Are you falling in love too fast?
By Anna Harris
Share: Email Facebook Twitter MySpace StumbleUpon reddit Digg Yahoo! Buzz It’s no surprise that whirlwind romances — like Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom marrying after 30 days or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes going from dating to married to parents in under two years — get everyone gasping. After dating for just one month, Cruise declared his devotion to Holmes on Oprah. The Kardashian/Odom wedding was practically a blur, with many presuming it to be a publicity stunt. The two remain married and have yet to announce any baby plans.
Lightning-fast romance always gets everyone talking: Is it possible to really fall that fast? Can an intense love like that last? Everyone has an opinion, and the reason is probably because we’ve all been there at some point — that is, swept up in a relationship that’s moving so swiftly it’s making our heads spin.
Sure, falling hard and fast can be exhilarating, but it can also be a little scary. Should you barrel ahead, celebrating that you’ve found The One, or put the brakes on for fear that you’ll get your heart broken? We posed that very question to some leading relationship experts to see what’s the best way to proceed. Try their advice and you may be able to reap all the heady benefits of being head-over-heels without getting burned. Browse Local Singles at Match.com on Yahoo!
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Know the difference between a tide and an undertow
“I think people have to allow for a bit of a giddy whirlwind,” says Lynn Harris, relationship expert and author of He Loved Me, He Loves Me Not, who married her husband just a year after they met. “People who spend too much time analyzing what’s going on and playing it safe suck all the romance out of it.” Even so, there is a big difference between being swept up and feeling completely out of control. So ask yourself: If your new love interest asks you to do something you’re uncomfortable with — say, heading to a dicey-looking club on your second date — do you feel fine voicing your reservations, or do you sweep them under the rug to avoid ruining the moment? “If you feel like you have to act a certain way, then that’s a sign you’re not comfortable with this person. You're just comfortable with the idea of being in a whirlwind romance,” points out Harris. Bottom line, any long-term relationship needs your input, good and bad. More on how to do that next...
Slow things down without hurting anyone’s feelings
If you think things are rushing along too quickly, you owe it to the relationship to say so. However, avoid the usual lines like “I think we need to take things slower” or “I need some space” — these clichés will only set off alarm bells and make your amour think you’re trying to wiggle out of the relationship. Instead, be specific by explaining, “I’d love to see you this weekend, but a friend of mine is going through a rough time so I’m going to hang out with her” or “A work project is killing me and I’ll feel better if I hunker down and finish it so I can relax the next time we’re together.” If your date presses the issue, put his or her fears to rest by framing your time apart as a way to keep your relationship healthy for the long run. Say, “I’m really into you and I don’t want to mess this up by moving too fast.” To reassure your sweetie further, make a plan to see each other on a date you’ll be more available — that way your date’s not left hanging and wondering if the relationship’s on the rocks.
Don’t act on every impulse
Are you thinking of your sweetie and tempted to call to say so... for the fifth time that day? That’s sweet, but before you dial the digits, know this: not all impulses are meant to be acted upon. “People misinterpret feelings for phone calls. They don’t have to be one and the same,” says Harris. “Just sit back and enjoy the buzz. Enjoy the fact that you just hung up the phone and want to pick it up again. That’s awesome.” And enough already! This rule especially holds true for emailing and instant messaging — mediums that encourage you to reveal all sorts of personal info but that can easily breed a false sense of intimacy. So before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself: Would you feel comfortable coughing up this info in person? If not, save it for later.
Curb conversations about the future
So you’d love to take a romantic cruise to Alaska together this fall. Or you’ve always dreamt of having your wedding on the beach at sunset. Or you’re certain you want at least three kids, ideally five. Discussing your future dreams with your new flame may seem really romantic, but indulging in it too often can be a red flag. “This indicates that you’re more into the idea of being in a relationship than with the actual person in front of you,” points out Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words To Change Your Life. If your conversations tend to veer in that direction, consider an “activity date” like going to an art museum or taking a walk in the park which will force you to focus on things right in front of you — as well as each other.
Wait to say "I love you" (even if you think you do)
When you’re in a relationship that feels so right, it can be tempting to utter those three little worlds on the early side. Harris advises against it: “The first time you feel like saying it, count to 10, go home and say it to your cat,” she says. After all, your feelings could be due to the fact that you two just shared a really romantic evening together. There’s also the risk that the feelings might not be mutual yet. So before you take this step, ask yourself: Will you be able to accept if your date doesn’t say “I love you” back, or will you be crushed? If it’s the latter, then it’s probably best to hold off until more time has passed and you’re more confident about each other’s intentions.
If, on the other hand, you’re on the receiving end of an early “I love you,” don’t feel obliged to say it back if you’re not feeling it yet. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the overture or, worse yet, give them a lecture about how they couldn’t possibly feel that way so soon. “This person has just made him- or herself really vulnerable, so you want to be careful,” says Harris. Try, “I’m so touched you just said that, and I feel strongly for you. It’s hard for me to use that word right now but feel like I may be getting there, too.” Who knows; maybe you will sooner than you think!
Anna Harris is a freelance writer in New York City. She has only fallen head over heels once — and she married him. And for the record, he said “I love you” first.