I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer, author, and ethical Boyslut (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It.
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Dear Sexplain It,
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I’m a 27-year-old straight man who’s noticed a pattern in my behavior. I meet a cool new girl, get very excited, and we start hanging out often. I begin to see myself with her for the long haul, romanticizing our future together, but after a few months, I notice all the ways we’re incompatible. It’s not that I ignored any “red flags.” It’s just that some things about their personality make it very clear we won’t work. It often takes a few months for me to realize whatever these things are.
I love the honeymoon stage and the idea of falling in love, but honestly, it always sucks in the end. I often ended up breaking their hearts and being sad myself.
Anyway, I’ve started seeing someone new—it’s been a couple of weeks, and I see myself falling into my old pattern of getting wayyyy too excited. We’re hanging out nearly every day already, and I fear this relationship will end like all of my last ones in a few months if I keep this up. Please help.
Dear Love Lover,
This question reminded me of my younger—who am I kidding?—current self, so I was keen on answering it. I strongly relate to the excitement of falling in love and romanticizing a future together. The honeymoon stage is enjoyable! As Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC, said of the honeymoon phase in Men’s Health Best. Sex. Ever.: 200 Frank, Funny & Friendly Answers About Getting It On, “Everything just feels lovely and hopeful and exciting and passionate.”
But the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. “Not to sound cynical, but it’s not a completely accurate representation of the relationship,” he continued. With your rose-colored glasses on, specific quirks that will, over time, become unbearable, are just “cute” in the honeymoon phase. Not to mention that people often put their best foot forward, so you don’t see some of their “less flattering” qualities. That’s not to say people are lying or being outwardly manipulative. They’re not. People can just take time to reveal certain aspects of themselves.
You owe it to yourself and the girl you’ve started dating to slow things down, so you can each have time to discover each other’s “less flattering” qualities—and then make a decision about your longterm compatibility. From the sounds of it, you’re acting as if you’re 100% compatible before you’ve done your due diligence.
This is something I’ve had to work on, too. Sometimes, in a misguided attempt to maximize our chances of a relationship working out—or maybe because the honeymoon phase is just so fun—we act like the perfect committed partner right away: we put our partner before anyone else; we drop everything to be with them; we make sure to text them back immediately. In reality, we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we act that way before we really get to know the other person. Then, we end up having to navigate a painful breakup.
To avoid that destination, you need to slow your roll! Adjust your behavior in a way that helps you gauge whether this woman is the right fit for you, before you dive deeper into a relationship. That might mean texting and seeing each other a little less. It might also mean having more conversations that can help reveal if you’re truly compatible. Talk about your values, politics, interests, love languages, attachment styles, how you resolve conflict, your relationship with your family, if you want kids, where you see yourself in the future, and so on. (If you need some help coming up with questions and topic conversations, check out Esther Perel’s card game, Where Should We Begin, which invites players to share things about themselves they never have before.)
Unfortunately, it seems like you’ve already sped this relationship up to a hundred miles an hour, so you should slow things down in a manner that doesn’t give your partner major whiplash.
The next time you see her in person, have a little relationship check-in. Express to her that you really like her and have enjoyed spending time with her, but you tend to get excited too quickly. Then, a few months into the relationship, you realize you’re incompatible with your partner and have to end the relationship. Because you do not want this to happen with her, you’d like to slow things down and let the relationship marinate.
She may be a little taken aback. You are somewhat pulling the rug out from under her. But if you start texting and seeing her less without notifying her, she’ll end up more hurt and confused about what is happening, and that will all but guarantee your relationship ends quickly.
Love Lover, I do believe you will find love—one that is sustainable and long-lasting—but only if you give the relationship room to breathe and unfold naturally over time. In the meantime, don’t forget: Distance makes the heart grow fonder.