In the comments related to my last post, Ian said:

…if a woman took sex off the table up front, as you [Emily] are advocating, my interest in cultivating her as a friend usually diminished dramatically afterwards. I think that runs true of most men. If I went on a date with a woman who let me know up front that there was no way she would consider sleeping with me, then even if I wasn’t particularly interested in her sexually the chances that I’d invest time in that relationship would be scant.

Let’s bear in mind that Ian is happily married and this is all hypothetical or, at best, post hoc, so let’s not holler at him please.

But. This… would mean… a woman who wants a straight man to get to know her as a person has to create an environment where sex is perceived to be at least a theoretical possibility. And…

(1) Nearly all of my closest friends have been men, and it never occurred to me that this might be true.

(2) This is exactly the sort of thing I tell my students is a cultural myth but isn’t actually true – men, I want to tell my students, are not actually dick-driven simpletons incapable of recognizing a woman’s personhood in the absence of sexual access to that woman.

and

(3) Well, if this is true, it goes some distance in explaining why I’ve been single since 2005. When I used to the “let’s have sex to get the question out of the way” strategy, I had relationships – relationships that ENDED, let’s be clear, but relationships. Since adopting the “we’re not going to be having sex anytime soon because I really do need to get to know you first, no matter how attractive you are” strategy, I have not had one relationship.

Now, I have no trouble creating an environment where sex is viewed as a possibility – all I have to do is NOT say “sex is not going to happen in the foreseeable future,” and my job takes care of the rest. So perhaps my best potential strategy is to say, “We’re not going to have sex in the foreseeable future UNLESS you successfully seduce me, and I am a challenge to seduce because I know so much about the game that I am the fucking Magister Ludi of seduction; in order to play with me you have to play a META-game, you have to improvise a new game with me, in the moment. Go.”

So. I ask you, readers of all genders: if a woman takes sex off the table, will a straight man be less likely to want to get to know her? If not, why is this a cultural narrative? If so, does the same hold for gay men getting to know men? And if it is true, what’s a girl to do?

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