Is moving too fast in dating a problem for you? Do you get your hopes up only to have them dashed – no, obliterated – soon after? If you move too fast, you’re certainly not alone. Moving too quickly early in dating is one of the most widespread dating problems for men and women alike. I’ll point out the main signs that you’re rushing things, and provide a no-nonsense explanation of why you’re doing it so that you can have that a-ha moment and actually change your approach to dating.
You idealize your new date and believe this one’s going to be different from all the rest. When you idealize someone, you see them as all-good or all-perfect. When you first meet someone, it’s actually pretty easy to paint that person with one large brushstroke because you really don’t know that much about him. In other words, because you don’t have much information, you decide to fill in the blanks by using your own imagination. You tell yourself that he is the funniest or sweetest or sexiest guy you’ve ever dated; that he totally understands you; and that you get along with him more easily than with anyone else in the past.
Why you do it: If you idealize romantic partners when you first meet them, it’s often a sign that you have been burned or neglected emotionally in the past, and that you’re holding out hopes that someone can magically fill the voids. Remember, the best way to overcome lonely feelings is to cautiously approach new individuals in the following way: You wait for the right one so that you don’t have to keep starting and then stopping, and starting yet again with someone new. How exhausting, right?
You want to meet your new date’s friends or family members as soon as possible. When you meet someone you like, it’s perfectly normal to want to learn more about that person, including the people in her life. While that desire is totally understandable, it should be a mild desire. For men and women who move too fast in dating, they really, really want to meet their new date’s friends or family. They want to set plans for barbecues, dinners or social activities where they can meet all the major players in their date’s life – and they want to do it quickly.
Why you do it: Wanting to meet friends and family very early on is a sign that you want to blend your life quickly with your new date’s life. This emotional hunger suggests that you don’t feel that you have a fulfilling social circle or extended family of your own. Instead of hoping to submerge yourself wholeheartedly into someone else’s social group, make a conscious effort to beef up your own so that you don’t have to depend on a romantic partner to provide you with an overall sense of belonging.
You constantly text him – or think about texting him. Again, it’s normal to think or daydream about someone you like. However, it’s not normal to constantly think about him or her. If you meet someone and find yourself thinking about him all the time – like, obsessively – you are sabotaging the relationship from the start. As a rule, when you meet a new date you like, impose a simple rule for yourself: Initiate no more than a couple of texts each day. Feel free to respond to texts, but tell your date from the beginning that you like to take things slow, and this includes texting! The more you text, talk with, and invest in someone right away, the more you risk feeling brokenhearted over someone you hardly know when it doesn’t work out. Play your hand cautiously in dating and you’ll achieve far more successful results in your relationships.
Why you do it: Constantly thinking about someone indicates that, on some level, you feel that you need that individual in your life – or else. In most cases, this sense of desperation comes from a fear that if you don’t seal the deal immediately and develop a cement-like bond, that individual will slip through your fingers and you will be left all alone, never to meet anyone again whom you really like.
Your self-esteem depends on whether she likes you or not. Rushing too quickly in dating has everything to do with how you feel about yourself. Simply put, people who feel good about and proud of the overall package they are don’t feel the need to rush because they don’t have emotional holes they’re looking to fill. But if your self-esteem is up one day and down the next, finding someone to like you becomes the most all-encompassing drive on earth. It’s a stressful, sometimes gut-wrenching experience to care so much about being liked back, so don’t put yourself through that when you simply don’t have to!
Why you do it: Somewhere along the way, someone didn’t teach you well enough to believe that you are worthy and good enough. As a parent, for example, I can’t tell you the number of times each week I tell my 5 and 7-year-old kids how smart, sweet and all-around awesome they are. If you grow up with that praise on a daily basis, odds are that you’ll carry those positive internal voices with you into adulthood – and into your romantic relationships. But many of you may not have received that type of consistent praise a long time ago. Here’s the good news: While you can’t undo being told that you were less than, being rejected or even possibly abandoned as a young person, you can make damn sure to have empathy for yourself and say nice things about yourself as an adult today.
Before we go: Above all, your approach to dating should be measured and cautious as you meet someone new, taking the time to gather information over a period of time to determine if this individual makes a good personality fit with yours. The focus must be on delayed gratification early in dating, as opposed to wanting it all at this very minute.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.