Whats the proper way to let a guy know he won't be getting any?
January 14, 2012 7:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm a girl. You're a guy. We're making out, but we won't be doing anything past that tonight. How do I let you know that so you don't feel like I'm leading you on? Or do I let you know at all?

This has happened a couple of times in the last few months (yay single life!), and both times I wasn't sure what to say.

Scenario A:
Making out heavily with a guy I like a lot and started dating a few dates ago. I'm not ready to get any kind of naked, and I know how much it sucks to get all turned on and hope that sex will happen, and then be disappointed, so I blurt out "I'm not gonna sleep with you yet because I don't know you well enough yet, although I'm sure it'd be amazing" And then I felt silly for saying that. Should I not have said anything and just moved his hand away if he started trying to take it further? This scenario is simpler because we liked each other and it didn't matter much what I blurted out, but what would you, as a guy, prefer?

Scenario B:
Making out a little with a guy I just met that same night. Roommates and I invited him and his friends (both guys and girls) over when we were leaving the bar. They were friends with a mutual friend so we're not inviting total strangers over, so no need to comment on whether this is a safe decision, just in case any of you are concerned. Anyway, I have no intentions of seeing this guy again, but dancing and making out is fun, so I'd like to keep kissing. But again, definitely don't want to take it further with someone I don't know at all. Guy says "is there anywhere we can go to make out?" I say something like, "no that's ok, let's just stay here" because I didn't want to just take him to my room, but then my roommates came back into the living room and the making out stopped, eventually him and his friends leave. Should I have said "well let's go make out in my room but all our clothes stay on"? Or should we have just went to my room to make out and then stopped his advances when he tried to go further? I know he's there for just a hook up, so I want to be upfront about it and give him the chance to leave if he doesnt want blue balls and doesn't want to feel like he's in high school all over again, but at the same time I would've loved to keep making out, if he was up for it. I'm also ok with him saying "no thanks" to just kissing, or him saying he has to go once he realizes he's not getting any (the most likely scenarios). But what is the best way to handle that situation, and to possibly maximize my chances of the guy being ok with just making out? I know it depends on the guy, not what I say, but still would like to know the best way to warn the guy when we're late 20's/early 30's and sex is pretty much expected during a casual hook up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I blurt out "I'm not gonna sleep with you yet because I don't know you well enough yet, although I'm sure it'd be amazing"

That's perfectly fine. He might be disappointed, but that's not really your problem. Maybe there could be slicker phrasing, but honestly, that's probably good enough. The earlier you let them know, the better.
posted by ignignokt at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2012 [17 favorites]

I agree with the above.

For a guy you really like:

"I'm not into casual sex, but I'm into you. You're really sexy, but I'm only comfortable just kissing and touching for now and taking things slowly."

If it is someone you just want to kiss for the night, meh, depending on how old you are and the guy's level of interest in just kissing, you seem to have some reasonable responses already-- just be ready for him to bail as you suspect he may.
posted by devymetal at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

Scenario A preferred from this here guy, who effing hated the not-so-subtle-hand-push-off that made me feel like I was making out with a horny Catholic schoolteacher.

The key, IMO, is to draw boundaries rather than force me to guess where the boundaries are.

And make it fun, fer Chrissakes. "OK, Sugar, here's exactly how I want to get felt up..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:58 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I remember those days, and I said the same kind of semi-awkward but clear stuff you said in example #1. So don't feel like there's something especially un-slick about your approach - I suspect it's pretty normal.

As for #2, I'd just call your decision good judgment. It got awkward when your friends returned to the room, but at the same time, asking him into your room would sort of indicate a raising of the bar, and it might have been more awkward when you gave your message in there.

And don't forget, it is really wise of you to be clear, but the guys shouldn't be just making assumptions, either. They have responsibilities to get clearly established consent too, though it's troublesome that often those responsibilities get ignored. I think your approach to head any exalted hopes off at the pass is very fair, though.
posted by Miko at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Any guy should not get too cross if you want to put a halt on things, but if they do, too bad. I'm a woman and I've had guys put the brakes on ME, and moving a hand away or saying something subtle is fine.
posted by sweetkid at 8:01 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what devymetal and cool papa bell said.

I've been through this. A lovely certain someone wanted to make out a lot forever, which was great. But she said she didn't want to take it any further, which is just fine. The only weird thing, IMO, was that after telling me we weren't going to sleep together (well in advance of going somewhere private), she (apparently) started second-guessing herself and felt the need to justify that we weren't going to go further with some semi-random excuses/reasons about some barely-related things. I did my best to reassure her with a kiss-and-hug-of-confidence.

You want to only make out? Chances are that I'm so up for that. State your boundaries clearly, early, and don't feel bad about 'em or extra-justify 'em. Own 'em.
posted by fake at 8:10 PM on January 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

A - totally fine. I think I prefer you to say what you said (or say something) rather than just start pushing my hand away (which seems like both more of a rejection and less clear).

B - I really have trouble caring. I think you handled it well. I think, in scenario A, the issue is that you like the guy and don't want to fuck things up. In scenario B, it's a one night whatever with basically a stranger, so worrying about whether he gets frustrated about his blue balls isn't something to worry about (although your safety, obviously, is).
posted by J. Wilson at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You want to only make out? Chances are that I'm so up for that. State your boundaries clearly, early, and don't feel bad about 'em or extra-justify 'em. Own 'em.

This is so important! You are in charge of your body, so why not convey your self-respect with some sass? Or at least a smile. You're making a choice you like, no reason to be timid or think you need to be apologetic about it.

'Cause--just so you know--you can't scare off a guy who is meant to be your boyfriend or future husband or whatever with a cool, confident refusal to engage in casual sex. That's never gonna happen. So if the dude bails just because you won't put out (and you want to actually date him), you dodged a bullet.
posted by devymetal at 8:19 PM on January 14, 2012 [33 favorites]

Scenario A is some pretty impressive diplomacy! I'd say you're doing it right.
posted by TigerCrane at 8:29 PM on January 14, 2012

I'm a guy who is very much into making out and not necessarily going further. I'm also very much into respecting boundaries, and I mean that on both sides: respect boundaries set by someone else (pay attention to what they say and do), respect your own boundaries (make them known, either by word or deed). I've been through a few different situations, and the one thing that really drove me nuts was the woman who kept alternating between pushing me away and pulling me back. My opinions on your scenarios:

- A is just fine. It's not necessarily smooth, but frankly that has a charm all its own.

- B is okay, though if you were comfortable with being with him in a more private setting, you might've done better to honestly communicate that continuing the activity in said more-private setting was fine, but that's all that would happen. That way he could've demurred, leaving you with about the same result minus the "oh dang roommates are in our space" stoppage; he could've flat-out objected, letting you know he's not the right guy for this context; he could've agreed, netting you extra makeouts. A winnar is yuo!

But that's mostly nitpickery. You seem to be doing just fine and enjoying the single life. Well done.
posted by cardioid at 10:00 PM on January 14, 2012

I thought the code for that was "I like to take things really slow, is that okay?" after the first kiss/fondle.
posted by meepmeow at 10:03 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who say it's your right to put a halt to the proceedings at any point. I don't think we as women should have to worry about "leading men on." The person who wants to go farther should worry about whether their partner is comfortable ( not that that should necessarily be the man).
posted by costanza at 10:37 PM on January 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best way I've heard this was "the pants are staying on tonight."

Any reasonable fellow will respect clear boundaries, and appreciate clear communication of them.
posted by ead at 11:36 PM on January 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

A gentleman would understand. This is why there are second and third dates.
posted by Kilovolt at 11:45 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Scenario A - "Just so we're clear, I'm not ready to sleep with you yet"

Scenario B - "We could go hang out in my room, but I don't want to give you the wrong impression"
posted by peppermintfreddo at 1:02 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Us guys can be pretty dumb, particularly when we're in our early 20s and horny as a goat. Clear directions as to what is and what is not on are generally a good thing. Don't worry about sounding silly. There's nothing wrong with saying "I'm really enjoying kissing you. Lets go to my room for some privacy and do it some more. But nothing more", as far as I'm concerned. At least then I know where I stand, and can enjoy some more smoochie times with no pressure like "Does she want me to go further?".
posted by Diag at 3:41 AM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nth a variant of scenario A; I've both said and heard "I'm not going to [sleep with] you tonight, but I'd love to make out with you." I appreciate the straightforward boundary. FWIW it also works for other situations, ie "We can do X, but not Y" with similar success.
posted by a halcyon day at 5:23 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Personal preference?

Scenario A: Let me know, verbally, that you're loving the making out but you don't feel ready for more yet. That's absolutely fine. Seconding the person who said please don't do the hand-pushing-away thing, though. That would make me feel like a randy little schoolboy trying it on. I'd add that I would always be looking hard for any and all signs of where you are with what we're doing and whether or not you're okay with going further. Any decent guy should be doing this. It isn't just on you to delineate the boundaries.

Scenario B. If you're really not that into me (either for a casual fuck or something more promising) I would appreciate it if you didn't show any physical interest at all. If a woman let's it be known she's into me enough to make out I'm afraid I take that as a sign that she wouldn't mind the experience leading somewhere, eventually, be it a short-term thing or more. "Let's snog for a while and then that's it forever" is kinda irritating, to me. i suspect many guys would feel the same way.
posted by Decani at 5:24 AM on January 15, 2012

I agree with ead, above. Making out is not foreplay (though it certainly can be incorporated into foreplay - big distinction there), and a great time to raise the 'not tonight thanks' is the attempted removal of (or insinuation into) underclothing. Just disengage tongues, look him/her in the eye and say, 'kissing's just delicious but I'm not up for anything more right now', then get back to the snogging.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:32 AM on January 15, 2012

While I agree you never owe a guy anything, it's important to manage expectations (and it sounds like you've been doing that well enough). Be considerate. I recently heard a story of a friend who biked a long way in the middle of the night to her house for a booty call and then, when clothes didn't come off, was annoyed enough to tell a lot of random people the next day.
posted by ropeladder at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

How do I let you know that so you don't feel like I'm leading you on? Or do I let you know at all?

Let'em know up front. It weeds out those who aren't on the same page as you (which doesn't make them jerks). Meanwhile, you're getting what you want and avoiding mistaken conceptions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought the code for that was "I like to take things really slow, is that okay?" after the first kiss/fondle.

I think that's a little unclear. Does "really slow" mean "slow hand, make it last" or does it mean "not tonight?"

I recently heard a story of a friend who biked a long way in the middle of the night to her house for a booty call and then, when clothes didn't come off, was annoyed enough to tell a lot of random people the next day.

This feels vaguely threatening - as if she would deserve the slandering if this happened to her -- and I wouldn't want the OP to live in fear of this kind of thing - I mean, that says a lot more about the guy in question than about the woman, and is not cool behavior. He presumed, so he badmouths her? Yes, it would have been nice of her to characterize what she had in mind, but her lack of doing so on the phone doesn't mean "green light!"

Anyway, it's all about choice of guy. Jerks will be jerks- if you learn that you're dealing with a jerk early on while all the buttons are still buttoned, so much the better.
posted by Miko at 8:46 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

[while making out] "hey, i'm only interested in making out tonight, ok?"
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:27 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm exceedingly taken, but when I was on the market it was all about your timing. I don't agree with "the earlier the better" - I wouldn't want to be told that sex was off the menu while I was just getting into kissing you, but I also wouldn't want to find it out after an hour of you sending me signals that you were really into me physically. If sex is a pot of boiling water, then you could say I'd want to know once bubbles start rising to the surface.

I agree that a clear verbal instruction is preferred to pushing my hand away. If you can combine setting boundaries with telling me something dirty about how aroused you are or how much you want me, then that's a nice balance of showing your sexual side along with making your limits clear. "Listen, we're not going under the clothes tonight, OK?" "OK." "Good. But you've got me really turned on - I thought you'd like to know that."

Something to watch out for in these situations is a PUA technique called the 'freeze out'. I've said before that I think there is some decent advice to be found in PUA material, but this one is definitely unpleasantly manipulative. The idea is that when a woman tries to stop sexual escalation, the man should cease all interaction, physically separating from her, turning the lights on and opening his laptop to check his email. The idea is that this punishes the woman who then starts craving attention and affection. After a while they start canoodling again and, supposedly, the woman will be less likely to keep to her boundaries this time. The correct response to this sort of behaviour is, of course, to tell him where he can stick it, kick him out of your house and inform all mutual friends about his attempts to use sleazy PUA crap.

Finally, of course, men are all different. A pushy type will need different treatment from a nervous type. Be ready for the approach that's worked perfectly nine times to fall flat on the tenth. There will be guys who "don't hear" your limits. If you suspect that, get verbal confirmation from him (even a grunt) when you give them.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:41 AM on January 16, 2012

I think I once used a line that went something like, "I wish I could do more with you, but I couldn't without feeling guilty about it." The gentleman understood completely. :)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 10:29 AM on January 16, 2012

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