I was chatting with a male friend about why the majority of the “bad” dates listed in “Men behaving badly” involved men moving too fast. We discussed if these guys were just horn dogs or if I was sending off subtle signals that were being misinterpreted.
He: How do you behave in pre-meeting phone calls and emails?
Me: I’m flirty, but not sexual. I compliment him on things he says or has accomplished. I ask questions, contribute to the conversation, and laugh appropriately. I am not suggestive or sexual.
He: How do you behave on a first date?
Me: I’m focused, pay attention to my date, smile, laugh, and if I like him, I might touch his arm. If I feel a warm connection to him from multiple emails and calls, I’d give him a hug hello.
However, I don’t initiate hand holding or kissing. And I certainly don’t start sexual conversations. And if he starts one, I work to keep it tame.
He: I think because you are warm, playful and flirty in emails and calls, when the guy meets you his motor is already running.
This means the guy is already feeling sexual toward me. He may have entertained fantasies (some have shared they have). Then when he meets me, if he likes what he sees, he goes into behavior that would usually be reserved for later dates. Because we have already bonded to some degree beforehand, it feels like we already know each other, so the first meeting is somewhat a formality.
Thus he feels comfortable going for a passionate kiss or other signs of affection. In his mind, we are already on a second or third date since we know a bit about each other, and already like each other.
So, while I felt these guys were treating me like I had “slut” written on my forehead, they were just responding to the warm connection they were feeling. Smiling and steady eye contact is interpreted as interest, so since I am comfortable doing both, the guy was seeing green lights everywhere. Coupled with some touching, he thought I was inviting him to move full speed ahead.
So what to do to slow a guy down? Do I have to change my personality and demeanor entirely? I don’t want to give off false signals, but I also don’t want to be someone who acts cold or disinterested, doesn’t smile or breaks eye contact when I like a guy. Now I am better at saying, “We need to slow down,” when he’s coming on like a locomotive. If he doesn’t back off, then time to extricate myself.
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