Ask Dr. NerdLove: Taking It Slow

You just did an blog post about asking geeky guys out, but I have a specific question about that.  I’m a geeky girl in college, a gamer, very socially active, and generally a direct person.  I’ve been asked out a few times at parties and I’d like to switch things up by asking (other geeky) guys out myself, but… there’s always a but.

What’s holding me back is, well, sex.  Or more like expectations about sex.  The impression I’ve generally gotten is that the older my peers are, the less time they wait before having sex.  I’d like to date and get to know some guys, but I’m not interested in hooking up or doing anything sexual with a relative acquaintance or someone I’m not in at least a semi-serious relationship with.  The other thing is that if a woman is forward and initiates contact, the expectation seems to be that she’s experienced and well aware of how to flirt, and I don’t really have any experience with guys romantically or sexually.  

So basically, how do I flirt with guys and ask them out while making it clear we’re not about to tumble into bed at the end of the first date… or the second… and so on without scaring them off?  And while minimizing potential awkward and misunderstandings.  I’m not looking to ~wait til marriage~ or set a strict time for when I’m down to do what, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone I’m not already close to.

Takes Her Time

It’s pretty simple, THT; you just tell ’em.

Now, it’s true that there are a lot of guys who expect some sort of accelerated time-table when it comes to sex; some will expect it as soon as humanly possible, others have their own version of the three date rule, where if the girl doesn’t put out within three dates, he moves on to the next one in line.

Thing is: this isn’t all men by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, yeah, just about every guy out there will want sex as quickly as he can get it… after all, sex is pretty damn awesome when you do it right. But just because we’re willing to bang out as soon as it’s offered doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of guys who will quite happily take the time that is required for the two of you to reach the level comfort and intimacy you feel you need before you’re ready to sleep with him.

Don’t let random bullshit ideas about gender roles hold you back from being willing to make the first move. Just because you were willing to approach a guy doesn’t automatically mean that you’re obligated to move faster than you feel comfortable with.

Now, as for how you tell them? Well, you said it pretty well in your letter. “I’m not looking to ~wait til marriage~ or set a strict time for when I’m down to do what, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone I’m not already close to,” is concise, to the point and sets up exactly what to expect.

When you tell them can be tricky; you don’t really want to blurt it out between the endive salad and the coq au vin, when it would be a bit of a non-sequitur but you also don’t want to wait until his pants are around his ankles and he’s giving you then “Eh? Eh?” head-gestures.  I would recommend relatively soon into the first significant make-out session; some time after the first good-night kiss and before he’s going for some under-the-shirt action. Pull back a second and let him know where you stand.

And don’t stress out about chasing guys off or standing firm. A guy who isn’t willing to accept your limits is not a guy you want to date. If knowing he’s not getting a beej by the second date is going to make him look for other pastures, you really aren’t suffering any great loss. He’s just putting you one more step closer to finding a guy who is right for you.

Good luck.

Hi Doc, I have a question that goes back to what you were saying a while back about how no-one wants to be someone’s second choice.

A couple of weeks back I asked out a woman, J, that works in my department (way over on the other side). She said she had a boyfriend but wouldn’t mind hanging out as friends at some point. Not a big deal, it happens. When I see her at work we’re still friendly and there’s no awkwardness so that’s fine. 

About a week after I asked J out, there were after-work drinks in the department next door. I ended up having a drink with J and she introduced me to her friend from that department, K, who I am also attracted to, and thinking about asking out.

The question is, if I ask K out, and J mentions that I had previously asked her out, will this make K think I see her as a second choice (which is certainly not the case from my point of view)? Should I ask J not to mention it, or just ask K out and roll the dice? 

Yours sincerely,


There’s a pretty significant difference between Six-Of-One’s situation and yours. SOO was crushing on the first girl for quite some time and confiding into Girl #2 about it. Later, he decided he was interested in Girl #2, but she had a boyfriend… and when she didn’t break up with her boyfriend for SOO, SOO went back to Girl #1.

You, on the other hand, asked J out. J said no,  ya’ll are still cool, no harm, no foul – assuming that this isn’t a Oneitis situation, anyway and you’re just hoping to hang out long enough to win her heart.

J introduced you to K, you’re attracted to K. This is a case of geeks over-thinking a good thing.

The difference between you and SOO, Unsure, is that you haven’t been conducting these long burning dramafests with J and K. SOO was ping-ponging back and forth between them. You asked a girl out, she said no, you moved on and met someone else.

Go ahead and ask K out. She’s not going to think she’s your back-up plan or that you’re somehow on the rebound.

By the by everybody: this is why it’s cool to have platonic female friends – or to stay friends with your exes, for that matter: they will introduce you to other cool, single women. Maybe in this case J was pointing you towards someone she thought you’d like. Maybe she just wanted to introduce you to a friend she thought you’d get along with. Doesn’t matter. Point is: she introduced you to someone new, and you have a chance to meet someone awesome.

Let this be a lesson to you all.

Hey Dr. NerdLove.

I love everything you do here as well as the stuff you do on the LEOG. Anyways my question has to do with “Friends with Benefits” relationships. An old friend and I have slipped into one of these after drunkenly hooking up one night. I have no interest in dating her at all and she says that she is ok with that, and she just wants to hook up. However I’m really nervous now because this relationship is secret and we basically have the same circle of friends. And I’ve heard from people that these types of relationships always end in disaster. While I’m enjoying the “benefits” of this relationship, is it really destined to end terribly? And when I meet a girl that i want to start a real relationship with, do you think we will be able to end it with her without hurt feelings? Thanks Dr. Nerd Love!!!!!!

I’ve covered my thoughts on friends-with-benefits relationships before, but the long and short of it is: every relationship ends until one doesn’t1 . Friends with benefits end one of two ways: either you quit having sex, or you quit being friends. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed either way. You may decide to stop having sex because one of you has fallen for someone else, or because you decide you’re better off as friends rather than lovers. You may stop being friends because you fell in love and now you’re “officially” dating or you may drift apart naturally.

The way you keep a FWB relationship from ending badly is the same way you keep any other relationship from ending badly: open communication and honesty. Be straight forward with how you feel, be open and receptive to how she feels. Want to know how to poison a FWB relationship from the get-go? Treat it as something shameful or something that’s doomed. I can appreciate wanting to be discrete, but you need to keep in mind: this isn’t about how your friends may feel, this is about the two of you. It’s up to you two to decide what the rules are for your relationship; nobody else gets a say.

It’s impossible to say whether you would be able to end the sexual aspect of your relationship without pain or tears – there’re so many variables that you’d get better results rolling a d20 and hoping to make your Save Vs. Drama. But then again: there are no guarantees that you can end any type of relationship, sexual or platonic, without hurt feelings. All I can say is that being a stand-up, honest and compassionate guy will make things easier regardless of how it ends.


  1. hat tip to Dan Savage – official Dr. NerdLove Celebrity Spirit Animal – for that phrase []

  • RedFish

    On the FWB scenario: speaking as a female not long out of a friends-with-benefits relationship, I can say that in my case it worked out well, and I didn't regret it. (And the sex was great!)

    But it did change the friendship – in some ways for the good, in some ways for the bad. Also, my advice would be if it seems like the other person wants more than what you're offering – for example, to be all lovey-dovey cuddles and long term commitment – be completely straight with them! That way if/when it does come to calling it a day, they (probably) won't be heartbroken. Hopefully.

  • Maynard

    I enjoy these letter based articles immensely. Great way to break up the way the blog rolls, and sometimes the quick fix problems are a little easier on the tl;dr days. The second letter was mucho appreciato as I’m going through the exact same thing right now.

  • PizzaSHARK!

    Just my personal opinion, but waiting until you're already playing tonsil hockey would be a HORRIBLE time to tell the guy that things are going to come to a crashing halt shortly; that poor guy is going to have an enormous case of blueballs as a result.

    I'd personally share your needs before things start getting hot and heavy like that; it's not dinner conversation, but maybe after the meal, when you're cuddled up on the couch with a couple of beers?

    • Nikki

      is it really that hard to be patient though? why does she have to be required to tell him after the first date "by the way I don't want to have sex RIGHT FUCKING AWAY"

      if you really want a girl you can wait. I hate how everyone is expected to put out now or else you're some bizarre alien whose not worth your time. It's probably why I found human sexuality disgusting for the longest time. I swear it turns people into assholes. But I'm ready for someone to completely twist my words and accuse me of being sex negative.

      • Yuki


        You pretty much trolled/flamed last time, which is why you got the reaction you did.

        Coming on here every time and saying that you expect a negative response to your post is just going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        To answer your question, it's not a difficulty of patience, no. But it is a difficulty of timing. Imagine someone's offering you chocolate. Do you want to know that you'll get the chocolate later, or do you want them to pull it out and let you take a tiny, miniscule nibble of it before saying you can't eat the rest until later? Because the latter just ruins the mood. Taking it off the table before it even really hits the table is less painful on both sides.

        • Nikki

          that ain't even relevant to this post. I just know how everyone works here.

        • Nikki

          so? it's not fair I'd have to warn people in advance because you EXPECT I'll put out. If you get disappointed because suddenly after it starts getting all hot and bothered she decides she's not ready to go THAT when then tough luck. They're an asshole to begin with for expecting a girl put out RIGHT FUCKING NOW. That's just life. tough. Be understanding and patient or move on. If you get upset like a child who can't have a toy because you felt you expected to have sex I guess thats just too fucking bad. They're a human being not a piece of chocolate. It gets complicated.

          this is why I hate people in general. and I hate how sex obsessed society is because of this.

          • djteslarose


            I've seen you on here before and as before, your posts are disrespectful and full of bitter anger. I don't know why you hate people so much, but I hope you get some help, because no one should have to walk around that embittered at the world. That being said, I would ask you to demonstrate some maturity and engage with the other posters in a respectful manner. We are far more likely to take your arguments and points of view seriously. This is me trying to treat you with the respect I hope you will show to others. Your move.

          • Nikki

            in what way did I verbally insult her? I just hate sugarcoating. I wasn't aware I was supposed to address this as if you guys are a 5 year old audience. MY BAD.

          • Dr. NerdLove

            Politeness isn't sugar-coating, nor is it treating people as though they were five years old. I strongly suggest you learn the difference.

          • Nikki

            please enlighten me as to in what way I came off inpolite. I didn't insult her, I wasn't yelling at heralso everyone jumps on my ass but Devicat's tone is perfectly ok.

            also the way I address a few people on here is the same tone the Doc addresses idiots in other ask dr. nerlove articles. but no one tells him to be more "polite."

          • Tibbs

            The difference between Dr.NL and yourself is you just come across as bitter and angry. It is pretty explicit when you write things like "I hate people in general". Your attitude is affecting how people respond to you. It's unfortunate; if you didn't slip into hyperbole as much, you would actually make interesting arguments.

          • Tibbs

            To Continue, being bitter and angry does not help yourself or any one around. Not only are you hurting yourself, your poisoning your relationships.

            Please get help.

      • Anthony

        It's not hard to wait if you really want something, but it is a lot easier to wait for something when you are expecting to have to wait. Personally, the timing wouldn't bother me that much. But it might bother some other people, so it could be best to choose an earlier time.

        This isn't a comment on the article or so much on what you said, but it does seem that sex is an expected part of the relationship and usually to occur relatively early on. I don't really have an opinion on that one way or the other, but it can be difficult for people who don't want to have sex right away, because they do feel the pressure. It certainly shouldn't be a requirement to let someone know that you're not interested in sex right away, but there also need to be ways of dropping not-so-subtle hints.

        Or society needs to grow up a little and learn to respect everyone else. That seems far less likely in the short term, though.

        • Nikki

          in what way did I verbally insult her?

          • Nikki

            wrong reply

        • James (Thortok2000)

          Look at how most people have addressed you.

          Address them that way. And, address the topic in that way.

          If you don't want to 'sugarcoat', you don't want to tactfully interact with society in any meaningful way. You want the world to warp to your standards, and you're bitter and angry that it doesn't. That attitude doesn't look good on you.

          • Nikki

            yes I AM bitter and angry because I'm sick of dealing with idiots and assholes.

          • Robert

            Calling people idiots and assholes does not help your case.

    • Devicat

      it would be HORRIBLE?? really?? wow, thank you delving right into sexism and disrespecting a woman's boundaries. Just a hint for the future SHE OWES YOU NOTHING. If a woman doesn't want to share her body THEN SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO.

      There is no such thing as 'blue balls' you do not need sex. You may want it but she DOES NOT OWE IT TO YOU. If she asks you to stop BACK THE FUCK OFF and respect her wishes.

      • Robert

        He said "I’d personally share your needs before things start getting hot and heavy like that; it’s not dinner conversation, but maybe after the meal, when you’re cuddled up on the couch with a couple of beers?"

        The thing he called "HORRIBLE" was "waiting until you’re already playing tonsil hockey … to tell the guy that things are going to come to a crashing halt shortly". He didn't say telling him that things would come to a crashing halt was bad. He said that particular timing of it was bad.

        What's wrong with that?

      • Derek

        You are right when you say no one is entitled to sex, but I have take issue with the statement "there is no such thing as 'blue balls'." While they don't actually turn blue, there's this thing called 'vasocongestion' that happens when blood moves to the testes during arousal but gets trapped in constricted blood vessels when the arousal is cut off suddenly. It's real, it's painful. Now, it doesn't happen all the time or often, and it is never an excuse, since no means no, but I just wanted to set the record straight.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        I agree that PizzaSHARK! is guilty of some ill-placed hyperbole; as word choices go, "HORRIBLE" (in all caps, no less) is kinda, well, horrible.

        But tone it down and he's making a valid point. (And that point is NOT "She owes you sex so get with the raping," which is what your response seemed to imply.) If either party has a hard and fast limit on "how far" they're willing to go physically, it's a bit rude to reveal that AFTER the physical stuff has already begun. ("HORRIBLE"? No. A bit rude.) If one party doesn't want to make out if it's not "going somewhere," they have the right to decline the makeout.

        Please note that I used gender-neutral language. Both parties have the right to their boundaries and the right to make informed decisions. (Though I freely admit that in hetero relationships, she's more likely to have a harder time getting her boundaries respected than he does. Entrenched sexism sucks like that.)

    • Amber

      PizzaShark – Do you really assume that the first make-out session will lead to sex? That is not a reasonable assumption at all for any gender. To be a better person, try not to approach sexual situations with assumptions or expectations. It is not the girls fault if she made out with you and you got "blue balls". It was your fault for *expecting* sex. It is just as much up to the guy to communicate what he wants as it if for the girl. Try "this is getting hot, would you like to move it to the bedroom." pause, wait for her answer, and the fucking accept it. That is if you don't want to be an asshole.

    • Milk

      And he'll get over it or move on. She shouldn't be guilted into sleeping with him because he's past the point of no return. Since when does kissing mean sex right away? The excuse of blueballs annoys me to no end. Any man who uses that to get what he wants is not worth her time.

      • Max

        Alright, people, calm down. Yes, a woman has a right to refuse sex or whatever at any point (I would argue that a man isn't "wrong" to expect sex, he is only wrong once he refuses to accept that a woman won't give it to him).

        However, "blue balls" does kind of suck, and no man enjoys being in that position. Telling him at a more convenient time shows that you respect his feelings as much as you want him to respect yours. Obviously you don't HAVE to do that, in the same way that he doesn't HAVE to ever see you again if you wait until you're both in the bedroom to give him the news. It's a two-way street.

      • Paul Rivers

        Are you one of those girls who treats guys like sex toys without feelings, then complains that "there's no good guys left"?

        There is a huge – enormous – difference between simply putting some effort into respecting someone else's feelings, and the unrelated scenario you came up with involving trying to pressure someone into having sex.

        No one "has" to sleep with you because you kissed or made out. But real relationships involve at least putting some sort of effort into understanding and respecting the other persons feelings (like putting some sort of thought into the best time to let the other person know you're physically interested in them but want to take things slow).

        • Milk

          Actually, no. I'm in a committed relationship with a wonderful man who does not expect me to do anything I don't want to. I love how when a woman disagrees with what is said here she's a user, slut, bitch, etc. Maybe you should read more of Dr. N's articles. Saying poor him he's going to have blue balls because she kissed him, but didn't sleep him him is absolutely ridiculous. That's not a real relationship. That's attempting to guilt her into doing something she's not ready for.

          Would it be OK if she said stop when he was reaching for a condom or would that make her a tease? A woman has a right to stop anytime she wants to. If the guys she dates truly have any feelings for her and starting a relationship, they'd stop.

          • James (Thortok2000)

            I think the original point made is that if you know from the beginning that you're going to stop it from going too far, the sooner the better. Waiting until later on in the process is pretty frustrating for the other person.

            This is not about whether the girl says to stop or not. It's about when. It is less frustrating to know ahead of time where the 'lines' are. Even if it's "I don't know what I'll be comfortable with, I'll stop you when I get uncomfortable."

            If you're going along and then you suddenly call stop, you have that right, but to ignore and dismiss the frustration that will cause in the other person is kind of rude. Not that the frustration should cause you to change your action, if you're responding to the moment. If you suddenly want to stop, that's your right, don't fudge it out of worry of what your partner will think.

            But if you're planning ahead of time? If you know even before your partner shows up for the date that you're gonna call stop? Saying so earlier is less frustrating, and that's all that was suggested.

            Although, too early is offputting as well, as mentioned in the original article.

          • Paul Rivers

            James, thanks for the reply.

          • Paul Rivers

            Milk, I remember the drama queens like yourself from when I was a kid and got turned into a "nice guy" who women loved being friends with but never wanted to date.

            What you're doing is classic strawman arguing technique.

            You take the real question:

            "So basically, how do I flirt with guys and ask them out while making it clear we’re not about to tumble into bed at the end of the first date… or the second… and so on without scaring them off? And while minimizing potential awkward and misunderstandings. "

            And a reply of:

            "I’d personally share your needs before things start getting hot and heavy like that; it’s not dinner conversation, but maybe after the meal, when you’re cuddled up on the couch with a couple of beers?"

            And try to turn it into something completely and totally different, but that sounds like it's similar:

            "She shouldn’t be guilted into sleeping with him because he’s past the point of no return…Saying poor him he’s going to have blue balls because she kissed him, but didn’t sleep him him is absolutely ridiculous. That’s not a real relationship. That’s attempting to guilt her into doing something she’s not ready for.

            Would it be OK if she said stop when he was reaching for a condom or would that make her a tease? A woman has a right to stop anytime she wants to. If the guys she dates truly have any feelings for her and starting a relationship, they’d stop."

            Wow, those completely different subjects have…almost nothing to do with each other, do they?

          • Milk

            Paul, I agree that my response has little to do with what the initial question was about. I was trying to respond to what Pizza Shark said and I think it's listed correctly. Your responses show you are wounded and need to take it out on any woman you can, unfortunately. That's not an attack, but an observance. I'm sorry someone used you or turned you into a 'nice guy', but not every woman is like that just like not every man is going to use blue balls as an excuse to get what he wants. I'm not a drama queen. I'm a very quiet, reserved person. I don't see what my personality has to do with anything though you've twice tried to use your assumptions about it to attack me. Again, I suggest you read through a few more of the Dr's articles.

            *I'm responding to myself because it will not let me respond your your reply by the way.

          • Paul Rivers

            I wrote up a longer reply, but realized that – we're just going to go around and around and around.

            It seems like you really, really, really want to change the subject to "If the guys she dates truly have any feelings for her and starting a relationship, they’d stop."

            That's true – and *unrelated* to discussion on the best time to tell someone that you're interested in them, but want to take physical things slow.

      • Milk

        *observation, not observance. My fault.

    • Arashi

      Oh, I don't know, I think there's a bit of an exaggeration there. I mean, a bit of a hotter kiss and it's already 'too much' and the guy gets blue balls? Come on. I think the doc's 'timetable' is rather appropriate – between good night kiss and making out.

      • Robert

        That timing is terrible if either of you has an aversion to good night kisses though.

        • Arashi

          Adaptations are always possible. 🙂

          • Robert


            When in doubt, I'd just generally err on the side of sooner rather than later. After all, we can't go back in time now can we?

  • Paul Rivers

    "So basically, how do I flirt with guys and ask them out while making it clear we’re not about to tumble into bed at the end of the first date… or the second… and so on without scaring them off? And while minimizing potential awkward and misunderstandings. I’m not looking to ~wait til marriage~ or set a strict time for when I’m down to do what, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone I’m not already close to."

    In my experience, guys who like to be asked out by the girl are the *most* likely to be really comfortable with waiting to have sex. I mean I'm a guy, so…I can't claim to have the girl perspective on it, but that's been the experience I've seen among the guys I know – the more a guy likes a girl taking iniative, the more he's understanding and patient about wanting to have sex.

  • djteslarose


    Take it from someone who usually prefers to wait quite a while before jumping into bed with someone. I usually let a guy know right after the first kiss of an impending makeout session exactly how far I am willing to let him go. For example: We can kiss tonight but nothing else. Or: Anything above the waist is ok but nothing else. If a guy respects my boundaries, he usually gets another date. If he doesn't, I immediately get up and leave and there is no chance of another date. Guys can be a little overly hopeful so be explicit and be very very direct. The good guys will wait, I promise.

    BTW, guys that have to wait a little bit are more likely to stick around long enough to get to know you. And guys, women are not going to orgasm if they don't feel safe and secure in the situation. Let your girl set the pace, regardless of the number of times she blue balls you and eventually, when you get to full on sexytimes, she'll be more likely to orgasm and want to come back for more. Because there is nothing sexier than a guy respecting a woman's choices and making the first sex together about her comfort and pleasure. It will keep her coming (pun totally intended). 😉

    It's a matter of a little patience for sex that could result in a whole lot of sex in your future with the lady you've invested in. 🙂

    Best of luck !

  • James (Thortok2000)

    I seem to be the only guy I know that makes girls wait to have sex for much the same reason THT does. =/ I often feel pressured into having sex since I'm a guy and I'm supposed to want it. Which I do, but only with someone I have an emotional connection with, I don't want things to be purely physical, that isn't fun for me.

    Ironically, I have a high sex drive, which makes loneliness all the more frustrating. >.<

  • Arashi

    I liked this post, especially the first letter. I, too, like to take it slow. I really don't feel comfortable with intimacy with people I simply don't know enough, which is why I prefer when friendships evolve into something more.

    Good to know that a) I'm not the only girl that likes to get to know a guy first and b) there are guys in the world who are pretty understanding about that.

  • Ghost

    Loved the Doc's responses to the questions! Really good advice. (Comments below, not so likey…)