Online dating rule: take things slow

By Juliet O

“Take it slow” is probably the single best piece of relationship advice that people never seem to want to hear. Like relationships in real life, online relationships can also move way too fast. And I don’t have to remind you about the story of the turtle and the hare. There are many reasons to take things slowly on Zoosk, but the biggest reason is also the most obvious one: you don’t know this other Zoosker yet. And you should get to know them, before you meet in real life.

Reducing the speed at which you barrel toward love, marriage, and mortgage, actually makes dating more fun. Many people claim that the very best time to be in love is at the beginning of relationships, when all the euphoric, mesmerizing feelings of love are at their most intense. Why not prolong that intensity as long as possible? When poets write about love, they are almost never talking about comfortable long term relationships. They write about the dizzying feeling of falling in love with someone and the first stages of blossoming affection. Let the excitement of falling in love last as long as possible! There is simply no need to hurry. What’s the rush? If it’s meant to be, it will be.

A good rule of thumb: learn about your partner online first — exchange messages for a few days — before moving on to the phone. When you’re at the stage where you’re making phone calls, take time out of your day to really connect with one another on the phone. See how long you can talk on the phone. If you can’t even talk on the phone for a couple of hours, how are you going to make it through a two-hour dinner date?

Here are some good rules to follow during any phone date. Use the telephone as a screening device to judge if you really do want to meet this person in real life. It’s good to keep things at the phone stage for awhile before pushing forward to meeting in real life. Jason and Ang, our August success story of the month, is a great example of how this works. They chatted on the phone for almost a month before meeting in real life. Jason says, “We have been talking on the phone for around 3 weeks, sometimes 4-5 hours at a time.  Our conversations are very diverse, and quickly realized there may be something special here.”

And once you meet in person, it’s good to take things slow in real life, as you have been doing online. Even if you feel you know this other person from chatting with them online and on the phone, it’s a good idea to get to redo the getting-to-know process with them in real life, before becoming physically or emotionally intimate with someone you meet on Zoosk. First, there are the obvious safety concerns. But it’s also just good practice in dating to really learn about a person before inviting them into your heart. Your heart is a special place. Save it for the ones who truly matter!

So, we all agree that taking it slow is a good thing. But generally, it’s easier said than done. What are some easy tips to follow, when you feel things are moving too quickly and you want to take a step back?

1. Communicate.

Wanna cool the acceleration? Simply say so. You should always feel, in any relationship, like you can address your own needs. Should you feel that things are moving too quickly for your liking, you need to pipe up and say so. Any partner worth having will listen and immediately take your feelings into consideration.

2. Keep things light.

There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t talk about getting serious too early in a relationship, the biggest being that you will probably scare the person away. People do not fall in love at the same pace. Someone always has to say “I love you” first. It’s also difficult to discern, in the beginning, if what you are feeling is really meaningful, or mere infatuation, and it’s always good to marinate in your feelings and reflect on them before taking things to a more serious place.

3. Live in the moment, not the future.

Enjoy the precious moments of your new relationship. Don’t worry about the future! The future will come, and when it arrives, you might even find yourself nostalgic for the past.

4. Never lose your head.

The term “head over heels” is an accurate one, in the sense that people do run the risk of losing their heads when walking, blindly, into a new relationship. Keep your head on straight. Try not to let your emotions control you. In any relationship, you are ultimately in control of your own actions, and to a degree, you can control your feelings as well. Be rational!

5. Don’t try to define anything too early.

Lastly, I don’t know about you, but I sincerely hate the “what are we” conversation. I don’t really believe that people need to know, when they are in the beginning of a relationship, if its going to work out in the long term. As long as you are enjoying yourself now, that should be all that matters. Try not to succumb to the need to define your relation early on. You’ll miss out on all the fun of the relationship if you spend your days worrying about what to call it! Trust!

photo credit: malias