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What "Take It Slow" & "Friends First" Actually Means

Gena asks: I am new to dating apps and feeling very confused. I would appreciate any insights or advice that readers have. I have had 1-2 dates with 3 men who seemed anxious to date me based upon my photos (all current) but once we went out they said there was no chemistry. These men had all stated in their bios that they wanted to start as friends and take it slow which is exactly how I felt. I had weeded out men with profiles that just didn’t match mine or who didn’t meet my minimum standard for health and fitness. I am also quite active and adventurous and participate in a lot of outdoor activities and travel. I have only gone out with men who stated similar interests and values in their profiles. After e-mailing, texting and talking on the phone they still wanted to go out with me. When we went out we did fun things together – hiking canoeing, bicycling and conversation seemed to flow. We seem to have similar values. None of the men made me want to hop into bed with them but I enjoyed their company enough to want to see them again. They all stated that they had a good time. They had laughed and talked a lot when we were together. I’m wondering what I am doing wrong. One obvious thing that I can put my finger on is that I didn’t flirt. I think it is either that or I look a lot worse than I think I do. I’m thinking that men and some women want to feel like teenagers again. They aren’t truly looking for a life partner but for someone to make them feel young. So now I’m watching youtube videos where people in their teens and twenties demonstrate flirting techniques. I’m going to try some of them with my next date and see what happens.

It's never a bad move to try and learn new techniques, but I;m not sure that your flirting skills are the problem.

When I read "I want to be friends first" or "I want to take it slow" in a Tinder bio or Bumble profile, what I hear is, "I have no plans of committing any time soon." I also hear, "I'm more looking for people to go out with/have sex with than someone to date long-term."

Taking it slow is code for people who can't offer anything substantive at the moment but also don't want to sit home alone every night. I avoid the take-it-slowers as best I can, as I know they're going to end up being too much work. It's perfectly fine that they don't wish to commit or get into anything serious, it's how they communicate that objective that I find misleading. For the record, women also use this phrase in their profile. Like their male counter-parts, they're using the excuse as a way to inform their match of what's to come: a series of dates that go no where and involve no physical intimacy or affection. You friends. Because that's what people want when they use a dating site or dating app.


The "friends first" people are "take it slow" adjacent, as the latter actually want to have sex. They're using dating apps to cultivate a roster of people to hang out with, but not necessarily date.

So, Gena, the likely answer to your issue isn't that you weren't flirty or interesting enough but that the men you went out with were looking for something physically intimate. They likely bailed because they sensed right away that sex wouldn't happen with you for the foreseeable future.

It's not you. It's them.

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