You’re head over heels for someone new. After a month of dating, everything seems perfect; the two of you just seem to click on so many levels. You confide in one of your best friends that you think you may have found the one. Then this new person with whom you’re so captivated calls you up, or sends you a text, or perhaps sits you down to tell you something you never expected to hear: he thinks the two of you are moving too fast. Perhaps, he suggests, it’s time to step back.
Skip the Code
You’re probably surprised and hurt, wondering if it means the end of this new relationship in which you’ve already invested so much. The reality may be very different. It may not be pleasant to hear “we’re moving too fast,” but contrary to what may be your first thought, that phrase isn’t always code for “things are over.” Rather, it may be an opportunity to look at some common mistakes you may be making in your rush towards intimacy.
Listen to His Words
Clinical psychologist and relationship expert Gerry Heisler notes that while your “intention may be to show how much (you) care, but the reality is (you) bury the other… in (your) eagerness to establish the relationship, (you) may not be reading cues that are there.” Take the initiative to ask whether your texts, calls or physical affection are too much to soon. Let your significant other know that you’re willing to cool things down without making it into a big deal. You not only increase the chance you’ll get some important honesty in reply, you also may forestall an argument that could lead to a premature breakup.
Perhaps you’ve shared too much too soon. Many of us are afraid that if others find out our deepest secrets and sources of shame, we’ll get rejected. One common but dangerous strategy is to reveal all those secrets and insecurities early in a relationship, hoping for the sweet validation that will come if – and it’s a big if – the person whom you’re telling accepts you anyway. It’s hard to be patient, but if you can save the big revelations until the relationship has had a chance to grow, you reduce your chances of overwhelming your new partner.
Gender Roles May Rule
It isn’t necessarily your fault if the other person feels overwhelmed. The problem may be something else: rigid gender roles. As psychologist Deborah Tolman notes, many young men expect the women they date to be passive and demure; they “effectively desexualize girls’ sexuality.” Guys like this may feel overwhelmed and confused when young women are romantically and sexually assertive. The issue in this instance isn’t that the girl is pushing too hard, it’s that the boy is reacting to sexual stereotypes. He may need time and help to learn to be a little more flexible.
Above all, “we’re moving too fast” isn’t – despite what you may fear – a cowardly way of saying “I want to call things off.” It may be that, but it’s just as likely to be meant at face value. If you’re willing to push past your own feelings of anxiety and hurt so that you can have a serious conversation about where things are going, what seems like a rejection may turn out to be just the right opportunity your relationship needs to deepen and grow.
- Are You Erecting Love Barriers Part Two: Coming On Too Strong
- Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality; Deborah L. Tolman
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