Are You Falling In Love Too Fast?

If your relationship’s moving at light speed, how do you know if it’s for real—or if you need a reality check? Find out right here.

by Anna Harris

t’s no surprise that the whirlwind romance between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had everyone’s tongues wagging. After dating for just one month, Cruise declared his devotion to Holmes on Oprah. And a few weeks after that, they were engaged, with baby Suri and a lavish wedding following in the months after.

That’s just one of the scenarios that had us wondering: Is it possible to really fall that fast? Can an intense love like that last? Everyone has an opinion, and the reason is probably because we’ve
You’re just comfortable with the idea of being in a whirlwind romance.
all been there at some point—that is, swept up in a relationship that’s moving so swiftly it’s making our heads spin.

Sure, falling hard and fast can be exhilarating, but it can also be a little scary. Should you barrel ahead, celebrating that you’ve found The One, or put the brakes on for fear that you’ll get your heart broken? We asked that very question to some leading relationship experts to see what’s the best way to proceed. Try their advice and you may be able to reap all the heady benefits of being head-over-heels without getting burned.

Know the difference between a tide and an undertow
“I think people have to allow for a bit of a giddy whirlwind,” says Lynn Harris, relationship expert and author of He Loved Me, He Loves Me Not, who married her husband just a year after they met. “People who spend too much time analyzing what’s going on and playing it safe suck all the romance out of it.” Even so, there is a big difference between being swept up and feeling completely out of control. So ask yourself: If your new love interest asks you to do something you’re uncomfortable with — say, heading to a dicey-looking club on your second date — do you feel fine voicing your reservations, or do you sweep them under the rug to avoid ruining the moment? “If you feel like you have to act a certain way, then that’s a sign you’re not comfortable with this person. You’re just comfortable with the idea of being in a whirlwind romance,” points out Harris. Bottom line is, any long-term relationship needs your input, good and bad. More on how to do that next...

Slow things down without hurting their feelings
If you think things are rushing along too quickly, you owe it to the relationship to say so. However, avoid the usual lines like “I think we need to take things slower” or “I need some space”—these clichés will only set off alarm bells and make your amour think you’re trying to wiggle out of the relationship. Instead, be specific by explaining, “I’d love to see you this weekend, but a friend of mine going through a rough time so I’m going to hang out with her” or “A work project is killing me and I’ll feel better if I hunker down and finish it so I can relax the next time we’re together.” If your date presses the issue, put his or her fears to rest by framing your time apart as a way to keep your relationship healthy for the long run. Say, “I’m really into you and I don’t want to mess this up by moving too fast.” To reassure your date further, make a plan to get together at a time you’ll be more available—that way he or she isn’t left hanging and wondering if the relationship’s on the rocks.

Don’t act on every impulse
Are you thinking of your sweetie and tempted to call him or her saying so... for the fifth time that day? That’s sweet, but before you dial that person’s digits, know this: Not all impulses are meant to be acted upon. “People misinterpret feelings for phone
Enjoy the fact that you just hung up the phone and want to pick it up again.
calls. They don’t have to be one and the same,” says Harris. “Just sit back and enjoy the buzz. Enjoy the fact that you just hung up the phone and want to pick it up again. That’s awesome.” And enough already! This rule especially holds true for emailing and instant messaging—mediums that encourage you to reveal all sorts of personal info but that can easily breed false sense of intimacy. So before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself: Would you feel comfortable coughing up this info in person? If not, save it for later.

Curb conversations about the future
So you’d love to take a romantic cruise to Alaska together this fall. Or you’ve always dreamt of having your wedding on the beach at sunset. Or you’re certain you want at least three kids, ideally five. Discussing your future dreams with your new flame may seem really romantic, but indulging in it too often can be a red flag. “This indicates that you’re more into the idea of being in a relationship than with the actual person in front of you,” points out Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words To Change Your Life. If your conversations tend to veer in that direction, consider an “activity date” like going to an art museum or taking a walk in the park, which will force you to focus on things right in front of you—as well as each other.

Wait to say “I love you” (even if you think you do)
When you’re in a relationship that feels so right, it can be tempting to utter those three little worlds on the early side. Harris advises against it: “The first time you feel like saying it, count to ten, go home and say it to your cat,” she says. After all, your feelings could be due to the fact that you two just shared a really romantic evening together or (let’s be honest) had incredible sex. There’s also the risk that the feelings might not be mutual yet. So before you take this step, ask yourself: Will you be able to accept if your date doesn’t say “I love you” back, or will you be crushed? If it’s the latter, then it’s probably best to hold off until more time has passed and you’re more confident about each other’s intentions.

If, on the other hand, you’re on the receiving end of an early “I love you,” don’t feel obliged to say it back if you’re not feeling it yet. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the overture or, worse yet, give your sweetie a lecture about how he or she couldn’t possibly feel that way so soon. “This person has just made him or herself really vulnerable, so you want to be careful,” says Harris. Try, “I’m so touched you just said that, and I feel strongly for you. It’s hard for me to use that word right now but feel like I may be getting there, too.” Who knows, maybe you will sooner than you think.

Anna Harris is a freelance writer in New York City. She has only fallen head over heels once—and married him last fall. And for the record, he said, “I love you” first.
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