How to navigate dating in the #MeToo era

Earlier this year, The Washington Post declared that the #MeToo era is making dating more confusing. According to a survey by MTV, 40 per cent of young men say the movement has changed the way they act in romantic relationships. But how exactly has dating changed in the post-Weinstein world? 

Luckily, we have our very own relationship expert, Cynthia Loyst, to share some wisdom.

Have the rules changed?
Rules haven’t changed at all. They’re what they’ve always have been: treat people with consideration and respect.  What has changed is that people who for a long time didn’t do that and were hiding in the shadows are now being brought to light, and that’s a great thing. This isn’t the “death of romance.” This is a really exciting time in the world of dating because women and men are now learning and being given the opportunity to communicate differently and better than before. Women, of course, still love romance and want to have sex... but there a few things that both men and women must remember when courting in this new era.

Make the first move
The great thing about this new era of dating is that there is a great opportunity to see equality in romance. Instead of all of “the moves” being on the men—women can now step up to the plate. Women, if you are attracted to someone—say it. Or flirt. In other words, get rid of archaic gender-based ideas around dating and making the first move and be the change you want to see in the world.

Be clear with your intentions
Online dating and flirting makes things both better and worse. Anyone who has ever received an unsolicited penis pic will tell you that some of this #MeToo messaging is falling on deaf ears. 

In theory, because so much of the initial flirting is written down, it certainly provides the opportunity for people to get really clear with their intentions which can be really sexy AND empowering. The problem is that sometimes, people can be much more bold behind a screen and not have the same level of interest when they are in person which can cause confusion.

Pay attention to cues
When signalling that you’re interested in someone, pay attention to the person’s responses to you—both verbal and non-verbal. For example, immediately after a flirtatious or suggestive comment or gesture is made or received, notice how you and the other respond. What signals are you getting from him/her? Is the other person pleased or not? Is the other person giving you a green light? Don’t ignore stop signs and don’t try to run amber lights. Amber lights are, in fact, red lights. After noting the reaction, proceed cautiously. 

This should go without saying but if you are in a position of power over someone (i.e. in a senior position/position of influence at work) you probably shouldn’t be hitting on that person. If you do, do it once. Minimal or zero response from the person of interest? Never do it again.

Know what you want and use your voice
If you went to a movie theatre and the picture was off, sound too loud or the seat was uncomfortable, you would say something, right? We need to be okay with expressing ourselves when things don’t feel right. Start getting comfortable with saying what you like and don’t like to friends, at restaurants, etc. and build up your confidence from there.

Being coy doesn’t cut it any more. Being direct with your wishes and respectful of the other person’s is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and unpleasant situations. Take a page from the kink community—everything is discussed upfront, and they make it sexy!

Don’t have “casual” sex
Language is important. The word “casual” implies a lack of concern or caring. Most of us would never "casually" apply for a job. We would also never "casually" decide to get plastic surgery or get pregnant/an STI. Sex carries too much weight for it to be seen as casual. If you want to have non-committal sex—go ahead—but make sure you see it as big, respectful, and ideally, mutually orgasmic sex. This change of language/perspective will help remind people that the most important thing is “care” in that moment for the other person, even if the encounter only happens once.

Make consent sexy
Of course no one likes the idea of having to stop making out and say, “Can I kiss? Are you OK with my hand on your leg? Do you like when I touch your hair?” like some automaton every time something new is introduced. But here are some things you can do: Ask beforehand over drinks what they are into. Make it fun and playful. Once you and a partner have established that you’re interested in seeing each other naked, you can make asking for consent into a foreplay game. Murmuring things like “Can I take your shirt off?” or “Can I kiss you here?” each step of the way prolongs what can often be a too-quick process. Not only does it draws things out, it easily becomes dirty talk. In response you are looking for enthusiastic consent. What’s that? A verbal “yes” for each new “level” of sexual activity. 

Cynthia Loyst is our resident relationship expert and a passionate advocate for healthy sexual information. As a sought-after relationship coach and columnist, she’s known for giving advice and opinions on the joys and complications of love. She has received awards from SSSS (Society For The Scientific Study of Sexuality) and Planned Parenthood in Toronto. She is also SAR (Sexual Attitude Reassessment) certified, a member of SIECCAN (Sex Information and Education Council of Canada) and holds a Sex Education Certificate from The University of Michigan. Cynthia is also the founder of For legal disclaimer, click here
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