Comments

106

Regarding kissing, I agree that verbal consent is not always necessary and can often spoil the mood and also that women (especially younger ones) often expect the men to know what to do and take initiative. However, if you are someone who frequently has trouble understanding other people's body language and/or thinks someone is sending you mixed messages, then absolutely you should seek verbal consent for clarification. Daddy has posted good advice before about reading body language- that is helpful, but I don't think it's helpful to tell this LW that he should take initiative and dismiss verbal consent. This LW clearly has trouble not only with understanding others' body language but also with dismissing their stated words. But what's good here is what Dan pointed out- he did not proceed based on his assumptions and confusions. He's seeking advice. And good advice for him (for now anyway) is to seek verbal consent and also to listen others. Women are humans and like people for a variety of reasons and want friends. If she told you clearly that she just wants to be your friend, not your date, and then proceeded to behave that way, and yet you are confused when she comes over to your house for pizza, then you have a problem with not understanding that women also want friends. The question you should be asking isn't "does this woman want to kiss me and if not why did she come over?" but rather "do I want to be friends with this person?" If your answer is yes, then treat her like a friend. If your answer is no, then don't invite her to your house for pizza. Dan gave a good answer, the fact that it might not apply in all cases of all men kissing all women doesn't change that.

107

If I said I wasn't looking for a relationship and the person still asked to hang out again, I'd assume they wanted to hang out as friends. And I'd be pissed if they asked to kiss me at that point.

108

Mick @66: Ding ding ding. You've nailed it -- several times in this letter WUWH talks about literally not taking her "no" for an answer. That's why I think Dan should have been more harsh with him, not fed him some BS about her "giving him a second chance." This guy may take from that that no doesn't always mean no, a dangerous attitude. Young men, DO NOT "TEST WOMEN'S WORDS." Ugh!!!

Pythag @67, except that every woman on this thread agrees with Dan. Does that tell you something? Maybe it's straight men who need to listen to someone besides each other. What the men on this thread are missing is that they are reporting the reactions of -women who wanted to kiss them-. The men on this thread are in their 30s and 40s and perhaps beyond. They have a couple of decades of experience interpreting the body language of women they've been dating. When a woman is sending clear body-language signals, then sure, there's no need to verbally ask (though, as Bouncing and NoCute said, if she wants to kiss you then asking will not put her off). When she is not, or when you are not experienced enough to be able to tell, FFS use words, don't lunge.

CMD @70: Exactly! How about we encourage women to make the moves, that way it removes all the confusion for these poor clueless men.

+1 to Lava @68, Donny @71, Fichu @75 (except that she didn't want to "go slower," she didn't fancy him at all), qapla @76.

Cocky @86, this guy didn't DO anything wrong, but his attitude is all wrong! She says no, he wants to "test her words." He is confused by her willingness to hang out as friends, because in his mind there is no cross-gender friendship without sex, so he uses his words, great. Well done. But after a THIRD conversation about how she's not interested, he still wants to know how he can "close this deal." This is stalker think, and unless someone slaps it out of him it may escalate to stalker deeds.

Alaskan @91, your proposal centres around a yes-as-default. Rejecters must justify their "no," which is kind of sinister. Surely the understood reason for most "no's" is "I'm not attracted to you." How could it be helpful to force people to say that? Everyone's tastes are different; if I'm not your type, there's nothing I can do to change that, and it seems a waste of time to encourage people to go around trying to change themselves instead of just accepting "no's" graciously and moving on.

Biggie @92: You lost me: "Yes, asking to kiss someone will prevent you from kissing someone who doesn't want to be kissed, but it doesn't prevent you from rudely asking to kiss someone who doesn't want to be kissed." Eh? I think you meant, if you don't get the sense that someone will say yes, don't ask them? Is that what you meant? If so, I agree.

109

Sportlandia @73, what is your point. Who are these ‘basic’ people of whom you speak. Courting rituals vary across cultures and education levels. This is no surprise.
Have you ever had a satisfying emotional and sexual relationship with a woman, Sportlandia?
/ The only mis step I see this young woman may have made, was to sit on the LW’s bed. We don’t know enough re why she sat on his bed.
Otherwise she was straight in her communication with him. No, not interested in a sex connection. Being friends would be great.

110

In my second paragraph above, by "FFS use words, don't lunge," I am using "lunge" in the sense that it has come to mean in this thread: wordlessly move in for a kiss. Sure, sure, men of this thread, when YOU do it it's not "lunging." But when it's not welcome, it is.

111

Lava @109, I agree with you @68 as to the probable reason she sat on the bed: he showed her into his room and the bed was the only, or the most comfortable, thing to sit on. She had already been crystal clear about not being interested in him; sitting in the most comfortable space should not be reasonably constru-able as flirtation.

112

This man has objectifying attitudes. He’s not interested in this woman, as a person, so what does he look for in his lovers. Anything beside an open pair of legs? Talk about basic.

113

108-BiDan-- You are correct, and I thank you for the correction. She didn't want to go slower. She said no.

Here's what I should have said, though this is bringing up a whole new topic. It's hard to know on first acquaintance or after a first date if one wishes to say no for all time or if one wishes to say no for now with the possibility of saying yes at some point in the future. If she had said "no for now, but let's see what happens and I might say yes later," then she'd have set the situation for an endless stream of "can we have sex yet? how about now? how about now? I took you to a movie-time to seal the deal? how about now?" In other words-- pretty much what she got: "You sat on my bed and ate pizza, so now?"

She didn't want to say yes. There was no way to communicate maybe. The only thing left was to say no.

This may be some of what Dan meant when he said she gave him a second chance. By hanging out with him as a friend, she did leave open the possibility of a sexual relationship developing much much slower. LW blew it with that ill-timed kiss lunge.

114

That’s all projection on your part, Fichu, and feeding into the ‘playing hard to get’ script.
She said No, she meant No. Why is this such a hard sell. She saw something worthwhile in him, as a friend, and that’s all she was interested in.
Hanging out, having a meal, talking about themselves. Becoming friends.

115

Yeah, I have to agree with Lava here. This idea that "sexual attraction may develop after becoming friends" is a common enough movie trope, but IME, if there is no sexual attraction at the beginning then there never will be. As other commenters have said, she said no; if -- BIG IF -- she changes her mind, she can let him know. Otherwise he should accept that no means no, and no means never.

116

@91 I agree with BDF at 109. The reason for a “no” is “I’m not attracted to you” and asking for the specifics is not appropriate. The rejector has no obligation to take part in the rejectee’s survey of rejection and kindness would generally prevent a nice person from being to specific.

If an individual wants to know why they are consistently being rejected, they should ask their most honest friend. An answer could be helpful, such as “you only hit on extremely beautiful women when you are an average looking bloke at best” or “I don’t know, maybe because you monopolize the conversation and seem genuinely uninterested in them” or “dude, you live in your parents basement and don’t have a car or a job”.

117

@92 he invited HER to hang out the second time. Her only mistake was assuming that he wouldn't try to "test her words" and take no for an answer.

I was surprised at first at how many (presumably) grown adults still buy into this "playing hard to get" is a game to be won thing. But it seems like a comparable % to the number of creeps I've had pull this shit on me in real life. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say all these men talking about "the real world" are either single or dating someone much younger who can be pushed around more easily.

118

I hereby propose an alteration to the avatar of philosophy school dropout. (Or if they don't change it, to what we see in our minds-eye when we look at PSD's avatar.) First, look at PSD's current avatar, now please look at https://miro.medium.com/max/187/1*hCBj1-h4n7iZm6v-v8gNSw.png

As some of you may know/remember, this is one of many drawings by the late Kurt Vonnegut in his wonderful novel "Breakfast of Champions". This particular drawing from the Preface is of an asshole.

119

It’s likely to be beneficial for all involved if both genders in an OS situation (and beyond) could communicate clearly and equally.
I find it frustrating that some of the men here suggest “moves” as the standard “asking,” acts that could be viewed as potentially threatening to others.
It’s also frustrating that some assumed-experienced women not only confirm that the man should be the one to make the first move, by asking, he’ll better do so in a manner deemed as “sexy.” Another implies that women don’t need to say anything because they are equipped with this feminine mystique intuition that enables them to read others’ minds as well as communicate their needs and wants via universally understood gestures and body language.
Yes, I may be exaggerating, just want to get my point across.

The woman in this letter comes across as strong minded. She clearly indicates she doesn’t want sex and is also secure enough to suggest “friends only.” I trust her to communicate in a clear manner any changes regarding her sexual attraction to him, if and when that ever happens.
The young man’s confusion stems from the clues he thinks he gets from popular culture as well as the assumption that he will be viewed as a loser if they don’t have sex.

120

It’s nothing to do with feminine mystique, CMD. It’s to do with reading looks and gestures. Non verbal communication is valid and people are communicating to each other this way all the time.

121

I'm excellent at reading people's body language. Except when it comes to "is she attracted to me?", that feels more like mindreading for me.

I can think of one afternoon when I was 19 that I wish to Zeus I would have known.

122

114- Lava-- Yes, it is projection on my part. We can't know what the pizza eater in this scenario was thinking. That's my point. She said no. We have to assume she meant no now and forever after. IF she was thinking no now but maybe some time in the future, there was no way to communicate that. There especially was no way to communicate that to anyone as clueless as WUWH.

IF she meant "I'd like to keep options open for the future," that's not playing hard to get. That's leaving the option open to changing her mind at some point in the future.

123

@91. Alaskan. Daters should develop, and are developing, the sensitivity of their antennae all the time. When you hit on someone, it should be and--all things well--usually is in a situation where the wordless exchange of cues between you and the person you're attracted to sufficiently justifies your pass. You could be turned down, you could be accepted; but, supposing there is some kind of 'atmosphere', some kind of background, to your expression of interest, it shouldn't be taken as grossly impertinent. (People who are taken as grossly impertinent in hitting on others, as jerks, are likely to be abusing power relations and should be given short shrift). I don't think it's reasonable to ask het women, especially, to provide feedback for guys who are nice-but-inept. The onus is instead on the nice, luckless guy to sensitize his antennae. This happens anyway in life. If there's something particularly obtrusive and unprepossessing about him, he tends to find out about it. It's both utopian and unreasonable to het guys' targets to think that hooking-up can entirely be a matter of explicit verbal communication and quasi-contractual understanding.

@67. Qapla. This hits the nail on the head. It's inconceivable to many men (including--whether for strategic reasons or not--Dan, apparently) that women want to spend time with men as friends. This mindset effectively dehumanises women.

124

That was @76 qapla.

125

WTF@ both LW and Dan. This woman was perfecrly clear and consistent - she wasn't looking for a romantic/sexual relationship. LW said he understood that, but instead of taking her at her word, he tried to make a move on her.

Why did she hang out and eat pizza? Because some people enjoy hanging out and eating pizza with people, even if they don't want to have sex with those people. This is that feigning friendship to try to get sex thing lots of people complain about.

126

@108, 123: I take some of your points. @108, is there some way I could have phrased what I was suggesting so that it would not have come across as sinister? It was simply meant as a way to help the mainly rejected move, at least, into the no-more-rejected than not-rejected category everyone else is in? @123-obviously, those who date should try to develop greater sensitivity-as should everyone else-to those they attempt to date, but why should so much of it have to be guesswork? It's not a natural skill to go from being a bad guesser to being a good guesser-in fact, it's probably the toughest thing to learn in life other than quantom physics. What's the harm in at least saying "Here's two or three general things you could work on before you approach someone else"? While everyone should be working on self-awareness, why not, at the same time, get people working together on some shared awareness? Why not err on the side of helping the usually-rejected learn what they need to get out of that?

And out of interest, why would you single out het-man/het-woman dating/interaction from all other possible relationships? What I'm talking about could come up with all other identities, too.

BTW, I agree @123, with everything you said about the conditions which should exist. Nobody should just hit on complete strangers out of the blue.

And just to clarify, I'm not defending the actions or attitudes of the OP, and hope nothing I've written came across that way.

127

It’s a learned skill, Sean@ 126. It’s not guess work if you trust your perceptions and don’t jump to step twenty, when you’re at step one.
This young man recently met a girl, straight away he wanted sex with her.. he had no interest in getting to know her, check out compatibilities whether they gel intellectually etc.
Not every woman is available for a hook up and it’s presumptive of men to assume they are.
He wasn’t offering her a relationship of any sort, he’d rather find better things to do with his time than hang around chatting with her.
He didn’t need to guess anything, because she used her words and clearly stated her wishes.
If one is unsure of the communication someone is giving, then ask. Use your words is a Dan catch phrase.
/ Fichu, yes I know what you were saying.
There’s always a chance someone might feel differently later, it’s not now though. Now she feels No.

128

@127. Fair enough. Patience is crucial. And again, I'm taking the OP's "side" in this, if sides even need to be taken.

129

Alaskan, you contradict yourself @91 when you lead with "It would be better to set up a convention in which it's always OK to ask for something, provided that, if the response to the request is 'no,' that nothing else will be asked," then go on to propose a system whereby "why?" is a standard follow-up question to a rejection.

To answer your question @126, no, I don't believe there is a way to obligate people to explain the reasons for their rejections that is not sinister/entitled/a setup for hurt feelings. Do you agree that unless there is an external reason such as "I'm in a long-distance monogamous relationship" -- which rejecters generally DO say -- the understood reason for "no's" is "I'm not attracted to you"? As AlanMT @116 says, that puts people who are generally nice in the position of saying mean things to someone they like as a person, thus hurting their feelings and completely ruining any chance of future friendship. You're still operating on the assumption that mutual attraction is the assumption, lack thereof the anomaly that needs explaining. I am attracted to a very tiny percentage of the population, and I think that is true of most people. "I'm not interested" should be all that needs to be said.

Here's an example: Let's say a burly man with a beard (completely not my type) asks me out. I say, "No thank you." He says, "Why not?" I don't want to insult him and say "because you're ugly/I'm not attracted to you," so I say, "I don't like men with beards." So he shaves and comes back and asks again. What do I say now? I'm still not attracted, and now he's shaved off a beard and he's going to resent me for "making" him shave and then still saying no! And what if the answer is "you're too fat / you're too thin"? Society places more than enough pressure on people to conform to beauty standards without making this an expected feature of rejections.

If one is being rejected more often than accepted, my conclusion is that this person is just more proactive than most about asking people out before getting a sense that attraction is mutual. These people probably do still get more dates overall, due to the proactiveness. Someone who asks out 10 people and gets 2 dates gets more dates than someone who doesn't ask anyone.

If a person does find themself being rejected more often than they would have expected, due to only approaching people in similar looks/social situations as themself or misjudging cues, I would second Alanmt's suggestion of asking a trusted friend what they might be doing wrong. Don't make it the responsibility of an individual rejecter, whose reasons for the rejection may not be the same as others'. Per my example above, plenty of people like beards so it makes no sense to assume my would-be suitor would improve his chances generally by shaving.

Out of interest, what about my post makes you think I am singling out het relationships?

130

Lava @127, I'm not sure he "wasn't offering her a relationship of any sort." He wanted to get physical, yes, but that does not preclude a relationship. Certainly, especially when younger, I've hooked up with people only for them to announce "you're my girlfriend now." He may be thinking long term, but he wants to move fast. Honestly, that's better than hiding feelings and spending months or years in the "friend zone," as John @125 describes.

131

That doesn’t make sense to me Fan. He rudely told this woman if she wasn’t going to have sex, he’s not interested in spending time with her.
Will having the sex suddenly make him interested in her, the whole person her, or is this man the sort to be a serial monogamist, one cunt is as good as another.
Perhaps LW, taking a clue from Fichu’s comments above, she was testing you as well.
To see if she was just a notch on your belt or you were capable and interested in offering something more. She got her answer.

132

Lava @131, quoting the letter:

[S]he sent me a text saying "so did you get the part where I'm not looking for a relationship" and I said now I do when you were at my place and we didn’t kiss that confirmed it but I think we need to cool hanging and chatting cause for me it could be time spent elsewhere and she replied with a simple "cool."

A relationship. She told him that she is not looking for a relationship. He replied, yes, I finally got that, and if that's the case I'm not interested in platonic friendship. Nothing rude about that. Nothing that reduces her to a "cunt." If she's not a romantic prospect, he doesn't want to torture himself. Nothing about sex was said in the letter. Sure, presumably he wanted things to start with kissing and progress, but I don't see any evidence that he wanted to use and discard her. Let's only convict this guy of the crimes he's actually confessed to.

133

Yes, and? She meant a sexual relationship. She offered him friendship, and he’s not interested.. his time could be spent better elsewhere. And five minutes ago he wanted to fuck her. Implication being, he’s not interested in her, knowing her, only in fucking her. Why will fucking her change his interest in her, her role will be set. The chick he fucks. He’s not offering a relationship, because he’s not really interested in who she is.
He should have taken her at her word the first time, not pretend he was ok to be her friend.
Lesson, don’t second guess women with bull about them playing hard to get.

134

Can someone explain to me how wanting to fuck someone is not being interested in them?

135

Also why wanting to fuck someone with a shared interest in dachshunds, Thomas Pynchon and long walks on the beach is morally superior to, say, wanting to fuck someone because they look, move and act sexy.

136

Lava @ 120
Non-verbal is certainly important yet shouldn’t be the only thing to rely on while testing the water for such delicate matter as “are we going to fuck or what.”
Granted, verbal and written communication can also be interpreted in different ways yet may offer more clarity as well as enabling going back and forth in a much safer manner.

137

Sigh. When it comes to talking about who takes the lead, who initiates, and commenters wonder why young women don't do it more often, well, I have a couple of reasons:
1. The guy will misconstrue an advance as a season pass to whatever he wants to do (aka "seal the deal"), rather than a single act, whether it's a kiss or more.
2. The guy will think she's a slut. After all, it's ^his^ role to be the aggressor. Isn't that what all the abstinence-only fundies have been saying forever: that she must be (or pretend to be) the chaste gatekeeper to keep his natural lusts in check.

Sigh, again. I'm glad I had a great time setting the pace (or accepting an advance), especially in the 70s when I was young.

138

@Late Bloomer,

The dichotomy gets split up that way (I like you as a person and want to fuck you vs I think you are beautiful and want to fuck you) and yes of course I agree that one is not morally superior to the other. But I also think this is a false dichotomy, and it's a confusion that many people labor under.

The dichotomy isn't whether or not you like a person's brain/body etc but rather if the other person is as into the thing as you are. And we tend to think that people who are interested in another person because of shared values/interests/personalities whatever are going to be more likely to take into account the other person's interest in you when they consider their own pleasure. In my experience, it doesn't always play out that way in real life, but I do think this is a common enough understanding and the more common experience.

If I'm not being clear, I'll try it more simplistically.

Situation A:
I think you are sexy and I want to fuck you even though I know nothing about you. If you likewise think I'm sexy and want to fuck me, then hey we are great and we'll enjoy at least one lustful romp if not a full fling. But if you don't, and I just pursue you because I really want your body, then I'm being a pestering tool, dismissive of you altogether, just after your junk.

Situation B:
I think you are sexy and I want to fuck you even though you are my friend and we share long walks on the beach discussing Pynchon. If you likewise find me sexy, we might even fall in love or at least have a romance. If you don't, then I'm less likely to pester you for sex because I still want the long walks on the beach and the bookish talk. I respect you as a person.

Now as I said, in my experience, this is often false. Casual sex is only fun for many of us if the other person is likewise lustful- it's no fun to fuck someone who lets you do it. And plenty of 'just friends' are actually scheming and pestering to get in someone's pants all the time. So I think we should rewrite the dichotomy to be about whether or not a person is conscientious of other's pleasure in the first place- as that is what really matters. And since people get this so confused and have so much indoctrination on top of it about sex/love, then sure some people probably need to be more clear about consent from the get-go if they find they have trouble understanding others' interests but still want to be conscientious lovers.

In the LW's case, the reason it's bad isn't that he is just interested in fucking the girl b/c he think she's hot, but that he's pretending interest in the girl as a friend when really he just wants to fuck her. It's not that it's morally superior for him to want to fuck her because he likes her as a friend but rather that it's shit for him to pursue her for sex when it's not what she wants.

139

Late @134, I don't really understand your question. What is this in response to?

Helenka @137, partly because I've never been one for gender norms and partly because my taste is very specific (and tends to run toward the shy), if I am attracted to a guy, I make the move. Including both flirting outrageously and asking verbally for a kiss, to go back to mine, etc. It's rare that this does not go over well. Sure, sometimes I may make a poor choice and end up shagging someone who thinks I'm a slut (but that he isn't, hmm), but if the trash takes itself out then that's no bad thing. Do people really hold these antiquated attitudes you describe?

140

Bi @139

Your and my lived or observed experiences are different because we grew up in less religiously regimented countries (UK, Canada), whereas the U.S. has continued to be rattled socially and politically by regressive forces that tie religion to as much as they dare.

We observe real sex ed in our countries whereas American kids are fed Abstinence, strict gender role conformity, and nothing else that is fact-based. Also, the LW sounds young, so I'm basing my response on the youth of today (and not your or my memories of how we seduced our peers when we were their age).

141

Regarding the LW EmmaLiz, I’m with everyone else who thinks he should have respected the young woman’s clearly stated desires the first time around. But in your last paragraph, you are assuming that he’s pretending interest when he just wants to fuck her. Why do you assume that? He may be misguided in thinking a second try is appropriate, but that’s not lack of interest, quite the opposite. Because either you like someone for friendship, or you like someone for sex (which isn’t really properly liking someone)? There’s your false dichotomy, and also your moral hierarchy of better and worse ways to like someone.

You can want someone in a sexy way, and also dig them as a person—the two frequently go together—but where tempers seem to flare is when men prioritize the sex over the friendship. All sorts of accusations get slung around at that point, based on false assumptions of motivation, see upthread.

As a human man with male sexual desire, this whole angry notion of “Oh, he just thinks of women as somewhere wet to stick his dick,” or, “He’s only interested in her pussy,” is baffling to me. What about the arms, the torso, the smile, the energy, the click, the excitement, the vitality, the connection? It really doesn’t speak to my experience of desire. And why would you choose to start with that assumption, or reduce the pleasure of being wanted to such a crude over-simplification? (I don’t mean you specifically, I’m just musing here.) All it does is make you feel bad about yourself, and gives you license to launch unhelpful tirades.

I find the silliness of that attitude comes out when you substitue dancing for sex:

“Hi, want to go dancing?”
“No, but I’ll sit and listen to music with you.”
“No thanks, I’m kind of in the mood for dancing.”
“Oh, so you don’t care about me as a person then.”
“What? No, hey, I think you’re swell. But like I say, I want to go dancing, and it’s sure no fun listening to music I’d rather be dancing to.”
“So you just wanted me for my feet, is that it? I’m just a pair of shoes to you. Oh, the suffragettes were right, you men are all beasts. I’ve never felt so...so cheap.”

So if a guy turns down friendship with someone he is pursuing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not interested in her as a person. It means he’s not a masochist. Why would you hang around with someone you’re attracted to, while pretending to not be attracted to them so they can feel comfortable? Sounds like all kinds of misery to me. And you can look forward to the day when they realize you still want to sleep with them, because that attraction doesn’t just turn itself off when told to, and accuse you of being a Nice Guy who uses friendship in the hopes of getting laid. There’s really no winning in that scenario, and offering friendship to a guy who has clearly expressed interest is a little misguided, if well-intentioned, and kind of patronizing. (I’m not even addressing the women who keep men around who they know are interested in them, just for the validation. Not sure what the ratio is to guys who try to use friendship to get laid, but wouldn’t be surprised if they balance out.)

“I’m not interested in friendship without sex” is not a dismissive, shallow statement. It’s a self-aware, healthy setting of boundaries, and a refusal to settle for a relationship that is fulfilling for the other person and frustrating for you.

142

Hey, speaking of false assumptions. I would encourage all the people who think that the stoopid menz need to just open their eyes to women’s body language and all will be well, to visit Tuesday’s LOTD. BiDanFan and two other bi commenters are there discussing the difficulty of knowing when a woman is showing interest, and when they are just being nice. Also the challenge of trying to express interest without being an asshole. And how hard all of that is compared to, say, picking up a guy.

So if women find it hard to read women, clearly this stuff is not easy or self-evident, y’all. Be advised accordingly.

143

And on the subject of that other thread: I found it interesting when KittenWhiskers describes the difficulties of hitting on women while trying to avoid being like the men in her past who hit on her and clearly “just want to get into” her pants. That’s an interesting word, “just”. There it is again, that moral dismissal of mere sex. Isn’t that the purpose of hitting on someone? And isn’t that what she’s doing too?

I’d be curious to know what makes one person “just” interested in sex, and the next person’s interest more meaningful. And it’s clear that she assumes—as we all do—that her own interest in women is more worthy than the men in her past who she dismissed. I wonder if the women she is hitting on see it that way. It’s a whole different world when you’re the hitter and not the hittee, and you like to think you’re special and not like the others, but you’re probably not. Until you are.

I really value reading about the difficulties bi people face when they switch those roles. I liked Ophian’s approach. He seemed pretty laid back, and took expressions of interest in stride without taking offense. Like, isn’t that what we’re out here to do? kind of thing. And you’re not going to get anywhere by nobody saying anything. He also found it dramatically easier to hook up with men than with women.

Folks is complicated.

144

Late Bloomer:
"But in your last paragraph, you are assuming that he’s pretending interest when he just wants to fuck her. Why do you assume that? "

"later that week she sent me a text saying "so did you get the part where I'm not looking for a relationship" and I said now I do when you were at my place and we didn’t kiss that confirmed it but I think we need to cool hanging and chatting cause for me it could be time spent elsewhere and she replied with a simple "cool.""

He is not interested in being friends with her if there is no possibility for sex. She says she only wants to be friends. He invites her over for pizza. He is not inviting her over because he wants to be friends with her. He is inviting her over because he wants a sexual relationship with her. Therefore, he was pretending interest in friendship when his interest was actually in sex.

The fact that he didn't believe her when she said she wanted to be friends only doesn't change this.

I am not saying that either you like someone for friendship or sex. In this case, HE IS saying that. He does not want to be friends with her if there is no sex. There is no interest, on his part, in friendship. His interest is purely sexual. That's fine, but he was not being honest about it.

You seem to be hung up on "interest". Yes he was interested in her. FOR SEX. Which, again, is fine. But she had already said she was not interested in that. Therefore it's dishonest to invite her over to hang out when he does not want to hang out.

I dont disagree with the rest of what you said, but I don't see how it's relevant to this situation. If he is not interested in friendship with her, and she says she is only interested in being friends, then the appropriate response is for him to move on and leave her alone, not to invite her over to hang out.

You seem to be hung up on the fact that an interest in sex (but not friendship) is not a bad thing. I agree with you. That it is more complicated than objectification, which I again agree with you. But none of this changes the fact that this sexual interest (which again I agree is complex and important on its own) must go two-ways. In this case, it did not go two-ways. Therefore, if the dude finds it misery to be around this woman who he is attracted to, then the correct path is to not be around her. Which no one is criticising him for. People are criticising him for pretending he is interested in hanging out after she makes it clear that she is not interested in sex.

It also sounds a bit like you are saying it's unreasonable for the woman to pursue friendship with someone who has expressed former interest in her sexually. I don't think this is necessarily the case- there are plenty of people who date and later remain only friends. There are likewise plenty of friendships that, in other circumstances, could have become sexual. Most adults do not have a problem with this. In this case, I think the woman was perfectly reasonable to say she wanted to be friends after just one date and the man should have respected that. After he came on to her a second time, the woman probably should've realized that it would be impossible to be just friends with him and then ignored him thereafter, but still it's not her that put herself in that situation but him- she was clear, he was not. If she continues to pursue friendship with him thereafter, that seems foolish. But mostly it just seems you are trying to express some resentment here. Where did anyone say anything about stoopid menz or a wet place to put their dicks?

145

OK, I withdraw the "feedback" concept. I get it that, while what I was suggesting was never in any way meant to obligate anyone-in my conception of it, it would always be voluntary and if the rejecter in question did not want to respond, that would ALWAYS be the last word-but I see now how it could be taken as such. And yes, I probably did contradict myself there. Hadn't put those things together. Still wish the guesswork could be taken out of most of it in some way, because it's not clear that any good purpose is served in making so much of this about reading clues and taking hints. It's not as though being a good guesser always or even mostly correlates to being a good person to get involved with.

146

Here's what I'm saying. They go on a date. After the date, she tells him she is only interested in friendship, not sex. This was honest and it's fine. It is not superior to an interest in sex, it's just different.

He is interested in a sexual relationship only. He does not want to be friends with her without a sexual relationship. This is also fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this sort of interest. There is nothing "lesser" about it. There is nothing objectifying about it. It is perfectly fine. It is likewise perfectly fine for him to choose not to pursue a friendship with her if it is not sexual. This is not something any person should be shamed for. In fact, it's a healthy way to respond in plenty of circumstances.

But this is not how the LW initially responded. He responded to her "I only want to be friends" by inviting her over to his house for pizza. THIS is where he went wrong. And it's wrong for two reasons.

The first is that she has already told him he is only interested in friendship. Therefore, responding to her by inviting her to hang out was dishonest because he is NOT interseted in friendship. There is nothing wrong with him not being interested in friendship wihtout sex. There is something wrong with him pretending to be interested in friendship without sex.

The second, the more subtle distinction I was trying to make, is that while I absolutely agree that a sexual interest is complex and important and not at all objectifying or "lesser" in any moral or ethical way, the key component to that purely sexual interest MUST BE mutual attraction and mutual pleasure. If it only goes one way and you pursue it anyway, then it BECOMES objectifying and lesser and pestering and selfish.

147

Helenka- I may be wrong but based on her posts I think BDF moved to the UK as an adult which means her dating experience may also apply to her days in the US.
As for your previous post re who gets to initiate, you certainly have some valid points. I think there are still plenty men, and others, who respect and appreciate women who are confident to initiate contact and beyond.
Some may view women’s reluctance to initiate as a way to avoid rejection and awkwardness, while fully capable of rejecting advances made by others.

148

LateBloomer - me wanting advice on interacting with women is not at all the same as men having trouble with women. Me having trouble with men would be the equivalent. As I explained if you paid attention to the conversation you're referring to, my extremely limited experience with women was exclusively in a setting with a high concentration of gay folks, where no one assumed anyone was straight. I also just have way more experience flirting with or being involved with men and that is why I know how to read men as opposed to women in those situations. Furthermore, when I talk to women and I like them as people - people who I would like to be friends with - but I also find them attractive, I don't want them to feel like I was only talking to them or getting close to them because I wanted to get into their pants. I've had plenty of guys who acted like they were interested in being friends, and then when I didn't want to fuck them they either were pissed and didn't want to be friends, or they'd randomly keep trying to get with me until I realized that was their only motivation for "being my friend". I know almost every woman has had this experience and I think guys would do well to be more sensitive to it. There is nothing wrong with nsa sex, but it is really hurtful to believe someone is your friend, only to find out their entire motivation for all the time they spent with you was to get in your pants. I never want to make anyone feel that way. Another difference is that most of the women I meet - partially because straight is the assumption, but particularly if I meet them through my friends since my partner still presents as male when we hang out with my friends - will assume I don't have any interest in them. Unlike in OS situations where there is always at least the possibility of attraction and therefore before you establish what type of relationship you have you know you have to be really careful about your body language and how you act. So even if I'm acting in a way that would be perceived as heavily flirting if I was acting that way towards a guy, or if it was a guy acting that way towards a woman, women will just assume I'm being really friendly.

149

LateBloomer - btw I have been the "hitter" plenty of times with guys. And yes, I do think it's superior to be honest with people. I don't want other girls to feel like I'm being underhanded if they don't realize I'm flirting. I know I'm interested in friendship even if a girl isn't interested in a relationship. I also know a lot of guys who have pretended to be interested in friendship because they're trying to work an angle and it makes a lot of girls wary. Being willing to be friends or not - one isn't superior. But being honest and not wasting someone's time and/or hurting their feelings definitely is. My first post was a bit incoherent, but I've obviously been on this thread recently, so instead of speaking for me (incorrectly) maybe ask me if you have any questions instead of making a bunch of false assumptions.

And a correction: bi guys having trouble with women would be the equivalent. If their experience were almost exclusively with women, and they were largely in straight assumed spaces I imagine they would probably have similar questions.

150

@129: To clarify-since I was replying to two posts at once-I wasn't saying it was YOU singling that type of relationship out, I was saying that of Harriet_by_the_bulrushes, who, in @123, wrote " I don't think it's reasonable to ask het women, especially, to provide feedback for guys who are nice-but-inept". Sorry for creating the impression that I was attributing that one to you.

And again, since I'm withdrawing the whole "feedback" session idea from consideration due to the fact it read as coercion, I was never saying that such a thing should be made into an obligation or that the person doing the rejecting justify said rejection. It was more like having the guy be able to ask "Look. Clearly, nothing is going to happen between us. I accept that. And everyone's tastes are different. But if there were two or three general things, things not specific to you but things you'd say would be dealbreakers with most people, that you tell me about so that I could correct THOSE things before I approach the NEXT person, would you be willing to tell me about them?".

That said, I accept that what I was suggesting there is a non-starter, so I'm withdrawing the whole idea for now, and possibly forever.

And @128...that was a typo. I meant to write "I'm NOT taking the OP's side". The last thing I would do is line up with that dude.

151

@122. Fichu. Let's say that a situation in which a man may make a pass at a woman is sexual charged ('Harvey Weinstein''s probably weren't; and this is shorthand for Weinstein being gross). In these sexually charged contexts, a woman's attitude is either 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'. How do we want the guy to act if it's 'maybe'?

I guess we want him to ask verbally for a kiss since her intentions aren't evident or manifest to him. We don't blame him for trying his arm--but he had better do so tentatively, and back off when or if rebuffed. The thing is, many guys think they can turn the 'maybe' into a 'yes' through making their approach suavely nonverbal. That can't be a good thing for anyone to think. Alternatively, they think there'll be less loss of face--it will be easier to imagine their failed pass never happened--if there were no words. Easier for them, maybe, but more embarrassing and awkward for the woman.

152

@126. Alaskan. You're asking, 'why shouldn't the bad guesser go from being bad to good at guessing with the help of the people who have rejected him?'. Well ... first, it isn't guessing, exactly. There's a certain tact, sensitivity, and also a certain orientation to reality, in knowing, more or less, when there might be something between two people--when it isn't just a case of one person's wildly wishful fantasy projection. This is a good skill to have--being able to discriminate hopeful fantasies and actual possibilities; but one doesn't just pick it up by being 'debriefed' by the people who don't succumb to one's charms. All of life teaches people what's realistic and what a pipedream. All of life serves to give us a better sense of how we come over to others, as well as how we see ourselves.

In a banal sense, we begin to understand 'our league' in dating at high school (or, for some people, especially members of sexual minorities, to learn what kind of person is going to be attracted to us--who might have matching kinks). We become accustomed to getting the brush-off when we try to transgress our league or weight. The signs of lack of interest, of a person being embarrassed or mildly displeased that we're doggy about them, become familiar to us.

I can't see how it can be incumbent on the rejected to offer a 'critique' or debrief. What's the point? It can only come down to 'don't want you in my pants'. It's not as if people blow their chances by making the wrong style of approach. One thing you say that's quite correct is that no stigma should cling to the respectful but rejected approach (when at once dropped). This is also a point made by #metoo.

I thought your presumed context was het dating because 'who the fuck are you to even ask' isn't the sort of rebuff one expects among gays. There's implicitly a sex war in this sense between het men and women, but a solidarity between SS queers.

153

@134. Late. Because only being interested in someone as a fuck reduces them to a bit of meat.

In fact, I think it quite reasonable for the original lw to want only to spend time with young women if it's very possible they'll become girlfriends. I read him as perhaps not yet at college--16 or 17. He wants to have sex. My guess was that the bed his 'friend' sat on was in hus bedroom at his parents' house.

154

Harriet @153: “Because only being interested in someone as a fuck reduces them to a bit of meat.” No. No it doesn’t. That’s the whole point I’m trying to challenge.

EmmaLiz, there’s a good example right there of the attitude I’m trying to address with my posts. You @144: “But mostly it just seems you are trying to express some resentment here. Where did anyone say anything about stoopid menz or a wet place to put their dicks?” “...treat girls like they're more than a damp place to put your throbbing manhood.” DonnyKlicious @71. “All they are worth is between their legs.” Lava @24. “Wow men really do believe that women can't be anything but a sexual being with them, don't they?” Xina @16. “He’s not interested in this woman, as a person, so what does he look for in his lovers. Anything beside an open pair of legs?” Lava again. The stoopid menz was a reference to the reaction to Daddy’s and others’ posts on kissing, as well as Lava’s copious posts on the need to just pay attention to women’s body language.

I think I’m not clearly making my point. It’s not so much about this letter writer, who I tried to address and dismiss by agreeing that he was in the wrong to pursue the young woman after her clear refusal. It’s about the reaction to him. The unspoken assumptions that make people more or less angry with him, and more or less sympathetic. For example Harriet’s assertion above that wanting someone sexually means reducing them to a piece of meat, which I find an inexplicable and unhelpful attitude. Or your assumption that the LW is not interested in the young woman as a friend. You don’t know that. The quote you supplied from the letter does not prove that. It just shows that he prefers to have a sexual relationship with her. It doesn’t mean that he finds her uninteresting, or unpleasant, or that he just tolerates her company in order to have sex with her later—which seems to be the unnecessary assumption feeding a woman’s bad feelings when they find out a friend of theirs is attracted to them and “used” their friendship as a sneaky way of getting close. It just all speaks to a really unhealthy way of viewing being wanted sexually. It doesn’t have to be so damn...fraught.

For example, when I was a teenager I worked at a resort, and was driven home after a staff party by a young woman I’d been friendly with until then. She made some clear moves on me and I had to regretfully decline, as I was involved with someone else at the time. She barely spoke two words to me the rest of the season. I didn’t feel offended about that, or that she wanted to have sex with me, despite not having given any indication before. I didn’t feel like she had been “using” our friendship up until then. I just figured she felt disappointed and maybe a bit embarassed, and felt bad I couldn’t give her the kind of friendship she wanted. I don’t think I would have been annoyed with her if, a little while later, she’d tried her luck again to see if anything had changed. It’s not some outrageous transgression.

I’m trying to address what I see as a general disapproval of guys preferring not just friendship, but friendship plus sex. I see that as such an obvious preference it almost doesn’t bear stating. I get that the thread started off reacting to how the LW was disingenuous with his second invitation, which I agree was not right. If the discussion were limited to that, I’d have nothing to say. But the discussion seems to have expanded to a more general one about how men ought to act, or not act, on their interests. Or even what interests they should properly have.

Yes, people can date and be friends later. But that’s not the situation here, or the one I’m talking about. It’s more difficult when you’re just casual friends and one person has made their interest clear, and been turned down. Like my friend at the resort.

155

Late Bloomer, the LW himself said that he is not interested in spending time with her (time that he says could be better spent elsewhere) if things are not going to proceed towards some sort of sexual relationship. He literally says that now that he understands she wants only friendship, he wants to end the chatting and hanging because he could be spending that time elsewhere. This doesn't mean he would not be interested in her friendship if it came with a sexual relationship but it does certainly mean he is not interested in her friendship if it does not. Which again, is fine and I'm not criticising him for this- it's a clear and valid stance and there's nothing wrong with it (I'm criticising him for "testing her words" and pretending otherwise when he invited her out for pizza but it seems we are on the same page with that) but I don't see anything wrong with him choosing not to have a nonsexual friendship with her. I do think it's really weird that you keep arguing that he might in fact be interested with a nonsexual friendship with her when he clearly states to her he is not, and then concludes by stating it again when asking Dan if it was right for him to pull the cord (end contact with her) when he might've been able to seal the deal (have sex with her) if he'd persisted in contacting her which would mean, again, feigning an interest in friendship without the possibility of sex.

If you simply mean that he'd ALSO be willing to be friends with her if they had sex, well sure, but that's really irrelevant and I'm not sure why you are going on about that? The point is that his not interested in friendship WITHOUT sex and she has stated this is all she wants so pursuing a friendship with her on these terms is dishonest and pestering.

Regarding your disapproval more generally of situations that are not related to this case, I have not seen anyone here disagree with you so I don't know what else to say. In the quotes you name above, I'm not going back to check them all specifically so maybe you are correct about some of them, but from what I remember in context, they were referring specifically to this young man who yes, is interested in pursuing a dishonest friendship with her, does not believe the words she says, and doesn't really seem to give a shit that his sexual interest is not reciprocated or he wouldn't be asking Dan if there is some way he can continue to "seal the deal".

156

Kitten Whiskers, I’m sorry I didn’t address you directly. I had forgotten you were on this thread. I did pay attention to what you wrote, perhaps I misunderstood it. In my comment I was not trying speak on your behalf, I was just referencing your difficulties to illustrate a point. How difficult it is for a woman to simultaneously respect her own standards for being hit on, while hitting on someone else, and still getting results. Sorry if that crossed a line.

I find your first paragraph @149 a little contradictory. You seem to be saying it’s underhanded to hit on someone if you wouldn’t also be willing to be friends with them. But then you say being willing to be friends or not—neither is superior. Have I read that wrong?

I don’t know if you were around when Ophian was posting regularly, that’s the guy I was referring to in my comment. He was (is, I mean) bisexual and pretty switched on with his comments. And he did indeed say that picking up women was a whole different kettle of fish for him than picking up men, and much more challenging.

157

KW's saying basically the same thing. It's not superior one way or the other if you want friendship or not. It is superior to accurately present what it is you are looking for and to respect other's preferences as well. She can state her own preferences without taking a judgement on the superiority of others'. This is all the same point as the boy in this scenario who hears this girl say she only wants friendship without sex and yet tests her words by feigning interest in friendship without sex, then after he realizes she is telling the truth b/c she rejects his sexual advances, says he is not interested in spending time with her anymore, then asks Dan if this was the right thing to do- not because he is curious if it was somehow wrong to reject a friendship with no possibility for sex (it's not) but because he wonders if he could have "sealed the deal" if he'd proceeded to feign an interest in friendship without sex.

Your point, unless I'm misunderstanding, seems to be that he might have an interest in friendship if the relationship were also sexual. I just can't see why this matters at all to anything- either the situation, his question, the discussion, etc., since the whole point is that the girl only wants friendship without sex and the boy is absolutely clear that he does not. Therefore, yes it is unethical and objectifying and all of that for him to pretend he is interested in friendship without sex. Also, I think the reason you are feeling some bias is that almost every woman has been put in this situation, especially when they are young, and it does sting of betrayal. The problem is not that some men are not interested in nonsexual friendship- that's fine and normal- but rather that they pretend they are interested in nonsexual friendship because they hope to later get sex when in actuality, they'd prefer to spend their time elsewhere. Then women get called playing hard to get or sending mixed signals.

Now I agree with you that all these biases are unhelpful and harmful to everyone, as is the bullshit that sex + love is superior to sex based just on sexual interest, and I agree also with what you are saying regarding the complexities of sexual attraction and sexual relationships, that they can include friendship and hanging out and that it's natural that sometimes a friendship would not exist without the sexual component and yet this does not mean the friendship part of the sexual relationship isn't real. It is and I think those are all good points. But the part you aren't acknowledging is that this must be mutual for it to be this complex and interesting thing. Otherwise, it's literally just dishonest pestering.

So it's not a disapproval of a preference for friendship plus sex. It's a disapproval of feigning an interest in friendship without sex in order to one day have the friendship plus sex. And in your example, the woman hardly spoke to you again after it was clear what each of you were down for. So this is not an example of that. You can only speculate about how you'd feel if she'd pretended an interest in friendship with you after that only to consider pursuing it because she never did that. So you don't actually know. And I don't excuse wide-ranging dismissive biases, but it is simply true (as people here state) that girls experience this quite a bit more and that it sometimes comes with pestering and resentment from boys who you thought were your friends. It limits how you move about in the world. The deeper sting of it, to me, is that in the end it shows that the guy really isn't even actually interested in sex + friendship with you (but rather with some version of you in his head) because if he were, then he'd care about your mutual sexual interest which you've already stated is non existent. And that's something I just don't understand and never will- how some people can enjoy having sex with someone who isn't really into them. Like, even on a sexual level, how is that fun?

158

I’m going on about it, EmmaLiz, in response to comments like @133: “he’s not interested in her, knowing her, only fucking her”, which to my mind is loaded with unnecessarily negative false assumptions. I feel it points to a fundamental disagreement on how we experience and view and value desire and friendship, a disagreement that mostly falls down gender lines. Which makes BiDanFan’s and Kitten Whiskers’ challenges dating women so interesting to me.

Again, Harriet’s comment @153 is not something I can relate to, but it clearly resonates with a number of commenters.

159

Like, I might find any number of men hot, but for me to have actual desire to have sex with them beyond a fantasy, to actually engage in acts with them, my lust requires reciprocation. If they aren't likewise into sex with me, then my desire evaporates. So it seems really odd to me when people talk about sticking around hoping someone develops desire for them or thinking they can eventually "seal the deal". It seems selfish at best, pathetic at worst. Self-degrading- to pursue sex with someone who does not want you. And it makes you feel like a piece of meat or whatever else you are saying is bias as expressed above because the person does not care if you are into it or not. They are being selfish.

What's happening Late Bloomer (I think) is that you are seeing a push back against this and interpreting it as a bias against a preference for sex + friendship. An honestly stated preference for such a thing and a refusal to continue to engage with friendship with someone who is not also interested in sex is NOT THE SAME THING. What you are describing is fine, and in fact I think normalizing this is a good thing- stated clearly and without pressure and no mean to be rude. It's perfectly fine in my opinion to be more direct about your interests and your boundaries as discussed above by CMD etc.

But you are seeing push back against the first and trying to conflate it with disapproval of the second which I do not think is accurate.

160

@Late Bloomer,

He's not interested in knowing her, only fucking her- yes I can see why you might say this is an inaccurate portrayal because you are pointing out that he might be interested in both knowing her and fucking her. But that's beside the point because she doesn't want to fuck him. And without the fucking her, he is not interested in knowing her. This is, in itself, not a criticism. He has every right to prefer to spend his time otherwise and there is no criticism for him choosing not to be ONLY her friend. The criticism is that he knows she only wants to be friends and yet considers if he should continue to pursue a friendship with her in the hopes that he will later get to fuck her. This is literally what he asked Dan. So when you see people criticising him for having no interest in friendship with her then you are missing their point.

You are also missing mine which is that - even on your terms and not specific to this case- a person who has an interest in BOTH friendship plus sex or just a sexual lusty relationship that is entirely NSA, you cannot claim that this is not selfish if it does not take into account the mutual desires and mutual pleasure- whether it's friendly sex or anonymous sex or loving sex. And the simple fact that this boy dismisses her preference for no sex (in fact, doesn't believe her at first and then even after believing her asks Dan if there is some way he can continue) demonstrates that he is NOT in fact interested in friendship with her- certainly not without sex, but also not really even with it. Because he doesn't give a shit about what she wants. This is literally sexual objectification- it's seeking a wet place to put his dick and nothing more as you say- and this is what people are criticising. You can argue that they are generalizing to ALL MEN rather than limiting their criticism to a type and I'd agree with you on that. But you can't argue that they care criticising a preference for sexual friendship that does not include platonic friendship- that is not the same thing.

161

Sorry, slow at typing. Thanks for @157 EmmaLiz, that makes a lot of sense. I thought I did acknowledge the LW’s transgressions by saying he was in the wrong. I am happy to acknowledge again that he should not have met up with the young woman a second time after she made it clear she was only interested in friendship. “Testing her words” is a nasty way of disregarding consent.

I have to leave this discussion, but one more time: I feel like the issue with the LW’s behaviour, and people’s larger issues regarding friendship and stuff, were as usual getting tangled, and the discussion was extending beyond just a discussion of what the LW should have done or not done. I wanted to address those attitudes independent of the events in the letter. I hope that puts my comments into context. I find a lot of assumptions behind some of the comments that don’t stand up to scrutiny. See @153.

162

...for example, is it true that men just view women as a piece of meat, or is that just a lazy way of dismissing how men experience desire so that you don’t have to deal with it?

163

Real quick...yes Emma, I agree that both people in a relationship have to want the same thing. I feel that’s where both people in this letter went wrong. He assumed she might still consider having sex with her. She assumed offering friendship without sex was something he’d be interested in, when he clearly wanted sex as well. My point is both parties have to respect what the other person wants. That seems to mean in most cases, men need to respect women don’t want to have sex, just friendship. The respect doesn’t seem to return, in that women don’t respect that men would rather have sex.

164

Helenka @140: I grew up in the US (with a Christian upbringing), only moved to the UK when I was 30. Your next theory?

Late @141, thanks for clarifying. I agree with you. I don't think this letter excludes his being interested in her as a girlfriend. The only two options are not Friend or Conquest.

Late @142, fair point, but there are a few missing ingredients. Men can assume that any given woman they're speaking to has a 95% likelihood of being interested in people of his gender. With women, the odds are the other way round. The man is only wondering, "Does she like me?" while the queer woman, before she even gets there, is wondering, "Does she like girls?" The second ingredient is socialisation. Yes, men have been socialised that making the moves is up to them. Women have not. Bi women in particular have to fight our experience of being the pursu-ees and switch our brains to being the pursu-ers when it's women we're after. Thirdly, women have been warned -- and have experienced, witness this letter -- that being nice to men will give them the idea that we're interested. If a woman is showing ambiguous hints of interest to another woman, the odds are far, far greater that she is in fact just being nice. Straight women will go on at length about how gorgeous other women are, to their faces, and mean it solely as a compliment. If a woman tells a man he's gorgeous or comments on his body, she is 100% flirting. That said, yes, this stuff is an art, not a science, and misinterpretations are very easy to make when you are not unbiased and hope to see flirtation. And using words is indeed easier in theory than practice, when no one relishes the idea of rejection.

Late @143, the difference is that a man who "just" wants to get into your pants ghosts you after doing so, and that's what (most of) us want to avoid. So, no, her purpose is not "just" sex, it's a meaningful connection that includes, but is not limited to, sex.

EmmaLiz @144, if I rephrase this sentence as "Therefore, he was pretending interest in friendship when his interest was actually in dating," do you see anything in the letter that contradicts this?

Kitten @148, seconding everything you've said.

165

Alaskan @150, thanks for those clarifications. Your idea may have legs in the rare case that the person being asked is someone the asker asked out years ago, then became friends with, and during the course of that friendship struck out with many other women. But then she'd fall into the category of "trusted friend," even without the history of the rejection. So I'm still in favour of Alanmt's approach.

Harriet @151, agree.

Late @154: yes, yes it does! You're missing the "only." The "only" is the difference between genuine, if sexual, interest and objectification. Does he listen when she talks? Does he respect her timeline for dating/sex? Is he looking forward to more dates after they have sex for the first time? If the answer to any of these is no, he's treating her like a piece of meat. Perhaps this isn't a distinction you can see because you personally don't see women this way. Great! But there are plenty of men who do, and sometimes we can't tell until after they've tricked us into bed.
The woman in your story was a jerk, IMO, but the key point was that she was young. Ideally, as we get older and more experienced, we gain the maturity to not feel so embarrassed by a rejection that we can't talk to the person afterwards and treat them like a human being. Most young people don't have the self esteem to do this. They need to grow and learn. If a 35-year-old woman treated you this way, we'd all agree she was being an asshole.

The point that I agree with you on is that, from this letter, we don't know whether WUWH "only" wants to have sex, and not continue to see her afterwards in the context of a sexual relationship, which many other commenters are presuming to be the case.

166

@154. Late. People in a relationship--even the very young, blessed (perhaps) with bags of stamina and phenomenal powers of recovery--can only spend a proportion of their time together having sex. After they've had sex, or when one of them isn't feeling it, or when something has happened to give either of them pause, they will find themselves talking, sharing their views of the world. So willy-nilly they will be forced to treat each other as human beings, not walking-talking fuckdolls. I'd think, then, that there are broadly two ways into a relationship: having the hots for someone without knowing a scooby about them, and coming to an informed sense of esteem for someone which evolves into a rounded sexual interest. But, provided the relationship isn't exploitative or one-sided, both pathways (separated out a bit unnecessarily here) lead to the same kind of relationship.

The point can be blurred by being unrealistic and mocking about what e.g. 16 year-olds or less well-educated people talk about to each other e.g. Pynchon novels, or by picking up on a romantic cliche for a certain easily identified demographic e.g. walking on the beach. But it would seem more mocking (or reductive) to me to think that couples who don't tear off each other's clothes don't also have genuine one-to-ones about what they care about.

167

No, they do tear off each other's clothes.

168

@154. Late. The first thing I said--the 'bit of meat' comment--was just giving you a direct answer to your direct question @134. In fact, I was always one of the people who said that a very young guy did not need to pursue a friendship with a woman he wanted to have sex with, if his priority was finding, in short order, a sexual partner.

But, in response to the 154 post, surely if either of these two people has any right to regard the experience, as related by the guy, as a battle scar in the sex war, it's the young woman. Yes? She's clear in what she says; he treats her lightly by aiming to 'test her words', not take her at her word; afterwards, she's clearly angry, though moderate in her language and again lucid. The one dropping below a standard of clarity and good faith in their interactions is the guy. Can many women's wary or stung attitudes to het guys and dating surprise you, if this kind of thing happens a lot?

And I'm not sure anyone is disapproving of men preferring 'friendship plus sex' to friendship pure-and-simple. The cliche is of women becoming romantically interested in friends more than men, who make friends of their lovers. But I'm not sure we can generalise. I wouldn't think either attitude is taken by broad swathes of people as morally preferable.

169

@97 100% of any article I've read on like... how to approach women / when to go in for the kiss etc, if written by a woman, contains the line "We don't expect you to read minds, but pay attention to our body language!" as if that was actually advice.

170

@156 LateBloomer - I was getting a bit of a headache, so perhaps I was a bit reactive and not so clear.
"You seem to be saying it’s underhanded to hit on someone if you wouldn’t also be willing to be friends with them. But then you say being willing to be friends or not—neither is superior. Have I read that wrong?"

@157 Emma - is correct about what I was trying to say (thank you Emma) One is not superior to the other, but misrepresenting which of those you are interested in is disrespectful.

@164 Bi - does a good job explaining why I think misunderstanding is a particular danger between women (thank you Bi). There is a much lower chance of attraction between women (just statistically) and, "Straight women will go on at length about how gorgeous other women are, to their faces, and mean it solely as a compliment. If a woman tells a man he's gorgeous or comments on his body, she is 100% flirting."

Because of these two factors it's much harder to make it clear to a woman I am flirting with her, or to tell if a woman is flirting with me, as opposed to in OS interactions. The higher likelihood of misunderstanding makes me worry there is a higher likelihood a woman might think I'm misrepresenting my intentions. Even if we do become friends, a woman might be more wary, just from experience. There were guys I stayed "friends" with for years after I made it clear I just wanted to be /platonic/ friends who I ended up finding out had no respect for me as a person. There was one who did what LW did, except after 6 years, and another who drugged and raped me ("friends" 2 years).

To add to @ 164 Bi's point about "pursu-ees" and "pursu-ers": part of being in the habit of being the "pursu-ee" and being socialized as an OS woman is you're often told "he's just not that into you" if he doesn't make the first move.

171

Oh Keerist, Kitten Whiskers, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I know some men are just f*cking awful, and I guess I need to be more careful about acknowledging that. I was also reading an article today about Chanel Miller, the Stanford assault victim, who is trying to take control of the narrative that made her a perpetual victim. It’s a lame thing to say, but for every Turner, there are two Swedish exchange students who chase him off and take care of her. I guess my whole thing here in this comments section is to advocate for the Swedes among us and remind people that (I hope) they still make up the majority of men.

172

@169 (yay!) Sporty - First: I would say most places I've seen articles about how to approach women/go in for a kiss, no matter who they're by, aren't anywhere anyone should be seriously taking that sort of advice from. Second: Reading minds and reading body language isn't the same thing at all since minds don't give off signals to be read. Both are near impossible for some people, though, which is why words are great. /If/ you are someone who is fairly good at reading body language, and /if/ the situation is one where a kiss might be expected and /if/ the woman is giving off explicit signals through body language I think that's an ok time to try for a kiss without asking, though... Third: I think asking is just as good, if not better. I have always found a request for a kiss A. Hot or sweet if it is from someone I want a kiss from or B. much preferable to an attempt if it's from someone I don't want a kiss from. Fourth: Yes, there is variability among what women want, but any woman who would've /actually/ wanted a kiss (as opposed to been too uncomfortable or scared to say no) if you just went in for it, but would say no if you asked is probably not worth being involved with.

173

@171 LateBloomer - oh, by no means was I trying to say I think guys in general, or even most guys, are terrible. I have some really amazing guy friends, a couple of whom I've known for upwards of 20 years, and they've been there for me through some really rough times. I don't think there's anything wrong with you saying that yeah, there are plenty of good guys out there.

Now I think I get your earlier comment (can't quite remember... not gonna go back through the thread) about why would assume my advances had purer motives than those of the guys I'm denigrating who hit on me. I don't actually think most guys have sinister motives (though the amount that do is depressing), whereas mine are morally superior. By being a woman I'm just aware that most women have had experiences with some of those shitty people, and I don't want them to worry I might be one of them.

174

@151: Look, harriet, I absolutely respect what you've had to say in response to my now-abandoned suggestion, but please understand that I was never trying to set up anything remotely like an obligation. It wouldn't be possible to set up such an obligation anyway and I would find the idea of forcing anyone to do anything along this line to be abhorrent.

I found a line in that post deeply telling-the assumption you seemed to have, if I'm reading you rightly, that there is always a "sex war" between those you refer to as "het men" and "het women", and that such a "sex war" doesn't obtain with people of any other identities when they are attempting to connect with each other. Yes, there has been a long, long history of het men behaving badly towards het women and of too many of them being deeply ungracious, to say the very least, in response to rejection. There have been far too many het men taking the provision of sexual gratification by women as an entitlement. ALL het men who act like that simply need to stop, or must be made to stop.

Part of the intent behind what I was suggesting was the wish to reduce the conflict-based aspect of the het man/het woman dynamic. My wish, in part, was to find a way reduce or move past the "sex war" thing;

It appears, based on your own experience-experience I have no knowledge of, since we are unknown to each other and unlikely ever to meet in person-that you can't accept that it is even possible that the dynamic between het men and het women can't ever move past that war.
My own view is that it can be moved past that, and that it must be for the heterosexual wing of het women ever to be able to live in any sort of overall harmony and civility with each other.

I respect the fact that your experiences have led you to your assumptions on this, and am not in any sense trying to impose anything on you, or on anyone else for that matter.

That said, I really don't know for sure if we can say that, say, LGBTQ people interacting with other LGBTQ people are never going to do anything that echoes the way rejection plays out among het men and het women. From what I've seen, people of all identities and orientations are capable of causing tensions with each other regarding rejection, doing emotional harm to each other, playing games with each other, deceiving each other. If we're to move towards any sort of eventually-universalist future, it's hard to see what purpose there is in assuming that het men are always going to be in a special class of malevolence and harmfulness in the world of relationships.

In any case, thanks for taking the time to respond to the things I've posted.

175

See, there’s another trope I’d like to hold underwater until it stops struggling: “If he doesn’t make the first move, he’s not that into you.”

Maybe he’s not making the first move because he’s actually super respectful, perceives that you might not be in the mood to be hit on, and errs on the side of not being a drag on your evening out. Gay women aren’t the only ones who don’t want to be That Guy, if you know what I mean.

Gals who like sex and get put down as slutty
Men who think gals are just slabs of fuck putty
Only a bold guy can meet all your hopes:
These are a few of my least favorite tropes

176

Kitten @170, I join the others in offering my condolences on that shitty thing your supposed friend did to you. While this is extreme, many of us have had a similar experience of men pretending to be friends whose only interest was sexual, who hung around hoping that -we- would pick up on -their- subtle hints and initiate something romantic, then shunning us when we did not or when we turned down their eventual propositions.
Agree that we are socialised, and experience generally confirms, a general trajectory of: If you like someone, send subtle hints; if he likes you back, he will pick up on these subtle hints and make a more overt move. This does not always work -- some men like WUWH see subtle hints that aren't even there, while others miss them (until one of their friends points out, "Dude, she's hitting on you"). But it's a reasonable general template. With women those exact same subtle hints will 99% of the time be taken as mere friendliness. And being less subtle feels rude or objectifying. We don't have hours and hours of romcoms to help us out with this!

Seconding everything you've said @172 as well. Are we the same person??

Late @175, I agree that "if he doesn't make the first move, it's because he's not into you" is bull. But this is what we've been told, and this is why sometimes people who like each other take ages to get together, if it happens at all. Both are too shy to make a move. If, like me, you find yourself attracted to shy guys, you learn that you need to make that move. Which gets hella easier once you have the experience to tell you that actually, shy-ish men appreciate having the burden of move-making taken off them and nine times out of ten, if they're available, they will be receptive. Another stark contrast with what happens when one makes moves on women! In other words, my experience mirrors Ophian's.

177

@176 Bi - in regards to our similarities: One of the things I find so interesting about reading your posts is I normally wholeheartedly agree, but occasionally I vehemently disagree. It's a really unique, enjoyable combination for me.

@175 Late and @176 Bi, agreed on "If he doesn’t make the first move...”, but socialization is insidious and can't entirely be logic-ed away. The guys who I've made the move on (including my current partner) have all been really respectful in general. When something has made me insecure in such a relationship, though, I've sometimes thought, "was he even really interested in me, or did he just figure 'what the hell?' and then stay in the relationship out of convenience?". It can be hard to get rid of deeply ingrained ideas.

178

The thing about expecting guys to make the first move—or, even more motivating to guys, saying that only guys who make the first move are worth your time—is that it encourages exactly the kind of personality you don’t want in a relationship. Who is going to have the easiest time making the first move? Especially in this day and age, when women are less shy about telling guys to take a walk. Guys with thick skins who don’t care what you think, or think about them, and break the ice when there’s been no obvious invitation, or any invitation at all. And if it doesn’t work, they just try it on the next woman, until they hit someone at the right time who is like, “Ah. He’s read my interest from across the room. And he’s made the first move. Now there’s a man.” But it’s the same guy who, down the line, won’t worry too much about your needs or wants. You’re basically rewarding the behaviour you say you don’t like.

Sure, you’re also encouraging the self-confident guys who are good at reading social situations and women’s body language and would make amazing partners. But I’m guessing they’re a little more rare.

Bi, I would argue that romcoms are the opposite of helpful. Have you never noticed how many of them romanticize behaviour that would actually be criminal? Stalking, assault, setting fire to a girl’s lawn... Never mind encouraging guys to just be persistent and pushy and you’ll get the girl. I just watched Four Weddings and a Funeral again, which I vaguely remembered as a cute, quirky comedy, and realized I was watching two unpleasant train wrecks with no self-awareness or healthy boundaries or respect for their partners find each other. I was cheering for them to get together so that no one else would have to put up with them.

179

Harriet. Regarding slabs of meat. I got that you were responding to my blunt question way back at 134 or wherever. I feel you didn’t answer it. My question was why wanting to fuck someone shows a lack of interest in them, and you said because only wanting to fuck them reduces them to a slab of meat. I didn’t say anything about “only”. Wanting to fuck someone and wanting to care about them are not mutually exclusive. Besides, your statement is ridiculous. Slabs of meat are lifeless and unresponsive. No man wants that, unless they are a necrophile. Not literally, because no one visits a butcher shop when they are hard up for sex. And not metaphorically, because most men want a partner who wants them in return, and who is enthusiastic in bed. Slabs of meat do not give that gratification.

If you’re talking about objectification, I have an issue with denigrating that too, because there’s nothing wrong with having your interest stimulated by the way someone looks and moves. People are being objectified all the time and women are, strictly speaking, objects, just as men are. Men’s attraction is primarily visual, or at least a lot more so than the average woman’s, as we’ve discussed here many times before. So to get upset at men for being attracted to the shape of a woman’s body is to rail at the gods.

If you mean that just wanting to fuck doesn’t leave room for caring about the needs and wants of the person you’re physically attracted to, that’s a fair criticism, but it’s more complicated than that. You can start with desire, and then work your way to the pont where everyone’s needs are being considered. The problem isn’t wanting to have sex, the problem is being inconsiderate or oblivious or suffering from magical thinking or from unrealistic expectations. But that’s not conveyed by the expression “Guys just think of women as a slab of meat.” At least not to me. It’s an expression designed to make men feel ashamed of the way they experience desire.

180

@179 Late - I know this was to Harriet, but I wanted to respond:
"If you’re talking about objectification, I have an issue with denigrating that too"
Objectify means to view/treat a person like an object (hence the root). That's why people see it as bad.

"Slabs of meat are lifeless and unresponsive. No man wants that, unless they are a necrophile."
Obviously most men don't, but some do:
RAINN: 8/10 rapes committed by someone the victim knows
National College Women Sexual Victimization: Victims were on a date with the perpetrator in 12.8% of completed, and 35% of attempted, rapes
CDC 2015: 18.3% of contact sexual violence and 1/6 cases of coercion are from an intimate partner
U of M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness (article includes citations):
-1/3 college aged men reported some likelihood to rape if they were assured they would not be caught
-35% reported their friends approved of getting a woman drunk to have sex and 20% acknowledged having friends who have gotten a woman drunk or high to have sex

"You can start with desire, and then work your way to the pont where everyone’s needs are being considered."
I realize you weren't saying this is how you yourself function, but I think it's problematic when anybody doesn't /start/ from a place of consideration for everyone as humans with feelings. If people don't start from a basic standard of concern for everybody else's needs there's sometimes gonna be a lag between attraction and consideration.

181

Whiskers, you’ll get no argument from me that sexual assault is a huge problem and one that men need to take ownership of. None of the statistics you cite are a surprise to me. What I’m suggesting is that objectifying women is not the source of the problem. If it is, then every het man is guilty of it. But that’s not true, because the vast majority of men don’t assault. So if you’re going to shame men for...how do we want to define objectification?...desiring someone before they’ve even met them, then all you’ll do is alienate not just het men but gay men as well. Because I’m pretty sure that’s just the way we’re wired. Our desire is large parts visual—I wouldn’t be surprised if assault-y, rape-y guys and I feel desire the same way. The difference is I don’t assault women. So objectification itself can’t be the problem. The issue is what you do once you feel desire.

Do you communicate clearly and honestly? Do you pay attention to what the other person wants? Do you respect those wants? That’s where things break down. And that’s where the problem lies—in how men are taught to behave. All the little clues we get growing up about what it might mean to be a man, and what is expected of us—and all the false assumptions and unrealistic expectations we develop, too. I think that’s what will determine whether a man feels entitled to take what he wants and to hell with what anyone else feels. And right now I think there is a lot of confusion for young men about what is expected of them. There is a lot of conflicting influence, and no clear narrative to hold on to.

So the problem is men shaming other men for not being sexually successful. The problem is men thinking that women experience desire the same way they do. And vice versa. The problem is berating young men for doing what rom coms teach them to do. The problem is rom coms. The problem is shaming men for wanting to have sex, so they feel they have to hide their true intentions. The problem is telling men to just read body language, without acknowledging that body language is ambiguous. The problem is women encouraging assertive men, and then getting upset at them for continuing to be assertive. The problem is a guy wanting sex so badly he overrides all his better instincts. The problem is boys being assaulted and growing into damaged men. The problem is convincing yourself that a woman is socialized to say no, so she really means yes when she says no, and it’s okay. The problem is any one of the self-serving deceptions a guy uses to convince himself that reluctance is consent. And so on etc.

But if objectifying a woman is the problem, then we’re doomed, because I don’t think you can change that. It’s pure sensation. I can’t help being attracted to a well put-together woman. I see, and I want. And I’m baffled by women saying they’re attracted to a guy who plays guitar; or is good with kids, or whatever. I’ve been assuming all along that’s how other men function as well, and would be willing to change that view with compelling evidence otherwise. But I’ve had it kindasorta confirmed here by reading how a trans man’s experience of desire changed once he started taking testosterone shots to transition from female to male.

182

I’m assuming no one else is wasting their time reading this thread, otherwise I’d be embarrassed about these freaking essays I’m writing.

183

Late @178, you're using a cartoonishly narrow definition of "make the first move." No, we don't want a man who walks into a room, immediately hits on the first woman there, if rebuffed moves on to the next woman, etc. This is not the strategy anyone who talks about men being expected to make the first move is talking about. "First move" is not "immediate move." Ideally we want men who are picky and make moves on us in particular because they like us in particular, after having enough interaction with us to know they like us as a person and vice versa.

Romcoms are full of problematic stuff, for sure, but you've nailed the trope we've all internalised: "encouraging guys to just be persistent and pushy and you’ll get the girl." We expect guys to be persistent and pushy if they like us. I'm not trying to argue that the way we have been socialised is good -- quite the opposite! -- simply that no corresponding socialisation exists for queer relationships. If you're talking about men and women, who makes the move? The man! If you're talking about women and women, who makes the move? Well, clearly not the man, because there is no man, so far too often the answer ends up "neither of you," which is the problem I have been trying to underline. I agree completely, we need to get rid of that hetero template, and personally I do my best to undermine it wherever possible. When Kitten and I describe the differences between M/F and F/F flirtation, we're not prescribing, merely describing. Ideally everyone would have the confidence to make carefully selected and respectfully coached moves on anyone, regardless of gender; to say yes or no without feeling pressured; and to gracefully accept "no's" without it zapping their self esteem. The only problem with all of this is that we're all flawed human beings, rendering all these shoulds far easier said than done.

Late @179: "My question was why wanting to fuck someone shows a lack of interest in them." And that's why I didn't understand your question. Because it doesn't. Not without that "only" which changes everything.
You are being too literal with the expression "slab of meat." It does not mean the person is inanimate; it means only that the treater-of-person-as-meat cares only about their body, not their mind or personality.
"If you mean that just wanting to fuck doesn’t leave room for caring about the needs and wants of the person you’re physically attracted to, that’s a fair criticism, but it’s more complicated than that." That's what you're missing: for some men, it's not. These are the guys we are talking about when we say "guys just think of women as slabs of meat." This isn't an expression intended to shame men for experiencing desire; it's an expression that describes the way some men express that desire. If it prompts you to do or feel anything, that's to be aware that when you talk to a woman, you're talking to someone who has been objectified umpteen times by men, so if you are interested in her as a human being you need to convey that. (General you; I'm sure specific you, if anything, err on the side of not being proactive enough!)

Kitten @180: Eh, I am with LateBloomer here. The first thing one notices about someone is the way they look. You can't start by appreciating their personality. I agree that what most of us want is someone to think "That person is very attractive, I'd like to get to know them and see if they're someone I'm interested in developing a relationship with that includes sex and conversation and fun dates" rather than "That person is very attractive, I'd like to fuck them." But that's what our lizard brain says; that IS the first thought in our heads. And I agree with other commenters who've said that as long as you're clear about that, there's nothing inherently wrong with it. It's reductive to claim all women want relationships, none of us want casual sex. Sometimes we do; sometimes we see men as slabs of meat, too! But that's not incompatible with "a basic standard of concern for everybody else's needs." So long as you ascertain that the other person's need is also strictly physical in nature and aren't deceiving them about yours, go for it. Sure, if that's all you're after, that narrows your prospects considerably, but as long as you're being honest about it, everyone's happy. (Have you never had a relationship grow out of a slab-of-meat encounter? I have, including my former marriage!)

Late @181, I agree it's the actions one takes rather than the desire they feel that is the problem. Desiring someone isn't wrong; letting your desire override their needs, preferences, or consent is wrong.

184

I'm reading and please keep the essays coming.

185

@LateBloomer - One of the tropes I would like to see die is that men are visual and women are not. Generally speaking, I think it's more a case of women being visual plus a bunch of other stuff that is less important to some men, at least when it comes to sexual interest. For relationships, I think most men do seek a higher degree of compatibility that goes beyond only visuals.

Speaking only for myself, even though I enjoy casual sex, I don't have sex with guys I'm only visually attracted to, and I don't have sex with guys who don't at least seem genuinely engaged with me as a person. Lots of reasons for this, some of which are more common among women, I think. First, even technically great sex feels no better to me than masturbation unless I feel chemistry with the person. For me, chemistry requires mutual interest that is more than just visual. In fact, I find masturbation superior to sex without chemistry because then I don't have to deal with immediately being fixated on when the guy will go away after we have sex and because then I won't have to deal with rejecting the guy when he reaches out to have sex or go on a date or whatever because the sexual chemistry just wasn't compelling enough for me to do it again and/or because talking to him after sex was boring or annoying. Additionally, it is my preference to see casual sex partners on an ongoing basis, often for years. This would not be sustainable without sufficient mutual interest that goes beyond the visual.

186

Thanks for referencing the rom coms...I think they've been a major source of trouble on this for a long time...it was roms that established the idea that women do(or should) "play 'hard to get'" and, far worse, that men should never take "no" for an answer, BECAUSE the women who are rejecting them are simply "playing hard to get" and will eventually "give in". This raises a real question as to how what percentage of marriages in this country, especially after the onset of "the talkies", were the result by movie and tv-influenced ultrastalking.

It just needs to be made easier, somehow, for people to communicate in straightforward means, for emotional risk to be minimized, for the structure of dating and relationship-stalking to somehow be changed to that it doesn't end up rewarding the aggressive and the thick-skinned while sidelining those who can't just "shake it off" if they get shot down in flames and those who might be good partners at some level but simply aren't naturally good at "taking hints". Hinting is a truly wack method of communicating anything and, while everyone should be attentive, it's hard to see what good it does.

If the communication were made straight-forward, I'd say there'd be far fewer creeps-and I'm pretty sure there are creeps and cheats and users in any orientation and in any identity, most likely.

Why not just find the way to make it easier on everybody? Somehow, someway, there has to be a means of getting to that that both protects everyone from harm and saves everyone from isolation and lonliness.

Why not get people together to try and come up with something like that?

187

@185–Okay. Just to be clear, I’m not saying women aren’t visual at all. And that men can’t learn to channel a fundamentally objectifying desire productively.

But there has to be something at the root of our ability to endlessly miscommunicate. If it’s not the visual component then there’s something else beyond socialization. I find women making the most bizarre assumptions about men sometimes, and I’m sure I return the favor. All the usual caveats about general statements apply, but I feel that women and men start from different positions, with different assumptions and expectations, and don’t realize they’re not seeing or experiencing exactly the same thing when they think they’re discussing the same topic, ie desire and how to fulfill it. And I don’t see the same dynamic playing out amongst gay men—Harriet alluded to that in his last paragraph @152 above.

I look to trans men to shed some light on the difference, because they have lived both sides of the experience. If you’re interested, here’s a clip of a couple of trans guys chatting about the difference in sex drive before and after T. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JEFOcqe_7sg

And while interesting, I feel it doesn’t address what I think must be a difference in quality in the experience of desire between the genders that I had confirmed for me in an article about transitioning that I can’t find.

Also, thanks for the reassuring vote of confidence, RE.

188

Whoops. Apparently I have to do some kind of magic to make that a hyperlink.

189

@188 LateBloomer
"Apparently I have to do some kind of magic to make that a hyperlink."

No power in the universe can make that a hyperlink, but people can just highlight and right click it.

190

@181 Late - I think we're pretty much in agreement, just using slightly different definitions of "objectify". A couple I found online were "degrade to the status of a mere object" (Oxford) "to treat as an object" (Merriam-Webster). I don't have a problem with visual-based attraction and I agree men (or anyone) shouldn't be shamed for experiencing desire that is solely visual or physical. Anytime we're attracted to someone we just have to be aware they aren't objects so that whatever action we choose to take we make sure we are taking that into account. I also agree there are a huge range of actual issues that cause male violence, and that's an essay/discussion in itself.

@185 futurecatlady - I'm also of the opinion women are quite visual and they just sometimes put more weight on other considerations than men. Even on a practical level the one truly random hookup I ever had was total crap because the guy didn't care about making me feel good. If I don't at least kind of get to know a guy I have no way of knowing what he'll do (safety-wise either).

@183 Bi (and Late) - I guess I was unclear in my response to the "slab of meat" comment. I don't have a problem with people wanting someone on nothing more than a physical level. I interpreted "slab of meat" as ignoring that a person has any internal world of their own. I believe everybody needs to start from a place of awareness of everyone's humanity, otherwise people lose sight of other people as anything but mere "slabs of meat" or "things" to satiate their wants and needs.

@178 Late, @183 Bi, @186 Alaskan - RomComs, ugh. As Late said about Four Weddings...in so many of those movies the only good thing is that train wrecks getting together means no one else has to put up with them.

@187 Late - I think a large portion of miscommunications actually come from socialization and cultural differences that are attributed to male/female differences. Whatever actual differences there are get magnified in different ways and to a different degree depending on how men and women are socialized in their community (country, city, family, religion, school, sports, etc.). Just a theory.

@182 Late - half the time I assume nobody reads my posts cause brevity is not my strong suit.

191

@187 @LateBloomer I don't know what anybody's desire is like but my own. It ranges from mildly interested to completely out of control, explosive and desperate. But I do know that when I have sex with someone who I don't really enjoy personally but do enjoy staring at, it is not only not a worthwhile experience for me but actually causes a bunch of problems. Even if that person feels okay being sexually objectified by me, the best case scenario for me is that I have a few orgasms (which I can accomplish by myself), suffer through talking with someone whose company I don't enjoy while figuring out how to get them to go away, and then have to deal with rejecting them, sometimes a dozen times before they stop bothering me. This is not the case when I enjoy the person's company. Hypothetically speaking, I would guess I'd find being serviced through a glory hole a better experience than sex with someone whose company I don't enjoy because then I wouldn't have the negative stimulus to deal with. But I am also the type to prefer to do really any leisure activity by myself rather than doing that activity with someone whose company I do not enjoy. Maybe guys are not like this? Like maybe two guys who like fishing but find each other boring would still prefer to fish together just for the company, I don't know. Maybe they can stick to fish talk and make it work.

If someone who doesn't particularly enjoy me wants to have sex with me because they find me visually attractive, and I'm under the false impression we like each other personally, this can also be problematic for me because great sex makes me want more great sex and someone who secretly doesn't enjoy me is going to treat me like shit at best and disappear at worst. Then I'm in a position where I'm more desperate for sex than I was in the first place but the object of my desire is unavailable or an asshole.

I do think men and women make a lot of weird assumptions about each other, and of course even those on the right track are still generalizing.

192

@172 The point is that "reading body language" might as well be reading minds - there's no standard for what body language means X or Y and people don't utilize body language intentionally 99% of the time. For the most part, reading body language is reading someone's mind, since it's not a conscious action. Anyone on a date trying to send welcoming messages with body language is... doing it wrong.

@185 isn't there some direct science that men are literally more visual?

@190 I think that a functional definition of Objectification should be in denying humanity. Simply thinking someone is attractive, wanting merely to use them for sexual gratification, is not on it's own objectifying in any meaningful way, since most human relationships are not about the value of human connection. None of us, I assume, know Dan personally, but still enjoy him in a fair manner - yet we're still turning him into a sex-advice object. If Dan were to go into a different field, even within journalism - say, sportswriting - and we told him to stick to sex advice regardless of the quality of those columns or the people that wanted to engage with him over that, I think that'd be objectifying?

193

@192 @Sportlandia - I would argue that both genders are very "visual" and that women tend to also have many non-visual considerations, some of which enhance a partner's overall attractiveness and some of which can make a visually attractive partner totally sexually unattractive. It has also been my experience that it's quite typical for a man to find something like a third to half of all women attractive enough sexually for a single encounter while women typically find perhaps one tenth as many men sexually attractive. So it seems women are typically far more selective sexually. That doesn't mean they are ten times more visually discriminating, obviously. But visuals are usually at least one aspect of the overall attraction.

197

@192 Sporty - I think flirting is one of the times people do use body language purposefully. That difficulty in interpreting body language, though, is why I think most of the women on here say asking is either just as good or better than making a move.

Regarding men being more visual: my understanding (when I was keeping up) is that there are some differences in processing, but it's hard to compare because there are so many factors. Women react to sexual stimuli differently throughout the month, there is a much greater amount of discordance in women between "subjective" (physical) measures of arousal and reported levels of arousal (and they aren't really sure what that means), plus they don't entirely know how birth control effects arousal in women. Women seem to prefer porn chosen by women and men by men (which might effect how society thinks about women's relationship to porn) and who knows how other sociological factors we can't control for are effecting studies.

Differences: They think women prefer porn where they can project themselves into one of the roles, whereas men just watch the actors. To @ futurecatlady's point: eye tracking showed women pay more attention to non-sexual details (like relationship between the actors), so women focus on factors that aren't important to men in those situations. Women have also been shown to have more equal subjective attraction to any sexual stimuli (like the bonobo study) and equal reported attraction to m vs f while men show a strong preference based on their sexuality.

As far as neurology I don't know much.. here's an article I found from 2019:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/universal-desire-men-and-women-respond-identically-to-erotic-images/

198

Late, just one addition to a throwaway comment of yours when you said that men are purely visual when it comes to desire whereas women are attracted to things like whether a man can play the guitar or is good with children. This took me aback because for me, playing the guitar IS a component of pure animal attraction. If I see a reasonably attractive guy at a bar, I'll probably clock it, no more. If I see this same guy on stage playing the guitar, immediately his sexual currency goes up three or fourfold, because musical talent is sexy to me. That's my lizard brain. My brain isn't thinking "I wonder whether this guitar-playing dude holds feminist principles, or can cook, or will love my cat." It's thinking the equivalent of "nice tits." This is why groupies are a thing.

I agree with Kitten that sending body-language signals on a date is at least in part conscious and intentional. It's called flirting. Picking up on signals like holding eye contact and smiling, shuffling to sit closer instead of pulling away, maintaining focus on one person in a group conversation, initiating subtle contact like touching someone's hand or hair are objectively observable actions. They are not at all like reading someone's mind. And agree with everything FutureCat @193 said about women being visual.

Alaskan @186, romcoms did not invent the "men pursue, women play hard to get" trope. NoCute can give you some recommendations of 19th century literature where this already was very much the case. Romcoms use this trope because viewers identify with it because it mirrors their experience, and it becomes a vicious circle of influencing viewers -- particularly young and personally inexperienced ones -- to believe that this is normal and reasonable rather than to challenge that stereotype.

199

@174. Alaskan. Can relations between het men and women, even het men and women who are strangers to each other and dating, ever move past a 'sex war'? Yes. Yes, they can--and two open-minded straight daters, from the outset, can approach each other without preconception and without needing to adopt a mindset of wariness or antagonism. Further, wanting to make this a norm, and to dissolve all the tired priors that come with the 'sex war'--that the man is more interested in sex; that the woman is trying to entrap the man--is an estimable aim. So I agree on your essential point. You, presumably as an insider to het dating, and I, as an outsider, participant and report-dump, can converge on this moral point.

I'd think there are 'battle lines' in the sex war--and any honest het dater would attest to and be familiar with them. The language of OS dating speaks of them--not being ready for a commitment, only being interested in sex, going too fast, not putting out, playing hard to get etc. etc. My own sense is that there is more of a solidarity among participants in gay dating, despite the inevitable friction and embarrassment of mismatches and misunderstandings in any intimate interaction. That is, one more often says, 'no, thanks' without any sense of being part of a group and having recourse to a common script.

But I'm pleased to agree on your main point.

200

@179. Late. There is nothing demeaning or 'reducing' in the impulse to want to have sex with someone. Whether it's a man, a woman or someone else who has that urge.

In real life, it's difficult to be able to entertain the 'purely' sexual impulse without other circumstances to do with this person impinging on the desire--maybe strengthening it, complicating it, moderating it, or at any rate making your bearing towards the object of your desire more than 'I wanna fuck'. Let's say you're at a nightclub that's a hook-up joint. There is still a lot of information you get from someone's clothes, their manner, gestures, accent, that become part of your relationship to them. Perhaps you just want sex; but in these conditions, it's likely you've entered into a fairly specific, maybe even complicated human relationship or contract in order to gratify your mutual desires. We would ordinarily think some actions, even in an exclusively sexual context, violate this 'contract'.

What I would think of as using someone as 'meat' is ignoring, being impatient with, the other things about someone that make them human because you want to get straight down to the fucking. They start to talk about whatever interests them--whatever: carbon capture and storage; Appalachian folk tunes; deconstruction--and you (one) think/s, 'bored already, because this isn't the part where they take off their pants'.

Do I think some people's behavior manifests this attitude? Yes. Are some of them men? Huh-huh.

201

Bi, that is totally bizarre and not relatable to me. A woman’s attractiveness on stage has everything to do with her shape, and maybe her energy and how she moves, and nothing to do with the damn guitar she’s holding and how well she plays it. The woman beside me in the crowd could be more attractive.

Which, again, suggests to me different experiences of desire being the root of at least some of our misunderstandings. But I’ll buy that socialized roles, bad prior experiences, unhelpful tropes, and different social abilities make the whole thing a lot more complicated.

202

@183. Bi. I don't date women in the (or a) heterosexual manner because it would default to the script of the 'man' making the move--and that's not how I see myself, nor how I'd want to be seen. However, the idea of 'persons dating persons', without anyone having an evident gender identity or affiliation to the whole history of one side's part in patriarchy, is just a pipedream.

203

@65 said exactly what I was going to say. Well played 65, well played. Weird if he lives in a four bedroom house. Not weird if he's in a typical early 20s living situation.

204

I've banged on about this before, but when we talk about horniness as just being down to fuck a certain person in a certain time/place (which I think is a rather narrow definition of it, but let's roll with it here) then yes men are usually more horny more often in more situations than would be women in the same (again, if we are defining it as being down to fuck at any certain time/place etc).

So if you blindfold loads of guys and then let them feel some breasts, more of them are going to become horny from the experience than if you blindfold loads of women and let them feel some balls. Yet we don't run around saying men are just naturally more tactile than women.

Likewise, with phone sex- it's more common for dudes to get off on hearing a woman say she wants to fuck than it is for women to get off hearing guys say the same. But we don't run around saying men are just naturally more auditory than women.

So this "oh men are more visual" shit is junk in my (unscientific) opinion.

I think the difference goes back to how we define horniness. Generally speaking, women's sexuality is more contextualized - it's not experienced in the same way. So a man is going to be more likely (generally again) to 'get horny' from any individual or decontextualized stimuli than a woman would from the same, and the woman is going to be.

205

@Late Bloomer (re the guitar) exactly- see that's the difference.

I don't want to say that male sexuality is simplistic because I think sometimes it can be very complex- there's a full range. But we are just talking about lust here, not people with whom we are in relationships. So just on a pure lust level.

And in that way, male sexuality is more simple and also linear. Stimuli causes horniess which is a willingness to fuck which might or might not be very satisfying but which will probably end in orgasm for the dude and a moment of being sated.

Just your words show it- a guitar she's holding. Like it's an object (decontextualized) again, instead of the scene BDF is taking in. It's not that he's holding an object nor that he has learned to play it well (which is about years of practice and individual talent which might be interested if I got to know him but in the moment when I'm just horny for him is irrelevant and wouldn't cross my mind). It's the entire scene. Yes, the way he looks and moves on stage. But also the effect of the music, the energy of the crowd, our focus on this one guy, the fact that he is centered, his charisma, his presence, his ability to sway everyone around him, the way he's riffing with and listening to the others in his band, the performance of it- this is all extremely sexy, and I mean this on a purely lust level. The guy next to me listening, though he might be just as hot or hotter, does not have any of this going on in that moment.

And I think that for women, being horny does not always mean being down to fuck. Because in a lot of cases, it would not be a pleasant experience and would not lead to being sated.

So you combine all these things, and female sexuality is more contextualized and more about the experience of the situation. It's not so much a response to any particular stimuli as it can be more often for men.

But I think it's a cart before the horse thing to conclude from this that men are just more naturally X or Y. It's a man's way of understanding it because all these words are defined by men- female sexuality judged by the standards of male sexuality.

I could speculate about why it is- it makes sense to me that women are going to think that they might have a better time with a guy who has already demonstrated that he has the admiration of others, that he's in tune with other's pleasure, that he can play along with a group, etc- that this is why groupies are a thing from the point of view of an animal brain. Playing in a band in front of a crowd requires you to pay attention to the responses of a lot of people around you- people talk about the ego of rock stars and while that's certainly a thing, being a good musician requires a person to listen and respond, to know when to center yourself and when to complement others, to take your cues from the audience, to respond to feedback in the moment in a flexible way- all things that are also necessary to be a good lover and that would be desirable for a woman who wants to have a good experience in bed (since simply the repetitive friction applied to genitalia won't do the trick for most women in the absence of this other attentiveness. Men obviously prefer good sex too, but for most guys, they will cum if you apply repetitive friction to their dicks long enough.)

But while maybe that's triggering some of the stuff in my animal brain, in real life I've found that musicians aren't any more or less likely to be good in bed than nonmusicians, though they are more likley to be intoxicated and also to get laid more so I'd say they tip towards being less good in bed. I know this from experience, and nonetheless, I still find guys on stage with guitars to be hot. LIzard brain, I think.

I can also say from experience that there really isn't an uptick in interest from guys if you are the female musician on stage- in fact I think it's sort of the opposite and it creates a bit of a barrier.

206

@205 @EmmaLiz Regarding your comment "female sexuality is more contextualized and more about the experience of the situation. It's not so much a response to any particular stimuli as it can be more often for men." I can say one exception to this for a lot of women is that having great sex with a particular person the woman desires can be stimulus that ratchets up desire in the short-term. I'm rarely more on fire with desire than I am in the 10 minutes to 48 hours after having an incredible sexual experience. While some men are happy to go several rounds, I'd say it seems to me like this is the time period when men are more likely to feel sexually satisfied and less desperate for sex. Nature's little joke. And yes, admiration of some type of skill or talent is definitely an aphrodisiac for me, providing there is a baseline of existing attraction.

207

EmmaLiz, that is a fantastic analysis. I think you’ve convinced me. I can’t account for Kitten Whiskers’ article about men and women being equally visual, which apparently is the hot-off-the-presses latest from our MRI machines, and at the same time account for the experience of trans men transitioning. Wish I could find that damn article. But their dramatically increased intensity of desire, as well as the change to the immediacy of their experience, your take accounts for all that. And Bi’s guitar as well, as you say.

Yes, I’m defining horniness as DTF. What do you mean about that being a narrow definition? I may be misunderstanding you, but I think if you’re talking about a different state of mind, there should be another word for it, because what help is using one word for two different experiences? Like, maybe a word that isn’t in common currency because sexuality has been described and defined, as you say, in male terms for so long. I don’t mean to be rude, but I feel like you’ve just said something similar to, “If you’re going to define the taste of an orange narrowly as what an orange tastes like, then yes, obviously, oranges are going to taste like oranges most often.”

Maybe cockyballsup can back me on this one, but I get the sense that when men are interested in men (going back to Ophian), there’s not the same reproach or stigma about expressing sexual interest in someone you’ve been friends with. Or just met, for that matter. So it seems to me when you understand someone else’s experience of desire, the assumptions that create offense and misunderstanding fall away. I’m banging on about understanding each others’ experience of desire so that people can explain it in words that make sense to others who don’t have the same experience, which hopefully means everyone can get less annoyed with each others’ baffling behaviour.

And I feel that could go both ways a lot better than it does now. I’d say that men are the daft ones who need to pick up their game, because our experience is in fact more simple and direct, by and large. But the surprise from trans men about the scale of the change in their desire suggests to me that women don’t quite appreciate the difference either.

A better vocabulary would help with the the misunderstandings around the whole issue of needing to connect before having sex, whereas for men the sex is the connection, and why wouldn’t you want that?—which your view also nicely accounts for. Or sex being a way to relieve stress vs. sex being impossible if stressed. And other differences.

208

Bi, Late, Emma, future - re: female sexuality
being more contextualized - there's an evolutionary phsychology theory. Studies have actually shown that women do pay more attention to context (in eye tracking studies while watching porn, getting more turned on by literature that includes non-sex-specific details) and the idea is that it has to do with mating strategies.

Since men can reproduce more often they're only looking at physical cues for a good reproductive partner. Women meanwhile can't reproduce as often, so on top of physical characteristics of fitness, they need(ed) a partner that demonstrates the ability to care for a child with them. So women, even at a purely "animal attraction" level, also look at things like skills (guitar playing) or positive social indicators (ability to respond to a crowd or cooperate with a band).


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