Your partner wants to slow things down and you don’t know what comes next. Take a breath, take your time, and remember the power of conscious communication.
Question: My partner wants to “slow things down” but I’m not sure what that means or how I should approach a break. Help?
First, I appreciate your confusion and concern. It can be unnerving when the one you’re with says, “I want to slow things down.”
Second, I want to give you a simple communication tool that can revolutionize not just your relationship(s), but your entire life:
Ask for clarity about what they actually mean!
It seems almost trite and cliche these days as a Relationship Coach to communicate that healthy communication is an essential foundation for a healthy relationship. Yet communicate more about it I must, because it remains so challenging for so many people.
I can’t tell you what your partner means by “slow things down” because it can mean a lot of things.
It might mean, “I want to keep spending lots of time with you, but don’t want to talk about marriage for now.” Or it could mean, “I want to spend less time with you and focus more on other priorities now.” It could also (unfortunately) mean, “I want to stop this relationship completely and I don’t know how to tell you without feeling bad about myself.”
Only your partner knows what they mean by “slow things down.”
So take a deep breath (or a hundred), and ask for clarity.
It could be they don’t know how to articulate what they really want or need—that’s common in relationships. If you struggle with communication, it’s highly likely the one you’re with struggles with it, too (we ALL struggle with it).
If it seems your partner is truly considering ending the relationship, I always encourage couples in this situation to get help figuring out whether they’re running into old wounds or blocks to intimacy that this relationship is calling them to work through or if, indeed, the relationship genuinely just isn’t a good fit for you. It’s otherwise too easy to run away—especially in this age of dating apps and social media—from even a great relationship that is calling us to finally do the deep (uncomfortable) healing work our souls are longing for.
So if you ask for clarity and the answer you get back is anything in the realm of, “I want a break from relationship with you,” then ask your partner if they’re open to getting support to work through whatever is coming up.
If they’re open, get support. Work with a therapist or coach you resonate with. I offer Relationship Clarity Sessions to help individuals and couples make sense of what’s going on—so they can make better choices not clouded by fear, but empowered by clarity.
If it’s more like, “I want to take our time getting to know each other before we take the next step,” whatever that may be, well… what’s your rush?
Assuming they’re not violating boundaries (e.g. dating other people, not communicating for days/weeks, etc.), why not enjoy the slowly-building, simmering anticipation of possibly spending the rest of your life with someone exquisite who so-deeply appreciates your ability to not pressure them to do anything they’re not ready to do?
Is that helpful?