According to studies by Match and Priceonomics, the average couple dates for a little over three years before getting engaged. However, everyone – of course – is different, and dating timelines vary depending on where you’re at in life, who you’re with, what your last relationship was like and a myriad of other factors. Sometimes you meet someone you think you really hit if off with, all the normal steps go right out the window and it’s only later that you realise you got caught up in an unwelcome romantic whirlwind.
If you’re feeling like you want to hit the brakes on a relationship that’s picking up too much speed, I’ve compiled a list of nine tips to help you out.
1. Express How You’re Feeling
First and foremost, if you feel like your relationship is progressing too quickly, you need to say something to the other person involved. There’s no need to blindside them by changing your behaviour all of a sudden and hoping they’ll get the hint. Most likely they won’t, and it’ll hurt their feelings. Try to keep the conversation casual and emphasise that you still like them and enjoy your time together (if you honestly do), but that you’d like to slow things down a little. If you no longer like them or want to be around them, then that’s a conversation for another article.
2. Don’t See Each Other As Often
When people are really into someone, they tend to want to see them as often as possible. Let’s say you and the person you’re dating have been seeing each other every two days. You could suggest lowering it to two times a week. Not only will this free up your time for the other people and commitments in your life, but it will be even more special when you two reconnect.
3. Go On More Group Dates
One-on-one dates are obviously more intimate than group dates, so if the pace of your relationship is faster than you’d like, start inviting your friends as well as his or hers. You’ll have a lot of fun, you’ll get to see how your date acts around your pals (and vice versa), and it’ll make the situation seem less serious and romantic.
4. Be Careful About Future Talk
Even if you do see yourself with this person in the long term, talking about the future can put a lot of pressure on you to make those things happen sooner than they actually would. Try to keep the conversations more casual and save the big talks for when you’re ready to pick things back up again.
5. Slow Down on the Big Milestones
Introducing them to your parents, taking them to a work function, having them sleep over all the time, buying a pet together — these are all examples of dating milestones you should try to avoid if you want to decelerate this relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to overanalyse everything you do with him or her, but just keep an eye out to make sure you’re not doing activities that usually very serious couples do.
6. Make Your Dates Shorter
During the first, second, and third dates with someone you really like, it’s likely chemistry and conversation will be easy, free flowing and intense. This is especially true if you meet someone special on a dating site and you message for weeks, getting to know each other before meeting up. It’s easy to turn a 20-minute coffee date into an all-nighter where you end up getting drinks, dinner, and dessert, going for a walk in the park, and talking into the wee hours. If you do that almost every day, it’s no wonder you feel like this relationship is moving at the speed of light. Start shortening your dates (say, two hours at the most), and maybe even make plans for right after so you have a reason to make your dates fit into a shorter part of your day.
7. Stop Texting Back and Forth All Day
Whether it’s a sibling, cousin, parent, child, best friend or significant other, most of us have someone who we’re texting all day long. When you do this, it’s easy to get attached to that person as well as the feeling of having someone to check in with. Even though you’re not physically together, you’re still on each other’s minds, so you’re not ever really getting a break. Take this as an opportunity to limit how many texts you send them on a daily basis, and make sure it’s only important stuff. Do you really need to tell them what you had for lunch or about the funny email your colleague sent you? Probably not.
8. Avoid Planning Big Trips
Travelling as a couple can be a lot of fun — there’s no doubt about that. You get to learn more about one another (e.g., how they pack, how they like to explore a city, what foods they like to eat on the road). However, big trips are almost always somewhere where you quickly grow closer to someone, which is the opposite thing you should be doing if you’re trying to slow down. Steer clear of planning anything big, like a long weekend at the beach or a two-week trip bouncing around Europe, and stick to local activities.
9. Dive Into Work or Pick Up More Hobbies
An easy way to take a step back from a fast-paced relationship is to fill up your calendar with other things to do. You could take on a few new projects at work or pick up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try. Not only will you be able to get a breather from each other, but you’ll also be improving other aspects of your life.
Having strong feelings for someone isn’t a bad thing, but if you have a gut instinct that says “this is all happening too quickly”, don’t ignore it. Acknowledge it, and do so in a way that’s comfortable for you but won’t hurt the person you’re seeing. If after all of this you find that it’s not the kind of relationship you were looking for, it’s time to take that next step and move on. Check out 20 Signs That You Should End It and more from our expert dating bloggers!
Hayley Matthews is editor-in-chief at DatingAdvice.com, a popular site that features tips from over 250 dating and relationship coaches, matchmakers, psychologists, and other lifestyle experts. In addition to providing in-depth advice articles and how-to guides, the site also publishes reviews of the top online dating services, in which Hayley and her team rank Match.com as its #1 dating website. When Hayley isn’t writing about dating and relationships, she’s listening to The Beatles or watching Harry Potter.