I’ve been dating a guy who I not only really like, but who is also exceptionally decent and respectful.

On our first date, it got late, and we were drunk, and I told him he could stay over. We all know I can be really stupid about these things, and allowing strange men into my apartment has more than backfired in the past – it’s been actively harmful.

But I let this guy stay here. Before we left the bar, I set explicit boundaries with him.

“I don’t want clothes to come off,” I said.

“I mean, I’m gonna try to take your clothes off,” he said, with a smile.

“No,” I said. “I mean it. If I take clothes off, I’m going to feel shitty about myself in the morning.”

(Side note: something I’ve learned this year is that I can’t do one-night-stands, or have sex with someone I don’t already trust, as a person, and someone I don’t already trust to respect me. I think I already posted this article about why consensual sex can still be bad.)

Anyway, he agreed to my terms. He came over. Buckley loved him. We made out a little bit, and then went to sleep.

And he completely respected my boundaries. I didn’t have to say “no” a few times before he gave up, or even remind him at all. The next morning, things were getting a little intense again, and he told me he had to leave, or he was going to try to get me naked. He wasn’t trying to manipulate me into taking my clothes off. He was genuinely listening to the terms I had set for our sleepover, and never once tried to push me into doing what I had already said I didn’t want to do.

This shouldn’t be exceptional, but it is. I honestly don’t know if I have ever had that experience before – where I said, “Listen, this is what I don’t want,” and had it completely respected. Most of the time, men will push until either I’m turned on enough in the moment to say okay (and then regret it later), or they’ll push the bounds a few times, making me say no more than once, before dropping the issue.

To these men, this is consent. I’m not saying these interactions are non-consensual, but they are not acknowledging my (or, I’d assume, other women’s) bodily autonomy. I do know that these interactions don’t feel good. And I didn’t realize how not-good they felt until I had an experience where my boundaries were completely acknowledged and respected. A man took my words about what I wanted at face value, with no attempts at coercion or convincing me to do what he wanted, instead.

And I literally cannot remember a time that has happened before.

How do we create men who treat women with this much respect? Thoughts in my next post.