Written for Soulmatch

Dating Q&A #10:

“We Kissed On the First Date. Should I Slow Things Down?”

I have been on four dates with a guy who I met online. We have a lot in common and I enjoy being in his company. He seems very nice and polite. I am also attracted to him. We have kissed passionately on numerous occasions, but I don’t want him to get the wrong impression about me. We kissed on the first date. Should I slow things down? – Gina, Bloomfield, N.J.

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: Contrary to current popular opinion, I believe that relationships need to develop slowly if they are to really go anywhere. Going slow is the best way. Men tend to be very focused on sex – they’re built that way. Having sex is the easiest thing to do, and the quickest way to get the relationship off on the wrong foot. You may find that once you have sex, you feel bonded, but you risk getting hurt if he decides that’s all he wanted. Instead, start getting other people involved.

Have a party or go to a movie or ballgame with this man and include other friends. Give him a chance to know more about you than how you look, and how you are in bed. Don’t be alone with him as much, and do more interesting things. Ask him to help you prepare a meal for friends. Engage him in conversation instead of a grappling match.

If you want a relationship to develop, you need to give it a chance to develop an “infrastructure” – that is, what you talk about together, how you spend your time, what your mutual interests and values are. If you do develop a relationship, you’ll spend a lot more time talking than having sex, and you need to find out if you can do it. In 22 years of happy marriage, my husband and I have never run out of conversation, and that keeps our sex life going, too. The success of your communication determines the health of your relationship – in every aspect.

David Wygant answers: What is the impression you want him to have of you? There are no rules about when to kiss and when not to. The only thing I tell people is to follow their gut in each dating situation and react naturally to the flow of what is developing between the two of you. He seems like a nice guy, and he seems to be taking it at the pace that you desire. I want to tell you this one more time: you need to be yourself and follow your instincts. Enjoy your new connection.

The Insightful Dater answers: Don’t worry too much if you’ve both followed your passions and kissed early in your dating life. Following your passions is a great way to feel alive! If you think you should be clearer about your intentions, then you should feel free to initiate a discussion. It’s often hard for people to discuss physical intimacy, but in this case, it’s the only way to be sure you are clear about your comfort level. Here are some questions to ask yourself about what it is you want: Are you feeling pressured in any way or are you comfortable? Do you want to slow things down? Do you feel you should because he may judge you for moving too quickly? What is it you want him to know about how you feel toward him?

Does too slow make ’em go?

In the last few relationships I have had, I try to take time and really get to know the ladies I am out with. The first date always goes well; they show a marked interest in me. Afterward, they start getting too busy to go out or even talk. I’m a full-time single father, and sometimes going out for a nice evening or an afternoon together isn’t easy. Am I taking things too slow? Am I being too much of a nice guy, or am I just running into a patch of bad luck? Help! – Josh, Emory, Texas

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: You sound like a gem to me, but I’m already married. Perhaps the fact that you have children is intimidating. Have you considered looking for single moms? They would understand your situation better, and if your kids get along, that would be great for everyone. In my book, “The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again,” I have guidelines for dating as a single parent, which you would probably find helpful. As a parent, you need to go slowly in dating because you have more than just yourself to think about. You need an emotionally mature partner who understands your responsibilities.

David Wygant answers: “Too busy” means not interested. You are not taking things too slow. If you are calling the women after the date and they are not responding to you, then it is time to move on. Josh, you are running into some bad luck and, in time, your luck will change. Set a goal. Try to meet two new women every week. This will increase your success rate and give you a much better chance of finding a woman who responds to you.

The Insightful Dater answers: You’ve got a tough situation. Being a parent and trying to date is challenging. The best you can do is to be honest about your situation. Try saying something like, “Because I’m a full-time dad, I don’t get as much of a chance to go out. I want to make sure this time is well spent.” And then see where that goes. If it’s an issue of her thinking things were moving too slowly, hopefully your statement will allow her to communicate that to you. Most importantly, be clear and upfront about your life as a dad and what is important to you. You want a gal who appreciates and respects you for who you are-not who you try to be on date night.

Seriously out of alignment

I’ve been dating the same guy for about two years and things don’t seem to be headed in the right direction. When this started, we weren’t serious and I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but he was. Now we’re living together and he seems to not want to move forward. I am starting my career and I am ready for something more, however, I don’t know that I want it with him. I really care about this guy, and I’m not ready for the relationship to be over. Should I break it off or try to get him to commit? – Jennifer, Atlanta

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: If you’re unilaterally changing the basis of your relationship, let him know. Take responsibility for the fact that your wants and needs have changed, and see what he says. You don’t have to break it off, and there’s no way to “get him to commit” – that’s his call. What you do need to do is renegotiate the terms, and see what’s he’s thinking now. If you’re living with him, you should be able to be honest about what you’re thinking. Ask him to be honest in return, and then both of you can consider what you want to do. Won’t you be surprised if he was just waiting for you to declare yourself?

David Wygant answers: Be honest with him and with your own feelings. Tell him exactly what you just told me. The only way you will get an answer is to be open and honest with someone. I know that this is a hard conversation to have with someone, but it sounds like it is long overdue in your situation. OK? Now go talk with him.

The Insightful Dater answers: People change and, along with that, relationships change. If you have doubts that your future is with this man, then listen to that – it’s your intuition speaking to you. You need to think about what you want. Write it down and get it clear in your heart and your mind. Then take a look at your relationship and see if it could evolve into what you want for your future. If you have concerns, those are things to pay attention to and consider. Last, but not least, you need to talk with your mate. If neither of you feels your relationship is on the right track, it’s time to move on. Be careful of wanting to stay where you are because it’s comfortable. That’s not a good enough reason to stay.