March 7, 2024

When Men Do this, We Get turned On. ~ Melanie Curtin

*Did you know you can write on Elephant? Here’s how—big changes: How to Write & Make Money or at least Be of Benefit on Elephant. ~ Waylon


Author’s note: I’m a coach for men who are attracted to women, and this post addresses man/woman dynamics within that frame. The principles in it are universal, and I also wanted to acknowledge that it is heteronormative.


A while back, back when the pandemic was full-on pandemicking, I actually met up with a guy I met on Hinge.

I know. Incredible.

(Like many, I haven’t had a lot of experience actually meeting up with men from dating apps. I’ve got a lot of experience messaging, a lot of swiping and wondering, considering and evaluating.)

So I already counted it as a win when I showed up to this in-person date and he also showed up. The other win was that I was attracted to him.

By the end of the date, though, there were some things I wasn’t glad about…and they had to do with something that can help you stand out if you’re a man who relates with women romantically.

For this date, I’d thrown out the idea of a walk around an outdoor garden I’d heard was pretty. I’d also asked about what our plan would be in terms of COVID-19 safety.

We first strolled around the garden a bit, with me guiding in terms of which direction we went. At the end I initiated a hug and said, “This was fun! I’d do it again.” We made tentative plans to go on another walk soon.

None of this is, in itself, a big deal. But it did prompt a revelation on my part about the whole date experience:

I didn’t trust him to lead.

I didn’t trust him to pick out something fun (and Covid-safe) for us to do, so I made a suggestion. He wasn’t guiding us around the paths in the garden, so I did. I didn’t know what our plan for Covid safety should be, so I brought it up over text beforehand. I didn’t know whether he was going to address whether we’d see each other again at the end, so I did.

Afterwards, I realized that I’d stepped in to lead because I was afraid that if I didn’t, nothing would happen.

I, as a woman, desperately want to trust a man’s lead. I want to trust that he will suggest what we do and when (at least sometimes). I want to trust that he’ll lead a conversation about safety or logistics. In a relationship context, I want to trust that he’ll help guide us through periods of tension.

Why don’t men lead more? In addition to past shaming, I think a lot of men are afraid to lead because they don’t want to dominate. They don’t want to be “That Guy”—the f*ckboy or unconscious man who causes harm with his dominance. So they swing to the opposite side of the pendulum and fall into the trap of being passive, waiting to see what she says or does.

Unfortunately, this often backfires (at least it does for many of my clients). In being passive, they don’t generate polarity with women, and they’re often stressed or anxious because they’re constantly waiting for something to happen, or hoping something happens. They lack a sense of control or agency.

Fortunately there’s a third way that’s neither dominating nor being passive:


The truth is we don’t have a lot of healthy masculine role models when it comes to leading, and I want to make this concrete. So here are several scenarios and what it actually sounds like if you’re passive, dominant, or leading:

Situation: You’ve been messaging back and forth on an app and there’s some fun alignment and banter.

>> Passive: Nothing.

The man here is waiting for her to suggest going out or meeting up. He’s waiting for an obvious signal or some kind of “permission” to ask her out.

>> Dominating: Texting her something like, “Yo so are we going to go out or what?”

This is dominating because it’s slightly shaming and puts the ball in her court, with no vulnerability on his part. Dominating often sounds like leading without vulnerability.

>> Leading: Texting something like, “Hey, I’d love to take you on a socially distanced walk. If you’re down, what sounds more appealing: a midday stroll by the river, or a late afternoon walk through a rose garden?”

Note that here, he starts by stating what he wants (“I’d love to take you on a walk”). Then there’s an acknowledgement of her choice (“if you’re down”). Finally, there’s a specific suggestion.

Leading is not passive, and it’s also not, “You have to do this with me,” or “Why aren’t you doing this thing with me?” That’s dominating.

Leading is, “I’d love to do this with you. Would you like to do this with me?”


Situation: You’ve set up an in-person date and you’re discussing logistics.

>> Passive: Nothing.

The man has no attention on what would have her feel safe. He’s not thinking about her experience in a concrete way. Instead he’s often in his own head worrying about what will happen, whether he’ll be “good enough,” whether she’ll let him down like other women have, or ruminating on something else.

>> Dominating: Nothing.

The man assumes that because he feels pretty safe in the world, she does too.

>> Leading: Texting her something like, “Listen, I wanna make sure you feel safe and relaxed, in terms of Covid and anything else. I’m happy to mask up or just stay 6-plus feet apart, or both. I could also meet you at the subway station/at your car to walk you in if you’d like. What would have you feel relaxed?”

Note the inclusion of the word “relaxed” twice. If you want to have a fun, sexy encounter with a feminine being, you really want her to feel relaxed. When she feels tense or tight in her body, it’s way harder for her to be happy or radiant. It’s worth noting that she’ll only orgasm if she’s relaxed, as well.

Note, also, explicitly talking about safety. It’s soothing for women to know that you understand that we frequently feel unsafe and that you want to help us to feel safe.


Situation: You’re on a socially distanced walk.

>> Passive: Waits to see where she’s going and follows her lead.

>> Dominant: Walks around assuming she’ll follow, never attuning to her to see how she’s feeling and whether she’s relaxed and excited about what’s happening.

>> Leading: Gently guides her directionally. Feels into her, the space, and the moment, and continues to gently guide.

This kind of leading requires that you are present in your body so that you can resonate with both the environment and her at the same time. For many of my clients, developing this presence in their bodies is a game-changer; once they’re actually present, they can feel into her and guide.


Situation: Something has obviously shifted in the cadence of your texting (i.e. she’s responding less frequently).

>> Passive: Nothing.

This man feels anxious but says nothing, hoping she’ll speak up if something’s going on.

>> Dominant: Texting her, “Wtf you don’t wanna do this anymore?”

Again, shaming language with an aggressive tone, and no acknowledgement of the authentic vulnerability underneath.

>> Leading: Depending on how close you’ve gotten when this happened:

>> not that close; one date or less: Texting her: “Hey, it’s a little edgy to say this but it feels like something has shifted here. I’d love to hear what’s going on for you if you’re willing to share.

>> kind of close; maybe two-plus dates: Leaving her a voice memo: “Hey, just checking in. It feels like something’s different here and I wanted to see if there’s anything you’d like to share. I’d love to hear what’s going on.”

>> fairly close; three-plus dates: Calling her: “Hey, thanks for picking up. Do you have space for a quick conversation? (If it’s a yes:) I’m sensing something has shifted on your end here and wanted to make space in case there’s anything you’d like to share. I’m here for it even if it’s awkward.”


As a sex and relationship coach for men, I’ve witnessed extraordinary transformations. I’ve watched clients go from feeling depressed about their dating prospects and/or confused about why any woman would truly want them, to having several dates with different women lined up.

I’ve seen “nice guys” who had trouble asserting themselves learn to set boundaries not only with women, but also with colleagues, friends, and family members. I’ve seen these men get into the first healthy relationships of their lives.

I’ve seen men who were in toxic relationships—sometimes even ones where they were the victims of abuse—get out of those and into quality love relationships.

I’ve seen married men who wanted a better sex life with their wives get exactly that. As one recently put it, “We had sex the other night and it was…smokin’.”

In all of these cases, the skill that changed everything for them was…you guessed it…leading.

If you want to turn women on and have them feel safe, learn to lead. Leading is critical to both safety and attraction, whether you’re dating or in a committed relationship.

If you wait for her to choose a direction, you’re not leading.

If you’re not issuing an invitation, you’re not leading.

If you’re making a suggestion and then inviting her to come along with you, you’re leading!

And here’s the thing about you leading: It isn’t just some nice thing over here on the side.

It’s huge.

It turns us on.

It makes us wet.

When you lead, I get to relax.

When you lead, I get to feel your power and your vulnerability at the same time.

When you lead, I get to stop organizing everything and lean back.

When you lead, I get to follow.

And many times this means I want to follow you right into bed.

Want to hear other women extolling the virtues of leading? This episode of my podcast is a good one.


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