How to Sync Your Relationship Pace

Daniel Spence

For my next few blog posts, I will be doing a series about relationships and time, based on Peter Fraenkel’s book Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track. If you would like to learn more about marriage or relationship speed, marriage,  or relationship counseling services in Manhattan, please contact Citron Hennessey.We can help you pace your relationship at a speed that works for both partners.


While many important factors make up a successful relationship, none are as fundamental as the pace, rhythm, time perspective, and punctuality that you share. Thus, it is critical to “Hear the beat” of your conflict in order to change it.

Moving through life at different speeds, couples often find it hard to connect, communicate, or coordinate their activities and efforts to build and maintain a life together. Oftentimes, one person within a couple is more fast-paced, trying to fit as much as possible in a day and constantly moving. The slower-paced partner, on the other hand, prefers not to be rushed, savors the moment, and is happy to accomplish tasks more deliberately and carefully.

The partners’ pace and the role it plays in how they handle emotions is one of the key attractants early in the relationship, and we often pick persons whose pace is the opposite of our own. Pacing a new relationship can be exhilarating, especially when we find people that bring us close to our ideal selfWe unconsciously look to our partner to either speed us up (and energize us) or slow us down (and calm us). However, after a relationship has advanced, the relationship speed takes a toll. We get tired of having our partner rush us (if we are slower) or drag us down (if we are temperamentally faster). And there’s the rub that leads to couple-conflict.

The interesting thing is that most couples don’t realize the root problem of their conflict is the difference in their relationship speed — they complain of communication difficulties, arguments about getting things done, and different energy levels instead of the actual issue. Learning the nuances of pacing a relationship requires support and management that we’re not aware needed analysis in the first place. The slow partner describes the fast partner as neurotic, restless, or anxious, while the fast one assesses the slow one as boring, uninspired, unmotivated, or depressed. The relationship between these two individuals is a clear sign that open communication has broken down and that their dating pace has become unsynced.


Being aware of the difference in relationship pace and how that affects a couple’s connection is often the first step in ameliorating the problem. This is the first of the Four R’s — revealing a couple’s rhythms. From there, it is necessary to revalue the rhythms that work, revise the rhythms that need changing, and rehearse new rhythms.

A couple revalues by remembering how a partner’s pace was often what attracted us to them in the first place, how it complements our own pace, how we can learn from it and find value in the positive aspects of it. A couple can revise by being more deliberate about whose pace dominates certain activities, by using these moments to learn from one another more actively, and expanding the joint repertoire of relationship speed. Lastly, a couple can rehearse new pace patterns by making a commitment to specific activities that each partner will do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to change and better align each’s pace.

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