When it comes to relationships, it's easy to jump in heart first. But, as I outlined in my last post "Slow Down So I Know It's Real," that often isn't the most effective way to build a long lasting healthy relationship. I received a few requests as to how to make sure that you're taking things slow despite being head over heels infatuated (note that I didn't say love) with someone. Now a lot of what I'm about to say may seem like common sense, but the heart rarely listens to rationale. Here are a few things that I've picked up along the way during my quest through the realm of love.
Just Because It Feels Right, Doesn't Mean It Is Right
In my career I talk to lots of different people. I get to listen to their stories, interview them and learn while passing along useful and entertaining information to the masses. Before speaking with a former CIA agent about her life and career, I was a firm believer in "gut feelings." In fact, I would venture to say that 80% of my actions involving relationships were based on what felt right. I couldn't have been more wrong in this approach. Allowing feelings to dominate that much of my decision making was absolutely insane. If you're like me, meaning human, you go through at least 50,000 emotions in a day. Okay I'm exaggerating but you get my drift. You wake up grumpy, get in the shower happy, catch the train anxious and then arrive at work blasé. The problem with going off of gut feelings is that there's no real basis for decision making. Most of the time there's no concrete evidence to support how you feel, and you tend to lean on hope or fear more so than reason which is a well-outlined recipe for disaster in relationships. Don't get me wrong, gut feelings do serve a purpose. If you're walking down a dark alley with three men at the end and no one in sight, definitely don't ignore your gut feelings. They are there to protect you. Just don't rely on them for life altering decisions.
If It's Too Good To Be True Then Chances Are It Isn't
We've all been there. You meet someone that you're really feeling and you want to do everything to show them that your worthy of their affection. This often means doing things that you really don't feel like doing at the time, let alone for the duration of the relationship.When me and my ex boyfriend started dating, he was just about perfect. I had just finished college, didn't have a job and was trying to find my place in this world. He was out of school and a couple of years into his career. Although I didn't have much, I still brought a lot to the table and so did he. In many ways too much. Like many couples, we were overextending. We would do a bunch of things that we really didn't want to do, but in the name of "love" we did it. Don't get me wrong, compromise is good. It's downright necessary for relationships to work. What I'm referring to is unhealthy behaviors that will eventually lead to resentment. For example, I didn't have a car and my ex lived a nice distance away from me. In the beginning, he wouldn't hesitate to either come and pick me up and take me back to his place or to come and visit me. As time passed, and we got comfortable with one another, he no longer wished to make the long drive and even viewed it as an inconvenience. Which lended itself to the "when we first started dating, you would do a, b, and c for me!" argument. Long story short, don't do anything in the beginning of the relationship that you cannot see yourself doing in the long run and recognize that the person who you're dating is putting their best foot forward. They don't call it the honeymoon stage for nothing.
Don't Ignore Their Flaws
While it's good to notice how wonderful someone is treating you, you also have to see their flaws. It brings you to more realistic conclusions about your feelings and how far you want to take the relationship. Take off your blinders. See that she's kind of lazy and doesn't pick up after herself. See that he is just plain sneaky. What ever it is that you see, see it as clearly as possible. Your sanity will thank you in the long run.
Time is the only true way to discover who you're dating, but to determine whether or not they're meant to be in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime take it slow. Not Mother Teresa slow, but slow enough to get a feel of who it is that you're involving yourself with and how they realistically fit into your life. What are your tips for determining if what you have is real with someone?
Filed under: Love and Relationships