Red or Green Light

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Clear signals are easy to follow. Just as with traffic lights, we know when to stop and when to go. We obey the rules. Otherwise, there is the risk of undesirable consequences. Imagine if it was as easy as this when it came to flirting and courtship. What if we had clear guidelines for what’s okay and when it’s wanted? That would clear up many bumps and complications. What a relief for all parties.

It is easy to set boundaries when the rules are clear. If a driver runs a red light, you yell, “Stop!” from the passenger seat. You don’t even need to consider if you’re being rude, or what the other person will think of you. Red means red. That’s completely different from when we consider saying no to flirting or to a sexual advance. Where is the proper boundary? What will he or she think of me if I say no? Is it too early? Will it upset them? Should I endure this? Do I want it? Maybe I like a little flirting but not more than that? Suddenly we are in a world full of variables. Add some cultural considerations and differences into the mix, and the scene becomes a minefield. Communication can easily crash and boundaries get violated. Undesirable consequences no doubt will be the outcome. Another side is that it also diminishes joy. The flow of desired flirtation and courtship becomes a zone of worry. What is effortless becomes so full of effort.

What makes it so difficult? Someone is making a move towards someone. The other can choose to say or signal no. It should not feel offensive or forced. Sadly, we all know this is far from easy. Flirtation or sexual advances can feel welcome or not so welcome.

Maybe the difficulties are understandable. Old gender patterns still govern. When it comes down to it, men are expected to play the active part in courtship. Women choose and receive. Men penetrate; women are penetrated. Penetration easily feels invading if it’s not wanted. The same goes for having your boundaries violated. It feels intrusive and invading.

It is clear that we have different boundaries and desires. That goes for all of us. I will not make men the scapegoats. It serves no one. Unfortunately, too many good men have become afraid to act. They don’t want to be perceived as pushy or invading. So they go to the other extreme. They become passive. They lose some of their distinctive masculinity. We do not want that. But we do want men who listen. Women cantry to understand each other? Listen as well as being clear. Men, if you become better at reading signals you will become way more elegant in your courtship. Women, have you really been clear? If the unwanted advances continue, the chances are you have not.

It is the responsibility of both parties to find out whether it is a red or green light. Do you want the process of flirting and courtship to be as effortless and playful as possible? Make sure you keep your signal system finely tuned. tj

The complete article can be found in Issue #277 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.


Written By:

Bianca Schmidt

Tokyo Journal columnist Bianca Schmidt is a psychotherapist and sexologist who writes a column in Norway's largest newspaper VG and in the gestalt psychotherapy magazine. The Oslo, Norway native came up with the idea for the development and cast of a TV documentary about transgender issues. In 2010, the program won the Gullruten, the Norwegian equivalent of the Emmy Award. That same year, the series won the Gay Award in Norway. Bianca is quoted as a specialist on psychological and relational issues by newspapers, magazines and TV programs in Norway, and also makes appearances as an inspirational speaker on a wide range of topics. In 1997, Bianca founded the Gestaltsenter in Oslo, where she still meets clients. She has a passion for making a positive shift and difference in people's lives.


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