Dating With The Tortoise And The Hare

Jimmy G. Owen Dating with the Tortoise and the Hare
by Jimmy G. Owen, MS, LPC

Jimmy  G. Owen offers valuable dating tips for the fast and the slow.

So… here’s the situation – the two of you have progressed from datingoccasionally, to dating regularly, to dating frequently, to sharing intimacy, to spending all you free time together.
You’ve explored responsibility, respect, sexual chemistry and trust. You are ready to take it to the next level of commitment, but the other person can’t decide if they are ready. Some days it feels hopeful and other days you want to pull your hair out and scream, “Make up your mind!” Sound familiar? Which part of the scenario do you identify with?
In dating, very rarely do both parties move at the same pace. We each have our defenses and coping skills to help and protect us as we move through life.   The way we make decisions is affected by the skills, beliefs and thoughts we’ve acquired to keep us safe. Invariably, in dating one is ready to commit at a faster pace than the other.

The purpose of dating is to get to know the other person. It is a process that is progressive. By progressive, I mean you move from one stage to the next. Before progressing to the next stage, BOTH people must be in agreement. Some of you take the slow route like the tortoise, while others rush, rush, rush like the hare. Whomever you resemble, I would like to offer some suggestions to make the process easier.
If you are the Tortoise:
1. Listen to what’s going on inside about your hesitation. The decision will not magically come to you – you must put time into considering what you think and feel. Ask yourself questions, like: Are you ready to move forward? Is this the person you want to move forward with? Is the hesitation about the person or you? If you make a decision to commit because of pressure from the other person, you will not be making a decision based on honesty and love, but from fear and anger. You will probably regret it in the long run.
2. Continue to reevaluate your position. Just because you don’t want it today, doesn’t mean you have to throw it all away. Listen to your ambivalence.
3. Keep talking about it with the other person. Sometimes people will choose not to talk on the subject until they feel ready to have a definite answer. Sharing what is going in with you to the other person let’s them know you care and are putting energy into the decision.
4. Be honest. If you know you are not willing to take this to the next level and have no desire to, tell the other person. Be caring. Don’t make up excuses. The honesty may hurt in the short run, but dishonesty will hurt much longer.
If you are the Hare:

1.   Stop pressuring. Don’t give ultimatums unless you are willing to walk away when they aren’t met. Ask yourself, “Can I be happy where we are right now and just give the other person some time?” If the other person makes the decision to move forward because of pressure, you probably will never know if they really wanted to be with you, or are simply afraid of hurting your feelings.

2.   Don’t assume it is simply because the other person can’t commit. You may have to accept they don’t feel as deeply for you as you do for them (OUCH! That hurts!)

3.   Give them time. Make a commitment to yourself not to bring it up for a period of time and focus on enjoying the moment. Stop worrying about the “what ifs” and be in the “what is”.

4.   Think about some time apart. Sometimes a little distance and separation can help put things in perspective for the two of you. But don’t do this without communicating to the other person. The purpose is not to punish, but to think and reevaluate.

5.   Understand other issues may be getting in the way. Depression, addiction and esteem issues are a few of many issues that may be affecting the other person’s stance. If they haven’t accepted themselves yet or alcohol or drugs are getting in the way, it will be very difficult to accept being in a relationship.

Ultimately, the goal is getting across the finish line. Sometime you break the ribbon together, sometimes alone. There may be times when you are encouraged to speed up or slow down. Either way, recognizing the way in which you travel and understanding how the other person does the same is valuable information or can help both of you enjoy the journey called dating and relationships.

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