If a date does this … don’t see them again!
“Consent” is a hot word right now. And it should be. I hope it’s here to stay. Because when a date does something against your explicit wishes, it’s game over, right?
But, I’ve noticed the “consent” conversation largely hovers around sexual consent only (and the trauma caused when consent is absent and sexual assault occurs). —
Yet, people often show you on the very first date whether they care (or not) about honoring your boundaries.
One woman shared this story with me: “I knew he wasn’t the guy for me two minutes after we sat down in the booth. He talked about himself incessantly, and he didn’t ask me a single thing about my life. When he offered a second drink, I said, ‘no.’ But when the server came, he said, ‘Two more, please.’ In total, he ordered six glasses of wine — three for him and three for me. I left that last one full, sitting on the table.”
Listen — the pressure to speak up and tell the server, “Excuse me, please bring just one,” was too great — it’s a completely relatable situation for many of us.
From a distance, it seems like one of those “duh!” no-brainer moments, yes?
But, nearly every woman I know: Clients, friends, acquaintances, even me – we all have story after story of the times we didn’t speak up for ourselves.
The pressure to “go along to get along,” not rock the boat and avoid displeasing anyone (thanks to our cultural training) touches us to our core.
Our inner self whispers, “Just get through this. Be nice.”
Unfortunately, some people (let’s just call them what they are: jerks) count on this and are more than willing to take advantage of our demeanor.
It’s a true dating dilemma. One that’s even trickier to address when your boundaries are violated by someone you truly like.
“We have so much in common, and we have this uncanny rare connection!” Sandra said. “He’s attractive, charming, quick-witted, and he’s on the same par with me intellectually — finally. Except there’s one problem; he wanted to go a little further sexually than I was comfortable with this early on.
I told him I wasn’t ready for where he was taking us, but he pushed. When I called him on it, he deflected and didn’t own what he was doing. I decided to give him another chance because I saw real potential with him, and I can usually go with the flow. But he kept trying to take the date to places I just wasn’t ready for. Do you think it’s wrong of me to stop seeing him or should I give him another chance?”
(Once again, it’s alarming how difficult it is for so many women to say “no,” or speak up for ourselves at all.)
So, how do you know which people are likely to violate consent boundaries?
Spotting dangerous ones when you don’t like them is easy. But noticing their negative traits gets a bit fuzzy when they’re hot, or smart, or funny, or charming, or, oh boy, all four. In these cases, I have a pro tip for you:
No matter how “nice” they are – if a person doesn’t honor you saying “no” on the little things — RUN!
Because, nice ass(ets) or no, they have just committed the #1 dating no-no!
They may as well have said to you, “I care more about what I want than what you need.”
Of course, this behavior shows up differently from person to person. I put daters like this in three categories:
1. The ‘Nice One:’ This person would never intentionally push your comfort levels if they knew you wanted to bail, or that you need to slow things down.
2. The Sneaky Good One: This person is basically a decent person who is heavily steeped in bad information. We cannot discount the huge impact our culture has on training people to believe women “play hard to get,” and that, with any sign of waffling on her part, it’s perfectly OK to push her further. You know, because we “secretly want it.” (Oye, giant sigh!)
3. The Total Asshat: This jerk hears you say, “No, thank you”, loud and clear and orders you another drink anyway. Or sticks their hand where it isn’t welcome. Yeah — that one. By disregarding your explicitly stated wishes, they are practically slapping you across the face with that red flag.
Want to know how a person will treat you long-term?
On the very first date, clearly, articulate a need or boundary. (Yeah — it’s that easy.) How they respond to your boundary or request shows you how they’ll treat you now and in the future. If they don’t honor your “no” about the second glass of wine, they’re unlikely to honor your “no” sexually.
Drawing a line in the sand is never easy or fun. I know, I’ve failed epically at it dozens of times. But I got better at it with practice, and you can, too.
Try practicing saying “no” and holding your boundaries with a close friend or in front of the full-length mirror.
Go ahead: try getting these words out with some grace and strength behind them:
- “No, thank you.”
- “No, this is my last one.”
- “No, thanks. We’re only here for drinks, not dinner.”
- “No, I’m not available for that.”
- “No, I’m not ready for this yet.”
- “No, I’m not OK with you putting your hand there.”
- “No, I’m not comfortable talking about this until I know you better.”
- “No, I won’t be staying.”
Seriously! … Practice this in your everyday life, as much as you can.
I double-dog dare you, because when you need to use that “no,” to be fair to your date, you’ll want to state it clearly. And to be fair to you, you’ll want to mean it.
“No” might seem like, well, a negative word, but it’s actually one of the most powerful tools you have.
Being confident in your “no” shows others they can trust your “YES!”
. . . .
Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.
Need one-on-one coaching from Wendy? You can hire her by the hour.
You can send a question to the column via email: [email protected]
Single? Take her 5-Day Love Breakthrough Course (for free — you’re welcome!)