Your Call: How Can I Talk to Men Without It Being About Sex?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

How can I have a lively, engaging conversation with a guy I’ve just met in a social setting (ex: house party, bar, laundromat) without an undercurrent of sex creeping in?

It’s not that I have anything against sex (or party/bar/laundromat hookups). Far from it. I’m an attractive girl in my mid-twenties, and I’ve had my share of sexual adventures (& misadventures). I’m a-okay with flirting, but I feel like it sometimes inhibits the opportunity to get to know these fellows — who seem like decent, interesting, thoughtful people — on a more sincere level.

Honestly, guys get monotonous when they think they’ve caught a whiff of the pussy train. There’s a script to flirting, & it can be a fun one to enact sometimes, but not always. For one, I don’t want to bone every guy I’ve had a 5+ minute conversation with in the room. For another, I often just want to go home alone & watch Top Chef & maybe dwell on all the fascinating things I learned from that great conversation I had at the party.

What can I do to direct the conversation to less-flirt more-substance, but still keep it fun & interesting?

– Platonic Ideal

What should P.I. do? Let her know in the comments below.

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12 Comments on "Your Call: How Can I Talk to Men Without It Being About Sex?"

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Chin Up, Chest High!
We can blame Hollywood, or girlie magazines, but the popular media seems to teach females that all they need to attract a man is to be beautiful. You won’t get very far in life on looks alone. Shallowness breeds shallowness so looking only at the “hot” guys and turning away from those who aren’t particularly physically appealing but with whom you might get on really well will only lead to these sort of encounters. If you let your personality shine, talk about things that interest you, you are going to attract likeminded people. If you demonstrate that you are interesting… Read more »
Dave W
Aw shucks. I found my way back here through the Comment of the Week post on the 20th, and didn’t realize there had been more responses. Alisa, I heard what you were saying in your original post, and found it to be believable. I’m touched that you heard me in return. Regarding Chin Up, Chest High’s response, I guess for the most part I agree with him – at least for the aforementioned “non-douchey” people. I think it’s informative that you brought up the importance of being attractive(visually) right after mentioning the issue of wanting people to like you. For… Read more »
Chin Up, Chest High!

” I believe lots of guys like and respect women they find attractive,”

It is the other way around… men are attracted to women who are likeable and have things other than her body to attract a man. Ambition, character and a sense of humour are incredibly sexy to us. If you have at least one of these things you will get the sort of attention you desire from the men you want attention from.

Hi All, Original letter writer here – thank you for your replies & suggestions. Some useful content (esp from Dave W), some critical but reasonable questioning given the info you had in the original letter to go by. To address a couple points people brought up: Yep, I do think a major part of the issue is that I want people to like me. I believe lots of guys like and respect women they find attractive, take their thoughts seriously, have good rapport with them…I also think oftentimes the first instinct for a lot of these guys is to try… Read more »

If you want to start meaningful conversations with men that don’t involve a hookup, maybe you should meet them in places other than hookup spots.

Dave W
My initial response is that you have more control over conversations than you think. Stick to the topics that you want to discuss. If they start to veer off into sex stuff, hold your ground. If they dip their toes in that water again, hold your ground once again. They’ll get it and play on your turf if they’re worth getting to know more. If they seem insistent on “going there”, then move on. It’s not the worst thing in the world to disappoint a guy who doesn’t respect your boundaries. I suppose it can be hard to get past… Read more »

Start the conversation with, “so what do you think of the House Republican’s willingness to temporarily raise the debt ceiling?” If he can’t give you an intelligent answer, walk away.