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I theoretically want to reach out and touch someone.
June 29, 2011 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I’m a 31-year-old straight woman living in the US and not at all religious. I've never been a big fan of physical contact unless it's with someone that I love. I never remember a time, where I looked at random guy or celebrity and thought, "Wow. I'd really like to kiss him." As I get to know a guy, I might or might not become physically attracted to him. It typically takes several dates though. This weekend, I'm going out for the 4th time with a guy who I am still not sure about. I like spending time with him, but I am almost dreading going out again because I feel like after four dates, I should at least kiss him. I don't think I'm ready to kiss him though.

I'm starting to feel very upset and anxious. I keep worrying that if I don't show any physical affection, he's going to disappear. This has happened to me in the past, where I go out with a guy three or four times, but still can't decide if I want to even touch him and then he disappears or even worse tells me he doesn't think it's going to work out. I assume these guys are thinking nasty things about me and it makes me feel really depressed and even more anxious than I normally feel.

My questions are as follows:

-How can I force myself to kiss these guys without cringing or feeling disgusted? Sometimes I think if I force myself, it won't be so bad, but I always chicken out.
-When I first meet a guy, how can I get my mind off of imagining what it would be like to have sex with him and feeling disgusted at the idea? (I can assure you that I am attracted to men, but it just takes me awhile to feel physical attraction.)
-Is there anything I can do to speed up the process of feeling physically attracted to these men?
-How can I assure these guys I'm not using them? I always try to pay because I don't want to feel indebted, but they almost always insist on paying. Then, I feel bad because I imagine they must think I am a user and only going out with them for a free meal (which is not true).
-How can I broach the topic of being friends first when I am meeting these guys on a dating site?
I've been in three serious relationships in my life. The first two were with men I had been friends with long before we started dating. My feelings slowly arose over the course of a year or more. With my most recent ex, I felt attraction to after the second date and was really happy when he took the liberty of kiss me when I didn't expect it. It was a real rarity though and I feel like I should go out with these new guys until I am sure I won't feel attracted to them.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
How interested are you in kissing, sex, etc. once you're in an established relationship and begin to feel interested in these things? Is it possible that you're borderline asexual (or just have a very low libido)?

Assuming that you're not just semi-asexual, I wonder if there may be some deep-seated psychological reason for your initial disgust at the idea of physical intimacy. Obviously, you aren't entirely against the idea, but it sounds like there is some sort of mental barrier here.

Frankly, I don't have any advice other than to consider seeing a therapist. Sometimes, talking through your issues with a professional can be just what you need to figure out why you behave a certain way and how to change that behaviour.
posted by asnider at 8:51 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it's cool and rather attractive that you are slow to bring to a boil, and as a man I would prefer you just relax and wait for the right person and moment instead of inflicting some kiss therapy on yourself so you can speed things up.
posted by michaelh at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


With my most recent ex, I felt attraction to after the second date and was really happy when he took the liberty of kiss me when I didn't expect it.

If this is the case, you could try saying (in a lighthearted way, don't make it some Serious Thing) to the guy at the beginning of the date, "hey, this might sound corny, but if you want to kiss me at some point, you should feel free to kiss me. I just get shy about making the first move."

But, of course, that's only if you actually want to kiss him. If you're not ready to kiss him, don't feel pressured to. Only the most troglodytic of men think that they deserve some kind of sexual payment in return for dinner.
posted by phunniemee at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I assume these guys are thinking nasty things about me and it makes me feel really depressed and even more anxious than I normally feel.... Then, I feel bad because I imagine they must think I am a user and only going out with them for a free meal (which is not true).

I'm sure lots of people will have helpful, supportive suggestions for dealing with the mechanics of your dating preferences, but I wanted to make sure you saw these two statements together. That's not a healthy thought pattern. This strikes me as a manifestation of wider self-esteem and anxiety issues, and while I'm sitting here in my comfortable psychology armchair, it seems to be that you might benefit enormously from some therapy around these issues.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assume these guys are thinking nasty things about me

Actually, they're probably thinking that you're not in to them. If you like one of them, but aren't ready for anything physical, you might want to come right out and say that you like them and want to keep seeing them.

Some guys might still disappear if they're not interested in moving that slowly (and that, in of itself doesn't say anything bad about either of you), but guys who like you would be reassured that you're into them too.
posted by spaltavian at 9:00 AM on June 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


Could you something to your profile like: "I like to take things slow and build up a strong friendship and trust before getting physical." You could maybe somehow tell this guy the same thing.
posted by salvia at 9:00 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


There are lots of unspoken rules of dating, and what you're doing is (unintentionally) sending out all of the messages that say, "These have been enjoyable dates, but I'm not that interested in you." (e.g., trying to pay for a date that I guy asks you out on, not engaging in any physical handholding/kissing after 4-5 dates or so, etc.) When a guy "disappears or even worse tells me he doesn't think it's going to work out," he's not angry at you or anything, he's just thinking to himself, "ah, I realize that this woman isn't interested. Ok. No harm, no foul, cut my losses."

It may be better for you to avoid "dating." Can't you make friends with new people that you meet in social situations, develop friendships, and see if it goes anywhere, so that your interactions aren't coded as "dating"?
posted by deanc at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2011 [22 favorites]


Please don't force yourself to accept physical contact that you don't want. You have a right to dictate who touches you and when, and no one deserves to kiss you just because they buy you a meal.

In the short term, it might help to be up front about it "I really like you, but I have some issues I'm dealing with and I'd like to get to know you better before we kiss or anything." Some guys will be turned off by this - great, that's their perogative. Some guys will be OK with it. Date those guys. This is just short-term, though. At some point you're really going to want to talk with someone about the fact that you have so much anxiety about this.
posted by muddgirl at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm really struck at your language of disgust here. It's a far cry from simply feeling like you aren't attracted to someone. The latter is neutral, the former is distinctly negative. I don't think you can get over that kind of feeling in a couple of days. I wonder, though, if your disgust is just a manifestation of your anxiety about sex. In that case, some "kiss therapy" might or might not help.

I will say that you're sending a pretty big message not having kissed after four dates. You aren't auditioning friends, or at least it sounds like this guy doesn't think you are. The question implicit in dating is "Am I attracted to this person?" There are emotional and psychological components to that, but also physical components. You've said here that the answer is no, and, indeed, that you're disgusted by the idea of even kissing him. I would class it as unreasonable to want him to hang around while you figure out whether that disgust will ameliorate over time. I wonder if dating is really for you?

On preview: Having an honest conversation with the guy seems like a good idea, but none of the suggestions about just asking for a little time are honest. The issue here is not just that the asker is concerned about physical contact, it's that the asker is not attracted to her date. An honest conversation would include that information, it would not trade on platitudes that make it seem like she's attracted but just likes to take it slow.
posted by OmieWise at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Never force yourself to kiss someone if you don't want to! That is a form of self abuse, and it is very dangerous territory. Less savory characters can pick up on that vibe and manipulate it.

You have every right to go at your own pace. If this guy wants you to want you to kiss him, you are worth him working for it a bit! And if he tries and you don't feel it, that is ok! You owe makeouts and sex to no one. Nobody!!!

If you are worried you are out of touch with your sensual side, practice with yourself first. You don't have to get too sexy. Try playing some safe mind games. If you are in the grocery store, look around and say... Which one of these men could I make out with? Imagine it, fantasize about it, in a comfy way. It won't come to pass, so you might feel less anxiety with just exploring your actual feelings in that context.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:08 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think your imagination of what dates are thinking is certainly worse than the reality. What I do think is true is that a lot of people are going to decide that if you're showing any interest in physical intimacy by the 3rd or 4th date it means you are not interested in them. In a situation like that I would not think you were out for free meals but I might think that you aren't attracted to me but are just too nice to say it and break things off.

A significant number of people are not going to be interested in pursuing dating with someone who excludes physical intimacy until they feel they are in love. It is fine and maybe advisable to say in your online profile or very early in the dating process (no later than after the second date say, but it might dispose of a lot of basically pointless dating with people who don't think it's reasonable to wait for a strong emotional connection to get physically intimate) that you need to take things very slowly with physical intimacy and that you need there to be a strong emotional connection before you get physical.

Exploring allowing physical intimacy without an emotional attachment might not be a bad thing if you can do it in a context where you feel safe and trust the other individual to stop as soon as you want to. I wonder if imagining sex or actually kissing etc. would seem as unpleasant if you didn't feel like it was something you are "supposed" to be doing even if you don't want to and that if you don't your date will be thinking bad things about you.

On the other hand I am more like you, I was never really interested in casual dating and found my very limited experiments with casual, "no strings" physical intimacy pretty much disastrous: it was fun and enjoyable in the moment and in and of itself, but I couldn't separate it from the broader context of lacking that emotional connection in the bigger picture so it ultimately made me confused and unhappy, and that inevitably got into the bigger (friendly but not romantically loving) relationship and ended unhappy all around. I basically felt better off only pursuing relationships with women I was pretty much already in love with, and I just accepted that in myself, did what seemed right and natural for me, and accepted the consequences (that in between serious relationships I was alone and lonely). And eventually I met the right person.
posted by nanojath at 9:15 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


As is so often the case with relationship questions (even nascent relationships), good communications is the key. You should let the guy know early "it takes me a long time to warm up to a guy physically." Some guys will lose interest, and that's OK. You need someone who's on the same wavelength as you. This is going to make online dating more of a challenge for you, because people tend to make quick judgments about their dates, so they just won't give you time to warm up to them. Fair or not, wise or not, that's just the way it is.

I have no advice on how to make yourself kiss a guy you don't want to kiss, except to say "don't do that," and no advice on how to overcome that feeling of disgust except to say that I hope physical contact becomes easier for you somehow.
posted by adamrice at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This may sound contradictory, but I think one way that you could start to feel attraction faster is to break the touch barrier sooner - like on the first date. Find small ways to touch him - reach out and grab his arm as emphasis while speaking, brush knees when sitting next to each other, etc. It's not overtly sexual or even that intimate and it might get you in the right mindset for more.

Of course, if the thought disgusts you, don't do it. I've just found that sometimes it feels like I'm out for dinner with a friend or colleague, but as soon as that touch barrier is crossed, it feels like a date and puts me in the right mindset.
posted by valeries at 9:26 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wanted to say almost what valeries already said, how do you feel about "hand to arm" contact?

Some people will come and talk about how you shouldn't kiss people out of obligation. That's true but sort of not the point I think. (Though you should forget about what they expect for paying.)

Honestly it sounds like you don't really like these guys. There's lots of people I "like spending time with" that I'm not attracted to. Right? So don't go out on dates with people you aren't attracted to. Do these guys make you laugh hard? Or grin or smile big? Have you ever grabbed someone's shoulder because what they were saying was really funny or smart?

It was a real rarity though and I feel like I should go out with these new guys until I am sure I won't feel attracted to them.

My thought: if this is rare you shouldn't go out with new guys until you're sure you won't feel attracted to them. You should go out with new guys once or at most twice until you find that rare one that you are attracted to.

I'm not sure though how often you have found yourself attracted to guys after say 5 dates when you weren't after 4. Does that really happen?

Anyway, most likely these guys are nice guys who are bailing on you not because they think bad things about you but because they (I'd say correctly) think you aren't into them.

Also, if dating doesn't work for you then it seems like various activities (exercise, volunteering, clubs etc) where you could meet friends first might work. Going out on a first date is not really a good way to meet friends first.
posted by Wood at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a bit like you in that it takes me a while to warm up to people, and I have to get to know someone's personality and values before starting to feel any kind of physical attraction. I'm a big fan of getting things out in the open early on: just tell them how you're not comfortable with physical intimacy right away, but you're still interested in them and would like to date further. If the guy doesn't like that, then they aren't the right person for you. And that way they know you're not using them.

Don't force yourself to do anything intimate until you're ready. During the date, try to focus on other aspects of the potential relationship, such as having a good conversation, getting to know the person, etc. If you find yourself clicking with the guy on that level (common interests, common values etc), you're likely to find yourself getting physically attracted as well.

Anyway, FWIW I don't think you're abnormal in any way. Some people, myself included, aren't comfortable jumping in bed with a guy (or even kissing, or even holding hands) until you get to know them and fall in love with their personality first.
posted by phoenix_rising at 9:59 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyway, FWIW I don't think you're abnormal in any way. Some people, myself included, aren't comfortable jumping in bed with a guy (or even kissing, or even holding hands) until you get to know them and fall in love with their personality first.

Not to imply that the OP is a freak or anything, but she didn't say that she's simply not comfortable with physical intimacy until she's in love. She said that she's disgusted by the idea of kissing/sex, but can "get over it" once she is in love.

It's the element of disgust, I think, that makes this about something more than just moving slowly.
posted by asnider at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


The first time I kiss someone, I am always (no matter how well I know the guy or what my feelings for him are) so nervous that for like five minutes I turn into Robot Me and experience everything really... literally... and non-sexually? My inner monologue sounds like NOW WE MASH OUR LIPS TOGETHER / NOW WE MASH OUR LIPS TOGETHER / HAND ON BACK / HAND ON NECK / MASH MASH MASH THE LIPS TOGETHER. It takes me time to get comfortable with the Kissing That Is Happening and relax and just you know, enjoy it and not think about it so... clinically (or at all).

I think you're totally within the spectrum of normal. Not everyone is immediately ready to jump into the mental sack with a dude. You do not need to feel embarrassed about saying openly, explicitly, and upfront that you strongly prefer to get to know a person and developing some trust before progressing to physical intimacy. This is NOT some kind of horrible universal turn off. If you said this to me, I'd be happy that I was someone you wanted to get to know well. There's no ticking clock on Kiss #1.

Going on a platonic date is not using a guy. If offering to pay isn't working, try offering to split the bill evenly. The guy doesn't want to take advantage of you, either!

Can you work on not jumping straight to sex in your mind? What about just hand-holding AND NOT SEX? Would that be uncomfortable for you? Peck on the cheek? Hug goodbye and peck on the cheek? Small movements forward. If you jump to sex in your head and feel anxious and uncomfortable, imagine you're playing the videotape backwards fast so your jerky body jumps back into clothes and out of the bedroom and back back back back all the way to the present moment where you shake hands and part ways. Now see that platonic ending again and again until you feel calm and confident that you will not be sexing anyone you do not want to sex.
posted by prefpara at 10:18 AM on June 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


This sounds quite a bit like demisexuality, which falls under the asexuality tree, particularly wih your disgust fading if you're in love with the person. If you really thrive on a friends-first pattern then I advise you to stop using conventional dating sites, it's only going to make you feel like crap. Focusing on how to make yourself kiss people you aren't attracted to but enjoy as friends seems... counterproductive. You can't make yourself be attracted to them by doing sexual/tactile things.
posted by buteo at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


-How can I force myself to kiss these guys without cringing or feeling disgusted? Sometimes I think if I force myself, it won't be so bad, but I always chicken out.

There's nothing like sunlight to cure these issues. Explain that you want to take it slow. Tell him it takes you more dates than most to figure out how you feel. This is not a pathological condition, it is just how you are. And you are most entitled to what you want in a relationship.

In future, tell them up front. They will have the information they need to make a decision and if they are willing to stick around, you'll have that information too.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


-How can I force myself to kiss these guys without cringing or feeling disgusted? Sometimes I think if I force myself, it won't be so bad, but I always chicken out.

Don't force yourself to kiss anyone you don't want to. That said, if you are cringing or feeling disgusted at the thought of kissing the guy still after 4 dates, stop leading him on and maybe cut if off. Disgust is a pretty strong feeling to have about someone and still continue to date them.

-When I first meet a guy, how can I get my mind off of imagining what it would be like to have sex with him and feeling disgusted at the idea? (I can assure you that I am attracted to men, but it just takes me awhile to feel physical attraction.)

I guess what I find odd is that your thoughts go slowly from disgust to attraction. That's quite a spectrum and really isn't normally how it works. Apathy to attraction, sure. But disgust? Maybe in a rom-com. I honestly think your view of sex &c as disgusting and the thought patterns that notion induces is probably worthy of some therapy.

-Is there anything I can do to speed up the process of feeling physically attracted to these men?


Again, I don't think it's the speed, I think it's your thought patterns. Lots of guys are totally fine with - and even want to - take it slow. You should let go of the pressure you're putting on yourself and try to get to the root of why you're sort of starting point is a deep aversion or disgust.

-How can I assure these guys I'm not using them? I always try to pay because I don't want to feel indebted, but they almost always insist on paying. Then, I feel bad because I imagine they must think I am a user and only going out with them for a free meal (which is not true).

I don't think most guys would assume that about you. I wouldn't. If I take a girl out on a date and pay I expect nothing in return. That's the nature of a date (or should be). I wouldn't jump from 'she doesn't want to sleep with me tonight' to 'she must be a user looking for a hand-out.' The fact that you do this in your head is another signal that your thought patterns aren't healthy or logical.

-How can I broach the topic of being friends first when I am meeting these guys on a dating site?

Just say you like to take it slow and that it takes a good amount of getting to know each other before the physical intimacy stuff can happen. That's no problem.

Look - these men are probably not thinking 'nasty' thoughts about you. Sure they may be having sexy thoughts about you - because maybe they actually like you and are attracted to you - but a lot of men aren't dating just to drool over women and ravage their bodies in their mind over dinner. I think you are feeling WAY to anxious and guilty over a self-imposed notion that unless you put out, you're disappointing all these men. That is just not true. If a guy is going on a 4th date with you and nothing physical has happened, he is probably looking for more than sex too, and would probably be very understanding of your timing needs. If he isn't, find one who is.

Your needs are your needs. Don't apologize for them. Find men who are compatible with them. BUT you also need to stop the negative cycle of putting so much pressure on yourself, feeling like there's something wrong with you, etc., which will certainly make you feel not sexy and not want to kiss a guy you like.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I keep worrying that if I don't show any physical affection, he's going to disappear. This has happened to me in the past, where I go out with a guy three or four times, but still can't decide if I want to even touch him and then he disappears or even worse tells me he doesn't think it's going to work out. I assume these guys are thinking nasty things about me and it makes me feel really depressed and even more anxious than I normally feel.

I think you need to talk with them. You don't "need" to kiss them after three or four dates, but if you don't, then without evidence to the contrary, they'll probably assume you're not interested in them. Sure, you could try to force yourself to kiss them even though it makes you uncomfortable. But it seems like it would be better just to have an honest, although awkward, conversation.

It doesn't have to be "I'm disgusted by you ugh"-- it can be, "Hey, I want you to know I like spending time with you and I'm interested in seeing where things go with us. But I also just wanted to let you know it might be a while until I'm comfortable getting physical, even just kissing. It's not you, it's me, really... it just usually takes me a long time to be ready for that, even with guys I've ended up in great relationships with. Anyway, I totally understand that you might not be okay with waiting. But if you are, I'd really like to keep seeing you, because you're great and I see some real potential here. What do you think?" Or whatever.

Sure, it'll put some guys off, but are they the kind of guys you really want to be with, anyway?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 11:38 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am very similar to you. I have to know a guy pretty well in a non-artificial-dating-when-we-don't-know-each-other-that-well to want to kiss him. I think it is a thing that people who are not like this cannot understand. I also do not think it is pathological or that there is something wrong with you. I think it is simply a style.

I have gotten around it in two ways. First, by having relationships with guys I have known organically for awhile. Friends. I start to like them when we are friends, and there is no pressure, and then the attraction can slowly build without any expectation. Then one day he kisses me, and there it is: a boyfriend. However, this way is not always possible and it does not always have the best results. So there is the second way: being really upfront with new people. I have an OKCupid profile where I am extremely explicit about how I am merely looking to meet new guys to hang out with and be friends with, because I can't do "dating" in a conventional way. Some people do not understand this, and they can go date other people. But it is possible to meet a boy who is the same way in this fashion, and hang out all the time, and allow attraction to burgeon slowly.

Don't let people make you feel bad for not wanting to kiss a boy you're "supposed" to want to kiss. There are many ways to be. This is one of them. It is not necessarily wrong.
posted by millipede at 12:24 PM on June 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


To me, kissing is extremely personal, way more personal even than you-know-whating. I have to have pretty strong feelings about someone to want to kiss him. But I usually know within ten minutes of meeting someone whether I want to kiss him -- eventually.
posted by Dolley at 12:37 PM on June 29, 2011


The disgust is not surprising to me. If you're not attracted to someone yet, yeah, the idea of having their tongue in your mouth is kind of disgusting. If your position is "hmm, not really interested in being touched by you yet," and they touch you, you would likely be repelled so as to regain the personal space. Makes perfect sense to me.
posted by salvia at 3:04 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try a couple of glasses of wine and just do it. Don't overthink it. I can't tell you how much I wish my younger self had known that.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:43 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're putting way too much pressure on yourself and you really just need to accept yourself for who you are. It takes a while for you to find yourself attracted to someone. Only when you're attracted to someone, can you be physical with them. This makes sense to me: why be physical with someone that you're not attracted to? You're pathologizing your perfectly normal preferences (attraction first, then physical contact), making yourself upset and anxious, worried that he'll disappear if you don't offer up the goods after what you perceive to be society's norm or expectation, assuming that the guys think nasty things of you… in other words, you're in a VERY negative headspace. All of this is going to block you from the chance of any positive or feelings of attraction for someone.

Finding people attractive has a lot more to do with YOU than you think. It isn't about how cute or hot or funny or intelligent the other person is. You have to be present too. Having a ton of negative thoughts about yourself is not being present. I'd rather see you be confident with yourself as a person, about your ability to be a good partner, confidence in your relationship skills, finding your own self attractive, being clear and secure about what you want (i.e. attraction first, physical stuff next) than you forcing yourself to be something that you think you should be. You're way too stressed out about feeling something is wrong with your preferences, rather than developing a rapport, seeing if there's chemistry, seeing if you're interested in this person further.

For the record, I was very hands off when I first met my partner last year off OkCupid at age 31. (And I love physical affection.) I wasn't sure if I was attracted to him. Early on we went to a movie, and he reached over and held my hand. I gave him this look of horror that said what the hell are you doing? And he let go. I hugged him when he went to hug me, but my hugs weren't very enthusiastic. Also early on he went into kiss me and I couldn't do it! I said, "I can't do this!" And being the kind person he is, he was ok with it and reassuring. The first time we were in his bed, I was very slow to get undressed. We didn't end up having sex. I was thinking about it too hard! But, I allowed myself to warm up with him. I cuddled with him, and that felt good. When I first kissed him, it wasn't too bad. After a month I finally had sex with him. Whereas with the previous guy I was with (it was a lover situation, not a relationship), I did after the 3rd meetup. It's all pretty funny now when I look back on it. Anyway, if you think hearing more of my story might help you (I don't want to get into all of it here), or if you have further questions, email/memail me.
posted by foxjacket at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


-How can I force myself to kiss these guys without cringing or feeling disgusted? Sometimes I think if I force myself, it won't be so bad, but I always chicken out.
-When I first meet a guy, how can I get my mind off of imagining what it would be like to have sex with him and feeling disgusted at the idea? (I can assure you that I am attracted to men, but it just takes me awhile to feel physical attraction.)


Do you feel disgusted because you're nervous, or because it would feel disgusting to kiss someone you're not attracted to? When you say "disgusting" is it like "ewww gross!" or "meh"? If it's not nerves and it's "ewww gross!" I'd say don't do it. If it's nerves, get a little tipsy, some some pot, but don't get wasted, then do it.

-How can I assure these guys I'm not using them? I always try to pay because I don't want to feel indebted, but they almost always insist on paying.

When you're confirming meeting up the day of, send a text like "Hey, just to be clear, I'm going to pay for my own food/drink/whatever. It's just a thing a do :P" That way he can't "insist".

-How can I broach the topic of being friends first when I am meeting these guys on a dating site?

Tell them before you meet. Then it's up to him if that's good enough or not.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:35 PM on June 29, 2011


Anonymous, I wish you well.

I'm also a bit worried about the "disgust language" you used in the post. As others have said above, it seems extreme. It is one thing to warm up slowly, and another to feel revulsion and then slowly grow to accept it. Have you talked with a therapist about this? It seems over-the-top to me.

I'm a sweet guy, but I'm a guy who needs and requires physical intimacy. My cast-in-stone rule when dating was, "no kissing by second date, done", "no sex in four dates, done." Fine, that is me and not you. I'm not a jerk for having those rules of thumb, and you aren't a jerk for wanting to take things much much slower.

I have three pieces of hopefully useful advice.

First, make this clear. Put it in your profile. Skip the "disgust language", but do talk about the fact that you'll be slow. That will make people like me skip dating you, and you will not have to feel bad about it.

Second, try to figure out what *is* attractive to you. Try to figure out if you knew within four dates whether intimacy was going to be possible with your intimacy-success-stories. If so, what was it? Think about it. Smell? That's a big deal. Attitude, personality? Also big deals. Really think about it, and experiment.

Dates are *easy* to get, for both men and women. When I was dating via OKCupid, I regularly had 3 dates a week and I'm a 40 something twice divorced man. Experiment. See whether you can predict, early, whether you have any chance with this particular guy, then see if it happens. If not, no harm, try another experiment.

Last, don't kiss people to whom you are not attracted. "Fake it 'till you make it" is good advice for a lot of things, but not for possible partners.
posted by Invoke at 7:06 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the vast majority of American guys, I think -- especially those who are not religious -- are going to think, if they go in for a kiss and you avoid it after four dates, that you're not into them. The way around that is to bring this up explicitly -- that you like/need to take things slowly physically, and that it doesn't mean you're not into them. (If it doesn't mean you're not into them. I'm not really clear on that.)
posted by J. Wilson at 8:29 PM on June 29, 2011


I can completely relate to everything you're saying. In my late teens and early 20's, if I saw a cute guy, I'd want to make out with him. Now, at 26, I never really feel attracted to guys unless I get to know them first, and yea, the thought of touching some guy's private parts who I barely know disgusts me, even if he's a decent looking guy. I don't think that's extreme.

Anyway, some guys would not bother getting to know you if you say you want to be friends, there might not be a good way to bring that up. And forcing yourself to kiss someone before you get to know them enough to know that you *want* to kiss them might not go over so well, so why not flirt with the guy a lot on dates? Touch his arm when you laugh at his jokes, wink, compliment him. This might be good for two reasons - it will keep him intrigued and interested a date or two longer even if you wait a little while longer to kiss him, and this might create a fun flirty atmoshphere that might actually make you want to kiss him sooner, because he'll be playful in return! And suggest fun dates where it will be easy to be playful - hiking (he'll give you his hand to help you get up a high rock) or rock climbing or bowling where you can high five each other. These dates will also have less kiss-at-the-end-of-the-date pressure.

And maybe you're just not attracted to him (or those other guys who you've tried to go on dates with but didn't want to kiss). Today was actually the first time in probably a YEAR that I saw a guy that I was attracted to without knowing him at all. And then when I talked to him I was even more attracted to him. So yea, it sucks to not be attracted to most people, but maybe, if it's not there after 4 dates, then it's just not there. But it sure is worth a try to be flirty and physically touchy and playful on your dates to try to create some of that sexual energy.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 9:05 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


You sound a lot like me. I understand why people are waving red flags at the "disgust" part in your post - i'd have probably said the same thing too - but if you prompted me to think about it I'd admit / realise it wasn't disgust as much as fear. Being able to control the pace of physical progression was really important to me.

My first date with my current partner, I just didn't think there was any spark at all. I was sick of writing guys off too early, though, as all it led to was me being single more or less for decades on end. I can remember trying to imagine us kissing and having sex and just not being into the idea AT ALL.

I went out again with him, because I thought maybe we'd have a friendship, but by date two I realised that I had gotten him wrong the first time. He made his feelings clear at date three, and I let him know that I liked him - but also that I wasn't ready for anything yet. I also made it clear early on that I wasn't going to show more affection than I felt, as I didn't want to give him the wrong idea or lead him on. He gave me the space to feel comfortable with him, and when we did kiss, a couple of weeks later, it was lovely. I made him wait until I felt comfortable before we slept together, and by that stage I trusted him to respect my boundaries and the 'disgust' which was really just 'fear' and 'nerves' had given away to just wanting to GET IT ON with him, right then.

Forcing yourself to kiss someone you're not ready to kiss is just not going to work. It sounds like the more pressure you put on yourself about this, the more you freak out and get turned off. Give yourself a chance to step back and relax about it, without adding to that pressure. Be upfront with the guy that it's not about him, and that you need time, and see how it goes. The good ones are worth waiting for.

Oh and my partner? Six months from today we'll be married.
posted by jonathanstrange at 10:55 PM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


A question you might want to answer for yourself, it doesn't need to be answered here:

At what internal "level" is your disgust? Is it "theoretical" or "physical"? IE, "jesus, we are complete strangers, why would anyone want to kiss a complete stranger? But if we weren't strangers, I can imagine liking it." or "I am not attracted to this person at all and can't imagine a scenario where I would enjoy physical contact?"

If it is the former, I'd suggest redefining the feeling you have away from "disgust" toward discomfort/anxiety/moving too fast. Instead, focus on the idea that you and this person just have different rates at which attraction builds and manifests.

(An aside that might be helpful? When a new food is introduced to me that I am not instantly attracted to, it takes me some time to get my mind right with the idea that it might taste good. Like squid or something, sitting there, staring at me. If others in the room insist upon shoving it in my face and try to pressure me into eating it, I am much more likely to recoil in horror and stand my ground, insisting that it shall never cross my lips. However, if it is just sitting out and I see other people eating it, enjoying it and not dying, I will probably eventually try some.)

(Second metaphor: cats versus dogs. Introduce a stranger to a dog, and it will likely start licking the stranger and want to go play frisbee. On the other hand, pick up your cat and try to hand it to a stranger and you'll likely be mauled. Neither animal is any more or less capable of affection, they just come about it in different ways.)

Back to the original question, if your emotion is more like the second case, just give up with that person. If there isn't even a tiny spark of "maybe" in your attraction to someone, even if you do eventually start to feel some attraction, it will be more in the vein of settling for that person than actual attraction. You have to at least want to want to be attracted to someone.
posted by gjc at 8:09 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm backing up everyone saying "they are probably getting the idea you are not into them."

where I go out with a guy three or four times, but still can't decide if I want to even touch him and then he disappears or even worse tells me he doesn't think it's going to work out.

uh... you still can't decide, so you'd like to keep seeing them, but it sounds like you were hurt by them deciding for themselves.
posted by Blisterlips at 10:13 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You must be one hell of an attractive/awesome lady for guys to take you on a fifth date with zero physical contact. That's about the date that I would expect sex (not that I ever "expect" it per se, but that's when it usually ends up happening).
posted by speedgraphic at 3:53 PM on June 30, 2011


And forcing yourself to kiss someone before you get to know them enough to know that you *want* to kiss them might not go over so well, so why not flirt with the guy a lot on dates? Touch his arm when you laugh at his jokes, wink, compliment him. This might be good for two reasons - it will keep him intrigued and interested a date or two longer even if you wait a little while longer to kiss him, and this might create a fun flirty atmoshphere that might actually make you want to kiss him sooner, because he'll be playful in return!

Seconding this. Don't force yourself to do anything you're not comfortable with - but if you like him enough to agree to another date, why not flirt a little bit? Joke around, maybe some light physical contact, etc. It makes the whole experience more fun, and definitely takes the pressure off. As a guy, I really don't care if I get kissed by the 4th or 5th date or whatever (although yes, at that point I'd like to know physical contact is at least a strong possibility) - physical intimacy will happen when it's meant to happen. Until then, I just want to have fun and enjoy getting to know you! As long as you seem to be expressing interest, we're both having a good time, and there seems to be some sort of potential, I'm generally happy to keep things going.

So I guess my advice is to just make your dates more fun - stop pressuring yourself to do this or that by a certain point, and just try to enjoy the experience a bit more. Don't know if it'll help, but at least it makes the process a bit easier.
posted by photo guy at 9:03 PM on June 30, 2011


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