wait. hold up. rewind.
April 3, 2011 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: The SO and I rushed into having sex and saying "I Love You". Now we're struggling to keep our relationship chugging along. I'm especially anxiety-ridden. How can we regain our momentum?

One of my closest friends is struggling with the following issue and would appreciate guidance from the Hive Mind:

My boyfriend and I have been together for two months. I enjoy his company and we both feel strongly that if we're able to, we'd like to get married someday. Two weeks ago we let our hormones get the better of us and despite having agreed to only have sex after saying "I love you" and truly feeling it, we had sex. And then said "I love you". Since then I feel as though our relationship has been turned on its end and my anxiety has skyrocketed. We both feel that the sex, no matter how fun, was wrongly timed, and though he doesn't know it, I still feel weird about having said "I love you" so early in our relationship. We are now trying to continue moving forward, but I keep rollercoastering between the positive and the negative and it's impacting my ability to be a good partner to this wonderful guy.

Ultimately I feel like some of the magic has already disappeared, and for a relationship that's only two months old, that's really depressing. Things are too serious for me and I can't discern what's up anymore. For example, I've been very iffy about having him meet my parents simply because I'm not ready. I finally decided to push past that and he's meeting them in another week or so. Part of me thinks, "Awesome, just keep moving out of your comfort zone" and the other part is going, "SLOW DOWN". This duality is becoming a regular thing for too many issues, and now when my SO starts saying things like, "Hey, I really like you. I feel like we have a lot of potential as a couple, and I know it's early, but I hope someday that maybe I could be a good husband to you. I'm optimistic and excited about us getting there someday" I want to cry (and sometimes I literally do) in both joy and fear.

How do I figure out what I'm actually ready for and what I'm really not? Is the anxiety I feel something I should take as a sign that things aren't right? And, more importantly, how can my boyfriend and I regain some of the momentum and magic now that we've determined we've done some really major things out of order? How can a relationship recover if you have to backtrack? And if you remove certain things that you've started using as positive indicators of compatibility, how do you fill in the gaps? Help!
posted by iLoveTheRain to Human Relations (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Can we get one thing out of the way? Boy and girl are how old? Young? Lot of 'young'?

SO and you want to slow down, enjoy what you have, go hold hands in movies and eat cotton candy and ball and whatever, and periodically give yourselves a kick about being: two months in. He probably feels weird about things too, and an honest talk is overdue.
posted by kmennie at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: My friends are 23 (OP), and 24. Both individuals have been in relationships prior to this one. This is their first serious relationship and they're worried they're "doing it wrong".
posted by iLoveTheRain at 1:17 PM on April 3, 2011

Slow down~ its obvious that your taking this way too fast that you can't handle the pressure.

Go out on a date. Do something from the past that you both enjoyed and fell in love with, something that you guys did that sparked your love. I feel that relationships shouldn't be continued till the end, but to keep going back from the beginning, trying new things, trying something out of the ordinary so there's no end.

I suggest do something really scary (ride a coaster, bungee jump whatever that gives you the adrenaline).

If you've done this and that "magic" doesn't come back to you~ then I guess you guys aren't meant to be 4 together.
posted by Johnkx at 1:18 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

You'd like to get married someday, and you're not ready for him to meet your parents? The number of years is really not important. I know a couple who got married after two months. That was 20 years ago. There is no script, no order, just whatever feels comfortable to you.
posted by smorange at 1:19 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

"Out of order"? According to whom, exactly. Look, before I ever dated or had sex I thought I knew all sorts of things about how my romantic life would go, because I am a planner and what in life could be more important to have a plan for? I was gonna wait for love, I had a specific timeline on the order of months before I would have sex, etc etc.

Well, as it turned out, I had sex with a guy on the second date, and we said "I love you" a week later. (Which was too soon for me- having never been in love before, I didn't totally get what 'I love you' meant, and, well, a couple months later when I actually was in love I had to confess to him 'hey I just realized I love you! And, um, I guess I kind of didn't before BUT I DO NOW I'M SORRY!' Shitshow. But anyway...)

So, look, I dated the guy for two and a half years. We had a great relationship and we did not break up because we had sex too soon. Stop worrying about this. This 'problem' is entirely inside your head.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:26 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like instead of doing what you want or what you feel comfortable with, you're worrying about whether or not you're doing what you're "supposed to do" at the "right time."

There's no one right way to have a relationship. Stop focusing on whether you're getting it right. Just spend time together when you want to doing what you want to do.
posted by prefpara at 1:40 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

My wife and I had sex on our second date, and didn't say "I love you" until the seventh month. We've been together almost five years now and are planning for our retirement together.

It sounds like both of them are struggling with a pile of expectations that have little to do with their relationship itself. A long talk about those expectations and how real they are would probably take a lot of the pressure off. They're in it for each other, not to please some imaginary society that's tracking them on a schedule.
posted by fatbird at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My friend (the by-proxy-OP) wishes to say:

I totally agree that timelines are self-determined and that the timing that is right for someone else's relationship may not be right for ours. The issue here, really, is that the timeline we've constructed so far is decidedly uncomfortable for both of us. Neither of us were really ready for sex and love and we went for it anyway. Now we're feeling off and we don't know what to do or how to recover, me moreso than him. I just feel very taken out of my comfort zone and I am not sure where to go from here. Thank you for all the input given so far.
posted by iLoveTheRain at 2:05 PM on April 3, 2011

I just feel very taken out of my comfort zone and I am not sure where to go from here

I'm not sure I totally get where you're coming from on this, so I won't harp on this point any further after this post, but... why should you be in your comfort zone? Why is it a bad thing to feel slightly unsettled? If you think you're not really in love, well, that's one thing, but I'm not sure why you think it's possible or desirable to control the speed at which your relationship progresses. Ever think you two might just be a really good match? I think you should face this scary, unsettling feeling and embrace it. It won't hurt you...
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:17 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

There is no rule book that says you have to have sex today because you had sex last week. There is no rule book that says you have to say "I love you" every day now because you said it already. There is no rule book that says you can't postpone meeting the parents for a few months even though it's already scheduled. Why not sit down and say "hey, let's take six weeks off from "I love you" and sex and try just dating for a bit?" If you're both uncomfortable, step back a bit.

It might help if you followed any or all of the following steps:
1) double date
2) have an agreed-to curfew
3) take every other weekend off from being together
4) insist on "doing stuff" dates instead of hanging out

"Whoa, this is going too fast, let's cool things down a bit" is totally normal and OK. "I'm really uncomfortable but it feels like I really should just keep going" is kind of messed up and an excellent reason to have the "let's cool things down a bit" conversation.

You are making this far harder than it needs to be.

(By the way, you can get tons of answers on Google by typing in "slow down relationship." I get tens of thousands of hits. This should tell you something about how normal this is. Calm down.)
posted by SMPA at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

It seems to me that you guys have been thrown through a loop because your careful plan of how to do things right fell apart when you gave in to your hormones and had sex too soon. In my opinion, the only way to truly recover from this is to try to just let go of these expectations of the right way to do things. Regarding meeting the parents, I feel that no matter how right the relationship feels in the beginning, it's usually a good idea to hold off on that until you know that this is a solid relationship with potential to go places. Mostly to avoid the incessant questions about someone you only saw for a few months.

I do think that calming down and embracing the scary parts of a good relationship might be a good idea. Relationships are scary, especially when two people get along so well that you end up bearing your souls, so to speak.
posted by ruhroh at 2:51 PM on April 3, 2011

Seconding SMPA's double date suggestion. If you have close mutual friends, hanging out with them is a great way to swim in familiar territory and feel less urgent and immediate.

...down the other fork in the path, eight weeks is a very, very short time. Give things more time if you feel like you should, but, you know, if you're not happy, you're not happy. There doesn't have to be a why.
posted by mindsound at 3:17 PM on April 3, 2011

And, more importantly, how can my boyfriend and I regain some of the momentum and magic now that we've determined we've done some really major things out of order? How can a relationship recover if you have to backtrack?

Honestly, "Whoa-hey-let's-slow-down" is a normal stage that just about every relationship goes through at some point. It's totally possible to recover, and in fact, most long-term relationships have been through it and recovered. It's definitely not the kiss of death.

As for "magic" — well, it sounds like you're talking about the new-relationship "everything is perfect!" feeling. And that was bound to go away sooner or later. If you're compatible and you treat each other well, you get to replace it with the "okay, you're just human but you're still my favorite human" feeling — which honestly, is just as pleasant.

So, yeah, again, what you're going through is something that happens in every serious relationship, even the really good ones. Asking how you can recover from it is like asking "How can I possibly recover from the common cold?" Just keep taking decent care of yourselves and each other (communicate! be nice to each other! go on fun dates! keep in touch with your old friends!) and you'll bounce back before you know it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

You have to talk about it! The two of you can make a agree on joint effort to stay in the present, to think and talk about what IS, instead of what might be in the future, or what you're not feeling right now. If you like each other and enjoy each other's company, that's actually a big, nice thing. And though it seems romantic to some, dreaming of staying together forever doesn't do any good right now. It's just a fantasy.

It sounds as if you think your boyfriend's level of "commitment" is the right way, and your hesitance is the wrong way. I don't agree. Don't introduce him to your parents if you don't want to. Don't say "I love you" just because you have in the past. Do tell him you like laughing with him, and confiding in him, and hanging around watching movies...etc., etc., etc. When he forgets and starts talking about what baby names he likes, be kind and sweet but pull him back into the present.
posted by wryly at 4:14 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

The fact that you might make a mistake is not necessarily reason not to do something.
posted by grobstein at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2011

First of all, there is no such thing as a proper or prescribed order of things in a relationship. My husband and I slept together multiple times before there was even any relationship to speak of. Four years later we were married.

However, just because the beginning stages of your relationship progressed very quickly, doesn't mean you have to keep going at the same breakneck speed. From reading your question, I'm getting a very caught-on-a-runaway-train panicky feeling. Is it possible that some of this might have to do with all the talk of marriage? Two months into a relationship, that seems like a lot of pressure to be putting your yourselves and on the relationship.

You don't need to introduce him to your parents yet. He doesn't need to start auditioning for the role of good husband. You don't need to keep saying "I love you" if it doesn't feel natural. There may be the potential for marriage in the future, but that's no reason to fast-forward into marriage-track-mode just yet. Enjoy your relationship for what it is right now.
posted by keep it under cover at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

You guys are putting way too many rules on your relationship. Let things happen naturally and stop worry about your plans. Your plans were clearly inappropriate.
Also, just because you had sex doesn't mean you have to love each other yet. Do you actually love each other or did you just say it because you felt guilty about having sex?
You don't need to meet each other's parents just because you had sex (or because you said "I love you"). I know it's a first relationship, but 23 and 24 is plenty old to take things naturally as adults without having to have guidelines or timetables or feel bad for having sex before love.
posted by elpea at 4:59 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your guidelines aren't helping this relationship!

If it's not "chugging along" the way you expect then maybe there's something more that you need to learn about each other. Maybe it'll take time. There is no prescribed path. Long term relationships go through many fine grained stages. Not all those stages are fun, even at the beginning.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:44 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm incredibly late to the party, but I'd like to share something that helped me and my SO after our extremely emotional beginning ('I love you' three weeks in; all our *numerous* deep dark secrets out after a month, full on sex a few weeks after that): spending the night together. I don't mean sex, I mean sleeping in the same bed and being close and cuddling and all that good stuff. It came about when we hit sort of a wall or plateau after four months, and since we'd already confessed to sleeping badly if we didn't call each other right before bed, it seemed like the next logical step. It worked wonders and I can't advocate it enough. Of course you may need an extra comforter if one of you is a blanket hog, but that's a small price to pay.

Just remember, intimacy comes in many forms. You don't have to keep checking milestones off your list to keep moving forward in your relationship. Best of luck!
posted by Grafix at 10:55 PM on April 6, 2011

« Older a week in Reykjavik   |   Should we go back in the water? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.