My friend Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Date Safe Project™, and author of May I Kiss You? and Help! My Teen Is Dating. In familiarizing myself with his work, I was taken not only by his commitment to helping kids and young adults to date more respectfully, but with the application of his ideas to midlife daters.
I’ve found there are many assumptions in dating over 40. The first kiss is one area. Rarely has a man asked if he could kiss me. Many times a man has kissed me when, if he had asked, I would not have said “yes.”
But some people think asking takes all spontaneity and passion out of a kiss. Yet when a man has asked, my respect for him goes up considerably. He is showing me respect, not assuming. Some of the most awkward moments in dating have been when a man I don’t want to kiss me does so and I have to quickly extricate myself.
Mike takes it beyond kissing, and says each stage of intimacy should involve permission — no matter who initiates it. By making sure there is explicit permission, it creates more trust, respect and reduces misunderstandings. By asking before moving to the next stage, it gives both parties a chance to pause for a moment and consider what advancing means to them and if they are ready for it.
You may be saying, “This is fine for high school kids. But we are grown adults. We can say no or stop at any time.” Yes, we can. But when you are caught up in the moment, you don’t always consider, “What will moving the next level really mean? How will my expectations change? Is this something I really want to do, or am I caught up in how good it feels?” I think adults are sometimes only slightly more mature about this than young adults.
Putting the onus on the woman to stop the action is not respectful. I’ve had men try to talk me out of my “no” which has felt very disrespectful. Wouldn’t a man want to have a woman who is fully on board with raising the intimacy, rather than one who is just going with the flow? (I know some men will say, “Either is fine!”)
How has your regard changed for a man who asks permission? Have you felt disrespected when a man has just assumed escalating to the next level is fine, putting you in the difficult position of stopping the action?