Saying a little more than “no way, creep”
I had a good time chatting it up with a guy at a bar this week and we ended up exchanging numbers. It’s all fun and games in those flirty text messages filled with witty banter until suddenly he makes a bold and potentially offensive request. In the old days, before cell phones and email, bold requests of this nature would be met with a slapped face, but today’s guy has a way around that. Today we could text back “no way, creep” and/or never respond again. Some of us have simply obliged. In this case, the guy requested a “hot and steamy pic” but I don’t think what I sent him was what he had in mind…
I considered an electronic face-slap (where is THAT app???) and I considered somewhat more maturely saying “that’s inappropriate and offensive to me” and asking him to lose my number. But at the end of the day, I recognized that both of those lost sight of my attempts to shake judgment, and neither presents the opportunity for two human beings to connect and better understand each other. Both of those sought to exclude a human being I had connected with and shame him for his behavior. My tea kettle was one humorous stall tactic and it was followed by another round (I sent him a picture of BULBS, in response to his request for “B__BS”). Perhaps he got the point, as he mentioned he’d stop asking if it made me uncomfortable… that he didn’t want to seem like “that guy.” Just saying “yes, please stop” didn’t seem to be enough… because his compliance would mean compliance, not understanding. So I felt compelled to work through exactly what I thought about it and why, and sent him an email. An edited-to-protect-the-innocent-and-avoid-explaining-inside-jokes-plus-additional-commentary version is below. Let it stand as an open letter to the bold but misguided gentlemen that make sexual requests of the ladies of long before they’ve committed to them:
1. Your requests don’t make you “that guy”… but they don’t add to what makes you stand apart from being “one of those guys” or “like all the rest” and I believe you are more than that. At the end of the day, you are a dude, dudes are visual, and for whatever reason, what you see before you, you want to see more of. We get it. Requesting sexy pics is a reasonable (well, typical) course of action if interactions of a sexual nature are your main goal/drive – no judgment there, in all sincerity – particularly if you get the impression you’ll receive what you ask for. [By the way, I’m not condoning that should really ever be your main drive when interacting with a fellow human being who happens to be an attractive potential mate, but in the interest of being realistic…]
2. Perhaps [/in case] an apology is warranted here… maybe during the course of our interactions, I gave you the impression that I would be “one of those girls” who would send you sexy pics just for kicks. Let me be clear here to say, in all sincerity, that I respect us both enough not to be. [I’ll add here that under no circumstances do girls generally “ask for” this kind of behavior/request. Your request comes from knowing that a number of girls are willing to oblige, but know that many do this in seek of validation for their “sexiness” and honestly, you’re not helping. Please consider your sisters and future daughters.]
3. I’ll be honest and admit, I have been “that girl” who would occasionally engage in sexy pic swapping outside of a committed relationship. Today, I know that behavior was not aligned with the respect I believe I should expect from myself and others. I don’t claim to be enlightened in the matter, and I don’t think self-respect and sexy pic swapping are mutually exclusive. I have just learned that if I let sexuality drive or ride shot-gun, the rest of me, which is far more valuable, ends up duct taped in the trunk, and it is too easy to let that happen. If I’m to expect my strongest assets to be recognized and respected, I’ve got to be the first to do that.
In our interactions so far, I must have seen something valuable, which led to a willingness to stay connected. I’m certain you too have value beyond sexuality and I believe it would be a shame to cheapen that.
My gut response to your sexy-texty is to question your intent and capability to see beyond the physical, but I am choosing to assume good intent… if your intent was mainly to communicate attraction, message received and I’m probably flattered at some level. Regardless of that you should expect that I won’t actually send a pic of sexual nature or really engage sexually outside of a commitment… please know that’s not judgmental… I’m aware that I’m likely in the minority on this front.
In the interest of full disclosure and sincerity, I’m a deep, complex gal, with deep, complex spiritual beliefs that guide behavioral standards for myself… and while I’m definitely not a fling prospect, and evidence on our relationship prospect is rather inconclusive, I can at least say confidently that I am a great friend and damn good company – and as icing on the cake, I’m a knockout in a cocktail dress when you need a date to the company party or a wedding (and I’m always looking for an excuse to wear that dress, lemme tell ya) – but to enjoy those things in any capacity will require mutual respect.
That’s probably a lot to take in from a girl you barely know, and of far more “serious” tone than you might have expected based on previous jovial interactions. It’s not meant to rain on your parade, or “put you in your place” but it seemed important to reset the expectations if we choose to stay in contact.
If your mind’s totally blown by the audacity of some girl you barely know sending an email like this, that’s cool too… I’d have to agree it’s fairly out of the ordinary. The other option was to ignore you, but I didn’t want to make the choice to reject you before you had a chance to understand me or the impact of your request. The ball is in your court.
I expected the letter would elicit a defensive response and the guy would run for the hills (I might have even hoped for it!). To my pleasant surprise, he’s actually now more engaged in our connection and we are on our way to forming a decent friendship. Sometimes acting like we belong to each other really does work in this world. Cheers.