Always have a plan b
June 28, 2010 8:04 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to keep things light and limit embarrassment for both people if the other person rejects you when you make a move?

I did a search; perhaps my GoogleFu has failed me, but I didn't find anything directly dedicated to this, and we are all snowflakes.

I think I've finally worked up the nerve to make the first move on a guy because I'm tired of wondering where I stand. We talk a lot, he's expressed very pointed interest in spending time with me, but the few times we've gotten together in person, he's never even come close to making what I'd perceive as a move. Add this to him becoming hard to pin down when the time to get together approaches, despite earlier discussions initiated by him about specific plans including dates, times, and activities, and I go back and forth on whether he's interested. I don't want to speak for him, but I'm pretty confident in asserting that we're both more socially awkward, or at least shy, than not. I've convinced myself that resolution is more important than pride which is pretty much unprecedented. However, I want a graceful exit strategy should he reject my overtures.

What's the best way you know to play off rejection of a move to minimize awkwardness? I'm okay being friends with this guy if he's not romantically interested in me. I like him and would be open to seeing where things could lead, but if that's not what he's looking for, I'm comfortable with that and won't pine away. It's the immediate situational awkwardness that I'm worried about. I know I can get over the rejection itself, but the remembered embarrassment is a different story. How do I play it off in the moment to limit the awkwardness as much as possible and make it clear that I'm largely cool with what just happened and would like to continue being friends? All I can come up with is a playful comment along the it was worth a try line and that seems weak.

I know a positive attitude going in would probably be a far better way to approach this, but if I don't have some sort of contingency strategy ready, I know I'll never follow through on making the move.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
When words become superfluous, kiss. When kisses don't work, laugh. And keep on laughing.

It's not the end of the world if the dude rejects you (dudes rejects femmes?). You'll grow a thicker skin if he does. It's win/win - no get your snogging on!
posted by alex_skazat at 8:17 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Humour defuses many an embarrassing situation. Laugh it off, say "oops, my bad, sorry about that. wanna go get a burger?"

and um alex, the OP didn't use gender pronouns to refer to themselves. perhaps we should avoid pinning any on, hmm?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:23 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

There is the "geek flirt" option. You can say something like "If I tried to kiss you, would that be a good thing, or would it just make things really awkward?".

If he says "Yes, that would be pretty awkward actually", then just pretend to yourself that you were talking about what kind of cake frosting you like, and move on.
posted by emilyw at 8:27 AM on June 28, 2010 [10 favorites]

Golly. There's so much overthinking here that my head's going to explode. Your emphasis on potential rejection and how to work through it in the moment and then afterwards seems very stressful. Not only should relationships not cause this much stress, but even before you have one? Yikes.

Here's what I'd do. Text or email asking if he wants to go on a "date" date or if he'd rather hang out as friends. Then you get your answer a lot more clearly and you can go from there.
posted by dzaz at 8:29 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh also, sometimes asking flat out makes it easier. I've just started seeing a lovely guy, and on our first date ended up saying "Why don't we go X?" He asked why, and I said "How else am I going to have the privacy to kiss you properly?" with sort of a leer and a wink, giving him an out and me some plausible deniability in case of rejection.

Frankly, they say the way to someone's heart is through their stomach. I've always found that, all other things being equal, humour wins every time.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:30 AM on June 28, 2010


I don't know if this will help you, but I'm in a similar place (shy/worried about embarassment/and need to make a move...) I'm close to doing something, despite the fact that I've asked similar versions of your question more than once.

So here is the similar question that I posed, some of the responses were really helpful (aaand I've made a plan to implement some form of the favorited responses, I just need to acquire courage..hang head in shame as it has taken a long time for me to do anything)
posted by Dances with sock puppets at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2010

You could just say "Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained." and leave it at that. If he's decent he'll try and make it less awkward, and if he isn't, then isn't it great that you discovered that now?
posted by backwards guitar at 8:37 AM on June 28, 2010

I'd wait a few seconds then say "OK, now you ask me out... oh I see you've never played this game before. Well I'm up 10 to one, so you're buying drinks".
posted by syntheticfaith at 8:39 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do what dzaz says. Please do not try to kiss someone out of the blue. That could go very wrong, even if you like each other. Life is not a romantic comedy.
posted by vincele at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

What about, "ah well -- I guess friendship it is then! Should we get some more fries?"
posted by salvia at 9:02 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are Snowflakes the new JAPs? Maybe I'm not in the right social circles but I never heard that term before?

Stay cool and have an exit strategy. It will be awkward to get turned down but so it goes. It sounds like it would probably be as awkward if he accepted you. Whatever the outcome, promise you'll call him and discuss it later. As is usually the case, embarassment and pain can lead to some stupid things being said.
posted by JJ86 at 9:10 AM on June 28, 2010

It's a reference to Fight Club. Tyler Durden, megaphone, "You are not a special snowflake."
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:12 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

There was a recent AskMe about good ways to initiate romantic contact, and one of the suggestions was rather than going balls-out and kissing them, or anything so forward (thus having to face potential mortification), just to lightly put your hand on their thigh when you're talking. Don't even make it a thing. Just light, casual contact. Continue the conversation and move your hand after a few seconds.

If they kind of squirm or move their leg away, well then they are most likely not looking for the same thing as you. But if they are interested, they might touch your leg back or put their hand closer to yours and accidentally-on-purpose graze it, or whatever. It helps break the ice of distance.
posted by amicamentis at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

lightly put your hand on their thigh when you're talking

Oh, please don't ever do this to me.
posted by dzaz at 10:08 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yeah, going straight for the thigh is ramping up the physical intimacy too fast. Start away from the genitals. Hands are good.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:15 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'll bet draz would sing a different tune if it were the right person's hand.
posted by LonnieK at 10:20 AM on June 28, 2010

Laugh it off. In the future it will only be as embarassing as other embarassing things that are bound to happen to most people at some point in life (like tripping and falling super klutz-like).
posted by WeekendJen at 10:21 AM on June 28, 2010

Oh speaking of the hand on thigh issue, I used to play a great game that was flirty but jokey with my firends that I wanted to screw. It was called "are you nervous yet". You put your hand on the targets knee, look at them with concern and ask "are you nervous?". They will likely say no. Then you move up the thigh 3 inches, towards teh jackpot, asking each time if they are nervous yet, until they say they are or until you are both giggling giddily (the giggling will probably happen first).

Of course, this only works with people that have a certain sense of humor, so play accordingly.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2010

Whereas "hand on the thigh" is probably inappropriate, a quick, light touch on the knee or shoulder is not.
posted by halfguard at 10:52 AM on June 28, 2010

Yeah, definitely more towards the knee than the genitals. I phrased that poorly.
posted by amicamentis at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2010

What about the look? You know, the look. Every first kiss (for me) has always been preceded by some extended eye contact where it's pretty obvious that both of us want the same thing.

Light touching is also good--not sure about the hand on the knee, but you can usually get an idea of his level of physical comfort if you touch his arm while talking or let your knees touch. Subtle things that introduce physical contact but aren't over-the-top obvious.
posted by lucysparrow at 12:44 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have experience of this kind of situation, but from the POV of the guy you're looking to hook up with.

I'd seen a girl several times in social situations and we got along well. Then we started hanging out on our own. Second time we got together we were walking along and basically the girl just said, "are you going to kiss me or what?"

I did.

We've talked about it since and she confesses she was nervous being so bold about it, but I've always been happy she was that night. I remember how weird I was back then and the chances of me making a move were slim to none. Now we're married and have a daughter.

Your experience may vary of course, but what do you have to lose other than a few moments of potential awkwardness?
posted by Nyarlathotep at 2:48 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh boy, have I gotten this a lot. i usually find an "oops, sorry!" works fine. along with some good natured laughing at yourself.
posted by custard heart at 8:48 PM on June 28, 2010

Too context-specific maybe, but one of my favorite hit on moments was when this guy I worked with who'd always been friendly and sweet to me finally asked me out and I was like "I have a boyfriend, sorry" and he just smiled at me and said "of course, I'm not surprised--but, you know I had to try, right?" in the warmest, friendliest tone. And most important of all, he didn't act like I was invisible or dead to him immediately afterward; he continued to be warm and respectful and friendly. That cold shoulder thing most guys do when you turn them down, while I understand it (embarrassed, wounded pride, whatever), feels really harsh a lot of the time.
posted by ifjuly at 8:55 AM on June 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

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