When you're on a date and it's going well, you might spend a good amount of time stressing about how it's going to end — that is, whether or not you're going to have an "adult sleepover." This is true whether you're going on a blind date, a second date, or a weekly date with your casual hookup partner. You may have lots of questions beyond just, are you going home together? Like, whose apartment are you closer to? Do they have contact lens solution at their place? And at what point is your date going to ask you to come back to their place? (Or vice versa.)
Sure, you could just say, How about we go back to my place, but that can feel insincere if you're not usually that blunt, explains Kendra Knight, PhD, assistant professor of relational communication at DePaul University, who has studied sense-making in non-committed sexual relationships. Then again, being straightforward could work, and some people might appreciate your "lack of equivocation" or find your honesty admirable, so it depends on the person, Dr. Knight says. "But it's possible that it would be judged as inappropriately blunt and, therefore, sexually unappetizing," she says.
It should go without saying, but it is really important to take these conversations seriously with your partner, because consent is crucial even before you start hooking up. And consent is also an ongoing negotiation, so you can't assume that someone consents to sexual behavior just because they agree to come home with you, Dr. Knight says. While you can't really make or break a hookup if you say something awkward and stilted, phrasing things in a courteous way can make you and your partner feel more comfortable.
Now, how do you do that?
You might recall the line Ryan Gosling tells Steve Carell to use in the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love, "Let's get out of here." That might be fine, but you shouldn't stray too far from what feels natural to you, Dr. Knight says. "To put on an air of confidence that doesn't really fit with your personality isn't going to work in the long run, and might make you feel uncomfortable once the two of you get back to your place," she says.
If you're nervous, it's a good idea to pad your question with some jokes or playfulness, to "provide a little bit of cover if someone is not interested," she says. For example, you could say, I'm liking where this is going. What would you say to going back to my place to see what we could get into? Or if you want to be a little more playfully suggestive, you could say, So, I have a thing at 9 a.m. tomorrow — do you have plans for the next seven hours?
These are just suggestions, so you can alter them to something that feels more like what you'd say. But there are general principles that these phrases encompass that you might want to keep in mind going forward. These statements contain cues to sexual interest without being too direct, Dr. Knight says. And more importantly, "neither of these statements commit either party to more sexual activity than they feel comfortable with," she says. They're open-ended in a way that leaves the question open of how much sexual activity is actually going to take place, she says.
"Nobody really likes sex to be a forgone conclusion," she says. "Half the fun, particularly with a new partner, or an occasional partner, is the curiosity and anticipation of what might happen." Once you establish a general interest in them wanting to go home with you, you can then seek out more explicit enthusiastic consent for any subsequent sexual activities (remember: agreeing to go home together isn't the same thing as consenting to sex).
It can definitely be a hard line to toe, because you want to be smooth, but also respectful. As long as you and your partner are honest and communicate what you want, and actually listen to each other, then you can't really screw up. Just be yourself, and chances are your partner will appreciate that more than anything else you do later on in the night.