1) Things will go slow
She may want to take things slow. It’s not because she’s not into you- far from it! She’s probably really into you, but she’s not used to bringing someone in so close to her.
2) You will sometimes be out of the loop
She will keep you out of the loop at first- and often. She’s not trying to hide from you or avoid you- she’s just used to doing her own thing whenever she wants without telling anyone, and it’s become second nature to her.
3) She’ll want to stay independent
She definitely will not let you do things for her- even things that you would do better. She’s gotten as far as she has on her own strength and will, and she will have a hard time letting that go at first, even to you.
4) She’ll fight- and expect you to fight back
She’s used to being tough, and she won’t back down in an argument. She doesn’t want you to back down, either- she wants to know that she’s found someone who respects her enough to argue back.
5) She’ll need her space
More often than not, she’s going to need her own space because she’s used to having it. Give it to her- chances are the more she likes you, the more she’ll need the space to sort out her feelings of attraction.
6) She won’t always be good at reading you
She’ll take things at face value, and when she tries to read you she’ll sometimes mess it up. She’s not used to connecting, so you need to give her space to learn, love, and trust you.
7) She won’t let you in at first
She’ll be wary and guarded at first. She’s afraid of how much she likes you, and she wants to know that you’re worth giving up some of her independence for. So be patient when she keeps suddenly pulling away- only to come back a little closer each time.
8) She might come off pretty strong
She’ll often come off strong, outspoken- maybe too much so. But don’t let her push you away- she’s not used to being soft or kind as an independent girl. Be patient and help her reveal her softer, kinder center.
9) She’ll be direct
She won’t beat around the bush. She’ll ask you how you feel about her, what your plans are, what you see the two of you as. Subtlety is not her strong point, and she expects to see all the cards on the table.
10) She will be stubborn
She’s been independent and in control her whole life- so she’s not used to not being in control of the decisions. She’ll get used to any help and suggestions you can offer- in the meantime let her realize that you can offer her things she can’t offer herself.
11) She’ll seem aloof and uninterested
She’s not used to this sort of relationship, and she’ll be figuring it out: give her time as she works out how to be vulnerable and open up to someone.
12) Don’t push her trust
She won’t open up, not right away, and she will only gradually give you a little trust at a time. Let her take the time she needs, and don’t push her into more than she’s ready to give- she’ll find her way to you in time.
13) She’s scared, but she doesn’t want you to see it
She’s scared- this is all unfamiliar to her, and she is scared to hurt or be hurt, scared to love or be loved, scared of what might happen to her once she commits to you and you leave her.
14) She’ll be passionate once she accepts you
She might seem reserved and aloof at first, but that’s hiding her true passion: once she opens herself to you fully, you can guarantee a passion and tenderness that has no equal.
15) She’ll be vulnerable
When she does finally open up to you, she’ll be vulnerable and terrified- completely exposed. Be gentle, loving, and kind- show her that she was right to open up to you and your love.
16) She’ll be unforgettable
Once she opens up to you, your world and hers will change. Whether you stay together or split down the road, she is like a force of nature: she will change you forever, her love something unique, powerful, and unforgettable that will never leave you.
Marie Equi is director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research CIDER at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. El-Sadr also is a University Professor at Columbia University.