Transient bonds between fast linkers and slower particles are widespread in physical and biological systems. Despite their diverse structure and function, a commonality is that the linkers diffuse on timescales much faster compared to the overall motion of the particles they bind to. This limits numerical and theoretical approaches that need to resolve these diverse timescales with high accuracy. Many models, therefore, resort to effective, yet ad hoc, dynamics, where linker motion is only accounted for when bound. This paper provides a mathematical justification for such coarse-grained dynamics that preserves detailed balance at equilibrium. Our derivation is based on multiscale averaging techniques and is broadly applicable. We verify our results with simulations on a minimal model of fast linker binding to a slow particle. We show how our framework can be applied to various systems, including those with multiple linkers, stiffening linkers upon binding, or slip bonds with force-dependent unbinding. Importantly, the preservation of detailed balance only sets the ratio of the binding to the unbinding rates, but it does not constrain the detailed expression of binding kinetics. We conclude by discussing how various choices of binding kinetics may affect macroscopic dynamics.

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