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Q: I think I started sex too soon with a new guy. Is it possible to slow things down?

A: If you feel you jumped too quickly into bed with someone you like, you are in good company. Many of the women in my study said they "regretted having sex so soon in a relationship." They wanted time for true feelings to develop first. 

Okay, it's not easy to say to the man you are dating, "I think I jumped into bed too soon." He'll most likely feel rejected, judged, and "played." But you should never dismiss expressing these feelings in order to protect the man. Here is a quick guide to help you be more responsible to yourself and kind to him. You might be surprised to see your man's positive reactions.

1. Know first why you leaped so quickly. If you are going to tell your man that you are about to take away his sexual pleasure and sense of specialness, you'd better have a good explanation. The top reasons that women have told me are:

  • I'm lonely and haven't been with anyone in a long time
  • I wanted to break out of my shell and be Bad Good Girl for a change
  • I've just had a major negative event in my life such as a family illness or death in the family and I wanted to connect and feel warm with someone nice
  • I wanted to test my attractiveness
  • I was charmed by him
  • I wanted to see if I could get a really hot guy
  • I'm on rebound
  • He seemed so sweet and was going through a tough time
  • He seemed like the most perfect and unbelievable match!

2. Make sure you really want to continue the relationship. Just because you had sex with him, it doesn't mean you have to see him again. Don't continue a connection because you are afraid to hurt his feelings or because you feel badly about sending the wrong message. You can get off the road if he is unkind, troubled or just plain wrong for you. If he's not right for you, then just offer responses such as: "I like you and I enjoyed myself, but I have to take care of some other things in my life first;" or "I just don't think we are a good match."

3.  If you do want to see him but want to postpone sex, tweak your explanation so it is appealing to him and doesn't hurt his feelings. Do not "tell all" to your man. Too much information can be overwhelming, and you especially don't want to give him the impression that you were using him in any way. You especially don't want to appear as a woman with a lot of problems. 

Review your personal reasons privately and then see how you can be honest without having to say too much. For example, if you are lonely, on rebound or experiencing difficult times in your family; you only need to say something such as: "Could we slow down right now? I'm going through some tough times, and I need to catch my breath. I really like you and don't want to lose you. You're very important and special to me, but I need to take a step back and put sex on hold for a little bit. I really need to see you as someone who can listen to me and be there for me during this time. And I want to do the same for you."

Hold hands while you are talking and don't be overly apologetic. Tell him you sense that he is the kind of man who can understand. Be very clear, however, that you are not brushing him off.

If he likes you, he will honor your pace and needs. You might even find that your time together feels even more sexually and emotionally powerful without the sex. Think of the tension in movies before couples have sex. Postponing or taking a break from sex that happened too quickly can create real connections and chemistry.  Good love takes time. 

Regardless of his reaction, examine your own behavior so you do not get yourself in compromising positions again. When you set your goal to be your best self, you end up being kinder and more respectful of yourself and others.

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, ED.D., MSS is a noted psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, specializing in relationships.  For her book about women and love, she welcomes women to take her 17-20 minute online research survey at www.lovevictory.com. Also on her website, if you donate $5 to Habitat for Humanity-Sarasota, Florida, you can receive a download of her relationship advice cartoon book for women, "The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie."