09 November 2008

Falling in Love - How Far? How Fast?

By Shahin Sharafshahi

Relationships are the battlefields of love. When things are going well, there is peace. When there are problems, watch out for those landmines. There are as many rules for relationships as there are people on this planet. On the other hand, in reality there are no rules!!!

As much as these comments sound contradictory, they are both true. Each of us operates under a different set of rules since we have all gone through life on different tracks. These so-called rules are really reactions to and byproducts of our upbringing and personal experiences. Studies show that even identical twins, raised in the same household may react differently to situations that life presents them.

Yet, in general, there really are no rules in the game of love, since you cannot find two people who perceive or follow the same rules the same way. In practice, therefore, these rules become ineffective and irrelevant.

This brings us to the title of this blog. Is there such a thing as "too far" or "too fast" when it comes to falling in love? A man may instantly mistake his lust for a woman's body as "love." On the other hand, that same woman will want to get to "know" him before she admits that she has feelings for him. After a few dates, the man expects to reach "the next base." The woman, however, enjoys spending time with the man, getting to know him in various situations: around their friends, with family, dealing with children, going on trips, playing sports, at the opera or the movies, etc."

So, is he going too fast and too far? Is there such a unit of measurement in a relationship with which we can measure its progress towards a "goal?" Is the fact that the "goal's" definition may vary an issue in and of itself? After all, the male species starts being less interested if there is no physical reward - and soon. On the other hand, the female species is looking for mental AND physical stimulation before the heart starts pounding and butterflies start moving around.

The bottom line is that any approach (within legal and moral realm of course) you take to select your mate may be deemed acceptable. In general, and almost in all cases, be open about what you want, who you are and where you see yourself going with this relationship. Ask questions! Don't assume anything - good or bad. Let the other person feel comfortable about his or her feelings and opinions about the relationship. Spend as much time as needed without suffocating the other person. Lead but be willing to be led - relationships shouldn't be about "controlling" the other person. In many cases one of the two parties involved is more of a risk-taker than the other, thus having the tendency to move the relationship along. On the other hand, if you are still interested in the relationship, you may have to put your foot down if you see your paths are diverging.