Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m newly single, and getting back into dating. I went on a date last night with a guy I met on OKC. We met up at a bar, and he seemed cute and smart, and as we talked it seemed like we had lots in common! But about twenty minutes in, it seemed clear he wanted to do the touching-kissing thing. I had just met this person, and I wanted to get comfortable around him before I let him put his hands on my body (even though he was cute and promising!). So I was sitting kinda sideways and he was sitting facing me, legs apart, physically accessible, etc.
He said something like, “You’re very guarded. I’m in the restaurant business and we read people quickly and I can tell that you’re very guarded.”
I felt weird, but there was this voice in my head saying, “You never let yourself just flirt and have fun!” So I sat facing him and let him touch my leg, and we kissed and had drinks, and the conversation was good! And we had a lot in common! And he was a good kisser!
Then he told me about a male friend of his in the military who got falsely accused of rape. Apparently the guy was going down on the woman, and she told him to stop, and he didn’t. She made a rape accusation and then later said she was lying.
So this guy (my date) said, my friend didn’t penetrate her—it was just oral sex! She didn’t physically resist! She made that accusation about three other people! She said she was lying!
I was thinking, 1. That was rape. 2. Wouldn’t be surprised if three other guys also didn’t listen when she said to stop, because that isn’t uncommon. 3. Women retract these accusations under pressure all the time. Warning lights are going off in my head. But I didn’t want to get into a fight about rape with a stranger. So I redirected the conversation.
Then after a while he said “I would really like to kiss you in a place other than here.” I took this as “I am ready for you to invite me to your place now.” I was caught off guard. So I said, “I don’t think I’m ready to sleep with you yet.”
So he said saying, 1. I just want to make out! I never said anything about having sex! 2. We should do this soon because the attraction is here now and if we wait it will fizzle out. 3. Are you worried about being a slut? I feel pressured and uncomfortable. He asks what’s wrong. I say, 1. You told me about how you think things that are rape are not rape. 2. Now you are pressuring me to take you home with me.
He was immediately horrified. He started saying “Calm down! Relax! You shouldn’t be so anxious!” I felt more and more uncomfortable. Finally we parted ways. I went home and sobbed. I have no idea why. I think I missed how easy it was between me and my ex, and now it’s like, ahhh, weird dating is my new reality!! Plus I just felt sooo uncomfortable.
My questions are, 1. Is it weird that I really don’t like being touched or kissed within 20 minutes of meeting someone? I Is that what’s expected these days? It happens to me a lot. I think everyone is reading Neil Strauss and think they have to “kino escalate” immediately.
2. Is there a script I can use when someone tries to touch me before I’m ready? One that is friendly?
3. I’m looking for my next meaningful relationship, ideally, but I wouldn’t be against having a fling. But I feel my idea of “casual sex” and most guys’ is different. Mine = we go out! We flirt! We go to art galleries and museums! We have sex sometimes, once we’re ready! But not very often / we date other people. Theirs = I expect sex immediately when we meet, and thereafter whenever I text you even if it’s 2AM, I expect you to come over and service my needs.
Does anyone have experience expressing what their idea of casual sex is and guiding the other person’s expectations toward that, provided casual sex is something they want too? I feel like what happens is I run into this “We must have sex right now!!” expectation and then I flee.
And finally, 5. Should I have calmed down? Was I overreacting about this guy’s creepy rape story? Intellectually I don’t think so, but there is a loud voice in my head saying “You ruin everything by overreacting all the time!!”
Thanks for your thoughts!
Dear Awkward Dater,
I’m publishing your letter partly because it is like a freaking short course on how a creepy, boundary-pushing dude operates. You are not the one doing it wrong here!
Let’s review his (mis)steps:
1) “You’re very guarded.” He wants something from you (for you to be unguarded), so he typecasts you in order to get you to prove that you are not what he thinks. Pick-up artists and their ilk call this a “neg,” Gavin de Becker* calls it typecasting, i.e. “You must be one of those proud women who can’t let anyone help you” = You might let me carry your groceries to your building to prove that you are not “stuck up”, even though you don’t want me near you at all.
2) He floated a story about what he thinks is a false rape accusation as a trial balloon to see how you react to such. The answer he wanted was “Whoa, I would never accuse my rapist like that woman accused her rapist because I am a Cool, Chill Girl.” When his balloon sank like the turgid load of crap it was, he tried to talk you out of your reaction. First, has “calm down” ever worked to make anyone calm down in the history of ever? Second, rapists absolutely test the social waters to see how a potential victim and/or his/her social group are likely to respond. Did he have no cute pet stories? Has he never had a job? Has he seen zero movies and read zero books? Has he never heard music? Did he not have a childhood or a place where he grew up? Did you not meet somewhere on the time-space continuum where there were other people to watch and speculate about? There are infinite possible conversational topics that don’t involve “lying liars who lie about being raped” that he could have raised with you.
3) He tells you a rape-y story and then tries to get an invite back to your place (or get you to come to his), and when you correctly identify his sexy intentions and tell him that you are not ready for that, he tries to gaslight you into the idea that you misinterpreted what he wanted. Maybe he would have been fine with just making out or playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating pancakes. Maybe he’s not actually a rapist. But why oh why is he acting like one, and why oh why would he want you to have sex with him when you are feeling on edge and unsafe with him? “The attraction might fizzle out if we don’t act on it now” = COOL STORY, BUT I’LL RISK IT, BRO.
4) I have massive side-eye for the “you’re too anxious” comment. Say you had a raging anxiety disorder that was interfering with your goal to meet new people and date them, and he knew about it. It would be extremely not okay for him to use that as an insult when you wouldn’t sleep with him! If you know someone is feeling really anxious about something you’re doing, you stop doing the thing and ask them what would make them feel okay. Him throwing this out there is classic deflection, like, “Pay no attention to the creepy things that I am doing! Instead, let’s focus on something you are insecure about so you will leave feeling bad about yourself and second-guessing yourself!” Prediction: If you had ended up dating him for any length of time you’d be faking your own death 6 months from now to get away from him.
Of course you felt off-balance. Dude was trying to push all your buttons to get you off balance and get you to go against your own instincts and desires. If you’d kept hanging out with him you’d feel even more off-balance by now.
In answered to your numbered questions, 1) You’re not weird for not wanting to jump right into touching. 2) If someone jumps the gun with you, a friendly, “I’m open to this eventually” script is “I’m not very touchy-feely, especially with people I don’t know well. I’m really psyched to be on this date with you, but I’ll be way more relaxed if I can be the one to touch you first.” A dude hearing that might feel a bit rebuffed and rejected, but if you back it up by being friendly and relaxed in your manner going forward, he’ll relax too. Someone who tries to talk you out of this is telling you that they are bad with consent. Someone who sulks and pouts and makes a big production about how they aren’t touching you is both bad with consent and really unsexy. so it will be good to find that out early.
Plenty of people are meeting on Tinder & Grindr or whatnot and boning down on a first date. More power to ’em. But despite whatever boring thinkpiece on “hook-up culture” is paying some poor sod’s rent this week, plenty of people are not doing any of that. There is no “what is done,” there is only “what you want to do and are comfortable doing.” Someone who is a good match for you as a boyfriend or as a casual sex partner will move at your speed and want you to be comfortable every step of the way.
3) I think you can absolutely make it clear that you want to get to know someone for a bit before having even the most casual sex with them. Make it clear that early dates are clothes-on affairs for you. “If you can beat me at Scrabble three times in a row I’ll consider it.” “Sounds hot, but let’s get tacos and hang out for a bit.” “I’m theoretically cool with friends-with-benefits, but I need to feel like we’re actually be friends. That takes a little time for me to figure out.” Again, people who don’t get that you need to build up rapport, comfort, and trust before you fuck aren’t the right partners for you.
4) There was no 4. I will use it for scripts for saying “I really like you, and I’d like to wait before having sex.” “That’s an awesome offer, but I really like you, and I don’t want to have sex right away until I know you better.” “I really like everything I know about you so far. If you feel the same, can we wait on the whole sex thing?” “Let’s kiss but keep all pants on for now.” There is nothing sexier than being invited wholeheartedly to bed by someone you know is on the same page as you. If you aren’t a casual sex person, then don’t apologize for it or pretend differently.
5) YOU DID THE RIGHT THING BY BAILING. You were not overreacting. Even if he’s not actually a rapist, he had “Come on, just the tip!” and/or “I know we just met and all but condoms just aren’t comfortable for me” or “It slipped!” written all over him. Had you gone home with him, you would have spent the entire time you messed around with him on edge as you waited for him to do something sketchy.
Your instincts and boundaries are in solid working order. You correctly sensed that this dude was trying to manipulate you, and you kept sight of what you actually wanted and what made you feel safe and comfortable. Please don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad afterward (he was bad news and he tried to get into your head as well as your pants), and please save your awesomeness for a not-sketchy dude.
Sex and pancakes,
*Obligatory notice that the Domestic Violence chapter is very flawed. The opening chapters, where he describes creeps in action and breaks down the ways that they try to erode their victim’s boundaries is very relevant.
Edited to Add: LW, the Twitterverse has saddled up your Nopetepus!