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February 17, 2019

Should men seek consent before hand holding and kisses?

A man and a woman holding hands in the streets of Nairobi. /MONICAH MWANGI
A man and a woman holding hands in the streets of Nairobi. /MONICAH MWANGI

A singleton divided opinion when he asked whether men should ask their date for permission before taking their hand for the first time. 

Posting on Reddit forum Ask Women, the man explained he was torn over the best way to determine consent for 'small romantic gestures', saying he didn't know whether it was best for him to ask a woman directly.

He wrote: "Women, do you prefer a man to directly ask for consent for small romantic gestures (i.e."Would you like to hold hands?" "Could I put my arm around you"), or is it too awkward?  

"What's the best way to approach doing these gestures, especially for the first few times in a relationship? Are there other smoother ways to ask for consent to take away the awkward but retain the respect for boundaries?"

The post prompted a flurry of responses from fellow users, with the majority saying it was best to ask for permission first.

One woman said: "Here's the thing: would you rather come off as slightly less spontaneous, or risk making your date uncomfortable?"

"Yes it can be a tiny bit of a turn off but I would much rather have someone ask to kiss me/ hold my hand than just do it if I didn't want it and make me feel unsafe for the rest of the date. The pros vastly outweigh the cons when it comes to asking for consent."

Another posted: "My new husband asked if he could kiss me for the fist time (25 and 32 years old). It was both awkward and respectful. Of course, I thought, "yeah you dummy". I now look back on that moment with nothing but sweet sentiment."

Others encouraged the man to rely on physical cues rather than asking directly. 

One user wrote: "I definitely don't want to discourage you from asking but find maybe a gesture that would work like holding your hand out and letting her decide to place hers in yours kids of way. 

"I found a man asking to be deeply disturbing maybe (like reading a script). I know men aren't mind readers and us women all want different things. So maybe an inviting gesture is the middle ground."

However a handful argued it was better for a man to take control. 

One woman wrote: 'I know this is probably frowned upon in the current climate but for me it would absolutely kill any romance if you asked for consent to hold my hand or put your arm around me.

"I would want to feel as though you felt comfortable enough to initiate affection without asking. 

"Obviously if I pulled away or didn't reciprocate you should back off, persistence in that case would be very uncomfortable and distressing."


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