The (New), New Rules of Sex

Men's Health (Australia) - - Contents -

Ev­ery­thing you need to know about ap­proach­ing, charm­ing and touch­ing women in the post #Metoo world.

The #Metoo fall­out ex­posed the dis­turb­ing truth: most women you know have found them­selves on the wrong end of some form of ha­rass­ment, ex­ploita­tion or worse. Need­less to say this is Not. A. Good. Thing. So how do you nav­i­gate the new sex­ual land­scape like a gen­tle­man with­out sac­ri­fic­ing your love life along the way? Brigid Delaney ex­plains

I WAS IN MY EARLY TWEN­TIES

and it was one of my first jobs. My boss and I were driv­ing back from a con­fer­ence. He stopped to buy beers. Then he pulled up at his house and in­vited me in.

We drank all the beers and he was too drunk to drive me home. One thing led to another and my day at the con­fer­ence ended with my boss and I drunk­enly mak­ing out on his couch.

It was con­sen­sual and ev­ery­thing. But by the time Mon­day rolled around and I had to not only see him at the of­fice but have my per­for­mance re­view the next week, I re­alised the whole in­ci­dent was to­tally gross and in­ap­pro­pri­ate. WHAT WAS HE THINK­ING? WHAT WAS I THINK­ING?

This was all be­fore the #Metoo shit­storm. So I pushed on at work for a few long and awk­ward months be­fore quit­ting and con­sign­ing the episode to the rather large file marked, ‘One of those things that hap­pen when you’re young’.

To­day, after hear­ing all about the sleazy ex­ploits of Har­vey We­in­stein, Don Burke et al, I won­der if I might have re­acted dif­fer­ently.

In short, this is a con­fus­ing time for both men and women. Look back at your sex­ual his­tory and you’re won­der­ing if stolen kisses or drunken one-night stands are go­ing to be dredged up by us and weaponised as ac­cu­sa­tions of crim­i­nal be­hav­iour. Mean­while, we’re won­der­ing if bad dates we’ve en­dured were ac­tu­ally sex­ual as­saults. Out of this chaos, new rules are emerg­ing.

THE #METOO move­ment doesn’t mean flirt­ing is over. Or that you can’t make hot moves any­more. That would be dis­as­trous for ev­ery­one – and the fu­ture of hu­man­ity. But things are def­i­nitely chang­ing be­tween us. And how you should act on­line, at work, on a date and even on the train is part of the shift.

COM­PLI­MENTS

We get it. After all the re­cent scan­dals, you’re un­der­stand­ably wor­ried about say­ing any­thing more dar­ing to a woman than “nice lap­top case”. But we still love to get com­pli­ments. Be­ing made to feel sexy and at­trac­tive isn’t the same as be­ing ob­jec­ti­fied and de­meaned.

The dis­tinc­tion is all in the way you phrase things. Be care­ful in the early days not to make your com­pli­ments too risque and keep your ap­pre­ci­a­tion di­rected above the neck­line. Think more “wow!” than “meow”.

Please say some­thing lovely, rather than some line you picked up from Red­tube. Once she’s in the bed­room and raring to go then you can pull out the more sug­ges­tive re­marks about her fan­tas­tic tits.

ASK­ING HER OUT

You like her? Go for it. But if she says no, leave it at that. Don’t pester. After all, you don’t want to model your­self on Pepé Le Pew.

But, I hear you say, “I grow on peo­ple! (like mould). And if I didn’t badger my em­ployer for a pro­mo­tion then I would never get ahead. So why can’t I do that with a woman I like?”

Be­cause the work­place and ro­mance are very dif­fer­ent fields. Re­jec­tion from some­one you fancy stings. We un­der­stand. But take it on the chin. Your en­thu­si­asm can be like mak­ing a deposit in the bank: she knows it’s there and can – and may - draw on it at a later date. If you’re re­ally lucky she’ll even pay it back with in­ter­est.

MAK­ING YOUR MOVE

Most of the moves I’ve made – or have had made on me – have in­volved get­ting drunk and sort of fall­ing on some­one and sud­denly . . . you’re kiss­ing! Or sit­ting next to them on the couch and inch­ing closer and closer un­til there’s nowhere left to go ex­cept un­der their clothes.

The drunken lurch is the time-hon­oured way of get­ting it on for the first time. OK, it’s not OMG ro­man­tic, but it still beats ask­ing some­one if it’s okay to kiss them. More on that later, tiger.

So how do you make your move in the age of #Metoo? How do you find out if the lust that’s burn­ing a hole in your chi­nos is re­cip­ro­cated? What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween mak­ing a tipsy pass at some­one and touch­ing them in­ap­pro­pri­ately?

If you’re un­sure of the tech­ni­cal­i­ties in this grey area, help is at hand (al­most) lit­er­ally. Re­mem­ber, there is one place where it’s fine to touch a woman in the early stages of flirt­ing. The arm! The arm is your friend in the pre­lim­i­nary rounds. It’s just rest­ing right there on the ta­ble. You can reach out and touch it. And if she doesn’t pull away, next time you can let it linger.

CHAS­ING COL­LEAGUES

You couldn’t help notic­ing Jane from Ac­counts. Suf­fice to say this is less to do with the rigour of her monthly fi­nan­cial re­ports and more to do

‘‘Re­mem­ber, there is one place where it’s fine to touch a woman in the early stages. The arm!”

with her long brown hair and exquisitely tight sweaters. Can you ask her out? Well, it kinda de­pends . . .

If you want to date a col­league you’re man­ag­ing, your de­ci­sion be­comes nec­es­sar­ily bi­nary: ei­ther re­move your­self from man­ag­ing that per­son, or don’t date them. (Check with HR if you want to play it safe, but don’t ex­pect a red-blooded en­dorse­ment).

Sure, the re­al­ity is that the work­place is where most of us will meet some­one com­pat­i­ble. Chances are you will have the hots for a col­league at some point in your life: in fact, a 2017 UK study found that 1 in 3 peo­ple have hooked up with a work­mate and 1 in 5 be­came part­ners with one. Just be aware that things are less likely to get messy if you work in dif­fer­ent de­part­ments – or at very least if she doesn’t call you “boss”. Nowa­days, in case you hadn’t no­ticed, it’s re­ally frowned upon to screw the crew.

MAKE HER FEEL SAFE

Talk­ing to my girl­friends about dat­ing apps, the thing they’re most wor­ried about nowa­days is not, “Will this be true love?” but “Will I be safe?”

A promis­ing flir­ta­tion with a man I met on a plane ended be­cause he re­fused to meet me for a date any­where ex­cept his own apart­ment. All I could imag­ine was worstcase sce­nar­ios, like be­ing dis­mem­bered and stowed in his freezer.

Blame Tin­der for this shift in mind­set. For women, it used to be that our friends set us up with guys they could vouch for; you’d been vet­ted be­fore we laid eyes on you. Now when we meet you for a first Tin­der date we’re tak­ing a leap of faith. We’re jit­tery. And we prob­a­bly have an elab­o­rate es­cape plan ready to ac­ti­vate.

So, what can you do to avoid trig­ger­ing her fig­u­ra­tive and ac­tual alarms? It’s sim­ple. Lis­ten to her, re­spect her and don’t strong-arm her into do­ing any­thing she’s not keen on. You can put us at ease by let­ting us take the lead. In those early days, let us stay in ar­eas and en­vi­ron­ments we’re fa­mil­iar with. Go to our favourite bar on a first date. And if and when the time comes to raise the stakes, head back to our place rather than yours. You may find home-ground ad­van­tage does won­ders for our per­for­mance.

SET­TLING THE BILL

Rule of thumb: who­ever asks the other out pays – oth­er­wise go Dutch.

But if you do pay for din­ner, drinks or the movies, this is not a li­cense to ex­pect that women will go home with you, have sex with you or let you mas­tur­bate into the near­est pot plant (if it wasn’t clear by now, We­in­stein was a colos­sal per­vert).

Not want­ing to feel the slight­est bit in debt to you at the end of the night, women are in­creas­ingly pay­ing for ev­ery­thing. But go­ing halvies is prob­a­bly the clean­est way of pro­ceed­ing. Hold back Mr Gen­er­ous till you’re an item.

NON-VER­BAL CUES

All women have had a kiss we just weren’t into. There we are with our mouths clamped shut while some guy laps at our face like an ex­cited St Bernard.

But let’s say things are pro­gress­ing and she’s clearly into it. How do you take things to the next level?

In one of the least ro­man­tic en­coun­ters I’ve had I was busy ‘get­ting busy’ with a guy in my ho­tel room when he sud­denly stopped and sought my ex­plicit per­mis­sion to go fur­ther. He ac­tu­ally asked: “Do you con­sent to hav­ing sex with me?”

Hon­estly, I thought he was go­ing to whip out a con­tract for me to sign. Which would have been a prob­lem be­cause in that dim mood light­ing I’d have cer­tainly strug­gled to read the fine print.

It also made me won­der whether con­sent had been an is­sue for this finicky fel­low in the past. Was he up on rape charges or some­thing? Did it kill the vibe? Let’s just say it was up there with use of the word ‘panties’.

There’s a bet­ter way to de­ter­mine our in­ter­est. You can gauge it non-ver­bally, one piece of cloth­ing at a time. Just keep go­ing un­til we give you a sub­tle clue - like push­ing your hand away or knee­ing you in the balls. Or you can ask ca­su­ally, “Can I un­dress you?” Or even, “I’d re­ally like to fuck you.” You’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing your de­sire – but also lis­ten­ing to ours.

STOP SIGNS

Trust us, if we want to be with you, we’ll be into mak­ing out with you. But there may be cer­tain points where we’ll want to stop. Some girls may be into giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing head on the first date but want to wait a while be­fore sleep­ing with you. This may not be how you usu­ally do things – but she’ll have her own timetable. Re­spect it.

And although it might frus­trate you, women are en­ti­tled to get into bed with you, take off all their clothes, start kiss­ing you and then de­cide at the very last mo­ment not to have sex. If that hap­pens, just grab your phone and book a ses­sion of Cryother­apy.

What are the signs your date can’t prop­erly give you the go-ahead? Be­ing drunk or on drugs can - in a le­gal sense - negate con­sent. Slur­ring her words and not be­ing able to stand up straight might also be in­ter­preted by the rea­son­able man as sound rea­sons not to pro­ceed. Book­ing her a cab would be your smarter play.

THE ON­LINE GAME

When we text, DM or IM, it’s a lot harder for you to gauge nu­ance and sub­tleties than if you were IRL. I’ve been caught in this trap a few times, send­ing hun­dreds of mes­sages back and forth to some guy and get­ting quite hot for him, only to find that face-to-face the ban­ter evap­o­rates and things are as awk­ward and stilted as an of­fice birth­day party. But courtship in­creas­ingly hap­pens on­line th­ese days, so get your head around a few guide­lines for get­ting it right.

a. Re­alise she may be a lit­tle more shy or re­served in real life than she is on­line, and that just be­cause she sent you a flirty text it doesn’t mean she’ll be stam­ped­ing for your zip­per the in­stant you meet up. Give her time to warm up be­fore mak­ing your sig­na­ture move.

b. Re­mem­ber that what­ever you say to some­one on­line can be for­warded, screen-shot, pub­lished on­line or given to your boss or the po­lice. So please don’t be a jerk.

c. You may think your dick is amaz­ing, the most beau­ti­ful thing in na­ture. Trust me: closeup dick pics with­out a face or con­text are about as sexy as an anatomy text­book. At the very least, ask be­fore you send one. Bet­ter still, let it go.

d. Nude pho­tos are pri­vate. Don’t show them to your friends, don’t post them on the In­ter­net. If you do, you are break­ing sev­eral laws. More im­por­tantly, it’s not very gen­tle­manly.

‘‘Trust me: close-up dick pics with­out a face or con­text are about as sexy as an anatomy text­book”

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