What Does It Mean When a Man Holds Out?

If he's hesitating about having sex, does that mean he's just not that into you?

man and woman in bed
(Image credit: Jupiterimages)

Last week, I wrote about why holding out can be beneficial for the ladies. Not every female agreed with me that it's a good idea, however, and I get where the dissenters are coming from.

But one male reader wrote in to say he thought the whole notion of waiting was sweet and romantic — and went on to say: "It's not just women who stick to such rules; some men do as well. We're not all just horny, hormone-driven predators!"

For serious?

Male Holdout #1

Then he told me about a recent instance in which he held out with one girl. They'd returned to her place and, at the last minute, he "opted out." She was pissed — while he thought he'd been a gentleman. He spent the night sleeping on the floor next to her bed.

Male Holdout #2

During a summer that I spent in a certain little college town, I myself experienced that rara avis: the male holdout! I was living in a friend's apartment while she was in Europe on a research fellowship, and because I didn't know anyone in the area, she "set me up" with a bunch of her friends, male and female, so they could show me around. I ended up becoming very tight with one of the guys ... and eventually, he and I progressed to the Frenching stage. Then we slowly went nowhere. We'd have sleepovers, and we'd smooch — but nothing much else would happen.

The first time we'd kissed, I had that wonderful electrical feeling of bliss, like 800 small servants were running 800 small vibrating massagers over every inch of my skin. But after a while, I had zero interest in even touching him; without stimulation, my libido came to a complete halt — and I felt about as sexy as a pair of Tevas. When I finally asked him what the problem was, he said he was looking for a serious relationship — and he was wary of getting into a long-distance relationship with a chick who would be leaving town at the end of August. He didn't want to "rush into anything" that might end painfully or disappointingly.

My response?

"Dude, you're kind of being a pussy, aren't you?"

I'm so sensitive.

Anyway, that little relationship ended soon after — quite amicably, believe it or not, despite my callousness. And maybe three months after I skipped town, my "ex" started dating someone who lived a five-minute walk away from him.... Now they're married, with a baby. Which is to say, I think he was telling me the truth.

Male (Wanna-Be) Holdout #3

I was getting coffee earlier today with a certain male friend who is visiting from out of town, and I put the question to him: Had he ever waited?

"No," he said. "But with a certain woman I was interested in recently, I decided that if we progressed to the point where the question of sex was on the table" — or on the mattress, as it were — "I might suggest postponing for a bit in the hopes of sustaining my interest, rather than killing it by getting too intimate too quickly. Because that can happen; you have sex too soon and suddenly you want out, for no real reason."

I happen to know he really liked this woman, and I also happen to know — in part because she was moving out of his town to take a new job — that the courtship ended before the sexual question came to any kind of climax.

Male Holdout #4

I also posted about the question of men holding out on my Facebook page, and I heard from one friend who said she'd been with a man who'd held out for a while — but that he had religious issues, and a lot of guilt about sex, and that he was basically pretty screwed up.

BUT the evidence seems to suggest, for the most part, that if a guy holds out, it doesn't mean you're unattractive or that you lack sex appeal. If he's holding out, it's his issue — and it seems that men often want to wait because they like a person A LOT.

Kids — ladies and gents — what are your thoughts on all this? Have you had experiences with a man holding out? Are you a man who has held out? Give us the skinny, please.