Dear Captain Awkward
I’m a young guy, 20s. I was a bit of late bloomer, and have only limited (but a little!) experience seducing women. I feel like I might’ve missed some cues because of a very inactive teenage sex life. So my question is about the very cliched topic of wooing and fucking the women of my affections.
Nowadays I’m ready to go. I’m hot, kind of charming, and rather socially adept. I don’t pop my collar or act like a douche-bag or any other ridiculous-ness. I’m sweet and totally not a creeper. But let’s just say that women definitely know when I’m attracted to them. Maybe I’m kind of intense. I see lots of examples of women liking intense, but it doesn’t work for me. So I try to tone it down, by being smiley and non threatening. Which doesn’t seem to work either.
It seems to me that a man must apparently be simultaneously aggressive and tender. And that every woman likes that ratio a little different. Which suits me just fine, but I don’t know how to express it? For example, I am a fan of snuggling, smooching and etc. And I’m not into sneaking out in the morning. But I also like my passion with a healthy (and consensual) dose of aggression and roughness! I don’t want to misrepresent myself on either count. So how do I convey both of those things?
In the past women seemed to get spooked when I was just thinking about grabbing them or pushing them against the wall. (What are you — psychic?) And they didn’t get particularly hot and bothered when I patted them sweetly and played with their hair. So now I find myself playing a ludicrous balancing act to show that I am not “too nice” (read: bad in the sack) but also that I am not going to rape them. And guess what? It doesn’t work! So. How can I convey that I’m good for spooning AND forking? And actually get some?
Spooning and Forking, Eventually
Dear Spooning and Forking:
When you describe wanting to somehow “convey” that:
- You are sweet,
- Smiley and nonthreatening!
- And not a douche or a creeper,
- And you like cuddling,
- But you also want a healthy and consensual dose of aggression and roughness!
- Which you convey by sometimes thinking graphic thoughts about grabbing women and shoving them against the wall-
- While leaning in close and playing with their hair or patting their hands,
- But that doesn’t mean you’re some kind of rapist!
- And you want to be intense – women like intense! – but not TOO intense.
Yeah, I pretty much picture this:
No human being can “convey” all that stuff at the same time. If you were an actor and you tried to fold all that stuff into a performance, the performance would be stilted and weird. And if I were the director, I would pull you aside and tell you to forget the lines, forget the backstory, forget trying to be cool, forget what you look like, forget about delivering a performance, and think only about the other character in the scene. Listen harder. Pay the most attention. React truthfully in the moment to what the other person is giving you.
Let me recommend some reading. Here’s a very famous Internet post about how to approach women in a way that makes them feel safe(r). Here is another excellent lesson in how not to be creepy. I love this part:
2) Don’t treat your life as a quest for sex.
I’ve done this. I’ve shaved my pubes before going to social gatherings, gone to them with “am I gonna get laid, am I gonna get laid?” foremost in my mind, and come home alone with my head hanging. Not only did this make me miss out on all the other fun I could have had, not only did this hurt my chances of getting laid by someone who’d like to get to know me a little first, but it was creepy. It meant that I’d do things like:
-Only talking to people I wanted to bang, and ignoring others (people really notice this)
-Turning the conversation around to sex (and specifically, to my sexual desires) too eagerly and too often
-Propositioning people as soon as they seemed remotely friendly
-Giving the impression that I was desperate and would fuck anyone (people are not flattered by “so, you seem to have a pulse” as a come-on line)
-Publicly sulking when it became clear I wouldn’t be getting laid
-Emitting loud, obvious vibes of “I’m only here to get laid” (people are amazingly good at receiving those vibes)All of these were creepy-ass things to do. Once I started going to social events to socialize, with an attitude of “if I get laid, great, but if not, I’ll definitely get to hang out with my friends and meet new people,” not only did people feel more comfortable around me, but I got laid more often to boot.
Before I translate all of that back into “seduction” for you, let me just state that I don’t give a shit about whether you get to sleep with lots of women. Women aren’t some reward you “get” from the universe for surviving gawky teen years. “Not being a rapist” isn’t a credential you present to get a pat on the back from ladies everywhere, it’s literally the minimum standard of human behavior, and there is no formula – no set of behaviors, no outfits, no Sex Panther cologne, no “Game”, no system – that is guaranteed to turn you into Don Draper. So I advise you to forget the word seduction and think instead about connection.
To review, my personal rules of dating go like this, and I think they are true whether you’re looking for serious relationships or more casual affairs.
- The other person is just a human
- Ask the person out sooner rather than later, before you get too caught up in a fantasy or invested in the outcome.
- Nobody owes you time or affection, so don’t approach dating with a sense of entitlement.
- Be cool with rejection.
- You can’t control whether someone will like you.
- Listen to the other person – pay attention to the actual interaction that is taking place and not the one in your head.
- Don’t date anyone who isn’t as cool as your friends. (I’ll waive this one if you’re just looking for Casual Encounters….I guess. Maybe I’ll replace it with “Use good spelling, grammar, and photos OF YOUR FACE” for your circumstances.)
- Acknowledge the awkward. Don’t try to be smooth if you’re not smooth.
It basically boils down to “Meet a woman (singular). Talk to her and figure out if you like each other. Maybe she won’t like you. Maybe she will. You can’t really control it, so you might as well just relax.”
And for you, just for you, I’m going to add a new rule. Should you ever find yourself in the same place at the same time as a woman (again, note the singular) you are interested in and who might have sex with you, 9. Ask stuff out loud with words.
In other words, stop depending on successfully “projecting” or “conveying.” Just ask if you can kiss her. Ask if she’d like to come home with you or if you can go to her place. Ask her if there’s anything you need to know STD-wise. Ask her if you should stop at the drugstore and pick up some protection. Ask her what she likes. If you do get physical, check in frequently – Does she like what you’re doing? Would she like you to do more? Would it be okay if you tried ______? If you want to do anything rough, and she’s into it, work out a safe word she can use to immediately put a stop to it (It’s just common sense and basic safety).
And then pay very close attention to the answers. Stop “performing.”
Now, I know you know that “no means no,” but especially in the casual sex game it is very, VERY, extremely absolutely 100% important to make sure that you are getting an enthusiastic “yes.” If it’s someone you’re not dating seriously and you haven’t gotten to know very well, you’re not going to know how to read her nonverbal signals, and it’s not an area where you want to rely on plausible deniability. If you’re making out with someone, and you ask them if they want to go somewhere else or remove pants or otherwise take something to the next level, and they don’t give you an answer or get quiet or freeze, you lose nothing and gain everything by interpreting “Reply Hazy – Ask Again Later” as “No” and pulling back. It may result in you not getting laid right that second. But if she is into it, she will explicitly let you know what she wants, and she will know that you are someone she can trust to back off, and that’s good for everyone.
I know this doesn’t sound like the awesome romantic effortless “I’ll just figure out how to project the right vibe, and then it will be magical and zipless and women will just let me push them up against walls and grope them because they will be able to tell that I am safe and nice and it is all in good sexy fun” advice you were hoping for, but once you are dealing with actual human beings you have to learn how to speak frankly about your desires and ask people to speak frankly about theirs. It gets easier with practice, and when you do it right it’s sexy on its own.