The Hopeful Romantic’s Guide To Dating Slowly

The other day I came across an article about dating to find someone to marry. The title resonated with me, since I’ve never been the kind of girl to casually date for fun.

I tried in the past to be casual. I acted like the “cool girl” that’s okay going with the flow, convincing myself I was okay with dating just for fun.

And it always went terribly.

So I clicked on this article to feel validated, I guess. Or perhaps understood. But as I read more, I couldn’t help but cringe a bit. I felt the old me — the anxious me — creeping up.

After my most recent failed relationship, my best friend slapped me with reality. He exclaimed that I don’t allow new relationships time to naturally blossom. I expect them to be end game from the get-go, and if the guy deviates from those feelings, anxiety runs rampant in my mind.

That notion baffled me. My best friend had a great point. How could I expect someone to know within two months of meeting me if they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me? It definitely happens in some cases, but it doesn’t have to happen.

Since then, I’ve been on a mission. I’m dating someone new who’s amazing. My boyfriend is the epitome of a “nice guy” while also being a partner-in-crime type.

But this time, I want to squash my old dating anxiety. Yes, I’m looking for someone that will one day be my husband, but I’m also allowing room for feelings to blossom. I’m allowing room to decide, maturely, if this relationship is right for both of us.

As a hopeful romantic, this is hard AF, though. If I’m not careful, I quickly slip back into my irrational, anxious way of thinking.

But I’m fighting that; I’m being conscious of my old ways. This time, I’m choosing to date slowly.

And this is how I’m doing it.

Choosing The Right Person

If you’re quick to jump into all-or-nothing thinking, you’re going to have to consider the kinds of people you’re choosing.

You may think this issue has to do with you, and in a way it does, but there’s more to it. Wanting to be very serious from the get-go could be a sign of some insecurities you have. Maybe you have a fear of abandonment. Perhaps you seek validation through the people you date.

Whatever the reason may be, though, considering the type of men you date won’t hurt.

Think of a relationship like building a house. You need a solid foundation.

A solid foundation does not consist of mixed signals, questioning your worth, not wanting “something serious”, bringing out your worst insecurities, taking you for granted, or long periods of silence.

What you want is stability. If you’re in this for the long run, then someone who makes you feel cared for and comforted is essential. Forget the rollercoaster, instant fireworks bullshit. That’s an idea perpetuated by the media.

A solid foundation is someone who chooses you. Someone that talks to you throughout the day. A person who cares what is going on in your life, treats you well, and doesn’t make you question their intentions.

And yes, that might be the “nice” guy. You may have to question your reaction to pull back or run away when you date someone like this — someone drastically different than what you’re used to.

Let their actions guide your decisions. Pick people that treat you right and create a solid foundation.

Change Your Perspective

There are a few perspectives on dating you need to consider.

The process is simple: When you change beliefs, you change your way of thinking. When you change your way of thinking, you change your actions. And changing your actions creates a new life.

Consider what your beliefs are on these three topics and watch your perspective on dating change.

“My partner should be in the same emotional place as me.”

Two people will never be in the same emotional place. There will always be one person that likes the other more. Most of the time that will fluctuate between the partners throughout the relationship.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. I know it feels scary to come to terms with the idea of being a bit more invested in the relationship, but I assure you it’s natural. It doesn’t mean your partner isn’t invested, and it doesn’t mean they won’t get to where you’re at.

“If I question if I want to be with them, the relationship isn’t meant to be.”

Dating is all about questioning if you want to be with the other person. You’re supposed to get to know them. Figure out their interests. Find out that they paint action figures in their spare time and then consider if you could date someone who paints action figures in their spare time.

And more so, small deviations from what we thought a “perfect” partner looks like isn’t a sign it couldn’t work out in the long run. It’s a sign that maybe our idea of an ideal partner wasn’t right.

We’re only capable of deciding what could make us happy from our past experiences. So it is perfectly normal and healthy to question the relationship along the way.

Just be sure to consider whether those beliefs are well-founded ones.

“Wanting to spend the rest of their life with me should be their goal.”

I am so completely guilty of this one.

This whole article is about dating slowly. Chances are, if you’re with a secure human being, they’re going to be doing exactly that — taking things slowly.

Most people decide that they want to marry their partner years down the road. It’s not like in the movies where they say “I love you” mere weeks into meeting each other.

If your significant other isn’t thinking about the long-term from the get-go, that doesn’t mean they’ll never consider it. It means they’re focused on getting to know you and deepening your bond to see if there could be something more.

Keep Your Head Steady

I would get so caught up in the Romantic Drama I created in my head that I ignored reality. That’s why I dated a lot of assholes, and my relationships ended badly.

When you’re in your new relationship, make sure to check-in with yourself. Take note of what is going on in the relationship and how you’re feeling.

Create Boundaries

For many people, standing up for ourselves is hard. We know what we need from our partner, but we’re too scared to say so.

If you want to date slowly, boundaries are crucial. You can’t be spending every night at your significant other’s house if it’s detrimental to your career. Your needs can’t be put on the back-burner for theirs.

Create healthy boundaries from the get-go. That way you’re not caught up in the relationship in a way that’s detrimental to your well-being.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags

I one time dated a guy with the following red flags:

1. Broke up with me once before via text message

2. Racist

3. Made sexist jokes

4. 12 years my senior and loved to brag about dating a younger girl

5. Discharged from the military

6. Couldn’t go one night without drinking.

7. Oh, and the time he choked me

But I ignored them all for the love story I conjured up in my head.

There are red flags you can’t ignore simply because you see the relationship lasting long-term. Red flags from the beginning of the relationships are signs that you need to find someone else, not issues you just need to work on with your partner.

Slowly Allow Things To Blossom

Back to the metaphor of the house.

A contractor doesn’t take all the material of a house, throw them up in the air, and have a perfectly built craftsman home plop down. Each part of the house is built slowly. First the foundation, then the frame, windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc.

A relationship is the same way. You get to know one another. Find out if you’re compatible. Get involved with their life and them in yours. You spend time doing things the other loves. And through all these experiences, a deeper bond forms (or not).

A rushed relationship doesn’t last because the initial thrill eventually wears off — a spark can only last for so long.

Allow yourself and your partner time to become friends, fall in love, and consider forever together. If a long-term relationship is your goal, then there’s no need to get to the end as quick as you can.

After all, you can’t rush something you want to last forever. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Kirstie Taylor

Dating + Relationship Writer & Coach