4 months of dating and we’ve yet to get past holdings hands. Do I initiate intimacy or end things?

I’ve been dating my partner for 4 months now. We really hit it off on our first date, sparks flying and everything so I was really excited, even more excited when he asked to make things official about a month in. I’ve been in the dating pool (having my heart broken!) for a good 3 and a half years so this to me was the best thing to have happened.

He’s funny, charming, and romantic. Or at least was. Like I said, it’s been about 4 months (nearly 5!) and we’ve yet to hold hands, kiss, or anything further. We hugged once, maybe a month ago, and that’s about it. I’m not an initiator either so throwing myself at him is off the cards 🙁

I made a rule of no sex before making it official so was initially really pleased that he was being so respectful, but he seems to have distanced himself a bit as the months have progressed.

And by distance, I don’t mean being cold or removed but really nervous and quite shy!

I feel like I might need to end things as although I really enjoy not being pushed, this feels like it’s headed in the opposite direction altogether. I’ve tried to show that I’m open and comfortable with being physical but the more I do so, the more nervous he seems to get. – Anna, AR

Dear Anna,

If I’m honest, you need to first be dating someone to be able to break up with them!

I say this lightheartedly, but it does sound like you’ve swung from one end of the scale (first dates, pushy men, heartbreak and rejection) to the other altogether.

Have you spoken at all about this issue? I know that intimacy can be a sensitive topic to bring up, but if you’re not feeling satisfied nor fulfilled by your short-term relationship, I would definitely begin by voicing this.

You’ve mentioned shyness and nervousness which can definitely be debilitating factors which hinder physical intimacy. He does sound pretty petrified! 

As you’ve listed out all the nice traits you like about this man, I would first give communication a shot before calling it a day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being inexperienced and shy, if that is the case (as long as you’re not hoping to jump on the BDSM/kink train too soon!)

Give him a chance to step things up by addressing the fact that you need and want to take things to the next level. It’s a daunting topic to bring up – especially as a woman where you likely feel all sorts of societal pressure being the instigator. 

But, if you think he’s worth it, I would lightly communicate the fact that you’re ready to ramp up the physical side of your relationship, and add that otherwise you will likely start to lose interest.

If inexperience is the issue behind the physical intimacy barrier, you might be required to do a some schooling and teaching. With a little patience thrown in you never know – this might lead to a solid foundation between the two of you.

At the same time, I know that stepping into the driver’s seat if you’re more of a passenger isn’t an easy transition. I would nonetheless try and brave holding hands on your end and see if you can help gently tease apart the physical barrier between you.

Equally, if his shyness is simply too much to bear and you don’t see things progressing, this is also decent grounds to end things. Just because you’ve had a hard time dating doesn’t mean you need to stay in a relationship that isn’t working for you. At the end of the day, any reason is good enough for a break up if you’re not feeling it! 

So, if you don’t feel confident in your compatibility (physical intimacy being a big part of this in any situation), give him a heads up. You don’t need to tear into his lack of initiation, but let him down gently and make him aware of your reasons so he can work on himself in the future.

I’ll have my fingers crossed for you!


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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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