After all the bad first dates, awkward connections with strange men, and after so many inelegant disappearances on their part, you’ve finally met someone with relationship potential.
The only problem?
You don’t want to speed up dating (you’ve already done that) and you don’t want to get bored trying to slow things down.
But – understand one thing – these are not your only options.
You can take it slow and keep things interesting.
“Taking it slow gives you a chance to get to know each other and see if you have similar interests and enjoy spending time together,” says Elisa Gizzo, marriage and family therapist at Andrea Cornell Marriage and Family Therapy in New York.
“Having fun is the secret”.
But before you can get the fun stuff, you should know exactly what “taking it slow” means to the person you’re dating.
While it may seem obvious, different people have different definitions, explains Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, a professor at the University of Oakland, Michigan, and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.
For some, she says, slowing down can mean waiting to become a couple, while others might think of it as waiting to sleep together.
For others, Orbuch says that “taking it slow” can mean waiting to become compromised or emotionally vulnerable.
Clearly, this can get confusing.
So before you do anything (at any speed), make sure you and your crush are on the same wavelength.
While it can feel a little intimidating to be direct with someone you’ve just started dating, “it doesn’t hurt to be honest about what you’re looking for,” says Gizzo.
“Often, if two people are at two different stages of life and ready for different levels of commitment, it’s best to know before you approach.”
Think of it as a mini-version of the “conversation” and – fingers crossed – it goes well (but even if it doesn’t, at least you found out sooner or later). Once you’re both ready to take it slow, here’s how to keep things interesting:
1. Try New Things Together.
When you’re taking it slow, you have all the time in the world to really – get this – enjoy dating .
That’s because you’re probably going out on more legitimate dates, so you have more opportunities to make it fun and exciting (read: it’s not the basics like dinner and a movie).
“It’s fun to explore new things,” says Gizo.
“And trying something new together can put you both in a position where you’re new to the activity and can relate to how ‘out of the ordinary’ or natural the new activity feels.”
Not to mention that, according to Gizzo, doing a new activity hits “the novelty-seeking reward systems in the brain,” which creates a sense of excitement and joy, as dating should be.
2. Share Something You Love With Your New Partner.
Figuring out compatibility is very important, so Gizzo suggests sharing your interests — whether it’s rock climbing, comedy, trying new foods — with the person you’re dating to help them decide if you’re a great match.
This will help you feel more comfortable on a date, while helping your partner get to know you and your world.
Advantageous for both parties.
3. Ask These Questions.
Let’s be realistic, start every conversation with “how was your day?” It won’t get you very far in a relationship.
To really find out if you and this person have long-term potential, Orbuch recommends asking questions that tell you something meaningful about the other person’s opinions and values.
She suggests asking questions like, “If you won the lottery, where would you go and why?” “What are you most proud of?” and “what is your definition of success?” this will help you establish emotional intimacy.
4. Find Creative Ways to Stay Connected.
Even when you devote extra time and energy to dating someone, you will still be busy with work, friends, family – the list goes on.
To keep things interesting between meetings, use technology to your advantage.
Orbuch recommends sending each other “fun, romantic messages during the day” and “stickers or jokes” that you can laugh about the next time you’re together.
Memes make the heart fall in love, don’t they?
5. Don’t Use Text Messaging As A Crutch.
Sure, texting is super convenient, but it’s not the best form of communication when you’re just getting to know someone.
“Keep texting to a minimum and focus more on setting up dates to spend quality time together,” says Gizzo.
Gizzo and Orbuch encourage the lovebirds to talk over the phone and via video chat to deepen the connection.
Plus, you spend more time enjoying the other person’s company rather than over-analyzing the meaning of the last message.
However you decide to keep things interesting while taking it slow on dating, your top priority should be having fun – whatever “fun” means to you.
“Approach dating with an open mind and with the intention of having fun,” says Gizzo.