Written by Writer’s Corps member Julie Oltman
A racing heartbeat, excitement at just the thought of that special person, the constant feeling of butterflies in your stomach. There’s no doubt that the beginning of a relationship can be an exciting whirlwind. We see it often in the media: did Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande really get matching tattoos after just a week of dating!?
While the fast-paced honeymoon phase can feel thrilling, it can also be a potential red flag; after all, intensity is one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Have you found yourself questioning whether things are moving too fast? Would you be more comfortable if things slowed down just a bit? Here are some tips for how to talk it through with your partner.
1. Identify What Feels Uncomfortable
What signs have caused you concern so far? Maybe it’s that your partner wants to spend every moment with you, and you need a little more space. Could be that your partner has started talking about the future, but you’re not quite there yet. Or perhaps you’ve been invited to meet the family and friends, but you’d prefer to have more time to get to know each other.
So you’ve figured out what feels uncomfortable… but what would feel comfortable? Think through what an ideal timeline would look like in this relationship. The idea of having a conversation about slowing things down may feel awkward, and that’s normal, but there are things you can do to ensure that your message is getting across in an effective way. When you know exactly what you’re looking for, it will be easier to verbalize your feelings to your partner.
2. Be Clear About Your Feelings
Making a vague or passing statement where they have to try and read between the lines won’t tell your partner how you feel you want to be as clear as possible! Communication is key, and starting off strong will help you begin to build a healthy relationship. Be honest with your partner about how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. Talk about your goals!
It may be helpful to come prepared with specific ideas and suggestions. For example, if you feel that your partner wants to spend too much time together, suggest something that better fits your schedule – like a weekly or bi-weekly date night. You can be creative here, too… what about Sunday movie nights or Taco Tuesdays? Activities like this can help to put boundaries on the time you spend together.
3. Empathize With Your Partner
While it’s important to speak your mind and clarify your feelings, don’t forget that your partner may not be thinking the same way as you are about the status of your relationship. Be fully present for what may be a difficult conversation… and listen to what your partner says. This can be an engaged discussion in which both partners feel comfortable expressing their emotions in a healthy way.
Talk it through! Avoid blaming or criticizing – try to stick to conveying how and why YOU feel the way that you do. If you approach it in a positive way in which you focus on the good things about your relationship, it won’t come across as an attack or a criticism.
Remember: feeling overwhelmed in a new relationship is normal, and sticking to the above tips can help you to work it out with your partner. But make sure you’re aware of the signs of unhealthy relationships. It’s one thing if your partner wants to spend time with you, you want to slow down, and you work it out together. But if your partner is displaying extreme feelings or over-the-top behavior, that’s unhealthy. When we equip ourselves with the necessary tools, we can all work to build healthier relationships.