Imagine the scenario: you’ve been dating someone new and it’s going well as far as you’re concerned. Compared to the other people you have been dating this one finally seems normal. They don’t talk about their exes at dinner or constantly update their Snapchat. You have been going to dinners, movies, staying up all night on the phone, the whole shebang. You get along well and you genuinely like each other’s company. You are enjoying this phase where you are getting to know each other and though you don’t know what the future holds; you hope that it includes the two of you. At this point though, it is anyone’s guess.
You are young and on the pursuit of your goals so stressing a relationship is not really your thing. You prefer to trust that the universe will put the right person in your life at the right time and they will stay, at their own will.
One night as you stroll along the sidewalk after another great evening, you pull them close taking in the scent you have grown to like so much and you say…..
“I’m having such a great time with you” looking up at them earnestly, just for a touch of reassurance.
“Me too,” they respond reluctantly. “But I don’t want to give you the wrong idea or move too fast. I can’t make any promises. For right now we’re just going with the flow, you know.”
The smile remains on your face but your eyes twitch and your hands ball up into a fist as you feel shit hit the fan.
“Of course, I know that,” you reply, painfully calm and collected, a sarcastic chuckle escaping your lips. Suddenly the dating experience is tainted.
RIP to the vibe.
Welcome to 2016. The age of instant gratification and endless options. The whole dynamic of dating has shifted. The way we meet, the way we love, and the way we resolve our issues are among the changes.
Many of us have our guards up because of the uncertainty of our futures and others because of the pain in our past. So why do we refuse to put dating on hold altogether until we are completely ready? And why do our dating partners continue to ask us to accept less than we deserve?
The truth is, we are all a bit scared, a bit broken, and choosing to “go with the flow” restores that sense of control that falling for someone new seems to take away. But the concept of going with the flow isn’t real, and here’s why:
1. Putting “no label” on it is STILL a label
Only the label reads “no label”. The only way for a situation to truly bear no label is if there is no discussion to what it all means. If the two people involved are open to whatever happens, happening in its due time, then the label is pending. But if one person turns on the yellow light and decides you are taking it slow, there is now a label that reads “Taking it slow”
2. The person who declares you are going with the flow sets the tone for the relationship
So you aren’t really going with “the flow” you’re going with “their flow” which is not always that fun and often frustrating. We can try and keep our emotions in check for a while but the anxiety it brings to your senses is unfair and chaotic for them to lay dormant when they aren’t even sure how long it will be expected of them. It’s like asking your puppy to sit and stay and then walking away.
The puppy will be thinking:
Where are you going?
Why are you taking my bone with you?
Now pair that with teasing the dog and displaying actions that go against your original command (as it often happens when the person asking you to go with the flow sends subtle signs they might be ready for more; usually in the form of relationship like dates, meeting friends and/or family, etc.)
How much control can that poor puppy have before it gets up and follows you?
3. There is already a natural flow involved in dating
You meet, you hang out, if you like each other you hang out more and if not the friendship sizzles and fades. Anything other than the natural flow isn’t a flow at all. It’s caution, its control, its anything but natural.
4. You can’t control your emotions
There’s no such thing as controlling your emotions. You can control how you express them but it isn’t possible to control your feelings. Instead we bury them to not encroach on the “flow” our partner has asked.
5. Is there a mutual benefit in the scenario?
Does the person asking to go with the flow still expect all of the relationship and intimate benefits? Then chances are they are just looking for something with less accountability than a relationship. In this case we have to ask ourselves what it is we want and need from a partner, and can this person give it to us.
These situations can be dangerous for the emotional being. Not because it is a crime for a person to want to take things slow, but in most cases someone gets hurt. It isn’t intentional but it comes from us not being aware, not being honest about our expectations. We have to be aware that we can’t control what and when we feel and there is no time limit for how long you’ll be “going with the flow”. It is unfair to your partner to agree to wait while trying to manipulate them into a relationship but it is also unfair to try and turn off your feelings.
So what is the solution when faced with the opportunity to spend time with someone you like but you aren’t quite ready to date? The simple fact is love is always a gamble whether you think you know what to expect or not. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of what you want and what your end goal is. Once you’ve figured that out, don’t compromise that for anyone.