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It’s no surprise that whirlwind romances — like Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom marrying after 30 days or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes going
from dating to married to parents in under two years — get everyone
gasping. After dating for just one month, Cruise declared his devotion
to Holmes on Oprah. The Kardashian/Odom wedding was practically
a blur, with many presuming it to be a publicity stunt. The two remain
married and have yet to announce any baby plans.


Lightning-fast romance always gets everyone talking: Is it possible to
really fall that fast? Can an intense love like that last? Everyone has
an opinion, and the reason is probably because we’ve all been there at
some point — that is, swept up in a relationship that’s moving so
swiftly it’s making our heads spin.


Sure, falling hard and fast can be exhilarating, but it can also be a
little scary. Should you barrel ahead, celebrating that you’ve found The
One, or put the brakes on for fear that you’ll get your heart broken?
We posed that very question to some leading relationship experts to see
what’s the best way to proceed. Try their advice and you may be able to
reap all the heady benefits of being head-over-heels without getting
burned.

Know the difference between a tide and an undertow
“I think people have to allow for a bit of a giddy whirlwind,” says Lynn
Harris, relationship expert and author of He Loved Me, He Loves Me
Not
, who married her husband just a year after they met. “People
who spend too much time analyzing what’s going on and playing it safe
suck all the romance out of it.” Even so, there is a big difference
between being swept up and feeling completely out of control. So ask
yourself: If your new love interest asks you to do something you’re
uncomfortable with — say, heading to a dicey-looking club on your second
date — do you feel fine voicing your reservations, or do you sweep them
under the rug to avoid ruining the moment? “If you feel like you have
to act a certain way, then that’s a sign you’re not comfortable with
this person. You're just comfortable with the idea of being in a
whirlwind romance,” points out Harris. Bottom line, any long-term
relationship needs your input, good and bad. More on how to do
that next...


Slow things down without hurting anyone’s feelings
If you think things are rushing along too quickly, you owe it to the
relationship to say so. However, avoid the usual lines like “I think we
need to take things slower” or “I need some space” — these clichés will
only set off alarm bells and make your amour think you’re trying to
wiggle out of the relationship. Instead, be specific by explaining, “I’d
love to see you this weekend, but a friend of mine is going through a
rough time so I’m going to hang out with her” or “A work project is
killing me and I’ll feel better if I hunker down and finish it so I can
relax the next time we’re together.” If your date presses the issue, put
his or her fears to rest by framing your time apart as a way to keep
your relationship healthy for the long run. Say, “I’m really into you
and I don’t want to mess this up by moving too fast.” To reassure your
sweetie further, make a plan to see each other on a date you’ll be more
available — that way your date’s not left hanging and wondering if the
relationship’s on the rocks.


Don’t act on every impulse
Are you thinking of your sweetie and tempted to call to say so... for
the fifth time that day? That’s sweet, but before you dial the digits,
know this: not all impulses are meant to be acted upon. “People
misinterpret feelings for phone calls. They don’t have to be one and the
same,” says Harris. “Just sit back and enjoy the buzz. Enjoy the fact
that you just hung up the phone and want to pick it up again. That’s
awesome.” And enough already! This rule especially holds true for
emailing and instant messaging — mediums that encourage you to reveal
all sorts of personal info but that can easily breed a false sense of
intimacy. So before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself: Would you
feel comfortable coughing up this info in person? If not, save it for
later.


Curb conversations about the future
So you’d love to take a romantic cruise to Alaska together this fall. Or
you’ve always dreamt of having your wedding on the beach at sunset. Or
you’re certain you want at least three kids, ideally five. Discussing
your future dreams with your new flame may seem really romantic, but
indulging in it too often can be a red flag. “This indicates that you’re
more into the idea of being in a relationship than with
the actual person in front of you,” points out Laurie Puhn, J.D.,
author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words To Change
Your Life
. If your conversations tend to veer in that direction,
consider an “activity date” like going to an art museum or taking a walk
in the park which will force you to focus on things right in front of
you — as well as each other.


Wait to say "I love you" (even if you think you do)
When you’re in a relationship that feels so right, it can be tempting to
utter those three little worlds on the early side. Harris advises
against it: “The first time you feel like saying it, count to 10, go
home and say it to your cat,” she says. After all, your feelings could
be due to the fact that you two just shared a really romantic evening
together. There’s also the risk that the feelings might not be mutual
yet. So before you take this step, ask yourself: Will you be able to
accept if your date doesn’t say “I love you” back, or will you be
crushed? If it’s the latter, then it’s probably best to hold off until
more time has passed and you’re more confident about each other’s
intentions.


If, on the other hand, you’re on the receiving end of an early “I love
you,” don’t feel obliged to say it back if you’re not feeling it yet.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the overture or, worse yet, give
them a lecture about how they couldn’t possibly feel that way so soon.
“This person has just made him- or herself really vulnerable, so you
want to be careful,” says Harris. Try, “I’m so touched you just said
that, and I feel strongly for you. It’s hard for me to use that word
right now but feel like I may be getting there, too.” Who knows; maybe
you will sooner than you think!


Anna Harris is a freelance writer in New York City. She has only
fallen head over heels once — and she married him. And for the record,
he said “I love you” first.

Tags: Dating tips & Advice

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