Rosie Green: The first kiss? It’s complicated!

Our love, sex and dating columnist Rosie Green on taking the lead when it comes to romance.

Rose Green
Photo: David Venni

In my journey of romantic rediscovery, I’ve learnt that the first kiss definitely needs someone to take charge.

To lean in.
To take the plunge.
And readers, that won’t ever be me.
Because it means risking rejection.

The first kiss is fraught with danger for the instigator. High stakes for the ego.

What if I’ve read the signals all wrong? If I go in for the smooch and he recoils in horror… Leaning in for the first kiss takes a certain chutzpah, which I don’t possess.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this. It’s against my progressive, equal opportunities, feminist ideals. Why should I leave it to the guy – why shouldn’t they have to bare their soul? And why should I sit there and wait?

I mean, I wholeheartedly salute women who do ‘the lunge’, but the truth is I really don’t want to. I’d rather sit tight for decades than risk toe-curling rejection.

In fact, my midlife dating journey has also made me realise that, even beyond first kisses, I like a man to assume the role of instigator as we move through the make-out milestones. Because a certain swagger, a certain confidence is attractive to me.

There – I said it. I like a guy to take charge romantically.

My boyfriend has no problem with confidence. Which may be why I like him and why Hugh Grant’s bumbling character Charles in Four Weddings does not do it for me.

‘Ehm, look, sorry, I just, ehm, well…’ Just throw me on the bed, already.

When I really think about why I feel this way I conclude maybe this desire to relinquish control is because, as women, we are given the message that to be too lusty is distasteful. So therefore we are more comfortable being wanted than wanting.

On my girls’ night out last week my friend Suzie fessed up: ‘In bed I just really want to be thrown about a bit.’ While the waiter was so flummoxed that he couldn’t remember the specials, to my surprise the whole table nodded in agreement. Seems like as well as a collective desire for more wine please, there was a consensus that a bit of him taking charge in the sack was pretty sexy.

And that timid was not.

According to the (admittedly limited) survey I conducted with my friends, it seems that in 2021, midlife women would like a ‘new’ man in daily life, but a neanderthal in the super-king.

Perhaps this penchant for alpha-ness is why men in slippers are Kryptonite to my libido, as is someone who has extensive dietary requirements. (Should I ever go back on the dating apps, my profile would read: ‘I like a man with nice forearms, a robust immune system and the ability to carry me out of a burning building.’)

I understand this is so confusing for guys. I’m basically saying: ‘I’d like you to respect my feelings, treat me as an equal, take 50 per cent of the domestic load and have advanced enough taste to understand that gerbera are to flowers what Blue Nun is to wine (an aberration) but still assume a leadership role in the bedroom.’ It’s not logical. But then, as I’ve come to realise, not much about romance is.

And what about what men want? Well, in my ongoing post-divorce sex education I’ve learnt that most feel a passive partner isn’t sexy. They find it flattering and exciting when we women make the first move. Show a flash of desire.

A straw poll among my female friends reveals that instigating sex is one of the first casualties of a long-term relationship. After a few years it becomes a case of ‘oh, all right then’ rather than ‘let me rip your clothes off’. Which is dispiriting to any partner.

It turns out both sexes want to be wanted. So, lean in – strike that – lunge in, people!