On the timeliness of relationships, on overcoming sexual trauma
February 1, 2013 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Please share your knowledge about the customs of dating, my question being from the point of view of a sexual abuse victim, and of the reactions of men who go on dates with her.

- Apologies for wall of text, only the questions are important-

I have been sexually abused upon turning 16, have been in therapy for 4 years, have overcome a lot during this time, and feel quite aware of the consequences and context of it. I keep working on it and lead a rather healthy life, socially, physically. I am trying to come to a better understanding of the dating world, in relation to this past.

I started dating late, and have been in a few relationships by now, some that seemed like a repetition of my relationship with my abuser, some that were very healthy and helped me learn and understand so much.

1) How common is it for the late 20s and early 30's dating crowd, to be expecting sex really soon after meeting for the first time ?

Recent examples : - a guy (A), friend of a friend, who suggested we meet at my place because he said he enjoyed getting to know people in their home environment, (it was our 1st date, but we had come across each other a few times at friends gatherings), and jokingly said at the end that it was probably time to leave since I wasn't offering him to sleep over. Then explained that he indeed thought it could happen quite soon. Was I sending a very sexual message by saying I agreed to have coffee at my place at 6 pm, or am I simply closed-minded about the realities of dating today ?

- a friend of a friend (B) I meet on a hiking day-trip (during which no flirting takes place, moreso regular little talks, and my going back to talk to the other hikers, as I felt a little attraction and felt shy about it so puta little distance). As we got out of the car, back in the city, he asked for my number, then called the same night, to ask if he could drop by at my place, and i suggested we meet in a café instead. He tried to kiss me on the lips, right as i walked towards him to greet him, at the meeting place. He then told me during that café conversation, that he basically had a strong desire for me. His words were "I want you". I felt like this expression, however sincere and direct, was almost violent to hear, so soon. I am aware that I act and feel traumatised regarding my past.

2) Trust, the building of intimacy, the general getting to a point of being at ease with a man, take a long time on my side, up to a few months. I cannot get physically intimate before alot of talking and sharing experiences has happenned. Should I simply skip dating and let friendships turn into love stories as happened to my before, or how would you advice I approach ths subject with someone I don't know very well....? How strange is it for a man to hear something like this during one of the first dates ? (usually men who are 25-35).

(I usually mention it, along with the fact that I know it is uncommon, etc. Usually as we get along, the men keep wanting to have dates, but I can feel an unease on their side. .... Since there is really no way I can get past the point of light / playful kissing without having that fearful/worried expression, and a desire for a little physical distance that goes with it.).

Thank you so much for your insight, ay advice, or experiences you have had. I am aware that dating can be a lot of trouble in my case, and am simply looking to be more easy-going, and to understand the way it works. Thank you.
posted by Jireel to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1) Guy A sounds like a normal guy, who's expectations aren't strange, but is a little pushy. B sounds like a creep. He called you the day he got your number? He tried to kiss you on the lips when you walked in? Your description of his actions sounds very unsettling even for someone who does not share your past.

2) Don't just wait for friendships to turn into romances (although be open if that happens). Keep doing what you are doing. Hold off on too much intimacy for at least three dates, and as soon as you get the vibe that he gets the vibe that something is up, disclose as much of your situation as you are comfortable disclosing at that point. Any guy who could actually be a partner for you will respect your needs and continue at a pace that you are comfortable with.
posted by molecicco at 5:50 AM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

You should wait however long you feel comfortable; it is not uncommon or unreasonable to say this to a potential partner. And for what it's worth, both of the stories you told seem very bizarre - I would probably stay away from B in the future because, wow.

However, if you would like a brutally honest answer to the question of 'how soon do couples typically sleep together for the first time?': well, I find that yes, people tend to sleep together for the first time fairly quickly. I am speaking as a late-20s male with no history of sexual abuse, so take that for what it's worth, but waiting longer than three dates would seem like a long time to me. Not that it is a long time, mind you, and not that it matters what I think, since the most important thing is whether you feel comfortable. And not that I would expect sex after three dates, it's just that for me, it's usually happened by then so I would maybe start to wonder why it hadn't. This is where you being upfront and honest about wanting to wait with your partner comes in.
posted by Tiresias at 5:53 AM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

How common is it? Fairly. But that doesn't mean its required. Anyone who actually tells you that they expected to have sex on the first date is not worth your time. "A" is a dickhead who uses that "getting to know you in your home environment" crap because it puts the onus on the woman to kick him out. You weren't promising him sex because you agreed to his request, but he wanted to make you feel like you were.

"B", on the other hand, was a touch too aggressive (and I don't mean that word in a negative sense), especially for you. He may be salvageable, but you're going to have to tell him flat-out, "I want to take this slower." You are under no obligation to tell him why you want to take it slower, and if he pushes too hard for your comfort, tell him that.

Don't skip dating, but don't lay out your history of sexual abuse on the first date. Let things develop physically, and when they get too much for you, ask to slow down. When you feel comfortable enough with someone to be emotionally intimate and share your history, then do so. When you feel comfortable enough with someone to be physically intimate, then do so. The two things do not have to be related. They certainly can be, and you'll be able to make that judgment for yourself, but don't feel like you have to set up a list of "Before I kiss him, I'll tell him this; before I get naked, I'll tell him this; before sex, I'll tell him this..."
posted by Etrigan at 5:55 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

Was I sending a very sexual message by saying I agreed to have coffee at my place at 6 pm?

no, no you weren't. He sort of invited himself over to your place. I'm sorry for what happened, and it sounds like you aren't really sure of what boundries are normal and what are a reaction to the past trama. It's ok for that not to matter.

(I am in my early thirties, a lady, and I have been out of the dating game for a few years.. so grain of salt blah blah) I honestly wouldn't have a date at my house until I was actually ready to have sex- not because it's implied or expected for it to be a sex-date, but because the good-bye is sort of awkward.

It's also ok to just tell a guy in the first few weeks that it's going to be a wait- but man is it worth it. You don't need to explain details or get personal at all. Lots and lots of people who have never experenced trama need a couple months and a real connection before all kinds of naked shinnanigans. If you don't treat it as a handicap, but as a benefit- both you and your dates are going to see it that way.

PS- Guy B sounds like a douche and would have gotten a verbal smack down from me. Ick.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:02 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

** You don't need to explain details or get personal at all I mean right away. It would be a very good idea to give some basic idea of what's going on before you sleep with him- just so he can avoid any mine-fields laying around.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:06 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think A was probably trying to put you in a more intimate, private, environment in order to get you into bed. I think the key is managing expectations, a none verbal way to do this is meeting for coffee in an afternoon, it makes it crystal clear that he's not getting you into bed, especially if you let him know you have to do something else immediately after you see him so that you can't deviate from that plan. Of course the best way is to just be up as upfront as comfortable about what you want, some guys won't be into waiting but that's fine, they aren't what you need anyway.

B sounds creepy as fuck, this isn't a your traumatic past thing, this is a him being a creep thing.
posted by purplemonkeydishwasher at 6:10 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Both of those guys sound like creeps to me.
posted by bq at 6:14 AM on February 1, 2013 [19 favorites]

Those guys both sound like creepers. Who acts like that? They sound like pick up artists. They probably do this thing a lot to a lot of women.

Have you thought of taking a self-defense course?
posted by discopolo at 6:20 AM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Re: B - I have no history of sexual trauma and I don't have any particular objection to sleeping together early on, but if someone said "I want you" on a first date in a cafe, I would be totally creeped out and I hope I would have the presence of mind to say that I didn't think we were a good match. But I feel like he did give you a bit of a warning signal by asking to drop by your place - that seems like he might have been viewing you as a potential booty call. (Do people still say "booty call"?)

It might be a good rule to not just only meet guys in public places, but to choose guys who *want* to meet you in public places, you know what I mean? Because although I suppose there are plenty of people who really just want to see where you live or are too broke to take you out someplace, it's not uncommon for "let's go to your place" to have the silent add-on "...so that we can have sex."
posted by mskyle at 6:21 AM on February 1, 2013 [10 favorites]

Definitely don't let anyone know your address early on. Some of them may definitely be predators, but that's because they're predators.
posted by discopolo at 6:24 AM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

My now-boyfriend spent the night after our first date. Though we did not have sex, we had many of our clothes off. Next time we hung out, I told him that I had been raped by a guy I was sort of dating 6 months prior, and I'd need him to take it slow, nicely, respectfully, and calmly with me because I did not know exactly how I was going to react to all the things. And the first time we had sex, I indeed froze up and needed to stop and just needed to feel not vulnerable and he understood and did everything he could to make it better.

There are, unfortunately, enough women who have survived sexual abuse, sexual assault, and other trauma, that your experience and request for time, space, calm pace, whatever you need to feel comfortable, should not come as a shock to the men you are interested in. And the men who are going to be worthy of your time and trust will do everything in their power to make you feel comfortable. Feel confident in your ability to set boundaries. Feel confident in making people respect your boundaries. Keeping yourself safe, mentally and physically, is not being too demanding.
posted by SockMarionette at 6:33 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

This isn't exactly the same, but I am sharing in case it is helpful.

When I was 23, I had just lost my faith after being incredibly devoted to a rather strict evangelical Christian culture. I had not dated anyone. I had not kissed anyone. I had never even THOUGHT of dating non-Christian boys. And my entire worldview, sense of self, and social sphere had just broken irrevocably. So you know, it was a fun year. And I'm still finding my feet a bit, 8 years later.

When I started dating after this, I did a bit of online dating. I found it kind of helpful because if you have a date that doesn't go well, it's less embarrassing because you really actually NEVER have to run into that person again. Socially, it's a non-event. So I was able to go on dates and test how much I wanted to disclose about Religious Baggage, and try dating different types of dudes. Sometimes I liked them, sometimes I didn't, sometimes they were nice but never called again.

I dated one guy for about 3 months. I never told him where I lived; I guess I was still feeling very uneasy about this whole dating-non-christians thing especially since I had been indoctrinated that Non-Christian Boys Are Not To Be Trusted, They Only Want One Thing for my whole life. We messed about a little bit, but nowhere near sex ever. And he tried to talk to me about it, and basically I was just not going to feel like doing more than what we were already doing any time soon. He wanted to date someone he could have sex with and so he broke it off. Which is fine. He didn't pressure me, he gave me time and space and figured out that it wasn't going to be what he was looking for. But first he gave me 3 months to warm up!

The next guy I dated was someone I met through friends (reader, I married him) and that went much faster because he was a much better fit on all levels and so I felt a lot more comfortable. But it was also a good fit because I saw very early that if I even hinted at 'no' he was (a) listening, and (b) totally fine with that.


(1) Yes, dudes want to have sex with you. But respectful dudes who are willing to take the time you need certainly exist. Sometimes it can be surprising how much good there is in the world.

(2) This can be a helpful metric for you, not a limitation. Dating is about what YOU want, not just what they want. You and I need to know that our partner is going to not shy away from complicated stuff, and will be supportive through it. This will help you find out whether they are a good fit for YOU more quickly than usual, and that is one of the major functions of dating.

(3) Not wanting to have sex just yet doesn't necessarily reveal your abuse history. There are lots of reasons for people to warm up slow. Some of us are just like that, some of us are coming out of big relationships and are just dipping our toe in, some are like me and have religious baggage, some have medical conditions that make sex painful, etc. You can mention this fact even if you don't want to talk about the abuse.
posted by heatherann at 6:33 AM on February 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

(A) sounds normal to me, a tad aggressive, but normal. (A) is the kind of guy some girls wouldn't mind, some would be put off by the assertiveness, depends on the woman. Do keep in mind that often times "Come over to my place" in a dating situation in the evening equates to "Let's get busy"; when you agreed to doing that the dude probably thought he was going to get some. That doesn't mean you *owe* him, just keep in mind those words are often used with that implication. Unless it's "Meet me at my place at 11:00am so we can get brunch" or something.

(B) is unquestionably a huge creeper and a jerk.

In this day and age it is very normal to progress to sex within the first few dates, or at least some sort of sexual activity. Certainly making out and grinding. Tell guys that you like to take it very slow, and if they are OK with that and you can begin trusting them then tell them the reason why as you see fit. I'll be honest, months before sex will be too slow for most guys. But that doesn't mean you should be doing things that make you uncomfortable.
posted by schroedinger at 6:41 AM on February 1, 2013

I would say in the dating world, be prepared for males with inappropriate or amazingly poor judgment around social boundaries. It was hard enough to learn these skills before the Internet, now combined with the impact of our high-speed culture and particularly porn influences, I think our typical young dating male is spectacularly clueless when it comes to the gentle art of connection and seduction. Just an opinion, everyone is different in this regard.
Now it may be that these skills are unnecessary and our typical female is agreeably cooperating so no need to develop them. However, given a need on your part for a building an actual relationship first before jumping into the sack, I would recommend wearing your values on your sleeve. Think of it as a kind of semaphore. People really won't get it unless you are fairly overt in explaining your needs. It might also help to tell go on non-dates. In other words you hang out with people with the express purpose of finding out whether a date would be worth doing. In that way, you remove the sexual potential from the equation explicitly at the onset. That's your essential challenge here. These guys see your female presence in these circumstances as an agreement for some form of sexual potential at work. Date+woman=sex, a rather simplistic equation but there you are. You should think about ways to make it clear that's not on the agenda until you actually find room to have a 'date' which really means courtship or at least some layer of trust before a physical attachment can begin to develop.
posted by diode at 6:51 AM on February 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

I was raped at 13 and 19 and have done therapy to work through it. I'm sorry you're a survivor as well.

A seemed borderline to me, B was straight out not ok. Either way, personally I don't meet anyone at my home for the first couple meetings (friends or potential romantic partners). Most guys completely understand a woman's reluctance to meet anywhere but a public place for (at least) the first couple meetings. Personally, I avoid anyone (especially male) who doesn't understand the need for this, as I've found they generally tend to have other boundary issues.

I had known/dated my now-husband for 4 months before we had sex. I generally tend to be on the longer end of waiting for sex, and most of the guys I've dated have been ok with it. Once we'd gotten to know one another pretty well and I was starting to think, "Yeah, I would enjoy having sex with this person", I'd let them know a bit about my past and that I preferred to take things slower. The guys that responded with "OK, let me know what you need and we'll take this journey together" were keepers. The ones that freaked out or implied that my issues weren't their issues, or that I "owed" them sex usually broke it off and saved me the trouble of doing so.


My rules are meet in a public place the first few times, take it slow, inform my partner of my history prior to sex. Drop anyone who doesn't respect boundaries.
posted by RogueTech at 6:52 AM on February 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

Yes, I agree with others that BOTH guys are total creeps. There isn't much more to analyze than that.
posted by TinWhistle at 6:53 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you really want to delay sex and anything related for several months, you might want to date guys within the religious orthodox communities (Jewish orthodox, evangelical Christian types). I understand they abstain from most sexual activities prior to marriage, so maybe they would put less pressure on you?
posted by Kruger5 at 6:55 AM on February 1, 2013

They were pushy, I think. But, I wouldn't date you for three months without physical intimacy if you didn't give me an explanation, because I would think you weren't into me but didn't have the lady balls to stop going on dates with me.

I would tell them after a few dates. The detail level is up to you, but something.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:09 AM on February 1, 2013

1) Among my late twenties group of friends I would say that sex is expected within the first month hanging out and this is a mutual both parties assumption.

a) I have never in my life heard of a normal dude inviting himself over as a first date and I hang out with extremely liberal sleep with someone on a first date type kids. You end up back at someone's place "on accident" after going out for drinks. You do not start there intentionally if you don't know each other that well - that is creepy.

b) "I want you" is bedroom talk. That dude was weird and creepy.

2) It is not uncommon at all to have some form of baggage when it comes to dating and intimacy by the time you get to being around 30.

It is important for everyone to approach dating with a clear definition of boundaries. You have that! That is good! Most people have learned their boundaries through some measure of difficulty, and people who are not able to respect boundaries are not at all worth your time. Be clear and confident about what you want up front - recommend where YOU want to meet, what you want to do, when you want to meet up. I buy my own drinks and food on dates because then I don't feel guilty saying I need to leave early and go home alone. If you don't want to deal with physical intimacy until you know someone better then simply make sure to only agree to or propose activities that take place out on the town/in public.

I'd say after about four dates you should disclose that you want to take the sex thing slow.
posted by skrozidile at 7:19 AM on February 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

1) How common is it for the late 20s and early 30's dating crowd, to be expecting sex really soon after meeting for the first time ?

In doesn't matter how common it is, you are individual with your own personal thoughts and you should only do what makes you feel comfortable and good.

Should I simply skip dating and let friendships turn into love stories as happened to my before, or how would you advice I approach ths subject with someone I don't know very well....? How strange is it for a man to hear something like this during one of the first dates ? (usually men who are 25-35).

You should articulate your feelings about intimacy by the first date, just so everyone is one the first page. You don't have to be explicit about your reasons, just say that's what you're comfortable with. Some guys may not like that, but it's better to get that out in the open, so you don't want time and emotional energy on people who don't have similar dating conventions.

Good luck and remember that you never have to do anything you don't want to do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2013

One thing you might want to bring up in therapy - are you sending signals that you will not set boundaries effectively, hence attracting creepers*? Can you learn some interpersonal skills to tip people off right away that you set your own boundaries? Can you think through how your social circles work such that creepers are the ones washing up on the beach? Can you work on social strategies for meeting a better class of fellow?

I mean, there's nothing wrong with having sex on as early as both people want...but grown up guy understands that "as early as both people want" might be "after we've each had a single cocktail" with one girl and "after we've spent a month or two getting to know each other" with another.

*I run in feminist circles which prize friendship and consent; both those guys would...face a lot of social sanction, let's say, if they pulled that in my social group. Guy A was an asshole because he invited himself over and assumed that because he'd invited himself over there was an expectation of sex - he either didn't consider existing social pressures on women or decided to use them to his advantage. Guy B showed no awareness of physical consent and very little interest in you as anything but a fuckable body. 'Round here, those behaviors would become gossip very fast and would sink a guy's reputation.

My point being that there may be terrible, misogynist "norms" about sex in some social circles, but there are other social circles.

Also, what is up with these dudes who are all "it's not just that I'd like to have sex early in the relationship, but I must have it, no matter how great the woman is otherwise"? Have they no right hands? Is there no pornography on the internet? Frankly, a guy who didn't like me enough to wait until I felt comfortable sleeping with him would not be someone I'd consider, since it would seem to me like he prized his immediate sexual gratification over my actual personality.
posted by Frowner at 8:12 AM on February 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

(Mid-30s male here)

1) It's common to have sex early on. But not with the totally tone deaf come-ons that your two examples displayed. Those men were Not Ok in my book. Entitled and objectifying creepiness all around. And in any case, "common" should not be a guideline to understanding your own needs.

2) It's common for me to hear, or disclose myself, or have some conversation both about past experiences and about the pace of dating and sex within the first few dates. This is about setting expectations and learning what to do to please (or avoid displeasing) a partner. Prospective partners should be happy to learn what your needs are, and should be listening.

That said, disclosing a history of abuse may be a bit intense for the first couple dates, in the sense that your date may not have much of a clue what to do with that knowledge except "worry a lot and be awkward". You can enforce specific limits without explaining all the details behind them; or if you can't presently, I recommend learning how to. I've had many partners tell me such-and-such need or limit without saying why; and I follow those as-stated while trying to avoid prying.

Someone who needs to know why a given limit or boundary is in place before they respect it is showing a disrespect for your autonomy and judgment, and should be avoided.
posted by ead at 9:08 AM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

And, um, since social norms (despite disclaimers) have such strong effects on our subconscious expectations:

1a) It's also relatively common to wait weeks or months before having sex. It really depends on the person and the timing. Two of my most enjoyable relationships each emerged after a year of flirty conversation.

Really, follow your own needs and forget about "common".
posted by ead at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Someone saying "I want you" on a first date is quite forward, but certainly not out of line if there is obvious mutual attraction. It sounds like this guy isn't very good at reading your signals--which clearly state you are not interested in sex--or listening to you, and that makes it creepy. If you aren't interested, it shouldn't be so unclear to a person with "normal" social skills. There are men out there who are very sensitive and quite good at being gentle and perceptive, hold out for one of these.
posted by waving at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any person, no matter their background, has the right to dictate when and how they share their body with another person. It's called intimacy because it is intimate. You may think you deserve special consideration due to your background but actually, you're not that special. And I say that because I want you to feel de-stigmatized. Any guy who won't take "let's take things slow and see where they go" or "I'm not ready to get that intimate" for an answer without knowing that have a special reason for rejecting his advances is not a great guy.

I do think that there is an erroneous expectation that dating partners should be having sex ASAP. I think women (okay, and probably men, too) feel pressured by society to have no hangups about casual sex and hurry-up intimacy. You and every other person has the right to hold off on naked humpnastics until they are ready and enthusiastic.

Both A and B were pushy. I personally would be turned off by that. They probably figure 'no-harm, no foul' but I don't like men that seem unable or unwilling to read signals. It doesn't bode well for a long-term relationship with me and I have little patience for training. YMMV.
posted by amanda at 12:26 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thank you to each and everyone of you. Wow, I feel much better now. And okay, and..
I guess one of the things you make me realize, is that I still "play my part" in the male-women domination roles, as I feel the need to justify the fact that I need time. I'll simply be myself and stop with what I felt like was a necessary odd moment of justifying and explaining. Plus it kills the positive wave I usually feel in, when I am on a date.

I think I indeed need to redefine and get more precise with what a creep is, and document myself on red flags. Thank you for making me realize this. I will work on my creep-o-meter.

This may surprise you, but the guys I mention, weren't social outcasts at all. Both seem to have very large groups of friends, be super positive about life, the life of the party, but not in an extreme way, doing sports regularly, with what appears to be a world of possibilities to them. Socially and sexually. One is a phd student in the social field, the other one, a doctor. Both are very good looking, possibly the most charming people I have been on a date with. Apart from the very odd moves/remarks I mentionned. And possibly people who would be used to women chasing after them.. ? which I didn't do.

I really like the ideas of being upfront about my need for time, and of hanging out in groups while finding out more about other people. Anyway, I have never been too keen on dating, and only go when I am asked, I never suggest it or even hint at it. I usually let life happen and regular group activities. One element that could mislead men, is that I am super friendly and smily. It looks like I would agree with a lot of things. And may give them a vibe that I would be very impressed or motivated by their approach, and their moves.

Thank you again, there are good things to work on in therapy, journaling, and lots of things learned for later :).
posted by Jireel at 2:58 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

They may not be social outcasts, but the behavior is still creepy-violating. This is the kind of guy that the phrase "he thinks he's God's gift to women" was made for. A superficially successful person with plenty of a certain type of female attention who is used to getting his own way and missing/mis-reading cues of rejection or "slow the eff down." That's not your problem.

I think in your position I would definitely follow the general advice here to avoid meeting new guys at your own home, and to set your own boundaries and not to feel defensive or apologetic about them. Some (many) guys do expect to have sex pretty quickly, but that isn't what you're looking for and that is absolutely fine. I also disagree that this is something you have to lay on the table on the first date, as someone said above. What the heck? No. Sure, as you get to know the person, over time, you can and should make it verbally clear that your physical distance is due to personal/emotional preference, not a sign of disinterest (assuming that's true). But aside from that it's your choice how and when you want to progress. During the early stages you should also be keeping a very sharp eye out for any red flags or boundary-pushing or disrespect or cloaked misogyny, and dropping anyone who exhibits even the slightest of these like a hot pancake. Not worth your time.
posted by celtalitha at 4:47 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

>>How common is it for the late 20s and early 30's dating crowd, to be expecting sex really soon after meeting for the first time ?

Honestly there is wide range of possible answers, but when I was in that age range I would say third date was the average for my relationships.

>>Was I sending a very sexual message by saying I agreed to have coffee at my place at 6 pm

Yes, I'd take it as such. Well, maybe "fairly sexual" and not "very sexual".

>>how would you advice I approach ths subject with someone I don't know very well....?

My best advice would be to write out a list of what you would want to know about a man before being intimate with him. It is not just those gritty details, though. Spend enough time listening to how he discusses himself to get a sense of who he is and how he will act with you. Don't dream up a big questionnaire, but ask him enough stuff to create conversation and provide a good basis to evaluate his suitability as a human being. What are his hobbies? Is he on speaking terms with his family? Does he consider himself over- or under-employed? Etc. Make up your own questions. It is not necessarily the answer but how he gives the answer.

>> How strange is it for a man to hear something like this during one of the first dates ?

Anytime I was on a date and things kind of drifted into unclear territory, yet there had been positive signs along the way, I would use humor or a double entendre just as a reminder that we were on a DATE. A guy saying "I want you" over a first coffee is much more aggressive than normal. Maybe times have changed, but in my experience probably a third of women would have ended the date right there.

Good luck!
posted by 99percentfake at 6:38 PM on February 1, 2013

You might try reading a book like the Gift of Fear as a way to calibrate your creepy dude radar. It is really hard when you have experienced the catastrophic loss of trust of other people, figuring out am I over-reacting based on the past, or am I so over-overreacting that I'm ignoring warning signs sort of mental dizziness. I mostly trust people, but I've learned not to ignore the instinctive flinch I feel around some people. Very sociable and charming people who creep you out - trust your gut.

The Hairpin has been running a series of interviews with a virgin which are really lovely thoughtful discussions by people on sex and dating. At least one was a woman who had been raped and had decided that she was a virgin still, and had rebuilt how she saw sex in a positive way. Lots of people have sex early, lots of people don't. Do what's right for you, not what's socially expected.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:44 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

So.. When I start feeling weirded out or disturbed by someone's attitude or words, that's the time to kind of let things go and tell the person here isn't chemistry ? As a conscious choice ?

- I recently told A that I simply wasn't feeling good about getting any closer, which seemed to surprise him a whole lot. He asked me many times if I had ever been attracted to him at all, if I hadn't thought of kissing him, even once. I said that there was no chemistry at all, and that even though I come across great people every once in a while, and that he can have many qualities in certain aspects of his life, it won't necessarily imply that I will feel like moving on to a relationship or closeness with him (NSA sex friendship or at least sharing "some tenderness" or merely sleeping in the same bed, are the things he describes as what he had wished for). In fact there is some chemistry, and i find him very attractive, physically. But something in me would feel de-valuated or simply sickish/sad if I decided to get closer to him. So it is a very rational view I try to have.

I still come across him when hanging out with friends, and I am not sure how legitimate my feeling here, is : I find it a little disturbing that he regularly moves the conversation towards his past relationships of all kinds, and when I ask why he puts it, and therefore, puts his intimacy in the center of the picture, he tells me it is something he does witha lot of people, male and female, as a way of getting to know them, and also letting them know that he functions in a more liberal manner than most people - honesty. He also expresses his wish to sleep with me, even though I have said that I wasn't into it, like this, with him, already 2 times ; or ignored his request the other times. So, this is creepiness, even though he says it with a smile and promises he would stay nice and wouldn't mind if here was no sex ?

- I have also been straightforward with B about my not experiencing timeliness in relationships the same way as he does, and possibily the way most people our age do. He answered that he really wanted to see me again, and that he wished to learn the way I experienced time, if i was willing to teach him, or to see him again at all. He added that he had never done it, and felt like it could be difficult still, but that anyhow, he was eager to "live what there is to live between you and I". Is this creepy ?

Sorry if these conversation excerpts give a vibe or my being irresponsible or naive. I simply am not sure what the best way to react, would have been. Are there any better ways to respond ? Knowing that all I need is time. I will get the book The Gift of Fear, and have a few friends in a local feminist small group that focuses on texts and sharing experiences and mutual support.. they invited me a few times in the past. I guess it wouldn't hurt me to join them ;).

Thank you, hoping this isn't chat-filter.
posted by Jireel at 3:30 AM on February 2, 2013

PS : In the end, I feel like debating sex usually shows some unease or lack of compatibility.

Because when I remember past men I have dated and gotten serious with, we somehow were too busy sharing life experiences and opinions and jokes and feeling happy.... we barely talked about sex and physical things, or only after a while as mutual attraction developped, sometimes in a more flirtatious manner, most of the time a little poetic, not too down-to-earth like the 2 experiences I mention. And then one day, there we were, getting much closer, all along with a feeling of serenity and eagerness.
posted by Jireel at 3:36 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

A is being weird and pushy. Big red flag. What a weirdo.

So.. When I start feeling weirded out or disturbed by someone's attitude or words, that's the time to kind of let things go and tell the person here isn't chemistry ? As a conscious choice ?

Yes. If you feel weird and they aren't respecting your boundaries, tell them to leave.

You don't deserve to be made uncomfortable.
posted by discopolo at 4:46 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, as I see it, part of the reason you are having awkward conversations about sex with these guys is that they awkwardly pushed it to the front of their relationship with you before you were ready to get sexual with them. I would find this tedious exploration of why I don't want to sleep with someone rude and offputting. And I'd react to any further questioning with a huge eyeroll and a "Are we back on this topic again? I need to refill my drink...."

I suppose there may be a certain level of maturity at play here. When I was a teenager and then into my college years, I suppose it was fun to ruminate at length on sexual topics with my peers but if they are making you uncomfortable you have no obligation to continue to entertain them.

What could be more annoying than "let's discuss why you won't sleep with me"? And Mister A with the "we could just cuddle"? Please. I suspect this guy is one of those "nice guys" who isn't nice at all.
posted by amanda at 7:21 AM on February 2, 2013

I think you should trust your own gut feelings about both of these guys. The first guy in particular sounds like a creeep. If the second guy actually does what he says will and goes along at your pace, then he's not being creepy. But he is a creep if he says nice things and then starts pressuring you again.

I will work on my creep-o-meter.

AskMe is a good resource for this. Here are two relatively recent threadsl:

Help Me Hone My Creepometer!
How Do You Spot Dating Warning Signs?
posted by colfax at 9:34 AM on February 2, 2013

Both guys are creeps, no question.

But you are enabling them to a certain extent. What could you do differently?
1. Never meet a guy for first date at your house. If you (not he) really wanted to, you could say, pick me up and then go out from there.

2. Both guys are telling you they want NSA sex, tenderness, etc. etc. It all boils down to I want to have sex with you. Tell them you don't do FWB, NSA (not because of sex abuse - I think they are predators and feel like they can push you to their goals anyway, the sex abuse thing would validate it) or any casual sex. Why? Because you want to get married and you only go for long term monogamous relationships. As far as they know, you will wait for 6 months or a year to have sex and only in a committed relationship. (This lays out the fact that you will not be sleeping with them and they have NO CHANCE). If they ask you for a bit of tenderness, again, don't hestitate to say "NO". Then talk to someone else in the group

3. After laying out your values, STOP TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH THEM. If they go all, lets talk about sex, say "I feel like there is an echo in here. Am talking to myself?" "I really insist that my male friends respect my inclinations in this regard, and my inclination is not to have this conversation" If he says I want to talk relationships and sex, say with a smile "Thats nice, but I DONT" then move and talk to someone else.

4. Obviously, don't do anything alone with either creepster

5. For future reference, if a guy wants to meet the day he gets your number - you are busy. (this is a boundary pushing request and one way of testing if he can get you to do what he wants. the second boundary push was when he said I want you and you didn't leave). You can meet next week or in a few days. Only for coffee. (or tea if you are not a coffee drinker)

6. When you meet guys I'm willing to bet they are picking up on low boundaries - did these guys try to touch you inappropriate ways (your face, back of neck, cup your head)? Did they start inappropriate conversations that have intimate undertones (last time you had sex, how many times, whether you will have sex, or just start talking about sex and themselves)? If so, they were testing your boundaries and you could shut this all down before they make their move by making it clear you don't play. If they try to touch you physically dont just say "don't touch me but move away or push them away while saying "dude back off, you are in my personal space" or "stop being all creepy creepster" If they are talking sex, change the subject or begin talking about how its horrible that some men are all creepy and predatory about sex and you find it a big turn off. Then talk about something else or better yet - STOP TALKING TO THEM AND TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE
posted by zia at 11:52 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Anyway, I have never been too keen on dating, and only go when I am asked, I never suggest it or even hint at it.

If you are really serious about not being interested in dating and not giving signals then by definition the only guys who will ask you for dates are men who are too socially clueless to notice the lack of them (thus you will constantly need to give them verbal instructions and not trust them to pick up on cues) or who are too self-centered to care about your lack of cues (and who will be as creepy and exploitative as they can because they want what they can get away with and aren't actually interested in your desires).

Either be more romantically outgoing and be the one doing the selecting (which might mean hinting more overtly rather than actually asking out) or accept that your dating cues are useless except for filtering out undesirable dating partners and focus your romantic energies on dating sites or finding acquaintances or friends who may turn into romances.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:28 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have also been straightforward with B about my not experiencing timeliness in relationships the same way as he does, and possibily the way most people our age do. He answered that he really wanted to see me again, and that he wished to learn the way I experienced time, if i was willing to teach him, or to see him again at all. He added that he had never done it, and felt like it could be difficult still, but that anyhow, he was eager to "live what there is to live between you and I". Is this creepy ?

This is late to the party, but yes, it is creepy. It sounds like some kind of seventies New Age touchy-feely swingers' bullshit. When someone starts running this line, ask yourself "what does this guy mean with all the metaphors and flowery language? What does he think "live what there is to live between you and I" [or "between you and me", as a lot of fellows would say] ? What he means is "I know I'll get shut down if I talk about how my interest in you is sexual and nothing more, so I'll go all metaphorical". He's being a "letter of the law liar" - he doesn't want to say that all he wants is to get you into bed as soon as possible, but he doesn't want to lie and say that he likes you as a person, wants to date you, etc, so he uses fakey, mushy language...probably also thinks that women like that and that it will impress you because it sounds spiritual and romantic.

A rule I have always found useful: men are bad news if they talk to me in a totally different register than they use with other men or women in whom they are not interested. If they're direct and simple with everyone else and trot out the swingers' poetry with me, or if they're all about fancy intellectual stuff with others and with me it's all puppies and kittens, or if they talk in a normal tone of voice with others and drop into fakey oratory with me....those guys don't see women as people instead of People-Like-Humanoids and they believe that women have to be conned or babied into having sex.

Those feminists you're talking about - they probably know some adequate dudes, actually.
posted by Frowner at 11:03 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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