I'm not cut out for modern dating. Please help!
October 7, 2012 2:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm not cut out for modern dating. Please help!

It takes me awhile to feel attracted to someone, much longer than most other people as far as I can tell. Most of my dates come from online dating, and at the end of the first or second date, most guys seem to expect a kiss, but to me a kiss after meeting a complete stranger and talking to him for a few hours seems extremely foreign and uncomfortable. That just seems like way too intimate an action for someone I've just met. What generally happens after first dates is that I don't feel any attraction/spark/etc and don't go out with the person again. I suspect that if I got to know some of these guys better (over the course of weeks), attraction/spark could develop for some of them (for me, attraction comes from a combination of looks and getting to know someone, not just looks). But dating, particularly online dating, is not geared towards taking things slowly, especially in a physical sense.

I realize I'm unusual in this regard (my friends happily sleep with the person they're dating on the first, second, or third date). If you're like me, how do you handle this situation? Should I just "fake it till I make it", i.e. proceed with the normal course of physical activity on dates even if I don't feel comfortable with it/don't feel an attraction yet, and see if emotional intimacy and attraction eventually develop? That doesn't seem right to me, but on the other hand, I don't see how I will ever have a relationship again otherwise. (My prior relationships were with friends who I already knew well and attraction developed afterward.)

Thank you!
posted by whitelily to Human Relations (32 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I realize I'm unusual in this regard (my friends happily sleep with the person they're dating on the first, second, or third date).

You are "unusual" in a very small group with which to compare yourself; you are not at all unusual within the pool of people you would go on a first date with and the pool of people that they would go on a first date with.

but on the other hand, I don't see how I will ever have a relationship again otherwise. (My prior relationships were with friends who I already knew well and attraction developed afterward.)

Sounds to me like Step 1 is to meet more people and get to know them and see what comes out of that.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get to know someone at church, or through volunteering somewhere. You'll get to know some good people, who you can then decide to date.
posted by claytonius maximus at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2012

Should I just "fake it till I make it", i.e. proceed with the normal course of physical activity on dates even if I don't feel comfortable with it/don't feel an attraction yet, and see if emotional intimacy and attraction eventually develop?

As far as the "fake it 'til you make it" self-improvement strategy is concerned, the line is drawn well before "physical intimacy." Getting physical with someone with whom you are not totally into getting physical with will, best case scenario, make you hella resentful. The "normal" course of physical intimacy is what you're both on board with, not just you and not just the other party.
posted by griphus at 2:42 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

It will help significantly to state your preferences, which are totally valid and not uncommon, up front - like in your online dating profile. You might have more luck dating the traditional way, going to a church or place of worship and finding guys there. Seriously, that is one of the primary purposes of Churches. If you arn't religious, that isn't really much of a barrier; the Unitarians generally won't be either and most denominational protestants won't love you any less.

"Should I just "fake it till I make it", i.e. proceed with the normal course of physical activity on dates even if I don't feel comfortable with it/don't feel an attraction yet, and see if emotional intimacy and attraction eventually develop? "

This sounds like a really terrible idea, both for you and for any partner you find who would actually care about you.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

Hobbies work for meeting people too. Increase the number of people you meet as friends, and some of them might turn into future dates.
posted by nat at 2:48 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could have written this. I've come to the conclusion that I might not be cut out for online dating because I figured out that the only reason I even kiss some of these guys on a first date is because I would like to see them again and want to give some indication of that since a lot of people think that no kiss = no interest. Sleeping with the person is a different story. So that said, please don't do anything you're uncomfortable with just because you think you should!

When I first meet someone I don't even really process how I feel about it until I get home - but that could also mean that I just haven't really hit it off with anyone from online.

What complicates it even more is that I am totally up for meeting a random stranger and hanging out for several hours or even the whole day. I've never 'met someone for a drink' and had it be only a drink. We always end up hanging out for at least a few hours and I usually have a great time and sometimes forget that I'm supposed to be on a date.
posted by fromageball at 3:35 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

What activities do you do where you feel most like "you"? Wine tastings? Beach vollyball? Role playing games? Playing guitar? I don't mean you need to be skilled. You can be terrible! But there's something you do where you are fully yourself, and instinctually unwind, and feel relaxed, at-home, and confident. It may be something so blatantly central that you need to really think about it before realizing what it'd be.

Find a way to do THAT in places where your preferred gender hangs out. Or organize same.

The problem with dating sites and nervous dinners and all that is the artificiality. You wind up feeling compelled to "market" yourself, which is not something normal people feel comfortable doing. So forget all that, and do the things you do when you're most being you, to give opportunity for those who'd like someone like you to see you and recognize the you-ness (as opposed to making small talk over Italian food and praying enough of it is on display).
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:36 PM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry for being confusing. When I suggested that perhaps I should "proceed with the normal course of physical activity on dates even if I don't feel comfortable with it/don't feel an attraction yet" - I definitely wasn't suggesting that I should sleep with someone when I'm not comfortable with it - I was talking more about something tamer like kissing.
posted by whitelily at 3:47 PM on October 7, 2012

I was thinking that there was not enough information given in the description, until I read:

(My prior relationships were with friends who I already knew well and attraction developed afterward.)

The Church Of The Friendship Conversion.

It's very common I think. Perhaps more common than a lot of us admit to ourselves. It was how I started most of my relationships in the beginning, and many other people do as well. Thus, the first point, it's natural.

Intimacy is inherently risky. Being alone with another person is inherently risky. There's a reason people like being around other people. In many cases, it's safer. Further, sex is inherently risky, when you think about it. It's fun, sure. It's supposed to be. The body is literally wired for it to be fun. Lots of nerve endings in specific places. Sex can be a Really Bad Idea between some people, yet it happens anyway, because we're wired that way. The wonders of the plumbing. And it works. There are 7B of us after all.

But I digress. If we accept intimacy as risky, and sex as riskier AND we accept both as desirable – if not inevitable, what we then will look at is ways to de-risk the activity. Hence the friendship conversion. It makes ample sense really. You get to know someone. You work out who they are. When you decide you feel safe, the sex clicks on.

Think of it that you may well have an in-built series of gates that operate sequentially. The friendship gate comes first. Then the intimacy gate. Then the sex gate. Some people have them in parallel instead of series. There are three roads to Rome. You have one road.

And that's cool. Chances are that you may well have had fewer relationships, but they may have been deeply fulfilling, because you knew the person very well first. By the time love time came around, you had de-risked the situation enough to be very comfortable.

And in the end, I think your question is really all about risk. Your friends are less risk averse than you are. And that can be for a variety of reasons. Maybe they've had good luck with sex on first dates. We get better at whatever we do. The more one-night stands one has, the better one gets at picking successful one-night stand partners (hopefully).

So back to you. The spark. That magic that two people feel. The essential thing is that both people have to feel it. If you need to be friends with someone first, that's what it takes for you to feel it. That's all good. Just one way of living.

But it sounds like you are not happy with that way, as you feel it doesn't work in the online dating world. I would argue, as I did a fair amount of online dating and it was often very slow. I like the old style of courtship, personally. I've dated women for months without so much as kissing. Everyone has their own speed. The trick is finding the speed that matches your own.

If you think about selection criteria, the greater the selection criteria, the fewer the results. If your selection criteria is "friendship" before intimacy, well, friendship takes a long time to form. It's slow. Lots of people aren't interested in that. They want their happy button pushed. So you're going to have to go through a lot more iterations to find it.

The converse of that is that you're on a quality hunt. When you do find someone who wants to go on this journey with you, it's probably (going to be) very good. Lots of closeness. Very connected. Very safe. The kind of thing that happens when you make love to someone that you've known for a long time. Because you will have known them for a long time.

It's all about what you want. If you want to loosen the reigns a bit and enjoy intimacy earlier on, it's probably worth investigating your relationship to safety and sex. Lots of people play around and nothing bad ever happens. Sometimes it does. What is it within you that has set it up as friendship first and sex later? Is that a part of yourself you want to change?

It also has A LOT to do with what you are looking for. If you are looking for a marriage partner, friendship is a very very good indicator. The best marriages (from what I hear) are where the partner is also the best friend. That being said, the hot sex has to be there too.

So really, it sounds like you can have a think about a few things:
• Why do you like being friends first? Does it work for you? Would you like to change it?
• What kind of relationship are you hoping to find?

If you are happy with yourself and your mating process, then it's a matter of numbers. You know it's going to take you longer, so you need heaps of first dates. A lot of those dudes will opt out. Some won't. On the second date with no booty, some more dudes will opt out. Some won't. On the third date, some more dudes will opt-out, some won't.

So if you say that you are not cut out for online dating, I think you are. I think you just need to be okay with heaps of first dates.
posted by nickrussell at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [18 favorites]

No, don't kiss someone if you don't want to kiss them. If nothing else, it normalizes having your boundaries and personal sensibilities violated. The way you approach physical activity and intimacy is absolutely fine, you just need to find someone who shares your approach. Those people might be a minority, but that's ok; everyone's only compatible with a minority of people.

If the people you're dating are discomfited by your lack of physicality within the first few dates, it's a pretty strong probability that you two aren't cut out for each other. Just like if I was dating someone and they were discomfited by my love of classical music or my political leanings. This is an important thing about you; if you compromise on it, all you'll get is a relationship based on that compromise.
posted by KathrynT at 4:00 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

As for your last posting, my feeling is this: if I meet someone (of whatever gender or attraction level) with whom I can have a short conversation and actually enjoy it, I will relish subsequent conversations. If that goes on for a while and comes to seem inadequate, we may become friends. If so, I will relish the friendship. If that goes on for a while, and comes to seem inadequate, there may be some physical expression of affection, stemming organically from a current of mutual affection and admiration which seems unable to be channeled any other way.

Feeling "attraction" (romantic or simply human) is enough to start on step ONE of that. And if you proceed to the final scenario, there won't be any doubt or hesitation. But if you feel compelled to proceed per the socially-prevalent basis of "I think you're hot, let's make out", then you may want to consider whether your feelings of awkwardness and ambivalence may, in fact, be appropriate.
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Read A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalitt. It's very, very validating of your feelings. Yes, there are other people out there, male and female, with similar preferences. In fact, she discusses the Orthodox Jewish tradition in which couples do not even touch until after they are married. It's pretty awesome.
posted by windykites at 4:10 PM on October 7, 2012

It may be that you and online dating are not the best match (no pun intended). The psychology of online dating seems to work against the slow-burning relationship; if there's no quick leveling-up in the pairing then it's quickly back onto the online dating merry-go-round to have another go. The clock is ticking and the online dating network costs per time unit; hurry up hurry up hurry up. etc.

Perhaps try various forms of social media, where there isn't the implicit or explicit expectation to quickly get it on, or move on. Look - other people who don't like the time pressure of online dating will also not be online dating; they're more likely to hang out in places like Twitter, FB, Google+ and Flickr.
posted by Wordshore at 4:11 PM on October 7, 2012

I am a guy. I have dated via ok Cupid. If you would like to continue seeing someone but don't want to kiss them, say "I really enjoyed myself and I'd like to see you again. Call me." If I were interested in someone, kiss or no kiss, sex or no sex, I would call them after that. If you aren't going to communicate physically, you NEED to communicate verbally. Unless you are looking to date a psychic.

Also, the chase is fun. If the guy isn't going to wait for a few dates for some kind of physical affection, you don't need him. You DO need to communicate affection or interest in some way, though. you can't just spend the whole date apprehensive and cold. Touching the arm, holding hands, etc.
posted by empath at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

I am going to nth the suggest getting offline. Especially if you are using free sites, like OKCupid. I don't know how old you are, but between my girlfriends and I (all around 30) who tried OKCupid last year, we found that whatever we had learned about forming relationships organically in our twenties totally didn't apply to online dating. All bets were off. I dated four or five guys and only one didn't pressure me to get physical on the first date. It's a different mindset and it's OK to say it's not for you.
posted by peacrow at 5:03 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd say it would be unusual to not kiss by date two if there were chemistry, but if there weren't, I probably wouldn't go on to date two myself, and definitely wouldn't go beyond a hug and a peck on the cheek.

Online dating seems different than dating people known from other contexts, in that there's a certain "time is fleeting" pressure – an opportunity cost, if you will – in dating someone again where there's no initial connection, when both of you have the potential of dozens of other people to date. It's in a sense considerate both to oneself and one's date to continue down a 'could this be romantic? path if there's a spark, and not otherwise (one can make an exception for people where there's no romantic spark, but awesome friend/movie date/etc potential, so long as everyone's OK with that.)

tl;dr: if you don't feel like kissing the person on the lips by date one or date two, yeah, it's going to be the working out of a non-standard protocol, with plenty of communication, and expect some dates to not be into that.
posted by zippy at 5:09 PM on October 7, 2012

... and, if there's a place to say what you just said in your profile, that it takes you a while to warm up to someone, that would be a good thing to mention. You'll increase your odds of getting dates who are ok with and understanding of that.
posted by zippy at 5:11 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

The men on the dating websites who are more aggressive in dating (less picky, more physical) are far more likely to contact you than men who are less aggressive, because the former send far more messages and the latter are more discerning.

So if you want a man who is more your speed of relationship development, you will have much better luck finding men's profiles that seem compatible and messaging them.
posted by flimflam at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

My wife is the same way. We didn't kiss until our fifth or sixth date. I would have tried sooner but her body language made it clear she wanted to go slower. We've been happily married for five years (so it was worth the wait!). I also met her through church. I agree with others; the implied grammar of online dating might not work for you whereas finding a common interest group might be a better fit. Hang in there!
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2012

I'm a guy and I don't kiss on the first date. I think it has eliminated second dates maybe a couplefew times. Don't sweat it, be who you are, there's plenty of fish in the sea.
posted by rhizome at 5:33 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think lots of people like to take it slow. Some come right out and say in their profiles that they want to be friends first. I think you should do what makes you comfortable. If you want to see someone again and aren't ready to kiss them, it's perfectly ok to step back from a kiss or just use body language to firmly direct the goodnight gesture in whatever direction makes you comfortable - handshake, maybe, and let them know you would enjoy seeing them again.

And for what it's worth I've met guys through church who were ready to get busy in the first date. The method of meeting does not dictate the speed of intimacy.
posted by bunderful at 5:46 PM on October 7, 2012

If you aren't going to communicate physically, you NEED to communicate verbally.

I just want to amplify what empath said. Like it or not a fair number of men feel that women like to date, not with the eye of actually forming a relationship of any sort, but as an ego boosting activity. How true this is, well, I haven't seen any studies, but it can certainly feel true. And it can make the guy feel like shit.

You need some way to show that, "Take it slow" isn't heard as "I want to tug you around for a while, like a cat plays with its food." And if you don't want to do that physically, you're going to need to do that verbally.

If this is a larger issue, if you're not the type who likes lots of physical contact even when your comfortable with the other person then it's best to know soon, because you probably shouldn't be dating someone like me. It's important that people's style of affection matches up somewhat and it seems to me this may be an issue with how you feel appreciated.

I'm no hormone addled teenager, I'm 41, but I'm a very physical person, for better or worse, and when a date doesn't want to kiss or hold hands it can feel, emotionally, like a slap to the face. [The actual physical feeling is more like a tightening of the stomach, and my hands and face getting cold and tingle. Not pleasant.]

I'm mature enough to realize that not everyone else is like me, so I try not to let it get to me and let it roll off my back, but the feeling is there. I can easily see how someone who's not like me can get the impression that I'm just a groping craven-handed moron.

So when a woman I'm interested in doesn't seem interested in doing the same it takes a fair amount of will power to get over it and accept that on its own terms. But it's hard, and to make it possible at all someone like me is going to need a lot of other types of assurances.
posted by bswinburn at 5:58 PM on October 7, 2012

This probably depends on geography -- I live in Philly, and I've never had a guy I met online try to kiss me on the first date. I feel like if you put in your profile that you're not looking for casual sex, you get rid of the guys who aren't going to call again because you didn't kiss on date one. I've gone faster with guys who I met in the course of my everyday life.

And no, don't change your values because of what your peers are doing. You are an individual, you have your own values, you have your own way of getting close to someone and falling in love.

I do think you should go out on a second date with these guys, unless you actively dislike the guy. You get past first date nerves that way, and get to know the guy better.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:59 PM on October 7, 2012

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I thought you might find the answers to the question I asked a couple of weeks ago illuminating. I identify with a lot of what you say, and the various responses to my question suggest that many others do too: I really don't think you're all that far off of the bell-curve.

(I can't give much advice on the online dating query specifically: I have online-dated, but I also say very clearly in my profile and question answers that I'm religious and don't believe in sex before marriage, so I haven't found myself in many situations where a kiss was expected on any of the first few dates. Perhaps you could just say in your profile that you want to take it slow, and then reiterate that at the end of a promising date? I also agree with the advice above about reading through questions and answers [at least on OkC, which asks about things like kissing and the number of dates until sex], and then contact men who seem compatible: many many men who contact me [and presumably, you] haven't read your profile and aren't aware of your stated preferences. You might have better luck finding someone comfortable with your pace if you take the initiative to find a good personality fit.]
posted by UniversityNomad at 7:00 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know how anyone copes with the American dating system. There's nothing wrong with you, it isn't worth all this analysis, you definitely don't need therapy. Just go out with people you already know and are already attracted to.
posted by inkypinky at 9:25 PM on October 7, 2012

Perfectly reasonable to date and not kiss for a few dates. Say you want to move slow, like taking your time, etc. If someone pushes, push back. If they accuse you of stringing them along, look in your heart to see if that's true -- do you ever, eventually, see a physical relationship with this person? -- and answer accordingly, honestly.

Really, not kissing on the first date is how some of the nicest relationships I've had started out. It's not that zany.
posted by ead at 12:37 AM on October 8, 2012

Just say "I'm a slow starter" "I like to take things really slow at first" "I don't kiss on the first date"

I have been known to kiss minutes into a date, or perhaps before a date. But I would not be turned off or offended by someone saying any of those things to me. I'd be relieved to know I wouldn't be making an ass out of myself at the end of the night.
posted by French Fry at 7:14 AM on October 8, 2012

I'd like to address this notion that choosing to date someone without already knowing that you're interested in becoming physically intimate with them is tantamount to stringing them along. bswinburn seems to be suggesting (and I've encountered this expectation elsewhere too) that it's OK to date someone without kissing them right away, but only if you're definitely going to kiss them eventually. But maybe you don't know that yet. That's the whole point. That doesn't make you a "cat playing with its food"; that just makes you a person trying to figure out whether you want to kiss another person. Engaging in this process of trying to figure out whether you want to kiss someone doesn't commit you to kissing them. Not now, not ever. If you don't kiss them, your behavior isn't retroactively the behavior of a cat playing with its food, and saying you want to take things slow doesn't obligate you to arrive at a predetermined destination. Taking things slow gives you a chance to figure out where you want to go.

For what it's worth, I'm a person who "likes lots of physical contact" when I'm "comfortable with the other person," but I don't like to kiss strangers, and (like most people when they're discussing anything other than dating!) I include people I've only met a couple of times in the category of "strangers." Maybe if we really hit it off, I would consider them acquaintances. And it's actually a big turn-off when I encounter what appear to be feelings of entitlement to a goodnight kiss from people I consider to be strangers, or even acquaintances.

(Sorry, bswinburn! You seem to have pushed a button!)

Anyway, I don't have any answers, except to meet people as friends first. Throw a dinner party, invite some friends, invite your friends to bring friends, and if you get along with someone invite them back? It's not a date, so no one has any expectations.

I do understand the feeling that if there's no kiss maybe there isn't interest, just because apart from being a nice thing in itself, a kiss also functions as a signal of interest. I think the solution is to meet people in a context where a kiss isn't used as a way of communicating that the encounter was successful. (Dinner parties!)
posted by 4bulafia at 11:06 AM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

bswinburn seems to be suggesting (and I've encountered this expectation elsewhere too) that it's OK to date someone without kissing them right away, but only if you're definitely going to kiss them eventually.

I must have pushed a button, because you're reading things I didn't write.

I suggest you reread my comment because I did not suggest that it's not ok to date people when you're uncertain if you're interested in them. I did suggest that it's not OK to date people when you have no intention of forming a relationship with them [unless, of course, you're open about that, but that's a rare thing].

I made lots of statements about how everyone is not like me, and how if you don't want to provide physical contact with the people who feel a strong urge/need for it, you're going to need to provide extra assurances that you are interested in them. Otherwise, they simply are going to think you're not.

And one of the inferences they may draw if you don't is that you are just playing with them and their emotions.
posted by bswinburn at 12:52 PM on October 10, 2012

I am familiar with a phenomenon in which women -- women whom outsiders with no access to their private thoughts or feelings might describe as dating people with whom they have "no intention of forming a relationship" -- date men, decide they're not interested in pursuing a physical relationship, and are accused of being teases.

I don't know why anyone, even someone with a "need" for physical contact with people they've only just met, would draw the interferences you describe (i.e. that they're "just playing" with the man in question).

You seem to be suggesting that there's an epidemic of women dating men they never wanted to date (how do you know? what's their motivation? are loads of women just masochists, or what?). I would encourage you to consider the possibility that the women were initially open to the possibility of a relationship (maybe they didn't really like the guy very much, but they thought they'd give him a chance and were prepared to be persuaded), then over the course of getting to know him (dating him), they decided against it.

I suppose that if a woman isn't initially very enthusiastic about dating a guy, she should write him off immediately, in order to avoid these sorts of accusations later down the line.

A date is a test, not a victory lap.

On the one hand I see your point about providing extra assurances, but on the other hand I wonder what these would consist of. An assurance that something will happen eventually? The woman in this scenario can't necessarily provide that. Proposing (or agreeing to) a second date should be sufficient to assure the guy that she likes him enough to want to see him again.

I guess I just object to your terminology. This stuff about women playing with men's emotions makes me think you're looking at cases of basic human uncertainty and seeing cynical precalculation.
posted by 4bulafia at 4:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

First, remember, I'm talking about the very first, or the first couple of dates in my comments here, since that is what the OP brought up.

Now people seem to be thinking that I'm talking about an assurance that there will be guaranteed physical/sexual contact down the road. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about communication styles and their possible crosstalk in the early dates. I'm only talking about a situation where the women already knows she's the type of person is not comfortable with fast physical contact.

Every person is different, which is why we have these communication mismatches to begin with. To me the touching, kissing, etc is a communicative act. I doubt (in fact I know I'm not) I'm the only guy like this out there.

If I go on a date with a woman and I'm interested in touching her, kissing her, etc it's because I don't feel like I'm connecting with her. I'm not reflexively wanting to touch every woman I meet. I meet, come to like the person, and then want to touch her. I don't want to touch her as a way of finding out if I like her. Once I like her my desire to touch is a way of saying, "Hey, I like you!"

It's a way that is very natural to me, and seems innate and universal to me. Which, as I stated above, I have learned it's not. But because it's so natural to me when someone doesn't respond it seems like they're saying, "Well, I don't like you."

That's where the physical/emotional reaction I'm talking about above comes from. Someone who I've just reached out to has rebuffed me. Of course I feel bad. It just happens and it took a good long while for me to learn that when a women doesn't respond it doesn't necessarily mean that because not everyone communicates the same. The same action that seems so natural and innate to me isn't for everyone.

Nevertheless, emotions fuck with people, and after that little rollercoaster I'm unlikely to ask someone out again because, if there's nothing else going on, I think she doesn't want me to.

And that's what I mean by more assurances. More assurances you're still interested. More assurances that you do like the guy. More assurances you're open to future dating. Because the guy who, from some women's point of view, is just moving a little too fast, but is otherwise perfectly ok can (if they're like me) feel summarily rejected.

Now, of course I'm not some machine. I'll try to calibrate my behavior and figure out what the other person is thinking, but I'm not perfect and when the other person is also not so physically communicative, they're not speaking my language. So my inference of their actions is likely to be less than perfect.

Luckily I'm not the only one responsible for insuring communication! The woman has a responsibility to make herself understood too. And I'm here, in AskMefi, trying to make that easier by explaining how some guys communicate and how they feel and can possibly be interpreting their actions.

I'm saying that when you meet a guy who seems to be moving too fast, but isn't ringing your danger bells realize you may be dealing with a person whose communication style don't match yours. And your not wanting to kiss or hold hands or hug or whatever can be signaling to them your lack of interest in them no matter what your intention is. So if you're not uninterested, you've got some responsibility to communicate that to them. This can be done verbally, "I'm still interested in you, but I'm not comfortable kissing/hugging/whatever"; if you feel it happening you can be the person who asks for the second date; or you can escalate physical contact at a rate you feel comfortable with, "Hey, no kissing yet" but then holding their hand. There are lots of options.


Now, I feel the entire "women playing with guy's emotions" or dating as an ego-boost thing is a bit of derail, in my first post I said I had no idea how common it is, and I'm beginning to regret bringing it up.* I brought it up only to highlight the importance of both people trying to communicate effectively with the other person and as an example of a total failure state when people don't.

*just for clarity, in my slightly more than two decades of navigating male/female romantic relationships I only think I've ever met one person who actually went out on dates as a way of boosting her self-esteem or extracting some financial benefit. Everyone else seemed above board. But I know other men who perceive it as much more common.
posted by bswinburn at 5:34 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm exactly the same way as you are. Only dated guys who were close friends first, for years. For me, it's bad enough that once someone I meet on a conventional stranger date kisses me too soon, I actually feel somewhat grossed out and even if pre-kiss I did feel that maybe I could like him enough to kiss him eventually, once he kisses me too soon, that feeling evaporates. It has happened to me every single time I get kissed too soon. It is debilitating and I feel at odds with the entire world.

Howwwwwwwwwwwever: I once had SOME luck with putting in my profile that I wanted to be friends first. Most guys I met either didn't take it seriously or there was no connection anyway. But I met one, eventually, who took it seriously, and also had his own issues, which combined into him waiting until maybe the 7th or 8th date to kiss me--and by then I really wanted to kiss him, and then I dated him and fell in love with him. Just like I did, previously, with friends I dated. Ultimately it didn't work out, for unrelated reasons, but this proves it IS possible for people like us to meet someone in a conventional dating scenario and have it work.
posted by millipede at 2:25 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

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