Sex Ed in Bed
Initiation Rights, part 1
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Heterosexuals have had millennia to fine tune their mating rituals. Who is typically the initiator? The man. Who is usually the receptive person? The woman. Of course there are no hard and fast rule about it, but in the awkwardness of breaking the ice, it sure is nice to have these rituals to fall back on. When dealing with same gender couples, the question of who will initiate and who will be receptive can be so unclear that we may never get around to meeting anyone. So this column is about those who find themselves initiating, or wanting to initiate a connection with an attractive stranger. The next Sex Ed in Bed column will address the receptive person. I tend to use that term, “receptive” because it seems to be on equal ground with “initiator.” I don’t like the word “receiver” because that infers the other person is the “giver,” and most of us want this connection to be interactive, switching these “roles” back and forth so fluidly that it becomes a collaboration, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I titled this column “initiation rights,” I meant it. It takes some practice to fine tune your unique “come on.” I had a friend who would set himself the goal of meeting five new people when going to a bar. It didn’t matter if he found his soul mate or a trick; he was “getting his chops” and as a result he got really good at it.

I know that for some, it’s not about the making of conversation, but just getting out the front door that seems next to impossible. OK, then start there. Work up to it. Step outside your place and see it’s not as scary as you thought. Take another little step. Set a goal of just meeting one person, maybe just a head nod and “Hello” to someone at the gym. Then, plan another step, like the next time you see that guy at the gym say, “How’s your workout going?” Then plan the next step and so on. Before you know it you’ll be chattin’ it up with the best of them. If this doesn’t get you a date or hooked up (which it probably will) that’s alright. This is just greasing the wheels for you to finally talk to that guy you really want to get to know.

By far the best tactic I know to get the ball rolling with someone you’re interested in is giving a genuine compliment — not just a prepackaged line you heard, but one you really mean. So figure out what’s attracting you to this person and craft a brief, but authentic statement. A clever one helps but not necessary. Humor can sometimes backfire. Then wait for it.... wait for the right moment, and look him/her in the eye and say, confidently yet casually, “You have a wonderful smile,” or “Your eyes really shine,” or (one of my favorite) “Thanks for not shaving your chest. It’s really sexy.”

Now, the great thing about compliments is that you can learn just about everything you need to know from the person by how they respond to it. If they say, “Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. What’s your name?” Not only have you learned that he’s got a solid self esteem, but he’s also initiated a question back to you, which, by the way my friend, mean you’ve scored! He’s interested in you. If he gives you a weird look and laughs under his breath while he tries to turn his body the other direction, then don’t give him another thought, because he ain’t interested in you.

Of course, there are a million more subtle responses in between these two extremes. That’s why good initiators don’t just have clever lines to say, they are also acute observers, because there are plenty of people out there that want to be receptive but don’t know how to respond, let alone start a conversation. So you may have to do some coaxing. You could even go for broke and be perfectly honest about what you’d like the next step to be — just a conversation, a date, the back room — but this is only if you can’t read them, not if they’re scrambling to get away from you. Ultimately, if you aren’t getting much out of the person, let it go. If they want you, they will find you and initiate something with you. Then you’ll get to be receptive, ‘cuz it’s not all ‘bout initiators. And what makes up a perfectly receptive person? Tune in next time and find out.

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