Columns May 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

Hookup Shook Up


Over ten years without any sex at all? Oh, the joys of marriage. Sign me up!
There is no such thing as a marriage that has no issues other than a 10 year dry spell, assuming one of the partners has a libido. Unless you count desperation and resentment as an unimportant issue.

Other than that, how'd you enjoy the play Mrs. Lincoln?
One should always be asking whether realizing one's kinks is a good or bad thing. Usually(?) it's good.

As for the first letter, perhaps there's a system that could be devised. Dry, no means no. One drink, yes means yes. Two drinks, consent can be given but can also be withdrawn retroactively, and three drinks negate consent entirely. There's a certain neatness to it.
Moral Blue Screen Of Death's post comment:
I am a 44 year old INTJ female that is also on the Asperger's spectrum. The best advice I can give is to make an objective decision about another person's alcohol/drug intake and make decisions based on that, not social ritual, in order to stay sane.
One of the things you may have in your favor is the ability to delay gratification in favor immediate gratification. Use that. Seriously. It will make your life much more drama free. Sex is great! Drama free sex is better! I am stealing this on behalf of all people that do not connect emotionally and socially they way other people do; "It gets better!".
Perfect responses, Dan, as usual.
MSBOD: Dan's spot on: proceed with caution! Yikes!

In regards to HBF's letter, I guess it really does depend on the couple.
I feel for HNF's friend who, after 10 sexless married years, is seeking
out her ex. Thirteen years later, I'm just relieved, but mine is a much different story.
I hope it works out for HNF's friend, her spouse and children.
@3, consent can always be withdrawn.
What @2 said. "There are no issues in their relationship other than this: zero sex in 10-plus years. She is DESPERATE." How's the old quote go..more issues than the Library of Congress..

I could see, in a true longterm LTR, maybe a year goes by. (If you've been together years, there's a death or illness or pregnancy..really, time can slip by fast). But 10 years - that seems like an eternity to go w/out sex. Hmm, amendment: that seems like a really long time to be *in a relationship* & go w/out sex. I wonder if the LW's friend is telling her everything..?

In any case, if HBF's BF is actually reading this - or she's reading them to her - please make sure the wife *HAS THAT CONVERSATION* with her husband. From the outside, & from what her pal is telling her, the marriage may appear sexless & so sex is unimportant to hubbie. But sometimes even if it's not happening it's hugely important, & getting needs met elsewhere can still be seen as cheating. That conversation needs to happen before other steps are taken, IMO.

MBSOD: Any drunk person retaining as much volition as is described in your letter -- not only sufficient to articulate that no, she is not drunk, but also to fairly effectively physically prevent you disengaging yourself from her embraces -- is nowhere near drunk enough to be unable to consent to her own actions. Had she used that same degree of drunken muscular control and decision making to climb behind the wheel of a car and wrap it around a tree, the court would absolutely find her responsible for both her decisions and her actions. There is no way she could disavow personal responsibility for the car accident under the rubric that she was too drunk at the time ever to have consented to drive.

No, you are not even close to being a rapist.

Further, short of carrying a Breathalyzer with you, the only feasible way for you to evaluate someone's state of drunkenness is by observing their actions. If you had to do a double-take to figure out that, "Wait, I think this person must be blasted!" then this person is not displaying nearly the impairment implied by alcohol-invalidated consent. If it's that hard to tell, then they simply aren't as drunk as all that.

Yes, it is a very good idea to avoid sex with someone who has had too much to drink. (At least until you are in an ongoing relationship with the person and have established that drunken sex is in fact regarded by both parties as acceptable and enjoyable.)

But this blanket conception of alcohol invalidating consent that you have been fed is a gross overextension of an otherwise reasonable idea.

MBSOD, continued: Regarding "history's most shameful erection" that you mentioned:

Imagine for a moment that she had not been drunk at all, but merely highly socially aggressive. Would that erection have been her fault -- not yours -- had she been pressing herself on you while perfectly sober? Of course it would. That fact that she was drunk at the time does not change the fact that she did it to you, not the other way around. She wouldn't even let you get away from her.

You have NOTHING to apologize for here.
@6 not retroactively.
10 yrs without sex. Surely that constitutes a non- marriage , more like co- parents,
Living together/ one of whom has only now got desperate?
Has LWs friend not mentioned to her co-parent that there is a problem here? That she wants sex, and why isn't he having sex with her?
Sounds like a sick form of torture.. How ( and why), has this woman allowed this situation to continue?
Though, know too well continuing a dysfunctional story with a man, when children involved.
My suggestion, just be straight with this guy/ either he no longer finds his co- parent sexually attractive.. Or he's asexual. Either way, LWs friend , clear the deck .. And go find a lover.
Good God how does anyone get to 10 years with no sex in marriage and think they don't have any issues?? How does a situation like that drag on so long? I've been in a monogamous relationship with my husband for 20 years. I recently talked to a friend who was amazed we have an active sex life together as she assumed all her friends didn't (like her, I then found out). She said to me that her husband just doesn't have much of a sex drive - sex is not very important to him and she's too tired most of the time to really care. I related this to my husband who said "if I was married to someone who didn't want to have sex with me I'd want to know who they WERE having sex with".
@3: Oh, wouldn't it be nice if life were so neat? Alas, three drinks are not always created equal. Three light beers versus three Long Island Iced Teas? Three drinks in a 110-lb woman versus a 190-lb woman? Three drinks in an hour or three drinks in an afternoon? And how will he know how many drinks the woman has had?

Dan's advice of explicitly asking for consent at each step along the way is much better. However, I don't know what throwing oneself at someone could be considered, if not enthusiastic consent...
MBSOD should also understand that someone may seem a little buzzed, but 30 minutes later, in the time you were flirting with them, the alcohol can kick in.

I doubt he was missing social cues here as much as her BAL was increasing.
M? Fan - I was mainly just enjoying putting it on a spectrum. We could always change it around from number of drinks to whatever that little percentage is (I vaguely recall a plea bargain being worked out in such a case on LA Law when someone was barely at the limit). And it was Mr Savage who threw up the entirely arbitrary notion of three drinks as three strikes (one of the absolutely worst games ever created on The Price is Right, according to my sister, who seems strongly to want to appear on that program, although she's not at all the type they pick, and if they do she'll probably win something she'll wish she hadn't, given their overly strict policies).

(If we interacted regularly, I'd dock you three-quarters of a point for your example, to which I'd have raised no objection had you used "Pat" and "Chris" instead of "he" and "she" - indeed, I think I'd have awarded you half a point for that.)

On a not exactly related line, though I suppose it could work into a case of withdrawing inadequately informed consent, does anyone know whether there genuinely is serious resistance to attempts to develop male hormonal contraception? I have heard so much about this lately that, although my natural inclination is to dismiss such thoughts as the ravings of those of the MRA/MGTOW persuasion who misapply the label "feminist" to what is really "matriarchalist", I thought it might be worth an ask. I'm feeling another great unwritten novel here. (I regret to inform Ms Erica that I lost the thread of the novel I had mostly plotted out that she'd said she wanted to read if it ever managed to get itself written - I tend to feel like a medium about novels using me to write themselves instead of the other way around.)
@vennominon I get that it's a running gag or something, but you do realize that it's really hard to read your comments?
I'm very much with avast @8 on the standard for consent: if you would be legally culpable for driving, you are legally culpable for any sex you consent to while in an altered state you self-induced.

Put another way, you would not be able to dismiss a rape charge on the grounds that you were really, really drunk when you forced that protesting person and so you retroactively revoke your consent.
MBSOD-- Others have covered the you're-not-a-rapist territory well so I won't repeat. I'd add that you don't sound any worse at reading social cues than anyone I know. You could be fantastic with social cues, a real gem, and the signs and signals that woman was giving were ambiguous for anybody. Understand that even the most experienced bartender doesn't always know when sober becomes tipsy and when tipsy becomes drunk. Even drinkers themselves can be unclear about what they want. Hell, you can be totally sober and unclear too. So cut yourself some slack for making the best guesses you can under the circumstances and erring on the side of caution if you're really unsure.
Where does it say that the no-sex-for-ten-years couple is married?
I agree with avast @8, that MBSOD shouldn't worry about being a rapist, but should continue to avoid sex with drunk people he's not dating, on the principle that "Sex is great! Drama free sex is better!" (Thanks for that, TheaNova @4!)
I have heard from numerous women that a man "asking" to kiss you is an enormous turn off. Which I think is sad, but this is something I've heard on many occasions from many different women.
@23 (Bewilderbeast): I agree that being asked permission to kiss is a turn off, but I also think it's a good idea to be really certain that everyone is on the same page (at least until a real relationship is in progress, at which point consent can be assumed and if one party isn't in the mood, presumably is comfortable saying, "not now"). If someone knows s/he is not as good as reading social cues as others, as is the case with the lw, I think getting some sort of verbal consent or confirmation is necessary.

But there can be something sexy about being not so much asked to be kissed, but rather seduced with words
à la
something like: "I really want to kiss you" or "I can't wait to kiss you," or other, racier variations, depending on how much you want to still impart the sense of the man taking charge. This way the intended recipient of the kiss gets to agree (verbally or non-verbally) or shut things down, and the wimpiness is not so much a factor.

I don't know if I'd respond well to being nicely asked, but I know I would respond very well to being informed in a sexy way.
Slate (really) had a useful article on consent and intoxication. This refers to situations where no force is used—if you force someone by force, it's rape anyway. Here is what they write:
"The cases and the literature on rape give examples. For example, a person who is falling-down drunk, too intoxicated to walk. Or unable to talk clearly or coherently. Or too uncoordinated to undress herself. Or sick drunk, slumped over a toilet vomiting or urinating on herself."…

I think that makes sense for calling something rape. For being a good guy/gal the standard should be a bit higher - e.g. if the person is young and/or likely inexperienced with alcohol, it's probably better to say no, if a person acts very much unlike herself, probably better to leave things out, etc. But alcohol is a drug that lowers inhibitions. If you don't want to do things that you wouldn't do when sober, don't drink.
@15 Mr. Venn, not only was it as shameful as that one scene in one of the Bronte sister's one book or some other, that you were incredibly body-type disappearing in your alcohol continuum in #3, such that you needed to be called out in #13, but you compounded it by attempting to disappear biological gendering in the processing of alcohol, in a way that would have never been approved of by any one in earnest in any play by Oscar Wilde.

For shame sir!
@4 What is an INTJ female?
Hope this isn't a double post...

@23, I think it depends on how he asks. The way it's shown in the yes-means-yes ads definitely is a turn off, but there are sexy ways to do it, as I've found out firsthand.
@27: Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging. It's a personality type, used by the Myers-Briggs psychological assessment. I'm one too.…
Do these people who don't have sex also not drink? There first time I got halfway buzzed I'd be blurting out, "So is it just me or have we not fucked in 6 months?"
I have always liked being asked directly myself; I don't understand why people wouldn't like it. Perhaps it's my kink.
The consent and intoxication thing is usually in the context of a bunch of guys inviting inexperienced young women over and deliberately getting them too drunk to coherently object, or to leave on their own. High school or college.

If you are both at someone else’s party and you have to leave to have sex, and if you are not actively fetching drinks for the object of your attentions, you’re in the clear. You might inadvertently end up taking advantage of the fact that someone has gotten herself too drunk, but that doesn’t make you a rapist. Especially if you disengage as soon as you realize she’s too drunk.

Asking is great. Not in a worried way that presumes she’ll probably say no, but in a happy, inviting, complimenting way. If you hang out with geeky/autie-type women they will probably appreciate your directness.

I only have an AQ of 20 (typical is 16, major autie features kick in at a score of 32, max is 50) but I really like the explicit, direct communication I enjoy with people with higher scores than mine. I’m currently dating a guy with an AQ of 37. Seduction went something like this, in the early afternoon, no beer involved (note that I’m a few years older than he is):

Him: I have a fantasy of being attacked by cougars.
Me: [kisses him, determines he is good kisser] Like that?
Him: Oh my. I like kissing you.
Me: Shall I go over to your place tonight?
Him: Yes, I’d like that. I’ll have to clean up first.

And that was that. Easy and we both thought it was hot. Not everyone’s style, but it’s someone’s.
@21 - "Concentrate instead on your priggishness about fooling around with people you consider beneath you."

And what priggishness would that be? It doesn't sound like MBSOD considers drunk girls "beneath" him, he's just worried about the devastating consequences of misreading a situation (which is all too easy if you're on the spectrum) and unwittingly taking advantage of someone. I think the erection was "shameful" not because he thought he was better than the drunk girl, but because he'd hate to be seen to be taking advantage of said drunk girl. (And if it's hard to read cues within the situation, how much harder to guess how the situation looks to outsiders!)

To MBSOD: as a parent of a young autistic child, I've got to say - I would be PROUD to see my son turn out like you: flirting, getting some action, AND deeply scrupulous and considerate.
This "too drunk to be responsible for my actions" shit is ridiculous. I love how it only applies to women and sex.

If I was female I would be offended. It basically implies that you're too feeble minded to be responsible and that drunk you doesnt really want to have sex, your just not sober enough to be slut shamed out of it!

Jeeezus! the alcohol denial is thick today.

Yes, someone who is incapacitated by alcohol cannot be a 'consenting' partner. But some folks are consenting to, initiating, instigating all sorts of activities when they are blacked out.

If you think 'blacking out' is the same thing as 'passing out,' shut the fuck up until you've taken time to get a clue.

Drunk people 'decide' to drive, get into fights, commit felonies, 'hook up,' etc. while their brains are just not recording any memory. An outside observer may not even recognize that they are drunk.

Normal people seldom, if ever, black out. They will lose consciousness or vomit first.

So, it is possible that MBSOD's potential hook-up partner will learn later on about the encounter, and decide from 3rd party descriptions that she was the victim of an assault.
I really like that this guy is so concerned about consent. We need more people like that. Good for you, letter writer!

I NEED a few drinks to work up the courage to flirt or have sex with someone the first time. Lots of people do. And whoa, I do love drunk sex. Lots of people like that, as well. I would be really upset if a person I liked rejected me only because I had some beers or smoked a joint. And none of those times when I was drunk, was I raped. Drunk doesn't necessarily mean non-consensual.

Since you are concerned (and again, good for you for thinking about this) - just make sure the girl tells you that she likes and wants what you're doing. If she's giving a coherent and enthusiastic response, even if she's a little drunk, I'd say you're good to go. Keep asking. Keep making sure you're getting the right response, and then enjoy away!

As other people said, the whole idea of "drunk = rape" stems from people forcing themselves on people who are too drunk to give consent. There's no brightline rule on where that line falls. You'll have to work that out for yourself. But in general - just respect the person, be nice and honest with them, and if they're enthusiastic and you're enthusiastic and everyone's on board - go for it!
Vennominon wrote: Yea, verily, as Amandant Chrysanthemum exquisitely expostulated in Thou Shalt Never Cast Pearls, I too not infrequently evacuate my entrails only to have the material captured by various and sundry porcelin contrivances and efficiently whisked away to parts unknown, not that I know many parts, via the unified effects of gravity and hydrodynamics.

Well, actually, he didn't write that, but he might as well have, Puddles.
@Bewilderbeast: I have heard from numerous women that a man "asking" to kiss you is an enormous turn off.

Some have luck with "Do you want me to kiss you?" when trying to hook up with a woman they just met.

Note, it's not asking for permission, it's asking something else.
@seandr: I dunno; much as I don't think I'd especially turn on for "May I kiss you?" or "Can I kiss you?" I infinitely prefer it to "Do you want me to kiss you?"

I mean, I get what you're doing, but . . . ick.
I don't think it's just the consent issue. It's not actually fun having sex with someone who is drunker than you. They go into automatic mode and stop being able to collaborate.
“Shall I kiss you?”
M? Puddles - In case you can't tell, I have been heavily influenced by Mrs Woolf. I bear no ill will on that specific account against anyone who anticipates with pleasure my sharing her fate, but I make no promises, especially not to people whose responses can't even rise to the baseline level of FTWL.

Being real for half a minute (or at least more so than usual), I am beginning to worry about Mr Rhone.
Guys, this is not rocket surgery. No one thinks that .08 is too drunk to consent to sex. The standard is falling down drunk, barely conscious drunk, puking drunk. A small minority of people will ply the object of their intentions with alcohol (while drinking little themselves) in order to get the person too intoxicated to know what they're doing. Those people are sexual predators--but as I said, they're a small minority of the population.
in my experience the "I'd like to kiss you" etc is really asking "I want to make sure I'm reading your cues correctly before I make a move" - has only ever happened on the first time.
@43: Yes, but we are discussing it in the context of this letter writer, MBSOD, who apparently has bought the party line that alcohol invalidates consent, period.

Speaking of "falling down drunk," for all he knows, that first big stumble could have been due to high heels turning on whatever the outside terrain was. (Which might also explain her angry, "Dammit, I'm not that drunk.") Whatever it was, it was enough to make him go back and second guess all of his previous encounters. Even though the previous ones apparently didn't alarm him as much as the most recent incident, here he is thinking he might have been a rapist on all of them.

Mr. Ven: What do you know about our dear Lolorhone that makes you worried? I've not been paying close attention here lately. Did I miss something important?
Hmm, drunkenness and permission, consent, or enthusiasm. Back in the days when I indulged in altered states and had casual sex, I favored taking turns (at least to some degree) initiating the next step in the encounter, whatever that step was. If my co-enthusiast was too drunk to realize I wanted a turn, or that it was his/her turn, that was a signal to check in. If I was impaired enough to begin dissociating from my body, that was also a signal to check in.

This strategy wasn't 100% foolproof, and wouldn't work for someone who wants to dominate or be dominated, but it kept me in comfortable territory wrt my own consent. As for the consent of my co-enthusiasts, they all remained on speaking terms with me, even in the rare cases when one of us pulled the plug on an encounter, and a fair number came back for seconds - or more.
@nocutename: I get what you're doing, but . . .

Not what I'm doing. By the time I get around to kissing someone, I know they want to be kissed.
Thank you. I find it annoying as well.
Ms Cute - I have no knowledge; it's just an instinct.
@Bewilderbeast : I don't know if asking is a turn-off for some women - but I can tell you that a stranger kissing me by surprise when I'm not interested, that's far worse than a turn-off, that's sexual assault.

Being asked is not a turn-off for me. Being told about a desire to kiss me is a total turn-on, and even if I'm totally not interested, it's a compliment, and I like compliments.

All the wordings proposed so far do the job for me, including seandr's. Another one "If you keep on smiling this way/staying this close, I won't be able to hold back kissing you much longer".

Though I prefer words, there's a nice wordless way to ask for a kiss, which end result is to get your partner either to kiss you or to disengage. Stand not too close, and put your hands on his/her shoulders and lightly press the person towards you, and wait.
@seandr : #48 is severely hot. Rooarr !

@vennominon I hope your instinct in very wrong on this count.
I'm the sort of person who would like to ask a woman before kissing. It seems kind of strange to me that a person would be all ready for a kiss but then when it's said out loud the desire immediately goes away.

Maybe it's a turn off when the person is kinda on the fence about it already, in which case not that much is lost if asking for a kiss ends up preventing one. That's just speculation on my part, it would be nice if someone who didn't like being asked would chime in about it.
@Puddles: Some of us like it!
@Vennominon: Alright, i give up. What on Earth is FTWL?
Um, people know you can set an account to 'ignore'? Or just look at the avatar or username and skip that person's comments based on prior lack of interest? Or read the first line or two and realize "oh, I don't want to read this" and skip down?

There's really no need for a series of "I do not have any factual disagreement with your post but dislike it anyway" posts.

@35: Some of the confusion is due to using the term "black out drunk" for both a person who is unconscious on the floor (thus incapable of agreeing to sex, driving a car, starting a fight, etc) and a person who is currently dancing on the bar while performing extremely bad karaoke but won't remember anything past the third margarita, who is capable of doing all those things.
@54 I think it's shorthand for: "For those who like that sort of thing, that's the sort of thing they would like." Which is (in my view) a way of saying "tastes differ." I didn't follow vennominon's usage @42, but then I often don't understand his posts...
I'm one of those who prefer body language to explicit inquiries when it comes to making out with a stranger.

If I've been smiling and making extended eye contact with you, then I'll welcome your coming closer. If I then make a point of touching your arm or back, then I'll welcome your touch in return. If we've been lightly touching each other, then leaning in for a kiss will get you one. As to whether the kiss leads anywhere... that depends on the kiss and whether it demonstrates our compatibility. If I start putting more distance between us and making less eye contact, then I'm saying we're done.

I won't take offense at being asked, but I'm likely to find it a signal that the other person isn't reading me very well. I like to talk & fool around with people who "get" me, rather than with people who find me hard to understand.
“I won't take offense at being asked, but I'm likely to find it a signal that the other person isn't reading me very well. I like to talk & fool around with people who "get" me, rather than with people who find me hard to understand.”

Exactly! For me, asking is the signal that that they “get” me. I don’t want to invest effort in trying to guess what someone else wants, I want to have fun with someone who can communicate directly, easily and unselfconsciously and who won’t freak out when I use my words.

I recognize your little seduction dance and I can do it, but it’s effort I’d rather be putting elsewhere.
MBSOD - Instead of looking at the situation of drinking and consent from the intoxicated person's POV, look at it like this; you get to withdraw YOUR consent to engage in sexual activity that you are not comfortable with.
If a person is acting in a way that makes you think that having sex with them at that particular time is not a good idea, you get to say "No".
You get to give or withdraw your consent, for any reason, even if you were hitting on them all night! Even if you would have enthusiastically consented when they were on drink one or two. You matter. Take care of yourself first.
@EricaP and Alison Cummins: In both your cases, you are talking about people (yourselves included) who can be assumed to be able to read social cues fairly accurately. The progression EricaP describes, for instance, would be understood by most people, and a verbal question wouldn't need to be asked. Indeed, you make the ability to read those physical cues a requirement for sex or even the first kiss--and you're using plenty that are actually very subtle and take a sophisticated reader. You say that if you're asked directly if someone may kiss you or if you want to be kissed: I'm likely to find it a signal that the other person isn't reading me very well. But that's precisely the point: the letter writer in this week's column has Asperger's--he doesn't read social cues easily, and/or he has a harder time than many at reading the more subtle ones. So for him, asking is more necessary than it might be for others. Now, you're well within your rights to not want to kiss--let alone have sex with--someone who doesn't seem to "get" you, which you decide partly based on his ability to read your non-verbal body language, but there might be plenty of people who would be fine with kissing--or having sex with--someone who just needs a little more help reading those cues.

Then there's the point that Alison Cummins makes, which is that it is at least occasionally difficult for anyone to correctly interpret somewhat ambiguous non-verbal cues, particularly if either party has been drinking (not wildly drunk, but even just tipsy), which tends to lower inhibitions, and especially if one person is really attracted to the other and wants to kiss him/her. When you want something, it is easy and understandable to attribute the most favorable interpretation to indirect statements.

All of which is to say that sometimes, for some people, and under some circumstances, verbal confirmation should be sought and obtained. The question is how to get it in a way that doesn't turn the intended kissee off.
nocutename, no, in my case it’s the lack of verbal communication that’s a signal to me that communication is going to be hard.

EricaP doesn’t want to have to put in the effort with someone who can’t read her nonverbal cues. I don’t want to have to put in the effort with someone who doesn’t verbalize.

Someone who asks is signaling to EricaP that they don’t get her, but signaling to me that they do get me.

EricaP and I are different. The approach is a signal of communication style and we each prefer different styles. So it’s not necessarily the case that asking is or isn’t bad or good. I’d suggest instead that someone who responds positively to being asked is likely to be a good fit for someone who feels comfortable asking. There may be 10 times as many women who prefer nonverbal to verbal, but asking allows you to filter for and concentrate on the minority who will be direct and explicit — which is what an autie wants.
"under some circumstances, verbal confirmation should be sought and obtained."

Sought is one thing; obtained is another. The dance is a huge part of my fun, so I'm not likely to be interested if you can't "dance." I make no apologies for my standards; they are what they are.

But clearly other people have other priorities. With Alison, you're better off using words. Play to your own strengths, and don't fret about people who don't mesh well with you.
As somone who used to drink a lot and fuck around a lot, I have had sexual encounters that fall in almost all the imaginable points along the too-drunk-or -not-too-drunk to consent spectrum, from "just need a shot of courage to come on to somebody," all the way to "passed out fully clothed in my own room and woke up to somebody in the act of raping me." I think that covers most of the bases. I don't have a lot of trouble distinguishing, in my own mind, the times I was taken advantage of from the times I was an active participant, but I can understand how it would be frustratingly difficult for a well intentioned man to be sure he were on the right side of the line. That is why I like Dan's advice to leave the fucking to a second or third date. If the drunk girl you kissed and maybe fondled a little last night answers your call/text/whatever the next day and agrees to go out with you, you can be pretty sure you weren't taking advantage. Also, perhaps if this is a frequent issue for you, either as the would be fucker or the fuckee, you might want to look at your alcohol use in general. I did, eventually, and things improved.
@ Alison Cummins and EricaP: I get you both. But I'm trying to address the needs of the letter writer. He (and others like him) need to get verbal conformation (or at least ask verbally and get a physical confirmation in the form of a kiss), and way upthread someone mentioned that s/he'd heard that many women find men who directly ask "may I kiss you" to be a turn-off. So I was trying to think of ways that the lw and others like him, who don't trust their ability to read those subtle, social, body-language cues, or whose ability to read them is compromised, can get the verbal confirmation they need.

You may like the dance, EricaP (and I do, too), but some people can't do that dance and I was hoping we could give the lw and others like him some tools and strategies to help him get what he wants.

I suggested way back that a way to get permission might be to make a verbal statement of desire and see how that is responded to.
nocutename, you are interested in ways someone who relies on verbal communication can seduce someone who prefers a nonverbal style ... and still get the verbal confirmation they need. That’s an interesting problem and one worth tackling. Many autie men do much better in the partner-getting department when they are older — in their thirties and forties — after they’ve had time to practice.

My suggestion is not to worry so much about appealing to women who prefer nonverbal communication. Turning someone off is a feature, not a bug. They aren’t a match. Move on. However, as a woman who likes her men on the spectrum, my perspective is skewed because I have a lot to choose from. A man on the spectrum probably needs to accept that any woman he partners with is likely to be more NT than he is, so your approach to the problem may be more helpful than my blithe gesturing in the direction of all those hordes of geeky/autie girls.

regdren @53 asked for women who dislike beng asked to chime in. EricaP obliged. I don’t think there was any implication that our autie LW was supposed to read EricaP’s description of herself as prescriptive for him.
@66: Ah, thank you, Alison Cummins; I hadn't seen that post @53. EricaP, I apologize if I seemed too critical of your response. I don't disagree with your preferences at all, and I didn't mean to imply that I do. I think that most people fall somewhere on the spectrum between wanting to be asked directly and being turned-off by being asked directly, and that it's quite likely that an Aspie guy will encounter mostly women who expect not to be explicitly asked, but who won't really mind if they are asked.

As for regdren's musing @53 (It seems kind of strange to me that a person would be all ready for a kiss but then when it's said out loud the desire immediately goes away), I think it is more that many women like the feeling of spontaneity of a kiss, which is undermined by the explicit, verbal asking for one or if one would be welcomed. A lot of (straight) women still have a preference for semi-"caveman" behavior--that is being "taken" by a decisive man, or at least seduced. For some women, asking emasculates a man somewhat. It erases the element of excitement and passion. As EricaP pointed out, the build-up to that first kiss can be seen as an elaborate dance, and when that dance is interrupted by a question, it can feel like a clumsy trip-up. I don't think most women would be so put off that they would turn and walk away, but for many of us, the experience would be diminished and I would categorize such a man as not assertive enough to be sexually exciting to me.

I prefer confident, assertive (sometimes even cocky) men as sexual partners, and I have enough agency to refuse an advance if it is unwelcome (I'm obviously not talking about sexual assault here--just ordinary flirtation leading to kissing or sex).
@avast: I agree with your post, but I also think that whether or not a person is a rapist is not necessarily the most useful standard for normal men. I think if a someone suspects that the person coming on to them is black-out drunk, they should not have sex with that person. Whether or not that person can actually consent is debatable in my opinion, but someone who is blacked out is likely to wake up the next morning and go "WTF? How did I get here?" and come to the conclusion that you took advantage of them, because how would they know? They don't remember.

Honestly, I don't think decent people should be having drunk sex with anyone who they suspect might regret it when they're sober. It's not rape if they consent, but it's not really a nice thing to do, either. If the person is only willing to have sex with you because they're drunk, that may not be rape, but it's definitely taking advantage of them.

My method, personally, is to go no further than making out with someone and getting their number when I'm drunk. I wait until I'm sober to decide whether I want to call that person and go on a casual date or not.
IPJ @56: I've been doing the third option (read the first line or two) for a long, long time but it hasn't become less annoying. So I expressed my opinion in a rather mild manner. In fact I just stated the fact that it's really hard to read. If you have a problem with that, you could take your own advice and not read my or others' comments about this.
vennominom’s writing is hard to read. Harder now than it used to be, these days usually to the point of being incomprehensible. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. If unintentional, vennominon now has feedback. If it is intentional, then carry on.

It’s not a problem for me. No idea if it’s a problem for vennominon or not.
" I also think that whether or not a person is a rapist is not necessarily the most useful standard for normal men."

It's useful in this case, because we have someone specifically questioning whether he is a rapist when he almost certainly shouldn't be. Applied specifically to this case, the drunk woman was throwing herself at him vehemently. It's grossly unfair to put any blame in this situation on him. But here he is questioning his entire line of sexual encounters as if he were a rapist -- probably because of a broadly promoted social standard that, thanks to some faulty absolutist thinking, paints him as one. Letter Writer thinks his actions might make him a rapist. That's why we are discussing it in those terms.

There has been no evidence presented in the letter that any of those other hookups in his sexual history fall into the category of someone who never would have had sex with him except that they were too blasted to know any better. The only wording that MBSOD provides has to do with the fact that some amount of alcohol was involved, and that now, upon reflection, he thinks he may have misjudged precisely how much that was.

To repeat my original opinion: if he had trouble figuring out in the moment that she (any of the various shes) might be wasted, then she probably wasn't. In which case, the whole theoretical discussion is moot, for him.
"Honestly, I don't think decent people should be having drunk sex with anyone who they suspect might regret it when they're sober."

The only way to pursue that reliably is no sex with anyone, ever, until the third date, and no wine allowed. You can't tell in the moment whether she is actually into you or merely shit-faced and disinhibited, except by the usual cues of extreme inebriation. If she seems to be conducting herself as merely tipsy**, there is no way to tell whether she will be delighted to find you in her bed the following morning, or horrified. By this standard all sex involving alcohol is by definition taking advantage, if not rape. This is an unreasonable standard.

I also disagree with the principle that you get to be as personally irresponsible as you like, to make the most questionable decisions regarding your own behavior, under the grossest of self-administered impairments, and if I fail to detect that your apparent interest in me isn't genuine, that it's just the beer goggles talking -- in short, if I don't make myself fully responsible for your actions and your choices -- that the bad guy in the situation is me.

You wanted to get drunk, and you got drunk. While drunk, you wanted to have sex, and you had sex. These were all your choices. Own them, or admit you aren't a responsible adult.

(** merely tipsy, remember, is what Letter Writer thought he was dealing with until his potential hookup lost her balance. Apparently his previous hookups displayed even less impairment than that.)
@68: While I agree that someone past the "I won't remember this tomorrow" stage is the one most likely to wake up and conclude "I would never have done this sober; it must not be my fault," I don't think accurately detecting that state is a reasonable thing to ask of people. Not of possible sex partners (who interpret the attempt to rip their clothes off as 'consent') or of bystanders (how the hell am I to know how drunk someone is or whether this person is someone they would normally be into? and what do I do if they try to violently fend off my 'rescue'?). I would intervene for someone unconscious or close to it, but even then if the person carrying them off claims to be a friend calling a cab I have no way to check that.

"Everyone have sex sober, after a few dates!" is a perfectly reasonable standard the world is not following. So while I think it's an excellent thing to do that, and to emulate 64 and re-evaluate your drinking if it's causing you to do things or put yourself in situations you regret (whether sex related or not), it's not a standard the world is going to follow. Especially when a number of people deliberately get anywhere from faintly buzzed to extremely drunk as a way to improve their odds of getting laid.

I think I agree with avast here. I've done things I regret under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But I've also done fun things I wouldn't have done without lowering my inhibitions first.

Do I want to live in a world where willing playmates reject a fun adventure because they worry I'll regret it the next day? If I seem coherent and pose no immediate danger to myself or others, then I don't want people to presume to know better than I do.
I think the main difference between MBSOD's "shameful erection" and the pedophile priest's is that MSBOD was ashamed of his erection, and the priest obviously was not.
My last comment was a bit off topic and I apologize for that. EricaP, your explanation of asking permission being a sign that I can't read your cues seems reasonable to me in a personal standards sort of way. Thanks for the explanation. Maybe I should include "I like to ask before a kiss" in my dating profile to help prevent that kind of incompatibility.

The drunkenness question seems like one best handled very, very carefully. Especially if I didn't know someone very well, I'd weigh the possibility of doing something against a person's sober limits a lot more heavily than the possibility of a fun adventure for everyone.

Or to be a geek about that, the error of doing something unwelcome seems much worse than the error of not doing something that would be welcome. Aside from the severity issues, one is much easier to fix than the other. In this way, I completely agree with Dan's approach at the end of his response to the first letter.
By way of clarification, I agree that:

1) Having sex with someone who is actually incapacitated is rape;

2) Getting someone drunk in order to have sex with them is rape, especially if you get them to the point of actual incapacitation;

3) Seeking out someone who is voluntarily drunk in order to have sex with them is predatory, if not necessarily rape. That said, voluntarily getting wasted and acting all disinhibited while wasted is your own fault. Take responsibility for your own decisions and your own actions.

4) Being receptive to the active sexual advances of someone who is visibly badly impaired almost certainly is NOT rape; it MAY be predatory, depending on whether you think they would never fuck you sober; and most likely it is a bad idea. There is too much prospect of it ending badly and for repercussions that aren't worth risking.

That said, there is a fairly broad area between deliberate predators and white knights who refuse the sexual advances of even the most lightly tipsy person for fear that Drunk Self is going to betray Sober Self. Within this area drunken sex is not necessarily a problem for those who initiate it, nor a sign of lack of character by those who don't refuse it. For those who do regard drunken sex of this sort as problematic, the onus is on them to change their own drinking habits, rather than to continue to get shit-faced and then blame the other guy for accepting their drunken sexual advances.
Ms Cummins - Remember, I've been ill; that might have thrown me into becoming much more stream-of-consciousness. I have been feeling a good deal more like Mrs Woolf of late, but (un?)fortunately I don't live that near a suitable river, or the temptation might be too great.

I also think it's a natural consequence of always pressuring myself to be new and innovative. Things like the Gertrude Award and LMB, while easily comprehensible, were very low-hanging fruit, and I always worry that people may get bored rather quickly with three things very dull indeed. But if people don't object to my resting on my laurels a bit more than usual, that might save some strain all around.
>> the error of doing something unwelcome seems much worse than the error of not doing something that would be welcome. >>

It's absolutely your prerogative to make that choice for yourself. You certainly don't owe sex to anyone. But I don't see people who make the opposite choice as not-nice. You can screw up by taking risks, and you can also screw up by avoiding risk. And there aren't always second chances.
Mr. Ven @78, count me among those who think you may justifiably rest on your laurels and relax your standards just a bit.
@77 Most likely it is a bad idea.

This. Many, many things--including things people only do when they have drunk enough alcohol to lower their social inhibitions--are bad ideas. Drunk-dialing your boss to freely share your 1 AM opinions about company policy, for example. The people next to you are not legally or morally culpable for not wrestling the cell phone from you. If one of them talked you into it, they bear a little 'did something stupid while drunk' moral culpability, but not nearly as much as you do. If getting drunk causes you to do stupid things you later regret (including very easily be talked into things), stop getting that drunk.
Mr. Ven: It worries me to think that you're feeling Woolfish. I hope that should the impulse to follow in her footsteps arises, you get some help or at least only succeed in emulating Mary Wollstonecraft's attempt.

As far as relaxing your standards, I confess that the many literary references and awards often confuse me. I prefer you best in high Austen tone. Mostly, though, I wish you'd write in a way more easily apprehended by everyone because your viewpoint is such a valuable addition to the conversation and I don't like to think that people aren't able to understand it.
@70 and @81 - I just skip his comments. He attacked me about the using the incorrect gendered ending of "masseuse" vs. "masseur," and claimed that my misuse was the most sexist thing he'd read that year. I don't speak French. I'm pretty sure that a foreign language mistranslation is *probably* not the most sexist thing he'd read that year.

He's just a pompous jerk. I communicate for a living, and he does it poorly. Don't feel the troll.
@84 - Obviously, I meant "don't *feed* the troll"... but somehow I like my typo better.

No one feel Mr. Ven!
I find it hard to believe that asking vs not is anywhere near as important to women as some here seem to be suggesting.

I suppose if one reaches the point in one's life where one must sort through dozens of interchangeable male sexual suitors every month, one develops such preferences. But I don't think I've ever been in a hook up situation where success or failure depended on whether I asked for a kiss or just took one. From my vantage point, women seem, by and large, willing and able to tolerate slight deviations from their ideal romantic script, maybe even an awkward moment or two, just like most men don't fall to pieces upon hearing a queef. They also seem focused on other higher priority attributes.

Admittedly, most of my hookup experience is from years ago when all involved were less experienced, and it's probably not a random sample.
Ms Cute - I do on occasion suspect that I am so used to universal disagreement that I may often allow a bit of obfuscation to seep in in order to make people not entirely certain that they disagree with me. Also, I do fall into the trap (common among those of us who devise puzzles) of thinking something is too easy. There are additionally times when I just write in practically a fugue state, but I have been trying to avoid posting those.

Just to clarify, I called Ms Starr HETEROsexist for talking about gay men patronizing "masseuses" AND acknowledged that it was inadvertently done. Her morphing the charge into "sexism" rather seems to prove my point (perhaps a complex point point; I'm admittedly not good at judging these things). At that time, not only was the year rather younger than it is now, it gave me so many ideas about the sort of people who would use the wrong word deliberately for one reason or another that, however inadvertent the original misuse, it brought to mind more heterosexism than anything I'd read so far during the year (a term that might have been less than 100% serious, especially when used in January or February: perhaps Mr Ophian might be given the casting vote).

I have spared the assembled company at least three analogies, but the process of doing so is far from painless or natural.
vennominon — Hugs!
@80 Yeah I wanted to comment on that but all these posts saying explicit consent isn't sexy are creeping me out.

I like it when guys acknowledge my agency.

And that chick was as psycho as these posts.
@seandr, it's true that when it comes to BDSM, I'm used to talking out what both people want before the scene starts. In principle I have nothing against talking and asking questions.

Maybe if I had sex with men of a younger generation, raised more with the idea that asking is the right thing to do, I would grow accustomed to the process. It's not part of my experience, and it doesn't sound particularly useful to me.

That is, I'm not persuaded that people who are unsure about whether they want to go further will actually give clear answers to such questions. I can easily picture Pat saying to Chris: "Do you want me to kiss you?" and Chris replying, "Um, okay" -- while meaning "um, not really" but not able to say such a rude thing outright.

If one really wants to avoid pressuring someone for sex, then Still Thinking's advice @47 seems wise: taking turns initiating each step further. (Not unrelated to the "dance" I described @58)

Philophile, being asked if I want to be kissed makes me want to say "No, I don't want to be kissed."

But I didn't say other people shouldn't like explicit Q&As, just that I prefer to handle the same issue (determining whether one's partner is enthusiastic) in a different way.

That creeps you out?
I applaud Ms Erica for using Pat and Chris. It makes such a difference.
@90 Erica: What you mention is a very good point about the nature of explicit verbal consent.

According to the more extreme versions of Yes Means Yes doctrine, a man must have all antennae out to detect this very situation: that a woman might actually be participating under what she feels is duress, despite going along with what is happening, despite even answering in the affirmative when asked. Because, you see, she might be AFRAID to say No; therefore the man must be able to intuit that No is what she is thinking, even when she is acting and saying precisely the opposite.

However, under no circumstances is he allowed to use body language or other non-verbal cues as evidence of consent. He must never intuit a Yes from her non-verbal cues, no matter how enthusiastic they appear, even though it is absolutely demanded of him that he use the very same intuition to extract a No out of the middle of feedback to the contrary. No amount of enthusiastic participation is sufficient; only an explicitly stated verbal Yes in response to an explicitly stated verbal question is sufficient.

And even then, as you note, if she is feeling afraid, that Yes might well actually mean No, and his failure to pick up on that is entirely his fault, making him someone having sex with an unwilling partner, QED, a rapist.

I only wish I were kidding.
@91 Yep, it creeps me out. You could have instead chimed in with some constructive comments about the kind of explicit consent subs might like:

"Do you think you deserve this?"
"I think that smart mouth needs to be bitten."
"Suck my tongue."

In the bdsm scene:
"Are you into xyz?"
"Want to see if there's some chemistry before we discuss the rules?"

As for me I like a simple "Can I kiss you?" or "How do you like to be kissed?" or "What are you into?" etc. I tend to spell things out anyway though. An autistic guy would be wise to stick to Dan's advice. I think it's good advice for a first date, period.

@53 nailed it.

As for meeting psychos, he did the right thing. Run away.
@93 Yes explicit consent can be pushy if you keep asking repeatedly after getting turned down. Even then, your butt is covered in court by the last yes. It's just gonna cost you a second date and some bad rep.
@94, as a sub, I like to be asked very specific questions, such as:
Are you in good shape right now? (Not hungry, thirsty, exhausted, anxious...)
Would you like me to use a flogger or a cane?
On your shoulders or your ass?
With genital touching or not?
Tied up first or not?
Should I try to bring you to happy moans, to tears, to safeword?
Any triggers I should know about before we start?
What kind of aftercare do you appreciate?

@95, that's not the point. The point is that even if you haven't been explicitly turned down, the other person may not be happy with the sexual interaction. People don't like saying "No" or refusing a request, and they will agree to things they don't want to do, just to avoid feeling guilty for saying no:…

Body language is important, and for people who are neurotypical, it gives more information about your potential partner's enthusiasm than an explicit question can.
A good buddy of mine picked up a young lady he was seeing from her job. It was sometime in the afternoon...say 4ish. On the drive to take her home the sex convo came up. He asked if she wanted to have sex. Her response was....."ewww!sober sex!?....who does that!?. So it validated my already high suspicion that some people need to be drunk, high, or some kinda combination of, in order to have sex. It seems that a lot of people need help in doing the deed. Is it because of some kind of traumatic experience?
@seandr: I don't mean to give the impression that I would automatically snub someone who asked. As it happens, I don't believe that verbal permission has either been sought or granted in the 30+ years I've been kissing people. I find the flirtation dance to be delightful, and I've never yet seriously misread someone's cues, nor has anyone misread mine. When someone I don't want to kiss moves in for a kiss, I avoid it deftly and tell him or her that I don't want to do that.

But I happen to prefer a modified bodice-ripping style, clichéd as it is, and I think that to be asked permission would be a definite turn off for me. Whereas to be informed of a desire is to me very sexy indeed, and would lead to an even more complicated dance step, as it were.
@EricaP: as a sub, I like to be asked very specific questions, such as ...

More please. You should write a book on how to be a straight male dom and have Dan promote it. It would sell, and the world would be a much stricter (in a good way) place.

So, which is it, happy moans, tears, or safeword? (Sign me up for happy moans.)
@nocutename: I happen to prefer a modified bodice-ripping style

Got it. Curious - how would a guy recognize this in you? Does he just have to roll the dice, or do you drop hints?
@96 The point was that explicit permission doesn't guarantee complete willingness. You can be pushy about obtaining it, or with a person who has trouble exercising agency. My point is that at least verbal consent covers your butt from rape accusations. The implied part is that pushiness and the inability to assert agency suck in general.

The list was cool, thanks. I was way off, I hope not insultingly so. Some can be adapted vanilla, like how are you feeling, do you like a lot of tongue or a little, one or two fingers...

I find explicit talks necessary for a sex life that keeps getting better. But I agree that basic chemistry can't be predicted, only tested.
@seandr: Interesting question. I must drop non-verbal hints. Because people get it. I would call it flirtation. We all do that dance and it becomes clearer. You said, back at #48 By the time I get around to kissing someone, I know they want to be kissed, and I assume that that's due to that flirtation dance. Then you employ your own style, no? And if your own style meshes sublimely with the style of the person you've kissed, it gets very hot indeed.

So I do that dance, and the kiss happens. And either it's just so-so and that's as far as it goes, or it has bodice-ripping elements, and I make it clear via moans, leaning in (oooh, Sheryl Sandberg, not what you meant), even grinding, a change in my breathing, that I'm definitely open to more.
@nocutename This aversion to clear signals with strangers reminds me of that Louis CK bit about the woman who was disappointed he didn't just go for it while they were making out:

"You think I'm just gonna rape you on the off chance that hopefully you're into that sh-t? Oooh, I'm getting kind of a rapey vibe from this girl, I don't know. I suspect she might enjoy being raped, maybe that's her thing. I don't wanna ask first and ruin it so I'm just gonna take a shot and rape her, what the hell? What's the worst that could happen after all?"
Philophile: I think there's a vast difference between mutually desired sex and rape. I never said I don't like clear signals; I said I am turned off by someone's verbally, explicitly asking permission to kiss me. I also don't judge others for what they need in order to feel comfortable. You want to be asked and to be allowed to grant permission? I believe that 's your right and you should insist on it.

I'm 51, and I've had a lot of sex with people I didn't know well. I would consider none of it rape. As it happens, I was raped once, at the age of 19, by someone I knew fairly well. And even more curious, given your conflation of non-verbal communication with rape, I was extremely explicit about my unwillingness. This wasn't a case of misunderstood cues or crossed signals.
Because rape is very different from consensual sex.

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