How do you know if you’ve rushed the process of falling in love? Below, therapists around the country offer seven telltale signs that you need to slow down and let things evolve a little more organically.
1. You’re on the rebound.
Let’s start with the painfully obvious: If you’re fresh out of a long-term relationship and looking for love from a place of loneliness, you probably need to slow things down, said Ryan Howes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California, and co-creator of the Mental Health Boot Camp.
“Sometimes people connect with another person quickly and feel so relieved that they’re not alone that they rush to make it more permanent,” Howes said. “But the fear of being alone can gloss over many shortcomings in a relationship and lead to disappointment later on.”
If you’ve experienced a breakup, focus instead on rebuilding your relationship with yourself and “learning to turn loneliness into solitude, which is like loneliness’ much stronger cousin,” Howes said.
A sure-fire way to know when you’re ready to commit again after all that “me time?” You want to pursue a relationship, but you don’t need it, Howes told us.
2. You’re constantly checking in with each other with texts.
If you’re the type who overanalyzes texts (“no emojis and a period at the end of a sentence? What does that mean?”) or use your phone as a way to monitor your partner, you may be shortchanging your relationship before it has a chance to start, said Patrick Schultz, a psychotherapist in Milwaukee.
“If you want your significant other to respond right away, that can be a sign of problems,” Schultz said. “It’s also problematic if you try to interpret someone’s tone of voice by text message. If you get angry or hurt by their text etiquette, that should be a conversation you have. If nothing changes after the conversation, the relationship might not be a good thing for either one of you.”
3. You let yourself be overly vulnerable with this person.
Trust is something that’s slowly built over time, not something you grant to a Tinder match on date number three. Make sure this person is worthy of your trust and vulnerability before you go telling them your deepest secrets, said Tammer Malaty, a licensed professional counselor at Malaty Therapy in Houston.
“We trust through actions, not words,” Malaty said. “Romance is one of the biggest emotional roller coasters, and people are willing to take way too many unnecessary risks in the beginning.”
She added: “My advice would be to give your partner just a little trust. If they show they are worthy of that little trust, give them a little more, and so on and so forth. You earn it one bit at a time.”
4. You’re spending more and more nights at their place.
It’s a tough rule to follow if you’re a serial monogamist, but every-other-night sleepovers should generally be avoided early on in a relationship, said Erin K. Tierno, a psychotherapist in Louisville and Boulder County, Colorado.
“It can feel so comfortable to fall back into a pattern of spending every moment with another person, but you have to recognize that this person exists in their own life and you exist in yours,” Tierno said.
“Merging your two lives without making time and space for your individual lives often results in one of you waking up a few months down the line thinking, ‘Who the heck is this person next to me and where the heck have I gone?’” she said.
5. You’ve said “I love you” or started intensely mapping out your future together.
Nothing compares with the heady rush of emotions in those early days of a relationship, but don’t get those feelings mixed up with love, said Moshe Ratson, a marriage and family therapist in New York City.
“Many people confuse the word ‘love’ with ‘in love,’” Ratson told us. “While being in love ― being infatuated or experiencing lust ― is more relevant to early stages of a romantic relationship, loving someone is more relevant to a long-term relationship, after you’ve really gotten to know your partner.”
6. You’re ignoring your non-negotiables in the relationship.
Most of us have our rose-colored glasses firmly in place when we’re getting serious about a partner. It’s fine to view your S.O.’s quirky personality habits as cute or endearing, but major divisions in your value systems and views shouldn’t be accepted in the same way, Howes said.
“We all bring a lifetime of issues to a relationship, so we’re bound to find some differences in our politics, our religion, our views on childrearing or our ideal division of household chores,” he said. “If you’re in complete agreement at this stage, you may want to consider whether or not you’re idealizing your partner and their views, and downplaying your own opinions.”
7. You’ve floated the idea of moving in together.
Logistically, it makes sense to move in together: You essentially get to split all your bills in half and come home to your favorite person at the end of a long day. Unfortunately, sliding into cohabitation could cost you: Studies have shown an increased risk of divorce and marital dissatisfaction for couples who move in before making a clear mutual commitment to each other.
In all likelihood, your rush to become roomies is a red flag, Ratson said.
“An intimate relationship should have a natural pace and evolution,” he said. “So, living together too soon can be unfavorable if you want the relationship to develop in a healthy manner. Building a foundation of love and intimacy takes time.”