Ever since the now infamous Babe.net article about Grace's encounter with Aziz Ansari instigated a broader discussion about consent (however murky that particular scenario was) people have continued to launch into conversation about the pressures women feel when it comes to what they "owe" or do not "owe" a man when they enter their apartment after a date. On TV, "do you want to come up for a drink?" is often synonymous with "do you want to come up and have sex?" But what if you're ready for drinks but not sex?
During the week that Babe.net broke the internet, I fell down a rabbit hole of opinion gathering across articles, podcasts, and more that included watching a clip from The View on YouTube. In this clip, Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain seemed to accept that entering a man's apartment is the same as saying "I'm ready to have sex with you." As a woman who is 29 years old and rather prude when it comes to sex, I've had the entirely opposite experience when I've gone back to dates' apartments in the past.
I'm not naive. When dates have invited me up to their apartment for a drink after a third date, I'm sure many of them anticipated sex. I'm sure many women had come up for "drinks" and been excited to have sex with them. I'm fortunate enough to never have been sexually assaulted, and I have always felt comfortable having a drink with a date and calling a car home. I've also been comfortable making out in bed for a while and even sleeping over without doing the deed.
Sleeping with someone is simply not my thing that early in a relationship. I don't owe a date anything at all just because I've gone inside their apartment, and if they pressure me in the slightest, I know to get out of there immediately.
I've been lucky to meet and date mostly excellent men in my life, and I've also been lucky enough to have been taught from a young age that even as a woman, my voice matters, and saying "no" when I feel uncomfortable is important. I know the pressure of wanting to give your sweet date what they want, and I know the feeling of light guilt when you have that glass of wine and then leave them hanging. But here's the thing: If someone likes you, they're going to wait to have sex with you until you're ready.
I spoke to licensed marriage and family therapist and dating expert Anita Chlipala about how women can feel empowered to set boundaries, and go up for that drink without feeling pressure to have sex with their date. Here's what she shared with me.
How Can Women Best Explain That They Don't Want To Have Sex Yet, But Would Like To Come Up?
"I recommend clarifying expectations as soon as the invitation has been extended," says Chlipala. "I heard on a news show recently that when the question like 'Want to come over to watch a movie?' is asked, men expect a hookup and women expect cuddling. So if a woman is invited over for a drink, she can say, 'Yes, I'd like to, but just to make sure we have the same expectations, I'm not ready for anything physical yet.'"
My own personal experience has always worked out because I've set boundaries before going upstairs or into the bedroom. Something like, "I'll come up for a drink, but that's it, I have an early morning," also works.
"Or [you] can even be playful and say, 'My clothes are staying on. Do you still want to invite me over for a cocktail?'," says Chlipala. "You can add that you want to get to know [them] better first and you like to take things slowly."
Most dates will appreciate your honesty, and if they don't, that's a red flag that this is not a person who will treat you well. Even if you are dating someone and have already had sex with them, if you're not in the mood, you're not in the mood, and it's OK to say that.
What About If You're Already In Their Apartment Or Home, And You'd Like To Clarify?
It's 100 percent OK for you to reassert your boundaries, even if you're already in someone's apartments. And if you feel uncomfortable at any point, you have every right to hightail it out of there. "If [they're] pushing boundaries I would be very direct and say, 'Hey, I told you I was only here for a drink. You're not respecting what I wanted,' and then leave," says Chlipala. She continues that it's important to voice what, if anything, is making you uncomfortable, and to "exit quickly" as soon as you feel the least bit weird.
The biggest takeaway for me from what Chlipala had to say, and what my general experiences have been, is to prioritize your own readiness when it comes to sex. Don't worry so much about disappointing a partner, because the partners who want to have sex with you will absolutely wait around until they are able to have sex with you. Your gut reaction to a situation is not to be undermined — if something feels off, it's probably off. Trust your instincts, and leave post-date drinks as soon as you feel uncomfortable.
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