Are We On A Date? (Pt 2) by Ben Weston

A week ago I posted about how I navigated an ambiguous date/business meeting.

After sharing the story with the lovely woman from the evening, I thought she would say that she had the same memory of that night.

Haha - nope.

I asked if she would mind sharing her side of the story because I was surprisingly wrong about how I thought the evening went.

She agreed.

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“Which top says I’m serious about business but, just in case, I came to slay?”

I told him I had to take care of some last minute work, but I was just too deep in rummaging through my closet to get out in time.

Don’t get me wrong. I had zero plans to make any moves during this meeting. I was there to develop some work I felt we’d collaborate well on. Of course, it didn’t bother me that he was easy on the eyes.

But you can imagine my surprise when he alluded to a conversation about prostate play within the first ten minutes of our meeting. After which, I quickly wrote him off as another stereotypical sex-driven NYC dude taking a "business meeting.”

For the future, gentlemen, this isn’t the most tactful opener for solo business meetings with women; especially outside of sex toy start-ups.

Maybe that was the first clue that this meeting didn’t exactly fall under a concrete business or date category. We’d met a month prior at my first Zouk event, shared a few indulgent dances and a conversation in which it seemed our philosophies aligned both on and off the dance floor and I was curious for more.

Taking a sip of my drink, I checked in with my own bias and recognized he might be nervous. I did come to slay after all. So I tried to play off the discomfort his story stirred in me with a sarcastic joke.

The conversation flowed. Deep and fun as hell. I was feelin' it.

Some time into our ambiguous dance, he tells me he’s attracted to me.

We must’ve been at about the three-hour mark. You know, the one where guys go into fight or flight mode about making moves?

And I’d just had one shit dating experience too many and terrified of another. I wanted to experience something as innocent as a kiss on my terms, comfortably, without pressure.

But panic ensued as I saw him staring like I was ice cream on a summer day. 
“Act now or he’ll devour you!” My brain screamed.

So I told him I appreciated his candor, and felt the same way, but wasn’t ready and needed the space to choose if and when.

What’s this?

He’s not asking for the check and leaving? He *appreciated* my honesty and took it in stride?

I was heard.

The only thing sexier was the kiss I asked for a few hours later.

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Here are my takeaways:

1. This stuff is messy.

Fellas, we’re gonna mess up -- that’s ok. Do your best.

2. Don’t talk about that one time you were with a bro at lunch, eating grilled chicken and sweet potatoes, and you talked about prostate play.

Well, at least not within the first 10 minutes of a date/business meeting.

Are We On A Date? (Pt 1) by Ben Weston

I was waiting for her at the bar and still wasn’t sure if it was a date.

[phone vibrates]

“I’m so sorry to be late to our first business meeting.”

Ok, so maybe it’s not a date.

After hanging out for about 20 minutes she says, “You know, when I first met you, I thought you were too charming to have any substance.”

Thank you!

Wait...that’s flirting, right? So it’s a date now?

---

I’ve recently been having private conversations with men around the Aziz Ansari news and #MeToo movement.

One thing that keeps coming up is feeling like you either can’t or it's unclear how to express your desires with women.

I get it. Expressing your desires is vulnerable and scary but you still want to be masculine and assertive, all the while not crossing any boundaries.

The problem is, I feel like the current models of behavior for men don’t do the job.

We have romantic comedies where the hero is a guy that keeps pursuing his love interest in spite of her numerous attempts to tell him “no”. Eventually she relents, says yes, and realizes he’s the man of her dreams.

(Why John Cusak, why?)

And then we have the pick up artist world where one of the first things you're taught is literally how to give a backhanded compliment to a woman -- a “neg” -- meant to show that you’re the kind of guy that’s NOT interested in her.

Good lord.

Keep pursuing her in spite of her repeated and clear “no” or pretend that you’re not interested in her?

Bob, I’ll choose what’s behind door #3, please.

---

As our “business meeting” progressed it felt like we were flirting and hitting it off but I still wasn’t sure where she was at.

Maybe she was just naturally flirty but didn’t mean anything from it?

I honestly had no clue.

After she finished sharing a story, I told her: “I have to confess - I’m having some difficulty focusing on what you’re saying because I’m finding myself really attracted to you.”

Without any hesitation, she responds with: “Oh, I know. But before you kiss me...”

Now, at the time of writing this, I’ve already spent several minutes desperately trying to remember what she said after that but I think in my excitement over her saying the words “kiss me” I zoned out a bit.

 :)

But I remember the gist of the message: wait.

We left to try to find dinner, finally locating a BBQ joint still serving food at that hour.

At some point after our pulled pork sandwich and fish tacos arrived she turned to me and asked, “May I kiss you?”

“Sweet Jesus, yes please!” is what I thought in my head.

I am 100% positive that I looked waaaaaay cooler giving a deep, manly “Yes” and leaning in.

(Damn, I really hope so)

Sure, that whole evolution from telling her I was attracted to her and her eventually asking to kiss me looks nothing like a typical romantic comedy setup or what pickup artists teach.

But damn, it’s just so much *easier* being upfront. I don’t want to be constantly guessing.

Plus, I find it extremely sexy when a woman is that direct with what she wants.

[Update: click here to find out what she had to say about the evening]

What Women Want On The Dance Floor by Ben Weston

[Note: the below was posted on FB. Some of the responses are included at the end]

I was recently asked by someone new to the Zouk scene whether a chest bump like move she was lead into was a “Zouk thing” or just a flat out invasive move done by that particular lead.

When she showed it to me, it looked (and felt) like that move from A Night at the Roxbury when the two guys sandwich the girl between them and ricochet her back and forth between them with chest bumps.

Come on dude - stop it.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

With dances like Zouk and Sensual Bachata, I keep hearing stories of things men will do on the dance floor — presumably in the name of being “sensual” — that are uncomfortable for women.

Thankfully, there’s now more momentum and public support in holding men accountable for their actions so violations, even if they are in that grey zone below Weinstein levels of offense, aren’t allowed to continue.

That said, I’d also love for their to be a discussion that extends beyond the wrong doings.

———

At a social last year, I had some dances that had a sexual energy to them. A guy that saw them later asked me, “Ben, how do you get away with doing that stuff?”

As if I had to deceive or convince women against their will to express themselves in this manner.

What I find astounding is that both sides often want the same goddamned thing.

When it comes down to it, we both want to be able to give and receive love on the dance floor, to be able to express it fully whether that’s playfully, tenderly, or sensually.

AND, we want the ability to safely say yes or no to whomever we do that with.

I asked a woman that I had some sexy dances with what made her comfortable going there with me and she said,

“Most men on the dance floor will try to push until they get a ‘no’, often times, still persisting in spite of the ‘no’. You were inviting and clear that it was safe to say no.”

———

Obviously consent is key in all of this (sexy dances or otherwise) but let’s aim higher. The word “consent” has the weight of legality and this formal agreement among two parties.

When I told a buddy over dinner about the term “enthusiastic consent” he asked, “Why not just use ‘enthusiasm’? That implies consent in itself.”

Agreed. Let’s aim for enthusiasm on the dance floor (and everywhere else), shall we?

With that in mind, ladies, I would love your feelings on two things:

1. What are some things you appreciate men doing on the dance floor that help make it safe for you and allow you to relax more?

2. When something feels uncomfortable or not what you’d prefer in that moment, what non-verbal cues or gestures will you use to signal that?

Again, I’d like to encourage sharing what you love and appreciate.

I want this to be an opportunity to inspire and give a new model of how to be both a powerful and safe man, on and off the dance floor.

[Brothers: none of this is meant to shame or discount what you’re experiencing. We’re all doing the best that we can.]

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200+ Person Cuddle Party? No Gracias by Ben Weston

I was in a hotel conference room with what seemed to be about 200 people ready to cuddle.

People were in Pokemon and dinosaurs onesies, all already laying on each other in giant fuzzy piles on giant fuzzy bean bag chairs.

I was standing in the back of the room, about three feet from the exit doors.

The facilitator was giving the guidelines, one of them being: “No and no, thank you are complete sentences. You don’t need to apologize for or justify your no.”

“For some of you, that will be quite difficult so a great practice may be for you to just stay for the length of the cuddle party and say no to everyone and every request.”

You got it - I'll start.

HELL no. That sounds terrifying.

(I left the room.)

I will readily admit that historically I have people pleasing tendencies and don’t want to disappoint.

In middle school, in an attempt to make friends, I memorized Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. I photocopied summaries of the chapters and made flashcards of them to keep on me at all times.

The basic idea: focus your attention exclusively on others, on what makes them feel appreciated and seen.

It didn’t have a chapter, however, on saying “no”.

(Embarrassingly, I didn’t realize until after college that the book was about sales, not making genuine friendships)

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Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a growing influx of requests to hang out, grab coffee, dance together, talk on the phone, chat on Skype, collaborate, etc.

Within the past two weeks alone, it’s been at least one to three requests daily.

If these were from strangers, it’d be easy to say no. What makes it difficult is that most of these requests are from people that I know and like.

In order to say no to one friend, I spent close to 45 minutes one morning researching Tim Ferriss’ resources on the most compassionate and clear ways to say “no”.

---

To get better at taking care of myself and saying no, my practice has been to ask myself, “If I loved myself fully, would I say yes to this?”

Most of the time, the answer is no.

It’s beginning to get easier and the fun part is, I seem to fall in love with life more each time I say no.

I make more art.

My purpose becomes clearer.

And my self love goes up +50 with each “no” I give.

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At a social dance a couple of months ago, I walked over to a girl and asked her to dance.

She clearly and kindly said, “No, thank you.” And that was it.

No apology, justification of any kind, or excuse.

To the girl whose name I don’t know - you are my god-damn hero.