The Right Touch: When and How to Initiate Physical Contact on a Date

Getting to know a woman you’re curious about can be a tricky thing; you need timing, luck, and opportunity. Then there is the whole matter of effectively letting her know you’re interested, having to balance being engaged without being demanding, reading signals but not being too passive.

Of course all of these things are going on in your head rapid fire when you’re in the situation. It’s hard to accurately analyze everything going on when you’re out on a date or meeting a woman for the first time. You have to be in the moment but not totally obvious to what is really going on.

Here are some things to consider when you’re ready to make first physical contact, moving from perhaps platonic conversations to something a little more flirtatious, with the indication that you’re interested in something in addition to friendship. This is meant to be about those times when you’re on a first date, or date like scenario, and maybe reconnecting with an old friend or acquaintance and your relationship status has changed. Please don’t go touching random people, or even non-random people.

Check Your Body Language

You don’t just go grabbing a woman’s hand – there is nothing charming or even remotely respectful about that. If you want to let someone know you’re interested, and see that person’s response, make sure to lead the way with body language. Keep your shoulders open towards the person you’re talking to and keep your hands apart. Moving your arms or hands across your torso or chest can be a subtle defensive signal.

What’s more, don’t invade their body space, but make sure you’re not so distant that you seem interested in other things. Little by little, you can move a little bit closer as the conversation continues and note whether the other person maintains the same distance or allows you to get a little bit closer. Smile, but don’t smile too hard; maintain eye contact, but not too intently. Do it right, and it’ll help the person know you’re interested; do it wrong, and they might think you’re a serial killer.

Offer a Hand

It may not be every date, but certainly something where there is physical activity, like hiking, or even if you are getting into or out of a car, look for an opportunity to literally lend a hand. Firstly, it’s innocuous and open-ended, the person can politely decline without it being too impactful, and it doesn’t necessarily mean things are going in the wrong direction. Secondly, it can be an ice breaker if there is an awkwardness to the date. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it can be one of many indicators as to whether or not there is a spark or potentially meaningful connection. It’s not everything, but it doesn’t mean it has to be nothing.

Where to Go

Clearly, some parts of the body are more sensitive and intimate than others – but we’re not talking about those particular parts here. When you sense you have approval to initiate physical contact, avoid the neck and face area initially unless it’s clear the person is ready to engage more intimately. Those areas are particularly vulnerable, especially when meeting someone new and figuring out if you’re interested. The best bet is to engage with the other’s hand, forearm, or shoulder. Those can be tender places, but don’t have to be as vulnerable as others. Hands in particular allow for a direct response. Whether they withdraw or engage is pretty telling.

Side note: While you’re avoiding the head and neck area to start, also avoid the back unless the person is directly engaged with you. Trying to put your hand on someone’s back as they walk through a door is not only sneaky, but also lazy and tired. What’s more, it’s not going to give you much positive feedback, and may set you back a bit.

Slow your roll

If you’ve successfully made contact and have all these gleeful and lovely feelings, well done! Enjoy the moment. But don’t get cocky, kid. Just because you’ve earned one successful opportunity at consensual physical touching, doesn’t give the green light to be all over someone, or to maintain that contact indefinitely. Let the moments of pure, early physical contact be special moments from which to grew. Get excited about them and then reset, in a way, and hope that you two can create more of those. As a reminder, just because someone is okay with hand-holding in one moment, doesn’t mean you have the perpetual go-ahead to hand hold (also, you can substitute any physical contact or activity with hand holding and that rule still applies.

Just ask

The bravest, most impressive thing you may do as an interested gentleman is simply ask. Ask if you can put your arm around their shoulder or hold their hand. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s only ridiculous because for decades the appropriate way to touch a woman for the first time was to grab her, whether or not she was aware you even existed. Asking is an indicator that you are both respectful and interested, and for all the hemming and hawing and wondering we put ourselves through, it’s an immediate way to express your feelings and find out how someone else feels.

 

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