How to Pick a Lover

A gentleman is a patient wolf.
—Henrietta Tiarks, British socialite

There is a lot of talk about the difficulty of playing the woman’s role to
everyone’s satisfaction, and so there should be. It is difficult. But the male
role can also be a difficult one.

Consider the dilemma of the man who wants to make love to you and is
interested and turned on and has all those other desirable responsive traits.
He wants you to know that he is interested, but he is wary about coming on
too strong and seeming like a boor, thereby scaring you away and turning
you off. If he is too respectful, you are insulted because he does not seem to
want you. If he is not respectful enough, you are again insulted because he is
acting as if you are easy and he is not concerned with your responses. He has
to show his arousal, but in a subtle way. He has to indicate interest, but not
exert pressure. What you are really looking for is a demonstration of interest
that is, at once, genuine but also patient and restrained. You want to be sure
that he is not sexually apathetic and not impotent and not gay, but you don’t
want him to come on like a john or a rapist.

Men with wide experience and a sense of delicacy can talk themselves out
of this dilemma by verbalizing their desires in an inoffensive way, leaving it
up to you to move closer or to back away. A woman friend was dining in an
elegant restaurant, wearing a suitably formal evening dress, complete with
jacket. Partway through dinner, the room felt warm; and she casually slipped
the jacket off, revealing a considerable expanse of warm skin. Her escort
looked at her with new appreciation and then leaned over to request formally,
“Would you please pass the saltpeter?” She did not know whether or not
saltpeter actually works to depress the libido, but she thought he had made
his point in a suitably subtle and witty—but still very flattering—manner.

Although words and wordplay can partly resolve some dating dilemmas,
the preliminary drama of courtship is usually played out without words and
is therefore fraught with ambiguous nonverbal clues. To make the situation
still more complex, strangers, who are not yet adept at interpreting each
other’s actions, often act out sexual scripts that involve nonverbal gestures.
These nonverbal gestures represent social and interpersonal norms that are
used to guide sexual interactions between men and women. For the most
part, sexual scripts are initiated by men and responded to by women. The
most desirable kind of man, under these difficult circumstances, is one who
expresses his erotic appreciation but who is quick to notice a hesitant or
negative response on your part and backs off accordingly. He is one who
offers but does not demand.

One young man, who had unusual success with otherwise unpredictable
teenage girls, confided to me his secret: “I don’t ever grab a girl like most guys
do. Being grabbed would make anybody nervous. I just smile and open my
arms and wait for her to walk into them. If she doesn’t want to, she can’t be
offended, but you’d be surprised how many of them do.”
Even though this young Lothario was only sixteen, I was not at all
surprised by his success.

The ideal prospective lover is one who has solved the paradoxical
dilemma of being able to express impatience patiently. Some men discover
it for themselves at sixteen; some men never learn it.


Comments on: "A Dating Dilemma: Restrained Impatience" (1)

  1. […] A Dating Dilemma: Restrained Impatience ( […]

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