So you finally meet a great guy, exchange numbers, and agree to go out on a date. At this point, you should be 100% relaxed about the whole thing. You don’t even know the guy yet, after all, so you’ve got nothing to lose — at least, that’s how you should see things. If for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, you’re already hearing wedding bells and mini-yous, you clearly get attached too quickly and you need to chill the hell out.
Of course, tempering your excitement and allowing things to take a more natural pace isn’t as easy as simply deciding to “go with the flow.” Chances are, your past behavioral patterns will be hard to break out of, especially when you don’t have a blueprint for how to change. Here are some tips to help keep you in the moment that you may find helpful.
- Avoid getting wrapped up in a fantasy. Do you spend your free time fantasizing about this guy? Is it all so utterly perfect? In your daydream, is he a fabulous lover, an excellent cook, and a good listener too? Stop now. I hate to burst your bubble, but this little fantasy is infantile and completely unrealistic. If you’re idealizing this guy, you’ll end up falling for the idea of him rather than the reality — and when you finally come to your senses, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
- Don’t sleep with him. It’s no secret that having sex with someone oxytocin is released in the body. If you don’t remember what oxytocin is all about, it’s also known as the “bonding hormone,” which means it’s way easier to become attached to him even if your connection isn’t all that deep. For as long as you can, try to keep intimacy emotional rather than heading to the bedroom — at least until you know you’re on the same page.
- Take some time to hang out with your friends. When you first meet an eligible guy, it’s easy to cut your friends out the picture and focus on building your little love story. If you have any respect for yourself or your girlfriends, you won’t dare do that. Spending time with your best friends will do you a whole load of good. It means that you won’t spend all your time with your new man and get utterly besotted with him for no damn reason. Remember this cardinal rule: Hoes before bros for life.
- See his flaws, not just his good qualities. There’s no man on this planet who’s perfect. (Uh, and there’s no such thing as a perfect lady either, so don’t go getting cocky!) If you’re looking at this guy through painfully rose-tinted glasses, it’s time to take them off. Realizing that the man has flaws shouldn’t put you off him, but it may just help you be a little more realistic. In fact, you may end up finding his flaws to be some of his most endearing qualities.
- Don’t rush into trying to become official. If it’s been a long while since you’ve been someone’s girlfriend, you might be pushing to lock him down and start using the r-word right away. That’s a big mistake and if you’re honest with yourself, you know it. The moment you label this thing — whatever it may be — you’ll become undeniably attached to it. Let it happen in its own time.
- Call him out on his BS. At the start of any relationship, the guy (and the gal) are bound to start spewing a whole load of BS all over the place. If your new special someone is a bragger, an embellished, or sometimes a straight-up jerk, call him out on it. Letting him and yourself know that you don’t buy his nonsense will slow things down and determine whether or not he’s worth investing in.
- Keep your contact to a minimum. Yes, you actually have to talk to him and spend time with him if you’re ever going to develop a real relationship, but the more time you spend with him/talking to him/thinking about him, the more you’re going to become obsessed with him. Make sure your communication is regular but succinct. Until you know he wants to be in a relationship with you or at least date you exclusively, this is a good rule to follow.
- Hang out with your family and friends. One of the biggest tendencies among people who get attached too easily is that the object of their affection supersedes every other relationship in their life. In other words, hangouts with your BFFs and spending time with your grandparents or your parents every weekend falls by the wayside in favor of being with this guy. Make sure you’re still taking the time to nourish these all-important relationships. They’ll be with you even when the guy you’re dating isn’t.
- Don’t let your life revolve around him. If a relationship is the only thing you’re chasing in this life, you need to reevaluate your priorities. At the start of a new relationship, you may want to drop everything and focus on your newfound love, but doing so accelerates the relationship faster than you can say, “Does this thing have brakes?” Newsflash: You need more than just a guy to complete you.
- Don’t meet his friends or family just yet. While it may be tempting (especially around the holidays) to go ahead and meet his social circle, it’s a dumbass move. The moment you’re in, you are IN! That means that this relationship no longer consists of two people getting to know one another. Suddenly, its borders stretch out and encompass all these other people too. Can you say “too soon”?
- Forget about the future… for now. If you’re the kind of girl who’s got a five-year plan, it’s no wonder that you’re getting attached too fast. Here’s something you won’t want to hear: Plans don’t always work out the way you expect. You can’t make a schedule for your love life. Sorry. Enjoy the here and now, and forget about the future — it’ll come anyway if it’s meant to be.
- Dig a little deeper. Maybe you tend to get attached too easily because you don’t really screen the guys you’re dating. You want to know that the person you’re investing your time and energy in is worth it, which means you’ll need to do a little research. To learn more, you’ll need to get deep with him to find out what really makes him tick and what he’s really like deep down. This way, you’ll know what you’re getting into.
- Ask yourself what you really want. Why are you so attached to this guy anyway? Were you looking for someone desperately or did you just happen upon your dream man? Sometimes, you have to get your brain in check before your heart leads you right off an emotional clifftop. Spend a little time considering what you actually want from a relationship before you settle for this guy. That way, you won’t make the colossal error of rushing into a relationship with the wrong man for you.
- Discover your triggers. What is it that causes you to get attached too quickly in relationships? Do you have a fear of abandonment? Do you hate being single and struggle with loneliness so much that you want to hang onto anyone who seems halfway decent as soon as they come along? Understanding the reasons behind your behavior will go a long way in helping you change it.
- Enjoy the casual bit — it doesn’t last forever. Finally, you absolutely have to take this bit of advice. The start of a relationship is breathtakingly exciting. Rather than jumping into the wifey stage, enjoy this casual part of it. Whether you ultimately break up or get married and have ten kids, this early stage never lasts all that long. If you’re hurrying to move things along, you might just blink and miss it.
Why it’s such a bad thing to get attached too quickly
Admittedly, it’s not the end of the world to start obsessing a little over a guy you’ve just started dating. In fact, it’s actually pretty normal. However, not stopping your behavior in its tracks can have some negative impacts not just on your prospective relationship but on your emotional and mental well-being as well.
- You neglect the rest of your life. You might end up spending so much time thinking about this guy and revolving your entire life around him that you wake up one morning and wonder what the hell you’ve been doing with the rest of your life. Your work starts slacking, you haven’t talked to your friends or your mom in weeks, and you can’t even remember the last time you went to the gym. It not only puts you behind on tackling your responsibilities and goals but can also make you feel like crap when you realize what’s been going on.
- You overlook red flags. When you put a guy on a pedestal and are so into him that you’re already attached, it’s so much easier to overlook red flags and other warning signs as being no big deal (if you notice them at all). You convince yourself that his toxic behaviors are charming, that they’ll change down the line, or that “nobody’s perfect” and girl, that’s dangerous.
- You miss out on the fun part of dating. Getting to know someone during the early stages of a relationship (or potential relationship) is one of the best parts! By getting attached too quickly, you miss out on that lighthearted, carefree stage and instead delve into seriousness way too quickly. Take your time – you’ll get to where you’re meant to be soon.
If you’re someone who gets attached too quickly, check out this video from dating expert Adam LoDolce.