Recently I had a whirlwind romance that really shook me. I’ve been dating for a while and I’m intentionally particular, so it’s not often I get swept up in an unexpected love-tornado. But oh boy did I.
We met on Hinge and were immediately obsessed with each other. After just a couple of weeks, we were talking very long-term. I mean like, talking about how many kids we wanted on the first (in-person) date.
“You should just move in”, he’d say jokingly.
“I know people say not to rush, but I don’t see any reason to slow down”, I’d say, trying to justify my crazed intensity.
“Stop being so perfect! You are the perfect woman”, he’d reply, after I shared some of my writing with him.
I thought this was it. Finally, my years of searching had paid off! Finally, I had found a man to adore my intricacies and the way my brain worked and my silly sense of wonder. I had never met someone who I clicked with so immediately. This is what it feels like when you know, I thought to myself excitedly.
. . .
A couple more weeks went by. We spent weekends together cooking banana pancakes, camping under the stars, and giggling in bed. We hadn’t slept together yet because I always move slowly in that department. I consider myself demisexual, and so did he, which absolutely blew my mind — it’s rare, especially for a man!
Everything seemed to be going perfectly. Until it wasn’t.
About a month into knowing each other, I felt him get noticeably distant. At first, I blamed my anxiety for creating problems out of nowhere (mistake! Your anxiety usually has important information for you). But I couldn’t shake the feeling so I eventually asked him what was wrong. At first, he said nothing was wrong, but after a few days the truth came out: our sexual relationship hadn’t been progressing as quickly as he expected, so he was losing excitement and didn’t know how to get it back.
I was shook. Sex? That was the problem? The sex we hadn’t even had yet but that would be coming soon?
My slow pace had never been an issue for men before. Sure, maybe they were confused or internally impatient that they had to wait. But it was never a relationship-ending issue.
Well, sex (or lack thereof) turned out to be the thing that ended us. And I can’t fault him, or myself. We were both just being who we were. Me — slow(er) to open up sexually. Him — needing sexual intimacy sooner. It just so happened that my way of being conflicted with his. I was devastated, and he seemed to be as well. He, for whatever reason, couldn’t find his excitement for me again and was genuinely frustrated with himself for this. But we both agreed that you can’t help how you feel. So we ended our whirlwind romance peacefully and have not spoken since.
. . .
If I could go back to my July self, I would explain to her just why taking it slow and not rushing into a relationship is a good idea. This experience burned hot and bright, and it sure taught me a lot. Below are a few great reasons not to rush when it comes to sex and love:
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Rushing Often Indicates Fantasy Projection
This is a tough pill to swallow, but often the reason we rush is that we’re projecting all of our hopes and dreams onto this new person. They just seem so perfect! Just what we’ve always wanted! So we start dreaming up and attaching to a fantasy future with them. They become our ticket out of single-dom. Our ticket to the beginning of the rest of our lives. But the truth is, this person has just become an archetype for our fantasies. They meet enough of our wants that we fill in the gaps that we do not (and cannot) know yet with sparkly fantasy. This can blind us from seeing the person that’s actually in front of us. If you feel yourself rushing into something, take caution to not let your excitement eclipse your discernment and wisdom.
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True Emotional Intimacy Cannot Be Rushed
Despite what our excited hearts want to believe in the beginning stages of a relationship, you cannot truly know someone in a month or two or three. Despite how many deep conversations you have, despite just “getting” each other, despite never feeling like this before with anyone else. Emotional intimacy is built with shared experiences over time. Shared moments, shared struggles, shared willingness to be supportive and vulnerable with each other even when the high of new romance has worn off. Rushing this process often leads to false intimacy that can painfully topple down like a house of cards (exhibit A: my whirlwind romance). True closeness is cultivated slowly and intentionally, like the slow-growing roots of a tree.
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Sometimes People Are Not Who They Believe Themselves to Be
This is slightly different and tougher to suss out than “people who are not true to their word”. The difference is that some people truly believe they are certain ways and after time they reveal through repeated action, that they are just not that way. For example, someone may tell you that they are open-minded, and truly believe that they are this way, but over time they keep rejecting new experiences and viewpoints. In actuality, this person is quite closed-minded, but they don’t know themselves well enough to admit that. Or perhaps someone claims they are emotionally available, yet they repeatedly shirk attempts at real intimacy and avoid deep conversations. Despite what they believe, that person is not available for a committed relationship. This is why rushing into a relationship is risky — early on, all you know is what someone tells you about themselves. It takes time and repeated experiences for you to actually see who someone is.
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Sex is a Litmus Test for Deeper Issues
Sex has a way of bringing underlying emotions and baggage to the surface in relationships. Chances are if something is wrong in your sex life, it’s indicative something deeper going on for one or both people in the relationship. In my recent experience, the issue of sex dug up some major incompatibilities early-on such as avoidant tendencies and inability to work through difficult emotions. On the surface, it was about the sex. But in actuality, the sex acted as a litmus test for how issues may occur in the future. It’s a vulnerable and emotionally charged area for most people, and therefore will usually end up bringing insecurities, hang-ups, or red-flags to the surface quickly. Sure, sometimes rushing with sex is fun and exciting, but it can also lead to hormone-induced love goggles. Instead, being mindful and slower with sex in the beginning of a relationship gives us space to wisely assess compatibility.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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