So what do you expect? What does she expect? 50 years of disruption in the norms embodied in our attitudes toward women and concerning our intimate relationships with them have left a legacy of chaos. Most of us are old enough to remember times of consensus when there were widely acknowledged rules for dating and for the beginning of sexual relations. Rules were made to be broken and there was always hope that the rules could be broken. Nonetheless there were widely understood and well- recognized rules, or a least conventions, that gave guidance and discouraged certain activities.

Even then, and for many years after, rules were broken gently, privately and no precedents or generalizations were developed. There was an innocent excitement in these engagements. A jumping-off place … You just never knew. It’s hard to believe that most of us can remember a time when doing anything on a first date was almost unthinkable, when there were discussions about kissing a woman goodnight. Advice began to emerge like mushrooms in odd places. The Playboy Advisor broke trail, but for most of us it was entertainment more than advice, at least for all but a fortunate few.

And somehow the constraints seemed more real. The legacy of years of change has left us with the premise that anything goes, maybe, or that there is a right or wrong course of conduct in any given situation and the magic is to appreciate what it is.

More often than not, men just do not know what to do. If men are more single-minded than women, more unidirectional and more consistently seeking increasing intimacy, women are thinkers. In most cases, they have given more thought to the awkward moment in which you are standing up to your knees, they have a clearer idea of what they would like you to do, or of what you should do and what they should do, and of what the scenario for the occasion really should be. Don’t worry, often you will be oblivious to this or to these feelings and it won’t matter.

Unless you do something wildly inappropriate (in her view) it won’t matter and will be forgiven. You can recover from these kinds of mistakes and in the end the experience may be your best guide.