Why you should drop it back into third.

I just sabotaged my friends business. She’s hardly done a full hours work, or got a single task completed, since I meddled. Of course, I haven’t damaged her career on purpose– I simply introduced her to a guy. Since that ‘set up’, they’ve never been apart. Even when they manage to separate for a few hours “work”, thus begins the barrage of naughty texts and emails.

There isn’t a form of communication that hasn’t been fully utilized in this courtship. And don’t worry, I haven’t been left out of the “technology loop”. I’m getting my fair share of calls, texts, emails and BBM’s too. One the surface it might appear as though our friendship has great depth, only the topic of conversation is eerily singular; “What has he/she said to you about me?” I have almost come to terms with the fact that I no longer exist as a friend, and am now a portal for their communication, a featherless carrier pigeon in a cage of my own making.

Despite the interference, I’m still rather pleased with myself for predicting such a perfect match. Dexter, watch your back! What’s more, I’ve already secured bridesmaid honors and future Godmother status, should it come to that, as I envisage it will.

In just three weeks, he’s already sent her several bunches of flowers, invited her away fror the weekend, planned a joint dinner party, and lent her his favourite teddy bear for her to babysit.  While I’m thrilled they’ve fallen so fast, I can’t help but compare the speed of their courtship to my own relationship. And to be honest, I’m not thrilled with the comparison. Why did my man wait months before inviting me on a trip? How come I’ve never been allowed to babysit his favourite teddy bear? (Come to think of it, does my man even have a teddy bear and if not, why?)

When it comes to love, we can’t help but use other people’s relationships as a barometer for our own. For guys, it’s usually a sexually charged comparison: “Why does he get to sleep with his girlfriend after two dates while I’m still waiting two months?” For girls, it’s traditionally commitment related, “Why am I still waiting to meet his parents when my friend has already met her boy’s entire family?”

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to our friends, family and even celebrities. It’s the way we check that everything is normal. Since caveman days, competition has keeps us moving forward, be it in the jungle, the boardroom, the bedroom, in the academic arena or on the athletic track. Indeed, I doubt Olympic world records would be what they are, were it not for someone else sweating it out in the next lane.

Amidst all this rivalry, it’s easy to forget that every relationship is unique and needs to unfold at its own pace. Because the thing about relationships, unlike the 100-meter sprint, is, there is no finish line. You might start off wanting a second date, and before you know it, you’re striving towards an engagement ring, a family, a bigger home, a better car, a more generous divorce settlement. But what’s the rush? Since the couples we admire most are the ones still hobbling along, hand in hand, 10, 20, 60 years down the track.

Perhaps we’re in such a hurry because we’re scared that, if we don’t act quickly, we’ll miss out. Research proves that time isn’t always a relationships friend. A study of 4000 married couples by reaserch marketing company onepoll.com showed that the average married couple gives up on romance just two years, six months and 25 days into a marriage. During the first few months of marriage, 83 per cent of couples held hands frequently, compared to a dismal 38 per cent of couples who had been hitched for a decade. Couples were shown to cuddle more in the beginning, with an average of more than eight times a day prior to the first wedding anniversary, compared with five or fewer after 10 years of marriage.

It’s enough to make you want to slow things right down. Truth is, every successful relationship needs a shared goal, but rather than trying to get to the finish line asap, that target should be learning how to relish each step. So if you’re lucky enough to get to the end, it feels as though you’ve just begun.

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