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United States, situation that arises out of expectation of traditional gender roles.

Say that Bob goes on a couple if dates with Alice. Alice suddenly and unexpectedly escalates the relationship to physical, all the way until suggesting they go back to Bob's place with the very clear implication of what is to happen there (and there is no alcohol involved.)

Say that Bob is not ready for this but he believes that Alice would be mortified and offended if he were to ask her to slow down, no matter how gently or tactfully he did so, and so sees his only alternatives as being to go along with it in spite of his reservations and discomfort, or to decline the escalation and risk not being able to have more dates with Alice (or even worse, be retaliated upon for humiliating her.)

How might Bob tactfully decline the suggestion of going back to his place without offending Alice and keeping the possibility of keeping the courtship going?

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    Hey Duke! Can you tell us a little more about what Bob might be willing to do? What did Bob consider, but discard as being not an option? Like, what did Bob consider the most gentle/tactful way he could ask Alice to slow down, of which he still thinks that would mortify her? It would help us to know, so answers don't suggest anything that Bob has already considered but discarded because he's the only one that knows Alice well enough to know they won't work...
    – Tinkeringbell
    May 27 '20 at 7:06
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    Why Bob thinks that a simple "I'd like to get to know you a little more before we move to to a more intimate relationship" would mortify her? I know that, in the US as in every other place I know of, boys are supposed to be always ready and eager for sex, but I don't see why anything that's not a complete rejection ("I'm sorry, I don't like you") is going to offend her. Remember, gender roles apply to both. Maybe Alice was trying to escalate because she likes Bob and feared rejection if she didn't make that move.
    – Rekesoft
    May 27 '20 at 10:59
  • Bob would be caught completely off-guard by this turn of events and thus have mere moments to process his feelings and come up with a tactful response. But if he had more time he might consider saying "I am enjoying this right now, let's wait a bit for that" but again then fear that the lovely moment they were having would be ruined due to Alice's embarrassment and he may make the split-second calculation that the best way to ensure further such moments would materialize was to cooperate with the suggestion.
    – Duke Leto
    May 27 '20 at 18:04
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The most important phrase here would be,

possibility of keeping the courtship going?

I would like to preface this by saying that there is no guarantee that Bob will be able to keep things alive. The development of a relationship should be mutual and should never fall within the confines of gender.

How might Bob tactfully decline the suggestion of going back to his place

Truth. Well-worded truth. Short & sweet, keep the point across. "Hi Alice, I would love to take things further with you, but I'm afraid that we are going way too fast. Don't get me wrong, I just want 'this' to be built on a pace that we are both comfortable with!" Normally these are sentences said by the girl, as you've mentioned above "arises out of expectation of traditional gender roles.", but I feel that it is pointless trying to beat the bush.

Tell Alice how Bob feels and hope that she respects his stance. If she doesn't respect his stance & is assertive of 'going back to his place' still, well it simply says a lot about her character, and Bob should rethink if he still wants to move forward with her any further. In this case, her character would be how she would neglect his boundaries.

This advice can be backed up by this article called "How to take it slow in a relationship so you don't ruin a great thing"

  • Be Honest

Since all of my relationships in the past have been riddled with co-dependence, I now make an effort to move cautiously and deliberately in my dating life — and I make that clear from the very beginning. That way, my partners don't take it personally when I actually want to get to know them instead of rushing into a relationship haphazardly. And to be honest, everyone responds well to someone who has boundaries and knows what is right for them.

  • Make Justified Excuses & Reasoning

If you cancel plans without a follow-up, your partner might think you are potentially trying to ghost them instead of slow down the relationship because you actually see a future. Winter offers suggestions for slowing things down by saying things like, "I can't see you this weekend. I'm going to family event. How are you set for the following weekend?" or, "Tuesday night's not good for me. I'll be out of town for a client meeting. Could we touch base when I come back and have a better idea of my schedule?"

This way, your relationship will have more appropriate pacing instead of falling into the dangerous "I like you, let's hang out with each other every day" zone, which is something I am definitely guilty of falling into. Secret: Those relationships tend not to last.

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    Thank you for that @mallocation. Even those gentle words though I imagine might make a "nice" gal like Alice, who had just taken a big risk to make the suggestion, be mortified but then again maybe she would be relieved as the suggestion might only have been made because she thought that was what Bob wanted, although he had done or said nothing to indicate that. It may help to get the feedback of women?
    – Duke Leto
    May 27 '20 at 18:12
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    Hi mallocation, please take a look at our citation expecations - answers on IPS need to be backed up with the experience or sources that your advice is based on. Could you edit your answer to include that info?
    – Em C
    May 27 '20 at 20:59

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