Entering a relationship slowly? Can’t relate. Any relationship — or quasi-relationship — I’ve been in has been pedal to the metal, full speed ahead…and that has its pros and cons.
If you’ve been keeping up with celebrity news lately, you’ve probably noticed the trend of speedy relationships, particularly when it comes to engagements and weddings. Exhibit A: Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande, who notoriously got engaged and moved into a lavish apartment together one month into dating. Four months later, their engagement was called off.
Now, this isn’t to say that entering a relationship quickly is a recipe for disaster — although, it certainly can be. On the opposite end of the spectrum, entering a relationship super slowly doesn’t guarantee success. Many daters struggle to find the “right” speed to enter a relationship and wonder if they’re moving too fast or too slow.
What’s the Right Speed to Enter a Relationship?
But is there actually a “right speed” at which to enter a relationship? I spoke to Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D, to get some professional insight.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily a perfect speed with which to move forward with a relationship,” O’Neill states. “I do think it’s important for both partners to be straightforward and honest about their expectations for the relationship and also where they see the relationship fitting into their future. Some people prefer to live moment-to-moment and others prefer to have a sense of knowing what might come next in their life.”
Those people who live in the moment are often the type to get swept up and move extra fast in a relationship. Others who are more deliberate about their futures are more likely to move slowly, and possibly even hold themselves back.
There are ups and downs to each side, but as O’Neill said, there isn’t a perfect speed that works for everyone or guarantees a successful partnership. Not to mention, individual needs and desires vary greatly!
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Why Moving Too Fast in a Relationship is Tricky
Moving too fast can be a risky move. The honeymoon phase of a relationship is both a blessing and a curse.
Sure, there’s bliss and plenty of amazing emotions, but the phase can also cause you to be blinded by a partner’s flaws or toxic behaviors. This can ultimately lead to the downfall of a relationship.
“All relationships have that period of time where everything that your partner says or does seems pretty perfect,” Dr. O’Neill explains. “Simply put, it takes time to get to know someone. If you move super fast at the outset of the relationship, it’s important to understand that you could be making some pretty big life-altering decisions during that honeymoon stage.”
It’s easy to move quickly and dive into a relationship when the chemistry you’re feeling is out of this world. When sparks are flying, why wouldn’t you want to spend all your time with someone? It can be hard to slow yourself down both physically and emotionally when you feel so strongly. The fun and intensity is part of the beauty of a quick-moving relationship.
How About Moving Too Slow?
We know what’s not-so-great about moving too fast, but what about moving too slow?
To those who love moving fast, the idea of not kissing on the first date, or hanging out all the time can be mind boggling. However, this is the preference for those who favor taking it slow. The main benefit is really allowing yourself time to open up to your partner, as well as time for them to open up to you. As Dr. O’Neill said, it takes time to get to know someone!
Even if you’re spilling your deep dark secrets the first few times you hang out, do you really know the person? Taking more time to learn not just about the person, but also the way you interact, can help you decide whether the relationship moves forward. You’ll learn if you can spend long periods of time together without wanting to rip each other’s hair out before there’s an engagement ring involved!
“It’s okay to take time exploring how you might navigate some of those potentially larger relationship issues — for example, what happens if only one of you wants children?,” O’Neill says. “At the same time, if one partner feels like the pace of the relationship is moving painstakingly slow then perhaps it’s time for both partners to re-evaluate their relationships goals.”
There may be confusion when the relationship is moving at a near glacial pace. You might wonder if your partner actually wants to be with you or is just stringing you along. Or you may wonder if you’re lacking overall chemistry, which might — or might — not grow over time.
Alternatively, you may want to ask yourself if there are some deeper reasons for wanting to move slowly. Are you lacking confidence? Afraid of getting hurt? You should feel comfortable voicing concerns like these to your partner. Open communication will benefit you both.
The Right Speed is the Speed You Both Agree On
Speed is definitely something to consider when starting a relationship — as if there isn’t enough to worry about! But when it comes down to it, there may not be a golden rule of the right speed to enter a relationship.
With some soul-searching and great communication, you’ll be able to find the right speed for you and your partner’s particular unique path…because it’s not just about the final destination, it’s about the journey.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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