1. Be curious.
You’ll know my defenses are down when I start babbling. So ask me about stuff that gets me going. Hold off on your opinions. When I start talking about why the advent of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler signaled a cosmic shift for feminists, or how I’m worried that my minimalism has become pathological, or why “Speed” is one of the greatest movies ever made, you’ll know I’m comfortable.
Of course, it helps if you’re actually into what I’m saying. If you’re not, I’ll be able to spot that glazed, not-really-listening-look within seconds. And if you don’t think I’m smart and funny and interesting, you have no business wanting to sleep with me.
2. Don’t start an argument.
There’s a difference between being so excited that I forget myself and getting so pissed off my face heats up with rage.
Ever since I was little, it seems like men of a certain breed have been trying to get me riled up because they think it’s cute. This past summer, I was with a guy — a guy I’d seen a few times and liked — who actually used the term feminazi. Those who know me can imagine my reaction. And those who don’t…well, let’s just say it was loud. But his response? “Oooh, passion, I like it.”
Fuck. That. Shit. My anger may be a turn-on for you but it’s a total buzzkill for me. As my friend Elizabeth said about that guy after that night, I lost my boner.
3. Test the waters with mildly sexy conversation.
Tell me about your first girlfriend. Tell me about who you had a crush on when you were a kid. Anything that leads the conversation in the direction of sex and desire but can still be considered safe for work counts as mildly sexy.
Talking about attraction without being explicit is how you can gauge interest without the risk of too much awkwardness. If I steer the conversation in another direction, you’ll know you’ve misread the cues but we can both save face.
NOTE: Mildly sexy does not mean talking about body parts! Yours or mine.
4. Let the tension build.
Sexual tension is one of the most delicious gifts ever given to humankind, and we should savor every drop.
A friend once said that one of his favorite things is sitting in a bar with a woman as the question “Will they or won’t they?” hangs in the air.
So let the conversation and eye contact steep before starting to touch my wrist. At the right moment, that touch will send a chill. But too early, and it will seem like you went to flirting school and were given a homework assignment.
5. Tell me why you like me, in particular.
This one should be self-explanatory. (Just — please, no body parts. We’ll get there.)
But it’s also a great opportunity for me to go off on a seduction DON’T. Which is to tell me you want to sleep with me because you know I want to sleep with you. Which two men have done in the past year.
First, they were wrong. This isn’t to say I wasn’t attracted to them, but I didn’t want to sleep with them. Not then, not without a little woo.
But even if they had been right, this explanation would have turned me off because of the sheer arrogance. The thing I like about you is how hot you are for me. Way to make a girl feel special.
Both incidents remind me of an atrocious scene in an even more atrocious movie, where Richard-Gere-as-Lancelot — after kissing Julia-Ormond-as-Guinevere, against her will — says, “I know when a woman wants me.” Which is like Sean Connery in every Bond movie he ever made.
My point is not that the men who hit on me were predators. It’s just that I get tired thinking about all the cultural cues that have told them that this kind of faux-swagger is what women want. Believe me, we don’t. Or at least this one doesn’t.
Those guys blew it. Which is too bad, because it might have been fun.
6. Move toward the kiss.
One of the sexiest kisses of my life was in a doorway in Boston with a guy I’d had a crush on for years. We both knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. He looked at me for a long minute, smiling slightly, his gaze moving slowly from my hair to my cheeks to my mouth to my eyes. About to burst, I said, “Well?” and he said, “I was going to start with your forehead.”
So toward is the operative word here. Moving toward the kiss doesn’t mean diving in. Maybe it means holding my hand. Or stroking my neck. Or running your fingers lightly through my hair. Or maybe it means starting with my forehead.
7. Follow my pace and make me crazy.
You know what’s hot? Restraint.
Thanks to Emily Nagoski’s illuminating book Come As You Are, I now understand that all of us have accelerators and all of us have brakes. And sometimes it’s like there’s a lead foot on my accelerator and sometimes it takes me a while to get into fifth. It all depends on mood and context.
But the why doesn’t matter. What does is that, no matter how on fire you are, don’t put me in the position of turning you down or — worse — offering a tepid, “Yeah, OK.”
Wait until you know you’ll get a “Hell yes!” Even better, wait until I’m the one asking and you’re the one saying, “Hell yes!”
And then we can talk about all the body parts we want.