“You shouldn’t rush something you want to last forever.”
Ask yourself, “How do I know I want to slow down?”
- What are the clues and guidance you are using in this decision? Is it a gut feeling, are you noticing a red flat, is there something you have learned in your past that is helping to inform this? Whatever they are, honor that they exist – you have every right to make a change.
- It is important to understand your decision-making process and thinking. This can give you confidence in your request and conviction to see it through. When you know how you are making the decision, you can articulate that to him and to yourself. Not as an excuse, but as a way to stay grounded in your wants.
Applaud your assertiveness
- You have taken the time of figure out what you want and you’re ready to communicate that. You are not shying away from being honest, and you’re not running away from something you’re enjoying just because you want it to change a little.
What to say to him:
Have a clear ask for what you want so that you are answering:
- What does slow mean, how would you define it?
- How does it practically look?
- Do you have a time frame in mind for this current pace?
- Stay calm. One way to do this is to plan your words beforehand. Rehearse the scene and potential responses he may have. This will help prevent you from saying something that is emotionally charged, or that you regret.
- Prepare to explain why you want to slow down. Help him understand by walking him through your decision. You have also decided to continue seeing him, not just break up, so explain why.
- Anticipate that he may worry he has done something to upset you, and you can help him see that you made this decision for yourself. He may become defensive and interpret your request as a critique of him or that he has done something wrong (neither of which may be true). But, it is not your responsibility to soothe his feelings or handle his anxiety.
- One thing that can help is to mention positives about him, your relationship, and your thoughts (even hopes) for the future.
Reflecting and learning:
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture, asking yourself questions like:
- What has the pace of your romantic relationships looked like before?
- How satisfied have you been with these paces? Have you taken any action to change the pace?
- How were those received?
- Do you see any patterns between this relationship and previous ones? If so, is there anything you can learn here?
By thinking about your actions and history you will develop proactive habits that enable you to live a satisfying life – seeking out what you want and navigating the paths to get there!
Stacey Schwenker, MDiv, LMFT – www.gardencitycenter.org
The start of a new relationship brings with it a vast array of emotions.
It can re-awaken us to the feeling of being connected to someone else. It can bring with it excitement and enthusiasm which can lead into a long-term commitment.
However, sometimes we find our self in too deep and we may need to come up for some air. It can be challenging to express our feelings to our partner when we know we want things to move at a slower pace.
As you navigate these waters remember that being honest and not letting too much time pass before you communicate your needs is important.
Put in the work to really ask yourself why it is that you want things to slow down.
Be certain that this is not just your way of ‘breaking up nicely.’
I know we think that pulling away slowly is an easier way to let someone go but it is not and it often brings with it more complex hurt and resentment.
It is not uncommon to project our own anxiety on to our relationship, make sure you consider if the issue might be your own fear of letting go,
One of the top reasons that one might want to slow a relationship down the physical intimacy is inhibiting them for exploring other feelings.
Wanting to step back and get to know someone is an understandable request and you should feel validate in your need for deeper emotional intimacy.
Another reason may be you feel he is too clingy or dependent.
It may be that you are uncertain of what level you are at in the relationship and want to process your feelings.
No matter what the reason, there is absolutely nothing wrong with slowing down a relationship; having a respectful and heartfelt conversation can help couple’s get on the same wave length.
If you have decided to slow the pace of the relationship it will be important to talk about what that looks like and reassure him that you like him and that you still care about your relationship.
Emphasize that you want to continue seeing him, but you need some space for yourself.
This may look like scheduling fewer dates or not having overnight dates. Keeping outings more causal and focused on the activity rather than romantic can help slow the pace of a relationship.
In addition to lessening the frequency of phone/text interaction you may decide to go out alone some nights or take up a new hobby. Decide on which of these strategies you feel will work in your situation to help the relationship more at a more natural and organic pace.
Your wanting to slow down the relationship may not be what he wants for the relationship and that is ‘ok.’
He may express his disappointment and that is also healthy, and should not deter you from setting the boundaries that make you feel comfortable. Who knows he may be feeling a similar way!
No matter what, you have the right to share your concerns.
Never feel like you have to do something that goes against your wishes, values, or boundaries.
Being authentic will only help your relationships mature and grow- a good partner will adjust with you.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.danahalltherapy.com
I have been working with a female client who was divorced last fall.
She has begun dating again and while she knows some of the things she wants in a guy, she is pretty clear on the things she doesn’t want. After several dates with a number of different guys she finally met someone four months ago who she really clicked with.
While she admitted to being swept up in the excitement of a new promising relationship she also knew that it was impossible for her to tell yet if this was simply a rebound infatuation or the real thing.
To add to her confusion, she had just gotten out of a 7 year relationship where she had “lost” herself a bit and she was now enjoying the freedom of being a single woman, beholding to no one.
All things considered, this is a predicament many people would love to be in. An exciting new relationship and the freedom to take it at her pace.
There was only one problem.
The guy she was seeing had spent his 20’s casually dating and building his career. Now that he was in his early 30’s he was looking for the right woman to settle down with.
He had expressed to my client the same excitement about the relationship that she had and this was beginning to scare her. She really liked this guy and believed they might have a future but it was all moving too fast.
You’ve all heard that men are from Mars and a women are from Venice.
Well, I’m not sure about that but I do know that women are light years ahead of men when it comes to relationship skills.
You see, young girls are generally raised to navigate relationships while boys are raised to play by rules. Have you ever watch two guys argue over the “rules” of a game?
We guys tend to see things as right or wrong, black or white while women tend to see the different shades of grey. This is why guys tend to panic when women want to “talk.”
It’s literally like asking a guy to play 1 on 1 basketball with Lebron James.
In other words, it’s terrifying.
So this is what happened to my client. She tried to talk to her boyfriend about all the things she was feeling about their relationship (are you with me so far?). Unfortunately, what he heard is, “I want to break up.”
He responded (like we guys often do), by puffing up his chest and breaking up with her before she could breakup with him. In the process he said a few things that she found hard to forgive (sound familiar?).
After all this my client still wasn’t ready to give up on their relationship.
Understanding that her guy was not as relationally astute as her did not make his behavior ok but it did allow her to realize something and that was that she could help “them” through this challenge to their relationship.
She started by telling him exactly how she felt. She really liked him but needed to take things slower. She also asked him how he really felt about her. She had already put herself out there so it was less risky for him. Besides, if he couldn’t be honest about how he felt that was a sign he was not ready for the relationship she was interested in.
When he was however able to admit how he felt about her, he was able to acknowledge that his initial angry response was really him covering up his fear of losing her.
She validated him and followed up by stressing that when he responds with anger it pushes them farther apart not closer together.
She told him that her slowing things down was not a rejection of him but instead it was her “admitting” she liked him.
If she had just been having fun she would have just ended it when she was done. Instead, slowing things down was actually the only way to see if this relationship had what it takes to move to the next level.
Slowing things down doesn’t mean their getting married, but it does mean they have moved past the fun, infatuation stage and are now seeing what their relationship is really based on.
Larry Blackwell, LCSW, AADC – www.westhartfordholisticcounseling.com
Is he moving too fast for you? Sometimes, you have to tell a guy how to take it slowly.
This could mean either slowing down your physical relationship or the level of commitment in your relationship.
Slowing down often comes up first in the area of physical intimacy.
Most guys are wired to pursue, and that’s normal and healthy. It’s a biological imperative – men are wired to pursue, and women are wired to receive.
Take the time and space that you need to get to know someone before you decide that you want to become more intimate.
There are no hard and fast rules about when to become physically intimate, that depends on your own comfort level and also that of your partner.
If you want to slow it down, say so.
It’s OK to be direct, as long as you are kind and respectful. It’s up to the woman to set the limits and to pace the relationship.
If your partner wants a commitment before you’re ready for one, know what is in your heart, and be true to yourself.
If someone is rushing you, that could be a sign of insecurity or desperation, which could later show up as possessiveness and control.
While it is flattering that someone wants all of you right away, be cautious about committing to someone that you don’t really know.
You need to be compatible on many different levels in order to have a healthy relationship: emotionally, intellectually, financially, sexually, and spiritually.
Remember that you are always in control of you.
Just like you cannot control other people, other people cannot control you either. It is up to you to decide when you are ready for more commitment and a deeper level in the relationship.
Talk to one another in an honest and vulnerable way, and focus mostly on expressing how you feel, rather than telling the other person what to do.
Intimacy grows when we each take a step forward in sharing who we really are and how we truly feel.
It is built slowly, and takes time. There is no way to rush it.
If you feel rushed, say so, and state what you would like.
Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean. You can trust that the right thing will work out when it is meant to.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
There is a common saying, “Two halves make a whole.”
Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to relationships. In a healthy relationship, “Two wholes make a whole”.
In essence, the health of a relationship is largely determined by the health or “wholeness” of it’s individual parts.
When speaking about couples, conflict can always be traced back to assumptions about others and an inability to feel what is true and right for you in any given situation.
To communicate effectively it is so important to give our partner accurate information and accurate information comes from you!
Knowing what is true for you and having the willingness to share that truth with others, regardless of how you think they might react, is the key to managing conflict.
Beginning tough conversations with the words, “I feel” is a good start.
As women, so often we express our discomfort by expressing what we want others to do, when in fact our comfort in any relationship is not determined by others, but by ourselves.
In the case of a relationship which is moving too fast…first, ask yourself how you know it is moving too fast.
Chances are you will feel something is “not right” on some level. Trust that feeling! We women possess a superpower called intuition.
Intuition is our ability to “feel” what is right, and very often what is wrong for us.
The problem is, we are people pleasers by nature, so when our intuition gives us a clear answer, we have this little habit of wanting to make sure our choices don’t make anyone around us unhappy.
Herein lies the source of many of the problems we encounter.
Even though we know what is right, we choose what is wrong because making others happy is what we do best. In the long run, this pattern of thinking will backfire.
It may feel right in the moment and feed our need to please, but eventually all these choices designed to keep others happy, will begin to bring us down and we won’t know why.
The answer is to learn to trust yourself.
Deep inside you know what is right, and if you have courage to express your truth, even if it doesn’t feed the needs of others, you will at least know that your half of a healthy relationship is “whole”.
By showing up authentically in your relationship your partner will know who you are and what you stand for.
By sending the consistent message of “This is who I am…I am not perfect….but I am real”, you will invite others to do the same.
Barbara L Bourgeois, MBA, MS, LPC, NCC – www.bbtherapyct.com
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