by Dr. Holly Battey | May 11, 2015
So I met up with a friend, smitten over a former boyfriend who recently found his way back into her life via facebook. They hadn't seen each other in 20+ years. I am very happy for her...and cautiously optimistic because I care. They live at different ends of the state and are moving quickly (read: an imminent relo may soon be in the works). So this one's going out to my girlfriend and all kindred spirits--my best advice on how to keep your head while wisely navigating a whirlwind romance (or any kind for that matter). Here's a preventative checklist to consider before moving forward:
1. Qualify your suitor. Hard. Because you're worth it.
Ensure a solid foundation before making a commitment. Flesh out your partner's values, goals, and interests. What they want their legacy to be. Do they want children? Be sure to cover politics and religion. Go there. Get financially naked. Discuss incomes, credit scores, spending habits, mishaps, and lifestyle desires. Are you compatible...spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, financially, sexually, and domestically? Does your partner work for you AS IS? (If they were a used car, would you commit to making 60 monthly payments as they are now? Or are you secretly hoping to tweak 'em under the hood?) And do they accept you AS IS? On your soulmate list, are there any boxes left unchecked with your love? If so, you may be settling. What do you each foresee being your issues as a couple (every couple has them)? What can you do to proactively head them off? Nail down commitment, your shared pasts, emotional availability (weed out the rebound), expected timeline for your shared future, and deal breakers. Leave nothing implied or assumed. Get all your questions answered. Know where you stand and ask for what you need. You are entitled to have your emotional needs met. And it should feel relatively comfortable discussing important topics that will affect your future together. List your questions and discuss with your love ASAP.
2. Clarify motives.
First yours. What do you stand to gain by moving quickly? Lose? And what's in it for your partner? Love yourself enough to contemplate these hard questions. Use your head, make a list for both, and enlist your BFF's ear. As tempting as it can be, never make an emotional decision based on financial convenience.
3. Have you met your love's family and friends?
This is a must. A sincere partner can't wait to introduce you with a title and won't make excuses.
4. Ensure you're not running away from your life.
Many unhappy partners are more than willing to quickly uproot themselves to escape their unhappy lives. While romance always sweetens life, make sure your mate is not your only happy place.
5. Just because you think the grass may be greener on the other side doesn't mean it always is. Make sure you spend enough quality time together before uprooting lives. Perhaps you can make an intermediary step before jumping in fully...like live in the same city before living together. Or live together for 6 months, at which point if all is going well, you'll discuss marriage. Or perhaps you jump in and find out sooner if it's a match made in heaven (or the alternative).
6. Require something of your love.
What will you need before moving to feel as secure as possible? What will it cost your mate to have you relocate and commit? Do you require a ring? A wedding? Nothing? What's your bottom line? Contemplate it and let your love know well in advance to best ensure you have what you need to move forward. And remember, those who require nothing usually get it.
7. Words and actions.
Does your partner's actions align with their words? This is critically important. Do they follow through? If promises are made request proof. If your suitor generously offers to add you to insurance policies, titles...request confirmation before uprooting. It will give you the peace of mind you need so you can openly share your heart. This is not demanding, it's smart. There is nothing like official documents to show you where you truly stand. And anyone who truly loves you enough to take such steps, won't hesitate in evidencing their sincere commitment.
8. And last, but most importantly...do a gut check.
Do I trust this person 100%? Is there consistency of communication daily? Gaps in communication create distrust, especially at a distance when you solely rely on remote communication to connect. Do they make time for you regularly? Does this partnership make you a better human being? Does the relationship make you feel the way you want to feel?
If you answered yes to the questions in #8 and your gut checks out, congratulations! Your partnership shows promise and just may stand the test of time. Many a couple has known early on that they were fated for lasting love and have been happy ever since. Not all love stories end up this sweetly, however. Wisely navigating a whirlwind romance can save you time, money, and heartache. It also requires that a solid relationship is established before moving forward. There really are no downsides. Instead of hoping for best case scenario, assert your needs and create one. Use your head to create a secure foundation for your heart and your future to flourish!