tumblr_l5clfr5nvD1qc8eueo1_1280
Advice from certified lady-person and Kempt friskonomy expert Michelle Ong.

Knowing when it’s okay to initiate physical contact with a woman should be common sense. Unfortunately, most guys are total dingbats when it comes to getting touchy-feely, confusing creepiness for charm. [Ed. Note: We would add “most guys of a certain age.”] At best, unsolicited caresses, rubs and pats are supremely annoying. At worst, you come off as the grossest kind of predator—the kind we scuttle away from and warn our friends about. It doesn’t matter if you just meant to be friendly. Unless you’re my date, physical expressions of affection should be kept to a minimum. (I guess if you’re my dad, that’s okay, too.)

So as a public service to all the ladies who’ve endured one too many grabs, I’m coloring in all the gray zones to present you with… the Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Frisky.

GREEN LIGHT

  • Kissing hello. Once is fine, twice is nice, three times is super-Euro, but hey—it’s still kind of chic.
  • Holding my elbow while we’re steering through a crowd. It’s old-school gentlemanly.
  • Slinging your arm around my waist if we’re pals, taking a picture or singing karaoke. Or taking a picture because we’re pals singing karaoke.
  • Dusting off my shoulders if there are strands of lint on them.

YELLOW LIGHT

  • Kissing hello while grabbing my waist. I’m not going anywhere; you don’t have to hold me down.
  • Holding my hand while we’re steering through a crowd. Dude, I’m not a child, and it’s just other people. If separation becomes an imminent possibility, I promise I won’t scream, “Don’t let go!”
  • Slinging your arm around my waist if we’re not pals but you wish we could be.
  • Dusting off my hair if there are weird specks in it—because that’s probably just hair product and now I’m embarrassed.

RED LIGHT

  • Kissing hello while holding my face.
  • Putting your hand on the small of my back while we’re steering through a crowd. Actually, putting your hand on the small of my back is creepy in general unless we’re on a date. There’s just no way it’s coming across as casual.
  • Slinging your arm around my waist if we’re not even acquaintances but you wish we could be.
  • Anything involving contact with my ass. Unless it’s on fire. And you need to put out the flames.

—M.O.

CONTRIBUTOR:

Michelle Ong