“Slow and steady wins the race.” It's a phrase I learned back when I was rocking pigtails and a Spice Girls sticker-book was my most prized possession. Yet, years after trading in my Barbie overalls for pencil skirts, I’ve discovered that the saying is not solely true for learning and one’s work ethic. With time, the moral immortalized by "The Tortoise and the Hare" has come to speak to relationships as well.
It turns out love is just like the well-known Aesop’s fable. Love manifests itself as different animals: some couples try to be the Hare, others, the tortoise. In other words, love is a lot like driving a car: you need to take care of it on the reg, spend time with it, gas it up, etc. And even though it’s tempting and thrilling to go fast and furious, doing so can cause accidents and people getting hurt.
My heart has crashed and burned enough to know that if it wants to make it to the next level with someone, it has to do so safely, by staying within certain parameters. To prevent your heart from being in a “car accident,” here are six reasons you should coast to love like Aesop's turtle instead of rushing full throttle to some make-believe finish line:
1. When you rush into a relationship, you don’t know what you’re signing up for.
I once agreed to be someone’s bae without knowing that person was a former alcoholic. It didn’t bother me when I found out, but it also wasn’t fun realizing that person could only fit me into his schedule a few hours once a week. To make things worse, this person slowly revealed a new problem, basically on a weekly basis. I was fine with his issues.
But it turned out he was bipolar and wound up leaving me a week before my birthday. By the time I had put the pieces together that he was not boyfriend material, it was too late. There was also still a lot of mystery to him after it was over, he said he had more problems he never even told me about. The whole thing just reminded me of the show Who Did I Marry?
Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, but only to drive home the point (see what I did there) that you should get to know the person more before committing. In simplest terms, everybody has baggage — find out if you can handle your person's carry-ons before becoming a porter.
2. You don’t know your significant other’s dirty habits and dark secrets yet.
Once you start spending a significant amount of time with someone, you begin to see whether or not they're too intense about certain things — a clean freak, super messy, or that he or she is the human version of Snorlax. Perhaps you come to find out they do some not-so-cute things like smoke, do drugs, eat soap or dress up like a baby for fun like people on that show My Strange Addiction.
It’s important to inspect a person’s overall nature before cannonballing into quicksand where you thought a pool of love existed. Trust me, you don't want to be that guy/lady on TV, saying "Yup...that's my boyfriend/girlfriend," with your hand on your forehead in shame.
3. You could reveal too much too soon and have your partner running for the hills.
Your bae isn't always the one you need to be afraid of when jumping into a partnership. Sometimes you need to check yourself when starting a relationship. If you don't, it could be the death sentence to your relationship. Once you get the title of being a boyfriend or girlfriend, you might take that as the green light (still staying with the driving metaphor here) to introduce your boo to all the skeletons in your closet; it's not.
There's no need to reveal your entire biography to your boo in the first month of dating — that will scare away anyone. However, when you let a relationship take its time, your past will naturally reveal itself in snippets, as the relationship advances. Think of exposing a part of yourself like baking a cake. You have to let your relationship cool in time before letting your partner sink his or her teeth in.
4. Love could burn out as quickly as it ignited.
When it comes to relationships, it's much easier to keep a fire alive than try to rekindle it. When you rush everything, you inject steroids into your relationship. It's like riding the Kingda Ka at Six Flags, then going on a kiddie ride. The excitement is going to pale quickly and could lead to resentment.
But when you take things slowly, you take the time and care to build up important values that can’t be catalyzed, like trust. Once you have the structure of the relationship built, you can get through anything. However, if you've skipped over that bonding and nurturing stage, and have just been riding out the lust fest, I’m sorry to say, your relationship will likely end up flying off the rails.
5. You don’t yet know if you have like-minded priorities, goals and child-rearing mindsets.
When you’re running on hormones and emotions, it’s hard to slow down and look at how things could pan out in the long-run, but this point is the most important. You need to be with someone whose on the same life road as you. If you've both painted a completely different big picture, you're in for trouble. Before updating your Facebook status, it’d be smart to first ensure a few things... you know, like whether or not you both want kids...
6. You need to make sure you’re entering a relationship for the right reasons.
Before you enter a relationship, you need to re-evaluate yourself and your intentions. Make sure you love someone for who he or she is, and not just because that person is a convenient sponge to soak up your loneliness.
You have to love yourself first. I once heard that "what you don't heal in your singleness will spread like a disease in your relationship." So make sure you love yourself and enjoy your time alone before letting someone else in. That, my friends, is crucial.