I stumbled into an unfortunate relationship with a man who exhibited all the classic NPD symptoms. It took me a year to break free.
How Do You Know if You Are Moving Too Fast in a Relationship?
We've all been cautioned against letting a relationship develop too quickly. There seems to be a belief that if two people jump into a relationship too fast, they're on a collision course for failure.
Yet, some long-enduring couples (Ronald and Nancy Reagan are the first to come to my mind) claim they knew from the moment they met that they were meant to be together. This article explores the way relationships develop and whether there is an ideal timeline for new couples to observe.
Love Is a Drug, Baby: How Hormones Affect the "Honeymoon Phase"
People in the beginning stages of a relationship have been compared to drug addicts. They want to tell the whole world about what a great person they've discovered. They can't wait to see the object of their affection. Thoughts of that person pop into their mind repeatedly throughout the day. They do irrational things and think it perfectly acceptable.
Looking deeper, we find that their brains are doing things that closely resemble an addict's brain patterns, too. Don't worry, there won't be any difficult explanations about neuro-whatchamacallits here. Let's keep it simple and say that at least four different hormones affect how a new lover perceives the world around them and how they respond.
Scientists tell us that this initial attraction can last anywhere from a few months to around a year and a half. In other words, at some point in the first couple of years, those hormone highs fade, and our perceptions return to the same levels they were at while we were single.
This seems like a sound argument for taking things slowly, doesn't it? After all, you won't really be thinking straight until your brain's back to normal, and the same can be said for your lover.
However, by slowing down your relationship's development, you may be defeating the whole purpose that Mother Nature (or God, if you prefer) had in mind for us. There are two key factors that are sabotaged when we interfere with the pace of the process.
The first interference relates to sex. Indeed, most suggestions to take things slowly revolve around delaying intercourse. Sadly, this means men have gotten a bad rap for being too focused on wanting to have sex, and women have been taught to feel shame if they indulge too quickly. But those social implications are beside the point. Sex is, and always will be, an important area of compatibility that couples must evaluate.
Dating is a period in which two people get to know each other sufficiently to figure out whether they're compatible, right? The pillars of compatibility are: 1. Emotional 2. Intellectual 3. Sexual 4. Spiritual. (I personally include a 5th one: Financial.)
A major incompatibility in even one area can leave a relationship struggling. If more than one area are in conflict, the relationship is unlikely to be permanent.
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How to Identify Red Flags
This brings us to the second key factor. If the dating period is an opportunity to evaluate those pillars of compatibility, the hormones that are affecting us signal what's good and bad. They magnify our partner's effects on our lives. We feel exhilaration over the smallest pleasures and utter anguish over minor miscommunications. This is nature's way of showing us what we need to see before we get too invested.
Unfortunately, many of us take those moments of anguish and turn them into justifiable explanations instead of seeing them for what they are—signals of incompatibility. Meanwhile, those hormones are still firing off at the speed of light, and they are what makes it possible for us to bond with other people.
Here are some common red flags that people often regret ignoring:
- "I'm so busy! I need someone who understands that I just don't have time."
- "I'll settle down if I find the right person, but for now I just want to have fun."
- "I don't trust anyone."
- "It's hard to reach me by phone. Just send a text."
The suggestion to take things slowly is an excellent one if we're unable to see those tortured moments for what they are. By withholding some of our financial and emotional investment, we can wait for our bodies to settle down before making costly commitments that we'll regret later. However, that doesn't mean simply forsaking sex. It means taking the time to learn your partner's compatibility in every aspect.
Let Nature Take Its Course
This was how it worked a hundred years ago. You engaged in a long courtship, spending very little time alone with your partner, and getting to know them as an individual before deciding to devote yourself to that one individual. You considered their stability, their ability to remain devoted, and their companionship. If these were satsifactory, you married them. Maybe you discovered that your sex life was not good only after marriage, but it wasn't okay to consider sexual compatibility as a factor in your marital happiness then.
Today, it is. So while your body's saying "Hey, here's a good bond! Look how good it feels!" we shouldn't hesitate to find out all we can about every facet of compatibility with our potential partner, including physical intimacy, as long as we pay attention to those signals that tell you "Wait a minute—it might be time to slow down."
How do you recognize those signals? For one thing, you may feel uncomfortable with the idea of being physically intimate. You may find yourself feeling bad over something that happens or something that your partner says. Perhaps you feel puzzled and cannot understand their viewpoint on a subject that is important to you.
If you're really lucky, the signs will be obvious—he doesn't call as often as you'd like, or she flirts with other men in your presence. Rather than talking yourself into trying to change your viewpoint, pay attention and step back to evaluate.
If none of those things is happening, though, simply enjoy, and let your relationship develop at its own pace. After all, we're most interested in the people who are genuinely into us. Why fight that and try to push them away?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.