Hi Anna, I just started dating this cute girl. It’s been about two weeks and it’s already gotten super intense! Like 20-30 texts a day, multiple sleepovers a week, etc. I like her, but it’s going a wee bit fast for me! Can I tell her to cool it without hurting her feelings? I definitely do like her, but I’m used to a more relaxed pace. Please help.—Tortoise, Not Hare
Anna says: Ah yes, the quintessential lesbian conundrum. The reason for the whole U-Haul joke canon. Women moving too fast is definitely A THING. Probably more so than the confusing straight girl phenomenon above. So many of us are completely guilty of doing this, even when we don’t realize we are doing it. Because all those crazy love and lust chemicals are swirling around your brain, telling you “Yes! Send that text! She needs to see that picture of you cuddling your cat with the other side of the bed empty and an arrow pointing to it saying, ‘This could be you :)’” Sometimes it’s because you have so much in common, or you’ve been single for so long and your last “date” involved you, a Costco-sized jar of Nutella, and an Anthony Bourdain marathon, and you don’t remember how near-stranger communication works. It could be because the sex is so amazing that it makes you feel like you’ve never had sex before if sex is like this. In short, it makes us crazy. So we act a little crazy. There are ways to take things down a notch, however. Here are a few suggestions.
Go out in groups
Spending time one-on-one all the time can make things feel real intimate, real fast. But if you go on group dates with your friends or hers, it’s more like hanging out and less like you’re about to pick out matching grave plots.
Don’t go on vacations or meet her parents
Avoid, when you can, any Big Deal moments that would push your relationship into long-term territory. Spend holidays apart, don’t meet her parents or siblings, and avoid her invitations to, like, spend a long weekend at a B&B in Provincetown. Those things are lovely of course, but in due time. There’s no need to rush it if you’re not ready.
Don’t neglect your friends, hobbies, or job
This is good advice for anyone, but something many of us tend to forget about when we go love-crazy. The main way to avoid getting super serious is to have a life. Do the things you legitimately enjoy and spend time with people you like who are not your kinda-girlfriend. This isn’t to say you should neglect her or anything. But if you love that underwater basket weaving class you just started, then don’t skip it to spend time with your sweetheart. Safeguard your independence.
Gently tell her to not text so often
This is a tricky one, but not insurmountable. Warn her that you’re going to be really busy tomorrow/this week/between 9am and 6pm, etc., and that you won’t be able to text. It might not stop her from texting you, but it will free you up from not having to respond to her 30 texts a day. If you’re more straight-shooting than I am (whoop di do, Ms. Well-Adjusted!), then you can try the direct approach—i.e. “Hey! I’m not that big of a texter, so don’t feel neglected if I don’t respond to your every cat photobomb.”
Do lunch, not dinner
Another way to spend less time apart without her feeling hurt is to make post-date plans. This doesn’t even have to be with friends. It can simply be “take time to practice my ukulele” or whatever. Do an afternoon date with your lady and then have your evening to yourself, that way you’re still spending quality time with her, but also leaving room for friends/family/personal interests, etc.
The important thing is to give yourself room to grow as the relationship is growing. You do that by being honest, having a good mix of me-time vs. us-time, and not treating your relationship like it’s the only aspect of your life.
Good luck, friend.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at email@example.com.