"Taking things slow" can be one of the most annoying things you might hear when you're really excited about someone and you truly believe they're "The One." While there's nothing wrong with taking your time — it only becomes a problem when "taking things slow" turns into an excuse to keep you around. According to experts, there are ways to tell if your partner actually has intentions for the future with you or is just
stringing you along.
"It’s natural to take a new relationship slow,"
Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, Founder and Chief Relationship Strategist, tells Bustle. "But going too slow can be an indicator that the person isn’t really into you and may be stringing you along."
While you shouldn't stress over
relationship timelines, Dr. Perry says the first two to three months are really important. If a couple has been dating consistently with no major issues, your relationship is progressing at a good pace. If you've been dating for that long and you've only seen or talked to that person one or two times, that can be considered a bit slow.
"[...] after three to four months with minimal contact, it's time to make a decision to determine if this relationship meets your needs by talking with your partner to decide what’s going on," she says.
Sometimes people really need to
take things slow in order to know for sure if they're ready to commit to someone. Other times, people might just string you along with no intention of committing whatsoever. So here are some ways to tell the difference, according to experts.
You're Only Ever Together When It's Convenient For Them
Even someone who wants to take things slow will still have regular contact with you,
J. Hope Suis, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. That means, they won't disappear for days or "forget" to return your texts or calls. Everyone gets busy sometimes, but that's no excuse to completely drop off completely. "Anyone just skirting on the edge of a relationship has no problem ghosting you and then popping back up when it is convenient for them," Suis says. So if you never know when you're going to hear from your partner, they may be stringing you along.
They Barely Have Their Life Together
Someone who does not take care of themselves (i.e. can't hold a job, is irresponsible with money, etc.) will have a hard time maintaning a
mature, serious relationship with someone else. "This is a sign they are looking for someone else to care for them as opposed to finding an equal partner," psychotherapist and relationship expert, Laura Dabney, M.D., tells Bustle. How can you get your needs met in the relationship if your partner can barely take care of their own? You can wait it out or try to guide them as much as you can. But at the end of the day, you are only responsible for yourself.
They've Stopped Planning Dates
If your partner doesn't plan dates anymore, makes plans within a 24 hour time period, or only ever wants to chill at home, therapist
Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, tells Bustle, they might be stringing you along. Someone who cares about you and wants a serious relationship won't make you feel like an afterthought, and will prove to you that you are a priority.
They Avoid Meeting Your Friends And Family
If someone just needs to take things slow, they will still be invested in getting to know your friends and family. They may not want to attend every single big family function, but they'll like to hear about it or even attend a few small ones here and there. "A person who is just stringing you along will not care about getting to know your friends or meeting your family," Suis says. "In fact, they will make efforts to distance themselves from both." So if you notice your partner doing this, it may be time to ask if you're on the same page.
They're All About Enjoying The Moment
There's nothing wrong with living in the moment and being completely present. But looking towards the future is just as important. Someone who refuses to make plans with you for the future is someone who might not be sure you are included in that future. "They avoid answering questions about next steps in the relationship and they will admit that they like you, but you’ll never hear them say the word 'love' under any circumstances," Powell says. Instead, everything with them is about "living in the moment" and being spontaneous. But if this is not what you want, take note.
They Take Way More Than They Give
A person who is stringing you along will usually has an agenda and may even want something from you, Suis says. That "something" may vary, but their motives for being a relationship with you can be selfish. In other words, it's all about them. On the other hand, a person who just wants to take things slow will take your feelings into consideration and contribute to the relationship in ways that they can. "If you are always giving and never receiving, you are most likely being strung along," she says.
They'll Be All-In One Day And All-Out The Next
"If you’re partner is stringing you along and not just taking it slow, they will either have the most mind-blowing day with you leading you to believe that they are all-in, only to not follow up when you are out of sight," Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and podcast host of
tells Bustle. In some cases, they will be all-in when it comes to texting or calling, but will be all-out when it comes to actually spending time together. This behavior can give you false hope that maybe things will progress if you give it some time. "The reality is, someone who shows up even half as much, through all mediums — in person and through text — with consistency is the person who is really thoughtfully and intentionally carving out space in their heart and life for you," Trescott says. So if you're with someone who only puts effort into one side of things, they may be stringing you along. Thank You Heartbreak,
Relationships move at different paces. If your relationship is moving too slow for your liking, have a discussion with your partner about it. If they genuinely like you and just need a little more time to release old baggage that's holding them back, give it to them. If they're just making a bunch of excuses to not take things to the next level, think about whether or not that's actually what you want. Always remember, timing doesn't matter. As long as you and your partner have the same end goal for your relationship, you'll figure out the right pace to get there together.