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The Rest in the Music (Or, Going Slow)

Screen shot 2013-04-26 at 7.23.15 PMWhile running together recently one morning, a friend asked me for advice on how to take things slow in the datingverse. She has a crush, and wants to be healthy about her crush. In fact, she’s even told him she was on a dating hiatus to which he replied, that’s totally fine, just let me know what that means.

So…you like him more now? I asked her.

Oh yeah, she replied.

Made you want to forget the whole taking things slow plan? I asked.

Oh yeah, she replied.

There’s nothing like a crush who is willing to meet you on your level to make you want to run with your hands waving wildly in the air deep onto another level. I’m not a mind reader – I’ve just totally been there before. Part of me wanted to tell my friend, “Like heck if I know how to take things slow.” I’m the girl who moved in with someone after six months. I’m the girl who also allowed someone to string me along in ultra-slow fashion under the pretense of “he’s keeping things casual!” when really he just wasn’t that into me.

However, I went on fifty first dates (well, fifty-six in the lower forty-eight) which I suppose means I do have some ability to take things slow. I mean, it was a month before anyone got an in-person second date. (Oh hi, foreshadowing!)

I get the point of taking things slow: for those of us who tend to leap before we look, sometimes the looky-loo around after committing ourselves to someone gives us the heebie-jeebies. In order to forego those shuddering feelings, going slow is a must. Going slow can be exceptionally healthy when it comes to wanting to create clear boundaries and establish a sense of self between the sense of “us” that comes with relationshipland. So how does one do it? For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents:*

1. Don’t Just Be Honest: Be Upfront

Honesty implies that it’s okay to omit information if not asked about it directly. Almost no one you meet is going to ask, “Hey are you into taking things slow?” on a first hang-out, whether that hang-out is planned or not. Instead, if you feel the spark but know where you’re at, you have to be the one to say, “Yo listen. I’m attempting to reform myself, from wallflower geek to boisterous elf…” Actually, skip the nonsensical rap. But in order to get what you want you have to advocate for it.

1a. Walk Away If They’re Uncool With It

Anyone who hears this and immediately makes you feel foolish means it’s time for you to bow out. You did yourself a favor by bringing it up and getting that reaction. Manboys and Ladygirls can be shown the door – and that’s part of the reason for wanting to go slow, right?

2. Don’t Waver

As noted above, it’s easy to think, “They’re cool with it! Awesome, they must be perfect! Let’s just skip to being in love!” Easy, tiger and/or tigeress. Try the whole hang-out session once or twice a week for a few weeks. Give not kissing right away a piece of mind. If and when you’re feeling the pull to spend more time with them and it feels almost uncontrollable, ask yourself why you feel this way. Introspection is your friend.

3. Enjoy the Space

Purposefully go out and do the things that make you who you are. You want to go slow because you want space. Don’t wistfully wonder about the other person. Read a book in a bubble bath. Hang out with friends. Go to an activity you have a hankering for solo (I recommend movies and lectures, but that’s just me. Just be sure to tell someone where you’re going. Safety first, kittens).

4. Enjoy the Togetherness, Too

New Relationship Energy, or NRE, is a thing. Remember how being in crush mode in high school was the absolute best because you didn’t actually get to interact with your crush that much? And how new crushes = that feeling all over again. Imagine that as an adult. Now imagine it lasting a long time. And with the same person because you’re mature and you know what you want and what is good for you. Hear that? It’s the sweet sounds of healthy puppy love.

5. Different Lights

I think one of the hardest parts about relationships is realizing a person is a full fledged, multi-faceted, different person, and it can be a challenge to get people to show you themselves in different lights. So you want to be yourself, and in turn, ask them to be themselves. Maybe not quite so blatantly, but rather by doing activities that let reality shine. Sit in traffic together on purpose to see how they act. Go grocery shopping together. Drink tea together. The more different  situations you put yourselves in, the more you’ll see them as an individual.


There’s something magical about the pauses caused by not spending every second together. In music, smartypants people like conductors and professionals are constantly reminding everyone that rests are just important as the notes. The same can be said in relationships: it’s just as vital to have time away so that when you come together, you make a joyful noise. Those rests create the music.

*Wouldn’t the nature of it being two cents make it worth just that? Or is there some perceived idea of value on my end and what it’s actually worth, be it less than, equal to, or greater than, is really up to someone else?


2 Responses so far.

  1. Georgi says:

    I recently read an article on creativity and inventions wherein the author added that friendships, significant other relationships, and even marriages can be considered inventions. In each case you are creating something that wasn’t there before – thus an invention. Interesting way to think about it. Your two cents worth applies. It takes time to invent something worthwhile and lasting.

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