Move forward or move on

Today, a question from a reader:

“I’ve been seeing a guy for 6 months and we still can’t get farther than a quick peck on the lips or a quick impersonal hug. I’ve told him I want more intimacy but still nothing. What should I do?”

Many men say it’s up to the woman to set the pace of physical involvement and they don’t want to overstep their bounds. They have learned to be respectful of a woman’s boundaries and don’t want to press those without explicit permission.

He might have been chastised in the past from a woman who took offense at his moving things forward more quickly than she liked. Or even though you stated you were ready, he may not be.

After dating exclusively for three months and physically progressing up to a point, I once asked a beau, “What do you need to feel comfortable having sex together?” He said he needed to feel in love with me. We then discussed that while we were both very fond of each other, neither of us was in love. A few weeks later we discussed how we’d given it 3.5 months and wasn’t happening for either of us, so we decided to shift to being friends. Now he’s a treasured pal.

So you could ask, “What do you need to feel comfortable moving our relationship forward?” Or you could just pull him back to you the next time he pecks you and go in for a more involved kiss — and see what he does!

The point being something has to shift. You want to either progress or move the relationship to friendship.

Readers, what advice do you have for her?

For more on how to talk about difficult issues, get your copy of Ironing Out Dating Wrinkles: Work Through Challenges Without Getting Steamed.


18 responses to “Move forward or move on”

  1. Michelle Vasquez, MS, LPC Avatar

    My first reaction to the question is that he’s not interested in intimacy with her. I know that men have been chastised in general since the Women’s Liberation and this has made many of them fearful of making a move. But 6 months is a long time to invest in what looks like a friendship from his perspective.

    This is a good reason why men end up as “just friends” with women. It’s hard for a woman to be attracted to a man who acts like her girlfriend. If she has asked for more intimacy and he has not responded, he is likely not interested, too scared to make a move, or something else is going on with him that he is unwilling to talk about.

    My question to her is, “What is keeping you with this man? What attracts you to a man who is unable or unwilling to progress from just a peck of a kiss after 6 months of dating?”

  2. Cathy J Avatar

    This could be it or he could be emotionally unavailable. Either way not attractive options. He could also be a closet gay.

    What a complex world this place has become – has anyone else noticed the decay in morals over the past 20 or so years???

  3. Kelly Avatar

    Hmm…I agree with Cathy J. This doesn’t look good…6 months?? And he still doesn’t make a move??? If a guy is interested the girl knows it, generally speaking. She should be honest with him and just ask him if he is attracted and wants a relationship. He might be relieved!
    Thanks for the post.

  4. Katie Avatar

    Tell him, “Since you consistently act as if you want to be nothing more than friends, would you do me the honor of confirming or denying that?”

  5. karen Avatar

    Ditto from here—doesn’t sound like he’s really interested, for one reason or another. I wouldn’t bother asking him anything–because I wouldn’t believe him if he said he was just “seeking permission” or “waiting for it to feel right”. Sorry, DG, in my experience no man is so nonchalant about physical intimacy–if they want it, they really really want it and the sooner the better! Just cut your losses and move on.

  6. Richard Avatar

    I dated a lady where, after a few dates, I wasn’t sure how to take it to the next level. “I’ve told him I want more intimacy” is all I would have needed to start making out with her on the couch. Looking back on the relationship, it is not hard to prolong a kiss, and if she kisses back, to prolong it even more.

    If you can’t get past the peck on the cheek, or quick hug, there is something else going on other than fear of overstepping the bounds, especially after 6 months. When I hear overstepping the bounds, I think of making out on the couch and going for more. Getting someone to the couch is more of an interest issue, not a bounds issue. After 6 months of dating, interest should not be an issue.

  7. Amanda Goldsmith Avatar

    Intimacy is such a personal thing for us and different for men and women. In my later years I am begining to feel that there needs to be the “chemistry test” and a kiss by the 3rd/4th date to see if that chemistry is there…. othewise both parties go on dating hoping that something more concrete will come out of it … but it never does…

    I couldnt wait six months…… he has entered the just friends category by then…


  8. Brenda Avatar

    I get the impression the man is not interested in anything more than friendship……….I am not sure how many times per week she has seen him but to still be getting an impersonal hug and quick kiss after all that time – SO not good! Our friend needs to move on and find a man who wants to be affectionate and eventually intimate with her, should the relationship move in that direction.

  9. Mitsy Avatar

    Another interesting topic. My belief is that he has “intimacy issues” or is simply just not that into her. Sounds like he’s stringing her along, but the question is, why? No woman should have to ASK for more intimacy. It’s either there or it isn’t. I have a lot of respect for men who don’t want to act improper or try to get physical too soon, but after 6 months, both parties should know if they want more or not. If it’s still lukewarm for one person, then it’s likely not going to get any better. Could he be a closet gay? Possibly, but I wouldn’t put that label on every male who isn’t wanting sex within the first few months.

    For myself, my last 2 steady boyfriends did not seem to want sex as often as I thought they would/should, but for the most part, if a man doesn’t have a general, healthy attitude about wanting sex, then I see red flags. But, I agree that 6 months is time wasted if there is no chemistry on both of their parts. I say move on.

  10. Richard Avatar

    So, what happens if you are in a relationship, and it goes a month between more than a quick kiss or hug? How many marriages are like that after 10 years? Sigh.

  11. Mark Avatar

    The guy definitely has some issues — could be erectile dysfunction, even. I can’t imagine dating for six months and not getting beyond a quick hug and peck.

    Those two need to have a frank talk, but I suspect it’s already too late.

  12. Anna Avatar

    I agree that something sounds odd here. Whatever his issues are (and as mentioned, they could be numerous) hers is more serious. She should definitely get to the bottom of things in a conversation and if, after six months, he is unwilling or unable to converse about intimacy, then the intimacy itself will never happen and she needs to move on. They are firmly planted in the Friends Only Zone.

  13. Cathy J Avatar

    Just another thought since reading more of the comments – could be the guy is already attached and maybe even married. Sometimes even nice guys stray but figure well as long as it’s not sexual, it’s not cheating… well intimacy is not always sexual. Put the spouse hat on, would the spouse like the fact that you are very friendly with another woman/man? I don’t think so!

  14. Barb Avatar

    Maybe the guy has a STD and doesn’t want to pass it on.

  15. Libby Avatar

    Sometimes men are shy. I’ve found that these are typically the best men to be with so I would say she may need to make the first move. The only thing she should know before hand is if he’s dating other women. If he’s not go for it. I knew a women who was in a similar situation and one day she just said, “I don’t understand why we are not having sex”. They are now in a fully committed relationship……

  16. Mitsy Avatar

    One of the guys I dated had erectile issues. He was in his early 40’s and I was about 44 so I felt like he was young enough to seek help for his problem or down the road it would only get worse. I remember us having sex approximately every 10 days, which I thought was not nearly as often for a couple who had been dating for several months. He had gone to the doctor for other health issues (diabetes) and was going to ask about getting Viagra or something. When he came back from his appt., I asked if he inquired about it and his response was “I’m too young for Viagra”. I realized then that the reason he seldom approached me for sex was because he had the E.D. problem. That was just one of his issues though. The relationship didn’t last much longer after that. I felt like a normal guy would not have been content to pretend that he was “too young” for a drug that might have helped him. If I had been important enough, he would have wanted to do whatever it took to be with me physically and emotionally. He came up short on both counts.

  17. VKullar Avatar

    What happened with my friend is a little different, though- and highly entertaining..
    It was a month that he’d waited; with nothing but pecks here and there, and hugging.
    He then took the girl out for a super cheesy, super romantic dinner to show her what he was capable of; and he claims that at the end of the night when she ‘leaned in’, he broke it off with her.
    He wanted to feel that he’d got the upper hand..
    But not a week later they were together again, and went steady for almost a year.

  18. Julie Avatar

    I’ve learned through a little therapy that the men I choose, therefore whatever the dynamic is between us, is more about how I feel about me. How psycho-babbly of me, I know…. For instance, I was in a situation one time where I had to clean up my financial life and needed someone who would not get too nosey/ask too many questions.. I didnt seek this guy on purpose, but the therapist pointed that out to me… and she said as my life feels more back togeth erfinancially, the less I will want to tolerate the arms length relationship. And it turned out to be true.

    So, I check in with me and to ask why I am in an unsatisfying situation with a date, instead of analyzing him toooo much. I think everyone already understands this concept, but it’s easy to forget about it when you’re involved with someone. It’s also hard to separate myself from the attraction/emotion and think it through more logically. But I know just because there’s chemisty doesnt mean he’s the right person..