As the mother of 20-something sons, it makes my heart soar when I hear them use the phrase “enthusiastic consent” as their dating mantra. Unfortunately, not every man is attuned to reading his date’s “not-very-enthusiastic” signals. And, others may be able to read the signals just fine but think their own desires trump anyone else’s. So, it’s no surprise that we are hearing more and more unfortunate stories of yet another celebrity who has gone way too far, too fast. And, those are just the celebrities.
While I’m happy my sons “get it,” when it comes to proper dating etiquette, I wonder what lessons I would give a daughter about how to make sure she is always in the driver’s seat when it comes to accelerating or slamming on the brakes during a date.
How do you stop things from moving way too fast? Here are my three tips.
Read the Signs
While men need to read the signs, so do women. Trust your gut. So, if your gut is telling you that your date will not be a gentleman once you are alone, don’t put yourself in that situation. There are early warning signs that your date will not show you the respect you deserve. Chances are high, that if he is not respecting you in a public place—like at a coffee shop, movie theater or park—things won’t get any better once you are alone with him.
Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- He’s speaking over you, interrupting, or dismissing what you say. If he isn’t sharing the conversation “space” during your date, chances are he will be tone-deaf when he’s alone with you.
- He’s rushing you through coffee, dinner, or whatever because he wants to go back to his place or yours. This kind of impatience rather than letting the date unfold more organically could be a sign that he has one thing only in mind!
- He’s being too familiar, asking way too many personal questions, showing too much affection given the early stage of your relationship. This could be a sign he doesn’t have a strong sense of boundaries.
If you feel pressured to go back to his place or yours, back out of the situation now. It’s a lot harder to put things in reverse later. If the situation doesn’t feel right in your gut, don’t get in the car (metaphorically speaking). You probably won’t enjoy the destination.
Control Your Own Speed
Setting expectations at the outset about how fast you want to go can help to avoid any misunderstandings down the road. If your date is signaling that they are expecting a greater degree of intimacy than you are comfortable with, it’s better to speak up before things veer off in the wrong direction.
Set your own speed in a confident and diplomatic manner. How about something like:
- “I sense we may be looking for different things on this date. I want to take things slow. So, if that’s disappointing to you, I completely understand if you want to call it a night.”
- “I’m flattered you’ve invited me back to your place. I don’t want to lead you on though so just think it’s worth mentioning that I’m only going back as a friend, at this stage.”
Clear communication that confidently conveys your expectations can help you keep control.
Never hesitate to change your mind if you started out “enthusiastically consenting” but have a change of heart. You don’t “owe” anybody anything, even if your date is trying to make you feel guilty or calling you a “tease.” If it doesn’t feel right or good, “stop”. The person you need to respect the most in this world is you.
There is a lot of trust involved in dating. Trust that your date will respect your words, read your body language, and go not-too-fast. But having blind faith that things will go just right isn’t as good a strategy as being in the driver’s seat from the get-go.