Sexual tension: Do you see it?

27 Dec

Scene from House M.D. Copyright (c) FOX

When I got my first job as a journalist, one of the things I had to learn was how to interview people for stories. My editor, who was conducting the training, told us that if the interviewed subject was of the opposite sex, we should take advantage of the sexual tension and ride with it.

That was the first week on my first job, and I didn’t know what he was talking about. I wouldn’t understand it for years after that. If I did, I think, my dating life would have been much easier.

What is sexual tension?

Even if you don’t know what it is, I think you’ve probably experienced it. Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, and you suddenly noticed how attractive the woman you’re talking to was? Did you suddenly worry she would notice what just ran through your mind? Did you suddenly feel sensations like tightness in your throat (you cleared your throat), or found your attention reflexively directed towards your environment (That sound that’s so soft you normally wouldn’t have noticed, yet you just had to look away to see what it was?) When she drew near physically, did you reflexively feel you had to withdraw?

That’s sexual tension.

Lots of advice out there that explains how to read body language and signs of female attraction. Unfortunately, much of it is useless for many people. Because the truth is, most of them have absolutely no problem reading attraction signals. Their problem is that they are uncomfortable with sexual tension, and would very much prefer to imagine the feelings weren’t there. They don’t how to respond to it.

Many men withdraw when sexual tension appears. They break eye contact. They suddenly change the subject. If they are in close proximity with their date, they suddenly pull back, uncomfortable with the energy that close physical space creates. They do this reflexively, involuntarily.

This is a big mistake.

First of all, sexual tension is inevitable. If you’ve asked a woman on a date, you’re already attracted to the woman on at least a superficial level. You’re there on a date to figure out if there’s anything underlying that attraction. If you find sexual tension is still there after talking to her, it’s what you’re looking for. It’s supposed to be a good thing.

Second, it’s not possible to hide sexual tension. Especially not in a situation specifically designed to heighten sexual tension, which is exactly what a date is. If you go into a date hoping to avoid sexual tension or to minimise it, you don’t know what a date is in the first place, and you shouldn’t be dating.

There’s no point ignoring or disguising sexual tension. Sure, you can pretend it doesn’t exist. And if you pretend it doesn’t exist, your date will likely take your lead, and pretend it’s not there either. That’s great, you think to yourself. Yet you know it’s there. She knows it’s there.

Once sexual tension arises, you only have two choices: acknowledge its presence, or withdraw from it. And when you withdraw from it, the date is as good as over.

You might protest that you are shy, and you are not comfortable with sexual tension. You wish women would recognise your shyness and help make you comfortable.

But know this. You’re a man. It’s your job to make a woman comfortable, not hers to make you feel at ease.

On a date, your date is as vulnerable as you are. As far as women are concerned, the outward signs of shyness is the same as disinterest: they can’t tell if you’re too shy to advance the relationship, or if you’ve just decided she’s not for you. For all intents and purposes, she’ll still conclude (rightly) that you’re unable and unwilling to move forward.

This is why you must learn to recognise the moment when sexual tension arises. Be comfortable with maintaining eye contact. Start getting comfortable with silence, and resist the urge to fill the space with words.


Once you’re comfortable with sexual tension, and you’ll be able start move with it. If you take the lead and demonstrate your comfort with sexual tension, you will reassure your date, and she will be comfortable with it too. You will create the space for her to be herself, and to enjoy your company.

When you find a date who’s as at ease with sexual tension as you are, you’ll know you’ve found a right person. Compared with regular dates, where things don’t seem to go anywhere, the right date will seem to have infinite possibilities in comparison. The interaction will be intense. You’ll be amazed.


2 Responses to “Sexual tension: Do you see it?”

  1. Clueless December 27, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    If I don’t feel the sexual tension, can I create it?

    • Wyck December 28, 2010 at 10:42 am #

      Sexual tension is heightened when you’re physically close, or you’re flirting, or when you’re sharing something intimate. It’s something that naturally arises when a date is going well, but doing those things can intensify it.

      There could be more to your question, but I suggest asking yourself this: Why aren’t you feeling the sexual tension? Do you feel any attraction for the girl? If you are attracted, are you inadvertently doing things to keep things lukewarm and platonic? (And if you’re not attracted, why do you want to create sexual tension?)

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