He went for the hug.
That was five years ago. And I will never forget how much more certain I felt about that guy in that moment. How respected I felt -- how in-tune with my thoughts and body language this guy seemed to be. But also, how special it made me feel. Sometimes, it feels like every motherfucker I spend more than five minutes talking to thinks he should try to kiss me. But this guy had spent hours talking to me, and didn't act like he was entitled to anything.
Many guys think a lot about when is the "right" time to kiss a girl -- after one date? After two dates? Three? To some degree, they're right to worry -- I've lost track of the number of dudes I never want to see again because they tried to kiss me too soon. If they actually care about me and have social skills and basic human decency, they won't try to kiss me before I'm ready. On the other hand, I will never, ever forget the dudes who waited respectfully for the "right" time.
So how do you know when is the right time? As it happens, I give great kissing advice:
I'm going to start with the basic assumption that you are a decent human being for whom consent is extremely important. Because, let's be real: an unwanted kiss is disgusting. And if you impose some sort of unwanted kiss on her, she's probably going to tell all of her friends that you are a creep. Or that you're creepy. And, you know what? She's right. If you're kissing people who don't want to be kissed, you are being creepy. Remember: consent is super sexy.
When It's Okay to Kiss a Girl
1. You don't have to either restrain her or surprise her to make the kiss happen. Remember: an unwanted kiss is disgusting. Consent is sexy. If you have to be quick, sneaky or forceful to get the kiss, you're doing it wrong, and the girl will definitely not be into it.
2. You ask if you may kiss her -- and she says yes. Some men mistakenly believe that "asking will kill the mood." Trust me -- if she wants to kiss you, it absolutely won't. She'll say yes! Unless maybe she wants to but she's just not quite ready yet. Then she'll say no -- this time. But! She'll feel super safe and respected with you, which will help solidify your bond.
But yeah. Seriously, don't worry about "killing the mood." When a guy I want to kiss asks if he can kiss me, it makes me want to kiss him even more! And when a guy I don't want to kiss asks if he can kiss me, I say no -- but I really appreciate that he used his words, so that I could tell him no before his face and body were moving towards mine.
3. She makes the first move. It's 2015. Plenty (but, admittedly, not all) of girls are willing to make the first move! And it's super sexy when they do.
Just, you know. If she's had a lot to drink, you should ask yourself whether she's really able to give consent right now. Especially if you're hoping to have a long-term thing with her. Kissing her when she's drunk is going to mess up your chances of ever having trust.
4. You have a "moment." Refer back to Point 1. Mutual, consensual kisses are not "stolen." They are not fast. They are not sudden or sneaky. Instead, they come after a moment. Perhaps you've been staring into each other's eyes -- then lips. Then eyes, then lips. Maybe she's touched the side of your hand with the side of her hand, and now you're holding hands. Parts of your bodies may be touching -- your arms, your legs. Maybe you've even pushed her hair off her face or brushed her cheek with your hand. Your bodies are gravitating towards each other...
But even then, there's room for misinterpretation. Just because some people do the whole hookup culture thing, doesn't mean we all are. And even then -- just because someone is into hookup culture, doesn't mean they necessarily want to kiss you right now, even if the sparks are flying and the chemistry is totally there. The only way to make sure the kiss is consensual is to:
5. Follow the 90-10 rule. AFTER you've had a moment, and you're feeling pretty certain this girl wants to kiss you, you can initiate the kiss. Go up to 90% of the way to her face... then stop. Wait a moment. If consent is important to you (which, if you're not a despicable person, it is), you will never go 100% of the way to her face. Let her go the last 10%. If she wants to kiss you, she will!
If you follow the 90-10 rule, you will always know that the kiss you shared was mutually wanted. If you go 100% of the way, you'll never be 100% certain.
When It's NOT Okay to Kiss a Girl
1. You barely know her. I mean, personally, I feel like it's weird to even touch a person you barely know. Do you know if she's got a boyfriend? Do you know if she's religious? Do you know if she's from a culture in which it's very taboo for a man to touch a woman? Do you know if this person wants to be touched by you? If not... maybe keep your hands off.
But, of course, I'm biased. I used to be best friends with this gorgeous Persian girl, whose family was Muslim. In her culture, men didn't touch women. But, unfortunately, in the U.S., many men have no respect for women's boundaries... and, as a result, I was horrified to see people touching this girl all the time, even when it clearly made her uncomfortable.
And, yeah, she always had the option of directly confronting them by saying, "Get your arm off of me!" "Can you stop touching my leg?" or even, "WHY DID YOU JUST PICK ME UP? PUT ME DOWN!" But that's putting her in an uncomfortable situation -- direct confrontation is hard for everyone. Especially people who don't know if you're a "nice guy" or a psychokiller or what.
(And, like, obviously, there are exceptions to this -- which is why you should follow the rules in the "When It's Okay to Kiss a Girl" section.)
2. She went for the hug. A hug -- especially one she initiated at the end of a date -- is her way of telling you that she does not want to kiss you tonight. Don't be an idiot and try to convince yourself that she somehow misinterpreted your nonverbal request for a kiss. Women are experts at reading body language and sexual intent. If she turned her face away from yours and went for the hug, it's because she didn't want to kiss you. It's kind of like that thing boxers do when they don't want you punching them anymore:
If I wanted you to come, I'd invite you. I'd say, "I'm parked over here -- walk me to my car!"
"Do you want to come in?"
"The girls and I are headed to Rick's Bar next -- do you want to come?"
But if I don't invite you, that means you're not invited.
4. You touched her hand, cheek, leg, or any other part of her, and she pulled away. If she doesn't want you touching her, she doesn't want you kissing her. But don't beat yourself up -- love is a numbers game. Not everyone you meet is going to be attracted to you. Not everyone's going to be ready to kiss you when you're ready to kiss them. But there truly is someone for everyone, so don't give up.
5. She says she doesn't want to kiss you. It is literally never, ever, ever, ever, EVER up to you to "interpret her body language." If her voice says no, it doesn't matter if you think her "tone and body language said yes." In fact, according to I Pressed Criminal Charges, Even Though He "Only" Touched My Face, Neck, Arms, Back and Legs, you don't even have to kiss the person to get in serious trouble for this. If someone says no, you fucking stop.
Or, in the words of Louis C.K.,
I'll say it again: never, ever, ever presume to "interpret" a woman's nonverbal consent after she's told you no.
Things didn't end up working out with that dreamy guy from the beginning of my post -- but we did go on to have several amazing weeks together. We danced. We explored the outdoors. And, when the time was right, we kissed! And kissed and kissed. But, probably, none of that explosively awesome kissing would have happened if he'd ignored my boundaries or body language and tried to kiss me too soon.
I'm really glad he didn't.