Q: After experiencing two relationships fizzle out on me before they even got started, I think I need some advice about things I should be doing and not doing when I first start dating someone. Can you help me with how to properly start a new relationship? What am I doing wrong?
A: Successfully managing new relationships takes some know-how and finesse. Once you have helpful information, you’ll be able to better handle all the ins and outs of a new relationship.
When you’re involved in a new relationship, it stands to reason that you might not know your new friend very well. One of your initial tasks is to try to learn as much as you can about them.
You’ll eventually get to the other aspects of managing your new relationship, like listening well to whatever he’s willing to share. Another task is letting the relationship grow and develop however it will. Also, speak honestly and carefully — yet avoid talking too in-depth about your prior relationships.
As you can see, each of these steps will take time and patience on both sides. Consider a newly-developing relationship as an experiment to determine whether the two of you would make a good couple. In order to come to a conclusion about a new relationship, it needs time and effort to flourish.
Q: Well, what you’re suggesting would certainly simplify some things for me. I guess I get a little nervous when I discover that I truly do like the new friend in my life. It seems I just want it to all work out.
But you’re saying not to worry, at least at first, about what will happen to the relationship in the future. Are you saying I should just focus on listening to and getting to know the person?
A: That’s right. In essence, once two people see they’re hitting it off, the next step is to find out more about each other. But in order to develop positive feelings about one another, it’s important to listen to each other. Try to pick up on your new friend’s interests, likes, and pet peeves.
Is he interested in playing the piano or writing music? Does he love World War II history? What are your new friend’s likes and dislikes? Does he prefer Italian food over Mexican food? Maybe he’s an avid baseball fan and never misses a game. Perhaps his pet peeve is whenever someone is late.
When you start a new relationship, you’re starting from square one. So it will take some time for each of you to really get to know each other. But getting to know the person is an integral first step.
Q: Once I feel I know more about the person and I’m still comfortable with him, I find myself wanting to get close really quickly. If I know I like him and I believe he feels the same way about me, my thoughts are, why waste time?
So, then, if I’m comfortable with my new friend and have gotten to know him well, where do I go from there?
A: If you feel you’ve made it through the first stage of a new relationship: listening and getting to know one another, it’s time to sit back and allow the relationship to progress and blossom in its own way.
Probably the most critical aspect of managing a new relationship is ensuring the relationship is allowed to progress naturally. Depending on the two people involved, a relationship will unfold gradually at its own pace if it’s allowed to.
Spend those early days and weeks of the relationship having fun together, trying out the other person’s hobbies and interests, and generally hanging out together. Doing all these things will allow the relationship to develop at its own unique pace.
Q: It seems that all I can think about is moving the relationship to the next level. As soon as I start pushing to move forward, the other person can’t get out of there fast enough. Why does that always happen? It’s hurtful to think that none of my prior new friends have ever wanted to be in a serious relationship with me.
A: What you’re describing is something that commonly dampens newly developing relationships. Because there are two people involved, each has his own idea about what he wants to have happen next in the relationship.
An expression of a person’s own insecurities is feeling compelled to “hurry up” and solidify a new relationship. Alas, this action can do great damage to an unfolding relationship as, unfortunately, the other person might not have the same agenda as you. When some people sense they’re being pushed in any way, they turn around and run.
This is a common error that people make early on in relationships — rushing to push the relationship forward so it becomes monogamous or more “serious” right away. Especially if one of you is pushing toward a quick commitment of this type, the relationship most likely will fizzle before it had any real chance of beginning.
Q: Okay, it makes sense what you’re saying. I’m pushing for what I want too early in the relationship and that scares some people. Then, they just end what we do have. In a couple of cases, that has devastated me.
So, what exactly should happen next? If I don’t have the goal of making sure the relationship goes to the next level, how
will I act? What will I be doing as far as the relationship’s concerned?
A: Let go of the need to steer the relationship in the direction you want it to go. The other person will be more comfortable sticking around as long as he feels there’s no pressure to make the relationship go a certain way. Just spend time together enjoying each other’s company. Your connection will grow and develop naturally into something special if it’s meant to be.
Q: As the relationship gets better and more solid, there’s always a time when I start talking about my old relationships with a prior guy and my new friend also opens up about his past hurtful experiences. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t be so honest about this stuff. Is it best to not share anything about past relationships with someone I’m in a new relationship with?
A: It’s normal to open up more after you’ve grown more comfortable with the other person. In the best of circumstances, we would all heal from a prior relationship before starting another one. Alas, that’s often not the case. Some people are still feeling hurt, rejected or angry about a prior hurtful relationship as they’re beginning a new one.
If you start talking about a former relationship that you still feel devastated by, you might reveal some of your own insecurities to the other person without even realizing it. And frankly, it may be too early in the developing relationship to be doing that. The listener might not yet be in a space emotionally to be understanding of what you went through and how it affected you.
For these reasons, it’s best to refrain from sharing too much about a prior relationship early on in a new relationship. Look at it this way — the longer you stay in the relationship, the more time there’ll be later to open up and share about yourselves.
Plus, when you’ve healed old hurts, you can see them more clearly and won’t have such a strong need to keep talking about and processing them. You’ll resolve them and be finished with those old relationships and ready to start anew.
Q: So, if I take the time to listen to and get to know the other person, that’s a good first step. Next, I need to work on
avoiding pushing for the relationship to go to the next level. Instead, I’ll focus on letting the relationship sort of flow and take its own natural course, just to see where it’s going.
I’ll work on avoiding speaking about old relationships too soon in the new relationship. But when I do, I’ll be brief yet honest. If I do all these things, the new relationship has better chances of progressing and getting serious, right?
A: Right. You’ve done a good job describing those things to focus on if you want a healthy new relationship.
When you concentrate on those issues and take it slow and easy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and rewarded with the close, wonderful relationship you’ve always wanted.