What Does It Mean to “Take Things Slow?”

Updated 04/09/19
 Christian Vierig / Getty Images

When it comes to dating and relationship lingo, the expression “taking things slow” can have a vast array of different meanings. For instance, it can refer to someone’s desire to hold off for a certain amount of time before engaging in different kinds of intimate acts, while in other circumstances it can simply mean that someone wants to wait before making a serious commitment. Whatever the case may be, if your partner tells you that he or she’d like to take things slow, it’s important to understand the possible motivations and explanations behind this approach.

Your Partner Is Just Getting out of a Serious Relationship

In many cases, people want to take things slow because they’re just getting out of a serious commitment, and the thought of immediately plunging back into an intense connection with someone new is a bit daunting. And if your partner had been hurt in this past relationship and/or has been off the market for some time, it may be even more challenging for him or her to fully open his or her heart to you right off the bat. With this in mind, taking things slow enables your partner to develop your new connection at a rate that’s truly comfortable for him or her.

Your Partner Has a Definitive Timetable Regarding Intimate Acts

Another incentive for your partner’s desire to take things slow may simply have to do with his or her comfort level and/or the importance that he or she places on certain physical acts. For example, some people choose to be intimate right away, while others want to wait for an indefinite amount of time before moving their relationship to new levels. And by taking things slow, your partner is able to build a physical as well as emotional connection with you at a relaxed pace that’s pressure free.

Your Partner Is Still Figuring out His or Her True Wants and Needs

An additional motivation behind taking things slow may have to do with your partner’s feelings toward you and/or toward dating and relationships in general. Specifically, your partner may not be fully able or ready to move your relationship forward at a faster pace because he or she may still be unsure about what he or she’s looking for at this point in his or her life. To that end, your partner may still want to get to know you better, date other people and/or fully explore his or her options before diving into something more serious with you, and taking things slow grants him or her the freedom to do so.

Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Mess up What You Have Together

If your partner wants to take it slow, another motivation for this approach is that he or she doesn’t want to ruin or rush the good thing you have going together. After all, many relationships that start off too fast can end up leading to heartache and heartbreak because you and your partner took major relationship steps before really getting to know each other. However, by taking things slow, your partner is hoping to build an even stronger foundation on which your budding and blooming connection can grow.  

Your Partner Has His or Her Own Time Frame Regarding Relationship Milestones

An additional reason why your partner may want to take things slow may simply have to do with the meaning that he or she places on different relationship milestones, occurrences, and events. For example, he or she may put a great deal of importance on introducing you to his or her parents, going on a trip together or even becoming friends on Facebook. And in order for your partner to be truly comfortable, ready and willing to hit these self-proclaimed monumental relationship moments, taking things slow enables these occurrences to happen when the timing is right in every respect.

Should My Partner and I Take Things Slow? 

Once you understand the different possible reasons behind your partner’s motivation to take things slow, you can then decide if you’re on board with his or her timetable with respect to your own wants and needs. After all, relationships are all about timing, and if you and your partner have conflicting preferences and priorities regarding its pace, it may be a bigger sign that you’re not truly compatible and your relationship is heading nowhere fast. 

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