This is like slow food, but with people. It’s like slowly cooking yourself with another so that there is a melding of flavors, but still distinct ingredients that hold their form. Often this type of relationship is difficult to do, but vitally important if intimacy is tough for you. This type of fear of intimacy often comes in two forms. There is the “jump in real fast to relationship” and the “scared of relationship” type.
First, I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with moving fast in relationships, or with not wanting to be in romantic relationships. Some folks find moving fast right and good, and they are able to have true connection with others no matter how long they have known each other. And there are others that really are not interested in romantic relationships, but are deeply interested in platonic loving relationships. Both of these ways are great, but if you are someone who craves a loving romantic relationship and finds yourself scared of intimacy, or someone who moves in and out of relationships rapidly then this article is for you.
Consider this: it’s all about proximity. The one who moves in so fast and the one who runs away fast are trying to avoid connection and true intimacy. For example, a metaphor: imagine two people see each other across the room and their style is to move fast in relationship. So they move into really close proximity of each other. They are like nose to nose, and all they are seeing of the other is like one eyeball. They miss the entire person! They are only relating to a small perception of this person, and making up big stories of who the rest of this person is. And when the big picture is finally seen there is big disappointment and often the relationship ends.
Then there are the ones that like to stay far away. This person sees someone across the room and is fine with that person staying over there! At this distance safety is guaranteed, as well as loneliness and isolation. But getting close is really scary so they keep a wide berth and get to make up stories about this other person. And as a result misses out on true connection and meaningful relationships.
So what would a slow relationship look like? First, I want to point out that slow relationships are not about rules and regulations. It’s not about applying a formula to something as fluid and dynamic as romantic relationships. Or about figuring out what the relationship is “supposed” to look or feel like, or even how the individuals are “supposed” to feel about each other. This is all way bigger than that. We often change roles with our partners, sometimes being far away or being really close depending on the person and circumstances. So even your style may fluctuate, but being aware of what is taking place in the relationship, and in you, gives you a chance of staying and seeing what could happen.
Imagine seeing someone across the room and walking up to the point where each of your boundaries meet and checking out what happens next. Having enough distance to get a good look at the person, but close enough that you can see the color of their eyes. It’s the middle place that can be so uncomfortable, where there is an “I” and a “we.” Then the work can begin to develop intimacy, respect, and deep love for the other, and even more importantly love, respect, and intimacy for yourself.
So there is not a formula but there is a lot of experimentation, mistakes, and successes. This type of relationship will feel different from many of your others and that is a really good thing! You will get to know yourself, your fears, and your deep longing to connect with the world and the people in it in a very humble way.
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg