Uh? Um. OH! How To Talk To Boys (11 Simple Steps)
Starting a conversation with a guy can sometimes be easy, and sometimes totally nerve-wracking. Especially if you’re a shy girl, or don’t have too many guy friends that you spend a lot of time with. But not all the stereotypes about guys are true — and you don’t have to bat your eyelashes like they’re fans or learn up all the rules of football in order to be able to talk to them. Just read up on our 11 tips on how to talk to boys, and you’ll be sorted in no time at all!
1. Approach him!
Well, ladies, no point being shy or nervous about it. If you want to talk to him, you have to make a move to the effect. Smiling at him, and hoping he’s going to come up to you, works only sometimes. For the other times, muster up the courage and walk up to him. Start with saying hi! And in case you’re stuck for ideas about what to say to him next, here’s some inspiration for you.
2. Let him participate
This is very important. Make sure what you say — or ask — warrants a detailed response. Instead of just asking “Hey, what’s up?” go for something a bit more in-depth. “What do you think about this song?” is one that works in most social situations since it’s very likely that there’s some form of music around. And even if all you can think of is the weather, “Wow, it’s super-hot today — do you think it’s likely to rain anytime soon?” can help you start off a conversation. These are questions that solicit his opinion — which means he has to participate. Way better than “Hey, what’s up?” and “Not much”, right?
There’s nothing more engaging about talking to a new person than the possibility of being able to have fun. Smile, indicate to him that you’re in a good mood. Smiles are contagious, they make the other person respond in the same way. You don’t have to giggle or laugh loudly (unless what he says makes you naturally respond that way, of course!), but smiling is always, ALWAYS a good idea. It encourages the other person to open up. (Think about it: would you be interested in talking to someone who looks grim, or someone who looks cheerful?)
4. Get him to talk about himself
Well, this is something we must accept: everyone likes to talk about themselves to some extent. So once you get started, turn the conversation to him. Ask him what he does, whether he’s interested in music or sports or movies or whatever. Listen carefully to what he says, and respond accordingly. Not only will this make for a fun conversation that flows, but it will also allow you the chance to get to know him a bit.
5. Be confident
There’s nothing more attractive in another person than confidence. No matter how shy or nervous you feel, you gotta be confident. And if you aren’t feeling it, then just fake it for a bit until you feel comfortable. After all, he can’t tell if you have butterflies in your stomach! The longer you talk, the more at ease you will feel — and the confidence will come to you, even if it isn’t there at the beginning!
6. And be nice
Gossip is perhaps the easiest icebreaker in the world. But remember this: when you’re talking to someone for the first time ever, you probably want them to like you. So a mean remark about someone — even you’re stating a fact — is best avoided. You don’t want to come across as a negative person. Keep it light and polite — and work your way up to something slightly outrageous (and funny as hell) if you find that he’s the kind who’d probably enjoy some gentle sarcasm. This also means that you shouldn’t be rude to him — if something he says makes you feel angry or upset, time to cut your losses and find someone else to talk to.
7. Make eye contact
Nothing says “I’m paying attention to what you’re saying” like some direct eye contact. Yes, it can be difficult, we know, and those nerves really don’t listen all the time, but looking straight at him for a second or two is not going to kill you. Everyone wants to feel like the person they’re speaking to are focusing entirely on them — so work on that eye contact, even if it makes you blush a little. After all, you’ve gotten this far — you can definitely go a little further!
8. Use humour
Everybody loves a good joke! Now, you may not be a full-fledged comedian, but we’re sure you have some super-witty comments hiding up your sleeve. No better time to use them than now! Make him laugh, and he will want to continue talking to you for a long, long time.
9. Body language is important
If you want to have a great conversation, you have to convey it not just with your words but your body too. We told you about smiling and making eye contact — now do a couple of more things. Lean in — it indicates that you’re interested in what he’s saying. And make sure not to tap your foot (unless it’s too music) or look at your phone or watch repeatedly. All of these (even if you’re just checking if you got a message or want to know the time) are indicators of impatience. And no one wants to talk to someone who is saying through their body language “I have other things to get to”.
10. Enjoy yourself
Girl, you gotta enjoy yourself to make this conversation worth your while — it’s not just his enjoyment that you should think about. Because, otherwise, what is the point, really? Remember, the point of this is not just to talk to him, but also to have fun while you’re doing so. After all, if you don’t gain any pleasure out of this experience, you might as well have not bothered. So be prepared — and determined! — to enjoy yourself!
11. And, finally, be yourself!
You can fake confidence, but never, ever fake yourself. If you’re not a movie buff, and he is, you don’t have to pretend to be the world’s biggest Bollywood fan. And if you follow politics, and he doesn’t, you don’t have to pretend to not be interested. Accept and admit to the differences — and laugh about it. Opposites attract too, remember? If you get too caught up in agreeing with him to keep the conversation going, or projecting yourself in way that is not you, that’s a shaky start — and you’ll get trapped in having to continue faking it. Better to smile, put it down as practice, and move on to someone else with whom you can have a genuine conversation! 🙂
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How to Talk to Boys: 7 Must-Do Things to Be a Heartbreaker
How to Talk to a Boy You Like to Win His Heart
Talking to a guy might be trickier than you would think. You may feel a tad awkward (and most probably it is somewhat awkward for him as well). However, if you can learn how to talk to boys, you will see that it will be of great help for you in the future. Although you might know how to talk to most guys, you will also have to think about how to talk shy guys (they seem to be a different species altogether). The good news is that there are some tips you could follow to make your life easier. This way you won’t be so nervous the next time you will have to talk to someone.
1. Make it about him
Here is a general truth for you: people just love talking about themselves. So, when wondering how to talk to people, the best thing you could do is to get him to talk about himself. This way he will feel like you are really interested in him.
2. Laugh a lot
Keep in mind that talking to a guy isn’t like giving a presentation at the office. You are allowed to smile and to laugh. As a matter of fact, you should laugh as often as possible because laughter is contagious and you will find him laughing as well.
3. Practice listening
You don’t have to think hard about what to talk about with a boy. As a matter of fact, you should let him lead the conversation. It is best to show him that you are a good listener. This way he will be sure that you’re not a self-absorbed person who only wants to talk about themselves.
4. Don’t lie
So you want to know how to impress a boy? Doesn’t everyone? Okay, maybe that’s just me. You are in luck because there is a way. When talking to a guy, you have to remember that honesty is the best policy. Most probably you want to impress him, so you might be tempted to tell little white lies. Although they might seem harmless at the moment, later they could come back to haunt you.
There is a lot you could use flirting for. If you are asking how to talk to a boy, you could use it to show them that you are interested and it is also useful to help you get to know them a little better. There is nothing wrong with some innocent flirting.
6. Be confident with yourself
All men have a secret: they love confident women. This is why you might want to walk up to the person you like and say “Hi!” What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? It is highly unlikely that he won’t greet you back.
7. Be direct
For sure you know people who never say what they think and they keep beating around the bush. You don’t want to be that person. When asking how to talk to a boy you like, you should be subtle yet direct. He should know what your intentions are without you embarrassing yourself.
How to Chat with Men to Show Them What You Are Made of and to Subtly Let Them Know That You Are Interested in Them
So, how to talk to a boy you like? Follow the tips we have gathered and you can be sure that there is no way for you to get it wrong.
1. Make it about him – don’t be self-absorbed
It is really easy to get people to open up if you let them talk about themselves. If you want to know how to talk to people, you should ask the right questions. Forget about the yes or no questions and go for the open ended ones. For example, you could ask him what he does for a living. Although this may seem like a cliche, most people are proud of what they do and they like to talk about it. If you don’t want to seem so formal, some other good topics include sports, music, movies, TV shows, and what he likes to do in his free time. All this will give you some insight into their lives and you will be able to ask other, more relevant questions. If he has good communication skills, he will ask you questions as well.
2. Laugh a lot – it is contagious
If you want to talk to a boy, you should know that the best strategy is to laugh a lot. This is because laughter is contagious and soon you will find him laughing as well. If he sees you happy and laughing, it will change his mood, even if he may have been in a grumpy mood before. Naturally you shouldn’t laugh at everything he says, like a lunatic, but you should show off your great sense of humor. It might be a good idea to look for some jokes and funny anecdotes that could lift the mood.
When wondering what to talk about with a boy, the best thing you could do is to practice. Don’t tell a guy a joke you never told before or things could become quite uncomfortable for the both of you. Make sure to laugh at his jokes and smile as much as you can. All men like women who smile a lot, so ensure he knows what a wonderful smile you have.
3. Practice listening – be an active listener
It is common for people to ramble when they are nervous so you have to be careful not to monopolize the conversation. In case you are asking how to talk to a boy, you should know that, although men like women who are confident enough to talk, they don’t like self-absorbed women, who only talk about themselves. This means that you should take a pause every now and then and let him participate in the conversation.
At one moment the conversation could come to a halt. Then you may ask yourself how to get a boy to talk to you. The best thing you could do is to ask them questions. By that time you might know a little something about him, so you could ask pertinent and relevant questions. This way he will know that you are really listening to him.
4. Don’t lie – forget the little white lies
It is just natural for you to want him to like you. This is why when you chat with boys, you might be tempted to tell little white lies, so that you will seem more suitable for him. All people embellish the truth from time to time, but keep in mind that every lie you tell now will come back to haunt you later. Instead of altering reality, you should focus on your achievements that don’t need embellishments. Talk about your friends, family or personal interests. Talk about the things you do best. If you are honest, it’s sharing, it’s not showing off.
5. Flirt – there is nothing wrong with flirting
There is nothing wrong with some innocent flirting. As a matter of fact, this is a great way to show the other person that you are interested in getting to know them better. When you chat with men, you could bring in some flirty elements to make the whole thing more interesting. While flirting comes to some women naturally, others have to exercise. Regardless of your situation, you can be sure that after a few tries you will master this skill.
When you have to talk to boys, it is important to maintain eye contact. Also make sure you give them a smile every now and then to ensure them that you are interested.
6. Be confident with yourself – rule number one
Men just love confident women. Although traditionally women are supposed to wait for men to approach them, why not walk up to the person you like and talk to them? For sure you know some boy talk. If you are nervous you should just ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen. It is possible that he’s not interested in you, but then you will find someone who is. Keep in mind that there is something to be learned from every conversation even though things might not turn out the way you want them to.
When it comes to boy and girl talking the most important thing is not to give up. If things don’t work out the first time, you have to keep on trying until they do. Sooner or later you will get the hang of it and you will have no problems talking to men ever again.
7. Be direct – there is nothing simpler
In the moment you walk up to them, does he know what intentions you have? Or do you just beat around the bushes, leaving him hanging and wondering? We all know that talking to boys is never easy, but it’s not supposed to be. No matter how much fun it might be to talk with double meaning, sometimes what you say should be exactly what you mean, especially if you just met. There is no way for him to know what you really mean if he doesn’t know you.
How to Talk to Boys —
When a girl has a crush on a guy and she really likes him, it’s not that easy for her to simply just walk up to him and start a conversation. He’s no longer just a “guy friend” that can voice his opinions about her without having an effect on her attitude and personal feelings. In fact, this kind of vulnerability can, indeed, silence even the most confident, outspoken of girls! And you can just forget about it if she’s a bit shy — nine times out of ten, she’ll keep it all a secret and admire him from afar. However, as crazy as this might sound, learning exactly what it takes to spark a guy’s interest using different forms of communication can create a natural environment that helps to build a relationship with him, as well as reduce those restless butterflies lingering in your stomach when he’s around.
“There’s NO WAY I’m ever going to talk to my crush…” Yes, way. It’s about time that you start living out your wildest dreams, and all it takes is just a little bit of style and courage.
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How to Get Boys to Like You
Exercises That Will Make Him Want to Cuddle
Tricks For How To Talk To Girls Boys
When you meet any girl you get hesitate? You don’t know how to talk to girls? No Problem Today I will tell you how to start a conversation and how to talk to girls.
We all know if girls are sky than boys are ground between them there is a huge difference. Both are different in choices, nature, talking way, likes, dislikes or endless dissimilarities are there.
Usually what happen with boys? I am a girl I know very well according to me boys don’t know how to start?, what to say?, how to say? If they say something it will be waste, senseless or will end with wrong words. While talking girls at the end boy stop at a single point and start thinking now what to say? So, in this article I will teach you how to talk to girls or making a move.
Also Read :Your Guide to Having a Happy Relationship
Start a Conversation
Conversation means to interact with someone or we can say to talk on a particular topic with a person.
Conversation strongest tool for start it can covey your feelings, words, thinking or will make your bond strong. It is first step of interaction. Conversation should be clean and attractive. Never forget first image is last image.
How to Start a Conversation?
Conversation should be according to place that where you are on date, night club or in group. Don’t ever try to be over smart or use common lines. Don’t give weird comments, use those line for commenting which are simple and sober ( If girl have tattoo so ask her from where she had got this tattoo or meaning of tattoo). While talking girl’s one point to remember is don’t over think on each and every topic, don’t judge her, be genuine or natural.
Tips for How To Talk Girls
#1 Find out Her Interest
Best technique of talking with girls is find out on which topic she is interested. Imagine if she is too fashionable and you started talking on that you hate fashion so think how worst will be your conversation.
Talk on those topics which she likes rather than on topic liked by you, If you get bored on that topic change it slowly but never say wrong about that topic. It may spoil your conversation or will be lull. If your conversation is already running on those topics which she don’t like so ask her should we talk anything else. If she say no problem I am okay than congratulation she is comfortable with you.
Topics liked by girls:
- Sports (50% girls like sports)
- People around you
- Her Passion
- Her Dreams or many more
#2 Don’t Be Shy Talk Freely
Another thing that boys go through these days is that they feel quite shy and insecure while they are around their special one. Some have it inside them while some do it on purpose, thinking that the girl might think how cute and simple they are. But, there is a twist here. Girl like more of such boys who are downright with their thoughts and can show the courage to freely open up with the females without going around in circles.
#3 Take Her Number
It is little tough to get Number .Close the conversation with pickup lines like nice meeting you, nice to talk you and say her when we will meet again then ask her for number it might be not look good to initiate for number but for filling the space between you and her it is necessary for further meetings.
#4 Talks about Likes and Dislikes
Likes and dislikes is brightest point of conversation because it may increase both interest in each other. Likes and dislikes is main key and best topic which always works. Ask likes and dislikes of fashion, food, books, interesting subjects or mentor. Which shows that you are enough mature in life not a kid.
#5 Use Words Which Attracts Her
Using words which attracts her doesn’t mean that be cheesy or use word in every line usually boys do this to get her attention. Your main motive is to please her or attract her towards your conversation. Respect her emotions, feelings and interest. You can use some lines like.
#6 Impress Her
We can say impressing not only to girl even to professional is quite difficult because it includes hygiene, dress, manners, and behavior. We heard that first impression is last impression so always take care of your self.
#7 Make Her Smile
When you make her smile it will show that she is interested in your conversation or not. If she is smiling on your conversation it means she is taking interest in you as well as in your conversation. Smiling will make a girl happy and will increase your bond. Don’t smile whole time it will show you like a fool. Smiling is the key of interaction.
#8 Don’t Try To Be Swagger
Don’t ever try to show off, you might think if I will show her my car, how I am rich, mobile phones she will impressed but NO, NEVER girls hate these show off. Girls hate those boys who try to be a biggie.
If you show your money, cars, house definitely she will get ready to date you but will never see a guy to whom she want to spend her time. If you want to impress her increase her interest through your activeness, respect, degrees, achievements of life, love to your family. Make her comfortable and be down to earth.
Don’t Do List
How to talk to boys about periods
posted February 7, 2018 by Joanna Tubbs
Let’s be honest: sometimes those tricky questions come up at school (like, ‘Why aren’t you going swimming?’) or at home (how the heck do you ask your dad to buy you protection at the supermarket?!). Well fear not, friends. Here’s a handy guide that will help you talk to your dad/bro/grandad/boyfriend and any other man in your life about periods without dying of embarrassment.
When you’re sharing a bathroom
If there are men and boys living in your house, it’s pretty likely you’re going to find yourself sharing a bathroom and at that time of the month, that means you’re going to have to keep your supplies close to hand. Hopefully, no one will even notice, but it’s a good idea to get yourself a special box or tin to keep your awesome bettypads and tampons in, and it’s essential to have a bathroom bin (ideally with a lid) to make sure you can tidy up after yourself properly. If you have younger siblings who are interested in your bathroom activities, send them in the direction of an adult who can explain things to them in a way that they can understand.
What are those things by the loo?
When the lads at school keep ripping it out of you
When the insult of the day is “Watch out, she’s on the rag,” there’s a chance that sometimes, they might actually be right. (Damn you). The truth is, a lot of boys don’t know much about periods, and, like anything new and unknown, it can all seem a bit scary. Taking the mick is a classic way of dealing with things we don’t feel super-comfortable with.
Feeling like people know you’ve got your period can make you feel awkward, but it’s also really unlikely. Jibes about being able to smell your period are usually just that. If you have a shower or bath every day and change your protection every few hours, there’s no way that the most annoying boy in your class can tell. The chances are, those chaps are just being extra.
If you’ve noticed the boys at school seem a bit clueless about periods, have a chat with your teacher about betty for schools, as there’s loads of info about what boys need to know about girls’ cycles right there!
She must be on the blob!
When your dad’s being a bit weird
Puberty’s a funny old time, and not just for those who are going through it. While you might think your dad (or step-dad, or any other men who have known you since you were a little girl) hasn’t got a clue about what you’re going though, he will almost certainly have noticed that things are changing. While you might not feel like having a detailed chat with him about periods, you could ask your mum to get him up to speed on how he can help (like cutting you some slack when you’re feeling extra sensitive). In return, he might appreciate the odd reminder that his little girl hasn’t disappeared completely. Instead of pretending he doesn’t exist, why not chuck a high five in the old guy’s direction every once in a while?
What happened to my little girl?
I’m still here!
When you accidentally snap at someone
If your hormones can make you feel kinda crazy just before or during your period, it’s likely that at some stage, you’re going to react to someone in way that could feel out-of-character. Whether you burst into tears more easily than usual or lose your temper over something small, it’s awful to feel out of control, especially if someone else is on the receiving end. It’s best just to suck it up and say sorry – and if the thing you found upsetting continues to bother you, deal with it in a couple of days, when you’ve had more time to think about it.
I’m sorry, I’m not feeling quite right today.
When you need your dad to pick up pads or tampons at the supermarket
If there’s a shopping list on the go, add what you need to it, whoever is doing the shopping. Make sure you write exactly what you want – if you just write “pads”, he’ll probably walk up and down the sanitary towel aisle scratching his head a fair few times! He’s not going to kick up a fuss about it as your mum has probably been asking him to pick up for similar things for years. If you do feel mega awks about the whole thing, ask your mum (or auntie or another trusted adult) to have a word with him – or get them to sign you up for a bettybox to avoid the situ!
Sure thing, chicken wing!
When there’s a period emergency and there are only guys around
If your period suddenly decides it’s time to flow, you’ve got no supplies and your mum/BFF isn’t in shouting distance, then you might just have to ask a boy for some help. Stick a wodge of loo roll in your knickers to buy yourself a bit of time, then find the most understanding lad you can. Now, take a deep breath and just explain exactly what you need. Can he find your mum or a female teacher and send them your way? If you need him to go to a shop and buy supplies, give him clear instructions as he probably has literally no idea what to get. If you manage to find a boy who saves the day without making a big deal, make sure you say a huge thank you afterwards.
Erm, are you ok?
Listen, I need your help.
When your period puts you in the spotlight
Sometimes, there’s just no hiding it – like when you’ve got swimming and you’re not ready for tampons. When you’re sitting next to the pool in your uniform while everyone else practises their front crawl, it can feel like there’s a big sign over your head flashing “I’M BLEEDING!” Actually, most people in your class will be too busy looking for their goggles or hoping they don’t lose their trunks mid-dive to even notice. We say be bold and own it!
Why aren’t you going swimming today?
I’m on my period.
When a sanitary pad flies out of your bag…
…Or you reach in to grab your lippy and pull out a tampon by mistake. We have all been there (oh, so many times) and there are is only one thing you can do: LOL it off.
A girl’s gotta be prepared!
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.
How to Talk to Boys
Okay, so the first thing to know about getting a great conversation going is that communication has two parts: form and content. Most everybody pays mega attention to the content, while neglecting form. The content is what you are talking about; the form is how you are expressing yourself. The key to great conversation with boys is to develop task tone. Here is a link to a new video on my website addressing the basic skills. There is also a video on task tone. Watch them repeatedly, and learn the keys to connecting with boys. Task tone is amazingly effective. It reduces anxiety and inhibition. It feels respectful and safe – and it allows boys to pay attention to your message. Don’t even think about bribing boys with gifts and privileges. That is an inherently disrespectful approach that cannot be sustained. Learn to take boys seriously, and learn to show that positive regard in your voice. I promise you the results will be more than you can imagine!
Posted in Adolescence, Boys, Child Psychology, Communicating with Kids, Parenting, Social Communication, Teaching Tagged with: anxiety, Boys, communication, content, conversation, Education, expression, form, Parenting, task tone, Video, voice
How to Talk with Boys about Sexual Harassment and Assault
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has bragged about laying his hands on women without their permission, and numerous women have come forward to claim that he assaulted them. In the past and throughout the campaign, he has used raw and disrespectful language to describe women, including his opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. When confronted about this language in the second presidential debate, Trump trivialized it as “locker-room talk.”
My 12-year-old son overheard the “locker-room” statement as I watched the debate. “What are they talking about?” he asked. My heart sank and my mind went blank. I mumbled something, I don’t remember what. Then I rallied and said: “Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women without permission. He is not a good man.” To which my son said, “Yeah, he sucks.”
I have readily discussed Trump’s racial comments with my son, in part because he told me that he heard peers talking about them at school. Perhaps as a result, I get the distinct impression that my kids have come to think of Trump as a kind of American Voldemort. That’s fine with me. One survey of educators, published in April, found that Trump’s racial rhetoric triggered “fear” and “anxiety” in minority students. Worse, educators reported a rise in bullying against these students, sometimes using words heard in the campaign. I don’t want my boys to think that’s OK.
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I don’t want them to think that about Trump’s sexual comments, either. And yet I’ve been extremely reluctant to discuss them with my son and stepson. Why? My middle-school boys are entering adolescence, so perhaps I’m experiencing fatherly jitters in confronting the fact that they are becoming sexual creatures. But the truth might be more complicated than that. Part of me fears that by drawing attention to Trump’s words I’ll be normalizing them. If I pretend Trump’s sexual attitudes don’t exist, then, an irrational part of me hopes, my boys will pretend with me.
I’m not alone. When I surveyed Facebook friends, almost all of them shared my ambivalence. Most assumed that their boys hadn’t heard the genital-grabbing comments. As one mother said, “My kids (both boys) are much more aware of Trump’s racist comments than sexist ones. Maybe they don’t hear us as parents talking about the p****-grabbing body-shaming as much as about the wall, deporting Muslims, etc.”
The trouble with this perspective: How is it that our boys could be so aware of Trump’s demeaning comments about, for example, Mexicans, but not about women?
Yes, it may have to do with the reluctance of children and parents to discuss sex with each other. If my own youth was any indication, most middle- and high-school boys would rather die than discuss sexual matters with their parents. Do you know what else I remember? A lot of very careless sexual talk with my friends, and all of us discovering pornography, often by the beds of our fathers. Who wants to discuss this stuff? It seems to me that we—both boys and parents—are participating in a conspiracy of silence, based mainly on embarrassment and shame.
Even if they’re not paying any attention to politics, most kids have smartphones by the time they finish middle school. That means they have access to whatever’s on the Internet, including pornography, and they likely encounter plenty of language that’s far worse than what the GOP candidate said. From this perspective, Trump is just a symptom. The challenge we face goes well beyond November 8, when Americans will pick either Trump or Clinton. The problem is cultural and psychological; we can’t defeat misogyny with one vote.
So what can parents and educators—especially men—do to stop the “Trump effect” on tween and teen boys, building a culture of sexual consent and open communication? It’s not enough, in my view, to simply say: Don’t do it, don’t denigrate women, don’t touch them without their permission. Our boys also need positive ideals to strive for—or at least some image of a man they are trying to become.
Here are some tips, submitted with a lot of humility, based on a combination of my personal experience and research.
1. Choose to speak with boys
Men should serve as an example to boys. This is a platitude, and a staple of articles like this one. And yet, in daily life, this advice can become remarkably tricky to put into practice.
The vast majority of fathers and male teachers will never commit sexual assault and would never, explicitly or implicitly, endorse the kind of behavior Trump does. Some think that’s enough. The trouble is that our children are surrounded by bad examples—and it is quite easy be silent in the face of words and actions like Trump’s. Many of us, I’m sure, just don’t know where to start when it comes time to speak up. We’re afraid of looking stupid.
My opinion? It’s more important to take an awkward stand (and risk teen ridicule) than to seem to take no stand at all. Our tweens and teens will learn about sexuality and violence. Our task is to prepare them for those lessons, as best we can. If the choice is between silence and a conversation, then I believe we need to pick conversation, every single time. That’s part of what it means to be an example, so that our boys will be more likely to speak up themselves, if confronted with words or behavior like Trump’s.
When my friend Chris—a health educator at a San Francisco public school—heard about the Access Hollywood video in which Trump bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, he didn’t wait: “I knew my 14-year-old son would probably see them skewering it the next night on Saturday Night Live.” So Chris texted him an article denouncing Trump’s comments, and added: “Remember that grabbing others—especially their breasts, butts or genitals—w/o consent is NEVER OK, and if you see someone doing that you should try to intervene.” Later, they talked about it in person, and then watched this clip from the Daily Show together.
This to me seems like a model response. Chris a) assumed his son would see it; b) immediately and unambiguously denounced the words and behavior; c) followed up the text with an in-person conversation; and d) engaged other media in the conversation, holding up positive examples alongside the negative one.
What if you hate Trump’s comments about women—but are voting for him anyway?
I think the first step is to admit that you face a real difficulty. It’s not that hard for me to imagine; I’ve voted for flawed candidates myself, because I supported their policies or felt that the other candidate was worse. It’s not my mission with this article to get anyone to change his vote. Here, I only ask this of us as men: Let’s not minimize the harm of words or behavior like Trump’s, when talking with our sons.
2. Speak with boys about pornography and consent
Trump’s comments about women are shocking because they seem pornographic.
There is no direct evidence that pornography fuels sexual violence—but sexual violence is pervasive in pornography, and it is routinely depicted in other corners of popular culture. Studies estimate that anywhere from one to two thirds of porn videos include aggressive physical acts, like spanking, choking, binding, gagging—or, yes, suddenly grabbing another person’s genitals, as Trump said he did.
These are images our boys will see, don’t doubt it for a second. Most research suggests that boys are first exposed to porn at age 11 or 12—which, as the father of two 12-year-old boys, I completely believe. Most of their peers have smartphones and unfettered access to the Internet. As they reach adolescence, they’re going to stumble across a lot of things they can’t un-see.
Speaking of which: What do you do in the bedroom? Many parents like to tie each other up, or so I’m told. Some might even break out the floggers and riding crops when they have a rare Saturday night to themselves. But there is a huge difference between what happens in real life and what happens in porn. There’s a critical element in the sex lives of kinky adults that is missing from most videos: The negotiation, trust, and consent that must accompany this kind of real-world sexual play.
One new study found that people who participate in BDSM (Bondage/Domination/Sado-Masochism) communities show “significantly lower levels of benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, and victim blaming” than did undergraduates or a group of random adults. This may seem paradoxical to some. BDSM scenes can appear, from the outside, to be forms of sexual assault, exploitation, or humiliation—and in pornography, all you see is what’s outside. What some might not understand, however, is that such scenes are (ideally) meticulously negotiated beforehand, and only unfold in conditions of trust among all parties.
That’s what boys need to hear about pornography. To be specific, as strange as this may sound: I think our teen boys need to hear what the BDSM community has to say—because otherwise they may only hear what porn has to say. In other words, they need to hear that sex is about consent and communication—it’s about what’s happening inside of us, not just about our appearances. If we’re not paying attention to feelings, our own and others’, we turn into Donald Trump.
3. Encourage sexual self-awareness and intentionality
Sexual communication often follows a script that is shaped by culturally defined roles for men and women. Men pursue, women draw them in. Sexually successful men are studs, but women are sluts.
There are biological forces that reduce our resistance to this script. Male or female, almost all of us know what it’s like to be in the grip of lust; especially when we’re young, that powerful shot of testosterone and dopamine can override our judgment and our ethics. In the heat of the moment, it just feels right to mindlessly obey unconscious impulses and stereotypes.
That’s why our sons (and daughters) need to hear this message: Stop sleepwalking, and wake up.
Respecting women isn’t about suppressing sexual desires and impulses; it’s about non-judgmentally cultivating awareness of them. If we know what’s driving us, we can take control of ourselves and we can consciously set new intentions. If your subconscious drive is to just get laid and you’re not aware of that, you may find yourself doing things that are emotionally destructive, or even criminal. If, on the other hand, you set the intention to connect with another human being, to get to know them, to make them happy, to give them pleasure—then you increase the likelihood that those things will happen.
I think, for most tween and teen boys, this is the place to start—to talk about our own intentions when it comes to sexual relationships, and to ask them to explore their own.
I’m talking about mindfulness, of course, or the beginnings of it.
To some, mindfulness has become a cliché, and yet every day, people destroy their own lives through the lack of it. I look at a man like Donald Trump and I see a man who is not self-aware. He acts, he doesn’t reflect. He speaks, without thinking about the impact of his words. In the Access Hollywood audio, he’s filled with lust, but it’s mechanical, foolish, dull. That’s not an example I want my boys to follow. Instead I want to ask them to be curious, creative, and caring.
How do I do that? I’m not sure, to be honest. As I try to help them grow, I have my own work to do. All I can do right now is try.
4. Speak out for an alternative sexual paradigm
In my view, the debate about Trump’s sexual comments really pits two different paradigms against each other.
One paradigm insists men can say what they want to women and put their hands on women whenever the “uncontrollable urge” strikes; the way for women to protect themselves from men’s wild urges is by concealing their bodies. The boundary between “male” and “female” is rigidly demarcated and policed; everything depends on that, because otherwise how can you allocate the power? If the man denies doing “what every man does,” as Trump has, then of course he is believed, and his female accusers are denigrated as unattractive liars, or (if that doesn’t work) so sexy that the men just couldn’t control themselves. This attitude often goes hand-in-hand with the elevation of certain female body types, combined with disgust for women’s bodies generally.
But there is another way of talking about sexuality. In this alternate paradigm, people of both sexes and all genders are asked to take responsibility for themselves and their desires. Men are not slaves to primal urges; women need to say what they want. “Yes” means yes and “no” means no. People do what they want with their own bodies and they control what happens to them. In this paradigm, you don’t shift blame from the more-powerful to the less-powerful. You don’t assume men have more rights (and fewer responsibilities) than women. You don’t even necessarily divide humans into “men” and “women”; you accept that people play with masculine and feminine traits, and can be whatever they want to be.
That’s my vision of a positive, healthy sexuality, but there are no utopias here. Just people doing their best. When we sit down to talk with our boys about women and sexuality, that’s what we need to bring to the table: our best.