Dating – it’s a minefield. But I do think there are a couple of simple principles that can help spare people overly hurt feelings or wasted time.
First, guys should ask girls out directly, and not wimp out. I know for many guys it’s scary. But that’s part of being a guy. Man up, and just ask her. Because it’s better and healthier to get turned down and have that solid answer than to live weeks or months not knowing or living in regret.
By the same token, while it’s fine to engage in some group activities or otherwise try to worm your way into a relationship through being friends first, guys shouldn’t let that go on too long. And no, it’s not that you’ll get stuck in the friend zone – it’s that same thing of just taking the plunge and doing it.
Second, girls should give a clear answer. If they’re not interested, they should let the guy know that. Telling the guy that she’s busy or not ready for a relationship right now or something like that may seem like it’s better for him – ‘sparing his feelings’, ‘letting him down easy’ – but I think it’s just easier for the girl. She gets to go on her merry way thinking she’s nice, while he’s left in a limbo, either not knowing where he stands or thinking he has a shot when he doesn’t. Honestly, I think it’s quite selfish and shows a lack of thinking things through.
Okay, a few things. First, I’m using the words ‘guys’ and ‘girls’ instead of ‘men’ and ‘women’, and I mean no disrespect by it. Those are just the words that flow for me, like when we say ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’.
Also, in this modern world, I do think it’s OK for girls to ask out guys, or at least make the first move in some way. But the responsibility on the receiving end is the same – if somebody wants to know if you’re interested, you should give them a clear answer.
And let me throw this in. I know some girls have a policy of going out with almost any guy that asks her out. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of this policy, I can tell you that I don’t care for it. If you don’t know if you’re interested, that’s one thing. But if you know that you’re not (and you know that sometimes you just know), then I don’t think you should waste your time or his.
I'll leave you with this. There was a girl I was interested in. She was cute and smart and could carry on a conversation. And I'd had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her during a vacation. So, I called her up and asked her out. Actually, I got nervous, rehearsed what I would say, thought about it, did some deep breathing, thought about it some more, then got around to calling her. And she said yes! Woohoo! But two minutes after we hung up, she called back. She explained that she did like me as a friend, but was not really interested in going on a date with me. And in the moment, she was startled and said yes, but after having a minute to think about it, she decided it would be better to call me back and retract her answer. Was it disappointing? Yes. But I have great respect for her.