Give new relationship time before making long-term plans

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Time will tell if brand-new relationship is the real thing

Moving too fast? I started dating a woman a month-and-a-half ago, and we've gotten pretty tight pretty quickly. I haven't felt so excited about someone in years, and she seems amazing, and considerate, and respectful of me.

But because my only other relationship was a disaster, I don't trust my instincts, and because her only other relationship was a disaster, I worry that she lacks some perspective. I know we should go slowly, but I'm not sure what that means or how to go about it. I know that a month-and-a-half is no time at all, but this feels like something that could really go somewhere, and I haven't felt that way in years. Help?

Carolyn: In through your nose . . . out through your mouth . . . breathe . . .

"Go slowly" means that you make sure you have a little skepticism filter in place somewhere, reminding you that it's too early for whatever it is you're daydreaming up, unless it's "dinner Friday."

And really, that's it. Anything you're feeling now or projecting now might be fine and real, it just needs time to give its stamp of approval before you build on it.

If it frees you to enjoy the happy ride of these early days, then consider making concrete promises to yourself as safeguards until your emotional head-rush passes: Don't make sweeping promises or long-term plans together, or move in together, or conceive a child.

It also helps to know what time's approval stamp looks like: It's when your being with someone feels natural and energizing, and that feeling isn't solely propped up by intense, swoony attraction. If there's one thing dysfunctional relationships have in common, it's that they seem fine at first, but eventually leave the people in them feeling drained.

Size up what marriage offers after affair to decide what's next

Infidelity: I recently found out that my husband of six years has been having an affair for the past year of our marriage. As you can imagine, I was completely devastated.

The affair is now over, and I believe he is genuinely sorry and wants to work on repairing and improving our relationship. Most of the time I want this, also.

But sometimes I wonder — why am I doing this? Is "I love him" a good enough reason to try to save the marriage? Do you think a six-year marriage with no children is worth the time and energy to "fix," or should I cut my losses and try to find love again?

Carolyn: Being six years in and having no children means you have options that are a little less excruciating, but neither of these is enough to decide for you, "No, it's not worth staying." That depends entirely on the life you have with and feelings you have for your husband — after he cheated, not before, because that version of you two doesn't exist anymore. It sounds as if you're doing the right things, by taking your time, challenging your assumptions (and comfort zone, too, I hope) and seeing where this all takes you.

Give new relationship time before making long-term plans 10/04/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 3:27pm]

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