This year has truly become a summer of romances. Specifically, the “just started dating a month ago, already in love, so let’s just get married and live happily ever after” kind of romances. There’s something about falling in love quickly, deeply, and all at once that seems to just take people by surprise. While some may consider it more sensible or realistic to “take it slow” and “keep their options open,” there’s also something to be said about committing and taking that next step fearlessly.
For instance, celebrities such as Justin and Hailey, Nick and Priyanka, and Pete and Ariana are choosing to take that next step by getting engaged after only being together under a year in each of their relationships, and rom-coms like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are making a comeback. We don’t know what’s causing this romantic shift, but there is something TRULY magical in the air right now—and we’re all for it.
So to get to the bottom of it, we asked our readers if any of them have been a whirlwind romance, (a modest thirty percent preferred the “slow and steady” route, whereas seventy percent answered that they would “jumped right in!” to a relationship) and sought advice from Dr. Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., a New York-based clinical sexologist and relationship therapist to go into some of the psychology behind these types of romances and how to navigate them.
Below is a little Q&A we conducted with Dr. Steinberg, along with some responses from a few brave souls who were willing to share a bit more about their experiences with whirlwind romances. Did these fairytale-like relationships last or did they fizzle out into nothing? Let’s find out.
Warning: Some of the material below may be distressing for some. Please read with caution.
- In your experience, do “whirlwind” relationships tend to last or manifest into healthy relationships?
From Dr. Steinberg: “From what I’ve seen, no more than a “medium-paced” whirlwind [relationship] seems to last. Too fast a start cuts out important getting-to-know-you time. Every stage of a relationship is important, especially the beginning when you really get to know someone.”
Take it from *Lauren who was convinced that she had met her soulmate, but it didn’t end well. She states that when “the charm wore off and the verbal and mental abuse started creeping in after a few months” things had unfortunately taken a turn for the worst. “Within a year I had quit my job, moved to three different cities, and was told he was proposing to me soon… I was also isolated from my friends and family, full of self-doubt, and completely manipulated/brainwashed.”
It’s safe to say that any successful and healthy relationship shouldn’t result in either partner feeling isolated, manipulated, or completely out of touch with one’s self. Sometimes, time can really show a person’s true nature, and it can be beneficial to allow yourself those crucial moments to really get to know someone instead of just diving right into the rush of passion.
Lauren has since moved on, leaving her whirlwind romance and the toxic relationship behind. She is now in a healthy relationship with a man she can depend on. “I’ll never lose myself, my identity or my freedom that way again. It’s a wonderful thing to find a partner and be in love, but if you’re convinced this person hung the moon and stars [for you]…you may want to step back and remind yourself that they are, in fact, human, and make sure your relationship with YOURSELF is not being compromised.”
Lauren is definitely speaking the truth here. A healthy relationship with yourself makes space for a healthy relationship with others (romantic or otherwise). Remembering that your partner is 100 percent human and not some sort of otherworldly being, allows you to see them for who they truly are and makes decisions about the relationship that are based in reality and acceptance, instead of fantasy.
- Are there clear signs that a “quick” relationship is one that can grow into a healthy, long-lasting meaningful relationship? Conversely, are there signs when a “quick” relationship is toxic and will most likely not pan out?
Dr. Steinberg: “Yes. When the partners enjoy similar lifestyles (e.g. they don’t stay out late partying, they’re both [spiritual/religious], or [both love to travel], etc.) then they are likely to gel permanently. A quick relationship can become toxic fast when partners eventually come to realize that they don’t have all that much in common after trying to pull one another into undesirable directions. This typically happens after “limerence”, or the infatuation phase, of [when] a relationship ends.”
Speaking of infatuation, another reader, *Alexandra, shared that when she met her current partner “the attraction was instant—he was funny, charming, nice to my parents and my friends, and genuinely cared for me.” Alexandra confessed that they told each other “we loved each other one month into our relationship. By six months, we were talking about marrying each other. At the time, that felt right.” However, when that infatuation phase passed some aspects of the relationship became clearer. “As we progressed through the first year of our relationship and out of the honeymoon phase, talking about marriage began to put pressure on the relationship. Whenever we would fight, we would solve it by telling each other that we were meant for each other.”
The two eventually stopped talking about marriage and their future together, and refocused on “[finding] a balance between rushing into a long-term relationship and getting through our days together.”
Just because the infatuation phase ends and you’re looking at your relationship from a more *realistic* lens doesn’t mean the relationship is meant to end. In fact, it can potentially make the relationship even stronger. Sometimes, it just means recognizing “that love is a slow burn,” as Alexandra learned. “We both still want the house together and the dogs and the wedding, but we also understand that we are in our early twenties…we understand that the love that we want in the future cannot happen without the daily experience. It’s fun to rush into something and believe it will last forever. It’s impossible to make something last on that thought alone, [though]. It takes a concentrated effort to keep that dream alive.”
Being able to move past that infatuation phase and manifest a relationship that is based on true love AND reality is truly commendable. In my opinion, this shows that the relationship can grow, and they make the choice to stay together, instead of calling it quits just because the infatuation phase has run its course. I think that’s something worth fighting for.
- If someone is considering taking a big emotional step with a partner after a relatively short amount of time, what are some of the best ways to weigh if this big step is worth taking? When discussing more serious matters like moving in/getting engaged, how do you balance what “feels right” with practicality?
Dr. Steinberg: “Such a person should ask him/herself ‘If I did wait longer, what else would I hope to learn about this person?’ If the information is the type of information that makes or breaks lifelong happiness, then [this person] should consider waiting. I have said many times ‘relationship decisions shouldn’t be based on real estate leases,’ and it’s a great idea to err on the side of what feels right, instead of doing what’s more practical or cheaper, whenever it can work.”
One of our readers, *Stephanie had a crush on her current partner for a few years before they began their romantic relationship. They had mutual connections like attending the same university, having mutual friends, and sharing a photography class. All these ties unknowingly kept them on each other’s radar, even as they dated other people and lived their separate lives.
They maintained an easy-going friendship for the rest of their college years, when one day, a mutual friend of Stephanie’s let her know that her friend/crush thought she was a “total babe”. Stephanie took the initiative to DM him a few weeks later and finally a date was planned (thank goodness for Instagram, amirite?).
Stephanie recounts that “Our first date was a full 24 hours. We went to lunch, talked and walked non-stop, got ice-cream, went to a bookstore, and had a crazy make-out session on the beach during a lightning storm (we both felt like Beyoncé). Since our first date, we’ve spent almost every day together. Now we’re living in New York and sharing an apartment! Needless to say, Instagram is the root of our relationship.”
To be fair, this may seem like a whirlwind relationship to some, but these two had been connected and established a friendship before transitioning into a romantic relationship. There’s no denying though when these two *finally* got together, sparks were for sure FLYING.
- Are there signs when a partner is being insincere or unrealistic about the weight of taking a big emotional step at a quick rate?
Dr. Steinberg: “Perhaps if a person cannot envision and describe out loud the next 1, 3, 5 or 10+ year run with a person, and s/he has a ‘we will wing it’ mentality, this could indicate an unrealistic approach [to the relationship]. If there are ANY signs of insincerity, RUN!!”
*Sabrina hit it off with the cousin of an old family friend at a wedding. Things always get a bit more complicated when a family is involved, but it can be a great way to meet a new love interest.
After a romantic encounter at the wedding and frequent communication over the course of four years, the two reunited in Turkey. They spent Sabrina’s remaining time in Turkey meeting her family, walking along the store and simply enjoying each other’s company after four years apart. The two shared “I love you’s” at the airport before Sabrina’s flight home and this truly jumpstarted their epic romance. Long distance is tough, as I’m sure we all know, but these two would “spend all day and night talking for weeks straight. He stays up late, I wake up early… anything and everything to just talk to each other. We’re insanely in love.”
The two even brought up the topic of marriage, kids, and spending their lives together. Even though the love was truly there, Sabrina admits that “unfortunately our beautiful lighting romance came to an end because our two different worlds couldn’t become one. With him [in Turkey] and I [in New York] we weren’t able to pass some of our differences to make it work… however, I’m still hopeful there might be a part three to this romance.”
This one is tough. There were tons of ties keeping these two together, but sometimes distance can get in the way of a relationship, or at least put it on pause for the foreseeable future. Knowing when to take a step back from the relationship is important for both parties. There’s no doubt there was a true connection between these two, but individuals must also have a life outside of their romantic relationships, which means living your life in your own city and being realistic about how far you are willing to go to make the relationship work, especially if it’s long distance.
If you’re considering whether or not to jump into something, hopefully, these personal stories from our brave readers and Dr. Steinberg’s advice will help you make an informed choice. Always remember that relationships must be able to exist in your reality in order to last. As special as those fairytale moments are, they cannot always mesh with the reality of both people’s lives, and that’s what will truly let the love grow or force the two to go separate ways.
*Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect privacy. Responses have been edited for clarity and length. We chose stories from our readers that seemed to resonate with or reflect the feedback provided by Dr. Steinberg.
Feature image via Vanessa Granda