Advice

Sex Advice From Modern-Day Mad Men

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Prolonged contract negotiations over at AMC mean we're suffering an unusually long wait for the next season of Mad Men. To help tide you over, we asked real-life ad men how their love lives compare to the TV version.


Nick, 25

What gives ad men an advantage in the dating arena?
Mad Men does, because it makes people think you're way cooler than you are. I mean, it's a cool job — advertising itself is a very American thing. It's more interesting than finance; it's something that a lot of people want to talk about, as far as talking about work goes. And as creatives, we're kind of used to thinking snappily on our feet and being witty.

What would you say to ask someone out on a date?
Every situation is unique. I usually try to make it kind of personal — I'll comment on something they're wearing, or the way they look. Strike up a conversation about something that's happening. I don't really use pickup lines, because who uses pickup lines?

Do ad men still have as much sex as they apparently used to?
I guess so. I only got halfway through the first season of Mad Men.

You're a bad ad man.
I'm a bad ad man. I've dated three girls who I work with. And I'm not too unique in that. One of my close co-workers recently started something else up with another co-worker. I mean, there are a lot of young people at my agency, and we all get along really well, so it's kind of easy for that kind of thing to happen. So yeah, we're all pretty — I don't want to say promiscuous, but sexual, definitely.

We've seen Pete Campbell, Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and Duck Phillips all get freaky on Mad Men. Who are you most like?
Pete is the weird creepy account guy, right? Okay, we can get rid of him. I know Don. Roger Sterling has the white hair. I don't know Duck. From my limited experience, Don Draper's whole "I'm not who I say I am thing" might be a little bit weird. At least with Sterling, you know what you're going to get. I'm kind of more like that. I'm not really very mysterious — I am what I am. 

Your job is about convincing people to want things. How does that translate to your dating and sex life?
I wasn't trained as an advertiser — I was an English major. I worked in politics before. So advertising is my job now, but to me, sex and dating is more something that I want. Not to sound too sappy or anything, but the best is when two people agree that they both want something. In advertising, part of being a good salesperson is knowing what the other person is like, what they need and want, and how to tailor yourself to that. I don't think I do that in dating. I'd rather have a more genuine connection, as opposed to constantly trying to sell. There are so many people. I don't feel the need to convince the one person who happens to be talking to me at that time that I'm the best option. I'm not getting paid for it.

Over the summer, I started having sex with one of my best friends. We both have feelings for each other now, but I don't want to be in a serious relationship. I also don't want to stop having sex with her. What should I do?
You kind of know the end of the story already. I met somebody at work. We hit it off as friends immediately, and we ended up starting to date. But once you cross that threshold, it's kind of impossible to get the friendship back. It ended kind of badly. We had built up a friendship, and that friendship meant a lot to both of us. She's moved on — she's living with somebody else now. This was like a year ago. But she recently contacted me to say, "One of the things that I hate most about what happened to us is that we lost the friendship." I don't know of any successful stories where people have remained friends and were actually serious lovers at one point. So good luck.

I have a lot of male friends and I value their friendships a lot. But recently, it seems like they always want more, and I never pick up on it until someone else tells me. How can I stay friends with them without coming off as a tease?
I'm guessing whoever wrote that is pretty attractive. It's hard. I've been on both sides of that. I think the best thing you can do is just be clear. You know, if you're being too flirty, this is something that's going to keep happening. You have to be aware of your own level of attractiveness, and try to kind of keep it in the holster when you're around your friends. 


Carlos, 27

What skills have you picked up at work that give you an upper hand with women?
I'm an account executive, so I'm the middleman between clients and creators. I'm the eyes and the mouth of the clients at the agency. In terms of giving me an upper hand with women, I guess it helps me with being more attentive. Mainly being able to read reactions well — I'm sensitive to that. I'm able to fix situations when shit hits the fan.

How much sex do ad men have now compared to how much the characters on Mad Men have?
I would say it's about the same. At least for me personally.

Is there ever any sexual tension at work?
I see it from other people for sure. When there is sexual tension, it's really obvious. Because someone will be like, "Hey, that's a really great idea!" to someone else if there is tension between them, even though the idea is shit. It's very obvious that they're trying to get it in. They don't hide it very well.

Have you made parallels between your workplace and the workplace in Mad Men?
Yeah — mainly on the drinking. I have a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Campari at my desk. Alcohol flows like water here.

Why are ad men better lovers?
It goes back to attentiveness. I'm not really selfish — I'm always more worried about reading the person I'm with during sex. My whole goal is to make sure they're having a great time. 

We've seen Pete Campbell, Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and Duck Phillips all get freaky on Mad Men. Who are you most like in bed?
I'm probably a mix between Don Draper and Sterling. One thing about Draper is that he's not really looking for it — it just happens. And Roger Sterling, just because he's awesome.

I have a lot of male friends, and I value their friendships a lot. But recently, it seems like they always want more, and I never pick up on it until someone else tells me. How can I stay friends with them without hurting their feelings or coming off as a tease?
Really, the only way to do it is be straight-up and honest about everything. Just put everything out in the open so there's no miscommunication — no "but I thought you liked me" or whatever.

How do I get my girlfriend to want to do freaky stuff in bed with me? It seems like the only thing she's comfortable with is missionary.
I think it's not even about asking. I think it's just letting it naturally progress. From the other person's point of view, it's kind of a turn-off if you have to ask.

I've been hooking up with a really good friend of mine and I have strong feelings for him, but he lives five hours away. When we're together, we talk nonstop, and our chemistry is electric. But when I'm back home, we never talk unless I drunkenly call him. What do I do?
Stop drunkenly calling him. Call him when you're not intoxicated, and have an honest conversation with him. That's the only thing you can do.


Natasha, 27

How long have you been in advertising?
I've been in advertising for four years, and if you include internships and stuff, probably like five or six years.

Why are women in advertising better lovers?
Because we're witty and fun and we know how to have a good time at happy hour. We are thinkers — we have to be — and everyone wants a thoughtful lover, right?

Mad Men-wise, are you a Peggy or a Joan? Or an Ida Blankenship?
I'd say I have Joan's personality with Peggy's job. Peggy, in the early seasons, wants to do right all the time and is really professional. That's what we have to do here, every day. And as you get promoted, you have to be a leader and take responsibility for every single thing that you do. So in that way, I'm like Peggy. But then I'm also really sassy and don't give a shit sometimes. And just to survive in this business, you need to have a good head on your shoulders, be grounded and stand up for what you believe in, and not let people take advantage of your time. So I'd say both.

Do your advertising skills help you in the art of seduction?
Yeah! I can be really persuasive. If I can convince someone that they should spend fifteen times more money on your product than they would on some generic brand, then I'm sure I could convince someone to go on a date with me.

Is there ever any sexual tension at work, like in Mad Men?
Yeah. I know coworkers who sleep with other coworkers. I personally don't. I think that would be really stressful. But it's not uncommon at all. I think company parties in advertising are a really important part of all that sexual-tension release. All day long, we slave over deadlines and are forced to be creative in sometimes very uncreative situations. And we get shot down a lot. So when it's time for us to all get together and celebrate, people go buckwild. There are a lot of drunken makeout stories. A lot of the scenes of holiday parties in Mad Men are super-realistic.

Being in the creative department, are you able to handle rejection well?
Definitely. If you have a problem with rejection, you shouldn't even be in this business. But I mean, who wants to be rejected, under any circumstance? If I have a killer idea, or I go out with my girls and we're dressed cute and I'm ready to meet people, of course I don't want to be rejected. But I guess the thing that advertising does is help you to forget about it two seconds later and move on.

My partner cheated on me, but he swears he doesn't remember it at all because he was so drunk. Is this forgivable?
Maybe if you hook him up with some AA classes and he goes to them. You shouldn't be having sex with people and not remembering it. That's not safe — that person could be bringing a disease into your relationship, and that's not cool. So it's not really about forgiveness — the issue is way past infidelity.

I'm seeing someone who I met on a dating site. We initially agreed that we didn't want anything serious, but we get along so well. I don't want to be the first one to want more from the relationship, but I also don't want to get hurt by not speaking up. What should I do?
I just came back from Spain on vacation, and I noticed that the way a lot of the guys approach women is very straight-up. There's no game involved. Whereas here, if you say something first, you come off as needy, and if someone else calls you too much they come off as dependent on you, and that's not attractive. And it's not easy to talk about how you're feeling with someone when you just started dating and you really like them but don't know them that well. But I think that actions speak louder than words. If someone wants to be with you, they'll move mountains. And if you notice that the person that you're dating is making a lot of effort, the same amount you are, and you're meeting each other halfway, then it should be totally fine for you to put yourself in a vulnerable place and talk about how you feel. But if there's any sort of imbalance, then maybe you need to take other cues from that person to decide whether you want to invest more.

How do I get my girlfriend to want to do freaky stuff in bed with me? It seems like the only thing she's comfortable with is missionary.
Talking is important. You should talk about the things you like before just trying them out. If she seems uncomfortable, then it will probably be scary for her if you just break out the handcuffs. Women, I think, get turned on beginning with our thoughts, and then it flows naturally from there.