It’s so easy to get carried away when you first meet somebody you’re attracted to. The oxytocin is flowing, the possibilities seem endless and you’ve yet to learn how annoying they can be on a long car ride. And sometimes that early intensity moves quickly into exclusivity, commitment and even cohabitation well before you even know much about your partner’s inner workings.
The following are 8 common reasons why relationships move too fast:
Fear of Being Alone
I see this fear in ever-increasing numbers in my friends as we all move towards middle age and beyond. It often seems as though it is better to have somebody than nobody, and so a new love interest is quickly catapulted into the role of “life partner.” Some people are aware of being motivated by a fear of being alone, while others are not conscious of the reasons behind their drive to be coupled.
It can be isolating when you’re not in a primary relationship and the fear that you will always be alone can solidify into conviction, prompting a ride on the fast track into partnership. But, as you may have experienced, the wrong relationship can be far, far worse than no relationship and there is no greater loneliness than that of feeling alone in a relationship.
Afraid of Losing “The One”
A belief in a soulmate, a perfect-fit partner, can create a desire to grasp onto someone out of a fear of missing out on “the one.” Maybe you’re afraid if you don’t commit soon, they’ll walk away. Or maybe they even presented you with an ultimatum. Regardless, the belief in a soulmate can create a sense of urgency, much like a one-day-sale at a department store encourages you to pull the trigger on a purchase.
I don’t believe in soulmates. There are many people that can be a good fit for you. And “the one” is part found (similar values, right timing, etc.) and part grown (developing intimacy, communication, history). That second part cannot be rushed. Or if it is, you may find later that the relationship is only partially developed.
Confusing Hormones for Love
There’s a reason the beginning of a relationship is so exciting – you’re literally high. Stoned on oxytocin, your body telling you to bond and bond fast. And it’s easy to listen to that siren song of lust, spending every waking moment you can with your new obsession and running into a relationship.
Oxytocin is powerful. But it’s also blinding. Would make a major life decision while you’re drunk? Because if you’re pledging yourself to another while still under the effects of those early hormones, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Only Know How to be Committed
This was the one that got me when I started dating. When you have been married or in an exclusive relationship for a long time, it is all you know. And so you may approach dates as though they are a date night with your spouse. Not because you intend to move too quickly, but because commitment is what is known and comfortable.
Like anything, dating takes practice. Refrain from seeing only one person if you’re afraid you’ll slip back into commitment like a pair of fuzzy slippers. Learn to navigate through those early “getting to know you” weeks and months before you think about what comes next.
Maybe you want a family and you’re afraid to hit snooze again on the biological clock. Perhaps you’re of an age where you (and everyone else) assumed you would be married. Or you are tired of seeing all of your friends settle down while you seem to endlessly cycle through relationships.
Regardless of how independent you are, it’s impossible not to feel the pressure from outside sources. And this pressure can also lead you to make decisions that you would not on your own. Commit because you’re ready, not because you feel like you have to.
Falling For Flattery
It feels wonderful when you meet someone that makes you feel like you’re amazing. Someone you compliments you, woos you and seems to idolize you. This flattery can be intoxicating, especially if you’re own self-worth is on the lower side.
Be careful, however, when you blindly allow those accolades to wash over you. Sometimes they are used as bait by narcissists and others who have malevolent intentions. Others may use them out of their own insecurities. And even if they are delivered honestly, their meaning is reduced by the fact that the deliverer does not yet really know you.
Reminders of a Former Flame
If you lost someone and you miss certain characteristics that they possessed, you may find yourself powerfully drawn to a new interest that embodies those qualities. It makes sense – it’s natural to be excited when you find what you have missed.
But new person is not the old person. And you may be artificially veneering them with traits they do not have out of a desire to match your former love. Take the time to get to know the new person as an individual, not merely as a stand-in for the old.
Tired of the Dating Scene
Dating can be draining. New encounters take effort and energy, and that’s assuming you’re even finding people you’re interested enough in to meet. It’s frustrating to have your hopes lifted only to be dashed yet again as another potential relationship fizzles out. It can be tempting to slide into exclusivity too soon as an excuse to exit the dating scene.
But entering into a relationship because you’re tired of dating is a bit like buying a house because you’re tired of paying rent. The effort is still needed. You’re just anchored to one choice.
Why You Should Slow It Down…
The transition between “Hi, it’s nice to meet you” and the dedication to exclusivity or cohabitation is an important one. Many early relationships fail to make this shift from casual to committed, as one or more key elements are found lacking or connections are found to be weak.
And that is okay.
In fact, that is what dating is all about – trying on, testing out and sometimes, sending back.
In the beginning, your feelings are based more on fantasy than reality. And if act upon those feelings too soon, you may find yourself living with – or even married to – someone very different from the picture you had created in your mind.
And once you’ve committed, either by word or deed, it makes it much more difficult for a relationship to end. Even if it should. Some of this is due to inertia (it’s easier to stay with the status quo than to create change), some due to a fear of the unknown and some to the sunk cost fallacy.
Trying to force too much on your relationship too soon is like asking a three-year-old to organize your retirement plan. It’s placing responsibilities before foundation. Allow your relationships to mature in their own time and in their own way.
A good relationship requires vulnerability and trust – two things that cannot be rushed. They often occur in stages – periods of growth followed by periods of rest.
A race to the end in a relationship often just brings the end of the relationship. Enjoy the journey and take each step as it comes.
There’s no hurry.
Be where you are.