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. 

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  1. 81

    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.

  2. 82

    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.


  3. 83

    @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.

  4. 84

    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.


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

  5. 85

    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.

  6. 86


    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?

  7. 87


    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.

  8. 88

    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?

  9. 89

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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….

  17. 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).

  18. 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 !

  19. 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?

  20. 100
    Sparkling Emerald

    Judy@99p “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. 🙂

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