You don't what?
January 27, 2010 1:13 AM   Subscribe

So I'm dating a former religious fundamentalist.

This guy and I have been seeing each other for three weeks now. We've had The Relationship Talk and we both want to be together. I have no doubt in my mind that he's into me and I'm into him; there's been lots of snuggling and talking and holding hands in public.

So what's the problem, you ask? Well, it's that he was raised by an extremely religious family (which he has since gotten away from) and has almost no experience with women. He confessed to me on our first real date that he was a virgin, and that he's only ever had one girlfriend (in university), and they didn't go beyond making out. I'm okay with that. I'm cool with going slow and seeing where this takes us. It's actually kind of exciting. Unfortunately, he also told me that even though he no longer believes the stuff he was raised, for him, kissing is still a really, really big deal. So, needless to say, in three weeks, there hasn't been anything more than kissing on the cheek.

Is it disrespectful if I just go for the kill and kiss him? Or, because of his background and his nervousness, is it better for me to wait for him to be comfortable enough to do it himself? On the one hand, I don't want to kiss him and be told, "I told you I was waiting; I can't believe you'd disregard my feelings like that." On the other, not being able to kiss my hot, awesome new boyfriend is seriously killing me.
posted by canadia to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it disrespectful if I just go for the kill and kiss him?

Not at all.

Do bear in mind, though, that if you rescue a kitten you're responsible for it for life.
posted by flabdablet at 1:56 AM on January 27, 2010 [33 favorites]

From your previous question, initiative in these matters doesn't seem to be his strong point. If I were you, I'd go for it. But lead up to it gently, from cuddling together on a sofa to stroking and kissing cheeks, etc, leading up to a kiss. If it's a relaxed private environment, you should be able to tell if he is up for it yet.
posted by tavegyl at 2:00 AM on January 27, 2010

On preview, I must be a softy. Only you will know if he enjoys a woman taking the reigns, so take this as you will.

If he's no longer a part of the church, and he's willing to date someone from outside of his former mindset, he should also be of the understanding that things are going to be a little different.

I'd apologize in advance and tell him that if I do anything that makes him uncomfortable, to tell me immediately instead of making us both feel awkward and guilty afterwards, no matter how innocent the act may seem.

Make sure he realizes that you won't hold this against him in the least, and you'd much prefer he be happy then feel like he needs to somehow reciprocate. At the same time, I'd let him know that he excites me and I'm a naturally physical person, but that I'll be limiting myself to "kissing him on the cheek or neck" and anything beyond that is at his discretion and to never feel obligated.

Putting those limits on yourself are only fair to him and can be exciting for you. On the same token, if after a certain amount of time it's more of a turn-off than a turn-on, you may want to reconsider what you can really do for this guy at this point in his life.
posted by june made him a gemini at 2:03 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

My somewhat flip remark about kittens was intended to suggest that he is less likely to take offence than to attach himself to you with the force of ten thousand limpets. So, don't kiss him unless you're prepared for (a) ending up married to him or (b) watching in tears, from a considerable distance, as he totally fails to deal with being dumped.
posted by flabdablet at 2:12 AM on January 27, 2010 [15 favorites]

If he doesn't believe the stuff he was raised on, then he probably wants to get over his issues and will follow your lead. So don't worry about disrespecting him. The only thing to worry about is that, since he was indoctrinated as a child, you need to be careful not to freak him out. He may end up seeking comfort and solace in the world he was brought up in. So be the leader, show him the way, but make sure that he is comfortable. Tell him it's ok!
posted by molecicco at 2:13 AM on January 27, 2010

Maybe you can entice him to do it? Like... dress really hot, be super-flirtatious, tickle him or something?

Seconding flabdablet... it's quite possible that this guy will be as hesitant and passive every step of the way, or even (god forbid) forever. Decide now if that's something you're willing to live with, because once you do it he'll be hell to get rid of.
posted by dualityofmind at 2:14 AM on January 27, 2010

For the love of dog almighty, ignore the first part of what dualitymind just said. The chap in question probably feels vulnerable and out of his depth, and trying to 'entice' him into something will just make that worse. He needs to come to all this in his own time.

Your wish to just kiss him already, damnit is completely understandable, but his boundaries should be respected just the same. june made him a gemini has it for a way to proceed.

And lastly, good luck! This guy is lucky to be with someone so considerate.
posted by psychostorm at 2:52 AM on January 27, 2010

even though he no longer believes the stuff he was raised, for him, kissing is still a really, really big deal.

You mentioned in your last post that he's now a fruitarian. To me that's as extreme as fundamental religion (belief system etc, etc, no value judgment at all), it's just focused in a different direction.

But importantly, as others have mentioned, what would you anticipate would happen with a if there was a potential break up down the track?

This question isn't so much about how it would affect how he behaves towards you (aargh, he's never gonna leave me alone, he thinks I'm his one true love because we kissed!). Rather, do you care enough about him yet to think how it might impact on him?

If it was me, and I cared about him, and I was thinking in a really, really rational way, I'd wait to let him kiss me first so that I knew this was what he was [emotionally/socially/personally] ready for.
posted by skauskas at 3:06 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

So I'm dating a former religious fundamentalist.... [he's now a fruitarian.]

Please don't dress super-hot or try to pressure him into anything. It sounds like this fella already a half-cracked pot, and that might just push him over the edge into serious crazyland. Well, more serious crazyland.

If you really want to pursue a relationship here, I'm with tavegyl above: try to escalate things gently, one step at a time, and only when he's in a relaxed, comfortable state of mind and place. Keep him feeling safe at all times. If he stiffens up or resists, back off and try again later.

Gently and with patience.
posted by rokusan at 3:25 AM on January 27, 2010

he told me that... for him... kissing is still a really, really big deal

We should all be so lucky to have kisses which are a really big deal, right? Who's never wanted even a simple kiss to be deeply significant and/or world-stopping?

Reach inside yourself and tune into the part of yourself on that wavelength. Sure, with experience, we find out it's not always like that, that there are a lot of reasons to kiss someone that aren't fraught with deep meaning, that some kisses are just pleasant, some are just for fun, some are for testing the waters, some you just go along with to see what happens, some are pure electric attraction, some are a prelude and punctuation for sexytime, and some are flat-out mistakes driven by frailties or misappraisals. But your guy is missing some of that experience and has spent a lot of his life immersed in a narrative that told him this stuff is special, so...

My advice as a guy who's come from a fairly similar place would be to develop the relationship emotionally, and you'll probably find his inclination to kiss you follows, particularly if there's also attraction present. In this sense it's not that different from the way a lot of people are about wanting the want the emotional part of the relationship to lead sexual involvement... even when they think someone's totally hot.

Maybe you can entice him to do it? Like... dress really hot, be super-flirtatious, tickle him or something?

I wouldn't do this particularly. If I'm right about where he's coming from, what you want to do is cohere the dual powers of intimacy and attraction, not just lay the later on thick. Be expressively affectionate, though: hugs, pecks, cuddling, touches, back rubs, etc.

At some point in a couple of weeks you might want to take some initiative, though. Don't just jump him because he's so hot and yummy, though. Pick a good time where you're both attuned to each other, and you're sensing that he's feeling both attraction to and connection with you, and gently move in.
posted by weston at 4:10 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

That's a lot of "though" in those last few sentences. Sorry. Should preview better after I edit.
posted by weston at 4:13 AM on January 27, 2010

This is your golden opportunity to teach him about communication instead of repression and ignoring feelings. Ask him! Tell him how you feel! Model good behavior that's different from what he may have known in the past!

"Even though I'm not sure I want to marry you, I really like you a lot and I find you very attractive, and we've spent enough time together that I trust you and I hope you trust me. I've wanted to kiss you for two weeks, but I've been afraid of offending you. Would it be OK if I kissed you now? Or would you like to kiss me by any chance? It's OK if you're not ready, but I really hope we can at least talk about it."
posted by amtho at 6:04 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

When the moment comes, say "I'm going to kiss you now." Then do it. Even if it embarasses him for a moment, he'll almost certainly like it and want to do it again sometime. Hang out with other couples that are kind of touch-feely so he can see (well, I'm sure he knows, but internalize more) that normal people do stuff like that.

Nobody likes feeling like they don't know what they're doing and they're going to make an ass of themselves. This is true no matter how much everyone else says it's ok. You're probably going to have to take the lead and be like, "ok, now you kiss me back." Later, "I want you to touch me like this. That's just right." etc.
posted by ctmf at 6:46 AM on January 27, 2010

I disagree with posters advocating the 'just go for it' approach. He no longer believes the stuff he was raised, but kissing is STILL a big, big deal for him. In light of that, just diving in (however enticingly or sensitively) does not seem like a respectful thing to do.

Seconding amtho. Communicate. Ask him before you make the move, and at the right, snuggly sort of moment. "Can I kiss you?" is fine, and kind of sweet, IMHO. But the asking is important.

And since you know what kissing means to him, make sure he knows what it means to you - something fun that couples do together, but not a sign of everlasting commitment. That's an important, pre-liplocking talk.
posted by nicoleincanada at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Um, you might want to keep in mind the possibility that he's just not attracted to you. It's totally possible. If he doesn't warm up soon you'll need to ask yourself if it's worth trying so hard at something that should essentially come naturally when a boy and a girl like-like each other.
posted by yarly at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2010

Got a lot of flak for that one.

I was thinking part of the masculine biology is a sense of desire to get, triggered by female hotness. He's flesh-and-blood, and he must, on some level, desire you. I believe that making the move is the man's job... I'm suggesting you help him do his job, not do it for him.
posted by dualityofmind at 2:31 PM on January 27, 2010

I'm going to weigh in here, as the girlfriend of a man who once was as your man now is. I love to kiss. I am a big proponent of being in tune with sexuality generally, and there's nothing I love more than tuning in and sharing that with my partner.

That said... my advice is: Slow. Way. Down.

Try and think back to what it felt like in Junior High School, before you had all the experience you have now. I think this is less about being formerly religious, and more about being inexperienced and, in a way, innocent.

He wants you. He's interested. (From your question, sounds like he's said that, in words.) He just needs time to warm up. What a golden opportunity to focus on him as a person. Have experiences with him. Go bowling. Go hiking. Go shopping. Eat great food while looking into each other's eyes. Be romantic, in the most delightful sort of Junior-High-School way. Also, try writing long letters or emails. Really get to know him.

You may not need to wait until he makes a move. (Heaven knows when that will be.) But if you slow down, stop thinking so much about kissing him, and just spend some time enjoying him and experiencing things together, he will be more comfortable with you, and the kissing will follow. This is my experience. YMMV.
posted by eleyna at 4:03 PM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

OTOH: I never would have made a move on her, and would probably still be alone today, if she hadn't forced the issue. This is my experience. YMMV.
posted by flabdablet at 12:19 AM on January 28, 2010

I was thinking part of the masculine biology is a sense of desire to get, triggered by female hotness. He's flesh-and-blood, and he must, on some level, desire you. I believe that making the move is the man's job... I'm suggesting you help him do his job, not do it for him.

The idea that genders have "jobs" is wrong. Everyone is a human being and deserve to have their feelings and physical space respected.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:56 PM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

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