How does one go from Dating to Going Out/In a Relationship?
January 24, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I avoid a series of first-dates leading to 'just friends'?

I'm an 18yo UK male, with a lack of experience in dating. I was at a boarding college for 2 years, and had no confidence as a young teenager.

I'm at a stage now where I can ask people out on dates, and we go, but it always ends up boiling down to the conversations getting less flirty, us becomes 'just friends' and everything fizzling out.

These are girls I'm romantically interested in, so its always a disappointment when that happens.

Real, practical advice greatly appreciated on how to go from 'first date' to 'going out'
posted by ElliotH to Human Relations (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
"How do I avoid a series of first-dates leading to 'just friends'?"

You can't. That's just dating. You strike out until you don't. And when you don't strike out, it will not be because of a strategy you've put together from advice on the internet—it will be because both you and your date have had a genuinely good time, and you'll go on a date again.

My advice is, actually, to not go on dates. At least, not as such. If you meet a girl you like, ask her to join you in an activity you both enjoy—not something specifically "datey." If you have a good time, do it again. If you can't find girls that you can do this with, ask yourself: do you really know any of these girls well enough to be in a romantic relationship with them? Or if the girls you can imagine just hanging out with aren't the ones you can imagine dating, ask yourself why you wouldn't want to hang out with girls you'd want to date?

Hang in there. Speaking as someone who didn't date until midway through university, use this time to get to know girls better for themselves, and not just as romantic opportunities. Doing so will serve you (and your relationships) well in the long run.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Remember that you are an active player in what is going on. Things don't just "fizzle" on their own; there are two people involved, whose actions determine how the date goes.

If you're anything like I was when I was 18, you kind of just expect things to happen. Well, buddy, kisses don't just pop out of the ether. Someone takes a risk and leans in. And *newsflash*: that someone is either going to be you, or it's going to be no one.

So be a bit more aggressive. Leaning in for a kiss and getting the "head turn" is the absolute worst that can happen. And she already knew that you were interested in her (you're on a date for chrissake!) so it's not like it's going to be some giant shocker for her.

Hitting home runs means swinging for the fences, and not worrying too much if you strike out more often than not.
posted by auto-correct at 2:37 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

If Internet dating has taught me anything, it's that transparency is awesome and really sexy.

Had a good time ? Tell her.
Want to see her again? Tell her.
Feel chemistry? Tell her.
Want to kiss her? Tell her (not in a creepy way, please.)
posted by citywolf at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would add, don't underestimate the effectiveness of just talking somebody's pants off. People can be a bit shy and protective, especially at 18, so sometimes you just have to hang out for a while before people get comfortable enough to let their guard down. If you have good conversations and the attraction is there, it will happen sooner or later.
posted by mr.ersatz at 2:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's difficult to answer your question without knowing you or knowing about what your dates are. If you haven't yet, overcome your lack of confidence. This applies not just to the initial asking out, but toward making appropriate overtures at the appropriate time.

Very generally speaking, I suggest that when you ask a girl out on a date you make sure it's not mistaken for anything else. Don't ask a young lady to "hang out." Choose activities that are a little more structured than you might have with friends.

Here in the States, a lot of people seem to have arbitrarily chosen three as the number of dates you have in which to express at least some level of mutual physical desire. If you aren't snogging (or whatever you kids call it these days), chances are good that either she isn't interested or you haven't tried to find out. Despite this, don't feel too much pressure. Any date on which you and your lady have fun is "successful" especially if it leaves open a realistic possibility that something more will happen later.

Also, never underestimate the value of actually having attractive female friends. I know it's not what you're looking for when you ask them out, but if any of them become friends, they'll certainly be able to give you some advice.
posted by Hylas at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2011

I would recommend using the word 'date'. I was very oblivious at 18, and figured that if a guy was interested he would use the word 'date', and if not, he was just asking to spend time with me as a friend. This got me into muddled situations. Thus: friend zone. You might be nervous about being so upfront, but this will clearly spell out your intentions and allow her to give you a clear answer in return (which is way better than shuffling around for weeks wondering if this next date will feel like a date). And it will seem brave and confident, and this is attractive.

Just because you say 'date' doesn't mean it has to be fancy/expensive, but putting a little effort into the planning to make it seem special is very nice.
posted by griselda at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2011

OK, I'll follow up a little, see if I can make this easier for people. (Answers have been useful so far though - just wonder what more people will say with minor detail).

making appropriate overtures at the appropriate time

My problem here is no idea when the appropriate time is.

Any date on which you and your lady have fun is "successful" especially if it leaves open a realistic possibility that something more will happen later

Well, to that extent I am generally successful. I guess.

With regards the first comment, 'Date' was a poor choice of words. It's pretty outdated here in the UK too.. It was arbitrarily chosen to get the idea across.

As to what we do, most recent such thing was going to lunch with someone. This was really fun, I'm just then really nervous to do anything more, It 'felt' successful, but I'm terrified of coming on too strong or creepy - I did that a fair bit in senior school.

I suggest that when you ask a girl out on a date you make sure it's not mistaken for anything else.

This is also a problem.. but I think I'm improving.

Don't know how useful this is. I'm happy to answer questions. But the general feel of the answers seems to be for me to be more confident and freak out about it less.
posted by ElliotH at 3:14 PM on January 24, 2011

How to Succeed with Women teaches you how to act toward women to create physical intimacy.
posted by neuron at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2011

My problem here is no idea when the appropriate time is.

For your first kiss, generally at the close of a date. A date that has been fun.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:25 PM on January 24, 2011

My problem here is no idea when the appropriate time is.


As to what we do, most recent such thing was going to lunch with someone. This was really fun, I'm just then really nervous to do anything more, It 'felt' successful, but I'm terrified of coming on too strong or creepy - I did that a fair bit in senior school.


This is also a problem.. but I think I'm improving.


Seriously. These are things that you have to learn through experience. You have to just keep putting yourself out there over and over again until you know when the appropriate time is to lean in for a kiss (because you will have tried at the inappropriate time many times and then—AHA!—get the hang of it), until you can ask girls out a second time without being overcome by fearing their rejection (because you will have asked girls out for second dates many, many times, been rejected, and will have realized that this is not as awful as it seemed it would be), and until you can ask them out on dates that are really, truly, understood to be dates (because you have managed to ask girls out on real dates enough times to learn that sometimes—more often than you think!—the answer will be yes).

Don't think that everyone else has it all figured out. It took me until I was 24 to make it clear that dates were dates—and the dates I subsequently had were so much better. I hadn't realized that what I had been doing was artificially raising the stakes for myself, and making fun outings into tense events where I spent the whole time wondering whether the person I was with would figure out that I liked him. I only figured it out by doing it wrong until I started doing it right. There are no quick fixes in this game, no cheat codes, and no magic knowledge or tools that can be given to you by the sages you meet in your own personal hero quest. (We are not the Obi-Wan Kenobis or Yodas you're looking for.)*

It's just fail again, and fail better, until, finally, you don't.

*I use this language mainly because when I was your age, I viewed my own life as a sort of hero's quest. There's a reason why it's the archetypal story—everyone identifies with it. I'm not using it to imply that that's necessarily how you view yourself.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:28 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. Use the word date.
2. Go for a kiss at the end. On the cheek, if you want. At least a hug.

She's not going to make the moves. I know it's unfair.

Little story for you: When I was a young and foolish girl, there were many times I had no idea a guy was interested in me until he A.) Used the word date. B.) Kissed me.

In fact, I was a pretty shy thing and I had lots of friends who were guys, so it literally would not have occured to me. No amount of his hanging around or complimenting me or talking to me would have made a light go on. I have since noticed that young men often make the mistake of thinking that a young woman merely talking to a young man is already making a move. Or vice versa. Women don't get that. This is going to lead to a lot of frustration on your part if you don't learn this lesson early.

The first time I went out on a date, I was 16 and I had been sitting at the same lunch table and talking to the guy for weeks. I had no idea he was interested. He claims he had been flirting with me for a long time. He asked me if I wanted to go on a "date with him that weekend, like to a movie" (or something like that) And I was dumbfounded. Totally gobsmacked. But I said, "sure." We had the date, it was nice. At the end, he kissed me on the cheek. I was also dumbfounded. I'm sure I looked like a deer in the headlights. But it suddenly clicked that he LIKED me and that he STILL liked me after the date. After that, I was more open/agressive. But before that, no way it would have happened.
posted by Nixy at 3:42 PM on January 24, 2011

not to be too contrary, but maybe "just friends" isn't such a bad thing? i wish more of my first dates could end up as friends. it always seem to be ON or OFF. you're young - the more people in your circle, the better. while THAT GIRL might want to be just friends, her hot friend might want more.

i've found less pressure is almost always a good thing.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 3:51 PM on January 24, 2011

I'm an 18yo UK male, with a lack of experience in dating. I was at a boarding college for 2 years, and had no confidence as a young teenager.

Just by going on this alone, you're not bringing a lot to the table. I mean, I'm sure you're a good-looking fellow, quick with a joke and quite the chivalrous lad. But I doubt you're a hunk with a Ferrari.

Surprisingly, this is not a problem. But it does mean you'll have to put a little thought into this.

The key is differentiating yourself through your interests. What are you interested in? Do more of that. Meet people that also do what you're interested in. People don't want to meet an "18yo UK male." They want to meet "ElliotH" the guy that's different from all the other "18yo UK males" that exist.

Conversely, spend half your time breaking out of your tried-and-true interests, especially where the opposite of what you do is active and not passive. You like books? Go rock climbing. You like movies? Go dancing. You like to eat? Learn to cook. You'll be more interesting. Moreover, you'll meet more interesting people.

And kiss them, you uptight British fool. Just lean that face out there, lantern jaw and all. Go be awesome.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:54 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Flirting is the art of making the other person feel good. Show interest in her life. Pay attention to the small details she gives you. Learn to genuinely like women as people, and not fear them as affection dispensers with the power to give or withhold what you want. Ideally, your company and attention is just as desired and valuable as hers. When you give a kiss, know that you are indeed giving something good. I don't mean that in an egotistical way (an 'I am so awesome my kisses are a gift' way), but in an unselfish, warm sort of way. An 'I like you and I think you like me and I want us both to feel something nice' way. I don't think anyone can tell you the precise moment when to make a move, and they'd probably be wrong half the time anyway. Trial and error. You'll mess up. Sometimes it'll tank things, and sometimes it will work out just fine anyway.
posted by griselda at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Cool Papa Bell, I take your general point, but do note that my online self asking a question and attempting to be objective is a different person to my offline self!
posted by ElliotH at 4:12 PM on January 24, 2011

"Can I take you to dinner?" as opposed to "Wanna go get some dinner?" Girls can be oblivious that someone is romantically interested, so make it clear! That's sexy and puts you in her mind as a potential boyfriend. And if she's truly not interested, she'll say no and won't waste your time. Being unclear about your intentions is a great way to get your time and money wasted.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:40 PM on January 24, 2011

Lots of good advice in this thread. Let me try to add a bit more: sexism sucks for a bunch of reasons, but one reason that it sucks is that women are often taught to be passive. You're probably attracted to confident women - I am too. So are a lot of people - in fact, I'd argue the majority of people, of both genders and all sexual orientations, are attracted to other confident people. And the great thing about confidence is that, outside of (and often within) the bedroom, there doesn't need to be an active person and a passive person: there can just be two confident people, confidently enjoying being themselves and spending time together.

Confidence also tends to inspire confidence in others - the more honest you are and the more complimentary you are without acting like rejection will be a huge deal, the more comfortable someone will be around you, the more likely they'll be to be confident back.

Also, don't sweat learning this stuff now - I'm writing this down as much to remember it myself as to answer the question.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:03 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Go in for a kiss at the end of the date. Just do it. If you're not sure if she might want to kiss you, but you're having fun and into her, she probably does. Conversation doesn't have to be flirty the whole time, FYI. The worst that happens is you get shot down, which is really not a big deal -- you just have to be willing to risk it (and even more, risk the uncertainty, which until you get more experience is going to be what you're feeling frequently).
posted by J. Wilson at 5:48 PM on January 24, 2011

"100% of the shots you don't take don't go in." -- Wayne Gretzky
posted by kirkaracha at 6:32 PM on January 24, 2011

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