I am 33 (female, she/her) and dating 31 (female, she/her), it’s been about three months now. She has said she wants to go slow which is fine however I tend to move fast (last relationship moved in after four weeks) so this is an adjustment for me. She also isn’t a big texter and we can go days without having a proper conversation, which is compounded by the fact that she won’t discuss anything via text except for the weather or how work was. This is resulting in my feelings going up and down; when we see each other I feel connected and like I’m building feelings and then we have days or more of barely speaking and when we do it’s about the weather and my feelings go down. She is willing to compromise and do more phone calls in between dates but is holding firm at no texting about anything other than the weather. I acknowledge these are her boundaries and I probably need to learn a thing or two about going slow.
How do I keep my expectations in check? What does going slow mean for lesbians, when the stereotype of a U-Haul is pretty applicable to me most of the time? I like her, and I enjoy spending time with her, but it feels odd to me that my feelings aren’t on a steady incline and it’s weird to me to not talk for days on end. I don’t think I want to end it, and I don’t want to push her away by pushing this with her. We’ve had two conversations about our differing communication styles so far and I hope she can meet me half way but I definitely need advice on what “going slow” looks like. Thank you.
Okay first of all: is she a meteorologist? How much weather conversation is possible in any given day! Do you live in an area with a lot of natural disasters so the weather is like, a pertinent topic? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT PRIORITIZING WEATHER TALK AS THE EXALTED SOLE TEXTING TOPIC!
That said, let’s move away from what I want to know for myself about your local climate and what you want to know for yourself!
“What does going slow mean for lesbians, when the stereotype of a U-Haul is pretty applicable to me most of the time?”
Unfortunately, and as is so often the case, there is no one answer to that question, and it’s totally different for different people depending on your circumstances! Especially co-habitation since that has a huge economic factor as well. (I think we often leave that out of the conversation, which is so weird! At least personally, financial circumstances were usually the #1 or #2 factor driving premature commitments in my past relationships.) Barring any external circumstances that make moving in together necessary, moving in together in under a year seems fast, as does getting engaged in under a year. Beyond that I think you’ll find a variety of opinions.
Other milestones I’d put into the “pace” category are things like the speed at which you start sleeping together, calling yourselves girlfriends/partners/etc, being each other’s plus ones for events, being public about your relationship, meeting each other’s friends, meeting each other’s family, spending holidays together, making it clear you are dating on social media, becoming exclusive if monogamy is your thing, etc. Those are all also things that are tough to put a timeline on, especially during a pandemic!
I’m also not sure if you guys are still casually dating or if this is a Relationship. It seems like it might be somewhere in the middle? If it’s a Relationship then I think she probably has a secret double life or else is simply not the right match for you and you should move on to more verdant pastures with lighter wind chill.
If you’re still just dating, then read on!
I think what we’re basically trying to do here, in terms of managing expectations, is enabling you to get comfortable judging the quality of your relationship not for your mutual willingness to prioritize emotional whims and romantic rapture over common sense but by the actual connection you feel to a person. New Relationship Energy can be a thrilling high, and making additional premature commitments can often provide a rush to sustain that high. But what’s underneath it? Do you have enough in common and do you enjoy each other’s company enough to last beyond that first flush? Relationship experts believe that in the early months of seeing someone, it’s healthiest to take a lot of physical space because spending all your time together up front can create a false sense of intimacy before you really get to know them — “It’s counterintuitive, but if you want to see [a new partner] more in the future, see them less now.”
As many long distance relationshippers can attest, when you aren’t together all the time, it makes the time you do spend together special, which seems like has been the case for you and this person.
Momentum can build within a relationship without spending a lot of time together or being up all night on the phone or hitting any of those milestones or making any of those commitments in the early months! It’s great that you are open to considering that a relationship can be healthy and can grow without falling into the “lesbian relationship cliches” that can often lead to unhealthy attachments, a relationship driven by circumstance rather than choice, or the idea that the only way to fall in love is to do so quickly, obsessively or self-destructively.
But… as for what’s happening here, specifically?
It’s difficult for me to answer this without knowing why her boundaries are what they are — there are legitimate reasons for not being able to text like “having a newborn baby” or “a demanding career as a forest guide in the deep recesses of middle earth,” but you haven’t indicated that’s the case here so I’m just gonna work under the assumption that she wants to go slow simply for the sake of going slow.
And in that case, my lord it cannot possibly feel good, let alone feel exciting or thrilling or romantic, to be abiding by this many restrictions three months in! At this point, it is not unreasonable to expect that you will communicate every day on topics unrelated to cloud cover.
Some form of daily communication is also a milestone, and it tends to hit pretty fast, in my experience, regardless of how ‘slow” the rest of the relationship goes — working the other person into your day-to-day life, from good morning texts to nightly phone calls. This is all part of the process of getting closer; they learn the dimensions of your world and vice versa and that opens up new avenues for connection and conversation.
Only communicating when you see each other for occasional in-person dates might make sense very early in the relationship, but emailing, texting or talking on the phone are also part of the dating process! I’m not sure how long you can have one without the other and still feel that things are moving along. I don’t think there’s necessarily a lot for her to lose here, either — talking to you every day or so isn’t signing a lease, if you break up then it wouldn’t take long for her to re-adjust to a life without those phone calls.
I don’t think texting frequently is necessary for a relationship to grow, because I am 40 and I spent most of my life in a world where doing so was either impossible or expensive. There’s something very cute and old-fashioned about not texting, actually! But in that imaginary cute scenario I am envisioning you having nightly phone calls or physical meet-ups where you catch up on everything you didn’t talk about during the day, and that you’ll also text when you have important or exciting news to share or something else pertinent on your mind, which it sounds like this person has forbidden?
It sounds like you are okay adjusting your speed and moving forward slowly, but is this moving forward at all? I’m worried that the dynamic in this relationship is already pretty skewed. You’re making adjustments to suit her requests and she’s not making any to yours and she’s seemingly insisting the adjustments only feel weird to you because you’re not adequately managing your expectations / have an unhealthy pattern of rushing in too quickly in the past. That specific paradigm — you wanting something reasonable from her, her telling you that it’s your own unrealistic lesbian cultural expectations or psychological baggage that is preventing you from understanding why her way is superior — is bad.
So. I want to talk about this psychological concept of “bids” in relationships. Bids are basically requests for attention. The example used in the Atlantic article I just linked is an avid bird-loving husband pointing out a goldfinch flying across the yard and saying “look at that beautiful bird outside!” The article notes: “He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.”
The wife can “turn towards” or “turn away.” She can show interest in the bid or support the bid, like by looking up at the bird or complimenting the bird. Or she can ignore that the bid was even made, or respond minimally, or, even worse, respond with hostility, like “don’t bother me with your birds you silly old man, I am making a spreadsheet!!!!” If a person refuses enough bids, contempt builds up, kindness vanishes, and the relationship will eventually fail.
That’s the paradigm I’d use to judge how well this relationship is working for you, or not: does she turn towards your bids or turn away? I’ve been in relationships where we lived together and plowed through every milestone with gusto and were in near-constant contact for the first few months and then fast forward to two years later when eventually my bids were denied so often that I started not only questioning their interest in me but whether or not I was interesting at all. And I know that I can trace relationships I personally fucked up to the myriad bids I began denying of theirs.
But! I’m also a person who likes a lot of space and independence, and it doesn’t sound like you are that type of person! Maybe you’d be a better fit with someone else who likes more communication and more intimacy and to be more intertwined. Regardless of pace, are you both heading towards the same destination? I think the worst case scenario here for you is that you will find your bids repeatedly refused, because it sounds to me like that is already happening a lot and it’s only been three months!
I’d hate for you to text your person mid-day to tell them that you were chosen to be a contestant on The Amazing Race or that the pain in your side turned out to be ovarian cysts and have you get silence or “heat wave talk only plz” in return. It sounds to me like you’ve already lost most of your bids, and while a new relationship doesn’t have to feel like you’re in your own personal rom-com, it should not feel like one of those crime docu-series that are 10 parts long even though they really only have enough interesting footage for two parts. You know what I mean?
In conclusion, I hope that you find someone — whether it’s this partner or somebody else — who casts their gaze immediately skyward every time you take note of the presence of a beautiful bird, and not just because she is flying through a notable snowstorm.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.