This is the first time I hoped this was an old column from the freaking 90s where this sort of stuff was still growing on the culture like a mold, but no. Two thousand freaking nineteen. We're fucking doomed.


[roll eyes emoji] how old is LW?


I don't see anything especially odd about this. She sent mixed signals, he pursued, she said no again, he's moving on. I wouldn't call his behavior angry or butthurt - just slightly confused.

As a side note: DO go in for the kiss. A vast majority of women prefer a male partner to take initiative rather than ask. If she's not into it just move on as if it never happened.


She did NOT send mixed signals. She said quite clearly that she only wanted to be friends - why didn't he just take her at her word instead assuming she was "playing hard to get"and trying to "test" her? He was the one sending mixed signals - saying, "Yeah, let's be friends" then trying to come onto her. I wonder if men know how annoying and disenheartening that is for women?

Can't men comprened that women LIKE TO BE FRIENDS with guys, would like to hang out, chat, have pizza, and leave as friends?

I think her time is better spent elsewhere than with an asshole who is only trying to get into her pants and doesn't actually care anything about her.


Aw crap. Was I supposed to bone everyone on whose bed I ate pizza and chilled? And vice versa?

Man, where was the Emily Post Guide to Pizza and Chilling when I was in college?


@3: Really? I think Dan's tip about kissing is outstanding.


Sorry Dan, I understand the messaging, but plenty of poeple find being asked if someone can kiss them to be incredibly unsexy.

BUT that also doesn't make lunging at someone to give them a kiss a good idea much less sexy either.

If you want to kiss someone, first determine if they will even tolerate you in their personal space. Are you sitting next to them? Do they move closer or further away if you touch their shoulder or arm? If they move closer, what happens if you gently touch them behind their ear? If they don't turn away, slowly move your head close to theirs, but stop before you actually kiss them. Close maybe 80 percent of the distance.

If they want to kiss you, they'll complete the remaining 20 percent. If not, say something nice like "You know you have dazzling eyes" and go back to eating your pizza.

So yeah, never lunge at someone. But it's also not always incredibly sexy to verbally ask either.


Also, if LW spends his dates trying to figure out if she wants to kiss him, he's probably a pretty interminable date.

LW should focus on whether his date is entertained and having a good time, and he often won't have to wonder if his date wants to kiss him because she will be.


@5: Are you European? Then yes, probably.


NO, I am not interested in getting romantically/sexually involved with you.
YES, I am interested in having pizza and hanging out with you.

I'm not seeing the "mixed signals" or implied "second chance" here. Pizza ≠ romantic interest.


@2: dude! He’s ya boi!


Nothing like run-on sentences and weird one-liners about birth order to try to woo a girl. And eating pizza on a bed. Is this a frat bro or something?


Another rude and ignorant young man. She didn’t come across so he won’t be wasting time hanging out being friends with her. She dodged a bullet.


Wow men really do believe that women can't be anything but a sexual being with them, don't they?


Eating pizza while hanging out on a bed sounds like he lives in a studio. If not it sounds gross. Either way nothing inherently romantic.

If you come across as awkward asking for a kiss you will also probably come across awkwardly just leaning in for one because you are an awkward person and probably will choose the wrong moment just like you choose the wrong words. Sorry.


Why would anyone try to kiss somebody who said they weren’t interested in dating?


I agree with @blondegrrl. The guy is the one sending mixed signals if anything—she said she wasn’t interested in a relationship, he said okay I get it, let’s have pizza as friends, then he proceeded to make a move. I was disappointed in Dan’s response. It’s really quite sexist to say that a woman agreeing to hang out with a man is her being potentially interested in a relationship with him. Thankfully, Dan underlined the fact that even a potentially interested woman has the right to say no at any time—but it’s frustrating that his answer fed into the narrative that women should always know men want to fuck them even when they say they just want to be friends. I’ve been in similar situations with guys multiple times—they say they just want to be friends, then are shocked when they make a move and i say I’m not interested in more than friendship! It’s gotten to the point where I’ve concluded it’s easier not to be friends with straight guys at all, because whenever I hang out with them they assume I’m into them. That sucks! I hope someday straight guys figure out that women usually mean it when they say “I just want to be friends.” Then maybe I won’t have to rule out friendships with 40% of humanity.


If somebody can't or won't talk about whether they want to kiss, they probably can't or won't talk about sex, and we're not compatible. They can run with Sporty.


Yeah I don't think this was a second chance. He was "testing her words" while she thought he was hearing her words. Both young enough (I hope it's youth) not to recognize the mismatch immediately, but she's clearly got it now ("cool" = phew), and... I hope he does real soon.


I really was impressed by Dan's answer, because I was all ready for a tirade at the LW (telling him he wasn't woke enough, guys today should know this shit already etc)... but Dan instead pointed out that the guy hadn't actually done anything wrong — he didn't go in for the kiss, he didn't get mad at the woman (though her version of the story might be different). What the LW says makes him look perhaps a little clueless (or confused about something that shouldn't be confusing), but not actually mean or entitled — he didn't go past what she said she wanted, and he didn't allow her to believe he wanted something he didn't want (platonic friendship) in order to get something he did want (superhot first-born/last-born kisses... not really my thing but if that's his thing then by all means he should be free to seek them out).

It just cheered me up today to read this letter from a guy, who clearly isn't reading the same buzzfeed articles I'm reading, folllowed by Dan's telling him that he did a basically right thing, especially given that he wanted to do something else (and we still live a culture that tells straight guys they can do a lot of other things besides the right thing, if they want to).

On the other hand, the detailed instructions from biggie and Dadddy for how to kiss someone without talking to them about it... I don't think these would have served the LW well at all in the situation he described. And personally, I mean, I get that some people find using words to be awkward, but what you're describing sounds MEGA-awkward to me. Nothing irritates me more than a guy who's convinced he's being really suave with slick unspoken moves that I'm just bound to fall for... That doesn't mean that I always use words for everything, or insist that every guy I'm with uses words for everything... but, for real, putting your face 80% closer to mine is not a move that's going to sell me on a kiss, unless I already want to kiss you, in which case pretty much anything you do is going to work. If I DON'T want to kiss you, then your word-less moves are really going to make me very uncomfortable. And after the uncomfortable moment passes, which I really hope it does, wordlessly pretending it didn't happen is going to be even worse.


Maybe these sorts of men who find being around a woman, except to fuck, is way out of their comfort zone, have their own self image problems. All they are worth is between their legs.


Age has nothing to do with this LW’s attitude. Offensive attitude.
Women are not there for you to insert your dick into LW, they are whole people and whatever age you are, it’s about time you learnt that.
Contrary to some incel advice above, if you develop empathy towards the whole woman, you will know when a kiss is welcome.


I used to be firmly in the camp that asking if one could kiss someone was awkward and killed the spontaneity and the excitement. "Please, may I kiss you?" followed by "Please, can I touch your breast through your shirt?" to "Would you mind putting your hand on my crotch?" Boy, did it sound un-sexy in my head.

But you know what? When some guy said, "I'm dying to kiss you right now. Can I?" and another guy said, "I really want to ----," and waited for my reply, it was /VERY/ sexy indeed.

A statement of desire, punctuated by a smoldering look is sexy and exciting. There's a world of difference covered by phrasing, delivery, and sexy eye contact. You can convey desire, affection, even the interest in dominating or submitting through tone of voice, and specific phrasing. The important thing is that the other person should feel free to decline. Spontaneity is nice, but in these cases, we lost maybe 20 seconds of spontaneity but gained the knowledge that the communication was clear and everyone who was 'there' wanted to be 'there.' Worth it. And I had the opportunity to hear how much I was desired, which is a total turn-on, if it's reciprocated, and to make it clear that I returned the desire, which I think was appreciated.

AND, should I not have been interested in sex, but only wanted the equivalent involvement of sitting on a (dorm room?) bed and eating some pizza and chatting about classes and pop culture, I was afforded the opportunity to--albeit awkwardly--have to say, "thanks, but I just want to be friends," before having to shove some over-eager would-be conquest off of me.

It's true that there is a lot of non-verbal communication that can signal interest on both sides, but why not state your desire explicitly, make that stated desire sexy as opposed to servile, and know for certain where everyone stands?


@9 and @17 haha! Spare us you explaining your moves like you’re Vinny telling the Sweathogs how it’s done! Hahaha!


@27 Hahaha I’m 40 and I only know what you are talking about thanks to Nick at Nite


@27/28: the Sweathogs! Made my night!


@3 Sportlandia, @9 biggie, @17 daddy... Please nobody give this clueless nimrod the advice that he should just make a move rather than asking first! Yeah, some people can read signals and body language, but this guy definitely ain't one of 'em. He can't even understand explicitly stated words.

He is still confused after: date; text from her: "I'm not interested in a relationship"; him a while later: "let's hang out"; he makes a move her: "remember that whole thing where I said I wasn't interested? Yeah, still the case"; her again via text: "so this time you really get that I'm not interested, right?"; him via text: "well now I I don't want to hang out or talk anymore"; him to DS: "so she's obviously sending mixed signals. Is there a way I can still hook up with this chick?"


@blondegrrl, @oldcollegetry - seconded (thirded?). She was most definitely not sending mixed signals and I was also disappointed Dan said that. The only way for her to not "send mixed signals" would have been to never try to be friends with bi/straight men. If a woman hangs out with a guy it means she's interested and if she explicitly states otherwise it's mixed signals - god forbid we just take a woman at her word. She even followed up after their non-date hang out, seemingly without him reaching out, to make sure that this time he was clear on the fact that she wasn't interested in being more than friends. He didn't "use his words", to quote Dan, until she explicitly stated she just wanted to be friends 3 separate times.


"There's nothing unsexy about being asked for a kiss"



@Daddy Seriously? Everything you describe sounds downright creepy. If the woman is not interested, or on the fence, it’s sure to send many or most of us running. And even for a guy that you’re into, you’re going to wonder why he’s acting so weird and get second thoughts.


@3 -- " A vast majority of women prefer "
Is that statement based on some incredible mountain of research you have done interviewing ~4 billion women on Earth but haven't yet published out of some sort of hope for a PhD dissertation?

Or are you just making shit up?

Also, see @30/31's excellent points. And @26's too! Rowr!


Well, now I've got a hankering for pizza and Jack Kerouac.


‘Is there any way I could close this deal..,’ this kid is a charmer.


LW, she doesn’t fancy you, she likes you though and offered you the deal of having a friendship, and you declined.


Yeah, this guy went off the rails when he decided to “test” her.

Dude. She told you what she was down for - a friendship. If you actually liked her and respected her you should have taken her at her word. If you didn’t like her and respect her, why would you want to go further with her?

She didn’t send you mixed signals. You were engaged in wishful, immature, and dangerous thinking.

Dan’s right that you should ask for the kiss the first time.

The LW seems really young, if this is a real letter.


Dude, what's up with YOU!?

"I was telling her that first borns and last borns are great matches so my intentions were quite clear." No, they weren't.

"she told me she wasn’t looking for dating/relationship right now" -- HER intentions were quite clear. "But I wanted to test her words" -- translation, "I'm an asshole who doesn't respect a woman's no."

"why would she be in my house and on my bed then?" Because you invited her for pizza, not sex, and friends eat pizza together. She'd been clear about her lack of interest and thought you were inviting her over as a friend. She was probably sitting on the bed because that's the only place in your dorm room anyone can sit.

"was I right to pull the cord" -- she pulled the cord. "Or is there any way I could close this deal cause her actions indicate she likes me though her words don’t." Her actions indicate SHE LIKES YOU AS A FRIEND. No, there is no way you can "close this deal" with someone who is not interested. You sound creepy even asking. Life is full of disappointments, dude, move on.

Dan: "It sounds less like she was playing 'hard to get' and more like she was considering the possibility of potentially getting with you." What!? No, Dan, it sounds like she was clear about not being interested and assumed he got the memo and wanted to hang out platonically. What are you telling this guy!? News flash, people of opposite genders can and do have platonic friendships. This woman was giving him a second chance to be friends, and when he asked to kiss her, she had to reiterate her earlier statement of disinterest.
I will join you in giving him props for asking to kiss her, instead of "lunging" -- which he never did, btw -- especially as all prior signs pointed to her not being interested. For those who think words are awkward, I agree 100%, far less awkward than wriggling away from someone who's making unwanted physical contact.
And yes, if he doesn't want to hang out with her if there's no possibility of physical affection, he shouldn't. Better to "cut the cord" than to hang around with false hope, whining that you've been friendzoned.


It's interesting to me how much disagreement this letter has occasioned--much more than I supposed just after I'd read it.

Both people involved behave creditably to me. She texts her intentions clearly, in saying she's not interested in a relationship. He bears this in mind in asking before going in for a kiss. I guess it's reasonable for him to say that he has no interest in seeing her if she's not putting out. He's young--sixteen to nineteen--and wants to have sex. But it's not exactly graceful or rounded; and she can clearly do much better in finding friends who will appreciate her as an integral person.

I don't see that she was offering him 'a second chance' rather than just hanging as a friend. I was surprised Dan said that--was he trying to soften the blow of insisting he take her 'no for a no'?


Sporty @3, there are times to go in for the kiss. Such as when she's given some clear indication that she's interested. This woman did the opposite. This guy did the right thing by asking -- well, a better thing would have been to not ask at all, since he already had his answer, but at least there's no more confusion in his mind and they were able to leave things without his becoming yet another #MeToo.

Biggie @9: "plenty of people find being asked if someone can kiss them to be incredibly unsexy." Then asking lets you dodge those immature bullets. Honestly, anyone who is turned off by flirtatious eyes and a "may I kiss you" is not someone I can envision being able to have effective communication around anything sexual.

xina @16: I'd amend your post to "some men," but yeah. Sad, isn't it?

Beesting @18: Ding ding ding. Either you're awkward or you're not. If you can lunge smoothly, you can ask smoothly. If you can't do either smoothly, ask awkwardly and embrace it. Some find that endearing and those are the ones who are going to be compatible with a Captain Awkward.

Lolli @19: Dan called it "dickful thinking."

Bouncing @23: "For real, putting your face 80% closer to mine is not a move that's going to sell me on a kiss, unless I already want to kiss you, in which case pretty much anything you do is going to work. If I DON'T want to kiss you, then your word-less moves are really going to make me very uncomfortable. And after the uncomfortable moment passes, which I really hope it does, wordlessly pretending it didn't happen is going to be even worse." ALL OF THIS.

Kitten @30: Exactly. Funny, it's men who are claiming women don't want them to use words and women who are saying "Use words! Use words!" I hope WUWH reads the right set of comments. Lava @25 makes a good point too. Perhaps instead of rejecting women who "only" want to be friends, WUWH should cultivate friendships with women. Then he'd learn more about them, such as, saying "I'm not interested" isn't a mixed signal, and women don't count pizza as foreplay?

Alan @38: Oh, I have no doubt it's real. I've experienced this far too often.


I agree with Lava @37 completely.

The letter shows me why #metoo needs to go further, earlier and deeper. She says she's not sexually interested, yet he thinks it's normal--that it's what would be thought reasonable, that it's the ordinary challenge facing men--to 'test her words'. This seems wrongheaded to me. Yet clearly it's correct, as Dan does, to praise the young man for backing off, for thinking over his motives and actions, for reporting the sequence of events as he sees them. I'm sure there are thousands, tens of thousands, of young guys who instead barrel in for the unwanted kiss, who are sore at the rejection, who make a scene, plead a sense of grievance, badmouth the young woman for giving ambiguous signals in their friendship group, etc. And who don't turn to an avuncular gay agony columnist for advice. The LW is an advance on those young men.


Someone needs to tell this dude to drop the "first born and last born" nonsense... it sounds like something a grandmother might say, not a player trying to get to first base....


Harriet @42: Agree completely. This young woman was completely unambigious. Not once, not twice, but three times she gave him a clear no. And WUWH is still thinking that there is some way he can change her mind. And he's being praised for not being as awful as some other men in his position have been. That shows you how fucked up society's understanding of consent remains.


Bouncing@23 is spot on. The kid has more emotional intelligence than I did at his age.

Also, Nocutename @26 RE asking. Doubters should try it sometime.

LW asked her out on a date, it didn’t go as hoped. Then he asked her to “meet up”. Ostensibly not a date. This is counter to Dan’s often repeated advice not to ask people to just hang out if what you want is a date. Therein the mixed messages.

I’m not sure they ate pizza on the bed. The activities may have been sequential rather than concurrent. It’s not clear from the letter.

Years ago I was just friends with a woman who lived in a studio apartment. We sat on her bed and just talked. Before that, in the college dorm, similar. Just cuz you’re sitting on a bed doesn’t mean somebody’s gotta make a move.


Wasn't there a study that suggested that birth order had at least minor correlation to sexual orientation, or has that been discredited as well?

The whole letter just seemed to exude being a bit off, and it really ended poorly.


Ms Cute - I'm not sure whether to look at this through the OS/SS Divide or the Normal/Specialist Divide. I don't disagree with you, though it seems the thing to observe I've received perfectly well-executed requests that fell flat because the asker requested The Wrong Thing (for me, at least). I also recall Notes on a Scandal and regret that we have only the perspectives of Barbara and (at secondhand) Sheba about Connolly's asking Sheba if it were okay to [rhymes-with-some] in her. Even allowing for the English habit of always addressing female teachers of young students as Miss, Connolly's appending that to his question has always struck me, though often in different ways.

In one way, my experience would seem to be the opposite of yours. I think it's down to specialist tastes that my general first experiences with people have been well talked over in advance, so that the questions that have had to be asked in the moment have run quite smoothly. And yet one of the most powerful experiences in my memory originated in an innocent spontaneous gesture that could have given Sandy Stranger an excellent example of how one can be Swept Away, if one recollects her inner monologue during the walk through the Edinburgh slums about how she and Alan Breck would have to take their clothes off if they were overcome by passion, which would give them time to think, so that it couldn't all just happen in a flash.


All I can picture with dadddy and sporty's advice is how deeply unsexy someone putting their face 80% of the way towards me after eating pizza. Especially after I had told them in no uncertain terms I wasn't interested in dating. "Making a move" is vague enough to assume anything from the ask to the lunge but all of them are bad ideas after being told "no" and deciding to push it anyway.

I agree that she didn't send mixed signals. I have friendships where one of us was into the other, it wasn't reciprocated, and we decided to just hang out platonically instead. If he wasn't interested in friendship at all he should have used the word "date" when asking to see her again.

If someone is genuinely sending mixed signals or "playing hard to get" that's a fuckin deal breaker for me. I'm assuming the men here saying that's what women do are only dating high school students or people of comparable maturity.


Venn @47: "I've received perfectly well-executed requests that fell flat because the asker requested The Wrong Thing (for me, at least)." But isn't it better to have asked for that wrong thing than just gone ahead and tried it? Sure, implying that a partner will say yes to anything you ask for if you ask instead of lunging is inaccurate. But asking for the wrong thing isn't assault; doing the wrong thing might be.

BabyRae @48, I think some people confuse "sending mixed signals" with "being unsure how to act because you clearly said no and he's acting as if you didn't, so what more can you do to send the signal without making him angry, because you don't know what he might be capable of if he gets angry?"
Men forget that in the back of our minds at all times is the fact that he is probably 1.5 to 2x our body weight, much of which is muscle. One in three women has been sexually assaulted before, statistically by someone she knew, to whom she said no and he didn't listen. You (generic male you) may have no such intention, but how do generic female we know that? If being firm got us, or someone we know, assaulted before, being vague might work better. So a bit of sympathy for the "mixed signals" act some men here are describing. (Agree that Ms WUWH's signals were not mixed at all.)
Women also may just be unsure! I'm sure most of us have been in a situation where we like someone, then they kiss us and oh my god they're a terrible kisser, so bad that they put you off them completely, and you have to delicately extricate yourself. Or they're enticing but there are red flags, or you're not over your ex, or whatever. If you're sensing mixed signals, ASK, or if you can't ask, round anything ambiguous down to a no.


..."I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females."
"I do assure you, Sir, that I have no pretension whatever to that kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart."


@49 fair point about why people get accused of sending mixed signals. I was accused of that when I was somewhat interested in someone who was 1. Over twice my size 2. At least twice my age and 3. My employer (I was a nude model and he was a sculpter I worked for). I was 21 and unsure of how to navigate that relationship, so I eventually decided I needed to set a firm boundary and tell him we had to remain platonic. He told me I was lying to myself and him because "couldn't I see how I clearly wanted it!" So that at least made me sure I'd made the right call. So much for my modeling career and place in the artist community after he blacklisted me though.

But yeah, mixed signals can also be a case of wanting safety in an uncertain situation. All the more reason to use your goddamn words instead of just moving in physically.


Ven @ 47 “would have to take their clothes off if they were overcome by passion, which would give them time to think, so that it couldn't all just happen in a flash.”. Cf. Erica Jong’s zipless fuck, in Fear of Flying.


BabyRae @51, glad your 21-year-old instincts were correct, but sorry that happened to you. What an asshole. My sympathies go out to the other young women who modelled for him, some of whom may not have been so fortunate.


WUWH, it is so sad. To give yourself a better chance with someone else, try not to be such a total selfish shallow idiot. And (if your writing is any indication) learn to communicate better.


If you've expressed your romantic interest, and someone says they just want to be friends, believe them! If they change their mind, they already know of your interest, so they can tell you they've changed their mind pretty freely.


@44. Bi. Sex ed has a long way to go. There are lots of boys, het teens, who think that if they ask, 'do you want to kiss?', girls will demurely say 'no', and if they slide in wordlessly a la expert kisser, as per our house experts (!), they get their kiss. The model of het relations, in the mind of the lw and some commenters, maybe, remains the guy overcoming the woman's semi-resistance.

Sex education has to teach BOTH parties to ask. Should it tell girls to ask, or lead, more than it tells men? It seems hardwired into what sex and dating are for many people that the answer for 'r u up for it?' for het boys is 'almost always', for girls it's much less sure.

I am geriatric--a tortoise in my dance moves, and, in my sex moves ... well, than God I remember the bathhouse. But did anyone else consider that 'do it for the culture and help ya boi' suggest that WUWH may be have been assigned FAB?

@51. Baby Rae. What an abuser--of every conceivable power dynamic. @48. Yes--what if he had one of those amazingly tiny rounds of pepperoni stuck to the space between his lip and his nose?


Aren't we past all this "mixed signals" and "playing hard to get" bullshit yet? It's equally messed up that a subset of people still do this, as it is messed up that a subset of people expect to receive it. You don't have to participate from either position in the transaction. When someone (of any gender) says "I'm not interested in you sexually", take them at their word. If they subsequently change their mind, the onus is on that person to make the next move. If they want the situation to change, they will have to change it. This is how we train people to take responsibility for their own actions and intentions.


I'm sorry, Dan. You usually give great answers, but you whiffed this one. LW described absolutely nothing in the woman's behavior that indicated she was giving him a second chance at a romantic relationship. She was very clear that she was open to hanging out as friends, and her behavior was entirely consistent with those words. Please don't perpetuate the myth that a woman who will spend one-on-one time with a man must be at least considering sex. It's dangerous.


Just because some studies showed that birth order had no effect on some specific traits, you can't say it has no effect at all.


First rule: if you want to motivate someone to kiss you, don't eat pizza.


Her words were, if we trust the LW, open to interpretation.

"I'm not interested in dating or a relationship" could mean "I don't want any intimate contact with anyone", which is how all of you seem to be reading it. Or it could mean "I don't want any social connection, just sex", what the kids used to call "NSA" or "DTF". And rather than say outright, "I just want casual sex", which women are socialized against, she may have been peddling her own subtle hints. This is what people used to call "flirting".

Granted, LW could be a bit of a dick. You could read his letter as one from an entitled Kavenaugh ("She ate my pizza! She sat on my bed! I want my SEX!!"). You could also read it as one from someone who, as I read it, saw the ambiguity of the situation and, thinking that a lot of un-pc women prefer being persued agressively, sought clarity from an "expert". (Pity he chose a gay man to ask about MF courtship dynamics, since the same-sex team seems to be playing an entirely different, more direct version of the game.)

Combined with the flirtatious hints he dropped (these were not subtle, and they did in fact elicit her response) her acceptance of a second meeting in his apartment kept the question open. Or perhaps she didn't say what he says she did. Maybe she actually said, as the readership seems to see it, "I don't want any physical intimacy with you or anyone else", but the LW heard it, or chose to write it, differenty—maintaining ambiguity. We can't know.

As to the points about "going in for the kiss" potentially making the woman uncomfortable, requiring instead a somehow-less-awkward formal-yet-sexy request… all of this is uncomfortable, until it isn't.

Somebody's going to be made uncomfortable at some point until all the ice melts. One party has to take the active role; that is in itself an uncomfortable position. I think gently moving in for a kiss (who "lunges"?) and being rejected either by words or by even the slightest change in body language seems more natural, less uncomfortable for the instigator, than executing a "sexy" cross-examination of past and present statements. Either she has to awkwardly turn away or shake her head to indicate "no", or else he has to adopt some cornball "sexy" persona and feed her "sultry" questions with "smoldering eyes". Ugh.

Then again, she may also be a poor judge of character, incapable of reading red-flags (Sports or beer-drinking paraphernalia decorating the apartment? An ill-advised music collection or other signs of bad taste? In fact, is he a bro?), and she may worry that even this seemingly kind, charming fellow might not take "no" for an answer. He may start lunging and groping, or worse. Fair enough. If she can't read his signals, and he can't read hers, then instincts won't work, and they have to both resort to transactional risk-management practices. Sexy! Indeed, this seems to be where all the talking and the consenting is rooted: a normal, if necessarily uncomfortable, human interaction made worse by poor judgement on both sides—both sides.

It's all so uncomfortable; how has humanity survived?


When men say that leaning in is less awkward than using their words to ask for a kiss, this is the maths they are doing:

If the woman is into me, this kiss will make me look marginally more suave and spontaneous. If the woman is not into me, this will be drastically more uncomfortable / potentially pressuring and frightening for her. BUT if the woman is not into me, she is not deserving of my consideration, and therefore her feelings are irrelevant. For some men, this goes even further - if she is not into me, she deserves those feelings.

Therefore, for these men, the best possible outcome is reached through leaning in, not through asking for permission, because the marginal benefit of looking better to a woman who is into them has no harms to outweigh it. At least, no harms to anyone they see as a person worthy of respect.


She was not ambiguous. From his own telling, he understood very clearly each time that she was saying no to intimate contact. She texted him once and he understood she wasn't interested, but says he wanted to "test" her. After the pizza evening, she texted him again to, in his words, "bring up the old convo of not wanting any intimate thing" but he said it was a contradiction (to him) of her being in his room and on his bed. And he writes to Dan asking how he can "close this deal" because "her actions indicate she likes me though her words don't". He understood from the beginning that her words said no to sex, but he is highly motivated to try to read something into her actions that will allow him to still pursue sex.


Gaspar @61, are you for real? There is no "open to interpretation." "I'm not interested in dating or a relationship" is a kind way of saying "I'm not interested in you." If she really were interested in sex but not a relationship, she'd have had sex with him and THEN said she didn't want a relationship. Telling someone you're not interested is not "flirting." The only ambiguity is whether she doesn't want to date anyone or doesn't want to date him, but in either case, she doesn't want to date him.

On the extremely tiny chance that she did want casual sex but chose to pursue it by making the completely contradictory claim not to want "dating or a relationship" because she is too brainwashed by society to admit she wants sex... well, isn't that exactly the kind of crazy men are warned not to put their dicks in? From your bro-spective, isn't he risking that she will, ahem, "retroactively change her mind" and claim he raped her after, ahem, "saying no but meaning yes"? (Hint: She doesn't mean yes; if she does, let her learn to be a grownup and say it.)

No, the typical seduction does not require one or both parties to be uncomfortable. Your comment is actually kind of scary.


I think one piece of missing information here is what his "place" looks like. If it's a dorm room or studio apartment and there's really no good place to sit except on the bed, or his "bed" is a futon in the living room, or if he shares an apartment and they went into his bedroom to hang out in order to not bother other roommates, then there are no mixed signals: she was sitting on the bed because it was the only place available to sit. If she had to go into a private bedroom to sit on his bed when there are other perfectly appropriate and less suggestive seating arrangements, then he may have a tiny case for being confused. But that still doesn't give him permission to move in on her. The right course of action remains the same: respect her clearly communicated words and stop trying to get laid unless she indicates otherwise. If he doesn't like what or how she's communicating, then stop hanging out with her.


I'm curbing my desire to write in all caps, but I might get a little hyperbolic. This is a little window into rape culture right here. The woman is accused of sending mixed signals when everything she said was a clear and consistent no. But because he didn't like what she said he wanted to "test her words." TEST HER WORDS!

Ugh, I couldn't help it. Women's words can't be trusted when they don't say what the LW wants to hear. Maybe no doesn't mean no. Maybe he should go in for the kiss, lunge at her and hold her down and kiss her because that's what she wants even though she said no.


"There's nothing unsexy about being asked for a kiss; indeed, hearing someone you want to kiss say, 'I would really like to kiss you. May I kiss you?'"

WOW. Just wow...

This would be terrific advice if the writer were a gay man, which he's not.

Every so often, the fact that Dan has zero experience as a man who dates straight women comes sharply into focus. Dan needs to stop getting his advice for straight men from the people he encounters over wine and cheese at the Progessive Women's League, and for once show a willingness to listen to what straight men have to say about their experiences, about what actually works for them. At a minumum, he needs to admit his sample is hopelessly skewed and better familiarize himself with the academic literature on female desire.

While a small-ish minority of women will go for this move, and it's absolutely appropriate in some contexts, a substantial percentage of women are going to interpret this as a kind of waffling or lack of self-confidence and/or will feel put on the spot in a way that stresses them out and/or will be hugely turned off by it.

The LW needs to let it go -- and get over himself. But Dan's advice is comically bad.


Surely the woman sat where the LW indicated she sit, isn’t that the protocol when having a guest over for a meal? Is this asking for a kiss a new thing, or an American/ European thing, because I’ve never been asked for one, and no man has ever lunged at me. And I’ve kissed a few men.
The ‘playing hard to get ‘ line, sounds like a get out of jail free card. If she says No and then in any way indicates affection, which friendship includes, he assumes her No was a play, a game. Her No is not respected, and he gets to justify, to himself, his continued misreading of her intentions by seeing it as women playing some silly game.


Oh ffs. Thank you LW and commenters for illustrating why I find men baffling to the extent that I’m concerned I have aspergers. She bluntly and specifically said she was not interested. When you said you still wanted to hang out, she assumed you wanted to be friends. Hitting on her in that context was ridiculous. And upsetting. Although, thanks for explaining why the married man I explicitly told I was coupled up and looking for friends proceeded to hit on me.


I hope that women nowadays feel empowered to also make the first move. While acknowledging the case in hand and the dynamic as presented, it seems from the answers that most still expect the man in an OS situation to make the decisive, clear cut move towards sex.
Unfortunately “the man needs to initiate” has led society to all kind of rituals and etiquette that still leave plenty grey in the middle and often confuses so many of us.

Going back to my first line, as well as relating to the letter, taking no for an answer and respect it as such is should be also taught in middle school if not earlier.


Gosh, it's hard finally getting to college and having a dorm room where you can hang a necktie on the doorknob if you've somehow managed to stumble on a chick who will come up for pizza and then you find out that those old Internet PENTHOUSE FORUM LETTERS WERE INEXPLICABLY FULL OF SHIT!!!!

Polish your act, LW, treat girls like they're more than a damp place to put your throbbing manhood and spend some time getting to know them and learning how to read their signals. Points to you for taking "no" for an answer, points subtracted for not learning the right lesson from the experience.


Oh, and congrats, Karia, for being the one to get a little 69 this time.


@67 it's further than that: the commentariat here represents perhaps the 10% liberal fringe of Seattle. Notably, I'm an arch conservative by the standards of SLOG, and I've never once voted for a Republican and voted no on every Tim Eyman initiative on principle. Everyone else here imagines that the "average woman" is white, liberal, and has a college degree. The other 85% of women (you know "Basic" women) are very different, and every time I try to bring that up, great thinkers like @BDF chime in to say "no, no one ever does that". Like - y'all have to remember that Jerry Springer was an EXCEPTIONALLY POPULAR PROGRAM and the average person is closer to a Jerry Springer guest in ideology and temperament than they are towards a median Slog commentor.


Sporty@73~ "...the average person is closer to a Jerry Springer guest in ideology and temperament..."

Normally I would've taken several minutes to roll on the floor laughing at that comment, but that was pre-Trump... Now, I take solace in the knowledge that Big Orange LOST the election by millions and only the MAJORITY of his followers belong on Jerry Springer not all of them. But that's still a far cry from "the average person". Also, while Jerry Springer was popular enough to stay on the air for 27 seasons, at it's PEAK he was drawing 6.7 million viewers or about 2 percent of the US population.

But kudos to you for your voting record, Sporty. I never would have guessed.


No mixed signals. He wanted sex after the first date. She wanted to go considerably slower than that.

Playing hard to get means saying you're busy and unavailable to date when you really aren't.

Getting undressed and rubbing up against him before saying you don't want sex is called teasing. She didn't do that. Sitting on the bed means "this is a dorm room so there's nowhere else to sit."

The bit about how she likes you as a friend? She USED TO think she might like you as a friend. Now she's sorry she ever had anything to do with you.

March 14, 2019 Washington Post has an article on how birth order doesn't affect personality after all. That's more interesting to me than the letter. Even if there was some proof that first borns and last borns do make good matches, that still doesn't mean using the information as some sort of pick-up line is a good idea.

Here's the thing about pick-up lines. In the movies, the guy uses the line. Then he gets a drink thrown in his face. Then they have sex. In real life, the guy uses a pick-up line. The the woman backs away from him. Then she gets a restraining order. I hope that helps.


Ooof, Dan I hope you can address this gigantic misstep in the reader round up. While it is possible that this woman was giving him a second chance, that's making the assumption that she didn't mean what she said, or followed up previous clear communication with the choice of ambiguous or no communication (hanging out to give him a second chance without saying so). The MUCH more likely scenario (which has happened to almost all women many times) is she gave a clear answer that she wasn't interested in something romantic, and yet by being willing to hang out with him again platonically, she was somehow "confusing" and giving mixed signals-- both to LW and to Dan! This is so disheartening to read. This woman did everything right-- gave clear communication that she was not feeling it romantically, and yet it's impossible for many men to see a world where she could have been willing or wanting to hang out as friends, after-- and share pizza while sitting on a bed. If I told a dude (and I have) that I wasn't interested romantically, but liked him as a person-- and he asked me to hang out again later, I would assume he got my clear message and was cool with being friends. I would be REALLY shocked if he tried to make moves on me again, just by virtue of agreeing to hang out. This whole letter kind of makes me sick to my stomach and reinforces why this incel craziness even exists. The first male mental leap is so often that if she wants to hang, she wants to fuck-- and unless she is constantly saying no at every hang out, she's leading him on just by her existence as a woman. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I DO appreciate and understand your compassion and kindness with LW, Dan. I don't think there's a point in calling him an incel or being an asshole about him trying to kiss her. Gentle reeducation on women's existence as human beings with a right to autonomy and platonic friends is always a better tactic than a lecture that makes someone feel dumb or even less sexually-savvy. But to buy into the idea that she suddenly stopped articulating her wants and was open to another shot at a sexual relationship is an actually dangerous perspective for women, and I really, really hope you take the time to address it in reader roundup, and maybe even at the bottom of this letter for future readers of the archive. As a woman, we need respected male voices (like yours) to be crystal clear on this. Please.


A clarification-- when I said the letter reinforces why some of this crazy incel stuff even exists- I mean Dan's response- not the LW in particular. It's clear the LW has sexual expectations of women who hang out and can't fathom why a woman would just want to hang out as friends-- but that can be gently re-educated-- however when our educators (Dan) buy into the premise-- that's where it gets scary.


Let me just note for the record, physical flirting cues are AMBIGUOUS AS FUCK as they are different from person to person, even more different when you factor in cultural/ethnic backgrounds (which may or may not be obvious at glances 1-5).

It took me until my late-20s/early-30s to know when a woman was flirting with me, and usually only after thinking about it post-facto.

If you didn't grow up in the same neighborhood as the focus of your affection, your ability to read their body language is probably FAR worse than you think it is.

This is another argument to USE TO WORDS (but sure! ..make them sexy.. ;>)


Put me in Dadddy's camp. The kissing gig is a body language gig, not a verbal one. The l-dub is a tool and will likely never get it, but Dadddy's 100% correct. So, so, soooooooo many women expect you to 'just know' what they want. That's a body language conversation, not a words one.


*USE YOUR WORDS (ahem..)
[and for record, my inability to correctly read flirts is due to having moved around a lot growing. However, my comment about ^your^ ability to read body language comes from my Anthropology background.]


Once someone says "I don't see this happening" it's probably in your personal interest to MOVE THE FUCK ON. You're wasting time and annoying the chick. Find someone else who has a glimmer of interest. If, after reflection, she decides maybe you're worth the effort to get better acquainted, she can always hit you up.


@80 - "So, so, soooooooo many women"
So, since this is coming from your experience/research, like 5?

And you know, if "all" these women you are meeting "expect you to 'just know'", well, they can grow up and learn to use words too, just like you. Because "expecting [someone] to 'just know'" is actually kind of insane. Improbable at best.


What qapla said.
She wasn't giving him a second chance at a sexual relationship. She was giving him a second chance at a friend relationship. WUWH sounds like he believes that first he has to throw a pick-up line at a woman, and if she doesn't immediately have sex with him then her signals are mixed. (It's the incel thing. If she's female and won't have sex with me, that's a mixed signal. Her femaleness says one thing. Her refusal says the opposite.) WUWH's next move was dangle friendship in front of her in the form of a single hang-out session, and that didn't work either. He sounds genuinely confused based on how badly written his letter is, but he may be genuinely evil.


@67 if Dan's perspective as a gay man is coloring his response it's in calling her being willing to hang out platonically after turning him down "a second chance."

There is nothing unsexy about getting consent, period. And if you can't make an intense stare followed by "I would love to kiss you right now" sexy then practice in front of a mirror til you get it. Non verbal consent can be a thing if you know the person well enough, but if you're someone who believes "testing her words" is ever a good idea then you need to be using your words every time.

I'm sure there are women out there who expect men to be mind readers, but I can't imagine that anyone who gets turned off by talking about kissing or sex is gonna be any good in bed. And failing to read her mind correctly is gonna get you labeled a creep or worse. (See my above story about the predatory guy I was genuinely interested in but ruined it by trying to tell me what I wanted over listening to my words.)


@80 philosophy school dropout
"Put me in Dadddy's camp."
Now I've officially heard everything.
I think we already did, but thanks for volunteering.
Sorry PSD I know you meant WRT the topic at hand, but I didn't want to let /that/ to stop me from making a couple sarcastic quips.

@84 Fichu
I don't know where to begin on how much I loved this Comment, Fichu.

"throw a pick-up line at a woman"

He does I think totally come from the pathetic PUA POV. I wish I'd gone there instead of stopping @54 with "total selfish shallow idiot".

"It's the incel thing. If she's female and won't have sex with me, that's a mixed signal."

I honestly know zero about the incel POV, and I'm afraid I never will because that one sentence makes my brain and heart hurt too much to.


Words can be sexy. One of the best first kisses i had was when he said, " you have great lips. Id like to kiss you now" and a pause after it for confirmation


@83 So you'd like reality to be different than it is. Ok. Good luck with that.


Flirting doesn’t have to lead to kissing. It’s only the beginning of, ‘maybe I’m interested.’ So you flirt a little and then talk a little. Then say it would be great to have dinner with you, will you come on a date with me. Then you have dinner and etc.
Sure flirting at a party leading to sex isn’t unusual, so maybe stay out of that one if you’re not up on flirt meanings.
People let you know if you interest them. Interesting them doesn’t mean they want to bed you, though that door may be open.
cbu, @86, does seem to be a black/ white view, yes. And you seem to have joined many other cis males going, “what’s the problem here, can’t see no problem. “
And that is the problem.
The implications of this rude young man’s letter is that this woman is wasting his time if she doesn’t have sex with him.
Her friendship isn’t worth a toss, it’s only her pussy he’s after.


A difficulty that can emerge in situations like this is that, I suspect, a lot of cis-men in particular(though this can come up in any identity, I guess)assume that asking out loud for a kiss or anything else carries an extremely high risk of a "who the fuck are you to even ASK for that, dickhead!" response.

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.

In case of rejections, it would be good-assuming the rejection wasn't due to the rejectee simply being an obvious jerk-that a kind of "critique session" be an option between rejector and rejectee-in such a session, both people would start with the understanding that the rejection stands no matter what, but the rejectee would be able to ask the rejector for advices about what it was about the rejectee which led to the rejection. The vast majority of those who get rejected, I think, honestly don't know what it was about them that led to the rejection, and-if it was something the rejector COULD put into words-it might be something, or a combination of somethings, the rejectee could correct, simply to improve the rejectee's chances of not being rejected again.

Setting up something like that would be far better than just leaving the rejectee to try and guess what led to the rejection-even though that almost always means the rejectee will never be able to work it out on their own and will simply keep getting rejected or friendzoned or acquaintancezoned.

Nobody should ever end up in the situation where they are always the one everyone else wants to "just be friends" with, without ever getting feedback as to why. Unless someone is actually an insensitive jerk, or a the sort who grabs or gropes or rapes, it's hard to think of a reason why they would ever deserve perpetual rejection and a perpetual lack of guidance in how to change that.

This is a digression, and I'm sorry to digress, but I could see a lot of situations where this just keeps happening to a person and there ought to be a way to offer that person a path out of perpetual rejection and perpetual just-wanting-to-be-a-friendness.

As to the conversation we were actually having:

1)No does mean no. Full stop. End. Of. Discussion. If you can't accept that, never try to get involved with anybody ever again.

2)Was the bed the only piece of furniture in the room? If so, the guy should have seen it as being no different than if she was sitting at the dinner table or in an easy chair.

3)If there are other pieces of furniture in the room and she specifically chose the bed to sit on, to what degree should the guy have taken that as an invitation?

4)She had every right to say no, and to expect the no to be respected-but I'd say she should have at least left it a few weeks before asking to hang out, to be "just friends". "Just wanting to be friends", to a lot of folks-not all, but a lot-can read as code for "I don't actually loathe you, you occasionally make interesting conversation and I sometimes like your jokes, but you are simply beneath me, and I may want you to be constantly reminded that the answer you get from me was no from all time, and I may want you to actually SEE me not rejecting others just to rub it in to you that they're good enough and you never will be". Actual friendship is great, and it's a good thing when people who dated but had the date end in rejection eventually end up as friends, but "being friends" should never be offered to the person who was rejected as the dating equivalent of a "participation award".

5)If anybody actually still does "playing hard to get"-and it wouldn't surprise me if nobody does, that would actually be far better-they just need to immediately stop. Forever. Nothing but confusion and bullshit comes from "playing hard to get" and making the other person guess as to what those doing the playing actually want, and it's not worth the ambiguity and confusion it can cause in doing so.


Well. I'm way down the reply chain here, but...

I wasn't saying THIS LW should have put his face anywhere near anyone. Closing 80 percent of the distance is the LAST step, not the first. THIS LW should have known she wasn't interested when she maintained her personal space, and not asked to kiss her at all.

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.

Is asking better than kissing someone who doesn't want to be kissed? Absolutely. But it's not as good as knowing someone doesn't want to kiss you without putting them in the awkward position of answering your awkward question in the first place.


And obviously, consent must be given for anything and no one is ever entitled to sex in exchange for anything, if anyone was thinking I didn't agree with either of those concepts.


In my post @91, please disregard points 2 and 3 at the bottom. On reflection, they should not have been there.


@89 - No, I'd like you to support your statement.
Because as we know
"That which asserted without evidence, CAN BE DISMISSED WITHOUT EVIDENCE."

Also, we CAN build towards a better world. And using your words is one way to do that. Be the words you want to hear in the world....


News flash -- Men and women can be FRIENDS. Maybe she didn't feel romantic/sexual chemistry with you but liked you enough to hang out with you.


I don’t think women expect men to know, they expect men to read the clues, and together, they know. Sure ask too, given the climate these days around consent.


How many women ask can they kiss a man. Why do you think the answer is not many.. because a woman reads the man’s interest and she goes from there. No point in asking some dude who has said via his words or his actions, that he’s not interested.


Except for the Princesses, who are probably the women the incel boys here are talking about, most modern women will let you know what they want, thru their words and their actions. Pay attention.


@95 I don't care what you want from me. I've lived the life I've lived, known the people I've known and learned what I've learned. You are part of the fairyland of Savage Love that believes in pure ethicality and rationality involving (kinda) smart chimpanzees. Go ahead and live in your fairyland. Some of us live with and want to understand real people. Not a popular position on here. But again, I don't care.


@95 Also, I utterly mock your notion of changing the world. A fine thought in the micro. An absurdity of ego and narcissism in the macro.


Authentic is the word, drop out. Yes it is a fairytale ideal given the grass and inauthentic ways of our culture.
What the ‘do women by numbers’ incel brotherhood teaches, has nothing to do with people being authentic with each other.


I think it was kind of this woman to offer this tool anything. Close the deal, who talks like that. If he wants a hook up, go online and find one. Hint. Not every woman is the same. A few more thousand rejections like this one, and this letter writer might get the message.
Change his attitudes about women.


Re &102; crass and inauthentic ways of our culture. Bit of grass thrown in.


The only thing I'll add to the discussion is that when I was a young woman, I frequently found it limiting that I was rarely allowed to just be friends / hang out with men without first having to go through an expectation that I would end up being someone's girlfriend or that I was flirting with someone. And even after that was established, some guys will just never treat you as they might treat any other buddy. Most, in my experience. This might seem like no big deal to guys, but it does limit the way you move through the world. When I was in my teens, I did a lot of traveling around with punk gigs. In my 20s, I did a lot of backpacking and paddling. In all these cases, it was mostly guys banging about- you meet people, you fall in together, you have adventures. And it was much easier for guys just to go hang out and be buddies and meet other interesting people. As a woman, I was usually considered a potential sexual partner or- if that were not possible- then often dismissed as a friend/travel companion, etc even if a man in the same position would be welcomed as a buddy.

Best I can tell, there are now more women knocking about in these scenes than there were in my day. And I don't know what young women are like now in their own peer groups, but in my day, we frequently accepted men as friends with no further intentions. It seems to be very difficult for men to do the same with women. And it gets more confusing when you consider that sometimes of course there was sexual interest and pursuits. I don't really know what the solution is...

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.