Q: I've been on four dates with a guy, and he hasn't kissed me yet. We have held hands once, but I initiated that. Any thoughts?

A: At the risk of repeating myself, I'll give you the same advice I gave last year to the girl whose guy wouldn't advance beyond light kissing: It's time to either start the seduction sequence yourself or declare your relationship platonic.

I'm all for chivalry, but after four dates and no advances on his part, I'd start worrying that he's either just too shy, not interested in your gender or just not too keen on your particular brand of romance. The first thing you'll want to do is figure out which category your guy falls into.

If you're unwillingly dominating every conversation and it's a strain just getting him to say whether or not he liked "The Dark Knight," then you have an intensely shy boy on your hands. You'll have to keep making those first moves to let him know that you dig him, because he's probably freaking out over being rejected if he tries to put the moves on you.

It's easy to coax out his inner extrovert; just do everything to him that you'd like him to do to you. Don't go straight for the zipper (hand-holding to groin-grabbing is a bit of a jump), but throughout your next date make sure you're initiating a lot of physical contact. Touch his arms while he's talking or nonchalantly brush back a lock of his hair, and maintain those small gestures right up until you part ways for the night. When you've said goodbye in every possible way but still haven't started toward your respective vehicles, grab him by the hands and step in for a smooch. The light doesn't get much greener. If he pulls away sharply or starts tearing up and shaking uncontrollably, the boy's not being coy -- he's psychologically unstable. Proceed at your own risk.

If he kisses you back with about as much passion as one might have for brushing his teeth every morning, then he just doesn't dig your style. Unfortunately, men are usually the slower sex when it comes to telling their romantic prospects that they're not interested, so you might want to cut things short now before you end up on yet another platonic movie date. Sure, it's nice to have someone to see a flick with, but why waste time with Mr. Freeze when you could be out looking for your hot billionaire bachelor?

Finally, yes, it is possible he bats for the other team. Straight girls who still flash freshly clipped licenses to get into the bar aren't the only ones who like making out with both boys and girls. Call it curiosity, call it acting on a natural urge, call it a poor excuse for pop music that all but plagiarizes Jill Sobule. Experimentation outside of your sexual safety bubble is as commonplace nowadays as oversized designer impostor sunglasses. Your boy might not be sure what he's supposed to do with you, so he's just going to follow your lead as far as he wants to go.

If you think he's genuinely shy and that it's kind of endearing, by all means, date away. Those truly coy boys tend to stay loyal. Otherwise, unless you're cool with continuing to date a possible nut case with lukewarm feelings toward you who may or may not be the sexual orientation you thought he was, don't spend too much time on this one.

That first stage of dating should be flush with stuff like getting butterflies every time he sends you a text message and obsessively planning your date outfits at least 24 hours in advance. If thinking about him doesn't give you any of those nauseatingly happy sensations (or if he actually didn't like "The Dark Knight") then you need to bid him farewell before your frustration gets the best of you. After only four dates, you don't want to be wondering whether there's something wrong with you when you can just save yourself the trouble and kiss him goodbye. So to speak.

  • Alexis McKinnis is dying for your advice question about sex, dating or relationships. Send it to advice@vita.mn or post it discreetly via her blog at www.vita.mn/alexis. Don't leave out any juicy details!