I was into him, and he was into me, but when I pulled away from the kiss and worked up the courage to say, "I probably shouldn’t stay the night. I don’t want to be a tease, but I don’t want to have sex," I thought I was being clear and upfront. Yet after that, I quickly found myself in a vulnerable position: no shoes, no shirt, no shorts, and kind of a big problem. He said, "Okay, that’s fine," but kept things rolling just the same.
I made excuses for him, because he’s a nice guy and I still consider him a friend, but a mentor of mine pointed out that it doesn’t matter how nice a person is, or if everything until that point was completely mutual. Even if a nice person crosses a boundary, they are being oppressive. Period.
I quickly found myself in a vulnerable position: no shoes, no shirt, no shorts, and kind of a big problem.
It’s quite rare for a twentysomething to go on an old-fashioned "date" these days. Lines are typically quite blurred, right from the get-go, so it’s difficult to say if something is a date, merely a hang out or just an outing with a flirty friend. In which case, bringing up sexual boundaries over an otherwise casual and enjoyable meal or activity just feels awkward and out of place. On the other hand, by the time you’re making out with your "date" at his house, it might be too late for that (uber important) conversation about boundaries.
The fact of the matter is, once things get going even a little bit, putting the brakes on by saying things like, "I don’t want to be a tease, but I don’t want to have sex," or, "I’m actually abstinent," can come out sounding a lot like, "Blah blah blah." Hormone juju takes over, and everything you say can sound like a coy, feigned protest. (Take it from the girl who gave a firm "no" to a dude three times over, only to have him stick his tongue deep down her ear cavity anyway.)
A fun and fancy free kiss can escalate so quickly. But when I say, "Could we slow it down a bit? You know, just go back to kissing?" and the ol’ shorts yank maneuver happens anyway, it doesn’t matter if you’re a really nice guy. It’s still not okay.
If a woman says she doesn’t want to go any further, there shouldn’t be any questioning of her, other than maybe, "What are you comfortable with?" Opening the door for dialogue is the most chivalrous thing a man can do.
So, let’s talk about our sexual boundaries — our likes and dislikes, our triggers, our fetishes — so much that it becomes as commonplace as first date chatter about our favorite beers or pizza toppings. Whether a relationship is destined to be light and casual or serious and exclusive, respecting a partner's boundaries and checking in early and often is the best way to build a foundation of trust and respect.