I had a long conversation yesterday with a friend about a guy she just met who asked her out this weekend for Valentine’s Day. To some, this might sound like the dream scenario, but she felt like it was way too much way too soon; she was trying to pump those brakes hard.

And this happens a lot. Because unfortunately—and especially in the beginning of a relationship—we’re rarely on the same page. So how do we align our speeds so that everyone feels happy and comfortable without ruining the momentum entirely?

That, my friends, is the question.

Usually, I think the culprit for things moving too fast is excitement. So even acknowledging that can be a helpful first step. While you might be feeling stressed or panicked, if you can take a beat, you’ll see that the person who is possibly rushing you is likely doing it with good, pure intentions.

**Side note, if this is not the case and you’re feeling pressured into anything you’re not comfortable with, put that pretty foot down now and acknowledge that behavior head-on. In relationships it really is true that patterns develop early on and if you don’t want this to be one, nip it in the bud, or bid that bud farewell.

But back to the good gal/guy you’re seeing (let’s be optimistic, shall we?) If you want to slow things down without cooling off completely, there are a few things you can do.

First, everyone is aware of the certain ‘steps’ involved in progressing a relationship, and one way to slow down the fast moving relationship train is to take your time with these. Things like meeting best friends (or parents!), or spending the night on a weeknight, or going to work parties—these are all things you can avoid either casually or by saying something more direct about not being ready for that.

Another good way to come up for air is to pick back up a hobby or kick it into gear at work. This might sound avoidant, but a surefire way to keep pace is to spend less intense amounts of time with the person you’re seeing. Don’t start cancelling plans or anything, but do re-insert the notion of separate lives and balance. This might help you catch your breath and reenergize.

Speaking of balance, a tip I was given once about this situation was to have plans after your date together. Whether that’s after a dinner date (meeting up with your roommate for a glass of wine) or hanging on a weekend afternoon and having a workout to go to, getting rid of open-ended dates is a great step in slowing things down.

One last good one is making more of your time together into group hangs. This makes things feel more playful and involves less serious conversations and life plans. Think: parties and trivia nights. Bonus: you get to see how they mesh with your pals and vice versa.

At the end of the day, remember that the person you’re with will probably notice this distancing behavior. But that’s OK, especially if you’re doing it in a nice and not freaked-out way. Keep in mind that it’s also not the worst thing in the world to honestly communicate that you feel the need to slow things down. In addition to your reasons (uncertainty about the future, past baggage, timing, etc), adding in how much you’re enjoying getting to know them will soften the talk.

Good luck!

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