Don't be a stranger
September 4, 2015 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Recently I've gone on several dates where we got along really well online and talked for hours in person. However, they ended with a hug and silence afterward, which I'm disappointed about. How can I figure out if we both want to go past one-shot platonic meetings, and how do we get to where we want to go?

These dates were through OkCupid, and for each date, both of us have been queer women or nonbinary. Before each one, we got along really well online (meaning multiple long messages over many days).

I really like these people, I think it's mutual, and I'd like us to stay in each other's lives somehow, even if it's as friends. I'm also partial to [long-term relationships]/[platonic cuddles]/intimacy/kink and would like that to happen too. The people I met had listed some combination of "looking for short/long-term dating" and "looking for casual sex" on their profiles, so they weren't looking just for platonic dates.

Unfortunately I was in a straight and long-distance relationship for the last three years, so I never learned how dating works, especially in a queer context. Some sub-questions:
  • Is this a common problem among queer women?
  • Maybe I'm accidentally treating these like a coffee chat with a friend (i.e. talking more about ideas than personal stuff), and need to flirt more aggressively?
  • Is there a different protocol for "I'd like to go on multiple dates with you" vs. "Let's make platonic cuddles happen" vs. "Bed me tonight"? You might suggest, "Why not ask them beforehand?" I guess I'm not a fan of typing things like, "Is this a romantic date night, Y/N" and not a fan of people doing that to me; I prefer figuring things out in person.
  • To give a concrete example: one date was 4 hours long. We had dinner, then for the latter half, we were both sitting (about a foot apart) on a park bench at night, having an intense conversation. What would have been a good way for either of us to make a move?
Probably no One General Method exists, so I'd also like to hear your stories about your experiences!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you called them up and asked them for a second date? Maybe they feel it's your turn to make a move.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:03 PM on September 4, 2015

Have you been asking to see them again? That would be a clear sign of interest; if you're not giving it, there's no way to know.

Also, how many of these dates have you been on? If it hasn't been many, it's possible that the people you met were (1) not feeling it (2) unavailable, (3) flaky, (4) dating other people. All of these things are really common with online dating and sometimes even when the date goes great, it's not a clear signal that the other person is available/interested/not seeing someone else. I recently sat in a park at night talking to someone for hours, too, and while it felt romantic at the time, nothing really came of it. Not trying to be a bummer, just saying that it happens.

So, I'd suggest- asking them to meet up again if you really like them. Also, realize that many people on online dating are dating others at the same time and the flake factor is high. The only way to kind of get around these issues is to set up lots of dates and hopefully get to what you are looking for.

Good luck!
posted by bearette at 6:28 PM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also- in-person chemistry is virtually impossible to assess through online messages.
posted by bearette at 6:31 PM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can only speak from the experience of a straight cis person but I think this is just a pretty common thing in dating. People want to be wanted, so if you have an interest in a person, you should express it.

Generally if you're meeting a person you met on a dating site, the expectation is that you're meeting with intent-to-date, as opposed to, say, getting coffee with an interesting person you met at a craft fair. The latter case it's potentially just a friendship. But meeting on a dating site says, ok, we're both here to see how we might feel about dating each other. And in that context, complete silence after a first date is generally a sign that they don't want to date you. If you want to see them again, you have to say so, and that goes for wanting to see them again in a date context or as friends.

So yeah, start texting folks back. I don't pay any heed to dating rules bullshit like "wait three days" or whatever people are telling people to do--I'll send another message as soon as I decide I want to see them again. Maybe that's a few days after the first date, maybe it's literally five minutes after as I'm on my train heading home. You've gotta put yourself out there.

And if you don't want to date them but do want to see if you can strike up a friendship, then say so! I find this works best if you say it while actually on the date as opposed to in a message because it lessens the chance it can be read as a cushioned rejection/blow off. Things like "I'm not really feeling a romantic spark but you're super cool and I want to get to know you better, would you like to come to Thing with me and some friends of mine next weekend?"

Oh, and as for what is a good way to make a move when you're sitting on a park bench having deep thoughts for an hour and want to sex them? For shitssake lean over and kiss them god damnit!
posted by phunniemee at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're used to dating straight guys, and now you're dating queer women, well, you can't expect them to make the first move, can you? That's the straight guy playbook. Until gender roles homogenize (ha), guys are going to be used to asking, and women are going to be ... not.
posted by musofire at 7:26 PM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a woman who dates men, so my experience may be slightly different. However, here it is:

* Ending with a hug is not a bad thing, it does not mean there is no chemistry.
* After a good date, there's usually some follow-up text maybe the next day from one of us "I had a really good time, thank you for (dinner, suggesting the movie, inviting me, bringing the baklava, whatever)!"
* Maybe 3-5 days after a good date, someone texts and says "X thing is happening on X day, would you like to go?"

And it goes from there.

When I meet someone and I enjoy spending time with them but don't feel we have chemistry, I say (usually via email): "I have so much fun spending time with you. I don't get the feeling that we are hitting it off in a dating since, but I think we could be great friends. What do you think?" Or something like that. And they let me know. This goes better if we haven't kissed yet.
posted by bunderful at 7:41 PM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is this a common problem among queer women?

Yes! yes yes yes

I suggest when they say something, pausing for a moment, looking into their eyes, and touching them somehow. You'll read the moment, but do let the conversation pause, and do touch them somehow while looking at them. It's a big friend--->romance move.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:27 PM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is this a common problem among queer women?

It has been my experience that, yes, things are much more likely to be awkward-ish at first and need a bit of time to ease into things, especially with people coming out later in life, but not necessarily just then. Like, I had a friend who I now count in retrospect as a relationship because it didn't really sink in until she moved away that we'd spent the several months prior to that mutually trying to figure out how to make something happen and utterly failing because we both felt just that awkward. At some point, you kind of just have to burn through the awkward, I think, and bear the discomfort of being a little more forward about it and risking rejection. But it's okay to not have it jump straight to kissing or whatever, and instead make the shocking step of, like, reaching for the other person's hand, or giving an overtly Interested sort of compliment.
posted by Sequence at 8:32 PM on September 4, 2015

Queer woman here, saying, yup, it's a common experience for me! I was actually reading your question and hoping you were one of my recent OKC dates that ended with a hug so I could have confirmation that said dates did want a second date (alas, no such luck.)

Since I'm in the same predicament, I'm not sure if my advice is all that sound. What I realized from my last long term relationship that started with a great first date kiss is that I need someone to kiss me first, I'm just a wuss about it. It can be good to put that out there on your profile—I actually say something similar about how I hate being the first to message someone and it's worked out okay. Yeah, maybe it's unfair to the other person to put it all on them, but it's a personality trait that I'm searching for—the willingness to put yourself out there while dating.

Also, if a girl touches my knee or arm a lot, I feel so much more comfortable being physical back and then it's clearer that we'll kiss at the end of the night. If you're not doing that already, can you try adding that in at various parts of the evenings to gauge her response? You'll be giving a low key signal that you're interested in physical affection.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:48 PM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

My hard-won wisdom about online dates is that you leave the first date as a first meeting. It's awkward for everybody, but if you avoid feeling like you wasted your time, you part friendly and regroup and reconnect, see how the response is, and make plans for your real first date if everybody's up for it.
posted by rhizome at 2:23 AM on September 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's not clear if you're contacting them after the first date... you don't mention them ignoring your attempts to get together again. You absolutely should be, instead of waiting on them to contact you.

When I exclusively dated men, I thought I was doing half of the work to move things forward. Then I started dating women and realized that (a) I hadn't been, and (b) men were far more likely to take a subtle half-move and escalate it and run with it. My experience is that most women are far less likely to risk rejection in that way. Straight out asking "may I kiss you" feels super awkward but is pretty effective, and since I'm not awesome at reading subtle cues, it feels better for me than making a bold physical move that she may not feel she consented to.

I wouldn't consider that a first date thing though to be honest. A hug after a first date when you met online is pretty normal even with men, and sort of a good idea to stick with because it gives the other person a chance to not see you again without having to directly reject physical advances to your face. (For similar reasons, I think it's nice to avoid discussing whether you'll see each other again on that first meeting. I mean, if they bring it up and you're interested, express enthusiasm, but don't bring it up.) When you see each other again is the time to start moving toward physical stuff. (Unless you met on Tinder or are very explicit in your profile that hook-ups are what you're going for, and often even then.)
posted by metasarah at 4:03 AM on September 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are these first dates?

I am one of those who like to not immediately make out on the first date. Even if it is going well, I find it sexy to prolong the sexual tension and wait for the perfect time. I like to get to know people reasonably well.

Ask them out on another date, and let go of expectations that things will become intimate on the first date. Also expect that as a queer woman you will have to be more aggressive.

(I am also a queer woman, and I am still getting used to the fact I need to be aggressive).
posted by pando11 at 4:07 AM on September 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Say what you want. If you don't want to lead, ask the other person to make a move. Out loud! With your words! It's hard at first, but you'll get there. You're just scared (because ouch, rejection) and short on practice (because ew, patriarchy).

You have subtle choices to frame your desire and protect your ego. Find your style: "May I kiss you?" "I'd love to kiss you" "You have the most kissable lips" "I'd love it if you kissed me" "I want you to kiss me" "Kiss me now?" Also: *gives cute compliment, edges closer on the bench, leans in, shuts up, grabs hand, waits expectantly with pursed lips...* Or: "This was great, wanna call me next Tuesday and make out?"

I'm a queer woman. I have a well-honed OKC profile that attracts exactly the dates I want. I've used it for all manner of shipping: hi-fidelity coffee banter... platonic cuddles... whirlwind romance... long-term partners... freakin' awesome one night stands with whips. (If you PM me or add a throwaway, I'll link so you can see exactly how I advertise.)

I never go in with expectations. I simply feel out the level of click and decide what I want to do with it. Then I ask my date what they're down for. If we're on the same page, away we go! If they want to take things slower, cool... what's the rush? If one of us isn't feeling it, great! Now my night's free.

It's true, you don't have to state your desires openly. You can use body language or old-fashioned dating codes to speed things along. But... why?

PS "Is this a romantic date night, Y/N" fails not because it's direct but because it's rigid. It makes assumptions about chemistry long before you could know such a thing, and then plans a whole night around those shitty assumptions! Last time I *wanted* a romantic date night, I straight up ASKED. "Hey, I'm in the mood for a night of total romance. I'm thinking wine, rare steak, candles, a moonlit walk and kisses if we're feelin' it. Whaddya think?" The answer was yes, my dear. It was yes!
posted by fritillary at 5:01 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

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