Help me not be a kissing bully, because I really want to kiss you.
April 7, 2016 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I really want to kiss someone NOW. I don't want to make the same impulsive, intense (?) mistake that I made in the past, but I'm also too old (late 40s) to wait around passively and wonder. I worry that I'm developing feelings that may not actually be reciprocated despite obvious attraction and personal interest. So I need to find out.

A long time ago as a mature adult: I blew it by being impatient. I damaged the relationship and friendship with my special brand of intense. I don't regret the time together at all, but I regret that it did not last longer (even if it wouldn't have lasted "forever"). I'm confident it was me who was not at my best.

I met a new person at the margins of my social circle 6 months ago. I am beginning to care about our friendship, and I'm also developing deep feelings/attraction. We are both very busy so I understand things move slowly when you are older and you have lots of work, family, friends, self on your plate. I also know that I am nearing 50 so I know what I want. I also know that I can be impatient and that this may result in BAD. Person seems to be slow mover, but maybe this is because there is no romantic or sexual interest despite signs of attraction?

I have seen this new friend enough times now to know I want to explore the possibility of dating and intimacy. I might even be up for just sex and friendship. I don't know this person well enough to know if they are dating or involved--it just hasn't come up naturally--and I'm wondering if this, too, is a sign that my new friend has no romantic intentions, or, if new friend is just being polite. We are in a loose social group so person could initiate less collective and more one-on-one communication but person has not. No texting or phone or outings. All of our interaction has been in person or email.

I see this person regularly but infrequently--possibly 4 times a month. Person is incredibly respectful of my space, while obviously showing (more and more) that they enjoy talking to me and being near me. We are both understated, but when we interact, we are often laughing, teasing, or otherwise desirous of each others attention in a way that (in my opinion) is not mirrored in how we act with others around us. We don't meet one-on-one, but most of our interaction has been one-on-one. I'm aware that the romantic significance of these interactions may possibly be wishful thinking on my part.

I think it's rare to meet someone I really like, admire, and feel comfortable with, especially at this stage in my life. The slow burn feels good, so I'm trying to enjoy it--but I think the kissing, dating, and sex would feel much better!

Should I ask person out or ask to kiss them--I really want to kiss them--and if they say no, explain briefly that I need to back off of our friendship for a bit? Because our friendship is fairly new, I think temporarily backing off without explanation could be confusing to this person. I also want to be clear to myself that the status quo can't continue--I'm already too into this person and need to establish a healthy boundary.

OR, should I ask person out, and if they say no, manage my own feelings without explaining that I need to back off for a bit? For me, this is less good because it sets me up for status quo, which means hoping without clarity. But, I don't want to make this someone else's problem if it's just my problem.

Should I be patient for another one or two months and then do one of the above?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You say to this person, using your words, "Would you like to go on a date with me? There's a new Thai place I'd like to check out next weekend, my treat." If the date goes well you can kiss the person while you're on it.

If they don't want to go out with you, you need to manage that however is appropriate for you. If that means you don't hang out as friends for a while, that's fine.
posted by phunniemee at 7:22 AM on April 7, 2016 [52 favorites]

You are way overthinking. Ask the person out on a short date. Like coffee or a drink. Ask soon, because if this person is single, they may not be single by the time you get around to it. If the person says no, back off, take space, find someone else to ask out, etc.
posted by Naamah at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ask them out, and if the response is no, then back away without any unnecessary explanation.

For one thing, I think people would generally understand, and even expect, that you would back off for a while after a rejection, possibly permanently. Also, once someone has said no to your romantic advance, they no longer have any obligation to help you deal with your own feelings.

Further, I am not sure why asking someone out and receiving a no would result in a status quo and you full of hope but no clarity. No means no. It means, very clearly, that this person is not interested in dating you, kissing you, etc. It would, in fact, be the clearest way to proceed, and the best chance of getting to a potential yes, and possibly, eventually kissing.

Best of luck.
posted by enlivener at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

Asking them out, and saying that it will be a date, as in romantic/sexual interest is a great plan. Telling someone that you are just meeting, someone you don't text or email with that you want to kiss them is a bit much.
posted by kellyblah at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sounds like totally reasonable circumstances to ask someone out on a date, though you may want to find out their relationship status first (or ask a discreet mutual friend). Most polite mature adults, if they turn you down, would back off on the friendship a bit to A: give you space to deal with that, and B: confirm that you're still a safe person to be around when you've been turned down. Very few people would be surprised by you taking a bit of a break. You don't have to continue the same style of flirty friendship if you find it hurtful to have the feelings be one-way, but telling them that would kind of be blaming the person for their particular mode of non-romantic friendliness, and I would find that to be a big friendship red flag. So avoid that. (I'd also find it a red flag if I was in your shoes and they said no then ramped up the flirtiness. That would be someone who likes drama, but not you, and is best avoided.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:28 AM on April 7, 2016

should I ask person out, and if they say no, manage my own feelings without explaining that I need to back off for a bit? For me, this is less good

Less good for you, better for the other person. Relationships are all about compromising what is best for you. If you don't know this person well enough to know their relationship status you may want to get to know them one on one just a little bit better so I suggest what the others have said which is a "Let's do something you and me" situation. Does not even have to be a "Dinner and a movie" date, but should be an intentional plan to spend time together, just the two of you that is not project-based (i.e. "I have a thing that needs moving, can you come over and help me do that?"). If you ask them out and they say no, then it's a clear sign to not go further. You seem to be concerned (excuse me for interpreting) that you might ask them out, they'd say something vague like "No not now for reasons" and you'd then be in a state of not-knowing. I think another interpretation is that the ball is then in their court and they can schedule a thing if they'd like to.

And yeah at the point at which your behavior/request becomes not reciprocated then you manage your own feelings because you are not in a relationship with this person. It's hard when you have feelings for someone that are not reciprocated, but making that into something they need to process with you is not kosher. Get this relationship out of your head and into the real world with decent haste and best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

You're a mature person, do what mature people do. Ask this person out on a date. "I'd love to get to know you better, want to grab a coffee after this?"

If this person is not interested, he will tell you. Accept that as final.

We all build things up in our head to be bigger than they are. Grown people recognize this and try not to do this. So exercise that muscle. It's not that you're impatient, it's that you have been living a fantasy in your head from the time you decided this person was datable until the time you actually go on a date. Meanwhile the poor schmoe is just getting to know you.

You have a crush, inherently what you're thinking about is 80% wish fulfillment. Upon dating this person you may discover that he's not so very great, and you'll be so upset.

You don't put on the breaks to make the other person happy, you put on the breaks to keep your imagination from running away with you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:06 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ask them out. Depending on how you feel afterwards, you can scale your friendship up/down and act accordingly. You don't see this person very much so being cordial but not overly friendly will not seem like a big deal and they may want that anyways if they are put off by your advances.

To be honest if you're past your 20's, the whole "I need to scale this friendship back" conversation because someone you see once a week turned you down for a date seems really immature and dramatic.
posted by scrittore at 8:10 AM on April 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

Make words come out of your face. Phunnimee's words are great. Whatever words you use, the explicit word "date" needs to be in there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:23 AM on April 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

Whoa. You don't even know if this person is married or dating someone. All this urgency is a bit frightening, tbh. Is there some reason you prefer kissing them to asking them out? (I.E., you are a straight woman and you think women shouldn't ask men out, but kissing them is okay?) Are you just super, well, horny? Are you afraid if you don't act NOW then you'll lose the chance? You seem to have overwhelming levels of anxiety and overthinking here that I don't think are warranted. Are you just anxious because you feel like they're leading you on and you want the ambiguity to end? I get that. But you're hyping this up like crazy. This person probably likes you fine, but they probably definitely are not quite as into you as you are them. Otherwise they'd be the one grabbing you and planting one on you.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I see signs that this could crash and burn just like your intensity when you were younger.

Just slowwwwww down. Imagine them pooping. Remind yourself over and over they're human. Get a vibrator/whatever to work off the sexual energy. Work on your self esteem so that you genuinely don't even care if they reject you. I mean, you've got to get this anxiety in check somehow.

Once you feel calm, ask them out on a simple date as casually as you can. Do you have this person's Facebook? That will tell you if they're single.
posted by quincunx at 9:27 AM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

How To Kiss Someone, A Primer

1. Make sure the person has any romantic feelings for you whatsoever. You could establish this by, for example, asking them out on a date. If you go this route, make it explicit that this is a date and not "want to have coffee sometime?" Friends with no romantic intentions have coffee all the time. Other ways to ascertain romantic feeling would be to ask them, or to ask someone they know well who would be a in a position to know. You could also wait for some kind of "sign", but it sounds like this burned you in the past.

2. Set the scene. If you asked them on a date, you're 90% of the way there, since a lot of people expect there to be kissing involved on dates. But even so: wear something nice! Smell good! Take them out to a place that is outside the ordinary, whether that's a restaurant or a hike with a nice view or even just a stroll through a place you don't go every day. Not gonna lie, alcohol can be helpful here. (Though you shouldn't substitute plying someone with drinks for romantic feelings they already have.)

3. A kiss is a pretty intimate thing for people to do. Start slow. Make eye contact. Touch casually like two people who aren't totally repelled by each other might do. Brush her arm. Sit closer. Put your arm around her or hold hands. If at ANY stage in this game your partner is reluctant to be touched by you or backs off, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Slow waaaayyyyyy down. Maybe reconsider whether you're sure of their romantic intentions and whether you were super clear that this was a date.

4. If you're getting toward the end of your date, and you're both having a great time, and you're relaxed and open and everyone is comfortable with the level of touching that is already happening, NOW it is time to start thinking about kissing each other. If you skipped steps 1-3, that's a problem. If you failed to ascertain mutual romantic feelings and readiness to get physically intimate during steps 1-3, that's a problem. Honestly, I feel awkward about this weird liminal moment, too. You're about to literally put your body on the line, and if you get rejected, it can feel so awful. Especially if you really like the person and thought there was a connection. So I tend to broadcast it verbally. Almost every time I've initiated a first kiss with someone, I've used the word "kiss" in a sentence a little beforehand. Once, I happened to find myself alone in an elevator with the guy I was on a first date with, so I said, "Stop talking about Shakespeare and kiss me!" And we did, and it was great. But you don't have to be that bold. Other times I've been on a post-dinner stroll and just said, "I feel awkward about kissing you, but I really want to, so if you wanna..." and let it be more open and vulnerable. Either way, it's 100% OK to talk about it beforehand. "Can I kiss you?" is one of the best sentences in the English language.

5. It's OK if the person isn't ready to kiss you yet! That doesn't necessarily mean they don't like you. This is the great thing about establishing mutual feelings and making it explicit that you're on a date/in an otherwise romantic situation. If you had a great time, and you were physically close and OK with touching, and flirty, etc, but you didn't actually kiss, you still pretty much know where you stand and can assume that a kiss will happen eventually, when your partner is ready. Not everyone kisses on the first date, or kisses indiscriminately without mulling it over or feeling ready. And that's fine.

TL;DR: establish some kind of consent or at least mutual romantic feelings BEFORE you blindside someone with a kiss, bring it up verbally if you aren't sure, be OK with them not being ready to kiss you yet. Also, be ready for them to not be into you! There is no formula for making someone like you who doesn't naturally feel that way, and all the kissing primers in the world aren't going to act as some kind of bonetown cheat code to get somebody to want you.
posted by Sara C. at 9:29 AM on April 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

Ask them out(preferably to somewhere you both would enjoy), then at the end of the date, ask for a kiss. It's cheesy and seems awkward to do, but a lot of people don't kiss on the first date and consider it a "trial run". You can't just jump physical contact on someone like that without some established emotional intimacy first. Clear lines of consent are good for everyone, and if they want to kiss you, they'll be honoured you asked. If they don't, then you avoided being a creep.
posted by InkDrinker at 10:43 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

OR, should I ask person out, and if they say no, manage my own feelings without explaining that I need to back off for a bit? For me, this is less good because it sets me up for status quo, which means hoping without clarity. But, I don't want to make this someone else's problem if it's just my problem.

My rule, if I want to be friends with someone who's said they don't want to date me, is that if they ever change their mind, they have to tell me that. As long as they don't, I can disregard any behavior I might like to perceive as ambiguous or subtle flirting as coming out of my brain's over-active delusion center.
posted by aubilenon at 11:00 AM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another vote for being direct and asking them out and using words like, "date." Asking someone to "grab a coffee" or "get something to eat" or "catch a movie" are all things that a friend can also ask, so you're not making the intended context clear and you still could end up making unwanted advances because of the vague nature of the invitation. Using a word like "date" makes your intentions far more clear. Use words, clear words.
posted by quince at 11:56 AM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is simple. Stop making it complicated.

Ask them out. Say 'date'. Do not tell them that if they say no you will need to back off. Maybe ask some of your mutual friends beforehand if they know if person is single/looking.

If they say no, then back off and get your feelings under control. You are not living in hope without clarity here, you have clarity - you asked, they said no. They will be able to figure out why you're backing off.

If they say yes, yay, have date and then you can think about starting on the kissing phase.
posted by corvine at 1:10 PM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think I would drop dead from shock if someone in my age cohort (like this one) managed to figure out how to perform this simplest of all tasks: Ask me out on a real live date. The confidence it takes to man up and Make Those Words Come Out Of Your Face would be a large turn on, FYI.

What have we come to, men? Wherefore a little effing mojo to make your intentions clear? On behalf of all women, I feel comfortable saying, "This is what we want!!"
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:44 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Or, you know, woman up.
posted by instamatic at 3:32 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Human up. Faces are made, among other things, to make words come out of.
Do that.
posted by Superplin at 4:05 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ask for a date but cultivate patience. A guy I could have been attracted to came on way too strong by kissing me forcefully on our second date and killed any chemistry I started feeling brewing with him. I didn't want to get to know him after that and no longer accepted his calls. I ghosted, lied about being busy. I liked him, but that forceful kissing stuff turned me off. I ran into him months later and he asked for a second chance and I still felt like he ruined feelings I might have had towards him if he he T been so impatient, because I really liked him. I ended up making out with randos in bars for months then ended up in a relationship with a guy who waited a little. Then the relationship after that, the best boyfriend I had was also a little shy about kissing me and I ended up being crazy attracted to him and sleeping with him pretty quickly, and I've never regretted it.

Just remember, how you feel is not necessarily how this other person feels, even if they do accept a date with you. Maybe just make sure you can control yourself before ruining whatever feelings this person might have sprouting for you. Go kiss randos and get that energy out so you don't ruin anything.

Just my opinion. You can obviously do whatever you like.
posted by discopolo at 8:16 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

special brand of intense
Kissing someone before you're sure of their interest can easily veer from special-brand-of-intense to special-brand-of-assault territory. Don't do it!

Okay, that said, I think the fixation on kissing is a bit cart-before-the horse. I mean, kissing is cool so I understand your focus but you can't impose that on someone else out of the blue. Everyone above is correct. The sequence you want here is: make your romantic interest known by asking this person on a date, using that word. If on the date you want to kiss this person but you aren't sure they want to kiss you, you can ask, or move in and pause and say "is this okay?" giving this person a real opportunity to move away or object. Or if you feel you are really clueless about gauging interest and are unwilling to ask, let them kiss you.

Should I be patient for another one or two months
No way Jose, there is no reason to set an artificial limitation like this. In a month or two they could start dating someone else, or they would trust you as a platonic friend and be weirded out by a sudden romantic overture, or you will have built your fantasy in your head so much that you will act all weird like you already have a romantic relationship when you don't even know them like that. Just ask this person out ASAP. You're in your late 40s, you know there's no time to monkey around.

if they say no, manage my own feelings without explaining that I need to back off for a bit?
You always, always have to manage your own feelings without making them the other person's problem. If you can't be platonic with them without false hope, that is on you to back off and only return when you can be a pal. If you can't be a pal, you can't--that happens and it's okay. That's the risk, but no risk, no reward, right?

I feel I must tell you, from the perspective of someone who has given and received unwanted attention: there is absolutely NO payoff to making some intense maudlin declaration to the face of someone who doesn't share your feelings. As strong as your feelings are, they exist only in you, they are not a thing you can impose on this other person and expect them to manage for you or with you. The intensity of your feelings does not obligate them to you.

Just ask this person out already.
posted by kapers at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, and some people don't kiss on first dates, so you might want to go on a series of dates before attempting. It should become clear on the date(s) whether smooching is in the cards.
posted by kapers at 9:22 AM on April 8, 2016

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