Tuesday, April 19, 2005

RLDG Part IV: Arranging the First Date

RealLife™ Dating Guidelines Part IV: Arranging the First Date.

The age old question remains: Do men like it when women ask them out? My mom says that it used to be easier: “There were rules and you knew where you stood. If the guy didn't call, he wasn't interested. Boys called and girls didn’t."

It’s harder now because girls can call too. It’s easier if you are a girl because you don’t have to go through the torment of waiting for a boy to call. It’s easier for boys because they don’t always have to make the first move. In terms of who should call, there is no good answer. You just have to feel your way. Some women don't like to give out their numbers. Some men ask for numbers and have no intention of calling.

I hate to admit that many times I have waited for a phone call. Sitting there, staring at the phone, asking it: why won’t you ring? Picking up the receiver. Yes, there is a dial tone. Why isn’t he calling? Where is he? How could he be doing anything at this precise moment other than thinking about me? Therefore, why hasn’t he called? And so on. I have no idea if men go through the same. I hate myself every time it happens. I hate myself, not the boy, because for as long as I can remember, I knew I only had myself to blame.

I've learned a few things about the way I like to date:
  • I like him to call me. I give out my number if requested. I will take his number, but I prefer not to as it leads to confusion. (I break this rule consistently.)
  • I like him to suggest something to do if he asks me out. If he never ever picks an activity that is a bad sign.
  • I like him to pay on the first date. I know, I know. But this is the rule: the asker pays. I always offer to split the bill. I have no problem splitting. If I ask him, I will pay (or at least strenuously and seriously offer). Some guys are not comfortable with the woman paying for the entire evening, but if I’m going steady with a guy, I will be uncomfortable if he always pays.

If what you want, as a woman, is to have a guy ask you out, how can you make it happen? As a man, what you are looking for is a signal from the woman that if you ask her out, she will say yes. If you are interested, you don't want to risk rejection. It's scary having your feelings hanging out all over the place. The worst she can do is say "no" but that's pretty damn bad. However, if you go to the trouble of asking, most women will say yes. It's how we're socialized. If you pay attention, you can tell if she wants you to ask. If you are a woman, you want to avoid having to reject the guy.

Fellas, listen carefully. If she's saying all the things she likes to do it might mean something. If you say, "I usually go hiking on Saturdays" and she says, "I love hiking. I haven't been in forever." It shouldn't take a genius to figure out that she would like to go hiking with you. In terms of dropping hints, the more specific the better. Women, drop hints! Fellas, if she's, telling you her entire schedule, mentioning that she loves to hike, ride bikes, go dancing, see movies, it might mean something. Some men need lots of help. Shy ones especially. And no, I have never planned out anything like this. It just happens as part of the conversation.

An example. When I was 14, I was talking to a boy on the phone. He was a cute boy with sandy reddish hair and a lot of freckles. Taller than me (a big deal at that age). Not a lot to say, but sweet . I don't know how I knew not to ask him out. It was just an instinct. We started talking about movies we had seen and that we wanted to see. He mention one movie that he wanted to see. I said, "Oh, I really want to see that!" And, finally, eventually, he said, "Do you want to go see it together?” After we got off the phone, I felt pretty proud of myself. I'd done all the work for him--suggested the activity, made it clear I would say yes--all he had to do was ask. And he did. I didn't plan it, but I realized what had happened after we got off the phone. A minor dating triumph.

What if she doesn't say yes at first? These are the rules: if you get a "no" after the first attempt, it is fine to ask once more. A "no" after the second request is the end. Stop asking. She has your number and can take the initiative. If you get a "no" followed by an alternative suggestion, that is a good sign. If you get, “I'd love to but I'm busy” and every time you ask she is busy, give up. If you leave two phone messages and get no response, stop calling.

Persistence will be rewarded, but only in the short term. I have gone on dates because of the shear exhaustion caused by saying no, but you won't catch me on a second date with any of those guys. If she has to be pushed to play, she is only playing to avoid rejecting you directly. There is only so long anyone will put up with this kind of behavior. Yes, you may grow on her in the meantime, but don’t bet on it. If you are sure she is the love of your life and you just need to get her to spend more time with you, well, good luck with that

If you don't want to call, don’t ask for numbers. If you want to be called, give out your number. If you want to be asked, make it clear you will say yes. The author of the little dating book I read a couple of months ago advises women to say, "I would love it if you asked me out on a date." I'm not sure I could actually get those words to come out of my mouth but she has the right idea. (I'm much more likely to say, "Um, maybe, um, we could, um, do something sometime maybe. If you want.") Of course, it's fine if the woman does the asking. But maybe it would be just a bit clearer if the man asked. So let him. Just make it easy.

I will still ask a guy out because I don’t always have time for these little games and I’m very, very impatient. I will continue to do what ever I please, guidelines be damned.

Grateful for: the lovely smells of Spring. I walked home today and the air just smelled sweet. Trying to enjoy the perfect weather for as long as it lasts.

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