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. 21

    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”

  2. 22

    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.

  3. 23

    @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.

  4. 24

    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?

  5. 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!

  6. 26

    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?

  7. 27

    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.

  8. 28

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


  9. 29

    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.

  10. 30

    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.

    1. 30.1

      This sounds like religious propaganda. There has never been a documented case of essure failure. Nexplannon and IUDs fail 4-5 times out of a THOUSAND. An unwanted pregnancy should be of very little concern to any educated woman in any developed nation. This is not a rational reason to avoid having sex.

      STDs are asymptomatic far more in men than in women. HPV can lead to cervical cancer, HPV is relatively asymptomatic in men. The changes that lead to cervical cancer are routinely caught on Pap smears. Most positive Paps require only a 6 month follow up, some require a colposcopy, RARELY do they require a biopsy. The HPV vaccines GREATLY reduce the risk of cervical cancer secondary to HPV.

      If you educate yourself, practice safe sex, and visit your gynecologist regularly, there is no need to fear pregnancy and disease from sex.

      Let me end with an equally subjective and meaningless statement as you ended with. All the relationships that I know of that lasted, sex happened early and often.

  11. 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?

  12. 32

    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.


  13. 33

    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.

  14. 34

    @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).

  15. 35


    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.


    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.

  16. 36

    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.

  17. 37

    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.

  18. 38

    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.

  19. 39

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

  20. 40

    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.

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