DTE – Part XII – Kino, and Indicators of Interest

What is “kino,” you ask?

It’s how pick-up communities refer to physical touching in a romantic/sexual context. A handshake, a hug, an arm around the waist, a playful punch. You know, cootie central type stuff.

Beyond that, kino is key to establishing and developing physical comfort between two people. Assuming both parties want to be physically comfortable in the first place, or are at least curious about whether they would be. Hint: if you’re on a date with someone, that person is usually curious about whether you both would be physically comfortable with each other, so make a move, jerk.

Most people follow what’s called a “kino escalation ladder,” which sorts specific instances of physical contact by their generally accepted level of intimacy. Here is a general list in order from less intimate to more intimate:

  1. Handshake/polite hugs.
  2. Sitting/standing near each other.
  3. Touching of arms.
  4. Arms around shoulders or waists/more intimate hugs.
  5. Holding hands.
  6. Touching of legs/thighs.
  7. Kissing.
  8. Necking.
  9. Boobie/butt grabbing (my favorite!).
  10. Other things I won’t mention here because they are much more specific than the term “sex.”
  11. Sex (okay, this is probably my favorite).

You basically start at the bottom, and as you both get more physically comfortable, you work your way up.

Some people like more kino. Some people like less. For any functioning fling or relationship, both parties have to find the appropriate pace to negotiate the 11 steps (or more if I forgot any kinky physical stuff you like to get into). For some people that’s one night of drinks. For others, it’s 3 or 4 dates. Others even wait until marriage.

I’m not here to tell you what you or your love interest prefer – that’s for YOU to take the lead and find out. Just remember that the kino escalation ladder is like working at McKinsey & Co – if you’re not actively being promoted through the ranks, and there’s no indication that you’re going to be, it’s time to leave because your employer doesn’t want you. Also, you shouldn’t grab your boss’ butt. Uninvited, anyway.

Repeat after me: kino is key to establishing and developing physical comfort between two people.

“That’s all well and good,” you say, possibly with a snarky British accent, “but how do we know that the person we’re seeing is physically comfortable with us? Isn’t it awkward to kino and fail?”

Yes, random British person, it is. But, it’s part of the dating game. Plus, this is where Indicators of Interest (IOI for short) come in.

An indicator of interest is exactly what it sounds like, but some are stronger than others. My top IOIs are:

  1. Smiles
  2. Eye contact
  3. Laughter
  4. Kino initiated by the other person

The reason that I like those IOIs is that they’re all rooted in an observable physical ACTION. A girl texting you to tell you about her day might be an IOI, but who knows? She could be bored. If she’s standing in front of you, holding eye contact (even breaking it and doing a double take now and then), and smiling?  Game time!

But how to IOIs relate to kino?

You see, anytime two people touch, there is non-verbal communication going on. Even if it’s an accidental – two people who accidentally bump into each other often communicate “oops” without words. When two people shake hands, they establish a level of formality and respect understood by both. If two people awkwardly hug, both people in that situation know it. If someone performs a rear naked choke, it’s pretty clear that the person being choked messed up somewhere along the line.

A rear naked choke, for example, communicates that the choker wants the chokee to go to sleep. Like, right now.

“Go to sleep.”

Put Kino and your sense of Indicators of Interest together, and you’ve got a barometer for how  your interaction is going.

Simple, and yet guys still get it wrong thinking that kino and IOIs are like the chicken and the egg, wondering whether they should kino first or look for an IOI that would make kino okay first. Here’s a hint: kino comes first! Kino isn’t just for establishing comfort with someone you know who is attracted to you – it’s for finding out whether someone is attracted to you in the first place.

It’s only AFTER that initial move (the vague thing that everyone’s always telling you to make) that you will see an IOI or none at all.

So, you’re no longer just shaking hands. Your paying attention to whether she smiles, squeezes back, and holds eye contact. You’re no longer just putting your arm around her – you’re seeing if she responds in kind and scoots closer into you. You’re no longer just telling that joke – you’re seeing if she shoves you while smiling and laughing. All of the reactions you get from being physically close to a girl will tell you more about her level of interest than a two hour conversation from across the table.

In all my experience, the quickest way to establish whether I had any shot with a girl was to be physically close to her. From there, it’s all just watching her reactions: Good, bad, and neutral.

If her reaction is good, you bump yourself up the escalation ladder.

If her reaction is bad, such as closed off body language, verbal reprimand, a slap, etc, the date/interaction is over. Usually, the reaction will only be bad if you try to go too fast and skip steps. No one will slap you over an unwarranted handshake.

If her reaction SEEMS neutral, you’ve gotta pay closer attention. Almost no girls have a completely neutral reaction to physical touch. Usually, neutral is actually BAD reaction politely disguised. If she’s not giving your kino a return on investment, she’s probably not into it. It could be because you messed up somewhere, or it could be that she just doesn’t feel a physical connection with you. Sorry, pard.

To mention, there have been times when I’ve dated very conservative girls whose reactions to my kino seemed more neutral than good, but that’s because they didn’t use more obvious forms of reciprocation like touching me back. They did, however, keep eye contact, and continue to smile, all while not closing off their posture or disengaging from the gesture. Most girls in the US aren’t like this, and will tell you one way or another whether they like (or dislike) what you’re doing. You just have to pay attention.

Anyway, kino and IOIs go together like peas and carrots.

Again: the only sure way to tell if you have a shot with a girl is to establish whether or not that physical chemistry exists. Traditionally, men always make the first physical move, every step of the way on the kino ladder – just remember that she should also be putting in her side every step of the way as well. If a girl’s not at least smiling when you put your arm around her, it’s game over.

Finally, if you’re too scared to take that first move – remember, a woman who likes you WANTS you to be physically close to her. Start small. Most great relationships start with a smile in each other’s personal space.

And as long as you follow the escalation ladder and don’t skip steps, the worst that happens is that you put your arm around a girl, she doesn’t really dig it, and the both of you politely end the night and move on.

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