Talk to an expert from Relationship Hero for personalized relationship advice

What Does Taking It Slow Mean To A Guy/Girl?

Disclosure: this page may contain affiliate links to select partners. We receive a commission should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on them. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Some people feel comfortable when a relationship gets serious quickly.

Others don’t.

And that’s okay. There is no perfect speed for things to develop.

So when a girl or guy says they want to take it slow, what does it mean?

Well, they will probably say it in one of two situations:

1. They know their own comfort levels and are aware that they prefer a relationship to move far slower than most people would like.

They pre-empt any awkwardness or confusion by telling a new partner very early on that this is the case.

2. They are responding to events that indicate a new partner would like to progress more quickly than they are willing to.

Perhaps suggestions were made to get more physically intimate, or a person would like to see them multiple times each week.

Either way, the guy or girl makes it clear that they would be more comfortable if things went a little slower.

Why Does He/She Want To Take Things Slow?

There are a number of reasons why a person may prefer to take a relationship slowly. These include:

1. They are wary of serial daters.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. That’s a fact.

But now, perhaps more than ever before, those fish are easy to catch.

Through dating apps and websites, you can now meet many more people than with traditional methods.

Some people use this as an opportunity to ‘hook up’ with lots of different partners.

That’s fine if both parties are happy. There’s no judgment here.

But if someone says they want to take it slow, they might be trying to weed out any potential dates who aren’t really looking for a serious relationship.

2. They’ve recently come out of a relationship.

We can’t predict when we will meet someone who we are attracted to.

Sometimes it can happen soon after we’ve just broken up with an ex.

It can be difficult to understand your true feelings for a new partner when you are still processing a breakup.

So, to avoid misreading the signs and ending up in a rebound relationship that might not be what they really want, a person may ask to take things slow.

3. They have been hurt previously.

Relationships involve a huge emotional investment, and this can lead to a great deal of hurt.

If a person has experienced such hurt in the past, they may be less willing to open themselves up to new love.

If this is the case, they will probably want to take it slowly in order to gradually develop the necessary trust to be more emotionally and physically intimate with a new partner.

It’s a way for them to manage and minimize the risk of getting hurt again.

4. They don’t know what they want.

Some people might date someone without really knowing if that’s what they want.

They might be torn between finding a healthy, loving relationship and enjoying their freedom as a single person.

Perhaps they don’t want to miss out on Mr or Mrs Right, so they date people…

…but at the same time, they see a relationship as potentially getting in the way of their other goals and dreams.

So they put up barriers to physical or emotional intimacy until they are able to work out if this particular relationship is the right choice for them.

5. They have strict rules about sex.

Sex and other acts of intense physical intimacy are seen by some as something that should be reserved for couples who are truly in love.

Others believe that sex should only take place after marriage.

Some people have a particular number of dates in their head before anything physical happens.

And some want to know that the relationship is exclusive and monogamous.

They might not necessarily share their exact timetable with you straight away, but they might tell you they want to take things slow.

6. They might not want to ruin what you have.

Sex is one of the major milestones that can really test a relationship, but it’s not the only one.

Meeting each other’s friends or family, going on holiday together, moving in together… they all represent a point at which things get more serious.

When a girl or guy says they want to take it slow, they might just enjoy what you already have together.

They might not want to risk complicating that at this precise moment in time.

They’d prefer to keep things as they are for now.

7. They have rushed into things before.

People grow and change through their experiences, and this can mean doing things differently to previous times that have not worked out.

In the case of relationships, it might be that this person has gone too fast too soon once before and had it blow up in their face.

So to avoid the same thing happening again, they decide to move at a slower pace this time.

8. They want to get to know the real you.

When dating, we tend to show our best side.

This is not necessarily to deceive our date, but just a natural tendency to want to impress them.

But as we grow comfortable in someone’s company, we let our guard down a bit and begin to reveal our underlying character.

So a person may want to take things at a more leisurely pace in order to discover the real you.

This helps them to decide whether or not you are a good match before things get too serious.

9. They have a lot on their plate.

Everyone has their own life and merging two lives together in a relationship can be tricky.

This is especially true if one person has a particularly busy schedule or lots of other emotional baggage they are dealing with.

It takes real effort and commitment to make things work.

If someone doesn’t feel able to fully immerse themselves in a new relationship, they may see if you are willing to take things slowly until they can clear some things from their plate.

10. They enjoy the excitement of dating.

Let’s be honest, there is a big difference between dating someone and the dynamics of a long-term relationship.

But it’s amazing how quickly the former can turn into the latter.

A person may wish to keep the relationship light and non-serious for as long as possible because it may be the last chance they get to enjoy the dating phase (you never know!)

Once you are in a routine of seeing each other on certain days for certain things, the excitement begins to slowly decline.

Is He/She Interested?

Now that we’ve looked at the common reasons why someone would ask to take thing slow, let’s ask whether they are really interested in you.

The answer is that in many cases, taking it slow is a positive sign that someone sees the potential for a long term relationship with you.

After all, it takes effort to maintain any relationship. If they weren’t in the least bit interested, they’d probably make that pretty clear one way or another.

There are exceptions to this.

This person might enjoy the companionship of spending time with you, but doesn’t want any further commitment.

This person may be happy to date you and perhaps even to be physical with you, but they are simply waiting for something better, in their eyes at least, to come along.

This person might be using you if you happen to be paying for most, or all, of the dates you are going on.

In the first two cases, the best approach is to have a proper heart to heart about where you both see the relationship going.

If they have any doubts about things working out in the long term, they will either tell you outright or you’ll be able to tell from the way they talk.

It’s essential that you are honest about where you would like things to go. By showing your hand, it makes it more likely that they will show theirs.

After all, it’s hard to string someone along if you know how seriously they take the relationship. Most people simply don’t have it in them to do such a thing.

If you think someone might be using you, the thing to do is to enforce some boundaries and insist that they pay their fair share some of the time.

They will quickly get defensive if they don’t care about you.

How To Respect Their Wishes

If a girl or a guy wants to take it slow in your relationship, how do you respect their wishes whilst still developing a closer bond?

Because, without doubt, you MUST respect their wishes.

If you try to push things faster than they would like – either physically or emotionally – there’s a very strong chance that you will scare them away.

Nobody likes to feel under pressure to do something they don’t really want to do.

If you are serious about the relationship and want to see it develop, follow these tips:

1. Ask them to suggest timings.

If they want to take things slower than you do, it’s a good idea to ask them when they’d next like to see you.

That’s not to say that you can’t sometimes suggest a particular day, but always add that you are flexible.

Or suggest two days and let them choose the one that suits them better.

2. Give them digital space.

Texting in the early days of dating can be a little extreme with entire conversations happening through the tapping of your fingers.

Try to avoid overwhelming them with lots of questions or asking for loads of details.

Sure, you may want to get to know them better, but you don’t need to know everything right away.

Try to read the unspoken messages in the way they respond. If, in the course of a conversation, their texts go from being flirty and lengthy to short, and they stop asking you questions back, see it as a sign they would like to stop chatting for the time being.

And don’t insist on becoming Facebook friends or following them on Instagram from the very beginning.

Their digital profiles are their own and they may not feel comfortable opening them up to potential new partners until they are sure the relationship is going somewhere.

3. Let them guide physical escalation.

Sure, you can be the one to kiss them or cuddle up to them on the sofa or even in bed, but for everything else, it’s good to let them decide when it should happen.

Don’t put any pressure on them with what you say or how you respond if they pull away or tell you to stop.

Just be accepting of the fact that their body is not your body and they can do with it what they like.

Be grateful for what you do have in terms of a partner or someone you are dating, and focus on all of the great things between you.

4. Show your commitment.

If the person you are seeing is looking for the real deal in terms of a relationship, it pays to show that you are too.

This means doing things that reflect your commitment to them and to the partnership you are developing.

Go above and beyond for them. Make sacrifices. Pay close attention to the things that matter to them.

The more wanted they feel, the more they are likely to open up and allow the relationship to progress a little faster.

5. Live your own life.

It’s important to remember that you have your own life, your own friends, and your own hobbies.

Your new partner does too.

So while you need to show that you are committed, they will feel more relaxed about things if you don’t suddenly make them the most important thing in your life.

They don’t want to feel smothered by your attention and under pressure to feel the same way.

If things go well, they may eventually become the most important thing to you, but that doesn’t happen overnight.

Live your life, let them live theirs, and this will make the time you do spend together all the more special.

You may also like:

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.