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. 61
    hunter

    to just saying,

    …I know!..no one says that!…how boring……hhhmmhh, LOL!…

  2. 62
    hunter

    to just saying,

    ..on second thought, according to therapists, many, many, women sleep with men, but there is no penetration…..please be as precise with wording, as you can with your post….hhmmmhh…LOL!…

  3. 63
    Raindreamer

    I personally, would wan’t to wait and see if I can trust him, but I’ve always considered my feelings unusual and due to my fears, unlike how normal women would proceed. On my experience men don’t understand this kind of behaviour (and I don’t blame them), which has been painful in those occasions, when I’ve been truly interested in certain man. On the other hand, when I feel I am really interested in certain man I am in my heart already exclusive (as long as it lasts).

  4. 64
    Selena

    just saying… Mar 1st 2008 at 05:52 am 60
    “as one dating expert was quoted as saying [sic], nobody ever said, gosh, I wish I’d slept with him sooner.

    I like that. But it’s one of those hindsight observations. The concept of “too soon” is hindsight as well. If things turn out great, there’s no such thing as “too soon”. But if they don’t….? That’s when you might question your timing.

  5. 65
    m

    “most men don’t know that women operate off of their feelings.
    Ummm …

    Then where do we get all those endless “Men are Rational! Women are Emotional!” diatribes from?

    Guys, please don’t use selective ignorance when trying (or at least trying to make it look like you’re trying) to work out relationship issues with us women.

    When you say “I know women are X” and then use it against us, and THEN

    when trying to “win” some later discussion with us, say “I didn’t know women are X”,

    1) we will remember.

    2) we will not think it’s cute.

  6. 66
    Stifler's Mom

    Men may know that women are emotional creatures, but they have no idea how to interact on an emotional level…obviously the man-logic-problem-solver mind isn’t very useful there. On the other hand, women are just as ignorant when it comes to dealing with men at their level.

  7. 67
    hunter

    to m,

    yes,..women operate off their feelings, and it is not as if they believe everything men say,…. it just that they “rationalize”……

  8. 68
    Michael Ejercito

    Men may know that women are emotional creatures, but they have no idea how to interact on an emotional level obviously the man-logic-problem-solver mind isn’t very useful there. On the other hand, women are just as ignorant when it comes to dealing with men at their level.

    It makes you wonder how they manage to get together at all .

  9. 69
    m

    After pondering the fact that the commenter who made the remark that started me off calls him/herself “Stifler’s Mom” instead of “Dad”, it occurs to me that that commenter could be a woman.

    And in that case, I’d submit to the women here 00 and SM specifically — that if we just sort of let the whole thing go at “men don’t know how to cope with our emotions OR their own” and let them off the hook, we’re almost just as bad.

    Because we’re excusing and enabling negative behavior (or, if that label ruffles you unduly, excusing/enabling behavior resulting in an outcome where neither party in the relationship is happy).

    We’re none of us perfect. But if we’re going to be in relationship, don’t we all owe it to each other, men and women:

    1) to know ourselves well so we can at least rationally ponder the possibility that something we’re doing might be contributing to the communication problem, whatever it is??

    (Yes, gentlemen, that means a little introspection and self-awareness. It’s not poison, and you don’t have to tell your buddies. It won’t kill you.)

    2) To at least try to see where the other person in the relationship is coming from so that even if we don’t agree with how they feel, we can at least begin to understand how they came to the conclusion that they did??

  10. 70
    hunter

    to m,

    ….my goodness, somehow, I sense you have been around a rough crowd….but thanks for the “linear” explanation. I think so much better when I can understand thoughts, sayings, situations…

  11. 71
    Lance

    @m: I’m definitely a dude. My name field was filled in from a previous (smartalecky) comment.

    A great post, or heck, a book, would be to explore the communication differences of men and women (emotion vs. logic), and how to connect. I’m sure those are out there.

  12. 72
    m

    Readers please note so no one is too confused — I wrote this post prior to the previous post.

    It had an error, so Evan asked me to resubmit.

    Men may know that women are emotional creatures, but they have no idea how to interact on an emotional level

    Yet another excuse.

    Lazy, lazy thinking. You all can do better than that.

    Once upon a time, you didn’t know how to tie your shoes.

    You didn’t know how to feed yourself.

    You didn’t know how to dress yourself.

    But I can’t imagine that you STAYED in that state of arrested development.

    I feel sufficiently confident in the intelligent male commenters here that you will make the analogy to the deer-in-headlights state of I didn’t know above and draw the reasonable and logical conclusion.

    HOWEVER

    I will say it again.

    You men are NOT rational when you’re putting your fist into the wall and turning red and foaming at the mouth and having to go to Anger Management classes because you can’t understand women and, as a purported result of the lack of understanding, you punch your wife or slap your girlfriend or do something equally violent to scare the bejeebus out of a woman in your life.

    Newflash, guys anger IS an emotion.

    Conclusion: You all are emotional too!! Gosh!! *gasp* *shock*

    And finally, I’ll say it again.

    Men are NOT always rational. Men are NOT always logical.

    Some of the conclusions you reach make no sense whatsoever.

    (Sometimes you even admit that whatever you’ve done makes no sense in the destructive aftermath of the mess you made.)

    You gentlemen don’t necessarily problem-solve in a LOGICAL or RATIONAL way.

    You problem-solve in a LINEAR way.

    There is a difference.

  13. 73
    m

    Hunter –

    Not such a rough crowd, so I’d appreciate a reduction of insinuations.

    (Although, see, you all can be subtle when you try , irrespective of how sinister your intent might be. ;-))

    I just have friends. And I read newspapers/magazines/blogs. And I’m not in denial about what I see. That’s all.

  14. 74
    m

    “A great post, or heck, a book, would be to explore the communication differences of men and women (emotion vs. logic), and how to connect. I’m sure those are out there.”

    Lance –

    1) Please stop making the emotion v. logic assertion. I devoted two whole posts to the premise that it’s more subtle than that.

    You’re too smart to make such binary assertions.

    2) Of COURSE there are books out there on the subject.

    Here are some of the ones I know of:

    http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Discourse-Deborah-Tannen/dp/0195101243/ref=pd_bbs_sr_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204575425&sr=8-8

    http://www.amazon.com/You-Just-Dont-Understand-Conversation/dp/0060959622/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204575425&sr=8-2

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345379721/ref=pd_cp_b_2?pf_rd_p=317711001&pf_rd_s=center-41&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0380717832&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1MHA553TAS0DW8D4C3D2

    However, my question to you is, if YOU knew that there were books out there on the subject, AND if our whole point of being here is to find some non-contentious ground for compromise in the battle of the sexes, why didn’t YOU post some of them?

    AND if your answer is, Well, because I knew you would, then I must give you kudos for your game stroke on behalf of your brethren. Well-played.*

    :sigh:

    :rolleyes:

    *Although I want my points, at least, for calling you on what you tried to pull. :-)

  15. 75
    hunter

    to m,

    …you post an interesting combination of thoughts and feelings…

  16. 76
    hunter

    to m,

    …if we could really do better, we wouldn’t bother to be on here……..please ‘splain the lazy comment……

  17. 77
    hunter

    to m,

    ..I can see men getting emotional, but, do we operate off of our feelings also?….

  18. 78
    Lance

    @m: I quite fond of my binary assertions, mostly because I see them every single day (kind of like I’m fond of boobies, which are also binary in nature). Also, what posts are you talking about? I don’t see you rocking a blog anywhere.

    Thanks for linking those books, I hadn’t looked those up before.

  19. 79
    m

    “I [sic] quite fond of my binary assertions”

    That’s all lovely, but the point of the comments was that it helps relationships to sometimes be interested in what the OTHER GENDER wants — not always to be hyperfocused on what YOU want.

    Just when I thought we were all getting somewhere.

    :rolleyes:

  20. 81
    trouble

    It’s interesting because I love the Myers Briggs personality quizzes, etc. And I’m dating a man who is an introverted rational and I’m an extroverted feeler. We are the typical Mars/Venus clash embodied, and multiplied.

    And, yet, I think we do pretty well talking about our feelings because we work at it. And, sometimes, it is just that…work.

  21. 82
    Seth

    Hi all,

    I am the Seth from the blog entry. Just thought everyone might be interested to hear how things turned out – it’s been about 1 month since I initially sent Evan that email.

    My girlfriend and I are still going strong. We became intimate less than a week after I wrote that note, and it has been very passionate since then. She has opened up to me a lot more and is very thoughtful and caring. We are very compatible in a lot of ways, too. She is such a great girl, and I feel like I’ve become a better guy since I’ve met her. We are actually planning to take a little weekend trip in a few weeks!

    Just to add to this discussion, I think every situation has nuances, and it’s impossible to figure things out unless you really understand the other person. I completely agree with Evan, having the courage to broach sensitive topics has been crucial more than once in my relationship.

    Just wanted to thank Evan for his help, and I wish Brian the best of luck with his lady.

    Seth

  22. 83
    Lance

    @Seth: That’s totally cool, and I mean that in an un-ironic way. Good to hear from you.

    @m: Are you still busting my balls? I’m always interested in what women want. That’s part of my job. Also, stop rolling your eyes at me.

  23. 84
    m

    Lance: As my goddaughter is fond of saying, you’re not the boss of me. I’ll roll my eyes when I like, at whom, and as often as I choose.

    Plus, the more you talk, the more I’m sure I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near your balls.

    :rolleyes:

    Seth: Most sincere congratulations. On having guts and nuance, and best of luck for your relationship to bloom.

  24. 85
    m

    Mattie – thank you for the compliments and the tip.

    I took a look at the link; the author has more than one theory there (some of which I agree with and are germane to the conversation here).

    It may take a minute for me to get back here on all that.

  25. 86
    Cilla

    Bump.

    I just started dating a guy I met online, and the relationship has been subtly sexual from the start. I think we both knew from the moment we met that we could have jumped in the sack together, but I am making him wait and being very clear about it. I have my suspicions that he’s a bit of a player, but I can’t figure out if he’s playing indefinitely or if he’s just playing until he finds a keeper. He claims to have had several long (4+ years) relationships in recent past and says he hasn’t slept with anyone in a year. I call BS on the last part, but having had dry spells myself, I guess I need to determine the truth. If he really is tiring of all the bull that comes with frequent casual sex, great. If he’s giving me a line, then I need to decide if I can live with being a booty call or I need to bail. Now the questions are: 1) when and how to get the real 411; 2) how long do I hold out before sleeping with him (I usually see somewhere between dates 4-7 as the magic number); and 3) do I make him hold out longer if I’m convinced he is a player, since the chase is more important? Will waiting an extra couple of dates even matter?

  26. 87
    Eda

    Cilla,

    In another post Evan mentioned that the time to have sex with a man is not based on a number, but how you feel about him. When you feel that he wants to have sex with you — and not just sex — then it’s the right time.

    I’ve thought about your question of how do you get the 411 on what he really wants. I think what it really comes down to is do you like the way he treats you? Does he treat you like he really likes you and cares about you? When a guy likes a woman, he wants to do things for her — not necessarily big things but little things…little things that sometimes women dismiss as a man just being polite. For example, I went on a date and drove quite a distance to go dancing. After we danced, my date asked me if he could make me coffee for my ride home or if I wanted to him to talk to me on the phone during my ride home. Little things like that means a guy cares about you. So look for those little things because they really do mean something important. Do you feel that you really can be yourself with him? Do you really like him and does his behavior seem real and authentic around you? If yes, to those questions, that’s a really good sign that he could want a long term relationship with you. Finally, when you feel ready, you should just come right out and tell him what having sex means to you and ask him if it means the same to him. At the end of the day, it all comes down to trust –do you trust that this man has your best interest at heart and you have his best interests at heart — honesty — be upfront with yourself about what you want to give and receive from him/a relationship — and courage — the boldness to ask for what you want and be prepared to walk away if he wants something different.

  27. 88
    m

    Cilla –

    Do you have friends in common? They might know his backstory, if you really want to know the answer.

    Why would you use a number as a gauge as to when to sleep with someone? Why would you not want to fan the romantic flames by holding out as long as you could until neither of you could stand it any longer?

    Do you feel as though you have to offer him sex in order to keep him interested in you? Have you asked yourself that question? Do you really want to know the answer?

    There are also other ways, if you take the time to think about it and are willing to be creative, to get the backstory on this guy. Do you really want to know the answer?

    I think you see the common thread here. I think you may have a lot more information than you’re willing to admit to yourself.

    (A good friend once told me people tell you everything you want to know about them within the first few minutes you meet them, if you ask the right questions.)

    I have four last questions for you:

    Have you asked the right questions?

    Are you willing to ask the right questions?

    What are you doing with the information you already have?

    What are you going to do once you get the rest of the information you say you’re looking for?

  28. 89
    Selena

    m-
    Inquiring minds want to know: What are the *right* questions to ask in the first few minutes of meeting someone?

  29. 90
    Tom Lee

    It is more reveling what she does than what she says, be a guy with some balls and don’t be so needy and it will go all well.

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