How Quickly Should Couples Fall in Love (or Into Bed)?
The paradox of quickness in romantic love
Posted May 21, 2018
“You can't hurry love; no, you just have to wait: You got to trust, give it time, no matter how long it takes.” —The Supremes
"I love when you surprise me with a quickie.” —Many people
There are good reasons for not rushing love — and persuasive arguments for the value of quickies. Can we both not rush love and still enjoy having quickies?
Quickness, rushing, and hurry
“Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.” —George Santayana
When we wish to talk about moving fast, we have lots of terms to choose from: “Quickness,” “haste,” “rushing,” and “hurry," for example. Each has a slightly different sense — haste involves moving hurriedly and in a careless manner; rushing implies doing something too quickly without thinking carefully enough; and hurry refers to acting unusually quickly. Notice the common denominator? Negativity.
Quickness seems to stand out as the one neutral choice on this list. But quickness can take on a negative feel when it prevents profound activities that take time. There seems to be a kind of quickness paradox: We can do a great deal of good while moving quickly, but we can get stuck in the quicksand of superficiality.
Time is indeed essential for profound love. Yet, that doesn't mean that quick — and yes, even superficial — activities are of no value in specific circumstances. It’s all about balance.
Why are quickies often good?
“Seize the moment. And go for a quickie.” —Slogan
“I am fine with a quickie, if it pleases my lover. I will not reach an orgasm this way. But I enjoy pleasing the other. I feel a quickie is not making love . . . just quick sex. If done correctly, and both are really in the mood to have quick sex, then OK, I am in the game.” —A married woman
A sexual quickie is a brief or spontaneous episode of sexual activity. Sometimes, this is 100 percent appropriate. In the heat of passion, it would be completely inappropriate to observe the niceties of polite society. Leave folding one’s clothing for another time. Passionate quickies are often the right thing to do — as the old saying goes: just what the doctor ordered.
Yet, for many, slow sex remains a perennial preference. Partners can derive pleasure and meaning from enjoying their time together, growing closer and strengthening their connection. Both types of sex — wild and brief, and long and tender — are of great value. It is only when quickies are the only ice cream flavor available that things tend to sour. When it’s a quickie or nothing, the development of more profound activities may be blocked.
Modern society has a problem: It loves “fast,” but many things require “slow.” Make no mistake: Fast food, and fast sex, have their place. But the ideal of efficiency can go haywire. Orgasm — or any other satisfaction — can be achieved quickly. But romantic profundity takes time (Ben-Ze'ev, 2019; Ben-Ze’ev & Krebs, 2018).
Why is rushing love bad?
“Don’t rush into love, because even in fairy tales, the happy ending takes place on the last page.” —Unknown
When we speak of rushing love, we are talking about trying to establish a profound relationship without giving love its due course for development. At the risk of cliché, love, like a garden, must be cultivated, becoming more and more lush over time.
In the in-due-course policy, the romantic partners take the time necessary for their own attitudes to develop. This policy is a kind of prolonged courtship. And, sure enough, marital happiness is positively associated with the length of courtship period (Byrne & Murnen, 1988).
Bibi Deitz (2016) has penned a helpful “Don’t Rush” list:
- Don't rush deciding if you're with "The One."
- Don't rush spending lots of time together right away.
- Don't rush your quality time.
- Don't rush saying "I love you."
- Don't rush moving in together.
- Don't rush trust.
- Don't rush important talks.
- Don't rush commitment.
- Don't rush marriage.
Deitz’s list includes features of a full-fledged, committed romantic relationship. Trying to have all of these features immediately is rushing, for it includes doing things hastily, which we may regret. Our own list should be taken slowly, adding features gradually. Instant gratification can feel great — but sometimes it only feels great for that instant. For example, it can be useful to endure the pain of postponing desirable, often sexual interactions, or to refrain from having intimate conversations before the time is right. Of course, every couple moves at its own pace. But a perspective that aims to achieve these aspects all at once is harmful, because it interferes with the natural progression of establishing romantic profundity.
“You can’t hurry love” is true with respect to profound love. And Deitz’s “Don’t Rush” list is a healthy reminder. Let’s return to our balance, for a moment, however. Some people go to the opposite extreme and refuse to even enter the waters of romance. They often have good reasons, typically related to fear of vulnerability. But drifting with the romantic current is important. Without it, we get marooned on the island of solitude.
“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” —Soren Kierkegaard
From the point of view of the good life, quickness can go either way. In our accelerated romantic environment, it is easy for quickness to turn into rushing, preventing the development of romantic profundity. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater and avoid quickies entirely (in the bathtub or elsewhere). Aristotle, we might mention, considered harmful not only emotional excess, but also emotional lack. It’s all about balance.
You should not rush love in order to reach the sexual goal as fast as possible. The pace of gaining sexual satisfaction can vary, and quickies are not the only, and typically not the major, game in town.
Ben-Ze'ev, A. (2019). The Arc of Love: How Our Romantic Lives Change Over Time. University of Chicago Press.
Ben-Ze’ev, A. & Krebs, A. “Love and Time: Is Love Best When it is Fresh?” In C. Grau & A. Smuts (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Love. Oxford University Press, 2018.
Byrne, D. & Murnen, S. K. (1988). Maintaining loving relationships. In R. J. Sternberg and M. L. Barnes (eds.). The psychology of love. Yale University Press, 293-310.
Deitz, B. (2016). 9 things you should never rush in a relationship, Bustle, April 5, 2016; https://www.bustle.com/articles/152029-9-things-you-should-never-rush-in-a-relationship