To the guys going in for an unwanted kiss: this is for you.
To the guys asking for permission to kiss: this is also for you..
Consent is not about someone saying no. There are younger days when I wished, I would have had the courage to say no, but instead, I said nothing at all. It is still one of my biggest regrets.
There are also a lot of moments when I didn’t say yes, but I wanted it bad.
This is precisely the epicentre of consent. I can guarantee you, that there is not a single girl out there who hasn’t had an unwanted experience of sexual connotation. Be it an unwanted kiss, getting slapped on the ass by a stranger or something way worse. These things leave deep scars and scars are easily triggered.
You don’t want to be the kind of guy that reminds us of the bad experience we once had. It’s such a turn-off when someone moves too fast. A kiss is not the goal of a first date, finding out if you have chemistry is. If a guy is incapable of reading the room and checking in if we’re on the same page, I don’t see him again.
(And this goes both ways. I’ve once been on three dates with the sweetest guy. All I wanted was for him to throw me up against the wall and tear my blouse open, but we never even ended up kissing. After date 3, I simply gave up. If I’ve given you all the right signals, and you don’t act, you’re not the kind of intrigue I’m looking for.)
So how fast is too fast?
1st Rule of Consent — Body language is the key
There is no right answer when it comes to pacing. I’ve had sex with someone I only met 2 hours before. But the attraction was so strong for both of us, we couldn’t hold back.
Was he moving too fast? No. “Too fast” is not an indication of time, it is an indication of readiness.
We didn’t jump from having breakfast at a café to having sex. (You might notice that breakfast is not your typical we’re-definitely-having-sex kind of date.) There was a natural build-up there. We were gazing at one another, bantered and laughed (a lot). Eventually, I slipped my hand over to his side of the sofa so he could trail it with his fingers. At some point, I noticed that we had subconsciously been mirroring each other. I felt this strong pull towards him and just wanted him to be closer.
Are you surprised if I tell you we were kissing so vividly within minutes from then, that he accidentally bumped his head into the door with full force? We were halfway undressed before we even made it from the hallway into his bedroom. He never asked me if I wanted to take it anywhere. He read the room though. This wasn’t him pinning down innocent little Bambi, this was us going at it so forcefully, there was no need to ask for anything. Any blind man could’ve seen the sparks coming off of this one.
What if your girl isn’t giving you all these signals?
Well, then go slower. Especially when she is more introverted than I might be, going easy is bound to be more effective than going rogue. There is nothing to gain from an overhasty kiss if she never texts you back the next day.
Read the room: does she hold eye contact? Does she pull away from physical touch? When you come closer, does she move back? Does she seem like she is enjoying herself? Is she mirroring you? We can’t help but mirror people we genuinely have a liking for. So if you’re ever in doubt, check her body posture. Is she using her elbows or legs to create a barrier between the two of you?
2nd Rule of Consent — if you need to ask, she’s probably not into it.
Asking for permission is the lazy way to gauge intentions. It also puts me on the spot. Every time I’ve been asked if I’d like to be kissed the answer was no. I have a friend who actually said: “I usually just kiss them to get it over with.” The very first time I was asked, I almost gave in because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. It really took courage to be able to disappoint someone in such a straightforward way. (And I’m a sex columnist. Imagine a wallflower, and you see how things could go wrong.)
Have you ever said yes, to helping someone move houses? Maybe a little bit out of obligation? A yes, that she gives you out of a sense of obligation (perhaps because you paid for dinner and now she feels like she owes you?) is not the same as a heartfelt “yes” that was never spoken out loud.
The person who solved this most elegantly was a friend I knew from uni. We’ve had plenty of “moments” but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the friendship there. So I always hesitated. Then, there was yet another moment where we were so close I could feel his breath on my skin. He just stood there, looking deeply into my eyes coming just close enough for our lips to touch ever so slightly. I have never been this close to a man without actually kissing him. It felt like minutes were going by, but it could only have been a second or two before my lips were all over his. He gave me the choice, and that’s when I knew I wanted it.
Twice I’ve had guys ask me “Do you want to take this to the bedroom?” and this is a very different question. If we have already been kissing for 20 minutes, and I’ve opened the buttons of my own blouse, this is an invitation, not a question.
3rd Rule of Consent —kissing is not a promise of Sex.. unless you do it right
The issue is that sometimes it can get very heated, especially when alcohol is involved. So what may seem like a good idea in one moment can turn into an overhasty act the next.
The goal is not to rush unless she’s slowing you down. The goal is to move in sync.
For all the reasons, that make consent so difficult, they also make it sexy if you get it right. If I see a guy elegantly navigating these waters, the raw emotions of knowing he’s looking out for me makes me horny. (Don’t think we don’t notice.) If I know I’ll be safe with a guy, I can let loose.
I was on a first date with a Latino (not necessarily known for taking it slowly..) and we ended up at his place. As I mentioned before, the moment I feel like I’m being pushed, I usually get so turned off that I leave. But I truly liked him, and drinks led to kissing on the couch which somehow turned to snogging on his living room carpet (don’t ask me how we got there).
Entwined on the floor he was on top of me, kissing me viciously, caressing my waist with his fingers. And then he just rolled off, onto his back, but without pulling me on top of him. He simply moved away a few inches, winking at me, waiting for me to say yes with my body and move towards him.
It was the first of three little moments, that he extended to make sure we were on the same page.
Shortly after we got up and made our way to his kitchen island. I had jumped on top of it watching him grab two glasses of waters, to complement the wine. As he placed his hips between my legs to continue kissing me, he also started taking off my shirt. When my bra landed on the floor I whispered with a teasing undertone “aaand what do youuu think you’re doing??” (can’t go too easy on him after all) — “I’m setting you free!”. His words had me cracking up. And even though I was laughing at full volume, he looked at me seriously and asked if he should pick up my bra. (Scoring once again.)
And then, finally, he asked me if I wanted to take it to the bedroom. It was an invitation, that nonetheless allowed me to take it slower if I preferred to. Only when we were both naked and clearly physically aroused, did he ask if he should grab condoms. Had he asked the same question in the kitchen, I would’ve found it too presumptuous.
He was continuously moving at the same pace as me, giving me elegant ways to play an active part in a two player-game. I hadn’t entered his flat knowing if I wanted sex. I made that decision the moment he decided to “set me free”. I felt safe and knew he would never place his own pleasure above mine. And that’s one of the biggest turn on’s ever.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Andrey Zvyagintsev on Unsplash