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. 31
    Michael Ejercito

    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.

    You mean they got pregnant even with the use of the pill and two layers of condoms?

  2. 32
    Lisa

    I dont like the sound of these posts at all. Just horny men trying to justify pressuring a woman to have sex. Let me tell you something. You have to wait to have sex or the relationship will have problems .. why ? Because there has not been enough time for strong caring and respect to develop and because most people are always on their best behavior at first and it takes a while for their true personality to come out. You could be making a big mistake. Jump into bed too soon and you may regret who you slept with later. It hurts less to let someone go if you find out before sex they are not a nice person, not to mention the threat of an std . And sex is better with love and love takes time. And also if you jump in too soon the relationship may end. Not just on the man’s side but the woman’s too.Simply because you have nothing left to do or wait for and since you are not yet in love it all becomes boring. I think anyone who has sex too soon is a fool.

    Lisa

  3. 33
    verbosity

    LOL, Michael. Not to mention IUD’s, Morning after pills, patches & several other available methods.

    My issue isn’t that Brian’s g/f wants to wait. That is a fine idea. My issue is that she tells him she wants to wait after 1/4 of a year has passed. Huh? It would seem that this is something to discuss OPENLY sometime before 3 months pass, and the reasons (exact reasons – not simply “I’ve been hurt”) she prefers to wait. We all know the giving and withholding of sex often used as tool in relationships, for both good and ill ends. Brian needs to consider that her lack of disclosure could possibly mask a less than pure intent on different levels. What I really hope doesn’t happen is that Brian’s the ‘nice guy’ she keeps on the back burner while she has fun with other guy(s) who tickle her fancy (and more?) more than Brian. Ok, I know that assumes facts not in evidence, but I trust readers see where I’m going with that.

  4. 34
    Lance

    @Lisa. You could easily argue the opposite. On dates, when people take it slow, they’re not showing their “true colors.” They’ve put on a hyper polished persona that doesn’t reflect how they really feel. If I’m a passionate lover, it wouldn’t be congruent for me to act reserved for the 5-6 dates it takes for you to finally come around.

    In fact, everyone is rough around the edges and probably has a lot of off-the-wall qualities. If you’re mutually attracted and you get the sex thing out of the way, the “real” personality comes out immediately. Why? Because you’re now comfortable.

    Sex is NOT better with love. Sex is better when the sex is just… better. Leave love out of it. That’s when people get hurt, because they’ve attached unrealistic expectations and unreasonable value to an act that is primal and simple.

    On the other hand, if you can’t handle the sex act early on (dates 1-4), then at least do some making out and heavy petting if you’re hot for each other. That way you’re at least acknowledging that you’re not castrated (guy) or a tedious (girl).

  5. 35
    JuJu

    Jeannie,

    while I see where you come from, it would take me personally a couple of years to know whether I want a child with this particular man. Waiting that long to have sex is, putting it mildly, unrealistic.

    Also, and this is of utmost importance to me personally, putting off sex until you start caring about this person increases the risk of a huge disappointment later on over how he is in bed. After all, his skill and manner (and, I have to say, size and ability) is just information, like any other you gather about a new man in your life.

    Lance,

    I think what people mean when they say that is that a person who loves you would be much more inclined to give you pleasure.

  6. 36
    downtowngal

    Hello?!? NEWSFLASH – Women are designed to take it slow. We’re told that guys only want sex, and if you give in too soon he won’t respect you.

    So what’s a girl to do? Often these advice blogs and books tell us not to push a guy into having ‘the talk’ because we’ll scare him away, and 3 months is – well – ‘only’ 3 months.

    What we really have here is a communication issue – this guy just wants to know where this girl is coming from. So, dude, be a man and ask her. Tell her how you feel about her and what you want from a relationship, what your expectations are. I mean, DUH! Least is that she’ll respect you; otherwise she’s probably thinking you’re either just dating her till she ‘puts out’ or just being nice.

  7. 37
    AT

    Oh Jeannie. I want to respond to two things you said:

    1. “…every woman either knows someone or herself that have gotten pregnant while using birth control.”

    -I don’t.

    2. “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.”

    -The fact that you know absolutely no one who had a great relationship after getting physically involved fairly quickly doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. This is your experience, not everyone’s experience. Two of my friends had sex on their first date and they’re married now. I don’t recommend sex on the first date, but doing so is not a guarantee that the relationship won’t last. In trying to prove your point don’t assume that your world is indicative of the world at large.

    Another thing: “Fairly quickly” is subjective. Is it one date? 4? 10? Or is it measured in days? Weeks? People do what they feel comfortable and what’s best for them.

    While not completely irrelevant, this has little to do with the fact that the guy’s girlfriend hasn’t slept with him yet.

  8. 38
    Robert

    Jeannie, my dad slept with his second wife on the night that they met at a party.

    They’re still happily married………49 years later.

    My experience is that interest level dictates when a couple first sleeps together. The higher the interest level, the sooner couples have sex. No other factor or condition is as big of a factor as high interest level.

  9. 39
    Lance

    @Steve: I have been od’ing on PUA lit. I admit this. It’s turning me into kind of a douchebag.

  10. 40
    downtowngal

    Robert, your father & stepmom’s experience is the exception, not the rule. It is truly rare that a woman would sleep with a guy on the first date and still have a LTR with him, and many guys would not respect a woman for doing so.

    For women, sex is a big next step in a relationship; we get emotionally attached after sex so we need to know the guy is someone who’s committed to having a relationhip and seems to be what we’re looking for (i.e., values, interests, etc).

    Mutual attraction is important, but there are many women who have felt this with a man, only to get broken hearted when he bails after having slept with him.

    The real issue here is being honest with yourself and communicating your needs with your partner. A respectable woman won’t sleep with a guy to “prove” that she’s into him. And the right guy will respect her for that.

  11. 41
    AT

    downtowngal: You’re right, it’s an exception, but it happens.

    Sex isn’t “a big next step” for all of us. For SOME WOMEN it is. SOME WOMEN get emotionally attached. And sometimes we (okay, I – as not to speak for everyone) get emotionally attached after sex with some people but not others. Sometimes sex is purely physical. Some women don’t have the ability to just “get laid” without getting emotionally involved, and so they shouldn’t have sex for the sake of sex. Everyone is different.

    Again, people are assuming that their experiences are universal. Lots of people will agree with you and identify with your experiences, and validate them. Some people will not, because it’s not their experience. In general, we base our perception of truth on our own experiences so our “truth” isn’t necessarily someone else’s “truth”. This doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong, it just means that they’re different. I always emphasize that people should follow their instincts – their gut – because it’s usually right, even if it leads to hurt.

    Lance sounds bitter and cynical. :)

  12. 42
    Selena

    downtowngal Feb 29th 2008 at 04:34 am

    ” A respectable woman won’t sleep with a guy to prove that she’s into him.”

    No, but a respectable woman may sleep with a guy if she IS into him.

  13. 43
    verbosity

    Coincedence… my buddy told me of a radio show that discussed this yesterday, as a matter of fact.

    It’s regarding Jennifer Aniston’s recent announcement that she’s going to not have sex till she finds Mr. Right, but has frozen her eggs.

    The host said (Not exact quote, but close):
    “If I know that the girl I’m with has had sex with more than one person, but they’re shutting me down because they want to wait for true love, they’re out. No one is going to tell me ‘Sex is only going to occur when I say it is.’ That’s perfectly fine, I don’t believe in rape, but if you’re not ready for sex, I’m not ready to date you. I’m not ready to go to dinner with you. I’m not ready to go on vacations with you. If you’re not ready for sex, I’m not ready to spend time with you. I’m just not, if I can’t have sex with you, I’m not interested.”

    “This reminds me of those stories you used to read about women who say they are born again virgins. You know, the women who slept with EVERYBODY, until YOU. Now they’ve read ‘The Rules’ or the read ‘The Secret’ or some other book. Now they are going to turn over a new leaf now that they’ve met you. Even though they’ve had sex with everybody in town, the buck stops with you. These are the women on online dating services, their headline says “Friends First” or “I’ve had my fun”…”I’ve had my fun” means that now that I’m going to meet you, we’re not going to have any fun at all. I’ll be damned if I’m going to go out with you if you’ve already had your fun and now you’re done having fun. I’ve had fun in the past & I’m going to have fun in the future. If you like to have fun, I’m in. If you’re done having fun, start freezing your eggs, because it’s gonna be a cold day in hell before you meet Mr. Right…”

    “What self-respecting man would be with a woman who says ‘I’m not having sex just for the sake of sex anymore. I’m done with that. Now I’m looking for true love.’ I’d rather have known you back then. I don’t want to know you now….So you’ve had your fun with everybody else so now that you’ve met me, now you’re saving yourself?”

    Questions/Comments?

  14. 44
    Michael Ejercito

    No, but a respectable woman may sleep with a guy if she IS into him.

    And then he would be into her.

  15. 45
    Robert

    Downtowngal,
    I agree with your observation, “A respectable woman won’t sleep with a guy to prove that she’s into him.” I didn’t suggest and I don’t believe that a woman should sleep with a man for any reason other than her own intrinsic desire to do so.

    Selena put it very succinctly when she wrote that a respectable woman may sleep with a guy if she IS into him.

    That’s the point that I’m making. A woman who IS into a guy, usually WANTS to sleep with him. Women who either aren’t into the guy or are ambivalent about him are less likely to sleep with him. I have no problem with that.

    I simply think that it’s better for me to focus on women who ARE into me.

  16. 46
    Selena

    Problem is: Some guys will sleep with a woman even if they AREN’T into her. After a few go-a-rounds with fellows like these, a respectable woman may conclude she’d rather get to know a gentleman a bit better before sleeping with him. Even if she ‘feels’ into him right away.

  17. 47
    Selena

    Verbosity-

    I’d say Jen and this DJ are not destined to make a love connection.

  18. 48
    verbosity

    LOL, Selena. I’d say that’s pretty likely.

  19. 49
    JuJu

    I am actually with this radio talk show host. If I didn’t need sex, I’d just hang out with a friend or something.

    He may have been a bit cruel about hell freezing over before anyone meets their Mr.Right (but then, I am not sure I believe in the concept of “the one”), but, as novel and revolutionary a concept it may seem, sex is THE reason behind men-women relationships!

    I am not advocating jumping into bed in the first few dates, some level of intimacy does have to be achieved first, I just don’t believe in overdoing it (waiting to see if the man would make a good father / life partner is overdoing it).

    Being a woman, I’ve felt the effects of oxytocin firsthand. However, I also discovered it doesn’t happen automatically (with me). The man has to meet my minimum requirements (in the aspects of appearance, personality and intellect) for me to get attached. I’ve had a few highly interested in me men whom I discontinued seeing after sex because I just didn’t feel anything for them. After one such encounter I recall saying to my best friend, “If the guy never calls me again, I couldn’t care less – this is not the way I am supposed to feel!” It was our 4th or 5th date or something, and this was how I knew it’s time to break it off.

  20. 50
    JuJu

    My previous post is incomplete.

    Wanting to see first whether the man is relationship-minded _might_ seem like a valid concern, but, and this brings me to my original point, may also be completely irrelevant. Because, until you know what sex with him is like, how do you know whether _you_ want a relationship with him??? Not to continue Lori Gottlieb’s trend of citing TV shows as scientific research, but do you remember what happened to Charlotte?

    I can give an example from my own life. I was so excited about this one man initially – pleasant appearance, tall, a scientist (I usually hit it off best with academics), and definitely seemed like a good enough person (I mean, it’s hard to tell with certainty within a few meetings) – I was attracted and simply COULDN’T WAIT to have sex with him! It was the worst sex of my life, bar none. This was, I think, two years ago, and the recollections still evoke nausea. It certainly did not concern me (pretty much as soon as it started) whether HE wanted a relationship with me.

    (BTW, dear men on this site, what’s a woman to do when all she wants to say is, “You know what, you do what you want, but I have no desire to continue?”)

    Now, this may not be common, and I am not claiming you should always expect the worst. But don’t discount the possibility.

  21. 51
    m

    “Some guys will sleep with a woman even if they AREN’T into her. After a few go-a-rounds with fellows like these, a respectable woman may conclude she’d rather get to know a gentleman a bit better before sleeping with him. Even if she feels into him right away.”

    Nail. Hammer. Bang.

    It’s staggering to me how much trouble some of you guys seem to have wrapping your minds around this.

    (Or perhaps some of you are the type that don’t give a damn. In which case the “respectable woman” looking for a long-term relationship should stay away from you in any case.)

  22. 52
    verbosity

    Ah, JuJu. I like your perspective. But scientists? Come on, poindexters are no good in the sack….

    I’m so kidding.

  23. 53
    Selena

    JuJu,
    Your posts remind me of convo’s I’ve had with girlfriends on the topic of sleeping with someone “too soon”. That is that while you can make a case for getting to know someone BEFORE having sex, having sex is also a part of getting to know someone.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to wait months becomming emotionally attached to someone only to find out we were really sexually incompatible. By contrast, I have had sex *early* and found out shortly thereafter that the guy wasn’t for me on other levels. And I’ve also had sex *early* with someone(s) and we were so totally into each other in every way that WHEN we did it was absolutely irrelevant.

    I don’t think there is any kind of definitive when it comes to timing. It’s different for each individual and can be different regarding each potential lover that individual may have.

  24. 54
    Lance

    @Steve and AT. I’m actually not bitter and cynical…I feel terrific about my love life and my relationship with people, women in particular. My previous comment was without irony. I HAVE been reading too much PUA lit and not balancing it with other stuff…a significant reason while I read EMK’s blog, so I can get the other perspectives. I have a good idea when I’m being a dickweed and I don’t have a problem admitting it. Neither should you folks.

    @Selena. Your last para is gold, and the logical conclusion of this thread. There’s really no right and wrong, just a massive, infinite gray area. For some couples, sex on the first date is the “right” thing to do. For others, waiting much later is right. So be it.

    Also, I never advocate having sex for the “wrong reasons,” but I’m a big fan of having sex if the two people want and can handle all the personal ramifications.

  25. 55
    two.can.play (formerly dialog with verbosity)

    verbosity:” But scientists? Come on, poindexters are no good in the sack”

    I resemble that comment.

    ;)

    Actually, the truth is… we scientists do it with all the right instruments.

  26. 56
    hunter

    to M,

    ..you said, “some guys will sleep with a woman..” I agree with you, it all starts with an erection…..

  27. 57
    hunter

    to Selena,

    ..you said, “personally I would not want to wait months…..” That is another view that men don’t hear about…thank you…

  28. 58
    hunter

    to juju

    ..you said, ..”this is not the way I am supposed to feel”…most men don’t know that women operate off of their “feelings.”

  29. 59
    hunter

    to downtown gal,

    …you said, “only to get broken hearted after he bails,” a similar question was asked of a widowed female therapist, she said, “all men leave, if they don’t walk away, they get carried out in a wooden box”…

  30. 60
    just saying...

    as one dating expert was quoted as saying [sic], “nobody ever said, ‘gosh, I wish I’d slept with him sooner'”.

    ..’nuff said.

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