You’ve been texting for weeks. You’ve gone out on dates. It’s clear that you both like each other. Then there you are, standing so close. You know what’s about to happen. Everything is going smoothly. Well, as smoothly as these things can go, anyway. Then, before you can stop it: that awkward moment when he asks if he can kiss you.
The first time that this happened to me was, appropriately enough, my first kiss. It was with a guy who I worked on the high school newspaper with. We had stayed at school late working on the next issue, and I was driving him home. (Yes, I was old enough to drive—older in fact—when I got my first kiss. Late bloomers for the win.) I pulled up in front of his house and put the car in park so he could get his backpack out of the trunk. Without warning he turned to me and uttered a variation of what I would go on to hear many, many more times: “So, are we gonna make out now or what?”
I didn’t know what to say. Everything buzzed. I had been waiting for this moment basically since I first noticed the opposite sex. I thought this guy was cool, but I had given up on him ever liking me long ago. “I don’t know” I answered, “do you think we should?” And his reply: “Yeah, let’s do it.” He stuck his tongue in my mouth for about thirty seconds and then pulled away, said “Peace!” and exited the car. And my life—we barely spoke to each other for the rest of the year, a situation only made worse by the fact that we not only worked on the paper together, but were in the same homeroom and took our own two-person poetry class with a favorite teacher. Oy vey.
I was swept up in what I then believed to be the passion, the raw lust of this exchange in the front seat of my dad’s Honda Accord, for about three days. (Read: three months.) Eventually I realized that the delivery of what he must have thought was a choice one-liner was unequivocally lame. College boys didn’t do stuff like that, right? Wrong. Cut to sophomore year, when a cute senior guy invited me over to his house to share a bottle of wine. When we finished it, he conveniently offered me a tour of his house, which conveniently ended in his bedroom. As I was admiring his seashell collection (what? he was very into nature, okay?!), he looked at me and said “Would it be really out of line if I kissed you right now?” Well, we had just been flirting on his living room couch for two hours. I looked at the floor. I looked back at him and he was still looking at me, waiting for a verdict. I looked away again.
“Um, I guess it wouldn’t be that out of line.”
I hadn’t decided if I wanted the kiss yet, but given that we were already practically in bed and that there was a blizzard outside—I knew I wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon—I was well aware of what was coming. It’s not that I was opposed to the idea, just that his question had been so awkward. To be fair, it probably wasn’t awkward to him. He probably thought it was nice, that he was being a gentleman. True, true. And yet. Something about a guy asking if he can kiss me makes me not want to kiss him. Shouldn’t I have been appreciative of the fact that this dude asked permission instead of just mauling me on the spot? Yup. Isn’t this a sign of politeness, of chivalry? Totally. No matter how good the catch, I just can’t muster the will to respond with a simple and direct “Yes.”
It’s not that I want men to presume that they can do anything they want to me. Theoretically, I like a man who takes the time to make sure that what he wants to do is what I want to do, too. Sometimes, though, I just want you to kiss me, no questions asked.
Realizing, however, that this seems to be a trend, I’ve been trying to work on my responses. “I guess” just won’t do, especially if it’s a guy I really like—I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Unfortunately, this, like anything, takes time. The last person who asked if he could kiss me was someone I had strong feelings for. Thinking about how much I wanted to kiss him, I couldn’t sleep at night. Finally, the moment came after the texts, the dates, the standing close together. We were lying on my bed, holding hands. “Can I kiss you?” he asked, sweetly and with his light brown eyes so earnest. “Yes!” I wanted to shout. “Yes! You can definitely kiss me! Please do!” But hey, baby steps. “Uh huh” I said, and leaned in.