Just Say "No" to Merging
December 16, 2007 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm freshly sprung on a new cutie. How do I take it slow?

I have a tendency to get married, have babies, and obtain a shared email address with someone about 15 minutes after I fall in love with them, and also, the tendency to fall in love about 15 minutes after I meet someone special.

I just met someone special, and I want to Take it Slow this time. Like, super-duper-duper slow. If this kind of issue is a problem for you (as it is for me), how do you hold yourself back? And what, for you, are some sane guidelines of how long is wise to wait for various relationship milestones (like sleepovers, meeting family members, getting a joint checking account, etc.)

Note that in this particular case, I had a very, very casual online friendship with her for several years before we met. "Friendship" is probably too strong a word actually. We had real life friends in common though and we live in the same town, and recently we spontaneously hooked up. She seems like she likes me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

"She seems like she likes me."

Make sure that the spontaneous hookup isn't seen as a one-time thing. If you tend to fall as quickly as you claim, you need to find that out first.

Ask her to coffee or something else casual, like a movie. If she is interested in you, let it just be casual stuff for a little while.

It's okay to daydream a little when you're infatuated, but you can't let those become expectations or affect your view of the reality of your situation. Try and keep it divided in your head. Discuss your relationship openly with each other. Good communication lets you know you're on the same page. It helps keeps one from getting dragged up and away by all the fantasies one can have.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:25 PM on December 16, 2007

"Isn't seen as a one-time thing by her", that is.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2007

Maybe you should sleep around with more girls without taking it too seriously. It doesn't sound like a good answer to the question, I know, but I've recently been in a situation where I took things too seriously too quickly and the woman involved told me to back off -- and that the reason things weren't working out was that she had more less-serious experiences than me. When I sat back and thought about it I had to agree with her.

So in conclusion -- don't take things too seriously just because sex is involved.
posted by clevershark at 2:40 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was going to ask this question...seriously. I'm also a jump right in person. Last relationship I met the parents, slept over nearly every night, went grocery shopping, etc. within three months. I guess I jumped the gun, because we had this life together, but our mental bond was underdeveloped.

I guess there are really no rules for this sort of stuff, but I'd say when you can confide deep secrets and truly trust each other...then that means that the relationship is serious enough for milestones like living together.
posted by idle at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe you should sleep around with more girls without taking it too seriously.

Worst. Advice. Ever.
posted by Autarky at 3:05 PM on December 16, 2007 [4 favorites]

Take a long walk with her: a hike, a city walk, a beach walk, something long enough that you have lots of chances for conversation and also companionable silences. Spend a couple hours on the trail.

It's surprising how much you will find out about a person this way. In the course of this process I once discovered that a girl I was dating had never seen "Star Wars." My point is that you never can tell whom you're dating until you get to know them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:08 PM on December 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

Just remember that rushing does. not. work.
posted by loiseau at 3:18 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe you should sleep around with more girls without taking it too seriously. Worst. Advice. Ever. Agreed, and not really helpful in this case, either.

Putting yourself in situations where you can talk, like the ones ikkyu2 describe, is so important. It's not going to last if you can't talk to each other (chemistry only lasts so long- if you are fundamentally incompatible, it will hit you in the face, sooner or later). Don't rely on "booty calls" and hanging out at someone's apartment "watching movies". Put some effort into taking her places where you can talk. Go out to dinner, go on walks, go to the beach, go OUT. You'll find out pretty quickly if you have a relationship that will endure.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:38 PM on December 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you never see her, which is NOT GOOD, because the tendency is for every time you meet to be like "special couple time" (even before you're a couple). On the other hand, it sounds like you have plenty of room to casually have non-couple-y contact with her. Invite her out whenever you and your mutual friends go out. Spend some time talking to her. Spend some time talking to other people, too.

Having a long, intimate conversation with her would seem to me to be a step in the wrong direction. Especially involving hours together. Double especially involving a beach. Nothing to make you feel like an old married couple like having someone come up and say "Hey, did you know so-and-so has never seen StarWars?" and you yawn and say, "Yeah, I've known that for ages now." Getting to know each other is good, but... over time, you know? Not in one big data dump directly into your head, do not pass go slowly and do not collect two hundred dollars.
posted by anaelith at 3:58 PM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

Well. For me, kicking that habit came about after making that mistake one or two too many times. The last time, I simply moved too quickly and told the guy I wanted something that he wasn't ready for, and that was the last time I heard from him. The time before that, I didn't move too quickly for *him*, but I got all set to move to another state for him (really, really quickly) and then a couple months later figured out that this wasn't the relationship I wanted. Luckily for both of us none of the moving business happened for logistical reasons.

So, I *feel* cured of that affliction (I mean, I feel like my ass is totally kicked right now) though I haven't quite had a chance to test the theory yet. :) All I can tell you is, take it from someone who knows, who has been there: it just isn't worth it. I can't tell you *how* to take it slow, other than: focus on yourself as much as possible. It's easy to think of nothing but her during those first 15 minutes, but really, don't lose yourself in it. Think about her once a day, sure (ok, several times a day), but remember that there is lots of time and you don't want to mess either of you up by rushing in to anything.

For me, I usually have to be kicked in the ass by my own stupid actions at least a few times before I learn anything. Hopefully you're different. :) Good luck!
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:58 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

And I want to iterate (I can't reiterate, as I didn't say this before) that those first 15 minutes always feel perfect. There was a guy who I did A to Z with. We went to movies, went to dinner, cooked dinner, took walks, went on bike rides, shopped, slept, etc, and it was all *perfect* in the first couple months. Six months later, I simply didn't get the joy out of those exact same activities anymore. He was still a great guy, but really just a great friend. I had no interest in the intimate aspect anymore at all. After those first 15 minutes, there is no longer any pedestal, and all those things you overlooked before slap you in the face.

Nobody is perfect, of course! And I'm not saying that there should ever be a pedestal, and there will always be "those things that you want to overlook." But that doesn't mean you have to marry every good friend, either. (Or, obviously, any great piece of ass. Marrying either of those, if that's all they are, will not end well.)

So, hang out with the person long enough that any sign of a pedestal is gone. If you're still in worship-mode, you're still in the first 15 minutes. Wait til you think of her as just a regular person, and *then* see if she, and your relationship, are still all that.
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:05 PM on December 16, 2007

And what, for you, are some sane guidelines of how long is wise to wait for various relationship milestones (like sleepovers, meeting family members, getting a joint checking account, etc.)

I didn't even address this, sorry. For me, the sleepovers and meeting family and friends just has to happen naturally. Which means: sleepovers right away (sorry, that's just the way I naturally roll), and family when it comes up. If you're doing really well right now and one of you is having a little family holiday get together, if both parties feel the same way then there's nothing wrong with meeting the fam. But if you hint at it and she doesn't pick up on it, put it off. There are all sorts of different ways to do this based upon whether family is local, etc. I can't delve too far into it without taking up several more paragraphs. And for some people meeting the family is a huge thing, and for others, this is my dad, he lives down the street. "Hey."

For the joint checking account, you're talking to the wrong person. I won't do that again until I have some sort of legal contract with the person (ya know, the marriage certificate), and even then, I'm not sure money has to be merged. Though you probably weren't really asking about checking accounts specifically. :) In my experience that's just a level of trust that goes way beyond sharing a bed, as, if god forbid you have an ugly breakup, she's got access to your money. But never mind, move along, no derail to see here. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:15 PM on December 16, 2007

Let her set the pace. Contact her regularly enough to let her know you're interested, ask her out (both alone and on group stuff), don't leave everything up to her... but let her initiate the "next step" stuff for the time being, until you have a good sense of what her pace is.

And since you already have friends in common, arranging activities with them is both a low-stress way for the two of you to go out, and also a way for you to get advice from people who actually see you in action - assuming you can trust them to keep the conversation in confidence, you can ask your mutual friends after the fact if they think you're coming on too strong.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:07 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

One thing that worked for me when I was dating my (now) wife was not sleeping together for about three months when we first started dating. This involved a deeply counter intuitive step backward in our physical relationship. Originally this was because we were not exclusive, but even after neither of us were dating other people we actually liked going slow as we got to know each other better. Plus, unresolved sexual tension is hot.

Maybe you two will get married so it is too late, but you might be well served, as I was after a while, by dating. Just going on dates with lots of people and no sex, rather than falling deeply, profoundly in love with the first girl thats nice to you.
posted by shothotbot at 6:24 PM on December 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

I would give yourself a lot of little and in the end, arbitrary, waiting periods before reaching the next step in your relationship. Like for the first month, don't see her more than once a week. Don't talk to her more than two or three times a week. No I love yous for at least 6 months, no parents for at least 9 months, no moving in together, until you've been together an absolute min. of a year, I wouldn't sign over my checking account until I was married, but that's just me.

Arbitrary waiting periods are generally kind of stupid and are sometimes used by people as an excuse to keep their relationship casual, when the other people want a commitment, but in your case, I think it would be a good idea. It's acts as an objective measure of how quickly things are moving along, so you can check yourself and pull back a little if needed.

Oh and no changing your facebook status to "in a relationship" for at least 6 months. It's just embarrassing when people do that and then change it back 2 weeks later.
posted by whoaali at 7:02 PM on December 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have a tendency to get married, have babies, and obtain a shared email address with someone...

How many babies do you have to have in this way for it to qualify for a "tendency?"

Also, I'll stand up to abuse by saying that I think there might be something wise in that "Maybe you should sleep around with more girls" advice that got all body-slammed all over the thread.

Being able to distinguish between meaningless hookups and "must marry and have babies" would be a valuable skill here, if you're pre-approaching every hookup as a serious relationship. Instead of assuming they're all serious all the time, why not try having some relationships that are not so serious, for a change?

I don't think that is the worst advice ever. I really do not.
posted by rokusan at 10:40 PM on December 16, 2007

On the timelines part of that question, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "I like you a lot, but I have some rules I made FOR MYSELF here...." (that is, it's about YOU, not her) and then explain the pre-decided time measure.

I vote a month for sleepovers, three months for toothbrushes, six for cohabitating and a year before a long-term arrangement (marriage, a mortgage or your favorite substitute). Roughly.
posted by rokusan at 10:43 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

You sound like you're getting high off fantasies about what the relationship might be and forcing the issue. It's a common enough failing so there's nothing especially wrong with you. I blame Hollywood. Given this, there's no difference between going slow in a relationship and going slow in any other long journey, from writing a book to starting a business. The basic principle is always the same: stop obsessing over the future, stop telling yourself how great or horrible the future could be, and stop trying to control and force issues that you can't control. Be patient and focus on the here and now. Take baby steps and, as these build up, celebrate your past victories. In the context of a relationship baby steps means having fun with a person, enjoying their company and being intimate with them, but not wrapping your entire life around them. Think carefully about how this person is going to fit in your life and if you find yourself making sudden, drastic changes because of them then you're probably doing something wrong. Personally, I find the best relationships are those that quickly slip into nice, stress-free routines. (All the high drama and florid declarations of love and life-changing talks about the big, scary future get old fast.) You might try nudging the relationship in this direction by establishing a few routines of your own; not huge, important commitments, but little things you always do together like dinner and a movie on Sundays or getting out the city each a month.
posted by nixerman at 2:11 AM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think setting one or two arbitrary deadlines/limits is a good idea. "I will not tell her/him I love her/him before 6 months NO MATTER WHAT" - that sort of thing. Not a lot of rules, you want things to still be fluid, but hold out on something. For me personally there's not a chance in hell that sex would be one of things I set limits on, but that's just me. I think sex is a great icebreaker.
When I met my (now) wife I distracted myself from her vast amount of excellence by making sure to "indulge" in my own interests and hobbies - the things I can get totally lost in. It was great because activities that I often talked myself out of doing because I "didn't have time" I made time for in order to make sure I remembered who I was early in the relationship. I didn't not spend time with her when I could, but when I wasn't with her and I wasn't at work I made sure I was doing something I loved. Doesn't matter what it is for you - for me it's doing something creative, but you will know what it is for you - it might be exercise or volunteering or something else - you'll know what it is for you. It will make you more excellent and is a good buffer to being with someone who you want to get lost in. If things work out then you both win, because you're more excellent, and if they don't - well then you're primed to distract yourself, should you need to, and you'll be much more in touch with what is really great about you.
posted by smartyboots at 8:11 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Limit how often you see her. Like, in the dating stage, only see her once a week for...a while.

Other than that, go with the aforementioned timelines by rokusan. ESPECIALLY the marriage one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:22 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

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