Relationships can be kind of frightening. They’re like machines — you need to regularly assess and take care of them. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, both people need to be happy and aware of where their relationship is at.
If you’re in a long-term relationship, this may be less of an issue. However, if you met your significant other recently, it’s probably beneficial to sit down and formulate a relationship State of the Union of sorts. But what happens if you evaluate your relationship with someone and you realize that it’s going in a direction that you’re not ready for? Here’s what you should do to slow things down a bit.
1. Evaluate your relationship
First up on how to slow things down is to actually figure out if you need to. Oftentimes, people aren’t super aware of the habits they adopt when in relationships. Unless you have a blunt best friend to point things out to you, it may be good to take some time to yourself to reflect on your relationship.
Some important things to factor in when evaluating your relationship include: the amount of time you spend with your partner as compared to the amount of time you spend with friends, if you and your partner have the same end-goal in mind and how being in college may affect your relationship farther down the road.
2. Communicate with your SO
If you find that you do want to slow your relationship down, the biggest step you should take is to communicate with your partner. You can’t slow down a relationship if you’re the only person who knows that things are moving a bit too fast.
“If it’s a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t feel any pressure at all to do anything you don’t want to do,” says Hannah Harshe, a sophomore at the University of Michigan. “You should feel comfortable having a conversation about how far you want to go, and it shouldn’t be a problem with either person.”
If you feel like you and your SO are on different pages, sit them down and have a conversation with them about how you’re feeling. If they’re a good partner, they should listen to you and respect your opinion.
3. Take time to figure out why you want to slow things down
It’s totally reasonable to want to take things slowly. However, it’s also important to figure out why you feel that way! If you just prefer to take time in a relationship, then communicate with your partner. However, if that’s usually not the case, take time to figure out what may be making you hit the breaks.
“My friend dated a guy last year, and he brought her to his apartment on the first date and just got really physical. When she asked him to slow things down, he would act respectful and say that he was fine with it, but he would continue to ask “do you want to do –– ?” and “I really think you would enjoy doing –– ,” says Harshe.
If you’re in a similar predicament, it may be a problem with the actual relationship, rather than just the tempo of things. If you find that you are hesitant to tell your SO that you want to slow things down, or if they aren’t respectful of your wishes, it may be wise to find someone who understands where you’re coming from.
4. Take some time apart
One of the best indicators of a relationship moving too fast is how much time you’ve been spending with your SO. It’s easy to get caught up in the future of a relationship and cut everyone else out if the only person you’re spending your free time with is your SO.
When Elizabeth Beanland, a senior at University of Massachusetts Amherst, went through this with her relationship, she found that taking a week apart from her partner helped re-do the pace of the relationship. “In our case, we needed to spend a good week apart to hit the ‘refresh’ button and slow things down. If couples are already finding themselves in fast-paced relationships, I advise them to just spend less time together. Three to four times a week is plenty, and definitely avoid sleeping over every night. Save it for the weekends!”
Though this was helpful for Elizabeth, some people may dislike the idea of spending an entire week apart. For people with those reservations, an easier way to go about spending less time with your significant other is to just try and plan more friend time.
“One of the most important things is to make sure that you are making time for your boyfriend/girlfriend but also balancing that time with hanging out with your friends and having you time as well” says Bailee Barnett, a senior at the University of California Santa Barbara. “I’d stress that making time for others, having that balance, and having a little separation from your partner will really help slow down your relationship if you feel it’s going too fast.”
Whether it be a week or just weekday evenings, spending time apart will allow you to step outside of the relationship bubble.
5. Monitor your progress
Once you’ve had a conversation with your SO about taking things slower, stick to your guns. If things start to pick up pace again and you aren’t cool with it, let them know. That being said, if your relationship picks up pace again and both you and your partner are into it then go for it. Be sure to regularly check in with yourself, and the person you’re in a relationship with.
Relationships are fickle, and what matters most is that the people involved are both on the same page.