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?



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. 

Join our conversation (114 Comments).
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  1. 91

    I highly disagree that if a woman is not jumping into bed or attempting to be physical, that it means that she is not that into you.
    For one, I am a woman. I love sex. I love the closeness, I love the feelings, and I have a hard time holding back during sex which makes it all the better.
    What I DONT like is the feeling I get after.
    After sex, I feel embarrassed. Embarrassed because I could not hold myself back.
    I feel a bit subjugated. Not from the man, but by myself.
    I feel dirty, wrong, and I feel like it was a mistake.
    That reason alone keeps me from having sex often. I respect myself. I’m not some feminist, but I do feel sex should be an action between two souls, not two people making sex (not love) to each others bodies.
    I hate it when guys become so focused on your body with what they are doing. It makes me feel like I’m not the thing they are putting so much passion into– and it’s not. Sex is putting passion into each others body, and to me, that sex just isn’t right.
    So, I personally hold off on sex because I essentially don’t like it. As I said, not because of the amazing feelings you get during sex, but for the feelings after.

    Oh plus, while I love how guys always get so happy after, it just adds on to the fact that I feel like we just– excuse me– I just satisfied his body. It makes me feel like a whore.

    So ya, guys, not all girls hold out on physical things because they’re not feelin you.

  2. 92

    I do find it interesting that the guy in this case was advised to initiate “the talk” but for women, that is a major faux pas. I know, it is what it is, but it’s very telling nonetheless.

    I’m also reminded of something I read once how sex is to women what marriage is to men. Granted, some women can have sex and walk away, not get emotionally involved, etc. But I believe a good many women want to know that it’s emotionally safe (as well as physically) to allow herself to be that vulnerable to a man.

  3. 93
    Karl R

    M said: (#91)
    “I love sex. I love the closeness, I love the feelings,”
    “I do feel sex should be an action between two souls, not two people making sex (not love) to each others bodies.”
    “I hate it when guys become so focused on your body with what they are doing.”
    “Sex is putting passion into each others body, and to me, that sex just isn’t right.”

    So when you have sex, you feel closeness and feelings … which you love.

    But you believe when men have sex, they are purely focused on your body, and paying no attention to the closeness and the feelings?

    You assume that men are somehow vastly different than you, that they’re engaging in sex on a purely superficial level. Have you considered the possibility that you’re completely misreading what’s going on in men’s minds? Have you considered that the flaw might not lay in men’s attitude toward sex, but in your attitude toward men?

    M said: (#91)
    “while I love how guys always get so happy after, it just adds on to the fact that I feel like we just– excuse me– I just satisfied his body.”

    Has it occurred to you that the man might be happy because he just made you feel amazing?

    M said: (#91)
    “After sex, I feel embarrassed.”
    “I feel like we just– excuse me– I just satisfied his body. It makes me feel like a whore.”
    “I feel dirty, wrong, and I feel like it was a mistake.”

    As a man I would never want to have sex with anyone who shares your attitude. Let me draw an analogy that might explain why:

    It’s Christmas. You receive a wonderful gift from a friend of yours -and- that friend is thrilled with the gift you gave him/her. You’d be happy, right? You would feel amazing.

    The next day you drop by your friend’s house and see the gift you gave to your friend, in the trash, half buried under a pile of dog poop.

    How would you feel then? How would you feel about the gift you received from your friend? How eager would you be to exchange gifts with your friend in the future?

    When I have sex with my girlfriend, we are both giving a gift to each other. Unlike you, we are both capable of receiving the gift in the spirit that it was given. And I can’t claim that’s because we “took it slow”. We first had sex less than one week after we started dating (though we had been acquaintances for months prior).

    M said: (#91)
    “So ya, guys, not all girls hold out on physical things because they’re not feelin you.”

    I hardly find it reassuring that an alternate explanation is that the woman might have significant issues with sex. That seems like a bigger red flag to me.

  4. 94

    The fact is, a man is absolutely NOT entitled to me until we make that ultimate commitment:  marriage.  If I would choose to have sex with him before then, it would be because that commitment was truly on the horizon.
    Our culture is way too casual with sex.  Sure, a lot of guys, and even some women, are able to have mindless sex with no emotional ties, but some guys and most women bring their emotions to the table.  I would put justifying a relationship with sex right up there with believing a man should pay for every date if he truly loves you.  Yeah, okay. 
    When you have sex with someone, you give that person a part of you that you can never take back.  Is someone you’re merely dating really worth that?  I don’t think so.  I’d rather save it for someone who truly loves me.  As a wise man once wrote, “Love is patient…”  Three months, six months, one year:  that is not patient for something so important, for something that should be an expression of true love.
    This blog post brought up sex and commitment, and I will tell you this:  sex does not equal commitment.  Sex is part of a commitment.  If a man wants to know if I’m really into the relationship, ask me to be exclusive!  As our relationship honestly matures, sex will become a part of it.

  5. 95

    This was a great post and the commentary very interesting.  I think it all reflects that everyone has to decide for themselves their own comfort level.
    I have chided my current boyfriend of one year…I have had sex on the first date three times across 35 years…he being #3.  The first was my husband of 22 years and the second was my husband of seven years (passed away). I have had many dates with many prospects that never progressed to a relationship or sexually.  Just these three men.
    I guess all I could say was I knew when I met each of them that all of the elements were present.  Or I was just exceptionally fortunate.

  6. 96

    Hmm well this guy in the article, to ME comes off as he’s all bent out of shape about the fact they haven’t progressed passed making out.  And I think that’s the heart of the matter, him talking to her to find out what the problem is good but you know it’s also pressure… have had these discussions with men so many times.  Their goal in a relationship is sex.  a girl’s goal is not always sex, it’s companionship, knowing you can trust this person, feeling comfortable with them, and yes knowing that they are going to stick around and typically that just doesn’t happen within a handful of dates.  If you think about friends you’ve known, how often did you dive right into a relationship with them and hand over everything you have to them within two weeks of knowing each other?  most people would say it didn’t start that way…. got to know each other over time.  same for a girl in a relationship… SURE the sex part is there and she MAY want to get naked with him on the first date but I mean would you hand over your bank card and pin number to someone you just got together with one time?  it’s sort of similar.  it’s a huge risk.  some people are comfortable handing everything over and damn the consequences and other people are more cautious. 
    another way to look at it is this… a guy who wants his physical needs met that quickly, I’d roll out the legal paperwork that says okay dokay we can get physical as long as you just sign on the dotted line that if I get pregnant from doing this then you are committed to 18 years of child support, being in my life for that long or that you are legally bound to pay half the expenses regarding termination which includes coming with me, being emotionally supportive etcetc or if I happen to get an std from all of this that you are willing to all that is necessary in that respect as well.   and yes I do agree with one of the posters here who said men do look at you a certain way if you sleep with them too soon as well, THEN all the questions start with well do u do this with everyone??? etc etc so woman are CONSTANTLY put under the “pressure” of being physical in the relationship usually VERY quickly and then left to deal with the sometimes panic and insecurity that can go along with the consequences of those actions. 
    I don’t think it really has a lot to do with whether the woman is into the guy or not, I think if she’s continuing to go out with him, then that’s a sign she’s interested enough in him to know more about him… to see if she can trust him or will he hang around or be there for her etc etc.  if she doesn’t sleep with him then maybe it’s more about he’s not proven himself yet and that just doesn’t happen within a couple of dates.  and to blame it on the fact that she’s been hurt in the past, and that she needs therapy so she can suddenly get naked with a guy after a few dates, that’s complete BS.  I don’t know, why can’t a guy put a ring on it after 2 dates?  goes both ways.  maybe he needs therapy for that.   just sayin….

  7. 97

    Karl 93 – M said: (#91)
    “After sex, I feel embarrassed.”
    “I feel like we just– excuse me– I just satisfied his body. It makes me feel like a whore.”
    “I feel dirty, wrong, and I feel like it was a mistake.”

    I have been reading this and trying to identify with the lady’s feelings.
    For me, this statement of hers speaks volumes.  She was sleeping with the wrong guy OR she ignored her own speed.
    When a woman says she wants to go slowly, for me, I would translate that as “Hm. How do I tell him that I’m unsure of him?? Without being rude?” (Answer for me – I go slowly and if I’m still unsure I don’t sleep with him or I end the relationship unless I can communicate to him, if I’m sufficiently interested in him (those are truly important words) why I’m anxious, shy, embarrassed or whatever.
    Only one man in my whole life tried to make me feel like a whore.  He had the misfortune to tell me that ALL WOMEN ARE WHORES.
    Great.  Thanks.
    He was rather surprised when I asked him if he thought that I was one too.  Answer – not yet (I am not joking and neither was he).  Naturally, I ended the relationship.  (And I’m still wondering why on earth I didn’t just walk out when he said “All women are whores”.  Shocked, I think)
    Yes, the sex with him was embarrassing.  Because some men don’t have good bedroom manners, such as at least being kind to you.
    Wonder what you or others think? I enjoy hearing your point of view Karl and of course, our host Evan (sorry Evan, no slight meant).

  8. 98
    Sparkling Emerald

    Haven’t read all the comments, but it seems to me there is a BIG issue with who goes first in deciding the direction of the relationship.
    It used to be a gender norm that the man led.  He asked for the date, he asked to be exclusive, he initiated sex, he proposed marriage, etc.
    Now that gender norms have been turned upside down, and we’re not all on the same page, there are men who think a girl isn’t into him if she doesn’t take on what was traditionally the male role. (See the big debate in the comments section under -“How do I make sense of all the dating advice out there)
    Men have argued on this blog that women should pay for part of the date, ask them out, etc.  Doc Love on “Ask Men” sells a “system” to men that advocates being a “challenge” and only progress the relationship at the WOMAN’S initiation.  (Beyond the man asking for the first date 9 days after asking for her phone #)   Dating coaches for women say NEVER to do  that.  (initiate or chase)  It almost seems like a stand off takes place, two people REALLY are into each other but NEITHER one wants to be the first to say it.
    I have learned from experience that ME saying it first, DOESN’T work.  Every guy who was ever really into me, LET ME KNOW, early on.  Explicitly, with words and actions.  If I have ever wondered “where I stood” in a relationship, I had no standing and no relationship. So why ask ?  Time to say “next”. 
    I know I am going to get an argument on this, but that has been my experience, your experience might have been different.  Believe me, I really wish I could be the one to bring up the exclusive talk or where do you see this relationship going conversation.  But instead, if the guy doesn’t bring it up, and my feeling is that he’s just not into me  (but wants to be into my pants) I just pull my own disappearing act.  Then I have a little nagging voice in my head that says, “Maybe he WAS into me, but doubted if I was into him, and if I just told him . . .”  but my past tells me something different.  Of course, my whole “I like you but I’m not ready” spiel has gotten the hard truth from some guys, that all they want is NSA sex.  (Usually not put so crudely, but rather, “I’m not ready for a relationship, but I am enjoying THIS –meaning they are enjoying trying feel me up) 
    And yeah, I know one shouldn’t define relationships from past experience, but I also think past relationship should be a LEARNING experience.  I have LEARNED that if a man really likes me, wants a relationship, he WILL LET ME KNOW !

  9. 99

    Sparkling Emerald 98 –
    “Believe me, I really wish I could be the one to bring up the exclusive talk or where do you see this relationship going conversation.”
    NOT a good idea.  Surely his actions should let you know?

  10. 100
    Sparkling Emerald

    [email protected] “NOT a good idea.  Surely his actions should let you know?”

    I KNOW it’s not a good idea, my ENTIRE post was all about how it’s not a good idea, which is why I DON’T initiate the convo.  Just said I WISH I could, but I DON’T !  And I gauge actions AND words.  It they don’t jive, well, it’s NEXT !
    Sorry if this sounds snarky, it’s not meant to. 🙂

  11. 101

    it is possible she is afraid to get pregnant. Was she raised in a religious home? A friend of mine did not have sex with his now wife until they married. She was honoring her religion.

  12. 102

    Don’t fall for that nonsense. Take it slow is code for ”Ive never taken anything slowly until I met you cos you’re such a darned nice guy but you don’t get me excited at all. You might make a good stable boring partner though hmm”.

  13. 103

    12 or 13 dates. oh no. you poor fool. stop jerking off and grow a pair and start dating other women. All your security stuff sounds like you are a puppy dog.

  14. 104

    Watch! Her saying about “taking it slow” might mean something else.

    She might also be dating/seeing someone else she is more interested in(most likely a walking money bag), giving him an advantage to fall for her and then turn and tell you about “let’s just be friends”

    Some of the signs to look for in this, is if she never calls you/never answers/never returns your calls,

    another sign is by not bothering with talking to her for a while whether in person or calling her and see if she makes any effort to let you know she misses you.  If she doesn’t; it’s time to move on!

  15. 105

    There are some distinctions here that I’m quite surprised were not discussed. Evan makes the point that a woman who is not sleeping with you, who is not committing to you and who is not making effort is not that into you. I can agree with that.

    However, it doesn’t address something else. The poster said he wanted clarity and security. I was very surprised he didn’t just ask for it. Surprised he didn’t express it verbally (I really like X about you – I enjoy spending time with you – the more I know you the better I like you). If the woman felt the same, she would then reciprocate (and could do so without becoming the aggressor as could occur if she makes these statements first). As a woman, if I did not hear those things from a man, I would assume he it was because he wasn’t feeling those things. Also, if the woman is saying yes to spending time together, yes to being exclusive,  verbally confirming her reciprocity of feeling- those things are tantamount to her making effort.

    So while all three together would mean SJNTIY, one out of three would not.

    In the poster’s case, it seems that he failed to ask the woman to be exclusive with him. This then puts him outside of Evan’s criteria. The girlfriend did not reject him, the poster failed to ask. By itself, that easily accounts for her seeming lack of interest…he was not establishing a precedent for her to reciprocate. She may well have been trusting the OP to follow his own timeline of when exclusivity felt right for him, instead of imposing her own timeline. That seems like a good thing to me.

    Contrast that with a another scenario. The man asks, and the woman says yes to dates, to time together, to exclusivity, but no to sex . If she explains that while she very much likes & desires him personally, and is willing to be exclusive, is willing to make effort that mirrors the man in intensity, that sex is not part of her courtship process for an indefinite period. To me, this woman is still “very much into that man” as he seems to be, yet is allowing for the fact that it will take time and relationship to really get to know him. Would that limit this woman’s dating pool? Quite likely. But that might seem like the lesser evil to her, than getting carried away by one’s passion and making more of the relationship than it really is (as many of us have done).

    FWIW, when I met the man I married, it took about five minutes to recognize that given minimal encouragement, I could really be into him. However, I think it was about 9 months before I slept with him. Not because I had no desire, or because I was interested in anyone other than him. I think it just took that long for me to know that he wasn’t just passing time or just interested in sex….he was interested in ME, and spending his life with me. Even if the relationship had not resulted in marriage, I think I would still have been content with how much of myself I invested. And to be honest, the sex might have happened far sooner had my husband invested himself sooner.

  16. 106

    First of all, I don’t think that you can put everybody in the same box nor can you determine another person’s intentions without talking to them. Some women (and men) may be dealing with mistrust or fear of getting hurt, but others might have different reasons.  Second, taking it slow is not necessarily code for “I’m not that into you”.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite for me (and taking it slow is not easy when you are into someone).  I want to take it slow because I see a possible future with someone and I believe that physical intimacy should develop WITH emotional intimacy…as you get to know each other and feelings grow, so should physical affection.     Passion and physical intimacy are both extremely important to me in a relationship and I am certainly not taking it slow because I am insecure.  I do, however, want to be in love with someone that I’m sleeping with and not have just met him three weeks prior on a blind date. Being that vulnerable and open physically with someone when you haven’t exposed what’s at the heart of who you are as a person seem out of balance to me.  Ultimately, I take things slow because I want something more.  I’m not looking for a relationship that lasts for six months or a year and fizzles out because we realize the sex was great but we really aren’t that into eachother.  I’m looking for a a strong, long lasting relationship built on mutual respect, common interests, and…when the time is right…great sex.  My advice if you are wondering what the deal is with your girl?  Ask her.

  17. 107
    Jose Duarte

    Men and women do not speak the same language.


    Take it slow= I want to string you and 10 other guys along while I look for the man with the most money.


    Take it slow= there’s something wrong with the front axle.  We need to take it slow until I can get to my friend’s house to fix it.

    Crisis averted.  Men, keep your cash in your wallet and your Trojans in your pocket.

  18. 108
    Victoria Zabaras

    All you guys wanting fast sex are narcissistic selfish pigs who need to go live with each other and each other‘s selfish grabby manipulations. You are well on the inside and sucking up women’s lives and emotional health, damaging them for the purpose of feeling bigger than you are. My advice to the women: If a guy wants fast sex try to screw him over royally because that‘s all he wants to do to you.

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