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

A couple smiling at each other

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?



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!


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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  1. 1

    “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.

    1. 1.1

      See I agree.   I usually know in my heart after about 3-6 weeks whether or not I can see myself with someone long term. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe to others how to feel, but I know what it feels like and it’s my aid in decision making about a potential relationship.   Recently though, any relationship that I’ve been in where I do see a future and she wants to “take it slow” even after we’ve been intimate, feels to me like either a cop out for not wanting to pursue something more serious or simply that she’s now gotten what she wanted and is leaving your heart to the wayside (basically a total frat guy move).   Why can’t we all just say what we feel?

      1. 1.1.1

        Do you ever question if she says take it slow because she is scared about it being serious?

        I’m in this situation right now with a girl, we spent 4 days together in a row basically (work on a couple of the days), she introduced me to several of her friends, and we discussed being exclusive but said its a bit early and we should wait and see how things progress.

        She left my place the other morning and we were both happy, but then that evening when I texted her she said she was thinking about “What to do about us” and it basically just turned into her saying she doesn’t know if I’m good LTR material because she thinks I’m not stable and doesn’t like my career choice (film director) – I worry that she thinks I’m going to be out of town all the time and not attentive, or will leave her because I become some hot shot director.

        I just want to be with her and enjoy her company, shes the only woman I’ve met in my adult life that I find interesting enough and sexy enough to want to be with as more than just fwb and I’m terrified that I’m going to lose her over some insecurities of hers, but I wonder if maybe there is something else that I’m just not getting.


        For the record we’ve only known each other for 3 weeks so it is all moving very fast, we slept together on the first night and met in a fun way. I don’t claim to know her well enough to say I want to be with her long term or anything like that I just know that I’d be very upset if this ends now over something stupid when I know she digs me more than anyone atm.

    2. 1.2
      John Wagner

      Ghost her out for a while. If she contacts you and asks you why you’ve been avoiding her, tell her you are “taking it slow.” LOL!

  2. 2


    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!


  3. 3

    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

    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

      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.

      1. 5.1.1

        Couldn’t agree more.
        Just started on the dating scene with my new girlfriend.
        This is both new to use second time around. We have history and baggage from previous relationships.
        We are taking it “slow” and learning to be friends and no more about each other.
        5 dates in and we feel a great attraction for each other.
        I/ we have no doubt it will come when we want

      2. 5.1.2

        So when you say secure, do you mean financially? XD, like 6 diget income to buy cloths and makeup from, or just enough to take care of himself 👌

  6. 6

    Typo –

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

  7. 7

    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

    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

    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

    …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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    1. 17.1

      Curious, why is the gf your ex? I notice a lot of people get on a soap-box about how much they know about relationships but then all of their examples of people who really liked them aren’t dating them anymore.

      So what did you do wrong to make her leave? or what did she do wrong that made you leave?

  18. 18

    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

    to Bev

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

  20. 20

    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.

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