By Jane Greer, Ph.D. for GalTime

catching the clues that something is off

Not all roads to romance offer a clear ride. Sometimes the signs are harder to read than others. As Emily Maynard, this season’s Bachelorette, handed out roses, the message was pretty clear: stay or go. But short of gathering for the ABC show’s famous rose ceremony, is it possible to miss the message? Might an important lane shift have taken place that you somehow didn’t notice? And what can you do to protect yourself against the turbulence of an unexpectedly bumpy ride?

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Take Lucy, for example. She was dating a guy named Adam with the usual excitement and reservation that comes at the start of any promising possibility. But Adam took off, gaining speed faster than she expected: telling her how much he liked her, wanting her to meet his friends, and calling and texting all the time. Since she liked him, too, she joined in and went along for the ride. Before she knew it, though, she was ahead of him, and he had slowed down, suddenly saying he couldn’t keep up with her expectations. Because he continued to stay connected, she didn’t realize what that might mean. So she kept going at the same momentum. And then she didn’t hear from him. That was two weeks ago.

She was angry, and didn’t understand what had happened. How can you make sure you don’t get ahead of the relationship, particularly if one person is coming on strong? Before you let yourself go full-steam ahead, you might want to build in a few speed bumps for yourself. There are some people who jump into a relationship fast, and then want out fast, and you want to protect yourself from getting too attached if there is the chance that person could burn out.

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You can do that by being aware of when and how much of your feelings you share. If they say they like you, you can reciprocate with an, “I like you too, let’s see where this goes.” If they want you to meet their friends, suggest you get to know each other a little better first. Build a foundation under the two of you before getting carried away.

When Adam told Lucy he couldn’t keep up with her, it was the equivalent of the Bachelorette’s not offering a rose. It just took her a little while to realize it, and by then she was halfway down the highway and looking forward to the road trip. Once you’re there, it’s harder to come back.