The Happy Trail

Sexual directness: the good, the bad and the ugly

The other day whilst jogging, someone yelled “Nice butt!” to me. I wanted to shoot back with what I admiringly witnessed my older cousin say to someone once in a similar scenario: “Keep it up! That’s how you get a girlfriend!” But my endorphin-addled brain prohibited this course of action.

On the bright side, it led me to my topic of the week: sexual directness. What works and what really, really emphatically ‘what-were-you-thinking’ does not?

Cat-calling falls into the latter category. As a female, I can say it is flattering for about four nanoseconds until you realize you have no idea who that person is. The goal of the cat-caller is not to compliment, but to objectify.

I will never understand what goes through a cat-caller’s head. Or those guys who have “Show me your tits” bumper stickers on their juiced-up truck. Do they ever get a nice, self-respecting woman to respond to this?

Bringing it home, Puget Sound has our own issues with sexual directness. Namely, there seems to be a lot of cat and mouse when it comes to initiating a relationship, a hookup or getting what you want out of frolicking under the covers. If this were a Cosmo quiz, I would ask the following: If you are interested in someone, do you a. come right out and tell them or do you b. play “hard to get”?

If you answered “a,” high five yourself (yes, this is possible). If you answered “b,” don’t feel bad. But consider this: How much time and energy do we waste beating around the bush? Simply being upfront can save weeks of awkward glances, excessively mundane small talk or whatever else has that particular effect of instantly making you feel like an ass around the fire of your loins. Being sexually direct is not easy, nor is it all that common.

One major hurdle is that being sexually direct is often confused with being “creepy.” No one wants to come on too strong and either seem desperate, clingy or too aggressive. But we need to get over this fear. Telling someone you like them can be uncomfortable, yes. But if you compare it with Facebook stalking their pictures back to their freshman year of high school, being direct cuts out a lot of creepiness.

You may get shot down, and this will probably suck. It is the band-aid phenomenon: better to get it over with than drawing it out. The timing, on the other hand, is where it gets tricky. You just have to practice and figure out what works for you.

Being more direct does not just stop at the person who wants to be more direct. There has to be a real attitude adjustment on the part of the person receiving the compliment. We have to stop thinking everything is “creepy.”

It is equally if not more important for directness to be in the response. If you do not like someone, you must say so. Sparing someone’s feelings by leading them on is indirectness and can do a lot of damage. Saying, “I’m flattered but I’m not really interested in a coffee date” is so much less painful on the asker than an eye roll and subsequent giggling with your friends.

The issue of directness in the response is a little more subtle because you mean well. You really do not want to hurt this person’s feelings, but you know what they say: the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

I am guilty of this one, for sure. I once told a boy that I was too stressed out by finals and did not want anything so close to the end of the year in order to “nicely” avoid his advances. This double whammy of excuses was purely evasive and strongly suggested I would be interested should it be earlier in the year. Admittedly, it was a dick move. I’ve learned to say “Hey, I think you’re great but I’m not feeling it.”

Another place directness comes into play is in the bedroom. If something feels off or is not doing it for you, speak up! Especially in heterosexual relationships, either party has different parts and preferences and it is not always easy to know exactly what to do and how to do it and for how long.

At one point in my life, it felt as if a boy I was trysting with was trying to scratch off my, uh,  button of pleasure (so to speak) in an attempt to pleasure me. He obviously was not doing it on purpose and it was scary at first to have to critique his technique. But I was glad I did. And who knows, I might have saved his future romantic partners from an awkward situation.

It is key to stay positive. Try to stay away from saying something like “OW! What is this, a scratch-n-sniff book?” and say something like “Babe, it’d feel soooo good if you did it like this.” Feel free to show your partner with your hand. With this, sexual directness opens the door of communication for you both. It is like constructive criticism. Just don’t give it out if you can’t take it.

Sexual directness may seem like an unrealistic goal on a college campus, but it is a goal we can all work at in little ways. It can do wonders for your love and sex life if you take matters into your own hands and stop playing the waiting game. It can also take a hookup from tepid to smokin’ hot. Rip that band-aid off and start getting what you want!