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Taking Things Slow(ly) ?


(I first wrote this on January 14, 2002)

I've heard many fellas who are creating new romantic relationships say this recently, "We've decided to take things slow" or "I'm making sure to take things slow."

Hearing this from so many people recently, each of whom finds himself in a unique situation, completely baffled me this morning.

I had no firm understanding of what these people were talking about!

If romantic relationships have a "speed" component, I'm not at all sure what that component represents.

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Perhaps it represents a certain rate of vocabulary adoption. Such as, how long you wait before you use the term "boyfriend" or the term "love". For example, I have learned not to trust people who tell me that they love me when they've only known me for a couple weeks. These people tend to be unreliable and unstable, despite their professed "love".

Whatever "love" may be! I tend to be a quick judge of character, and I can figure out a lot about somebody after just a few weeks ... and I do believe that you can love (care about) somebody shortly after meeting ... but people who quickly profess love for each other, in my experience, tend to be rather flakey about maintaining that emotion.

Personally, I wouldn't use that term until I'd learned more about his relationship history and had some idea what that word meant to him. Love is a damnably slippery word ... better to use long sentences at first, when describing feelings for each other, and save the "L" word for later.

But what does that have to do with "taking things slow"? Is it just a matter of waiting two months before saying "I love you?" Does the vocabulary adoption rate have anything to do with how "quickly" the relationship is actually progressing?

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Another possible time-based component in romantic relationships is -- how quickly the two (or more) people merge households. I have seen gay men shack up with each other almost overnight. I've never done that ... The only time I've ever set up a permanent living arrangement with a boyfriend was after we'd been dating for 3 years. I guess I'm "slow" by nature.

I've seen some of these quickly-shacked up men break up just as quickly, and then they are often stuck living with somebody they now hate, until alternate living arrangements can be made.

So, maybe "taking things slow" means not moving in together until a year has passed? I'd advise any prospective couple to wait at least a year before living together. It takes time to figure out whether your "love" will lead to compatibility in ... so many areas of practical sharing.

I'm not sure this is what all my friends have meant, though, when they recently told me they're making sure to take things slow.

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One other speed-related component I can think of is intensity. I suppose this means -- how quickly you open up to each other, how quickly you begin to communicate about important issues, how quickly you trust each other.

I have always been the type to open up and trust and communicate immediately. Personally, I see no reason to wait. In fact, I think waiting to open up is harmful to the formation of new relationships.

If you don't act like "yourself" from the start, then this other person is falling in love with a fake, and then when you do start acting like "yourself", this other person will be wondering "who the hell is this person I fell in love with?"

Maybe other people need time to learn to open up and trust each other and communicate with each other. I think my willingness to trust and communicate from Day One frightens people, leading them to think I'm "too intense" ... leading them to ask me if we can take things slow.

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So ... I've identified three possible speed-related components. I'm not sure which of these, if any, my friends are talking about. They all seem to think they know what they are talking about. If I'm to learn more about what they mean, I'm going to have to ask them.

I bet they are all talking about something different ... something specific ... something that reminds them of their last relationship ... the one that blew up and hurt them ... the one they don't want to repeat this time by moving too fast ...


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