Do You Need to Cool Off?
Sometimes everything clicks. You meet someone and there is instant chemistry. You start talking and you discover that you agree on everything. He or she leans over for that first kiss at exactly the moment you were thinking of doing the same thing. Before you know it, the date is a lot more intimate than you ever intended.
A part of you is probably wondering what the problem is. That date sounds kind of perfect. But even a "perfect" date can be problematic in the long run. In this case, the problem is that the relationship started hot and heavy before you ever really got to know the other person. Sure, you have probably had a few discussions and have learned a little bit about each other, but you don't really know the other person. And, with the momentum you've got going, you are heading towards an engagement in likely a little over a month.
As happy as that would make some local caterer who is about to get a heck of a fee for a rush job, it is probably a lot better for both you and your date if you cool off a little and set a slightly less break neck speed.
How do you do that without ruining a good thing? Great question. The good news is that this is a rare situation where you can have your cake and eat it, too.
First Step: Plan Your Pace
Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare may have reached the first milestone first, but the tortoise won the race.
The important lesson here is that the tortoise set a pace and stuck with it. Relationships don't allow quite that level of planning, but you can still create loose plans.
Your current speed is somewhere around "Well, that just happened!" And since you are thinking about a cool off period, obviously this speed is not right for you. Try to figure out what pace would make you most comfortable. Keep in mind that this is not a unilateral decision. Your partner should be a part of this conversation and has equal say in the decision.
Speaking of your partner, you need to have a likely very awkward conversation. Discussing slowing down is not dissimilar to breaking up with someone, except that your end goal is to actually still be dating the person after the conversation.
If you want that end goal to be a reality, you need to approach the conversation artfully. Be honest about why you want to cool down and your concerns. At the same time you need to be clear that you are enthusiastic about the relationship up to this point and continue to be enthusiastic about the future of the relationship. Any lack of enthusiasm will almost certainly make it seem like you simply wanted a one night stand and now you are just letting the other person off easy.
The Sword of Damocles
Much like the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head, you will almost certainly feel the weight of that first date (possibly first few dates) hanging over every date you have during your cooling down period. At one point you were more intimate in one way or another and now you aren't. You don't want that to hang over your relationship for too long.
The best way to deal with the Sword of Damocles is to not let it hang there for too long. The most effective way to have a short cooling off period is to go on more dates than usual or go on longer than usual dates. This gives you more total time to get to know the other person and truly explore whether the relationship is working. It is a form of rushing, but you are making decisions based on the same amount of interaction as if you weren't rushing.
Alternatively, Play Hot Potato
If the idea of cooling down doesn't really work for one or both of you, or the past intimacy is simply too irresistible, try playing "hot potato" with your relationship. Basically what this means is that you let the relationship go back and forth between cooled down and red hot. During cooler moments you can learn more about your partner and make good decisions about the future of your relationship. During hotter moments, you can burn through bottles of lip balm. This approach will be a little rougher on both of you if you eventually break up, but is still a better choice than letting your mutual ardour control your relationship from day one.