Do you think women feel pressured to get married by a certain age still? Maybe you say, “No way. That’s such an antiquated concept. None of my friends feel pressured to marry at any age – or ever!” Maybe you absolutely believe women still feel pressured to stick to some timelines when it comes to getting married and having babies. Perhaps you fall somewhere in between. A lot of your answers probably have to do with many factors including where you live, what religion you practice, and your family’s background. America, after all, is a thousand subcultures, all experiencing very different lives, side by side, on the same soil. But you may be surprised to learn that the United States Census Bureau reports that the average age of a woman at her first marriage in the U.S. has only gone up by around seven years since the 1800s.
We may think of women in metropolitan areas getting married in their forties and fifties, and they exist (and more power to them), but that’s by no means “the new normal.” It turns out American women are still keeping it pretty conservative when it comes to their marriage timeline. There might be a subconscious pressure to get on with it that nobody wants to admit, but we shouldn’t rush relationships to fulfill some unwritten rule that you need to settle down by a certain age. Nevertheless, many still do. Now the question is, is that a problem? We spoke with licensed therapist and life coach Tiffany Richards (pictured below) about the dangers of rushing relationships, and why people do it anyway.
Why do we rush?
We asked Richards what the motivation is for rushing relationships. She said, “People usually rush into relationships because they are eager to feel a sense of connection and attachment to someone. Many people really struggle with being single or being alone, so when the opportunity arises for them to be coupled, they jump into relationships prematurely as a cure to their loneliness. Others get so caught up in the initial chemistry or spark.”
What do we miss when we rush?
One risk of rushing is that you let the intoxicating (i.e. bonding) experience of infatuation take place before understanding compatibility. Then you can be connected to someone who you possibly shouldn’t be connected to. Richards says, “Friendship is the foundation to any long-lasting relationship but is often skipped when people rush into the romance. People focus too much too soon on being lovers while neglecting to connect as friends.”
Lust is much easier than love
When people rush into a relationship, “This is how you can have two people who experience strong infatuation, attraction, and sexual chemistry, but later find that they don’t even like each other,” states Richards. “Rushing a relationship is like building a house on sand…at some point it will fall apart because you didn’t focus on the foundation.”
Comparison is healthy
Another thing that you might skip when you rush relationships is the chance to really date around. Experiencing and getting to know multiple people – dare we say comparing several individuals – provides valuable context. “Dating is another phase that not only gets skipped but often confuses singles in that they don’t know what dating really means or how to date. Going out and spending time with one another, gathering pertinent data about the other person, assessing true compatibility, all while being able to see other people can be so beneficial.”
Rushing can lead to settling
If you don’t know what else is out there (because you rush), then that can mean you don’t know that what’s out there could be better. As Richards explains, “Dating helps you determine who is the best fit for you. When you skip this phase and commit to the first person that gives you attention, you miss out on the possibilities. This also leads to settling.”
What does rushing look like?
“Rushing into a relationship typically looks like granting full access to someone too early on when you barely know them and agreeing to a commitment too quickly into the ‘getting to know you’ stage,” Richards says. “We often chase the milestones instead of being in the moment. We date while looking forward to commitment…enter relationships looking for a ring. When you are always looking ahead it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you, mainly red flags.”
Should you live together before marriage?
Experts can be divided on this issue, but it’s worth noting Richards’ opinion on premarital cohabitation. She thinks it may cause us to turn a blind eye to issues. “This is one reason why I am against cohabitation; because it is often true that when you move in together quickly and begin ‘playing house’ you’re more likely to not only ignore red flags but become comfortable with them.”
You took a wrong turn down the aisle
“Moving quickly into a relationship or engagement doesn’t just blind you but it binds you,” Richards says. “You get in so deep so fast that it’s difficult to change directions or walk away, which is why many people don’t when they know they should. Now this is not to say that there is a set timeframe for falling in love. It’s not about the time it takes but making sure that you’re taking your time.”
What about rushing a breakup?
The same individuals who rush into relationships also rush from one to the next when things don’t work out. But they miss out on an important opportunity to prevent future heartache, according to Richards. “Relationships require a lot from us, and breakups take a lot out of us. It is so important to regroup and recover when a relationship ends. You need time to process what you learned, what you want moving forward, and what you’ll do differently. Your heart also needs time to grieve.”
When you rush, you stay still
Not taking time to heal and learn after breakups can mean repeating patterns, says Richards. “Spending some time alone to heal and reconnect with yourself is the best way to assure that your next relationship will be a healthy one. When you rush into another relationship you are more likely to make the same mistakes or choose someone that presents with similar red flags. This is how people find themselves in a pattern of dysfunctional relationships.”
“But he’s SO into me”
Maybe you’re not even the one who rushes – but you find partners who rush you. Unfortunately, that usually won’t be the start of anything good. “A partner who wants to rush you is usually doing so in hopes that you won’t notice the warning signs about him,” Richards says. “People will love bomb you (overwhelm you with affection up front) so that you’ll fall quickly making it easier to manipulate or abuse you.”
If he rushes you, you may be replaceable
While having someone rush to commitment to you may seem flattering, it turns out it’s anything but. “Serial monogamists will also rush you into a relationship because it isn’t about their feelings for you but more about their addiction to commitment,” Richards explains. “When a partner approaches dating impulsively it is likely that they are looking to fill a deeper need or void instead of making a true connection.”
Follow Tiffany Richards on Instagram at @TiffanyRaeShan.