Sexual Escalation as a Fitness Test

In a sidebar to yesterday’s post I riffed on sex-positive feminism as a possible attention-getting exercise, while still reserving the right to act prudish and offended at other people’s sexual bloviation.

On a more game-y note, Roissy has a maxim that goes something like “if she’s talking with you about sex, she’s thinking about sex with you.” I’ve generally found that to be true (or that she judges you so completely incapable of escalating that she can talk about sex without worrying about having to fend off your advances). But I’ve also noticed that a woman talking about sex or even propositioning a man directly for sexual activity can serve as a bit of a shit test. In this post I referenced Assanova’s theory of rejection as a test, in particular a woman testing if a man experiences rejection and knows to work around it or reacts with anger, indicating a history of failure with women.

Likewise, a woman advancing the sexual football herself can be testing (probably subconsciously) if you react like a guy who hasn’t gotten laid in his life, or a guy who regularly experiences sexual reciprocation from women. The appearance of the former serves as a proxy for pre-unselection that can wreak havoc on the hindbrain. She might even be consciously desiring of your phallic caress and willing to tell you so, but is liable to get turned off if you respond to her offer like an eager puppydog who can’t believe his good fortune.

Here I propose a two-prong response to a female escalation. I first discovered these by accident. A woman at a beverage establishment essentially propositioned me for a SNL; I was so blown away by the directness of the suggestion that I assumed she was bullshitting me and attempted to gloss over it as if it had been a garden variety fitness test.

But at the same time, I was experimenting with a very forward-but-sophisticated James Bond style of game, which induced me to continue escalating her as long as she was accepting of it. These two factors combined in a happy happenstance.

1. Remain nonplussed.

The first step is to trend towards non-reaction. You don’t want her to get the idea that she can just snap her fingers and have access to a high-value man’s sexual generosity, nor can she get the sense that this is an unusual event for you. You need to think with a bit of qualifying mindset – “I can tell she’s interested, but I still need to determine if she’s spongeworthy.”

I’ve found that a good “oh really?” or “I bet you’d enjoy that” or “listen to you!” does a nice job communicating a lack of excessive enthusiasm.

Non-reaction also frames you as an active listener, temporarily suspending your frame as the leader and guiding her through her own emotional space. Being able to listen casually is a key factor in avoiding her feeling “judged,” which builds an enormous amount of comfort. Trouble is, if you simply listen casually, you risk becoming an emotional tampon for her girl talk, and if you don’t strike when she’s told you she’s sexually available, she’ll take it as a stinging rejection and she is probably going to write you off as not interested in her or not man enough to get the job done. Take it from me – once that has happened, she can (in another Roissy maxim) be as cold as if she had never known you.

So you have to stay sexual. That leads us to…

2. Test the escalation boundaries. 

Take her talk about sex as an invitation to up the vibe. Move closer to her, talk slower (whisper in her ear for bonus points), put your hand on her hip, rub her leg with your fingers or the back of your hand, if you’re standing prop your arm against the wall to expand your frame.

The whole idea of escalation is that it happens in steps. The good news for guys is, that means you don’t have to worry about pulling off some uber-romantic move that blows away all of her anxieties at once. You just have to move a step forward and see how she reacts. If Roissy is wrong (or more accurately, if you’ve hit a counterexample), your hand rubbing her thigh produces a nervous jump from her as she moves a bit away from you. Your moving in for the kiss causes her to turn away. She doesn’t move into the frame you create. That’s all, there’s no big awkward moment, she just finishes her story about the marathon session she had when she and her boyfriend had those Red Bull pina coladas and fried plantains in Panama City, and you chuckle out loud and excuse yourself to refill your caipirinha.


Filed under beta guide, dating and field game

9 responses to “Sexual Escalation as a Fitness Test

  1. P Ray

    Cocky and funny has its place. and any woman wanting that in a man or only accepting that kind of approach, and refusing to show any interest herself, should also be aware that a guy capable of entertaining her … is capable of entertaining another woman.
    And that it’s not a relationship until both people say they are (to themselves and others), and act like it.
    Good article, Badger.

  2. Caipirinha? Are you in Brazil?

    [Maybe. Or maybe I’m just a connoisseur of fine cocktails the world over.]

  3. I like Will Smith’s line in “Men in Black”: Whoa, slow down. I get to drive. It’s not some macho trip.”

    By the way, “nonplussed” means the opposite of what you think it means.

  4. Candide

    Step 0: Test to make sure she’s not a humourless feminist. If she is, you’re risking a lot, anywhere from social proof poisoning to FRA.

  5. Most dictionaries these days list even incorrect usages if they are common enough, which this one definitely is. Read what the OED has to say on the subject:

    It’s one of the most misused words in the language.

    Best, bs

  6. betasattva,

    Why don’t you give it a rest, dude? As if anyone reading this has a lot of concern over the issue.

  7. Theophilus

    For point 1, I would consider reacting like you suggest, with an amused “Oh really” or “I bet you’d enjoy that”, and at the same time touch her in a suggestive manner, like stroking her thigh. That’s a definite approval of her desire, while at the same time not acting like it’s your first time.
    I am a fan of the possibility for double communication that kino provides.

  8. urs

    I know this is an old-ish entry, but this is exactly how I got with my husband. The stuff you describe is so similar it’s uncanny. I don’t know if you find female feedback helpful, what with our hamsters and all, but I will try to be as objective as possible here. I know it’s long, but I’m just trying to break it down, because it’s all suddenly making sense now.

    He was a regular customer at the bar where I worked. Sure, I thought he was cute, and he was always very generous when he was with groups of friends and/or with tipping, but this was incongruent with his abrasive personality (I realized later he’s just very deadpan, and I wasn’t getting it, because I guess I’m just that dim sometimes). I didn’t like him much, enough that I avoided waiting on him when possible, despite being poor and needing the money. One night, however, I was let off work early after bartending for a wedding in the adjoining establishment. Not wanting to waste the rest of the night or a cute outfit or spend my own limited funds, and remembering his propensity for drink buying, I walked up to him, pointing, and said nonchalantly, “You’ll buy me a drink, won’t you?” I figured he would say no, but I was trying out a little bit of psychology I had been reading about and picked who I thought was the toughest target in the room because I’m an overachiever like that (I was trying out a type of individuation, in case you’re interested, where the process of singling someone out in a group with a demand that includes eye contact and a pointed finger makes them more likely to comply).

    But he did. He bought me a lot of drinks. And we were actually having fun. I assumed it was simply because my individuation trick worked and the tequila shots were helping.

    After closing, I am asking a sober girlfriend to drive me home, wherein he approaches us and asks, “Are you guys going to the after party?” No. I am drunk. I just need to go home. He says alright, see ya later, and leaves.

    Once I get home, I change my mind….Maybe the body agenda is already at work. I tell my friend that I am going to change into more casual clothes for the party. So I do that, and I am sobering up a little and feel a bit better. We get to the after party, and hardly anyone is there, having moved to another venue. My friend and I decide to stay regardless, and Drinkman is there with one of his buddies. We are all sitting on the front porch chit chatting for a while, when I notice that he is absently stroking my foot (I had changed into flip flops, then took them off to sit cross legged in my chair). I hadn’t even noticed him start, and I’m not sure he did, either. Or maybe he did. I don’t even remember how his chair got next to mine. It was all very smooth and not-obvious.

    I start to think…I might want to sleep with him. This shocks me. I don’t usually think in these blunt terms. I hadn’t considered it till right then, hadn’t really felt that chemistry or whatever you wanna call it. And I know everyone says this, but that was totally out of character for me. I typically waited till I had feelings for someone before I would put out (grand total at time was 2, both LTR’s), and here I was seriously contemplating a one night stand for the first time ever in my life!

    So I got up and went into the house to get a glass of water, rationalizing that maybe it was the alcohol talking, and if I decided to do this, I wanted it to be at least a somewhat sober decision. I guess I wanted to see if he would come find me, too – but I can only see that in retrospect, and could not have identified that desire at the time. I think I just needed to know I wasn’t imagining his interest. A minute later, he comes in and asks if I’m alright.

    That’s it. Decision’s made.

    I use the inertia to quietly say, looking down, “I am struggling with something a little. I feel like…I need to use someone tonight. Do you understand what I mean?” I look up at him and his response is perfect – he pushes me up against the fridge to kiss me. Then we went to my house, and…well, you can guess what happened.

    Apparently, we both were escalating in just the right way. And he really had to be doing things right, to start the night out as a guy I NEVER would have considered, to becoming the first (and last) person I ever had an SNL with. It’s totally true about a chick changing her rules for the right guy doing the right stuff. The crazy thing, is that it felt effortless. I didn’t even know it was happening until it hit me very suddenly in the kitchen; I didn’t feel pushed or pressured or any of that, but I was so unused to that sensation that I assumed that the alcohol had to be responsible. It felt strange to be taking responsibility in the sexual decision making, and then to be acting so forcefully (for me, anyway) on it. But I didn’t feel like I could help it, either; it all seemed natural, and even – unavoidable. I didn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed or any of the usual emotions I associated with “slutty” sex. His total lack of sexual agenda was pretty different from what I’m used to when dealing with guys, so it was actually strangely…empowering, maybe?…to feel like I was making the decision myself, instead of feeling like he was calling every single shot and pushing me to where I begrudgingly complied because…that’s what’s expected after a certain point? Because you owe the guy? Or something?

    I think the game started when he was buying me drinks. He wasn’t just focused on me – I remember (vaguely) a lot of people sitting with us, and he occasionally bought rounds for everyone else, too. I didn’t feel like he was honing in on an end result, and maybe he originally wasn’t. So yeah, I totally let my guard down. It just felt like a bunch of friends hanging out. Then the party was an opportunity for both of us to isolate, although I hadn’t intended that – but we both made a decision by staying at a largely empty “party”. It was completely subconscious, at least on my part. I did not feel my attraction as a conscious thing affecting my behavior until I noticed him touching my foot, and even then, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. My brain is just so slow to catch on to my body agenda! I mean, I know you guys hate our huge checklists, but we can’t help it; we often can’t identify our body’s signals till long after they start, and even then, we’ve been socialized to play it totally cool, even to ourselves.

    Following me into the house was another affirmative signal on his part. He started off a few feet away from me, but once I began speaking, moved into my space…really close. More confirmation. Maybe that’s why I was speaking quietly? So I am feeling pretty confident I’ll get a yes, but by phrasing my question the way that I did, I was giving us both wiggle room, in case I had misinterpreted him, or in case he was still interested, but maybe needed more encouragement, there’d be room to give it. He could ask, “I’m not sure what exactly you mean by ‘use somebody’ – could you clarify?” in order to force a more direct request. And by me starting the request with “I’m really struggling with something”, I was trying to tell him to act fast, before I change my mind; it was taking ALL the guts I had to be so forthcoming, and without him (and maybe the alcohol) helping me, I was going to chicken out. The kiss was maybe a leap of faith on his part, or maybe a reciprocal gutsy move in recognition of my own; my eager participation sealed the deal.

    He was good in bed, and fun. I don’t remember a lot of details (thanks, alcohol), just the sensation that I had definitely made a decision I didn’t regret, and also surprise I didn’t really feel nervous or threatened or any of that. It was comfortable. I was totally okay with the prospect of it being a one-time thing, too. Although I told a friend the next day that if he asked me to do it again, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to turn him down. So of course that same day he came in with a group of friends on my shift, and after sitting with them for a while, he came up to the bar and waited for me to be able to get him a drink instead of asking one of the other girls. Then he went to sit back down. This was perplexing. He hadn’t totally blown me off, which was what I was expecting, as I understand the terms and conditions of a one night stand. But his unanticipated mild interest had piqued MY interest, and I now wanted to investigate in as non-pushy a way as possible.

    When he came up to get another drink, I isolated him again by telling him I was just getting ready to go on my break (lie), and I couldn’t find my lighter (lie), so could he please light my cigarette for me? I should mention….that I do not smoke. I expected him to see right through my ploy and decline, but he agreed. I lied again that I had to be away from the bar to take my break, so I told him to follow me into the hallway. We spoke casually but easily for some time, definitely going over the mandated limits of my break….and then at closing he went home with me again. This routine went on for weeks, which turned into months. We were totally gaming each other, now that I look back on it. Which I knew nothing about and had never done before, but I suppose if a guy is really good, he can bring that out in us. He had all the other requisite features, too – good looking, broad shoulders (V-shape – yes, WE NOTICE), good job, good social skills, funny, lots of friends, lots of hobbies, highly skilled in several areas – so he might not have pulled it off so well if he hadn’t been a high value guy to start. Without all that other stuff, I likely would have cut it off after the one time. But he was interesting and funny, and he had a life. I genuinely appreciated that.

    So we absolutely were having a lot of really great sex. And non-sex time was increasingly enjoyable, too. It ultimately resulted in him asking me on an actual date, much to my surprise (I never would have expected any guy to buy a cow providing free milk, and it took me a while to understand and accept that he truly wanted more than just sex from me), which then led to our marriage 3 years later.

    None of that had been part of the original plan for me…It just sorta happened. Ok…so obviously, my husband knew what he was doing, and probably made it happen exactly how he wanted it to. But I have never felt like I didn’t want it to, either. I am sitting here trying to think of how to explain it, but it’s hard. Everything he wants to do just sounds like a great idea, and I am almost always happy to go along. I trust him, and let him lead the way, because he does such a great job that I know he won’t screw it up and he’s never let me down. So sure, his game was, like, wow amazing. But he’s also the real deal. He’s a developed, smart, hard working individual who has his shit together. He’s an unbelievable father and husband. His game got his foot in the door, and made me want to sleep with him without a thought of love or the future or anything that I normally had on the sex checklist. But the rest of him, the PERSON, is what kept it going, and continues to do so, and what I love and admire about him. That’s why I like your blog – you encourage guys to be the best version of themselves, not only because it totally gets them laid (duh), but because, it like, makes the world all rainbows and unicorns and shit when more of us are self-actualized. It leads to real happiness and success, versus just a lot of belt notches, and you acknowledge that there are decent women out there that will appreciate it, and who are working on that for themselves, too.

    TL;DR – properly done sexual escalation with a reciprocating female can result in some damn good sex, and ongoing, drawn out escalation and sex + having your shit together = pretty intense bonding with a suitable mate in a happy relationship (if you’re into that sort of thing).

    Although, after reading some about Game, and thoroughly analyzing this situation, I think hubby is just naturally that perfect balance of alpha and beta, and could probably snag whoever the hell he wants. Somehow, I got in his crosshairs, and it’s worked out really well for the last 9 years. In fact, recounting all of this has filled me with a huge surge of appreciation, and now I need to go have sex. So uh…thanks for that!

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