What Not to Do in the Beginning of a Relationship

crash-burn-relationships“Men are microwaves and women are slow cookers”. If you put this insight into the early stages of a relationship, it’s easy to understand why so many relationships crash and burn. Most men date based on instinct and it’s simple – they see someone they are attracted to and engage in pursuing her. Us gals will spend time getting to know the guy, ascertain his intentions (i.e. does he just want to sleep with me?) and evaluate his husband potential and our feelings for them. Because we tend to ‘filter’, it’s more of a gradual process. Of late, I’ve had several girlfriends experience the crash and burn relationship. The crash and burn relationship goes like this – Guy meets girl and showers her with affection and attention…says he’s ready for commitment and makes plans 6 months in advance. Girl slowly develops deeper feelings but by the time she ‘falls in love’ and shows her commitment to her man, he begins to withdraw. This is just a simplified version of the chain of events. Perhaps this happens because of emotional maturity or incompatibility. Here, we asked our singles to share their thoughts.

The early stages of a relationship are so fragile. What’s one thing that men/women do to sabotage them?

Nick: There are many, many things that both parties do to sabotage the early stages of relationships. I feel like expectations in many areas of life cause the most pain and angst and this holds true at the crucial beginning stages. It is important to get to know who the person is without projecting your own wants, needs, hopes and dreams onto that person.

Iona: I agree with Nick. Placing high expectations can kill the romance faster than a onesie in the bedroom. As you get older and all your friends are starting to settle down, there’s a lot of pressure to find ‘the one’. And so I’ve seen several of my girlfriends compromise their values because they so badly want it to work out with whoever has just come into their life. I think in the early stages of a relationship , you should focus on getting to know each other to see if there’s something there beyond physical attraction and yet so many of us spend way too much time over thinking things.

James: Many women seem to think that falling in love is like what you see in the movies but in the real world, we’re hooking up through Tinder or RSVP. There really isn’t anything that romantic about it but that doesn’t mean romance is dead…it’s just different from the movies. Some women will doubt a relationship because it’s not like the movies and kill a relationship before it even begins.

In the early days of courtship, should a gal let a guy lead?

Nick: In my experience, it is traditionally the mans role to lead and I adopt that role readily. I however love it when a woman takes charge and organises a date, communicates what she does and doesn’t want.

Iona: I’m old fashioned and still believe in chivalry so it’s a simple yes for me. Though courtship isn’t one sided – we should be doing nice things for you too…like giving you man flowers or something of equal sentiment. haha

James: Being ‘wooed’ by a girl is a nice idea but when it comes to women we are interested in, we enjoy the chase. Let us woo you.

Texting or calling. When is it appropriate to engage in either? How often is appropriate?

Nick: Once numbers have been exchanged you should contact the other person either within a few hours or no later than the next day! The 3 day rule seems absolutely ludicrous to me especially as beautiful women tend to have a lot of male suiters and unless the man has made an amazing impact, the man will be quickly forgotten. In terms of ongoing communication, it really depends on the dynamic, but every other day seems like a good way to go.

Iona: Whilst I enjoy witty banter via text, once in awhile it’s nice to have someone call just to ask how your day was. Also, if you’re making plans and it takes more than 3 texts to sort it out, pick up the phone. Though, this is my personal opinion – I’ve had several girlfriends find that phone calls are just too confronting and disruptive. In terms to frequency, every day or every other day works if it’s just short chatty type of texts. I probably don’t expect/or want to engage in 3 hour pillow talk sessions every night (but that depends on the person). I agree with Nick that the 3 day rule needs to go out the door especially when there are so many modes of instant communication. If you don’t hear from your prospective partners in a week, you can assume that there isn’t much interest there. Speaking of rules, don’t wait hours to return a text/call just because you don’t want to seem too eager. Don’t over think it, just reply when you can.
James: I hate talking on the phone so unless she’s prepared for one worded answers, texts are the better option to communicate. I tend to text a woman when I’m thinking of her, when I need to make plans or if I come across something she’ll find interest in. I think communication everyday or every other day is appropriate in the beginning of a relationship (it shows you’re interested) but it depends on the nature of the relationship.
So say you’ve been dating a guy/girl for a few weeks, when is it appropriate to discuss each other’s intention?
Nick: I personally want to get this aspect out of the way quickly and if you’re wanting to pursue a non-monogamous relationship, intentions certainly need to be shared early on and definitely before sex. I also believe in heavily screening a potential partner as my time is precious. Why spend it with someone that doesn’t suit your lifestyle, wants or desires?
Iona: Definitely before sex. It’s easy to confuse sex with intimacy so intention needs to be communicated so both parties know what the expectations are. Otherwise, relationships get muddled and someone always ends up hurt. I probably wouldn’t recommend bringing it up on the first date though it depends on the person. I think it’s appropriate to ask after 3-5 dates, once you get to know each other better and once you know what you’d like from the relationship.
James: It really depends on how these questions are asked. Like if she said “Where is this going? I’m ready to settle down, get married and have kids”, I’d succumb to pressure and just run. Whereas a question like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” is a bit more vague and less intimidating.
How often should you see each other when you start dating? 
Nick: In the initial stages, once or twice a week is a good amount of time, but there are no hard and fast rules. If it feels good, go with it!

Iona: I’m a slow cooker so once or twice a week to start is a good pace. Anything less than that and you lose momentum.

James: It depends. If I’m really into someone, I’ll want to see them all the time. Typically 2-3 times a week sounds about right. Some people will use their work schedules as an excuse for not having enough time to date but I think if you are interested in getting to know someone, you’ll make the time.

Iona

Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.

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