There are always question on how fast a relationship should move. How often you should see one another, when certain milestones (declarations of love, meeting the parents, moving in together etc…) should be reached, and how soon things move from “dating” to “exclusive”.

I have friends who were engaged within two months of starting to date, others who have been together years and never married. Some relationships last a lifetime, others don’t make it until breakfast.

Some relationships which have lasted years will end in a bitter, angry and nasty divorce, some will last until death do us part. Some short term relationships leave you with a lifelong friendship, other’s a bitter enemy.

The success and meaning of a relationship cannot be determined by a calculation as simple as “time spent together”. It can’t because human emotions will not obey logic and because all relationships,  be they good or bad, old or new, are different. There is no formula that can account for all the variables in a relationship structure which will give you the validity of a couple.

The Boy and I are relatively new, yet despite this, we have met each others parents, each other’s children, each other’s siblings and friends. We have declared love on countless occasions, usually several times a day because we are truly revoltingly adorable, and made long term plans for our future. Being together forever is not in question, we have no “I wonder if…” type conversations. There is no “Do you think when we’re old we’ll still be together?”. That’s not because we don’t expect it to last it’s because neither of us have any doubt that it will. The question of being together forever isn’t a question at all, it feels like an inevitability. I don’t hope, I expect. I don’t wonder, I know.

This feeling of certainty brings it’s own problems, even if they aren’t between us. Cynicism.

I do not judge the cynical. Nor do I question their motives nor reasons for their views. I am a classic cynic. I married my ex-husband with the assertion that if divorce wasn’t an option I would never agree. However much heartbreak hurt me, broke me, it always came with a element of predictability for me. However much it’s arrival shocked me, it was more the timing than that heartbreak itself. The “how long will this last?” question always floated around my head when either myself or friends got into relationships. Assumption of failure came hand in hand with romance.

We all base our relationship expectations on our experiences and of those around us. If you fall in love and marry the first person you get involved with, if your marriage is long and happy, as is your parent’s marriage, and the marriages of those around you, then you will naturally assume that if a relationship is serious then it is destined to last. If, like me, your relationships have all blown up in some way, either in a natural decline or a violent explosion, then you are unlikely to assume the eternity of a relationship when it starts. Perhaps it’s not cynicism, perhaps it’s empirical rationality.

My advice to anyone in a new relationship will always be the same, even now. Take your time. If things are going to work out then they will work out whether you launch in head first immediately, or go at a steady pace and let things build up over time. Indeed, a relationship is more likely to succeed if you go at a natural pace than try and force things to move quickly because you are desperate to be in something serious. Take your time.

However, I would now add this addendum to that advice. Do not force things to go slowly either. If your natural pace of a relationship, where you both feel equally comfortable, equally relaxed, and equally committed to one another, is faster than expected then don’t fight it. Just go with it.

Forcing a relationship to mean more or less to you or the other person is so often the issue. Be true to you, be true to them, and be true to each other. Live by your own standards, your own reality. No two relationships are the same and the only two people who can know exactly what happens in a relationship are the people in it.

The Boy and I are moving at exactly the right speed for us. I don’t know why I’m comfortable going faster than normal and I can’t explain how I know it’s going to last, but I am and it will. It is what it is.


About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at www.SirenStories.co.uk Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
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