"Taking it slow"
June 14, 2010 12:49 PM   Subscribe

"Taking it slow" - What exactly does this mean in my situation?

I met this AMAZING guy. We are like, the same person and we've been on four dates (and have plans for a fifth this coming weekend). Last night I started to broach the "what are we" type subject and told him that I really like him a lot. He told me that he really likes me a lot too. I've point blank mentioned to him that I'm nervous about scaring him off. We have had sex a few times already and it's amazing.

So, what exactly does it mean then when he mentioned that he "is taking it slow?" This does not make sense (especially with the sex bit) and I'm trying to decipher things. Is this just another way of saying that he's just not that into me?

I know I need to calm down but it's SO difficult when he's just absolutely like, my dream guy.
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We are like, the same person and we've been on four dates
he's just absolutely like, my dream guy.

It means don't say that stuff out loud.

It just means he wants to be more measured than you do. It's nothing bad. He just isn't ready to have 'what are we doing here' type conversations after four dates. I would take him at face value and ask yourself, "If I say thing X, am I acting like I have somehow developed a love induced head injury?"

If the answer is yes, don't say it. Try to stop thinking about it and have fun for a while. How long? A month, two months, three months.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:55 PM on June 14, 2010 [15 favorites]

It makes perfect sense to me. He's totally into you (probably, because he said so) but not sure he wants to be a serious couple or still just dating. "Taking it slow" just means "I need more than four dates to sort this out", which is a perfectly reasonable thing to feel and does not at all mean that he's not into you. Take what he says at face value and don't bring it up again for a little while.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:56 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It is obvious that you are in love, but if this guy says he wants to 'take it slow' it could mean two things:

1- he is hurting due to a previous relationship and needs more time;
2- he is just enjoying having sex with you and does not necessarily think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Maybe *you* should take it slow and see what happens instead of reading too much into something that is so recent...
posted by heartofglass at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

He said he likes you, so I think you can believe that he likes you. "Taking it slow" is not code for "I'm just not into you" in my mind. I take it more as "I really like you and want to take time getting to know you and doing this right so hopefully I can not screw things up and we can have a really amazing possible future together."

I think it's okay to be having sex and "taking things slow" at the same time. It sounds like he's not equating "taking things slow" with sex, but more with the emotional aspect of things.

Relax, you have a good thing here, so enjoy it!
posted by katy song at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Four dates in what time period?

"Taking it slow" means you're not in a Committed Relationship. I'm not suggesting that he's seeing, or thinking of seeing, anyone else, but that he's not ready to commit to being exclusive with a capital E, saying "I love you," moving in together, declaring "In A Relationship" on FB, etc. Sounds like you're in the honeymoon period, and it's all super awesome. Enjoy it, don't analyze it. :)
posted by sillymama at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mr. JulThumbscrew was EXTREMELY cautious and measured when we met, despite being EXTREMELY into me. He routinely said things like, "Well I'll have one foot on the platform and one foot on the train until it becomes apparent that blah blah blah blaaaaaaah."

That was three years ago. We're still together. Don't read so much into it that you torture yourself (not that I DIDN'T... and how!). :-)
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow guys - thanks! :) This helps a lot. I think I was most confused by the fact that we are having (amazing btw) sex albeit, "taking it slow".

I need to calm down.
posted by floweredfish at 1:02 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Odds are not good for longevity. You are most likely way more emotionally invested in the pairing and in the person than he is particularly given that you've already had sex a few times with so few dates. No, it's not fair. Yes, it's old fashioned. In this context, 'taking it slow' means the interest he has in investing emotionally in you as a person, which is to say: not much. He may find you perfectly amiable but this is not a long term thing for him.

Best advice? Stop having sex with him immediately. See what happens then.

"You know, you're right, XYZ -- taking it slow is a good idea, so I think we should slow down the physical part."
posted by gsh at 1:02 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

It is obvious that you are in love

Please don't get caught up in this. It's clear that you really like this guy, but taking it slow is perfect for you, especially since you just broke up with your boyfriend of 5 years. I'm not at all trying to be rude here by referencing your past AskMes, but it's really important to take some time to not be in a relationship when you've very recently broken up with your ex.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:03 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've point blank mentioned to him that I'm nervous about scaring him off.
I know I need to calm down
Last night I started to broach the "what are we" type subject

Given this sort of thing, "taking it slow" probably means something like "please calm down and stop hyperventilating."

You don't have to have the "what are we" conversation right now. Or ever, really. Slow down and enjoy the journey; it'll be more fun if you stop focusing so much on the destination.
posted by ook at 1:07 PM on June 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

I think your age (and his) would be important info here. "Taking it slow" at 24-27 might mean "I just want to bang a lot of chicks" or it could mean "I'm not ready for commitment". Taking it slow at 35 to 40 means "I'm an adult with a lot of responsibilities and there's no way 4 dates is enough to know you or for you to know me well enough to take an important leap like defining a relationship". Of course, that's why sex after a couple dates, in my mind, is a terrible idea, but he took that responsibility so...
posted by spicynuts at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best advice? Stop having sex with him immediately. See what happens then.

Very poor idea -- this sets up sex as some sort of reward to be granted or withheld, rather than just a natural part of getting to know each other and finding out if you are compatible (intellectually, emotionally, as well as physically). Given that you thoroughly are enjoying the sexual aspect and obviously had no compunction about starting up with the physical stuff early on, to now withhold it would, to me, appear to be some kind of weird game playing and if that happened that soon into a relationship (4 dates!!), I would just bail.
posted by modernnomad at 1:10 PM on June 14, 2010 [30 favorites]

Him saying that he is taking it slow is also a coded encouragement for you to do the same. Like, you're telling him, "I'm nervous about scaring you off!" and he's responding in a way that lets you know that it COULD scare him off for you to invest too much too soon, or to expect him to reciprocate at he level of your current expectations.

So, listen to him and don't scare him off. Take things slow.
posted by hermitosis at 1:17 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

"You know, you're right, XYZ -- taking it slow is a good idea, so I think we should slow down the physical part."

If done poorly this seems like a fairly manipulative tactic that will make it seem like an all-or-nothing, tit-for-tat sort of game. You're basically holding your own vagina (or whatever) hostage at that point, to extort him into some sort of commitment in order to get laid. Which will backfire, because raising the stakes like this is not what taking it slow is all about.

On the other hand, if you genuinely do feel you'd be able to keep your feelings more in check by reducing the physical component of your interaction, that is somewhat different and totally fair. Just be sure you present it that way and not as a coy countermaneuver.
posted by hermitosis at 1:23 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

"I'd like to take it slow" can mean any or all or none of the following:
- I don't want to have sex just yet
- I don't want to hold hands in public just yet
- I don't want to use the words "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" just yet
- I don't want to spend every night at your place, I'd still like some evenings to myself
- I don't know you well enough to start with all this "I love you" stuff
- I like you but you seem a little clingy
- Let's just be friends with benefits for the moment.
- I enjoy the wild sex but I think you are a bit crazy
posted by emilyw at 1:28 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

To piggyback on what runningwithscissors wrote, please be aware that it can be way too easy to replace one boyfriend with another. You need time to heal from your last relationship. You also need to make sure that you aren't neglecting the rest of your life because you are so excited about this new guy. "Taking it slow" can mean not putting this new guy at the center of your life (to replace the former center of your life aka the ex-boyfriend). That might mean putting plenty of energy into a hobby or into your friendships or even seeing a therapist. There isn't anything specifically in your post to suggest that you aren't doing those things already, but since you recently got out of a relationship, I wanted to chime in with that advice. In short, "taking it slow" can be about a bigger picture than just what is going on between you and this new guy.
posted by val5a at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

He's probably aware that you are so very into him right now, and he wants to enjoy spending time with you without letting the relationship get ahead of itself. He doesn't want to be on a pedestal. And if it doesn't work out - a month is really too early to tell if it will - he doesn't want to have to pry you off him and break your heart. It's nothing to do with sex or with spending time with each other, it's just that he's not jumping to omg-soulmates conclusions, and he's hoping you won't either.

It can be really hard to calm down when you're super excited about a new dream guy, but if you can it will make the whole experience better. You'll be better able to enjoy the moment, you'll be less likely to idealize him, you'll be less hurt if it doesn't work out, and you'll decrease your chances of "scaring him off." Enjoy it for what it is now, and not what you hope it will be.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Take it slow" is very vague, so it could mean many different things. You say it doesn't "make sense" to talk about taking it slow if you're having sex. But actually, if this guy is so great, how about trusting that what he says makes sense if you interpret it the right way? He apparently has a definition of "take it slow" that's consistent with having sex but means you're still little being cautious about plunging into some heavy commitment. It's hard to imagine him not feeling this way after just 4 dates. And this is a good idea anyway if you just ended a 5-year relationship, what, a couple months ago?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:35 PM on June 14, 2010

It means you have to calm down and see other people because he's probably seeing someone else or wants to possibly see someone else. Just my take on it.
posted by anniecat at 1:36 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I could have been your boy, a few months ago. In my case I'd just come out of a 9-year relationship, part of that married, and needed time to get my head around the idea of being someone else's girlfriend/committing to being with someone else. I explained this, he didn't push it and let me get on with sorting my head out (during which time we carried on being practically the same person and having awesome sex) and it has all worked out rather peachily, so far. Relax :)
posted by corvine at 1:39 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

In this case, "take it slow" means "take more than 2 weeks (or however long it's been) to get to the point where I start thinking about whether or not I want to be in a committed relationship with you. Yes, I like you, and yes, we're having sex. But that's not all it takes to want to be in a relationship".
posted by 23skidoo at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2010

FWIW, I was the one who stated that we should take things slowly after the fourth or fifth date with the man who is now Mr. Adams. We were completely simpatico with one another and it felt like we were inside each other's heads quite often when we talked about certain things. He was (and still is) a total gentleman, always opening my car door and holding my chair in restaurants. But yet I said "let's take it slow" once things really heated up, mainly because the logical part of my brain kept nudging me and saying "You can't fall in love after only four dates. You're letting your heart rule your head." He was understanding, but he also told me that he was a one-woman man and wasn't interested in seeing other women. I didn't date anyone else, either, and it wasn't long after that we were seeing each other many days per week and "slowly" went out the window.

So maybe, just perhaps, your new beau is just a bit nervous because things between you two seem too good to be true. Just a thought.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:45 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

For what it's worth, katy song's take on the phrase is precisely what I meant when I said it to my now-husband in pretty much the exact same context (had already been intimate more than once, mutually really dug each other and were amazed how well we clicked, etc.). I recognized how awesome it all seemed and that awesomeness was a little scary, so I wanted to slow down and do things right and be careful getting my hopes so insanely up because things felt too good to be true. That said, that's just one use of the phrase--there are other less positive ones that are possibilities too, which others have elaborated on already.
posted by ifjuly at 3:42 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my opinion, don't play games with him (e.g. cutting off sex to "see what happens"), and stop questioning where the relationship is going already. You're excited and into him -- that's great, he probably is the same for you -- but taking it slow can mean SO many things. And really, 4 dates is too early to start talking about where things are going or how your relationship is defined. Time to relax & just enjoy each other. Worry about details later.
posted by asciident at 4:35 PM on June 14, 2010

To me, "taking it slow" means to postpone the ultimate act of intimacy (sex) until both of you are certain (as you can be) of your commitment to each other.
posted by davcoo at 5:06 PM on June 14, 2010

When people say they want to take it slow, sometimes it has nothing at all to do with you. Sometimes it is just their own need for cautious progress to protect their own heart or their sense of independence.

Sometimes, though, it is about you - you are clearly very invested and that can be kind of scary for another person who, for whatever reason, isn't as invested yet. He doesn't want to be in a position to hurt you yet, that's a lot of responsibility.

You can't talk yourself into caring less - feelings don't work like that. What you can do is remind yourself that he does care about you and there is no need to hurry.

Believe me I have been in your shoes - these words come from hard experience.
posted by mai at 6:56 PM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

It's not at all game playing to decide that, at this juncture, given the guy's "take it slow", sex is probably not a great idea--which is to say, bluntly, she's giving it away without getting the emotional commitment she clearly requires. And he's a kid in a candy store at this point.

Assuming the poster is female and young and given the tone of the post, it's reasonable to assume that her feelings + sex have ratcheted up the intensity factor *for her*. It has not for the guy.

The guy has drawn an emotional line. Fine. That's his right. It's also her right to draw the sexual line. Sex has a strong emotional component for women, particularly young women. Particularly young women just out of a long-term relationship.

The lovely stories where this all works out for the best and the guy comes around and it's all happily ever after are few and far between.

Shagging for shagging's sake is just groovy, but it's a scenario that ought to be agreed upon at the start. This post reeks to high heaven of two people having two entirely different views on how they are involved with one another.
posted by gsh at 8:42 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hmm. In a relationship so fun, I would mean it as "I love this stage in relationships, where we're all new and everything is shiny and we haven't fought about meeting my mom or done anything overly boring with each other."

Re: sexy times.

Maybe take a break from doin' it until you are SURE about what they mean, to him AND to you? To be sure you're both willing to take it slow, and that you both know what you need and want from your relationship and from your sexual interaction?

Sex is a lot of things, but I think it can also be a method of communication. Maybe it just communicates "I think you're sexy and want to have sex with you." Maybe it communicates "I think you are special and want this relationship to move forward quickly." You are saying one thing, he might be saying another, but you won't know unless you ask.

A boyfriend introduced me to this whole let's-not-sex thing. I thought he was communicating "I want to sex you for most of the time we're together because I don't enjoy doing other stuff with you". I told him this and he was like "Whaaa? No, that is not how I feel. Let's not have sex for a while because that is not what I want you to infer from us sexing."

Not your exact situation, but I wanted to share it because I saw sex in one way, and he saw it in another way. We took a small break and it really helped me switch gears mentally. (For one date, it doesn't have to be some sort of long chastity marathon).

So maybe consider doing something similar. Have a date, don't have sex, instead, talk about what sex means to you and see if you're on the same page.

Sometimes this happens naturally if you get the stomach flu or something.

Now, stopping sex to manipulate or punish, not so cool, but I assume that you're a good person and that you won't do that, so don't worry about it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:00 PM on June 14, 2010

It's not at all game playing to decide that, at this juncture, given the guy's "take it slow", sex is probably not a great idea--which is to say, bluntly, she's giving it away without getting the emotional commitment she clearly requires. And he's a kid in a candy store at this point.

The OP should stop sex if she feels that she's not getting what she needs out of it, like having her emotional needs met. But I don't advocate cutting off sex just to find out what happens. That's just playing games and it isn't necessary. Communicate instead.
posted by asciident at 6:30 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

It just sounds like "Let's not ruin things by going too fast," which to me is a really good thing. Yes, you are already having sex, so it can get pretty intense pretty quickly, which is why you need to take it slow. Enjoy all the wonderful things, but relax, and see what happens in a month, or two months.
posted by Locochona at 6:43 AM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

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