Girls, if you are hanging out with a guy, and you spend some time kissing, what happens next? What are you hoping for from this kind of encounter?
Who doesn't like kissing?
Girls' Idea of Kissing
If you are like most girls you probably love kissing, or if you haven't had opportunities yet you most likely look forward to getting the chance. It's probably a girl's main 'go to' idea when wanting to get close to a guy. And who wouldn't want it? There's closeness and intimacy, but it's also limited, in that you have the idea that kissing would be great, but it doesn't necessarily imply any greater physical intimacy. Wouldn't it be great if you could just spend some time with a guy you like, kissing for a time, even quite a while, and then going on to have a deep and meaningful conversation? Wouldn't that be perfect?
Guys' Idea of Kissing
It's worth knowing that kissing occupies a rather different place in a guy's romantic framework. Sure, guys like kissing well enough, but they feel it is more of a limited way-station before going on to greater physical intimacy.
For girls there is more of a sense that kissing can be a thing in itself, and that it could lead on to emotional sharing rather than greater physical intimacy.
Not many guys would have that idea. If kissing goes on for long they start to get restless to move on to the next step. The last thing that would occur to them is that you would go on from kissing to conversation.
What 'script' are you following?
Because of these dynamics, and the difference between the sexes, it tends to lead to unsatisfactory encounters when 'hanging out'. There tends to be no 'script' for such encounters and so they are usually fairly loose and formless. This means that things will tend to drift, and each person will act more or less instinctively rather than clearly and intentionally.
The 'Making Out' Script
However, there are situations where there is a 'script', but one that sees any such encounter as an opportunity for sex. In such encounters either one or both will act out of a script for 'making out', with an open-ended idea of where things might go. In our times it is not uncommon that guys especially will deliberately seek to 'hook up' with someone for the sole purpose of having sex, which is seen as the 'end' - in both senses of the word.
The 'Hanging Out' Script
There is another kind of script where a guy and girl are not intending to have sex, and especially where they have at least a general idea that they should not do so. Nevertheless they want to spend time with each other and share and learn something, to 'hang out', but in the absence of clear ideas and a clear plan can easily drift into undue physical intimacy. (See also "Running Out of Ideas".) The hanging out 'script' is not so much according to a script as it is an improvised scene. You can probably think of movies or TV shows that show both the hooking up and the hanging out scripts.
A Typical 'Hanging Out' Script
The guy doesn't have any ideas
In a typical hanging out scenario where the guy is not simply trying to have sex he probably won't have many ideas on what to do, let alone how to take a leading role. He may very well feel that this 'relationship stuff' is the girl's domain and wait for her to take the lead. These kind of encounters usually begin with ordinary friendship-type conversation. The guy and girl talk about ordinary everyday stuff, but before too long the feeling arises that this is a bit lacking. It's a bit too 'ordinary' and doesn't reflect the special quality that both are hoping for.
They are not hanging out because they want to be 'just friends'. They want something more, but they don't know what it will be yet. They want to explore this relationship and try and find something special, but don't know a lot about how to do that. The guy especially might be completely vague about all of this and have no clear thoughts of any kind which could help him take the lead.
The girl takes the lead by default
It is in situations like this that girls will often try to move things along a bit by initiating some kissing. It tends to be their 'go to' idea. They too don't know really how to sustain a high quality interaction of a more satisfying kind, but don't want to just call a halt to the whole thing. So the girl takes the lead by default, and since the guy doesn't have any better ideas he is usually happy enough to go along with it.
The trouble is that the dynamic then develops as described above. The girl is hoping that a time of kissing might inject some more specialness into things, vaguely hoping it might lead onto conversation of a more satisfying kind. However, it has the effect of leading the guy further and further away from any such likelihood.
Writing a New Script
How might you get this kind of scenario to play out with a 'new script'? How can you get beyond the ordinary 'just friends' dynamic towards something more special and satisfying? As a girl you are probably hoping to see some signs of initiative from the guy, but it doesn't mean you can only wait and hope for the best. You can be proactive.
The first thing you need to do is become intentional, instead of letting things drift. The most important part of this is to clarify in your own mind what your boundaries are. The kind of scenario described above comes about in an open-ended, vague space where neither of you have clear intentions.
It is very common for people to avoid such clarity because they are not being entirely honest with themselves. They avoid defining boundaries too clearly because they are looking forward to exploring some new experience of intimacy, and don't know how they will feel as the experience unfolds. There is an excitement about new possibilities, and even if you have some lines you don't really want to cross, you don't have much idea about the dynamics involved and where you might end up.
Since we are exploring the role of kissing in such encounters, we need to look at boundaries in relation to this. There is a natural desire to seek more intimacy as a relationship develops, and kissing might seem to you like it would be within the appropriate boundaries. But is it?
There are two problems with kissing.
Firstly, even if you think it is a 'containable' thing, that is, that you can safely engage in kissing while keeping things under control, a guy is not likely to feel the same way. Kissing generates sexual momentum, and is not easy to keep within limits.
Secondly, even if it is kept within limits, it has the effect of 'dumbing down' the quality of the encounter between you. It doesn't lead to new and interesting thoughts, or witty conversation, or greater respect, but to a more limited kind of encounter.
This is not something inherent to kissing as such, since it is natural that a married couple would spend time kissing as part of sharing affection within a sexual relationship. But when you combine kissing with a limited relationship such as dating, the sexual implications of kissing have 'nowhere to go'.
Embarking on physical intimacy is not really designed to lead to conversation. It might, in the context of marriage, where a couple has become more experienced and knows what they are doing. However, when it comes to singles dating you can't expect kissing to lift the personal quality of the time you spend together.
Getting some new ideas
With this in mind the next thing both of you need are some new ideas. In order to be intentional you need some ideas about how to move things forward. If kissing is not a good way to do that, what are you going to do?
We tend to default to informal conversation, but that form of relating has an important limitation: it puts big demands on your relationship skills. These are skills that are probably not well developed yet, especially because of the unfamiliarity of male-female differences. So you can't realistically expect that either you or the guy will simply be able to achieve all of what you hope for in conversation.
Key Lesson: Conversation is not enough.
You need to think of activities you can do together. (Bear in mind that the suggestions that follow are not about the early dates you might have with someone, but assumes you have established some kind of ongoing relationship.)
Some of these activities will involve going out and doing things that get your energy levels back up. For example, go for a walk in a park, or go for a swim. But you also need ideas for activities that two people can do alone. These will usually involve things that can be catalysts for more conversation. The following are some simple examples:
- Do a jigsaw puzzle together. This is good because it involves some physical closeness and you can chat while you are doing it, but you also find out what it's like trying to cooperate on a common goal, and find out how the other sets about doing that sort of thing.
- Create your own sharing game, for example, each of you sit separately for a time and write down three questions you would like to ask the other, then discuss.
- Listen to music together, and each take turns playing some of your favourite songs and explaining why you like them.
- Read a chapter of a book aloud to the other, something that has touched you or is important to you in some way, then discuss what it means to you. This activity might sound a bit unusual to you, but it slows things down and makes you actually listen for a reasonable period. You are learning to pay attention to the other in a new way. It is also a flexible way to introduce ideas into your way of relating, having more intellectual or more artistic interchanges. This brings new depth into what you discover about each other, and adds a seriousness of purpose that will benefit the relationship. You might also discover some unwillingness in the other for certain kinds of things. This can give you valuable insights into what the other is like, and how much you are likely to have in common.
The key to these sorts of activities is to 'shake things up a bit' and relate in different ways. It helps avoid just sinking into a lazy kind of relating that easily leads to undue physical intimacy.
However, hanging out together doing such activities should occur within a predetermined time frame. Don't say, "Let's hang out for the afternoon", but say, "Let's hang out this afternoon, but I have to leave by 3.30". Having a set finishing time helps to keep your time together special. Otherwise the 'relationship energy' will tend to run down, and you'll drift into a less helpful kind of relating.
Getting some 'romantic traction'
As well as these simple activities that focus on friendship, you will also want to explore your romantic feelings and try to do some things together that do this while still retaining some appropriate distance.
There is a limit to how much can be achieved by 'hanging out'. Yet it is common that couples who first start going together isolate themselves and become overly preoccupied with physical intimacy, even if they don't have sex. But this tends to have a diminishing effect, and the relationship becomes limited and dishonest.
The best way to explore romantic feelings is not in private but in activities with others.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but the key to it is this: private hanging out closes off the space in which the genuine romantic sense can flourish, especially when you are young and single. You need lots of imaginative input from others and the different energy that comes from social activities.
Not only that, your own togetherness gains added status by being experienced in company. The fact that others know that you are seeing each other with a view to some kind of romantic possibility makes it feel more important.
It is these elevated kinds of feelings that you need to experience and explore. You don't get the same 'romantic traction' from private feelings in a somewhat diminished kind of relating. Undue and premature physical intimacy closes off the space in which these more subtle feelings flourish. Public activities provide the implicit affirmation that what you are doing is good and proper, and it is important to feel the goodness of your romantic sentiments.
This is also why you need high quality socialising. It is not enough that it merely involves other people. There are many social gatherings that are themselves of a diminished kind that won't make you feel uplifted.
There is a great deal more that could be said on this. I encourage you to read the other articles here on dating because they extend and develop this whole way of thinking.
You might also like to read the related article: "Running Out of Ideas".