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Dating tips: explanation of take it slow and how people fall in love

Confused reader requests explanation of dating concepts
Confused reader requests explanation of dating concepts
Dreamstime.Com/Deborrah Cooper

Dear Deborrah:
As I head into another Valentine's Day alone, I realize how little I really understand about women, love and relationships. It's really confusing so I am writing hoping you can explain a few things to me. I grew up here in San Francisco but even with all the single women in the Bay Area, I struggle with getting something going.

I’ve heard expressions like "hold on loosely, but don’t let go" and "take it slow" when applied to dating, but no one really has explained these concepts to me. Is it important to loosen your hold on someone when the relationship starts to heat up (especially when it’s still pretty early)?

In my limited experience, I’ve noticed that a "cooling off" of emotions at this time by one lover will send the other into hysterics and seems to "cement" the "falling in love" process. Is this an important part of the process or am I barking up the wrong tree?

I’d also like to ask you about the "take it slow" advice I’ve heard so many times. How fast is "too fast?” How slow is "too slow?" I would really like to have a girlfriend and even a serious relationship before I turn 30 next year.

Thanks for your help,

Dear John:
That cooling off is what I call the "90 Day Bomb." Relationships often go up in smoke around that time because it seems it takes about 90 days for one or both partners to begin to wonder what is going on, wonder where this is going, and wonder if they really want this to happen.

With this wondering usually comes a retreat of some sort. One of the partners starts to back off. Suddenly he or she needs "space" or "time to think" or may even decide the relationship isn't working out to their satisfaction, or create all sorts of reasons why it won't work. This is a very normal expression of fears and worries about getting into something that may ultimately prove to be painful, and to be somewhat expected as people work their way around to a full and total commitment.

After all, loving someone gives them the power to emotionally devastate you. Such a move requires serious consideration while you analyze the goals, character, pros and cons of deeper involvement with this individual.

The falling in love process is easily facilitated by using standard issue psychology: people most want what they can't have! Your choice of the word “hysterics” is a bit strong in my book. But typically, if one partner should come across as a little distant, to be retreating from closeness, to be moving away from the relationshps, presenting him or herself as someone independent, strong, capable and yet fun and loving, the other partner DOES become strongly desirous of being around you and just about crazy with loving emotions. It works every time! Well, it works if the person was already interested in you... if not they are relieved you figured out they aren't interested and moved on.

Getting involved too fast is expecting a commitment and looking for permanency before you even know what kind of person this is you are dealing with. Too fast is calling 3-4x a day, making excuses to see someone new in your life every single day, or labeling someone as your committed boyfriend or girlfriend when you just met last Tuesday.

Too fast is getting pregnant and expecting a man that doesn’t even know your middle name to be there with you and your child in a “family” situation. Too fast is expecting to have sex before the 10th date. Too fast is cutting out all friends and activities to merge yourself with your new partner … losing interest in or being asked to forego involvement in other interests, work, school, etc. Too fast is doing anything that puts pressure on you or your partner to give something that neither is comfortable giving yet, as a full level of trust has not had time to develop.

Taking it slow is smart advice, but you don't want to lag. There's a fine line between being too casual and reticent, and overwhelming someone with your emotional needs.

Nice guys are often too "slow." Too slow is being buddies/friends with a woman, and not making a move (either through increased physical contact such as holding hands, hugs, a romantic card, asking for a date, kissing, etc.) to express that the interest you have is more than casual or platonic.

A woman that sees no romantic attention from a man she is spending time with will assume that he is not interested and wants to be “just a friend.” She will move on to greener pastures and put you into the FRIEND ZONE. So if you want to be more than friends, you need to find a way to let her know that by your actions without going overboard.

Hope this answers your questions about timing in relationships and that it helps you find your way to love. I'd be thrilled to get a letter from you next Valentine's Day that asks me for suggestions on exciting ways to propose.


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