Is It Always the Best in the Beginning?

07/27/2010 05:51 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Relationships are supposed to go something like this: Guy and Girl hit it off; Guy and Girl can't get enough of each other; Guy and Girl are in pure bliss; Guy and Girl swear they are meant for one another; Guy and Girl begin to come down to earth; Guy and Girl join the real world; Guy and Girl begin to have real relationship issues; Guy and Girl either work through them, or Guy and Girl break-up. Bottom line: the beginning of the relationship is the best part!

Unfortunately, it's also a bunch of baloney. While we all hope that the beginning of a relationship is pure bliss, often that isn't the case. It's confusing, frustrating, and enough to make even the sanest of girls turn into crazy 'The Bachelor'-like contestants. Yet, when friends tell us that if it's this way now, it'll never get better, we're led to believe that as the truth, when in all actuality, it takes a while to understand and get to know your partner.

Those relationships that sprint right out of the gate often lose steam down the road. Hormones are in overdrive, and all logical judgment is clouded. If you're a friend to that sort of couple, it's often the period of time when your friendship begins to take a hit because your friend is all about her guy, 24/7. The good news is that that sort of behavior won't last forever, and most likely, you'll eventually get your friend back. Don't envy her situation. In this day and age of stronger, faster, better, smarter, there's something to be said for slower, slower, slower, slower.

Of course, when you're in the pure bliss of new love (or lust), slower is the last thing on your mind. We have one life to live, so why drag the best parts out? True, and I get it. But if you want a lasting relationship, then take the time to get there.

Here's why it's actually a good thing when your relationship isn't on autopilot right out of the gate:

  1. You MUST establish yourself as your top priority. Don't lose track of who you are. Stop waiting to make plans for your weekend because you hope the guy you've been on one or two dates with will call and ask you out. If you don't start this pattern now, you'll find yourself constantly consumed by him, and whether you admit it or not, he'll sense it. This is a good time to cite one of my favorite quotes: "Don't make someone a priority who only considers you an option."
  2. The quicker the relationship ascends, the more dramatic the fall. If a guy is worth getting to the top of the roller coaster with, then he'll take time getting there with you. Be wary of the guy that wants to go from 0-60 right away. Often it is this kind of guy that is either on the rebound, or isn't thinking long-term.
  3. Take the time to get to know who you're dealing with. No matter how wonderful we make a guy out to be (and sometimes they are pretty wonderful), they all have insecurities, quirks, and complexities like the rest of us. Humanizing them helps get rid of any 'I can't believe he's dating me!' internal talk that you might have. I started dating this great guy, and early on he had everything I was looking for on paper. I truly thought he was 'it.' But as time went on, I learned that he was compulsive when it came to germs and working out; had communication issues (although what guy doesn't?), and was really, really bad at calling people back. Are these deal breakers? No. But at the same time, it showed me that he was human and not perfect. As a result, I stopped feeling like I had to be so perfect around him.

  4. And here's another thing: guys don't feel comfortable around a girl that always seems perfect. It makes them more insecure. Ever wonder why a guy puts up with a girl that often times has so many issues? Well, many times it is because they feel like either they deserve that, or it puts them back in the driver's seat. Don't get me wrong though -- if a guy feels the need to be with someone because their issues makes him feel better about his own, then he needs to get himself to a therapist fast. And, if you are one of those chicks that has it together, don't start playing the drunk or the obsessive girl just to make your guy feel better. But do acknowledge your weaknesses, your fears, and your concerns (not on your first or second date, mind you). Also show him that while you might admit certain things, you also know how to deal with the said issue. It will ultimately make your guy feel more at ease, and help him to communicate more freely down the road.

  5. Information gathering: Girls are better at analyzing situations before deciding upon a course of action. For guys, sometimes the only thing they'll analyze is their March Madness bracket or how their stocks are performing (not to be sexist, as I'll admit to doing those things too). In the early stages of dating, take the time to analyze your guy and determine how they operate. I often wish guys would do the same for us, but in all honesty, they rarely do -- they are just not built that way. But since we do have the ability to deduce what makes a guy tick, use it to your advantage.

  6. For instance:

    a) Is your guy independent? Does he like being alone? Does he need time to decompress before going out? Look for these clues, and act accordingly. Don't smother him, don't call him to check in on him (he already has one mother), and don't insist on getting him to open up when he's got a lot on his mind. Let him come to you, on his terms, and when he's ready.

    b) Does your guy like talking and sharing what's on his mind? Believe it or not, there are a lot of guys that can spend hours on the phone (trust me, I know quite a few -- and yes, they are straight). If so, then they often crave constant interaction and enjoy hearing what's on your mind. If your guy is the opposite, do not take that to mean that they don't enjoy hearing about what's happening in your life, but they just may do so in other ways.

    c) Also be aware that in the early stages of dating, even the most independent and communication-illiterate of guys will open up, ask questions, and seem like a gift from God. Just be aware that usually this kind of behavior does not last, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes if a guy feels like they are becoming closer to you, they won't feel the need to have in-depth conversations. It's their way of going back to their life with you in it. However, if they stop caring altogether what you're up to or how your job interview went, then that's where you need to draw the line and bring your needs up.

    All of these methods will help as you ascend the relationship ladder. By slowing down, you are able to see if you really are a match and build a better foundation. Ask anyone who's ever been through heartbreak (and boy does it suck), and most always, you will hear someone say that they wish they kept their emotions in check earlier before giving their all and being disappointed with what comes back in return.