When you're in the early stages of a new relationship, everything is great. I mean, it’s called the honeymoon stage for a reason. You're still learning about your partner, experiences are new and exciting, and you're too caught up in ~love~ to care about anything else in the world. But sometimes, if you fast-track through the early relationship stages, things can get stale real fast. It’s true: There are serious benefits to a slow burn fling, and the guys who move slow in a relationship may be onto something.
Not every guy is the same, but, typically, when he says he wants to take it slow, it “indicates a desire for the pace in which intimacy, connection, feelings, and commitments grow in a relationship to be one that feels comfortable," according to Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman.
But the question of “what does taking it slow mean to a guy?” does not have a single, objective answer, Edwards says. Taking it slow will mean something different to every person, and, similarly, the reason for pumping the brakes will change depending on the individual. “For some, it’s a way of protecting themselves from getting into something they may not want to be in,” Edwards explains. “For others, who would prefer to grow the relationship at a slower pace, it’s a real thing.”
To decode what guys actually mean when they say they want to take things slow, I turned to Reddit and experts, and these are the most common explanations.
Taking It Slow Gives You More Time To Build A Connection
In general, taking a relationship to the next level too quickly is a totally legit worry, especially if the guy you’re seeing hopes to build a lasting connection. “No matter what pace you’re set for, it is always a win-win strategy to start out slow, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship,” Lori Salkin, matchmaker and dating coach, tells Elite Daily. She adds that taking it slow is a great way to expand on your connection — and make sure that it’s actually there in the first place.
Plus, if a guy wants to build on your emotional connection before getting into physical intimacy, it can be a sign that he takes that next step seriously.“I figured out a while ago that if I sleep with a girl too fast, I just never form the right kind of bond with her,” JaronK explained on Reddit. “I have to decide for sure I like her before making that connection.”
In this case, taking it slow could be a way for him to protect the current relationship you have and the future relationship you might have. Relationships are complicated, so making sure all of the right feelings are there before diving in can help keep you grounded.
Moving Slowly In A Relationship Could Turn It Into Something Deeper
A rushed relationship may not have the same depth as one with a slower start. When you dive headfirst into something, you could be skipping crucial relationship milestones that build a deeper form of emotional intimacy. Salkin explains, “Rushing or progressing to activities that are more appropriate for a more mature relationship before the proper foundation is laid can cause confusion, wariness, or even distrust.” Yikes.
Plus, a relationship built entirely on sex is rarely as healthy or gratifying as one that fulfills both your emotional and physical needs. It’s possible your guy knows that and wants something different for the two of you. It might be a lesson he learned from experience. “Sometimes, a relationship can be all about sex, and nothing else, and if you have had enough of empty relationships, you want something more meaningful,” crosenblum explains on Reddit.
Even without a complicated relationship history, taking things slow could just be a personal preference. “Some people have a preference of truly getting to know someone over a longer span of time before ‘going all in,’” Edwards explains. At the end of the day, “[t]here’s no rush” when it comes to forming a connection with your SO. If it suits both of you, taking your time could be totally worth the wait.
Slowing Things Down Can Help Distinguish Between Feelings & Infatuation
There’s a difference between liking someone and being attracted to them. And although the two often go hand-in-hand, intense attraction, or infatuation, can often make it tricky to distinguish between having feelings for someone and simply wanting to sleep with them. “I met a girl and I really liked her, but my previous relationship had escalated too quickly, gotten serious too quickly, and I realized that what I thought were real feelings were actually more like a short-term infatuation,” Red_AtNight writes on Reddit. Ouch.
According to the experts, they may be on to something. "When I think of infatuation, I think of someone who has a strong attraction to a person they don't know well," Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD, psychologist, and AASECT-certified sex therapist, explained to Mind Body Green. Infatuation often leads to a relationship that moves relatively quickly.
Deeper feelings like love are very different from infatuation. They require a more thorough knowledge of the other person, which takes time. "Loving someone means knowing them. Love is a form of intimacy, and intimacy requires being known and seen,” Fogel Mersy added.
Rushing A Relationship May Mean You Miss Red Flags
Infatuation often factors into rushed relationships, and although being incredibly attracted to your partner does not sound like a bad thing, it can make it more difficult to spot potential problem areas. '[Infatuation] can also involve rejecting information that goes against the fantasy, such as ignoring red flags or early signs of incompatibility," Fogel Mersy continued.
Those “red flags” are important to look out for in the beginning of any relationship, particularly if you feel like it is moving too quickly. Edwards says, “It’s important that [when] things are moving fast, be aware of the important conversations you have and make sure you’re not only ready to have them, but also they’re appropriate for where you are in the progression of the relationship.”
Slowing a relationship down makes it easier to take stock of these red flags.
Going Slow Means You Can Be Friends First
The friend zone is not necessarily a bad thing; some of the best, long-term relationships are built on friendship. And, according to Salkin, that can be one of the biggest pros of taking things slow with a new partner.
“In most new relationships, you are both strangers. Just as when you met your best friend or close work colleague — you started out slow and slowly built up the friendship — the same applies in dating,” Salkin explains. “You need to first build a solid foundation and friendship with a prospective partner, and then once that is developed, romance can ensue.”
Being friends first doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the steamier aspects of a new relationship, either. “[B]etter sex [is] part of it too. Think of it like a long foreplay. Anticipation and build-up,” TOGHeinz writes on Reddit.
Moving Slowly Could Be A Way Of Protecting Himself
Another reason your man might want to move a bit slower? Self-preservation. Everyone has their baggage, and a past rushed relationship could be affecting how they approach dating now. (BTW, this is generally a good thing; you want someone who learns from their mistakes.)
Edwards explains that your partner “may have had an experience where they did rush and [were] heartbroken, so it’s a way to prevent that from happening again.” The good news is that slowing things down can offer you that same protection.
The pace of your relationship matters, and although you may crave a whirlwind romance that could fit into a 2 hour rom-com, the truth is that there is no rush when it comes to love. Taking the time to build a steady foundation of trust and emotional intimacy before rushing into a full-blown relationship could pay off in the end. That way, when the honeymoon stage ends, you still have a bond connecting you. So, take a deep breath. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman
Lori Salkin, matchmaker and dating coach
Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD, psychologist, and AASECT-certified sex therapist
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