How Much Permission Do You Need to Make a Move?
The idea of “getting permission” in dating has become a hot social topic the last few years. Many women are adamant that they would not allow someone to make a move on them without their explicit consent.
I’m not here to argue for sex without explicit consent.
However, this need for stated permission is being extended to almost every type of flirtatious advance. Want to touch her shoulder while telling a funny story? Better ask first. Want to kiss her at the end of the date? Have to warn her ahead of time.
And it’s not just women saying this – men are echoing it, too. So while I understand the boundaries they’re aiming for, I’m here to question if it’s really feasible…or even healthy.
Because a significant percentage of men DO wait and ask for permission. And they totally fail at dating.
From all my years of experience, I can safely say that waiting for permission for every little thing doesn’t work in courtship and leaves guys more frustrated and bitter than ever. Girls, too, lose out on meeting potential romantic partners.
Unannounced gestures CAN and HAVE worked
I’ve heard people talk about women requiring permission in just about every way possible:
“I don’t want anyone to talk to me when I’m out during the day.”
“I’m not comfortable with a guy starting to touch me on the first few dates.”
“You shouldn’t flirt with a girl until you know she’s interested in you.”
Men are basically told that taking action without permission is always a no-go. Moreover, it’s hammered in that this sort of assertive behavior is creepy.
The problem with these arguments is that they don’t often hold true.
I’ve witnessed literally hundreds of connections being built from random approaches. I’ve seen women respond positively, give out their numbers with enthusiasm, and then go on dates and develop relationships with these strange men.
This is not a rare occurrence. It happens to almost every one of my clients – and I get to hear their pleasant surprise when telling me about their unexpected success. During my retreat in Majorca, Spain, attendees had dozens of women they met on the street give out their numbers AND be the first ones to message them.
It even happens in situations that are normally “off-limits”. Guys have met awesome girls even though they’re reading, have headphones in, are jogging, or are at the gym. I even had a client date a girl that he met while she was shopping in a lingerie boutique!
Of course, they’re not going to hit it off with every single girl. But the positive reactions are MUCH more common than you think. I base a majority of my business solely on the fact that you can approach a stranger and forge a connection with them.
And while not every woman appreciates an unwanted advance, I’d argue that many of those who are outright against it COULD have a great experience (under the right circumstances).
Girls: You’ve probably felt flattered when a random cute guy made eye contact with you. You’ve probably been on a date when a man spontaneously kissed you and you kissed back.
What if your celebrity crush said hi to you at your gym…would you really be offended and tell him to fuck off?
The problem is that when we discuss the issue of advances without permission, our minds often go to worst-case scenarios. We envision really socially awkward men hitting on women without giving up. Or we think back to one terrible experience with some guy that was being an asshole.
The reality is that many women COULD enjoy a guy making an unannounced gesture. Because leadership and assertiveness is what most women find appealing in a man. It’s about context and whether or not that guy is attractive to YOU.
Why being assertive is necessary for success
One of the biggest complaints women make about a new guy they’re dating is how he always asks them what to do. Women say how frustrating it is to hear, “Well do you want to grab drinks? Or we could do dinner? Or would you rather go see a movie? No sweat either way, we can do whatever you want.”
The indecisiveness is irritating and puts a lot of pressure on women to make the initial choices. Some don’t mind, but most girls I talk to say that a lack of leadership is unattractive. They’d rather have the guy come up with an exciting idea, take the lead, and if they disagree — they can speak up.
That same sexy assertiveness applies to other areas of dating. Whenever a guy comes to me who’s been going on dates that end up nowhere, I ask him,
“Are you getting in some light physical contact? And if it’s received well, trying for a kiss?”
Nearly every time the guy says no. Within 1 or 2 calls we go over how to start flirting through touch, reading if a woman is comfortable with it, and going for a kiss when appropriate. And nearly every time they implement those ideas, their results instantly change.
I’ve had guys who have been on dozens of failed dates and by simply being more forward with touching and kissing — the majority of their connections now move towards intimacy.
This is not a coincidence. The positive effect of casually touching people has been studied in numerous social scenarios.
Servers who touch their patrons generally receive bigger tips. A simple touch makes people more likely to return money that isn’t theirs. Patients touched by their doctors express more comfort, open up more, and are more likely to adhere to recommended medical treatments. And men who ask for phone numbers or dances at clubs get much better responses with a quick touch on the arm.
In none of these scenarios were the initiators given expressed permission. Yet the data shows that being more assertive builds stronger connections. Not just for themselves, but for the other people involved as well.
Why men can’t always wait or ask for permission
Okay, so maybe you accept that being more forward is attractive. But why can’t men just wait until a girl hints that they want them to make a move?
That would be amazing! I would love for more open communication to avoid any misunderstandings. But a lot of men already wait for hints to no avail.
The problem is that many women:
- Don’t give verbal permission. I’ve discussed thousands of dates with men. In more than 90% of cases, the girl has never expressed that they want to be kissed — even though they may be ready. They don’t say, “You should kiss me.” They don’t usually initiate physical contact to suggest they want things to progress, either.
- Give subtle non-verbal hints that are difficult for men to decipher. Women give non-verbal cues they believe are obvious, but usually go over men’s heads. They tell me, “I played with my hair, sat closer to him, and kept laughing at all his jokes.” This doesn’t give permission and leaves men uncertain on how to proceed.
And so many men keep waiting for some obvious sign of permission and miss their opportunity. It doesn’t even take long. Nowadays, if a guy doesn’t go for a kiss by the first or second date at latest, they almost never get another chance. Women don’t stick around with so many available options.
But again, the guys who try to test the waters (by flirting) and take a leap of faith often build MORE romantic connections.
Waiting for obvious signs of interest consistently fails when…
Approaching. Men who wait for random women to make eye contact as an approach invitation lose out on countless opportunities to connect. Those who just politely introduce themselves to whoever they find interesting get so many more dates. The women that aren’t interested make it clear within 30 seconds and then it’s no big deal.
Making plans. Guys who don’t want to pressure a girl and wait for her to say when she’s available to hang out, hardly ever get her to commit. They say things like, “Just let me know whenever you’re free.” I almost never see the woman reach back out to give them a time. But when a guy says, “I’m free Thursday after work, let’s get drinks.” his chances of getting the date skyrockets.
Kissing. And finally, men who ask women if they’re ready to be kissed are less likely to get the kiss. Almost every woman I talk to about this has said something like, “it’s a big turnoff when a guy asks if he can kiss me.” It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and takes her out of the moment.
In general, women tend to be more reserved early on in a connection. How often do you see a woman introduce herself to a random guy during the day or be the first one to kiss on a date? Not very.
If women were either more forward about their interest or more patient, men could wait for explicit permission to make their move. (But I just don’t see that happening.)
So sometimes, the only way a guy can truly gauge interest is with a bold move like a kiss.
When we should and shouldn’t fight for permission
Listen, I get this is a personal subject and I want to respect everyone involved. The last thing I want is for somebody to get hurt.
But we all have to find a compromise that works for the betterment of everyone. Blanket statements like, “Any guy who randomly talks to me or tries to go for a kiss on a first date is assaulting me.” isn’t productive. It also leads to less fulfilling connections and more animosity between genders.
Because everyone is different. While a guy being more assertive may not work for one woman, it will more often than not build incredible chemistry with many others.
Should we punish those people and prevent their happiness? How can assertiveness be black-and-white wrong if women receive these advances well and want to pursue those men?
Where do we draw the line of needing permission?
I don’t have all the answers but here are some initial guidelines that make sense to me:
- Introducing yourself to someone is normal and human. As is giving a non-sexual compliment. As long as you’re polite, not catcalling, and not in a dark alleyway — it should be okay.
- If you don’t want to talk to a stranger, you simply tell them you are busy, not interested, or have to go.
- If someone tells you they don’t want to talk, you accept that gracefully. Say thanks for their time and move on.
- You can test the waters with casual touching on a date in non-sexual areas of the other person’s body. Learn to read non-verbal cues to best gauge if you should continue and go for a kiss or not.
- You are not allowed to touch sexual areas (breasts, butt, genitals) without permission.
- You are not allowed to walk up to any person in public and kiss them without permission.
- You are allowed to attempt a kiss during a 1-on-1 date. I advise men to do this slowly so the girl has 5-10 seconds to understand what’s happening and say she’s not ready or turn her cheek if she doesn’t want to kiss.
- If a girl rejects your physical advances or kiss, you accept that immediately and gracefully. You do not get angry, upset, threatening, or intimidating. You don’t try again immediately.
- Everyone involved should get more comfortable with expressing their wants and boundaries. If you feel scared doing so, choose public places where you are more protected and have a safe way out of the situation. Or go out in group settings.
- Permission can be revoked at any time. It is not a permanent decision.
- All the permission granted above is negated if force, coercion, or manipulation is used. That IS assault.
We all want the same thing in life — to have healthy connections. We need to work together, not fight against each other, to find the best solution for everyone involved. The sooner we do, the happier we’ll all be.