Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. How do I avoid kissing my date?: Last night, I went on a date with a man who would not stop trying to kiss me. I am a woman in my early 20s, and he is a few years older. I was interested in him at first, so I was excited for us to kiss, but then it became all he wanted to do. I tried to figure out a way to keep him from pawing at me without upsetting him too much, because at that point I still wanted to continue the date and try to get to know him. He didn’t get the message when I tried to be subtle. I tried to pull away from the kiss, and he responded, “Aw, are you shy?” The third time he pulled me into an embrace, I broke away and said, “Let’s just talk for a bit.” That worked for all of 10 minutes, then his hand was on the back of my head again and he was pulling me toward him.
I’m sure some people would have been happy to make out with him that much, so I don’t want to be too hard on him just because our first-date expectations didn’t quite match up. In the future, how do I put a little space between myself and a guy without being so harsh that I make the date awkward?
A: I don’t think your focus should be on trying not to make a date awkward, because that implies it’s your job to both set your own limits and make sure that your date is happy with them. He was the one making the date awkward by repeatedly ignoring your attempts to slow down or redirect.
It’s incumbent upon every dater not to be boorish and thoughtless, and it’s not “harsh” to get more vocal once someone has made it clear they’re not especially interested in listening to your clear limits. You say, “I’m sure some people would have been happy to make out with him that much,” but he wasn’t on a date with some people, he was on a date with you, and you were giving clear and obvious signals that he was pushing for too much, too hard, too fast. He did not miss these signals—that’s why he said, “Aw, are you shy?” when you pulled away.
Hopefully this isn’t something you’ll run into on a lot of first dates, but if you do, you can absolutely draw attention to the dynamic without being harsh: “Hey, I’ve tried to slow things down a few times now, and you haven’t been paying attention. I need you to stop trying to kiss me. I’m not comfortable with this.”