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Should We Take it Slow in an Era of Speed Dating?

Updated on January 13, 2014
When you decide to take a relationship slowly, what is it you're really waiting for?
When you decide to take a relationship slowly, what is it you're really waiting for? | Source

Taking it Slow When Dating

Many budding relationships have faced a dilemma when one of the partners wants to take things slowly. Both men and women say this, but there are some major differences when it comes to what they both mean.

Good, stable relationships tend to develop at a faster pace. Unstable ones may start like wildfire, but later fizzle. In reality, when two people are both head-over-heels about each other, the idea of slowing things down feels absurd and unnatural. However, some relationships start at a more neutral place and age like a fine wine as love and friendship grow together.

The idea of taking it slowly has evolved as a way to buy time to develop friendship and get a thorough knowledge about a potential lover. Clearly, this is a good thing to do, especially when the people involved don't feel the same high degree of connection immediately. However, it can be a tricky tactic that raises red flags that shouldn't be ignored.

Let's take a look at what this idea means to a new couple and how it can affect the way their relationship develops. We'll consider both situations - when it's a man wanting to take things slowly and when a woman does, and examine when the idea of taking things slowly should be a warning sign. To do this, we'll start with considering the reasons people date. (Remember, the results only show what people selected, not who selected them!)

Dating's Ultimate Destination

What is your main, long-term goal when you date someone?

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Our Views on Dating Begin at a Young Age!

The Purpose of Dating

Not everyone dates with the idea of finding true love. Some people don't believe in marriage. However, the majority of people who date would like to find someone who fits their lives well and who they can count on for many years to come - their "soul mate."

Sometimes people who date without any intention of getting serious with another person meet that special someone and BAM! That pledge flies right out the window.

Then there are those who claim they want something enduring, but their social skills get in the way. They're too self-centered or insensitive to carry on a relationship that lasts for more than a few months or a year or two.

Whatever goals a person may have, dating provides an opportunity to have fun, see new places, and discover whether their new partner is compatible with them in the ways that matter. It's the period in which couples explore each other's values, dreams, and personalities.

By the end of a first date, both parties have an idea of whether there's a spark of chemistry between them. Chemistry is a very real phenomenon. Our bodies are innately programmed to seek partners that help us preserve our species. Subconsciously, we detect scents and chemicals known as pheromones that our brains interpret in a way that science can't yet explain. We feel excited and hopeful, disappointed and restless, or have very little reaction.

When that chemistry is there, it's an overwhelming, powerful sensation that creates a chemical response in our brains that's similar to what addicts experience when they use their drug of choice. When it's absent, it doesn't mean that we cannot have a great relationship with the other person, but it will have a different quality to it.

By forcing a new relationship to progress at an even pace, instead of rushing headlong into it, people can avoid mistakes that chemistry can introduce. This is vital when they're looking for something more than a suitable parent for offspring!

Women Who Want to Take Things Slowly

Most often, when a woman says she wants to take thing slowly, she means that she doesn't want to have sex until she has deemed her partner worthy. Her reluctance is understandable - many men date because they enjoy sexual conquest. If a woman's goals are to find a good long-term boyfriend or husband, these men aren't compatible with her goals.

Orgasms promote emotional bonding. For women who have been raised to be in tune with their nurturing side, a sexual relationship with someone who isn't invested in the relationship can leave them feeling abandoned and used when their partner moves on to someone he thinks is a bigger, better deal.

However, a woman may use the idea of taking things slowly as a means of manipulating and controlling her partner. Ironically, a good, caring man is more likely to fall for her ploy than an insensitive jerk who simply moves on to the next woman.

She may also want to avoid telling him that she has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) until she completes treatment or she knows he's likely to accept her anyway.

Men experience enthusiastic sexual interactions as a validation of their masculinity and attractiveness, so an enthusiastic sexual partner makes them feel like they're a better man. When she withholds sex, they may be understanding about it, but make no mistake - they are suffering, something many women fail to consider.

Another thing women may not consider is that sexual compatibility is just as important as the other areas of compatibility. When dating with a goal of marriage or cohabitation, major differences on any of the five pillars of compatibility can wreak havoc on a relationship if the parties aren't in tune. Women may feel devastated when, after finally giving it up to a guy after months of deciding if he's worth it or not, he concludes that the sex wasn't good enough and he leaves her. (Yes, sexual compatibility is that important to him. No, he won't tell you that he simply found you unexciting.)

Despite the good intentions of self-help guides, women should carefully consider their reasons for taking things slowly, and what they hope to achieve. Men should evaluate whether she has a valid reason for withholding herself from the developing relationship. Questions both should ask:

  • Is there a sound reason to avoid exploring a major pillar of compatibility?
  • When will it be a good time to explore sexual aspects in a new relationship?
  • What criteria must be met first? How will these be measured?
  • What indicates the amount of investment each of us has in this relationship?
  • What does "feeling safe" mean, and what will create that safe feeling?
  • If I don't have a firm idea of how or when to open the relationship sexually, am I willing to set a definite date?

It's smart for a woman to recognize and protect her vulnerability in the earliest stages of a relationship, and to ensure he's equally invested in the relationship. By refusing to explore sexuality once the couple has had a chance to gauge other compatibility factors, though, a woman can harm the relationship and damage her guy's ego.

Help For Women Who Want to Find a Great Relationship

Men Who Want to Pace Things Slowly

Men typically have a different reason in mind when they want to take things slow. They normally reveal that they've been hurt before and want to avoid repeating such trauma. Women often respond with tender feelings and even a sense that this statement somehow makes him a sensitive gentleman. However, women should be aware of underlying messages here. In the vast majority of cases, this phrase coming from a man is a huge warning.

Some men genuinely want to evaluate compatibility but have limitations that force them to limit the time they spend with their new love interest. Most of the time, they are not saying they want to avoid sex, but that they want to avoid commitment. Other valid reasons for taking it slowly is that they want to feel stable in their jobs and capable of being a good provider. In their minds, this may mean owning a home, having a certain income level, or feeling ready to have children.

However, less scrupulous men have discovered that they can earn a woman's sympathy and trust while keeping her at arm's length.

Men who are married or in other relationships can also use this tactic to decrease their responsibility to you. They won't have to invest in the relationship if they tell you up front that they aren't going to invest, but of course, most women would balk if they said it using those words.

A third reason I've heard for men taking things slowly is one women use, too: STDs. He may want to complete treatment or be certain he won't face rejection.

Evaluating a man's reasons for taking things slowly isn't as simple as asking questions. It may require a bit of detective work and intuition.

  • If time commitments prevent spending time together, be alert to whether they're reasonable, believable, and logical. For instance, you should be able to call or text him when you need to, and generally get a reasonable response in a reasonable time.
  • Taking things slowly shouldn't mean you never see his home. This is a big warning that he's married or involved with someone else.
  • Consider if he is a slow-to-action type in general. Some people rush out and buy a new car with others percolate the idea for many months before taking action. If he's typically decisive, but prolongs developing your relationship, there may be hidden reasons.
  • Ask him to define what he means by taking things slowly, what will let him know he's ready to commit, and what he will do when he achieves those things.
  • Be aware that a man who says he wants to marry, and who is financially stable, yet postpones commitment may be avoiding commitment to you. He may see red flags that he thinks will impair the relationship, and is waiting for change or a bigger, better deal.

Just as a woman's reluctance to explore sexual compatibility can hurt relationships, men who avoid commitment and marriage can harm theirs. Women often see marriage as evidence of her desirability and worth, and when they've invested more than a year or two in a man who refuses to accept her completely into his life, she may opt to find someone who values her more.

Take Some Time & Say What's on Your Mind!

Submit a Comment
  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from USA

    It's sort of funny how we come across some things at the right time, huh? Thank you for telling us, Nell!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    8 years ago from England

    Hi, funnily enough I was having this conversation with a friend today! I told her in no simple terms to take it easy with this guy! no running straight into it, rushing around then finishing it, go slow, and it will work out, so this is very apt! lol!

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from USA

    Thank you!

  • twinstimes2 profile image

    Karen Lackey 

    9 years ago from Ohio

    Another good relationship hub, jelly gator!

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from USA

    Cool, thanks!

  • JT Walters profile image

    JT Walters 

    9 years ago from Florida

    I liked the part about women's paces in relationships versus men's and their reasons. I thought that was well thought out.


  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from USA

    Thank you, JT! I'd love to hear details if something in particular resonated with you.

  • JT Walters profile image

    JT Walters 

    9 years ago from Florida

    Great article as it was very thought provoking.

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from USA

    Thanks very much, Euro!

  • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

    Anastasia Kingsley 

    9 years ago from Croatia, Europe

    Great Hub, Jellygator. You got me thinking what you said: A man who doesn't want to rush in may fear commitment. And yet a man who doesn't get close may suffer when the relationship moves unnaturally slowly. Voted up and beautiful, Bookmarked.


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