Wanda and Wayne,
I've been dating an amazing woman for four months and I can already see us together forever. It's crazy because I've never felt this sure about someone or anything before. And the timing has been perfect. How and when we met, we're both mid 20s, we both have great jobs and career paths, solid families, great lives that are even better together.
She feels the same way, but is already moving everything forward. She's started talking about moving in together soon, since we pretty much spend most weekends and many weeknights together anyway. Or even buying a condo together since it's a better investment for our future. She's also talked about how many kids she wants, three, and when she wants to start having them, in five years. And about her dream wedding in wine country, of course, with all of our families and friends. Etc. Etc.
Most of the time I go along with it because it sounds amazing and I want that too. But I also get a knot in my belly because it's scary how fast she wants to move and how determined she is have everything work out exactly how she has it planned in her head. Sometimes I feel like I'm just a piece in her big puzzle or game. I feel lucky of course to have someone I'm totally crazy about and who knows what she wants. Everyone else I've dated is lost and figuring things out or so much different than I am. I feel lost sometimes too, though. So I'm afraid that if I go along with her at this pace that I'll be married with kids and a minivan tomorrow. But if I ask her to slow down or say, "Hey, we've only been dating four months," she'll think I have doubts, or I'm not able to keep up, or I'm not ambitious.
I want it all with her, but it's just going too much, too fast and too soon for me right now. Any advice on how to slow her down or slow my mind down about worrying? Thanks.
It's been a while since I pulled out the old campfire metaphor, so here we go, Alaskans: You build a fire by starting with tiny, dry, easy-to-light pieces of kindling. As the flames catch, you gradually add larger and larger pieces until finally we can toss on those dense but enduring logs. Those first tiny pieces of wood offer up exciting hot sparks and quick burns; the thick hunks of wood are what give us the warmth and longevity for the long haul.
If you threw a giant log on the early nest of flickering kindling, the fire would die. If you didn't add a log, the smaller fuel would eventually burn out too. So what's the lesson here?
Relationships are like campfires. They may start small, and simple but as time goes on, and we connect and share, our investment grows — and essentially, the emotional "logs" we are throwing on the fire increase, as we build a base to support that.
Think about a campfire. The beginning is exciting. Big flames, sizzling heat, wood collapsing and reforming as we add fuel to the fire. This is so much like the start of a relationship. It's exciting, it reforms and reshapes and collapses, it flames and sparkles. We can never get it back, once gone. It should be savored. When the big logs come, the fire changes. It remains warm and nurturing but in a more refined and settled way.
Tell your lady, you recognize this beginning phase of your literal flames is exhilarating, unique and amazing, and you want to savor it. You are all-in for the long haul but you want to enjoy the journey. This isn't pillow talk or glad-handing: You genuinely love this woman, you want to enjoy the time with her, and you want to take your time getting to the next step. Good luck!
But Wanda, this isn't a quaint little Saturday morning-on-the-Homer-Spit campfire with coffee and Two Sisters scones we're talking about here. This is a third of July night in Seward or New Year's Eve in Fairbanks bonfire that satellites can see from space. (Or at least the conspiracy theorists can see from Fox and Ester.) This fire doesn't need no stinking kindling or logs. A pile of 20 or so pallets, a gallon of gas, and a 2-by-4 with a flaming rag stapled to the end will get this party started just fine, thank you. Alcohol may be involved. Someone might get hurt. S'mores will not be served.
Our firestarter will not be a happy camper if she finds her potential partner down at the creek gathering water to throw on her fire.
Look, letter-writer, if she is who you want, don't douse her enthusiasm and ambition. Putting out this fire might also kill her romantic fire and could be something she takes very personally.
Can you handle that potential explosion? Or can you stand up, be honest and then work with her on letting the raging fire simmer down a bit and make a plan to meet halfway? Can you speed things up a little if she slows things down a little?
If you truly want her and she truly wants you and not just her fairy tale fulfilled, you'll both be fine. If you see flames coming from her ears at the mere suggestion of pumping the brakes, stop, drop and roll away from this situation!