Written by Writer’s Corps member Amanda Phillips
When you start seeing someone new, the last thing on your mind is whether or not the relationship is moving at a healthy pace. Welcome to the honeymoon phase, where everything is new and exciting! And the chances of saying yes to things you’re not necessarily ready for runs high. If you’re anything like me, the honeymoon phase goes something like this:
The Life Cycle of the Honeymoon Phase
- Week 1: Fantasy – You’re sitting on the couch halfway into a rom-com, and before you know it, you’re swept up in a daydream starring you and your new bae.
- Week 2: Intensity – Two dates in, you might have the colors for your dream wedding picked out on a Pinterest board.
- Week 3: Over the Top Behavior – Three weeks later, you’re spending every waking minute together and your friends are already rolling their eyes.
It’s hard to not get swept up in the honeymoon phase of dating when the person you’re with seems great — but when is it too much? As someone who has been in unhealthy relationships that moved too quickly in the beginning, sometimes I still need help telling the difference between being a hopeless romantic, and when I’m going against my “you do you” policy.
I recently spoke to Rose Richardson, a marriage and family therapist, to shed more light on the subject and it turns out there is no “one-size-fits-all” for relationships. While meeting someone’s parents after 4 months of dating is out of the question for some couples, it could be totally fine for others. It’s up to you and your partner to determine what pace works best for you.
Still, there are obvious reasons to worry about a relationship becoming intense. In which case, Rose recommends asking yourself these five questions to determine if your relationship is moving at a healthy pace.
1. Are You Constantly on the Phone?
One sure sign of an unhealthy relationship is that the pace jumps from 0 to 60. Your first few weeks together are fun, but before you know it, your new boo wants a constant play-by-play of your life. They constantly check in on you via text and your relationship seems to move at warp speed. You might be tempted to brush off your partner’s persistent phone calls, text messages and comments on social media as puppy love but sadly this is not always the case. There’s a difference between calling your partner to talk about your day because you’re excited and want to, and feeling like you have to. When checking-in starts to feel like an obligation or a way to keep your new partner from getting angry, it’s likely because your relationship is moving at an unhealthy pace.
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2. Are You Making Choices for Yourself, or For Your Partner?
We hear all the time that relationships require compromise — and they do. You want to make a good first impression with your new flame, but you shouldn’t have to bend over backward to make yourself compatible with someone.
A good gauge for the pace of your relationship is how often you compromise to make the relationship work. Why? Because this usually indicates that your expectations are not aligned and you could end up making decisions you’re not 100% comfortable with.
Rose says the easiest way to tell whether the compromises you’re making are happening too soon is to ask yourself whether or not you will be comfortable with those decisions in 4-6 months — whether you’re with your partner or not. Aside from being unhealthy, intense relationships tend to fizzle out rather quickly so thinking deeply about whether or not you really need to share your phone password or meet your bae’s parents will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
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3. Do You Feel Comfortable Making Decisions Independently?
A sure sign that a relationship is moving too quickly is if you have trouble making decisions without your partner early on. It’s not uncommon for people to lose themselves in their relationship, and over time couples find themselves dressing, speaking and even acting in a similar manner. Of course, there are decisions couples should make together (like how soon is too soon to sleep together), but if you’re feeling the pressure to check in before scheduling a night out with friends, this is a sign your relationship is too intense. Rose recommends checking-in with your gut before and after including your partner in any decision making. “ If you’re feeling uncomfortable with something,” she says “LISTEN to that.”
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4. Are You Hiding Things From Friends and Loved Ones?
Do you hold back details about your relationship when you would normally spill everything in a group text to your closest friends? Unhealthy relationships usually involve a lot of secret keeping. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. When I was in an unhealthy relationship, I covered for my partner because I knew my friends would say, “whoa, that’s not like you!”
Rose says, “if something in your gut is telling you to hold back details, something may be wrong.” At the time, I couldn’t tell my partner and I were moving too fast, but I did sense my friends would likely disapprove of the big decisions I was making early on in my relationship. The lesson I learned? Being honest with yourself and your tribe is the best way to check yourself when you get swept up by a new beau.
5. Honestly — What’s The Rush?
When it comes to getting serious about a new relationship, Rose asks her clients, especially college students, “what’s the rush?” And I have to wonder the same. It takes 3+ weeks before you begin to see your tinder prince/princesses unique quirks and personality traits, Rose explains, so take it slow. What are you hoping to get by speeding your relationship up versus spending additional time getting to know each other? Does a Facebook official engagement actually resonant with your gut or are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?
The year I graduated from college, I went to ten weddings–they were all mutual friends of mine that dated since freshmen year of college. I guess when you know your partner is the one, you just do. On the other hand, I know people in healthy marriages who popped the question after dating for only six months. I guess when you know your partner is the one, you just do. And it doesn’t matter if it takes 6 months or 6 years, what does matter is that you’re both on the same page when you do.
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Healthy relationships are all about balance, so if you feel like things are happening too fast, they probably are! There are lots of ways to talk to your partner about slowing things down, but start by asking yours these questions, and above all — trust your gut!