Turned off by forwardness
April 15, 2012 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Is it strange that I get turned off by outright flirting and sexual advances from men?

Basically when I'm getting to know a guy, I look for a deep mental/emotional connection with him. It really catches my interest when that happens with a man, although looks, ambition, etc also factor into attraction to some extent. One thing I've noticed though is that if a man tries to flirty aggressively, making a comment about my appearance ("those long legs of yours" "I bet you turn heads" etc) or starts talking about sex, I have a negative gut reaction towards him. It makes me feel like he's objectifying me instead of appreciating my ideas or convictions. Being an idealist likely contributes to this unrealistic and critical perspective, and I know I need to just get over it because in the real world, men are attracted to good looking women, and have sexual thoughts about them! My parents never discussed sex much although I certainly don't see it as dirty or shameful. I eventually do feel comfortable being very sexual with a man (I'm kind of a freak deep down, hah!), but it comes much later in the process of getting to know a guy, and happens only after I feel safe with him. Typically I've dated guys I've become friends with first. It's also noteworthy that I did the "pursuing" with those guys, and it ended up with me not feeling wanted! Maybe I just don't know what I want, or don't know how to identify the right type of guy when he crosses my path. It's like, a guy has to show some interest, but not TOO MUCH interest, or I get scared away. I'm in my mid 20s and not very sexually experienced, having had only one boyfriend.

How can I become more comfortable with aggressive, alpha male type flirting? How do I adopt more realistic standards when it comes to choosing men to go out with?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

How can I become more comfortable with aggressive, alpha male type flirting?

Option X: You don't. Instead you become more comfortable with being assertive about not wanting that kind of attention... until you do want it.

"Hey mister, don't get fresh with me!". I recommend watching old movies with strong female leads.
posted by Kerasia at 8:16 PM on April 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

How can I become more comfortable with aggressive, alpha male type flirting?

Maybe don't? I loathe it - I would much rather be dominant and pursue than be pursued. Nothing will make me lose interest quicker than an alpha or someone who thinks that behaving like an alpha is the way to go.

It's also noteworthy that I did the "pursuing" with those guys, and it ended up with me not feeling wanted!

Maybe you need a man who you pursue but who is also an emotional/passionate soul. Whilst I enjoy pursuing, I don't enjoy pursuing guys who aren't passionate. They don't hold my interest enough. Thankfully not all passionate men are alphas.

I'm in my mid 20s and not very sexually experienced, having had only one boyfriend.

This is what life is about, learning.
posted by mleigh at 8:18 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is not strange at all, and is in my understanding quite common to be turned off by sexual aggressiveness. It is probably a good idea to pay attention to what you are into and not into instead of trying to force it, that way only leads to heartache.

There are lots of dudes who aren't into alpha male type flirting either, especially if you are willing to take the lead in things they shouldn't be hard to find.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:20 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't totally understand your question -- it almost seems like you're thinking, when you say you want "realistic" expectations, that you expect that all guys flirt that way or want to flirt that way, which as Blasdelb says isn't the case. Just keep dating the types of people you like and stay away from guys hollering about your legs. It isn't cool and they are objectifying you.
posted by sweetkid at 8:23 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

" and I know I need to just get over it"

No you don't. Sleazy comments on your body right out of the gate? It's tacky. Nobody likes tacky.

Hold out for guys who, at the very least, can make a pretense to politeness and class for at least your first meeting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:42 PM on April 15, 2012 [19 favorites]

It's ok that you don't like it! I don't like feeling objectified either, and in my experience, this preference has helped steer me toward partners who are respectful of me and my body, which is great. Maybe think of it as something gross that got caught in the Brita filter of first impressions, so you didn't have to drink it.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:47 PM on April 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Your standards sound perfectly realistic to me. I can see why you'd feel pressured to change--the media narrative is that guys only care about sex and that women who expect otherwise are being silly and unrealistic--but there are plenty of men out there who want a whole, fulfilling relationship that includes great sex AND an emotional connection, and who know that this kind of behavior is not the best way to get it.

As far as you not feeling wanted with previous guys you've dated--are you sure that had anything to do with you having pursued them? I've pursued guys who were "meh" about me and I ended up feeling rejected--and I pursued my current boyfriend, who would probably never have made the first move, but who responded to my advances with enthusiasm and who makes me feel loved and wanted. Just depends on the situation.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:52 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm male. If I see someone who is interesting and attractive, then I'll be thinking 'whoa, those legs!'. I certainly won't be saying it - at least until we're way past the 'get to know you' stage. The fact that these guys are saying such things suggests that they're not axactly going to be a perfect match in terms of your idealism.

So, you can go two ways - you can be okay with this by ignoring your objection, forgiving them for their lack of delicacy, and carry on regardless. Or you can maintain your standards - they're not unrealistic, they're just higher than some. Just be careful that you don't accidently ignore all the more subtle men, if you're used to ones who are far more forward.
posted by twirlypen at 8:54 PM on April 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

I too am male, but your preference doesn't strike me as unreasonable at all, and far far from uncommon amongst the women I know. Most of them (the ones with healthy self-esteems, anyway) would likely react "ew" to comments like that - early on in dating anyway.

You should consider, if you think they're sleazy comments, then they're probably sleazy comments! You don't have to be flattered by some dude macking on you; imagine how most guys would react if someone one a first date was all like "I bet those big balls of yours turns heads, looks like you're smuggling a poodle in your pants!", "Ohh, I bet people are trying to paint their eyeballs on your buns!". Contrary to stereotype, I feel most guys would be discomfitted by something like that.
posted by smoke at 9:02 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

OP: Are these situations as you describe happen in the first or second date? If so, you are right not to continue dating them, But if they are making such statements in the "middle" stage, it might be they are just plain confused.

Someone above advised "watch old films with strong female leads" - that is precisely the advice given to men. Men are supposed to rock women off their feet, by taking the lead, constantly complimenting the lady etc.

Alpha males, by nature, seek to dominate and unsurprisingly, most beautiful women are alpha females too, since they know they are beautiful and can pick the man they want. So when you pursue someone, be sure to apply the same standards of moderation.

What I am trying to tell you is be patient - we men definitely want an emotional connection, but not like a bluetooth headset actively trying to get a connection. For us, an emotional connection develops over time, along with a physical connection. They ARE not separate.

Of course, finding such men takes time and mostly a matter of trial and error (and it is for us too). Don't worry, you will find the man you desire and deserve.
posted by theobserver at 9:02 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Her: I don't really go for those kinds of comments, you know, feel objectified and whatnot.

Him: OK, good to know.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:05 PM on April 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's perfectly okay not to want that kind of attention from someone until you do. And you can tell people that you don't like something.

And they may or may not be comfortable with that restriction. Then they or you can decide if building a relationship is something either of you wants to do. But you do want to be with someone who respects your boundaries...but to do that, you must communicate effectively what those boundaries are.
posted by inturnaround at 9:05 PM on April 15, 2012

There's a big difference, as twirlypen pointed out, between thinking it and saying it aloud.

One way you could approach this would be to pre-emptively put this preference out there, which shouldn't be hard if you're meeting people online. I'm not the best person to ask about how to pull this off if your first contact with someone is in person, but the next best thing would totally be to assert a boundary immediately after the fact.

Then, pay attention to how the guy responds, because he's now showing you how well he respects your limits and your right to set them.

Aggressive flirting isn't something you should have to learn to deal with.
posted by alphanerd at 9:05 PM on April 15, 2012

You have a God-given right to be turned off by disrespectful, predatory behavior. If you get the vibe someone is only talking to you because he wants to get laid, why humor him if that's not what you want too? Respect yourself, honor your gut feelings, set boundaries, and stick to them. Life's too short for anything else.
posted by doreur at 9:13 PM on April 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is a very strange request. You seem to be asking how to change your own preferences in order to fit into someone else's idea of what you should prefer. That's exactly the wrong approach. At its core, this is the same mistake as saying a gay person should learn to be attracted to the opposite sex. Guess what? It's not going to happen. People like what they like. You know what you do and don't like. Stick to that. It doesn't even matter whether anyone else on Metafilter thinks the behavior you're describing is sleazy or not. Even if we all thought it sounded absolutely dashing, how would that help you? If you're not being faithful to what you really want, what's the point of dating at all?
posted by John Cohen at 9:16 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

HA! Your question is so timely for me, I was just telling someone today how I got together with my very handsome and extremely lovely husband... and your question just highlighted something for me I never noticed before. Thank you!

Without going into too much detail, I have a pretty out-going and dominant personality. Like you, I get very squicky when men say things like you've described. I love when people are friendly, but cross an intimacy line (commenting on my appearance in a sexual manner) makes me think poorly of the guy making the comment.

Re-telling about my romance with my husband today, was espousing on how my now-husband was so lovely and polite for the first 2 months I knew him, even though I thought he was extremely attractive in every way, I had no idea he liked me back. None.

Do you wanna know when I found out? When he leaned forward, cupped my cheek, and kissed me in the middle of our first date, and I wasn't sure it was a "date date" until that moment. Seriously.

The timing and genuineness of that gesture sealed the deal for me. If he'd been hitting on me or flirting badly with me during out initial interactions, I would not have continued to like over the 2 months leading up to our first date. (Which I know I initiated, btw, because the situation that introduced us to each other was about to change. If not then, I would not have run into him again in our big city, as far as I knew. So I invited him to a group activity with some friends...)


I think your style is just your style. Apparently, that won't stop you from partnering-up, IMHO:)
posted by jbenben at 9:25 PM on April 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

You sound totally healthy and well adjusted to me. Don't let pushy, tactless men (or their defenders) tell you what you should like.
posted by ead at 10:20 PM on April 15, 2012

My mom (and folks of her generation) call this showing your ass. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your being turned off by this type of crude behavior, so please stop thinking that this is a character flaw that you need to fix. The right type of guy for you is the type that doesn't make you gag or do a mental eye-roll when he's chatting you up. In my single days, I've had perfectly wonderful conversations with appealing guys that were killed stone dead when they made nasty or overtly-sexual remarks or gestures like licking their lips when talking to me. I totally sympathize. You know what you like. Don't second guess yourself or you'll end up wasting precious time on incompatible losers.

When someone shows you their ass, be thankful and move on.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:28 PM on April 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Maybe you don't know what you want? Sure, that's a possibility.

-- OR --

Maybe you thrive on intellectual connections and value that in someone else.

I'm more turned on by a woman who is pretty but doesn't know it than I am by a stunning woman who knows it and shows it. And, perhaps more importantly, I am far more turned on by intellect than I am by appearance. Don't get me wrong... I enjoy feminine beauty as much as the next guy, and if I'm on a date with an attractive woman, I'll probably be thinking "ooh, she's pretty." But if I'm on a date with a woman I connect with mentally, I guarantee that at some point, I'll be thinking "OMG! WANT!"

Connecting with someone physically is awesome. Frigging yummy even. But, for me, real fireworks come when connecting mentally first. That just makes the physical even hotter.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:41 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ha ha. I received a lengthy over romanticised screed on the fourth message from someone on OKC, who hadn't even met me.

It made me uncomfortable, and yet I thought, how can I be so ungrateful? Look at all the trouble he went to. But I never replied again. Because HE HADN'T EVEN MET ME. It's like he was threatening to send me a banjo (q.v.) or something.

I know things are weird in dating these days. Look at all the "I slept with this girl, do you think it's an invasion of privacy for me to text her?" and "I've been living with this guy for 28 years now but he refuses to introduce me as his GF, pretends he doesn't know me when we go out in public together, and says he's not ready for a commitment, plus his browser history indicates he's sexually tilted in favour of the aspidistra, and when I try to talk to him about the kids he goes, 'what kids'" Overall, you get the impression that if you don't put out before the first date, you're persona non grata.

But there's nothing wrong with doing this the normal way. You know, as in, he dates you a number of times before attempting to get his leg over. He keeps his filthy thoughts to himself at first because he does not presume on the honour of a fine lady like you. Even MeFi is telling you that's possible, so take heart.
posted by tel3path at 12:53 AM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm going to break with the advice above. It's not in your head that the situation is causing a problem for you - you get turned off when guys flirt with you, and you get turned off when guys don't flirt with you, and the sweet spot in the middle is such a narrow target that few are going to hit it (and none know where to aim), even when they're people you suspect you might otherwise have had a great time with.

Part of the problem is that the guys can't read your mind on this, and the standard solution to this reoccurring problem is to make it so they don't need too. If a guy starts killing the mood for you with flirting, tell him!
I don't know your personality, so with a grain of salt... with a smile you could say maybe "Whoa there! If you get your flirt on before we have a real intellectual connection, it will kill my attraction stone cold. That's just the way I am. So.... let's back up. Ok. You mentioned earlier that..."
Likewise, if you're pursuing a guy and feeling like he's not so into you, tell him.
Maybe "As you noticed, I had my sights on you and I got your attention, but my interest will die pretty quickly if it doesn't seem like you're into me too. So heads up - if you are interested in making us something awesome, you've got to show me."

It feels shitty to ask someone to show they like you - as if the act of asking precludes the result from being meaningful, compared to the spontaneity that the rom-com pr0n depicts, but I don't think that's the case here. Here it sounds like you've inadvertently established ground rules that [showing they're into you] isn't entirely necessary, and at some point you want to ease back that initial situation and move to something more equal. So do it openly and clearly.

(No hints. Hinting is just a form of wishing where you think you can blame someone when the wish doesn't come true.)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:27 AM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've been on plenty of dates and in my experience, men acting like this is not the norm. The only time I've encounted this type of stuff is from drunk men at a bar or twice walking by the same construction workers.

I've always wondered what percentage of women actually find this behavior attractive.

So, I think your reaction is normal and you dont need to change a thing.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:20 AM on April 16, 2012

To answer your question: "Is it strange"...

Not at all. I experience the same squicky feelings when men are over the toply sexual or flirtatious with me. With me, it's because I feel like, they have stopped reacting to me as a person, and have started reacting to me as a stereotype. It makes me feel invisible, even though they are right there in front of me, reacting to me, it doesn't feel like they can see me.

So just to let you know you are not the only one who feels this way and you are not strange. It also doesn't make you any less sexual than the woman who likes this kind of attention (I've a friend who LOVES it, so there are some).
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:03 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's definitely not strange. Some people do like those kinds of comments so people think it works on everyone. I usually just don't respond to the comments and if I want to talk to the guy then I try to start a normal conversation. It works most of the time.
posted by fromageball at 6:22 AM on April 16, 2012

I'm a guy. If the examples you cite are actual things men have said to you on a date within the first three to four weeks and not just random things that popped into your mind, then what you are experiencing is a healthy red flag warning. If I ever said "I bet you turn heads" to a woman I was on a first or second date with I would fully expect her to go 'Ugh' and then get up, walk out, and delete all mention of me from her life. That is not flirting...that is creeping.
posted by spicynuts at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's like, a guy has to show some interest, but not TOO MUCH interest, or I get scared away.

You have preferences. There's nothing wrong with that. Find a slow-moving guy. Nothing wrong with that. You seem perfectly OK with chasing guys, which is just fine!
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 AM on April 16, 2012

Trust your gut - I think it's steering you right in these cases.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:31 AM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Basically when I'm getting to know a guy, I look for a deep mental/emotional connection with him.

For the record, you should be looking for the potential of a deep mental/emotional connection, if you want a real one; such things take time. Having said that...

One thing I've noticed though is that if a man tries to flirty aggressively...I have a negative gut reaction towards him

Sounds like an appropriate response to me. You feel the way you feel, and if you're looking to form a deep mental/emotional connection with someone, you'll want to hold out for someone who either avoids that kind of talk, or holds off on that until you're ready for it, or says it and you don't have the negative reaction. Can't see anything wrong with your reaction at all.
posted by davejay at 8:55 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with all those above: you're fine.

It's so annoying when you're trying to get to know someone -- trying to see what's between their ears and then out of nowhere you realize that they don't care so much what is between yours and, in fact, their thoughts are decidedly elsewhere. I suppose at least they are being honest: you're looking for a relationship and they, most likely, are looking for a hookup. I think it's okay to back off from that. I wouldn't sleep with someone I wasn't interested in. What interests me is good conversation, a kind spirit, wit and humor. Any guy could have those things AND a great ass (if we're lucky). Frankly, the guy that can't get over my looks to delve deeper is either not very deep himself or is just after something in the moment. You don't have to play that game or feel flattered. I mean, I guess, go ahead a feel flattered if you like but then move on. It's okay to move on.

And on the pursuer/pursued point: a great conversation is give and take, right? So is the chase, I think. You don't always want to be chasing and you don't always want to be chased. I think balance is the key.

If you feel like you're missing true opportunities then maybe the next time this happens just try to consciously pause for a moment and consider what the guy is saying. Think about how you want to react. Put a neutral expression on your face as you consider (maybe it'll make him think, too) and then just react how you feel. "Ah. Hmmm... well, thank you, I guess. I just saw a friend I need to go talk to...."

I think you're fine and I think your instincts will serve you well.
posted by amanda at 9:25 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

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