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How to make your whirlwind relationship last
TV presenter Melanie Sykes, 42, has just announced her engagement to Jack Cockings, 26. With the 16-year age gap you might think it's the 'toy boy' angle they need to take care over. They're undoubtedly aware of that but another concern is it's a mere four months since they started dating. So they've entered classic whirlwind romance territory.
They'll need to tread carefully and be aware of the pitfalls and pluses of love in the fast lane. If you're in a relationship that's hurtled to commitment in record time here are seven steps to make sure it's permanent:
Step no 1: beware of panic
Things have been amazing but now that you've got engaged or moved in together, one of you may get panic-stricken. That's when they're most likely to think they have to dump this relationship and move on as quickly as it started.
That's the time to take a deep breath, start thinking in the here-and-now, and stop thinking in terms of "the rest of your lives". Reassure yourself such feelings of panic are normal and don't necessarily spell the end of your relationship.
Step no 2: get to know each other
As you've been engulfed by your sexual chemistry you've probably spent a lot of time in bed. You may know your way blindfolded around each other's bodies but it's important to take a fresh attitude/approach to really getting to know each other.
Instead of jumping into bed every time you have time together try some proper dating and alternate choosing what you do. This gives you an equal say in finding out a lot more about each other's likes and dislikes.
Step no 3: then the rows arrive
Because you hurtled into a committed relationship while still in the 'honeymoon phase' it comes as a surprise when you have your first row - but that day will come! Unlike people who have settled into a committed relationship more slowly, you two are less prepared to handle rows.
Let each other know that you want to get through it, calm things down and start talking properly. Make communication to-the-point and clear since there are already question marks over how well you two really understand each other.
Using "I statements" can help keep clarity when you're worried. This means beginning your statements with "I feel x, y, z" - it definitely helps to do this and brings clarity to the point you're trying to make.
Step no 4: stand united
You'll be amazed how many people criticise your whirlwind relationship. You're going to get it from all sides - family, friends, colleagues, etc, so you need to prepare. Be open about what to expect so you're both feel able to cope with this outside pressure. So, e.g, this will stop him being upset if his mother questions his love for you or your best friend gives him a hard time about rushing things.
Step no 5: don't use tactics instead of talking
Sometimes I find partners in whirlwind relationships start using 'tactics' as they haven't learned to talk to each other properly. One key tactic I see used is picking 'ridiculous' fights when you want to make a point but don't know how to go about it because you still find actual communication tricky. Or, as in some cases, things have been so passionate that picking a row keeps that passion-level high.
While initially a ridiculous fight blows off steam, in the long-term it prevents intimacy and masks real issues. So refuse to be goaded into irrational fights. Point out to your partner if you notice this happening so you can both deal with it.
Step no 6: great sex-pectations
One obvious problem in whirlwind relationship is that setting up home together very quickly can lead to an equally quick tailing off in frequency of sex. Think about it logically - if you dated as most couples do for 18 months, two years, or longer, before you even moved in together, you wouldn't have the '24/7 effect' set in so soon.
With a whirlwind relationship you're suddenly in each other's pockets 24/7 and it can have a surprising effect on your sex life. Again it's sounding each other out, working out a compromise, and not worrying that this spells the end of your relationship. It doesn't if you're honest about your sexual expectations and how they might change getting together so quickly.
Step no 7: reap the romance rewards
Ultimately if you hang in there you you'll probably find you have an incredible relationship. The whirlwind romances I know of - that have been successes - have an incredible power to them. You've had to withstand a lot of criticism from others, you've had to quickly come to negotiate your differences and you both are people who know your own minds.