When And How Should You Escalate To Sex?

difficult_decisions asks:

When/How should you escalate to sex?

I just recently dated a girl that I was seeing for a little over a month that didn’t pan out. During our dates we would be intimate, hold hands and have make-out sessions.

Now that I recollect everything I was coming off as a “nice guy”. I’m looking for something more than just casual dating. I had an opportunity once when I suggested I pick her up from her place. The night ended and I drove her back. We made out like usual, but she didn’t offer me to come inside. I wasn’t going to ask, and I couldn’t take her back to my place because I still live at home.

My question is when do you escalate and how would you have done it in my situation, or in general?

Let me just start by getting the first thing out-of-the-way. When you say that you were coming of as a “nice guy” it sounds to me more like you were coming off as not pushy or aggressive. “Nice guy” in the common usage really describes someone who is acting like a doormat, which it doesn’t sound like you were. If you’re holding hands, making out, etc. you’re not the “nice guy” you’re just the guy who wasn’t aggressive about sex. Which is fine by the way, you shouldn’t be aggressive about sex.

Before we get into how to and when you should escalate to sex,  lets tackle what happened with the last girl you were dating. There are two possible reasons she didn’t invite you up to her place either:

1) She had no interest in sex, whether with you, or just in general that day

or

2) She was waiting for you to ask if you could come up.

Since you refer to this girl in the past tense (dated instead of dating), I think it’s safe to assume that you guys are no longer dating which has me leaning very strongly toward the idea that she didn’t invite you up because she didn’t want to sleep with you.  No amount of tips on escalation  are going to change someones mind once they’ve decided they don’t want to sleep with you. Now that that’s covered, let’s get to the how and when of escalating to sex.

Now, as for what I would have done in your situation, that’s simple. Based on what you’ve told me, I would have asked to be invited upstairs. If she invites me up and I’m still feeling the chemistry, I’d tell her how I felt and then tell her that I’d be interested in taking things to the next level. If she doesn’t invite me up, I would assume that she maybe wasn’t ready to have sex at that point and I’d open up a dialogue about sex. It’s possible she’s saving herself for a specific point in time or event (10th date, 3 months of dating, marriage, who knows). Whatever the case, I’d want to discuss it. Guys, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting consensual sex, so don’t feel like the bad guy here. If you have the conversation without trying to pressure your partner into sex based on an arbitrary belief system (i.e. The 3 Date Rule) you’re not being an asshole, just being honest about what you want and your expectations.

I won’t b.s. you and say that you’ll know when it’s the right time to have sex because things will feel right, you’ll be having sex for the right reason, or you’ll be in love, or you’re married, or any other romantic fairy-tale ideal of what sex should be. You’ll know when it’s time to escalate to sex because you’re ready and you’re hoping your partner is, or they’ve told you they are as well. It’s that simple.

There are no right times or reasons to have sex. If you’re both consenting adults and in control of your cognitive functions the time you BOTH decide to have sex is the right time.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to dating and the escalation to sex is the 3rd or 4th date. It’s not my rule of thumb, so don’t blame me for it, blame societies expectations.

To be honest, there isn’t a hard a fast rule on when to escalate toward sex. The best thing to do is either have a conversation, or get really good at reading the signs. Hopefully you’re good at both, it will make escalation to sex, or the discussion about sex, a whole lot easier.

If you’re unclear on if your partner is trying to escalate to sex, the signs will likely be there. The first sign is usually when the person wants to have a date occur only in an apartment. It’s not always the case, but if you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve been on 3 or 4 dates, then suddenly they want to “watch a movie” at your place, there’s a good chance that they want to take things to the next level. Of course, you can take the guess-work out and just ask if that’s what their motive is. Yes, it’s less sexy than a spontaneous sexual encounter but if you suck at reading the signs there’s nothing wrong with saying:

“I like you, I think we’re really hitting it off and I’d like to take things to another level, do you think we’re ready to have sex”

Sure, you’ll lose some cool points, but at least you’re open and honest about what where your head is at. Personally I’d rather potentially have sex, then be cool and not have sex. But that’s just me.

When it comes to the how of escalating to sex, well, it’s right up there in how to you recognize if someone else is trying to escalate. The When to escalate and How to escalate go hand in hand, but if you need me to spell it out for you here goes:

1. Invite them over for dinner and movies. If you really want to get the point across, invite them over and specify that you’d like for them to spend the night. If it’s not possible because of your living situation, ask if they’d like for you to come over and spend the night

To be clear, even if they say yes, they could still not want to sleep with you at this point. If they are interested in sex, they’ll be prepared for sex and will probably tell you either directly or indirectly. If you’re a guy dating straight women, the tell-tale sign is she brings up shaving, or how smooth her legs are. If it’s a girl dating a straight guy, he’ll tell you all about how much work he put into cleaning his apartment. Also yeah, this will be the only time he’s EVER cleaned his apartment this well. Of course, some people are put on edge by ambiguity, so this method may be the one for you because it works especially well at clearly escalating and putting things out in the open.

Try this:

2. Tell your partner that you’re ready to escalate things to the point of sex. Have a discussion about what this might mean for both of you, and their interest in escalating to sex.

This option is incredibly direct, which for most people will come off as not sexy. Personally, I’d rather have an adult conversation about escalating to sex and what it means (because I’m an adult) versus drunkenly hooking up and waking up the next day with someone who has a different idea about what sex means (ex. some people think that having sex means that you’re immediately in a committed relationship, which has happened to me in the past). The best way to have this conversation is to do so in person. Having this conversation over text will only heighten how absolutely unsexy the topic can be.

Whichever way works best for you, try it out. I’ve done both with varying degrees of success because in the end, some people just don’t want to sleep with you.

The most important thing to remember if you’re reading this is that you don’t have to have sex just because someone else wants to. Want to wait more than 4 dates, or until marriage, or never want to have sex? That’s fine. Escalate only if you want to, and only let people escalate only if you want to sleep with them. Don’t be afraid to shut people down.

Good Luck Out There.

Demetrius Figueroa

Demetrius is a sex, dating, and relationship writer based in Brooklyn.

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