How Not To Hit On People

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About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.

Comments

  1. TheAverageOutlier says:

    Firstly, I agree with every single point.

    “Be a genuinely kind, non-entitled person.”

    This is my greatest worry. I am (or I like to think I am) genuinely benevolent, but I am not kind. Kindness implies empathy, and that is something I do not have, at least not as much as I see it in others. My benevolence is very selfish, I want to feel good about myself.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to learn to be kind?

    • If you’re interested in learning about practicing empathy as both a way to communicate effectively and to be more self-aware, check out non-violent communication (also known as Collaborative Communication or Empathetic Communication). You can learn more about it on your own by reading some of the many books about it–I recommend Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life and Thomas D’Ansembourg’s Being Genuine. Or you can attend a workshop or training or practice group–The Center for NVC has an international calendar of trainings (http://www.cnvc.org/trainingcal) or you can google NVC in your area. We are constantly taught to substitute other people’s expectations for our own needs and to substitute our expectations for actually listening to other people; you’re definitely not alone in feeling like you might need some help in developing these skills. For me personally NVC has made a huge difference in my ability to really listen to people and be authentic with them.

  2. Developers^3 says:

    This is my biggest piece of advice, and it ought to be really reassuring to a lot of awkward people. If you genuinely are kind and mean well and are interested in other people, most people can tell.

    If anything, this is quite the opposite of reassuring or me. The way that is worded, it suggests that the converse is also true: That if people can’t can’t tell that you are genuinely kind and mean well, you are are not a genuinely kind, non-entitled person. Although I doubt that Ozy intended it this way, I would view that as yet another example of “you are bad at this aspect of courtship because you are a bad person”.

    Nevertheless, the healthy attitude to take to flirting with people of the appropriate gender is “That person seems cool. It’d be awesome if we dated, but it’s also cool if we’re friends, since they’re an awesome person I’d like to hang out with either way. And, hey, there’s probably another awesome person I can date somewhere else if this one doesn’t work out.”

    Although I agree with your main premise here, I have to add that being rejected hurts. I don’t think it’s fair to make it an ethical requirement to maintain contact and friendship with someone who outright rejects you. It’s nice if you can do it, but should understandable if you can’t.

    • I would say that it’s ok to take time to get to that point, but you should be trying to get to the point where you can be friends with them. After all, you can’t have liked them as a person all that much if the pain of being rejected is greater than the desire to be around them.

      • Depends on how close you were before the rejection doesn’t it? There’s a good chance that you didn’t like them because you didn’t know them and you asked them out because you wanted to get to know them.

        • Ok, I think this is a cultural difference thing. I can’t imagine wanting to go out with someone I didn’t know. I can imagine wanting to get to know someone, but I wouldn’t ask them ‘out’.

          • Depends. If you haven’t already met that person, the first date can be sort of a friendly “getting to know you and to decide whether you’re actually date-worthy” thing for both parties.

            I dated lots of people I didn’t already know beforehand. If the friendship comes, it tends to segue into romance a lot quicker than if you’d started out as platonic friends before that first date, but the friendly aspect of things usually manifests if the relationship is at all positive.

          • AnonymousDog says:

            “I can’t imagine wanting to go out with someone I didn’t know. I can imagine wanting to get to know someone, but I wouldn’t ask them ‘out’”.

            In adult life, as opposed to student life, you often encounter people who you might want to get to know, but whom you might not encounter again in the normal course of things. Getting to know such people will require setting aside dedicated time to get to know them, i.e. a ‘date’.

            • - I’m not a student, haven’t been for *counts* seven years now. I can understand you thinking ‘her life is clearly different to mine, therefore she must have or be something I am not’. I’m not sure how you got from there to ‘student’ though.
              - I think that wanting to ‘get to know someone’ based just on how they look (unless it’s something they’re expressing on purpose, like a TShirt from your favourite band, or a tatoo with words from your favourite book or something) is pretty shallow, and I really can’t picture myself doing it.
              - You say that like ‘grown ups’ don’t have people that they see every day. Like work colleagues. Or people who work nearby. Or other regulars in their pub / coffee shop / whatever. Or people that they share a hobby with. Or, ya know, people they know. Has something weird happened in your adult life that means you only ever meet strangers unless you actively work on seeing people again?
              - If you have gotten talking to them enough to make a connection, I’d expect we’d swap numbers, or email addresses, or facebook names or something. Then I’d include them in something I would have been doing anyway, probably with other people. This is mostly just because if we had that connection, it was probably because we had something in common, so we’d meet up to share that thing as well as to get to know each other better. At the most I’d suggest we meet for ‘a coffee’ or something. Which I suppose could be considered a date, but wouldn’t necessarily.
              - I cannot picture wanting to date someone that I would not ALSO want to get to know if they weren’t interested in dating me. So, if I was trying to get to know someone, I would mostly do it outside of ‘dating’.
              - My culture and my subcultures are working against me understanding this situation. I’m Irish, we don’t really do dating. Obviously, we have relationships, but the ‘lets go on a date’ thing isn’t really done here. I’m also a gamer, a nerd, a swing dancer, and a runner. I meet so many people through these things that I can’t imagine trying to start a relationship with someone outside of them. After all, when my hobbies introduce me to so many people that I definitely have at least one thing in common with, why would I look elsewhere for people I might have nothing in common with?
              - All of this comes with the caveat that I’m not single and haven’t been for five and a half years now. So, really, what the heck would I know about trying to get a first date?

            • AnonymousDog says:

              I don’t think I assumed YOU were necessarily a student, but a great amount of dating advice(so-called) seems to be aimed at students, and much of that advice seems to assume that everyone has the same opportunities for meeting new people.
              I didn’t say that adults don’t have people that they see every day, but my experience is that of the people I do see ‘every day’, I (and they) have already gotten to know one another, and we have already established the basis of our interaction. On those occaisions when I do encounter someone new who seems interesting(and that might or might not be on the basis of their appearance) there is a good chance that I might not get the chance to interact with them again any time soon unless I make an effort to invest in the time to do so. Including someone in something I was going to do anyway is a ‘date’ so far as I am concerned because we have agreed to meet somewhere at a specified time.

              The only ‘weird’ thing in my life is that I live in a small town and see the same relatively few people on a regular basis. It’s generally only when I step outside my routine that I meet someone new, or when they happen to wander into my life through some rare happenstance. I’m glad that the things you enjoy doing bring you into contact with a lot of new people, that hasn’t worked for me.

              Population density, demographics and gender ratios have a lot more to do with meeting potential romantic/sexual partners than some people realize.

        • I had a crush on a certain young man for the last two years of high school. I got to know this guy reasonably well for a schoolmate, since we had most of the same classes together and often had lunch at the same table.* I would listen to him talk to other kids the whole damn time, but was too nervous to say anything beyond General Small Talk (“Hi!” and “How are you?” more than “Can you believe that history assignment, man?”), much less “Hey, I kinda like you.”

          Because I wouldn’t say anything, one of the girls I’d confided in started dating him senior year. Yes, she was being kind of a bitch for deliberately going after a person I’d told her I was interested in, but if I’d actually TALKED TO HIM, I would at least have known if he wanted to get to know me in other ways or not. I blew that chance, and that knowledge made me more miserable at the time than any rejection statement (“I like you as a friend,” “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel that way,” “EW NO GTFO!!”) could ever have.

          Nowadays, while I don’t think any less of my anxiety over the guy…well, it’s harder to care as much about Guy I Used To Crush On And Haven’t Seen Since Graduation than about people you’ve actually dated.

          * This was roughly the extent of my social interaction at the time, due to a combination of crippling social anxiety, lots of AP classes, math team, and severe ADHD that made homework take 2-3 times as long as for everybody else. Also, prepping for both the SAT and the ACT (my parents were fixated on the idea of me getting an AWESOME SCHOLARSHIP and wanted to maximize my chances).

          • Nick, mostly says:

            Because I wouldn’t say anything, one of the girls I’d confided in started dating him senior year. Yes, she was being kind of a bitch for deliberately going after a person I’d told her I was interested in, but if I’d actually TALKED TO HIM, I would at least have known if he wanted to get to know me in other ways or not.

            Wait, why was she a bitch? Because you called “dibs” on him more than a year earlier, all of your friends are supposed to avoid dating him even if they like him too and he reciprocates?

            • I would say the friend was mean because she did something that she knew most likely would hurt the shy one.

            • Nick, mostly says:

              I don’t think it’s mean at all. You can’t call dibs on someone for a year and expect all of your friends will stay away. That’s not being a friend, that’s being a selfish toddler. Men aren’t baubles to be put on layaway – they have feelings and desires of their own, just as your friends do.

  3. I agree here: “The complete strangers who feel the need to compliment my ass every fucking time I’m in girl-drag? Not socially awkward people making a mistake.”

    But not here: “All of those people know exactly what they’re fucking doing, and part of the enjoyment IS in making people uncomfortable.”

    In some situations it is perfectly acceptable to compliment a stranger on their ass. These people may just not realise they’re not in that situation. I don’t think that they are necessarily trying to make you uncomfortable.

    And I disagree here: “But that doesn’t mean that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.” Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. There are no moustache twirling villains. Pretty much everyone believes that what they’re doing is good, or at least ok. The ideal reaction to someone crossing your boundaries is to try to find out why they thought that was ok and see if you can help them fix that. Yes, there are some incurably asshole-ish people out there who are just wrong when they think that what they’re doing is ok. But I think they’re few and far between and it is not fair to assume a stranger belongs in that category. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, the first time.

    • Not necessarily. There are some actions that could legitimately go both ways (like inappropriate ass-complimenting). However, there are some things that are generally only done to deliberately be an asshole/establish dominance. Calling someone a lesbian because she turns down a date with you, groping a total stranger without warning, and demanding someone pleasure YOU because “they need cheering up” are not done out of social anxiety. I should know; I’ve suffered from it for most of my life.

      In addition, someone else making you uncomfortable is NOT YOUR FAULT, and I think that’s more the aspect that Ozy was trying to get across.

      Discomfort is not your fault. It is more or less an involuntary response. Deliberately acting like an asshole, on the other hand, is the fault of the person who is acting like an asshole. Not stopping the assholish behavior before it could start doesn’t make you a horrible person, because we can’t always predict asshole behavior.

      • I completely agree that being uncomfortable is not your fault and that it is the person making you uncomfortable that is in the wrong. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt, the first time. They may be doing it that way because that is the way they have always done it and it has always been done that way around them and they’ve never questioned it and never seen it from the other person’s point of view. If someone is being an asshole to you, tell them, they really, genuinely, might not realise it. The second time from the same person? Hang them.

        • mythago says:

          So, everybody gets to be a total asshole as long as they don’t do it twice to the same person?

          • Juuuulia says:

            Technically yes, unless you’re doing in to a group of people that talk to each other, in which case they’ll just all learn about your assholish ways and avoid you. Or if you do it to a wide net of people, they’ll post about you on the internet. ^_^ The hipster grifter case was one example.

  4. FlyingKal says:

    @Developers^3

    If anything, this is quite the opposite of reassuring or me. The way that is worded, it suggests that the converse is also true: That if people can’t can’t tell that you are genuinely kind and mean well, you are are not a genuinely kind, non-entitled person. Although I doubt that Ozy intended it this way, I would view that as yet another example of “you are bad at this aspect of courtship because you are a bad person”.

    My thoughts, and concerns, too.

    @Saoili:

    After all, you can’t have liked them as a person all that much if the pain of being rejected is greater than the desire to be around them.

    I’d say that pretty much depends on the reasons for the rejection, and how it is “executed”.
    However much I may have liked (being around) a person, I see no reason to linger if that person doesn’t want me around or sees me as “inferior” in any way.

    • If someone says ‘no I don’t want to date you, you’re a horrible person and I don’t want to be anywhere near you’ obviously you’re not going to want to be around them. But, for me, that would be because they said ‘you’re a horrible person and I don’t want to be anywhere near you’, not because they said ‘no I don’t want to date you’.

      Someone not wanting to date you is never, in my opinion, a good reason to avoid them long term. If, in rejecting you, they also reveal reasons you would not want to be near them, that’s a separate thing.

      One thing. If someone sees you as ‘inferior’ only in the sense of physical attractiveness? That’s just something you have to accept. Everyone is physically unattractive to someone.

      • FlyingKal says:

        What if I’m not an “horrible person”, but just not deemed attractive enough, conveyed in a way that implies that my presence is not at all desirable…?

        • You mean you ask someone out and they say ‘no, I don’t want to date you, you’re not attractive enough, in fact, you’re so unattractive I don’t even want to be near you’? Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? If someone said that I would not want to be around them, not because they don’t want to date me, but because they’re clearly an asshole.

        • The problem, to me, is with people who take ‘no thanks, I don’t want to date you because I’m not attracted to you’ as ‘no, I refuse to date you because I have deemed you unworthy, because you are not attractive enough’. It’s not about worthiness, it’s about them being, or not being attracted to you. If someone isn’t attracted to you, it doesn’t mean that you have done, or are, anything wrong. They’re just not attracted to you.

          • FlyingKal says:

            Words don’t always have to be spoken to get a message across loud and clear, just as you yourself exemplify below.

            I bet I’ve been in a good number of situations in life that you would deem unlikely or unbelievable (just as you’ve been to me), but I see no meaning in going further into speculations about this.

        • mythago says:

          “Implied” or “inferred”? Is the person saying that they don’t like you at all? Otherwise it seems as though you’re assuming the other person doesn’t want you around if you’re not pretty enough to turn them on. (And if that’s the case, why would you want to be near such a person?)

          • FlyingKal says:

            Mythago:
            I’m not a native english speaker, so I’m not 100% sure about the distinction you’re asking for. I’m sorry for that.

            However, the reactions I’m talking about is more along the range of amused ridicule. Like, I’m making a fool of myself even for asking.

      • I really disagree with this. We get to choose who we’re around. If the pain of rejection makes it too difficult to be around a person we shouldn’t have to grit our teeth and bear it in the fear that doing otherwise makes us a bad person.

  5. Actually this all seems to be pretty good advice. For decades it was very difficult for me to even carry on a conversation with an attractive woman. But that passed and I’m pretty comfortable with it now. I flirt and I have conversations and I enjoy the back and forth. But its still the case that about 50% of the women I encounter, for one reason or another, don’t want to make any kind of contact. Their body language, demeanor, focus, etc are all just saying, “Not you. Not now.”
    The key is to not take it personally. Because, it isn’t about you. It’s a simple matter of time, place and context. Let it go. Feel fine and move on. Not every interaction is going to result in a successful connection between ourselves and someone else. Once we figure that out, life gets so much easier.

  6. I had to let my friends run interference at the last HS Mini-Reunion where the the guy who crushed on me in 8th grade was trying to maneuver closer…He was staring at my butt last reunion (with my hubby standing next to me….UUGGGHHH!!)….

    In 8th grade, I was very polite and nice about rejecting his advances, but he still was extremely rude afterwards (before that he would follow me everywhere!)… Big #3 FIRTHER!!

    • I know that you’ve told this story at least 6 times.

      • I can see myself telling such a story repeatedly too. Not to get attention, but because some behaviors genuinely confuse me. Most of my social anxiety is caused by a combination of stronger-than-usual empathy and flat-out social retardation*, and as a result, behaviors that indicate a lack of empathy confuse the dickens out of me.

        * I do not mean this in the insulting-to-people-with-actual-MR sense. I am genuinely very slow at learning social cues. Psychologists have suspected me of having Asperger’s but I refuse to be tested for it. If I have it, I don’t want to know.

  7. Developers^3 and FlyingKal, I can see where you guys are coming from with worrying that this means that you’re genuinely kind and/or don’t genuinely mean well and/or are ‘entitled’. And I can imagine that that would be tough to swallow. But, if you’re really worried about it, then examine yourself closely. See if you think that you are kind, if you think you generally mean well, and if you are ‘entitled’. If you find think you’re not kind, you don’t generally mean well, or you are ‘entitled’, ask if it bothers you. If it bothers you, change it. People do change. Particularly if it’s just a entitlement thing. Society does a good job of convincing a lot of men that they are entitled to a hot girlfriend, for example. You are not a bad person. You may behave badly. That is not the same thing.

    • FlyingKal says:

      You know you’re just confirming the concerns in what Developers^3 wrote, right?

      • Yeah. What I’m saying is that it might be worth being concerned. But it’s ok, because if these things really are wrong you can change them, if you want to, and you try.

        • FlyingKal says:

          What part is wrong? Being kind, meaning well, or wanting to have a partner?

          • I can only assume you misread something in one of my previous comments, because there isn’t even an implication that ‘being kind, meaning well, or wanting to have a partner’ is wrong in anything I posted. Please reread and quote if you think I’m wrong.

            You do raise an interesting point though. ‘Wanting to have a partner’ isn’t wrong. It isn’t uncommon. But it is extremely unattractive. No one wants to fill a ‘insert partner here’ slot. If you give someone the impression that that is what they would be doing in your life, you will almost always put them off. People want to be wanted for themselves, not to fill a role. On the other end of the scale, knowing that if it wasn’t for you, the person asking would actively WANT to be single? That’s very attractive.

            What I did say was wrong was being ‘entitled’. You are not entitled to have a partner. No one is. Western society has a habit of convincing men that they are entitled to have a ‘hot girlfriend’, if they fulfil a set of ideals. But it is wrong. Feeling entitled to a partner reduces the other half of the relationship from a person, to a thing, a prize, well, an entitlement. And that is not ok.

            • FlyingKal says:

              Your reading and comprehensing skills are way too advanced for my writing.
              I’ll just add a final comment: If someone is kind and meaning well, how do you tell if that person also is or have feelings of “entitlement” before or when that person asks you on a date?

            • That’s a very good question. It would have a lot to do with what they asked, when, how and where they asked it, and facial expressions and body language. It would be an overall impression and it’s hard to pin it down. Also, I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t be wrong!

              Also, thanks for the compliment (I think :P ).

            • FlyingKal says:

              Sorry, final, final comment…
              “You do raise an interesting point though. ‘Wanting to have a partner’ isn’t wrong. It isn’t uncommon. But it is extremely unattractive. ”

              I’d say that (at least) roughly 95% of the population have a partner on short or long term basis, at least once in life. Are they all being together against their will, or why else are they together if it’s all so unattractive?

            • When I got with my fiance, I specifically didn’t want ‘a partner’. I wanted to be single. But he was just so awesome that I wanted him anyway. Five and a half years later I’m marrying him next month :). I’m an optimist, so I like to believe that most people in relationships are like that.

              The difference is between want ‘a partner’ and wanting ‘you as a partner’.

            • FlyingKal says:

              And here I thought that marriage was just institutionalized oppression of women.

              “The difference is between want ‘a partner’ and wanting ‘you as a partner’.”
              No, the significant difference is whether that other “you” wants you as a partner back or not.
              If s/he doesn’t, they’ll never progress beyond the “a partner”-status…

            • If you think that, then I suggest you don’t get married. I don’t think that, so I’m gonna go right ahead. (Just in case, I realise what you’re getting at and I realise that you weren’t actually stating that YOU believe or believed that. I really resent the whole ‘someone once said that all people in category x think blah, this person seems to be in category x, therefore they must think blah’. I’m not even sure I know what category you’ve lumped me into there. But I know for sure that I have never thought, nor said, that marriage was just institutionalized oppression of women.)

              When I said “The difference is between want ‘a partner’ and wanting ‘you as a partner’.”

              I meant ‘the difference between what I am saying is unattractive, and what you are saying is perfectly normal is …’. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

              I’m talking about wanting having an effect on whether or not ‘that other ‘you” wants you back.

              Person A wants person B. Person A tells person B. That can often be attractive.

              Person A wants a partner. Person A tells person B / makes that clear to person B while asking them out. That is unattractive.

              See?

            • FlyingKal says:

              Problem is, I’m talking about it on a generic or abstract level, and you keep drawing my words to an extreme (like, I’ve never said anything about “desperately” wanting someone, see below).

              “I’m talking about wanting having an effect on whether or not ‘that other ‘you” wants you back.”

              Yes, I know that.
              And I’m talking about how, using your point of view on attraction, that other ‘you’ _not_ wanting you back will in hindsight have an effect on how your attraction to that person is regarded.
              Person B isn’t always attracted to person A, whatever case A can do for it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that A is automatically a bad person (as in creepy, or “entitled”, or behaving badly, or needing to review/adjust their course of actions), or that once having wanted to have (grammar…?) B as a partner should reflect negatively on A’s character…

              See?

            • To put it another way. I like to think that most couples get together because they want to be WITH EACH OTHER, rather than because one or both of them desperately want to be with someone.

            • FlyingKal says:

              OK, so we’ve been moderated here. So I’ll try a new start :-)
              (Also lost a post to the automatic update of the site! Effin’ …!)

              Basically I agree with you that most partners are together because they want to be with each other. And also that being desperate (or clingy, or needy, etc) most often is unattractive.

              However, one can be “wanting” something on a lot of levels. At least in my book.
              It is not by default the same as desperate, clingy, or needy! And I neither meant or implied that so was the case here.
              (It can also be unattractive as in obsessive. But c’mon, we’re not talking Gollum here…)

            • You quoted that part out of context. Saoili said this: “You do raise an interesting point though. ‘Wanting to have a partner’ isn’t wrong. It isn’t uncommon. But it is extremely unattractive. No one wants to fill a ‘insert partner here’ slot. If you give someone the impression that that is what they would be doing in your life, you will almost always put them off. People want to be wanted for themselves, not to fill a role.”

            • FlyingKal says:

              In general, I’m tired of people wasting space quoting whole posts just to respond to single sentences. If the answer is in line with the original post, it’s still there for everyone to see. If it’s not, that’s another bag of chips.

              So, I quoted the core of the part I was responding to. If you think that the left-out part would in some way significantly alter the purpose, you’re probably projecting something that is neither there nor intended to be.

            • It isn’t my job to consider what you may be “tired of” when you’re the one that took what was said out of context by, apparently, neglecting to consider the last part. There would be no need for further clarification hadn’t you ignored that.

            • Only men huh? I guess there must some other message to the endless stream of cinderella retellings where average girl being generically moral is rewarded with prince charming.

            • That’s a good point. I have only been introduced to the ‘entitlement myth’ from a ‘men are told they’re entitled to a hot girlfriend’ point of view. But there is certainly an element of it there for women too. Though I think what’s sold to women is more ‘be good and you’ll get THE RIGHT man’, as opposed to the male version of ‘be good and you’ll get A HOT girl’.

            • Of course it’s different. The Victorian belief that women don’t have sexual desire is deeply rooted enough that the idea of a “hot guy” isn’t very precent in culture. Usually “right” happens to have those qualities that this narrative says women are looking for since they don’t go after attractiveness, cultured, educated, well of, kind etc.

              Actually I was implicitly dichonest. While I wanted to point out that the cinderella narrative does exist, I don’t actually personally find it entitled. To me it’s only entitlement once you start to demand that people be your partner or behave like you want a potential partner to behave. So good exemples would be men demanding that women smile because it’s attractive, or company dress codes that include high heels or make up.

              For female examples that I actually consider entitlement you have the stereotyped complaining that men are shallow and don’t appriciate the right things in women i.e. what they have more of than the man in questions current choice of parter (this is less common in real life than in the media though, and with womens sexual liberation men are joining in too) or that “The end of man” article (men aren’t living their lives based on what I want in a partner? This can’t be allowed!)

            • Amphigorey says:

              Saying that Victorians didn’t think women had sexual desires is ahistorical. Go look up what treating women for “hysteria” actually involved.

            • I do know what it was. Parhaps “lust” would be a better term?

            • TheAverageOutlier says:

              “‘Wanting to have a partner’ isn’t wrong. It isn’t uncommon. But it is extremely unattractive. No one wants to fill a ‘insert partner here’ slot. If you give someone the impression that that is what they would be doing in your life, you will almost always put them off.”

              This is exactly the reason I think internet dating sites are a kinda misguided concept. At least for anything more than just casual sex.

            • Juuuulia says:

              There’s not a lot of other venues for simply ‘meeting new people’ on the internets if you’re a bit socially awkward in public and don’t talk to strangers. For example, facebook and things are for keeping in touch with people you’ve already met. If dating sites toned down the ‘dating’ aspect and were just for friends, I think they would work out fine.

  8. “Ask before touching. ”

    Asking to kiss a girl is generally a bad idea. I have tried it multiple times. The responses range from silence, rejection or avoidance. But in every case I found out later that the girl did actually want to kiss me, she just didn’t want to be asked about it. She expected me to just kiss her if I wanted to instead of asking. NO GIRL has ever thought that asking for a kiss was normal.

    I have had girls tell me:

    1) If you want to kiss me then just do it. Don’t ask
    2) I don’t know why I said no. I felt really bad for rejecting you because I actually did want to kiss you. (This one was really interesting she told me this while we were making out later in the night after the first rejection….the reason we were making out, is that the second time I had the opportunity to kiss her I didn’t ask, I just did it)
    3) Asking for a kiss is weird. You should know the right moment and then you should do it.

    I am capable of learning. And what the girls clearly taught me is that you should NOT ask for a kiss.

    • I see where you’re coming from there. I agree that verbally asking for a kiss, or holding hands, is probably a bit weird. But, and this is important, you do need to ask. You just do it with body language. You lean in, you look them in the eye, you get close, you check that they’re not pulling away (preferably they lean in right back) and THEN you kiss them.

      • I’m pretty sure when Ozy said “ask for a kiss” zie meant ask verbally, not ask with body language.

      • Deanna Ogle says:

        It’s like that great lesson from the movie “Hitch”. You go 90, wait, and let the other person come the other ten. It’s an easy way to get close, go for it, and also be courteous.

    • PsyConomics says:

      I verbally asked to kiss my now girlfriend of two months before kissing her for the first time. In retrospect I probably didn’t need to as she had dropped an awful lot of hints (mentioning her sister said I should kiss her etc.) but I needed to in order to feel comfortable. She’s really quiet, really parsimonious with words when she does talk, and has pretty non-emotive body language.

      Was it weird? Eh, sorta, but not nearly as much as I thought it would be beforehand. I’ve since gotten better at reading her and don’t need to ask for the little things (kisses, hugs, cuddles, etc.) but as a way to start? For me, asking was invaluable.

      I guess I just wanted to point out YMMV on assman’s comment.

    • Personally, I find asking *far* less awkward, because I have no idea how to assess body language to tell if someone wants to kiss me; I presume that there are people who can, but I can’t! So this is primarily a tip for people who don’t know HOW to tell when “the moment’s right.” If you do, then you are clearly not the target audience of that point. If you find asking weird, you can also phrase it as “I’d like to kiss you” or “you should kiss me” or “I’ve been thinking about kissing you” or similar.

      …Also, if you can’t tell when “the moment’s right,” you should possibly not date people who expect you to do things when the moment’s right and punish you for verbal communication. That seems like a recipe for pain and disaster.

      To be honest, I am somewhat boggled at the mindset that would care enough one way or the other about being asked and am inclined to assume they’re much too mired in the romance-industrial complex to be someone I, personally, would want to date. I mean, if they say “being asked ruins the mood for me, so next time just kiss me?” then no harm no foul, but if they’re dumping people over it… I mean, WHY?

      • Diagnosed autistic here!

        “If you have a brain reason why you can’t figure out social interaction, I’m not sure how much help I can be. This is merely for the awkward, not the autistic!”

        Autism isn’t an excuse for bad manners. It just means being (mostly) unable to guess people’s internal state without verbal communication, and the resulting difficulty in figuring out social interaction from watching people interact while missing 90% of the information. Therefore spelling out those basic social rules that we may have missed on, without assuming the ability to read body language, is very helpful.

        “If you genuinely are kind and mean well and are interested in other people, most people can tell. All the body-language shit? Assuming you’re neurotypical, your body will probably handle it for you.”

        If you’re autistic, it just takes longer. Most people can tell from your actions over time, regardless of your body language.

        “Try not to make a big sit-down-and-have-a-huge-chat deal about it; you can just say casually (when it naturally comes up in conversation) that the person is totally attractive and you’d like to date them.”

        When it… naturally… comes up… sorry you lost me. For the autistic among us, it’s more likely to be in the form of blurting it out in the middle of nowhere. Any examples of what would be a good moment to bring it up?

        “Firthing is when you stare at someone you have a crush on very intensely without actually talking to them.”

        Many autistics of both genders are guilty of this, due to a combination of obsessiveness and not knowing any better. Got any more of those?

        “4) Look for reciprocation. This is my favorite because you do not have to mess around with body language shit. The basic principle: if you are doing something you cannot reasonably ask about, see if they return the thing you are doing.”

        This one is priceless. I would not have guessed this. Thank you.

        “There is exactly one proper response to someone telling you “please don’t do that”: it’s “I’m sorry” and not doing that.”

        What about: Which that?

        “But that doesn’t mean that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. ”

        To me, benefit of the doubt means being told what’s wrong without assuming that I knew already, because I wouldn’t knowingly make a stranger uncomfortable. When told to back off I will do so, and may be slightly embarrassed that I screwed up, but I often won’t know that something I’m doing is making someone uncomfortable until I’m verbally informed of the fact. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

        • oops that was supposed to be in reply to the article, not your comment

          still getting used to the new site :(

        • marcmagus says:

          When it… naturally… comes up… sorry you lost me. For the autistic among us, it’s more likely to be in the form of blurting it out in the middle of nowhere. Any examples of what would be a good moment to bring it up?

          Some examples, or talking around them: when it is related to the topic of conversation at hand. When it is related to whatever it is you’re already doing. When there’s this silence where you’re both looking at each other a little awkwardly and you think, “Hmmm, maybe zie’s attracted to me too and this is one of those moments.”

          When you’re engaged in a mutually enjoyable activity that doesn’t require a large amount of concentration from either of you can work too (out for a walk, cloudwatching, having a meal/drink together).

          Part of the idea of being sensitive to context is that the more it causes the person to have to abruptly shift mental gears, the more uncomfortable they’re going to be.

      • “you should kiss me”

        That seems a bit entitled… ? “Should” is a powerful word.

    • mythago says:

      Huh. I’ve had guys say “I’d love to kiss you” and that was, uh, the opposite of off-putting.

    • wellokaythen says:

      There’s another, slightly different option. Instead of presenting your desire as a question, present it as an I-statement of desire. “I really want to kiss you right now.” Wait for a clearly affirmative response, which could actually take the form of her kissing you. If she turns her face towards you and says “well, what are you waiting for?” that’s a pretty good clue as well.

      • Thanks for that tip, I myself was wondering how you ask to kiss someone. :S
        Puts the ball in their court, though some might look down on you for not just doing it as assman says. Could it be seen as a lack of confidence?

        The staring at someone stuff has also made me confused, I’ve looked to women before (to their eyes) and they’ve looked back but I’ve looked away quickly (lack of confidence I guess) but how long is acceptable to look back?

      • TheAverageOutlier says:

        I tend to lean towards a polite imperative clause, something like “Kiss me please”. It’s assertive, unambiguous and easy to decline. Also, if it does not feel like the right thing to utter at some moment it probably isn’t.

  9. Lynn Beisner says:

    I agree, asking is less awkward. My favorite line ever: “To be clear, I am flirting with you. Is that okay?”

  10. I think it really depends on how you ask. You can ask in a way that is sexy and flirtatious. You also have to be at the right moment. If she is snuggling with you and pressing up against you, that’s a good time to say “I’d like to kiss you right now!” If she is leaning away from you and looks bored, probably not a good time.

  11. “If she is snuggling with you and pressing up against you, that’s a good time to say “I’d like to kiss you right now!” If she is leaning away from you and looks bored, probably not a good time.”

    Except that at the “right moment” the asking is superfluous and counterproductive. The whole point of the asking is to not have to worry about the right moment.

    If she is pressing up against me, snuggling and looking into my eyes with usually a look of expectation and uncertainty then that is precisely the right moment to kiss her. But actually I don’t need the snuggling or pressing up. The right moment is all about the look.

    • Agreed, sometimes it’s incredibly obvious. But if you are at all unsure, there are ways to ask in a way that’s not off-putting.

  12. I’m not commenting on the article, but on the feed. Since you moved here I cannot read your posts on my feed reader, so it makes it a lot more difficult to read you while on the go. And that’s a pity because I enjoy your blog!

  13. wellokaythen says:

    Now I’m all curious about the whole “atheist conference” thing. Are atheist gatherings an especially horrible place for sexual harassment for some reason, or did this just happen to come up on an atheist blog? I’m trying to figure out why atheist men might be more aggressive or socially awkward or clueless about women compared to other men, and I seriously doubt they are a special case. (Maybe biased as somewhat of an atheist myself, though I’ve never been to an atheist gathering.)

    In fact, part of me is wondering if there is an unspoken stereotype about atheist women being more promiscuous or easier to get into bed. Maybe when some men hear there’s an atheist conference in town they put on their lucky shirts and go down to the convention center to try to get lucky. Our society tends to associate atheism with “lacking in any moral values,” so of course that means they’ll have sex with anyone, right? Don’t assume everyone in the hotel bar at such a convention is actually an atheist.

    Something similar happened in the 1930’s with communist party meetings in the U.S. A lot of young men heard that communist women were easy, believed in free love, were nudists, were nymphomaniacs, etc., so many men went to party meetings for the first time based on that hope. (They looked around and saw mostly other men interested in the same thing and never went to another meeting….)

    • Amphigorey says:

      I think you’re looking at it the wrong way around. It’s not that atheist men are more prone to harassment; it’s that atheist women are more likely to call it out.

  14. wellokaythen says:

    Just read the story about the postcard. I think I see the problem. I bet for many people, there’s this horrible stereotype that mashes a bunch of things together:

    skepticism = free thinking = free love = open to swinging = no boundaries = can’t be offended

    This is unfair to free thinkers and atheists and swingers all at the same time. A skeptic or atheist conference is NOT a polyamory or swinging get-together. Maybe your odds are greater, but that doesn’t make it appropriate to solicit strangers in this fashion.

    I bet this is a somewhat common issue for free-thought organizations. The poor-boundaried people come out of the woodwork. “Hey, she’s open-minded, so she would probably be happy to do me and my girlfriend….”

    In fact, polyamory and swinging are probably practiced most often by the people you may least suspect, the Sunday school teacher down the street, the women at the church bridge club, the boring, fiscally conservative insurance adjustor, etc. (I’m not saying you can’t meet any of those at an atheists’ convention, either.)

  15. Female Skeptic says:

    I was actually thinking about going to a skeptic’s conference this summer, but after reading the discussion on the links in the article, I’m not sure I want to. They make it sound like a nest of skeevy horndogs. Is that what I have to look forward to? I was hoping for thought provoking discussions and getting to know interesting people, but not in a Biblical sense. Can anyone enlighten me on this? Fortunately I’m outside the age range where I’ll have tons of guys trying to grope me, probably, but if the conference is just a pickup “scene” I’m not sure I should bother going,

    • I don’t think that atheists are especially skeevy. I think, for a number of historical reasons, atheist conventions are more likely to be disproportionately attended by men, and that given the general culture of misogyny that exists, any place where men outnumber women is likely to have a certain amount of skeeviness. However, don’t let those articles dissuade you. The sudden appearance of this issue in the skeptical community is more indicative of an increase in reporting, and less of a sudden spike in incidents. A lot of atheists and skeptics are committed to increasing the visibility of this issue in order to find an effective response. Contrast that with other male-dominated environments where these issues exist, but they are invisible.

      Which is to say that there is still a lot of work to be done, but a lot of atheists are very concerned about forging a brand of humanism that addresses ALL humanity.

  16. “Nevertheless, the healthy attitude to take to flirting with people of the appropriate gender is “That person seems cool. It’d be awesome if we dated, but it’s also cool if we’re friends, since they’re an awesome person I’d like to hang out with either way. And, hey, there’s probably another awesome person I can date somewhere else if this one doesn’t work out.”

    Flirting isn’t just done for some people to get a date. If someone is looking for a romantic or sexual relationship, why do they have to become friends with a person who has rejected their advances? Maybe they want a one night stand, or a no-strings attached type relationship, or a future life partner, or a fifth/sixth/seventh person to add to their weekly orgy club, or they just are content with the size of their circle of friends. Whatever it is, a person is most certainly not “unhealthy” for wanting or seeking out that kind of relationship to the exclusion of friendship. The author doesn’t get to decree that narrow view as “the” healthy way to flirt.

  17. Nick, mostly says:

    “The complete strangers who feel the need to compliment my ass every fucking time I’m in girl-drag? Not socially awkward people making a mistake.” -Ozy, 29 May 2012
    “I have a nice ass….my ass is damn fine.” – Ozy, 7 Jun 2011

    Given this, can you really blame them?

    Okay, no, seriously, is it one stranger who repeatedly comments upon your ass, or a stream of strangers, each individually commenting upon your ass? That one stranger is an asshole, but what about the others?

    If it’s the latter, then it seems that we might learn from this that it is never appropriate, as a stranger, to comment on Ozy’s ass, despite it being “damn fine” because, as a stranger, I don’t know Ozy from Harriet.

    None of us can read minds, so it’s prudent that we be able to generalize a set of basic principles. While Ozy doesn’t want comments about zir ass, Harriet doesn’t want comments about her breasts and in our position as strangers, we can’t know who doesn’t want which comments about which parts of their bodies.

    So if we might derive a general rule, it’s that it is never appropriate to comment on any stranger’s body, whether in appreciation or not.

    • marcmagus says:

      So if we might derive a general rule, it’s that it is never appropriate to comment on any stranger’s body, whether in appreciation or not.

      Sounds about right.

  18. FlyingKal says:

    You go to lengths to write the article in gender-neutral, yet it is filed under “Nice guy”.

  19. Hate to ask this, but by girl drag do you mean you’re a male body in female clothing?

    • I am female-bodied but usually pass as male in public. Girl-drag is what I call it when I dress so that I’m consistently read as female.

      • Ah ok, thanks for the clarification. Makes sense now. When you are in girl-drag, do you pass for female fully or as a male in drag? Don’t have to answer this of course, just curious on how others perceive people and what the effects are.

  20. Dr. Anonymous says:

    Wait. Does this fall under ‘all women are unique and should be treated as unique individuals, now here is a woman telling you what every other woman on the planet does and does not like”?

    • Dr. Anonymous says:

      And let me guess that Ozzy has always been relatively good-looking and attractive.

      I can tell you that the main tip for getting laid is being attractive, and not being unattractive. Something I have learned from the time when I used to weigh 400 pounds and have just a high-school degree. Now that I am 6″5′, weigh 210 pounds and hold a master’s degree, then suddenly I am a supposedly a much better person, since now I am so attractive, despite nothing in my personality having changed.

  21. My solution, to these problems is always to simple stay quiet, I can’t be accused of being misogynist If I simply say nothing.

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