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A Gentleman’s Guide to Flirting Without Being a Creep

Lately, not a day goes by that a new story doesn’t pop up about a man being outed for his years of sexual harassment against women (or men, or both). It’s not just famous men who do this, but men you might know personally, even ones in your circle of friends. Left and right, accounts are surfacing of bad men doing bad things — everything from sending unsolicited dick pics to repeated physical violence — and it’s turning the world upside-down.

A guy really can’t catch a break in 2017, can he?

Here’s what’s going on: Women today are more tired of your bullshit than ever before. We’re speaking up against the many, many years of injustice we’ve faced, and we’re doing it in increasingly large numbers. If you’re a straight man, I totally understand how this revolution is scary as fuck to you. Now you’re experiencing genuine anxiety over how you’re supposed interact with women — especially women you want to have sex with — who are demanding accountability, often publicly.

That said, a common misconception today is that heterosexual women who identify as feminist don’t want men hitting on them. Please, stop thinking this. Of course, I can’t speak for all women, but I think it’s safe to say that generally we do enjoy flirtation, because we’re human beings. (And like most human beings, we get horny.) When flirting is done right, it’s great; I’m all in. The thing is, there are a lot of ways it can go wrong because most men have been taught how to approach flirtation and sex by other men — men who are, no offense, just as clueless. That’s why you might think catcalling isn’t that big a deal, or that negging totally does work. It’s why you might think that having power and/or money is an automatic gateway to nonstop sex with any woman you want.

None of these assumptions are true, so maybe it’s time you took advice from a woman.

Feel the Vibe

Flirtation is most successful when both parties are feeling it. If you find yourself working hard to keep a conversation going, chances are she isn’t interested. Respect that. Flirting shouldn’t be a struggle. If she’s excusing herself from the conversation, don’t follow her to wherever she’s going or increase your advances to keep her standing next to you. Same goes for internet flirting. The more effort you’re putting in with little reciprocation, the more likely it’s just not happening. Accept it, and move on.

Avoid Only Talking About Yourself

It’s cool that you know things, sure, but a romantic date isn’t the place for you to talk about every record you have in your collection. I understand that you want to come off as smart or accomplished — that’s a common desire—but this can often quickly turn into behavior that’s patronizing and self-indulgent.

Don’t assume your date has no idea what you’re talking about. You’re not the only person in the world who has seen a Fellini film, or backpacked across Europe, or whatever. You should want to get to know the person you’re on a date with, and be excited to hear about her life. If you leave a date and can’t list five things you just learned about her, that wasn’t a date. That was a one-man show, and chances are there won’t be an encore.

I also encourage you to take your self-evaluation a step further if this is the case: Why exactly are you interested in a woman you don’t care to know anything about?

Touching Is Different From Groping

Physical touch can definitely be romantic and exciting — that is, if you’re both vibing off each other. Be wary, however, of not crossing the line and getting into groping territory. I don’t want my breast squeezed in the middle of a bar by a man I just met no matter how cute he may be. Limit physical contact unless it’s invited, and even then, don’t go squeezing and grabbing whatever you want like it’s fair play. The more intimate you get with one another over time, the more you two can figure out the barometer of how much you can grab at one another in public.

Compliments Should Be About More Than Looks

The modern feminist woman doesn’t hate being told she’s pretty. However, if the only nice things we hear from a man we’re dating are about our appearance, that’s a problem. We’re constantly rebelling against societal conditioning that tells us our image is what we should value most about ourselves. So yeah, we might get a little mad when you talk too much about our body, clothing, face, etc. But you have to understand the larger context of why that is. We have thoughts, feelings and personality traits that should be more important when it comes to why you like us.

State Your Intentions

What do you want, ultimately? Are you just looking to fuck, or do you want a girlfriend? Are you not sure? These are all acceptable feelings to have, but they need to be put out there. Don’t assume that because a woman is sex-positive and engages in casual sex that that’s all she wants out of you. On the other end of the spectrum, you shouldn’t assume that a woman wants to be your girlfriend after having sex with you. Bottom line, be honest about what you want. We have a right to know these things, so don’t freak out when we ask you.

Communicate Openly

In other words, text us back. We’re sick of the games. We don’t care to wait 13 hours for you to finally respond to a text that said “hey.” Yes, you get busy and can forget to reply to something we sent; it happens to all of us. However, it shouldn’t happen all the time. No one is that goddamn busy. You might think that making us wait turns us on more, but it doesn’t. It’s a sign of immaturity, and one of the main siren sounds that rings in our heads indicating we just might have a fuckboi on our hands.

On that note, no more ghosting, okay? If your preferred method of avoiding a difficult conversation is to suddenly remove yourself from that person’s existence, you shouldn’t be allowed to fuck until you grow up.

No Means No, Duh

Bargaining isn’t something that should be going down during a sexual encounter. Just completely let go of the thought that women can be persuaded into sex. Consent doesn’t only need to be present, it needs to be wholehearted and earnest. If you’re negotiating to change a “no” to a “yes,” chances are it’s still a “no.”

When It Comes to Sex, Ask Us What We Like

So, you have that enthusiastic consent and now it’s time to do the damn thing. You, personally, might like sex a certain way. Maybe you’re a guy on the rougher or more dominant side who enjoys choking, spanking, yadda yadda yadda. Before you get into it, however, talk to one another about likes and dislikes. This is an act going down between two people (at least) who each have their own sexual tastes and preferences. If she says she doesn’t want to be choked, don’t do it. Seriously, don’t. Listen to what she likes, and try to do those things for her. You should both feel like you’re getting something out of this. Make her orgasm as much of a priority as yours. Even if it doesn’t happen, she will appreciate the effort, trust me.

And one last thing: Eat her out.