Why Does The Woman I’m Seeing Want to “Take It Slow”?

I’m in my mid 30’s and she is in her early 30’s. I’ve been dating her for three months now (about 12-13 dates) and everything seems to be going well. A couple of weeks ago she asked me about my feelings, what am I feeling. Well, I told her that I like her a lot…that I’m crazy for her. She told me she feels the same way, but wants to take it slow. She mentioned that the last time she felt this sort of passion she got hurt. 

Ok, I said I understand and we can take it slow and I certainly don’t want to do anything that’s going to make you uncomfortable. I should say that we do "make out" but no intercourse. I have no problem waiting until she is ready for sex, but I would feel much better about it if we were exclusive. Neither of us have brought it up and seeing how it’s only been a few months, I don’t want push her away with the "are we exclusive" topic.

Is there something more to her statement of wanting to take it slow?

Thanks!

Brian

Dear Brian,

One of my clients had the same exact issue going on during his burgeoning relationship. He’s 22 and he’d been on about 6-7 dates without any physical intimacy or exclusivity. And although he, too, is crazy about this girl, he couldn’t help but wonder where things were going.

My instincts told me that he was a victim of "nice guy" syndrome. By being so worried that a woman won’t like him, or that he might upset her if he makes a move, he passively plays the friend card and kills all hope of attraction. I encouraged my client to not be afraid of making a move physically, and, if his date doesn’t reciprocate, sit her down for a heart to heart.

Heart to heart discussions, to me, REVEAL feelings, they don’t DICTATE feelings. Which is why having the conversation won’t change how someone feels about you it’ll just let you know the cold, hard, truth. I wrote about this extensively for Match.com’s Happen Magazine last year. As long as you’re reasonable and not attacking, you’re just gonna get your answer by being direct. Most people are way too afraid to do this. Not my client.

Heart to heart discussions, to me, REVEAL feelings, they don’t DICTATE feelings. 

He took my advice after she declined to go "any further" than making out… Here’s the recap of their heart-to-heart in which he talked about how he needed clarity on their relationship:…

The conversation kind of naturally went towards past relationships, and she told me how she has a history of rushing into things. (Her last boyfriend she moved in with after two months!)  Anyway, I get into the whole bit about how I needed to know where this was going, and we talked for a while about why we hadn’t had sex yet and why she felt like we didn’t know each other. She agreed that she was taking it really slow, but it’s because she didn’t want to repeat her mistakes of the past. I brought up that what I needed right now was clarity and security, and we talked for a bit about what it meant to be boyfriend and girlfriend.

Long story short, she was asking me why I wanted to be her boyfriend.  I finally figured out that what she needed to know was why I was choosing her instead of any of the millions of girls in the city. To be honest, I had assumed she knew why she was special to me at this point. Maybe she just needed to hear it. And she told me how she really liked me and wanted to be my girlfriend.

I think it’s only a small matter of time before we have sex, because she told me that she only needed to feel secure in her relationship and that it would last before she would have sex. Basically, she didn’t want to have sex unless she knew things were going to be around for a while. But she is "like a 12-year old boy" (her words) when it comes to sex and I can tell she is really holding herself back. She said the reason why we couldn’t go any further than making out was because she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from going all the way.

We connected a lot more emotionally tonight than on any previous date!

I made a big effort to come off as caring and empathetic all night (basically act like a boyfriend and so shall you be).

Thanks for all your help, Evan! The profile writing and picture taking let me see myself in a whole new light. It gave me the confidence I needed to get the girl that I deserved. And your advice on the phone has always been spot-on. Thanks again for your priceless advice, I couldn’t be happier!

Seth

I’ll be honest with you, Brian this note surprised me. I really thought that this girl was just using him for companionship trying on the nice guy for size until she met someone she liked better. Thankfully, he struck just the right tone in his heart-to-heart where he learned that this was not the case. It’s not that she’s not attracted to him; it’s that she’s risk-averse.

You can make all the excuses in the world about "taking it slow", but people who are excited about each other rarely take it slow.

Still, I want to caution men out there with the same exact advice I’d give to women if a woman is not sleeping with you, if a woman is not committing to you, if a woman is not making an effort for you, the odds are that she is just not that into you. You can make all the excuses in the world about "taking it slow", but people who are excited about each other rarely take it slow.

I’d let her know how you feel ASAP. You’d like to move things along physically, but are willing to respect her wishes, as long as you know that you’re in an exclusive relationship. And if she can’t make that promise to you, then you’re going to have to think long and hard as to whether you want to commit to someone who is so decidedly indifferent towards you. 

Do this and you’ll know where you stand soon enough. 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Selena

    “You can make all the excuses in the world about taking it slow, but people who are excited about each other rarely take it slow.”

    I agree with that. “Taking it slow” can mean not jumping into bed together the first week of meeting, but I’ve always known within 2 mos. if I was really interested in someone and they with me. When mutual interest was high, we spent most of our free time together and were amazed, and pleased that we got to know each other so well, so fast. It would have felt odd, unnatural to delay intimacy and exclusivity out for several months.

  2. 2
    Jes

    Evan,

    Thanks for the great article! I have been going through this with a guy that I have been seeing. I really like him but have been hurt by guys in the past, esspecially the ones who get me to move things along faster than i was ready!

    A friend of mine told me this weekend to initiate the subject with him and see what happens. So after reading your article, I am going to see if we can have one of those heart to hearts!

    Thanks for all your great advice, I have developed so much “dating” confidence since I started reading your blog. It’s probably why I am at this point in the relationship!

    Thanks!!!

  3. 3
    Robert

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Evan. I did learn however, an important skill from reading this blog. That skill is, revealing your own feelings to the lady to encourage her to feel comfortable about opening up to you. Even if getting the lady comfortable enough to open up to you means that you’ll hear that she’s just not into you, that’s OK. At least you’ll know the truth, rather than waiting longer to discover it. You also did a great job of reiterating the importance avoiding the friend syndrome. I’d love to see you delve into that more in a future post. All this said, I look back on the meaningful relationships that I’ve had with ladies in the past (post college) and conclude that in each instance, we slept together by the 5th or 6th date without exception. If the emotional connection is there, two people sexually attract each other like magnets…..unless there’s a critical missing link.

  4. 4
    Angela Crisp

    Evan, my dear, again you show your genius. This advice is superb. Anyone who is dating wants to know if there is real chemistry or not, and putting the cards on the table is the only way to get that info out. I know that most women are hesitant to say what they are thinking, but a quick thinking man can usually get our thoughts out on the table. The real trick is to make the emotion known, without obligating anyone to act on it right now. Your advice really shines in this regard. Thank you again for reaching this important point. regards, A.C.

  5. 5
    verbosity

    Interesting topic. This can go in a bunch of different directions, but I find it shocking that people in their 30’s aren’t physical after 1/4 of a year. It would seem the conversation about lack of physicality would occur early, (ie. – “My religion says I should wait, etc”) not 3 months into things. Brian doesn’t even mention that they’ve had to ‘put the brakes’ on so to speak, as things were passionate.

    What what she does, don’t listen to what she says.

    My guess is Brian is facing a power struggle. First she asks him about his feelings. Than, having bared himself, she can now toy with him, since she knows she has him. He’s lost. Physical intimacy (ie. – sex) naturally should progress, and be most present early on in a relationship.

    The oldest trick in the book is to use the promise of sex, and sex itself, as a power game to train guys like Pavlov did to his dog. It’s pretty bloody insulting. It’s not so he respects her, either. It’s a control game. Lord knows I’m not saying to do anything forcible, but geeze, it’s all a ridiculous game.

    “She told me she feels the same way, but wants to take it slow. She mentioned that the last time she felt this sort of passion she got hurt.” Several points, if she’s so hurt from indulging her passions, she should be in therapy, and she sure should be able to provide Brian more of an explanation than she got hurt the last time she felt this much passion.

    Brian, if something is amiss like this this early into your relationship, something’s likely wrong. Sex is huge, especially so early into a relationship. If your goal is to have a successful relationship I would venture to guess she is not it. At best, she’s ‘hurt’ from previous relationships. At worst, she’s manipulating him. You should be with someone where things move more naturally.

    Evan’s advice is spot-on (“if a woman is not committing to you . . . the odds are that she is just not that into you.”) I actually have a far more cynical take on things, but I will spare readers.

    Bottom line – I bet Brian’s her backup. He should move on. He sounds like a nice guy, which is why he’s in the bullpen.

    1. 5.1
      Kat

      I couldn’t disagree more. Unfortunately, most people in this world HAVE been “hurt” in one way or another, and people come with baggage. If you’re not willing to consider the other person’s feelings on how much time they need, then you don’t need to be in a relationship with ANYONE. I don’t believe Brian’s her backup. Because I am a woman and I am going through the exact same thing. Dating a VERY nice guy, and waiting to have sex–simply because I’ve rushed into things in the past, and I DON”T want to ruin this current relationship by rushing-and also, like Brian’s girlfriend, I have to feel secure and like the relationship is going to last before giving such a big part of myself away. A man who sees that as “manipulation”, may need therapy himself. I’m very happy for Brian it looks to me like he had a breakthrough and is on his way to a happy relationship. As a woman I can say she is probably feeling more secure since their talk and things may move along physically as a result of that! 12-13 dates sounds like a lot…but then again I’ve never waited like this before myself. Me and my “nice guy” (who I’m crazy about and VERY attracted to, by the way) are on our 6th date our next outing.

  6. 6
    verbosity

    Typo –

    Watch what she does, don’t listen to what she says.

  7. 7
    Paul

    Evan…that is the best piece of advice I think I’ve ever heard. If she is not doing the things that people do when they are really into you, then guess what…she’s probably not that into you! It also made me realize that there have been a lot of women that I have dated, or could have dated, but I either didn’t continue if I was, or didn’t date them in the first place because I was just not that excited about them, and you have to be excited about a person. Your right…people who are excited about each other rarely take it slow, and there really isn’t a lot of questioning about where it’s going.

  8. 8
    mrs. vee

    I was, in a sense, a risk-averse dater once. if you are a woman who takes the statements of socio/biological experts to heart that men are primarily driven to seek mates for sex, it makes sense to at least try to take things slowly. esp. if a LTR is the goal.

    one of the things I fell in love with about mr. vee was his absolute directness, coupled with his unshakeable calmness in telling me he cared for me in the early stages of our relationship. even as I waffled on my own level of commitment to him, he always projected an air of certainty and confidence that seemed to say “I love you, and I’m saying this for me – to be 100% authentic to myself – as much as for you. I’ll be disappointed but just fine if you say no.”

    the fact he was so truthful and yet totally unafraid of the consequences of telling the truth really impressed me.

    as time passed, I saw him rise to the occasion in a number of instances that made it obvious he was a good and trustworthy man. I can’t think of any way he could have convinced me of his integrity through words alone.

    be open with this woman, Brian. be patient. be strong. and realize that the passage of time is a powerful tool for building trust between two people.

  9. 9
    Lance

    Yikes, 12-13 dates with no sex and they’re in their 30’s. My guess is also she’s not attracted to him and he’s being way too much of a nice guy (chump).

    Woman usually know if they would have sex with a guy within the first 5 minutes…I’ve even heard it said plenty of times within the first FIVE SECONDS of an interaction. It depends on the impression you make and how attractive you come across during that initial meeting.

    Taking risks and being bold is an attractive, sexy trait. You’ve got to go for it sooner rather than later. Have that talk immediately, like Evan recommends, and find out where she’s at. If she’s not that into you, she won’t ever be, and move on.

  10. 10
    Bev

    You guys all need another valid veiwpoint. Mine. I’m like that girl and there is no hidden agenda like power for me. It’s just that every guy I meet wants to rush things toooooo soon. Those relationships never turn out well. So from past experience, I wait and date and See What Happens. I think guys just want to conquer and not think of the good of the relationship that could become permanent if they really became good and trusted friends first. If a guy pushes me too much, I’m gone.

  11. 11
    hunter

    …Ladies, ask the men what they think, men ask women what she feels….men (before 50 years old), intellectualize, we don’t operate off our feelings…..

  12. 12
    Lynn

    I agree with Mrs. V. that taking things slowly at the start of a relationship is key, if indeed what the couple wants is a long term relationship. I have come to believe that sexual intimacy too quickly (before the 5th or 6th date+) symbolizes a casual attitude toward the relationship. Having time and patience to have intimate discussions before becoming sexually intimate is a good way to build a good foundation, as well as discuss what any expectations either partner may have, i.e., if we start having sex, we won’t date others, or if we start having sex, we will potentially be long-term mates, etc. Too many times I have been burned, assuming the guy had the same feelings and intentions that I did, only to find out that he saw only a casual forecast.

    As much as I hate the ideas behind “the rules,” I do think that there is good psychology behind waiting a little bit at the beginning, as long as it has nothing to do with a power trip for the woman.

  13. 13
    breezy

    Hi Evan,

    I was surprised that YOU were surprised by how the woman answered your client during their heart-to-heart talk. Yes, some women (and men) use “let’s take it slow” to keep their options open for somebody better, but not all of them; instead, many of us are like that woman– we want to take it slowly so that we don’t repeat our previous relationship mistakes. You wrote that “people who are excited about each other rarely take it slow,” which may be true, but for many of us, THAT’S PRECISELY THE PROBLEM. Just because many people do it that way doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

    Specifically, some of us have a pattern of becoming too attracted and too attached too soon and then cannot resist sleeping together, which in turn makes us feel more emotionally close to our boy/girlfriend than is really justified at that point in the relationship. This distorts our view so that even if issues arise that indicate this person isn’t as good a fit for us (and us for them) as we thought, we tend to overlook that because we’re already so emotionally invested in this person and in the relationship. And ultimately when we can no longer ignore the fact that it’s just not working out, breaking up is not only overdue but also much more painful because we got too deeply involved too soon.

    As one therapist advised me, “You need to take the time to determine if this person is a good fit and THEN get deeply involved, instead of doing it the other way around” (which was my tendency). And for some people, that may mean they need to wait several months before finally having intercourse.

    Perhaps this is more an issue for women than for men, since in general it seems having sex has more of an emotional component for us than for guys (of course there are exceptions). Thus, we women may be more vulnerable to feeling that a sexually intimate relationship is closer than it really is. At any rate, if “taking it slow” is a concern in a relationship, I do agree that having an honest talk about it is the way to go.

    note to mrs. vee: I can see why you were impressed by your husband–his attitude sounds really healthy.

  14. 14
    Selena

    Perhaps “slow” is a matter of personal interpretation. The 5th. or 6th. date could happen within the first week of meeting. Or within the first 2 or 3 weeks. Or within the first 2 or 3 months if you don’t see each other that often. Perhaps “slow” is dependent upon how much time you’ve actually spent getting to know each other and figuring out what each other is about.

  15. 15
    m

    Jeebus Crispy, verbosity.

    Stop projecting.

    Just because you were hurt once and distrust all women doesn’t mean that every man does.

    Also, once again, didn’t you say in a comment long long ago that you were PLANNING TO SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE SINGLE?!?

    This blog is for people who want to be/are partnered.

    You are not helping.

  16. 16
    m

    Also, what Bev and Lynn and breezy said.

    Women frequently become more emotionally attached through an experience of physical intimacy. So it behooves us (and really the couple as well, although I’m sure vociferous argument from several males is imminent w/regard to that concept) to wait and see whether the man in question is worth trusting with our sexual and emotional health.

    I know — because you all tell us ad infinitum, ad nauseum — that men struggle with the endless urge of the biological sex drive.

    However, if you give a hoot about the woman that you’re seeing, perhaps it might be worthwhile to at least consider and appreciate her perspective on waiting to be physically intimate, and not immediately leap to the unsupported conclusion that she’s baiting you in some sort of power struggle.

    Men frequently want to “Take It Slow” and “See What Happens” as well.

    They just tend to want to do it AFTER the couple has had sex.

  17. 17
    tony


    verbosity: “My guess is Brian is facing a power struggle. First she asks him about his feelings. Than, having bared himself, she can now toy with him, since she knows she has him. He’s lost.”

    Verbo, dude, again you managed to come up with the most cynical possible scenario and tried to present it as the most likely one. You paint women with such a shallow, mean-spirited brush. And you’re the one who gripes the most about ad hominem attacks.

    You’re not even giving Brian here much credit, if you assume he could fall so easily for a chick who’s manipulating him.

    What the hell happened in your dating history to make you so warped on women, verbo? Do you not know ANY cool chicks at all? Was your mother not a goood role model? Do you think it’s impossible that good females are out there? Do you think the rest of us guys who want to fall in love and get married are just schmucks?

    Sorry to go off topic, Brian, but I wanted to get that off my chest. Back to your question, man, you know maybe she’s telling the truth. Maybe she just wants to take things slowly. My ex had a lot of issues with her parents and former boyfriends screwing her over. She just needed a lot of time to fully believe that I wasn’t just using her for sex or to stroke my ego or anything. Makes sense, right? I figured I wanted to spend the next 100 years with her, so I didn’t mind waiting for her to come around to trusting me. Mrs. V’s right about how time and trust go hand in hand.

    I think you’re on the right track though when you say you want to find out if you’re exclusive. If she truly feels as passionate about you as she says, then why should she entertain the idea of other men at this time? if she says she wants to keep seeing other guys, then I’d say she fails the bullshit test.

    Good luck with her, Bri.

  18. 18
    hunter

    to Brian,

    ..most men don’t want to wait for sex that long, most men are not therapists, or, doctors…if she has to wait, lengthy periods she is hurting/not done with her last relationship/needs help….find another woman…

  19. 19
    hunter

    to Bev

    ……yes, everything you said, that is why there are so many single women…

  20. 20
    Steve

    I agree with Evan & Brian in that requests to take things slow might be a veiled expression of disinterest.

    I agree with Evan’s advice to sit the woman down and ask her what her intents are, in a non-threatening way.

    I think that is common sense and my guess is that men will not do that because they have a fear of spoiling what might turn into a good thing by asking.

    As with everything else in life you have to be willing to “walk away from a sale” sometimes to get the deal you want. You have to be confident that you can find another situation if the current one does not work out. I think it helps to remember more of Evan’s advice, again just common sense: most of the time if someone is interested in you, you can tell. So, in situations where you have to ask if s/he is interested chances are you may have nothing to lose by asking anyway.

  21. 21
    Steve


    Bev Feb 25th 2008 at 04:27 pm 10
    if they really became good and trusted friends first.

    Language is everything. “Lets be friends first” is a common phrase used by women to gently express disinterest in a romantic relationship ( notice the use of “romance”, not “sex” ).

    I wouldn’t use a stranger’s tooth brush and I like to get to know someone before I have sex with her too.

    Maybe better a better choice in words for women to use is to say “I would like to get to know you better first”. Other choices of words like the above will be translated as “She isn’t interested in me, time to go find someone else”

  22. 22
    verbosity

    LOL, hunter! Pithy as always.

    I love it when a valid scenario like the one I proposed is somehow held out as unreasonable because it takes into account the less-than-perfect sides of human nature. There’s nothing wrong with ‘taking it slow’ per se, but as they say, the devil’s in the details, no? Let’s look at the FACTS about what Brian wrote, shall we? 2 people, in 30’s, 3 months dating, 12-15 dates, and now the conversation about going slow?

    My point, dear readers, and you know who you are, is that any relationship is built upon communication and honesty. Women like communication, no? My belief is that Brian’s girlfriend (if she views it that way) would likely have told him long before the 12th date or so that she’s been ‘hurt’ if she were open & honest. How was she hurt? What was the trauma? More to the point, how is this affecting her now? And will it continue? My point is, Brian deserves answers to these questions so he can make a full and fair decision about whether to be in a relationship with a women who may have issues regarding sex or is potentially playing games. Or is okay for him to be potentially deceived? Brian and any man or woman in his shoes is unwise for failing to consider this possibility, even if possibly unpleasant.

    I love M’s and Tony’s comments….trying to insult me for telling Brian to consider something so he doesn’t get blindsided & hurt. Tony’s answer provides why specifically I suggest Brian consider the possibility she’s not being upfront – “my ex had a lot of issues with her parents and former boyfriends screwing her over. She just needed a lot of time to fully believe that I wasn’t just using her for sex or to stroke my ego or anything. Makes sense, right?”

    She is an ex, no? Apologies for being blunt, but Brian needs such background info to make that informed decision, not some vague “I’ve been hurt” answer. Tony, you chose to stay with her know what she told you, as is your right. Brian may choose not to stay with her based with the same information…but he needs the info.

    Tony, I’m on record as saying there is no reason to marry. Period. That doesn’t mean that I do not believe people cannot partner up for the rest of their lives. They can and should. Keep the courts out of the relationship. I trust this also answers M’s oft-repeated lie that I said I’m going to remain single. Saying you do not wish to marry does not mean you would not have a relationship.

    I’d offer the thought that if Brian’s been this patient without an answer for 3 months and a dozen or more dates, he’d be nice & understanding enough for most anything she tells him (assuming it’s true). However, someone as nice as Brian should also consider the less-than-pleasant alternatives also, for this is the only rational course of action.

  23. 23
    Lance

    @Bev. I like your strong take, but I disagree. Relationships that start fast, ie where the physical happens quickly, are often successful. I want to say the majority of them, but I’ve never done a poll so I can’t make that conclusion. BUT, I do know from my personal experiences and from my social circle, that that is the case. And I’m not talking about one-night stands or a bar hookup either, I mean a MUTUAL attraction, where both parties are totally into each other and want to get it on. The key here is they are mutually attracted. The guy can’t be creepy and needy, and the girl can’t be bitchy and boring.

    Guys don’t want to conquer woman. True men want to lead and offer our gifts to the world. Guys who don’t know what they’re doing just fumble around.

  24. 24
    tony

    Bri –
    You did say you’re crazy about her, right? So wait for her if you care about her that much.

    I hear what a lot of the guys on this blog are saying – how you shouldn’t have to wait for sex. Believe me, when all I wanna do is get laid, my attention span is like zero. But that applies only if sex is all I’m after. If this is a girl you can see yourself with for the long haul, then a few months is a drop in the bucket.

    Or I dunno. Maybe when u say you’re “crazy” for her, you just meant you’re sexually frustrated and have no plans or hopes beyond getting her in bed. In that case, maybe she’s right to be guarded about you.

    What exactly do you want from this lady, Brian?

  25. 25
    amanda l.

    m said: “Men frequently want to Take It Slow and See What Happens as well.”

    “They just tend to want to do it AFTER the couple has had sex.”

    LOL! That’s so true!

  26. 26
    AT

    I identify with some things that Seth’s girlfriend said.

    Specifically:”…because she told me that she only needed to feel secure in her relationship and that it would last before she would have sex. Basically, she didn’t want to have sex unless she knew things were going to be around for a while….She said the reason why we couldn’t go any further than making out was because she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from going all the way.”

    …And so I ask Evan: What advice would you have had for Seth’s girlfriend?

  27. 27
    Steve

    I can’t speak for men other than myself, but the sex isn’t just about the sex. It is nice to know if a incipient relationship has a future…you know romance. If a woman will not have sex with you past a certain point it does make you wonder.

    I also think some guys here are over dosing on the PUA literature.

  28. 28
    m

    “And so I ask Evan: What advice would you have had for Seth’s girlfriend?”

    BEST. QUESTION. YET.

  29. 29
    tony

    My point is, verbo, that your tendency to gravitate towards a mean portrayal of women goes far beyond just wanting “to keep the courts out of a relationship”.

    So maybe your reasons for bringing up the least flattering-to-women scenario is to bring up all possible explanations… so that Bri doesn’t get blindsided & hurt. Awww.

    But if we’re agreed that we want to hear all possible explanations, one possible explanation for your incessant diatribes against women in this forum is that you’re a sad dude without the money, looks or likability to get dates, and so you’re placing the blame on them. That, of course, is just one explanation – not insulting to you since it’s just a “possible” explanation.

  30. 30
    Jeannie

    Some of you gentlemen are forgetting a really important reason why a woman would want to take it slow sexually – PREGNANCY!!!!! Afterall that IS the biological point of sex. For a woman in her 20s, there is a one in four chance of getting pregnant each time she has sex. And there is no birth control out there that is 100% and every woman either knows someone or herself that have gotten pregnant while using birth control. And please don’t say “abortion” – for a lot of woman that is not an acceptable option or for those that it is, it is still a heartbreaking, devastating experience.

    And let’s not forget that STDs are often asymptomatic in women and can lead to cervical cancer (or if nothing else a really nasty biopsy procedure 10 years down the pike to figure out if she is even precancerous).

    So if I am going to risk bearing a man’s child, I need to know him more than 12 dates – no matter how hot for him that I am!

    And I know absolutely no one who had a great relationship after getting physically involved fairly quickly. All the relationships that I know of that lasted, sex was a long time in coming.

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