Pace Your Love Life

Everyone seems to be in a rush these days, but taking it slow may be the best path. Here's the scoop on how to proceed.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

o you know what the right speed is for getting involved with someone? Do you think slow and steady wins the race? There's often wisdom in taking things slow, yet some of us use that as an excuse to never get going. Finding the right pace — and knowing when you're using caution as a crutch — is the key to nurturing a new romance.

"I think slow is always better than fast, but timing is about being present to what is really going on and not about a schedule," says Lev Ba'esh, director
Sometimes, we say we want to "take it slow" because we're afraid.
of the Resource Center for Jewish Clergy at "People should be honest about gut feelings in dating and should search deep if the feelings say 'too slow' or 'too fast.'" Let's take a closer look.

Trusting your gut
Finding the right speed for your dating relationship is all about checking in with yourself and your faith regularly. Don't be governed by those alleged dating rules about how quickly things should proceed, nor should you trust your friends' feelings about how fast a connection should kick in. "It is through attentive practice that we learn our limits and our ability to stand up for ourselves and ask for what we want and say no when we don't want it," Ba'esh explains. "I think religious or spiritual practice — like meditation or private prayer or scripture reading or conversations with people we consider sacred or holy — can lend us guidance when we can't get a good reading on timing from the relationship we are in."

Using a crutch
However, recognize when you are backing away from a relationship because you're fearful. Sometimes, we say we want to "take it slow" because we're afraid. We over-think the situation in an attempt to protect ourselves from getting hurt. "Over-thinking kills your good instincts, your spontaneity, your common sense and your willingness to risk," says Sam Laing, author of The Five Senses of Romantic Love, and an evangelist at the Athens Church of Christ in Georgia. "And you've got to take a risk with love."

If someone is profoundly flawed in character or you don't get along, then he or she probably isn't right for you, Laing allows. "But for many of us, a fearful imagination isolates us from a soul whom we could deeply love." Recognize if you are slowing things down (or building barriers) because you are
There's a difference between going slow… and pushing people away.
afraid to be vulnerable. Look to your past dating history for patterns, or ask a trusted friend or relative what trends they see in your love life. There's a difference between going slow… and pushing people away.

Going too slow
Regardless of your reasons for choosing to extend the pace, you can go too slow, cautions Joe Siegler, president of the Full Life Centers in Chicago. "When is slow too slow? When the 'slow' is not supporting the courtship going forward," he says. "When even kissing is completely avoided after multiple dates, or avoiding intimacy is clearly the behavior—one has to ask, is it slow or avoidance?"

Bottom line: If you're using the pace of your relationship to keep you from getting close to someone, you're going too slow to get anything off the ground. If this sounds like you, it's time to take a look at the real issues driving your decision making.

Seeing the upside
Taking things at a leisurely (but healthy) pace can be a great way to enhance the dating process. "It's a winning courtship strategy in many respects," Siegler says. "It allows my client to get to know the 'stranger' over several dates without sex clouding anyone's judgment. And it helps create 'demand' which helps the courtship go better—allowing your date to want you more in a healthy way."

So next time you're feeling yourself putting on the brakes, check out your gut. If you're feeling scared, get out the road map to your emotions and find your way to a better place. If you're really enjoying the ride, sit back and let the journey come to you.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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