the start.

Shortly after our first date, my husband had a friend come to stay for a week from overseas.

He wanted to spend that week with just his friend.

It was his best mate that he hadn't seen in ages.

With our relationship so fresh, my then-new boyfriend felt conflicted about trying to split his attention between the two of us.

He asked if I minded if he took that week to just be with his friend. He only had one week and wanted to spend it uninterrupted.

You can just imagine how that made me feel, right?
Getting to know youImage by Author via Canva

It made me feel fine.

I didn't care. I totally understood.

No matter how much he liked me, I knew that visit had been planned for ages, and his best friend meant a lot to him.

So I told him to have fun, to get in touch after the visit, and I'd still be here.

Movies and TV tell us drama is the marker for passion and love, I disagree.

I think love- the kind that lasts and makes people feel safe- is built on mutual respect and sensible behavior - the antidote to drama.

If you can be reasonable from the start, your relationship has a much better chance of lasting.

I understand it's hard to be levelheaded when you're in the throes of a new passion, but if you can try, it certainly helps.

Since our approach was sensible right from the get-go, we minimized the drama and got things on track fast.

Here are some approaches that worked to keep things on an even keel and moving forward that might just work for you.

Unpack your baggage slowly

We all have baggage—nobody's immune.

So don't feel bad if you bring something less than positive into the relationship.

If you had terrible trauma in your life, that doesn't mean you're unlovable.

The right partner will not only love you through your healing process but will also be a part of it.

But you may want to ease them into it.

I'm not suggesting you hide anything. If that person's right for you, they'll accept and support you no matter what.

But if you share every single detail of everything that's ever hurt you in one go, you may overwhelm them.

Unpacking your baggage in small doses can go a long way in enabling your partner to support and understand you without overwhelming them.

Give each other breathing room

I told that story in the beginning to highlight something.

I gave my husband enough space to do what he needed right from the start.

I didn't want to compete with his best friend. Since we were in the initial phase of love, I knew it would be distracting to have me around.

I also knew I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be part of their visit.

So I opted to back off.

If he didn't feel comfortable having me there, I wouldn't try to force myself where I wasn't invited.

I was secure enough in myself to be okay with not being included.

I didn't feel rejected.

I didn't make a big deal about it or try to make him feel guilty.

I didn't start some big drama about it.

I just said okay.

Can you guess why?

Because everyone needs space.

Even in that new-love phase, you may find yourself not included in something.

You or your partner might want a little alone time. It's okay. You're allowed.

Sometimes a little space creates the opportunity to miss each other.

I'm not talking about being aloof or inattentive, and I'm not talking about neglect.

I'm just saying that you don't have to be attached at the hip just because you're in love.

State your needs honestly

Don't water your needs down just because you're afraid of the other person's reaction.

Again I will refer you to my previous story.

My husband had his friend visiting and told me candidly that he wanted that week just for them.

He didn't hide it from me or pretend that he wanted me along.

He told me straight up it would be better if he didn't have to divide his attention that week and just wanted to be with his friend.

I was totally okay with it, and if I hadn't been, if I'd made a big deal about it, that would have told him something important about me.

Be straightforward, say what you mean, and ask for what you want right from the beginning.

It's better to be honest so you can tell if that person will respect what you really need.

If you don't, you might end up committing to someone who doesn't jibe with or respect your needs.

Minimize the drama

Love feels dramatic. That's a fact.

I loved the initial falling in love phase.

You feel so warm and fuzzy.

It's a drug coursing through your veins, you get addicted to the other person, and it feels great.

But this is also when you're feeling each other out emotionally, and you'll experience your first fights.

First fights are dramatic because everything is heightened.

Don't let that ruin everything.

Your first fights might be frightening and disorienting, but that's to be expected, don't buy into those first fights too much.

You don't know each other yet.

You haven't figured out how your partner operates. You don't have a fighting style worked out. So when you do have that inevitable conflict, try not to make too much of it.

The drama might feel weirdly wonderful initially, but when you're fighting, try to dial it down.

If you save the big emotions for the good times and minimize them in rough patches, things will go a lot smoother.

If you have a fight, retreat to your corners, cool off and then talk about it.

Try to figure out each other's triggers so you can avoid them, forgive generously and move on.

If you stay together long enough, you will get used to each other's fighting style once you know what to expect.

Be your best, but be you

If you have some quirky hobby, talk about it. If you do something a bit weird, make sure to mention it.

If it's something they might not like, you need to know early on so you can decide what you're going to do about it.

If you're a vegetarian, don't hide it. You might really be attracted to a meat-eater, but do you want to spend the rest of your life with one?

Do you smoke?

Do you need lots of alone time, or are you super social?

All of these things are potential deal-breakers.

If you're going to be in a relationship, the other person needs to know who you are so they can accept you - or not.

And you need to be able to decide the same for them.

Acting one way in the beginning and then totally changing, later on, is lying.

You don't' want to base a relationship on lies. It'll make things awkward and frustrating when it gets serious.
Happy couple laughingImage by Author via Canva

Starting off a new relationship on the right foot can be tricky when you're full of emotion.

You don't have to sacrifice passion for sensibility. You just have to inject a little common sense into the mix.

Being yourself, unpacking your baggage slowly, being straightforward, minimizing the drama, and giving each other space, will set you up for the best outcome possible.

Even if it doesn't work out, by following these common-sense guidelines, your worst-case scenario might just be that you make a friend, and that's not such a bad thing either.

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Musician, writer, toddler wrangler. Author of "How To Be Wise AF" guided journal available on Amazon as well as "The Automatic Parent" due out in Feb. 2022.


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