Why don't some college guys ever date?
August 28, 2011 4:04 PM   Subscribe

What are some reasons a college guy who has never dated before won't ask out someone he likes?

I admit, my questions are a bit silly, but I’m very inexperienced with relationships, despite being in my mid-twenties (female), and I figured you all could give me some insight into things. :) Everything I read on the internet relationship-wise, it seems, is about two types of guys: either the shy guy who is basically completely socially inept and has trouble even just talking to women, or the bolder guy (and/or player) who will definitely make a move if he is at all interested. My question concerns the guy in-between these two: Someone who is perhaps more on the introverted side, but can hold his own in a conversation with women or whomever. More specifically I am wondering about these guys who, despite also being easy-going, friendly, decent-looking, funny, etc., have never dated anyone ever. My questions, then, are the following:

1. What are some reasons a guy (especially one in college) won’t ask someone out, even if he likes her.

2. In general, at what point in their lives do these inexperienced guys who don’t date in college actually start a relationship?

3. Being quite shy myself, what can I do to show these guys I’m interested without embarrassing myself or scaring them away?

Before I further explain these questions, I just want to add that I realize reasons and timing can be widely varied, depending on circumstances. And the only way I can get the answer from any particular guy I’m wondering about is by asking him. I’m just too shy to do so. :( So I’d like to read what everyone has to say of course, but I’m especially interested hearing from guys who were in similar situations – waiting until after college to date.

I ask these questions because I’ve noticed that I keep getting crushes on these guys in college who are just as inexperienced as me. We are usually friends, some have been closer than others, and sometimes I wonder if he would like to be more than friends, but knowing how bad I am at reading signals, I am too shy to pursue anything. Plus knowing that he has never asked anyone out before and possibly just isn’t sure how (?), nothing ever happens anyway. Of course, they may very well just not be interested in anything more than being friends with me, which is probably often the case, but never with anyone? So what are some reasons for this, let’s say besides being too busy with school or not liking anyone. Do you have any ideas/ what have your experiences been? Thanks for any input!!
posted by lfergie401 to Human Relations (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
One possibility is that he is too shy to ask you out. Maybe he would say, "I keep getting crushes on these [women] in college who are just as inexperienced as me. We are usually friends, some have been closer than others, and sometimes I wonder if [she] would like to be more than friends, but knowing how bad I am at reading signals, I am too shy to pursue anything. Plus knowing that [she] has never asked anyone out before and possibly just isn’t sure how (?), nothing ever happens anyway. Of course, they may very well just not be interested in anything more than being friends with me, which is probably often the case, but never with anyone?" It's not always the man's responsibility to make the first move. If you want to date someone but haven't asked him out, why couldn't the same reasons you have be true of him too?
posted by decathecting at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

knowing how bad I am at reading signals, I am too shy to pursue anything

You can get better at reading signals, and the way to get better is...to pursue things. It does sting a bit, though.
posted by bricoleur at 4:14 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

What decathecting said. Men aren't a different species; your reasons could just as easily be theirs.

He could also consider himself to be asexual, might not want to get involved with anyone, might be pining away for someone back home... the maybes are infinite.
posted by SMPA at 4:18 PM on August 28, 2011

knowing how bad I am at reading signals, I am too shy to pursue anything.

Then you know how he feels.
posted by John Cohen at 4:18 PM on August 28, 2011 [29 favorites]

Basically they are afraid of the unknown and don't have any experience. They act once the alternative (loneliness, etc.) becomes unbearable and they say "Fuck it! Enough is Enough." and start developing the necessary skills.

Perhaps they are scared of physical intimacy (ie: touching, etc.) . They missed the boat in high school and early college where most people fumble their way around and develop experience. They don't know what the hell to do and time keeps passing by....snowballing and getting worse.

Ask the guy out on a date, by using the word "date." Flirt by giving lots of eye contact, smiling, touching them in a friendly way on the arm or leg perhaps, hugging, etc. If they make an effort to spend time with you, and their actions are showing that they like you, but they are still too shy to show physical attraction, make the first move. Or get an honest conversation going.

Most everyone is shy when it comes to dating, but there comes a point when you just say "enough is enough" and you go for it. You can only develop experience and skills by doing it. Also, don't put so much emphasis on the outcome just have a fun time and see where it goes.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 4:19 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

You're sure he's straight?
posted by mhoye at 4:22 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ask them out. With this specific type of guy, this will give you a huge advantage over women who never make a move. Less competition for you!
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:25 PM on August 28, 2011 [7 favorites]

Shyness, awkwardness, gayness, deciding to focus just on college, asexual, past asking out trauma, imagined asking out trauma, it could just be you (with these particular guys, of course, I'm 99.99% sure there is someone good out there for you) intimidated, crushing on other people, feeling there arent good matches... tons of reasons.

I didnt date much in college... but I found a girl online (shocking!) and have been with her for two years now.

If you like nerdy guys (which every girl should) they are probably more scared of you than you are of them. Gently ask one of them out :)
posted by Jacen at 4:25 PM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

As to question 1: because they fear rejection and its consequences for their self-image; because they don't want to be humiliated or embarrassed; because they don't want to be seen as aggressive and oversexed; because they don't want to ruin a friendship; etc. The reasons are legion.

As to question 2: usually, eventually.

As to question 3: kiss them, on the cheek if you prefer.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:26 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Someone who is perhaps more on the introverted side, but can hold his own in a conversation with women or whomever. More specifically I am wondering about these guys who, despite also being easy-going, friendly, decent-looking, funny, etc., have never dated anyone ever.

I can't say I'm easy-going, friendly, decent-looking or funny, but I can easily hold conversations with women. I also have no idea if they're attracted to me, and since rejection is hurtful/annoying I generally avoid making moves until I have a very, very, very clear signal.

Ask them out.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:30 PM on August 28, 2011

Don't forget extremely conservative religious types who just seem so normal. (College is so not the hotbed of liberal subversiveness that it's advertised as.)

Don't kiss them. Just ask them out. Use the word date. "Umumumum would you like to go on a date with me?" If they say no, this is OK, just run away, you'll get chances with other guys! If they say yes, then why are you still reading this?
posted by anaelith at 4:32 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you tried some liquid courage? Usually these types of things come out over a few drinks, making it a little easier for shy types.

My own personal experience with these kinds of guys has been that they were actually not into me that way and I was reading too much into things.
posted by pourtant at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

Reminds me a lot of myself at that time in my life. Assuming he's straight, I like the idea of just asking him out because shyness sometimes makes it hard to perceive the signals. I wouldn't have been offended and it would have really boosted my confidence.
posted by Mcable at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

My youngest son can make friends with anyone; he is outgoing, smart, funny, good-looking, athletic, you name it. In every class, he sits with a bunch of pretty girls around him. They take his phone away and type their numbers in for him, so that they can text each other.

But, in his case, although he is great at getting along with everyone, he consistently gets stuck in the "friend zone." He's so easy-going, and so equally attentive, that he just ends up being everybody's best friend, the guy you hang out with, do homework with, go out with in groups, but maybe don't have a serious relationship with.

Now, he's 16, so as his Mom I'm obviously okay with all that, and he seems to be, too, for now.

But, to your Question #1: I imagine there are lots of guys in college who would like to have a girlfriend but end up settling for friends because they are too intimidated to ask anyone out, or because they don't want to jeopardize the friendship they have, or because by the time they get up the nerve, the girl has already eliminated them as a potential romantic interest.

2. This really, really depends on the guy, and which reason from Question #1 applies. Sorry, but it really depends.

3. Most guys love to be asked out by an attractive girl. They have a little less baggage on that because they are generally not hit on as much as girls and so tend to be less wary and more, "Yay! She likes me!" when it happens.

Now, in case you are worried you are not attractive to some guy in particular, I also know of very, very few guys that would not be, at the very least, flattered if a girl they were not attracted to asked them out. And the ones I know would be kind about it. I think the general reaction, even if they weren't interested, would be a surprised, "Oh! Hey, thanks, but, um, I'm not really interested. Sorry." Which isn't really so bad, if you think about it. You'd end up no worse off than you are now, right?
posted by misha at 4:37 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

For me back then, it was 1) fear of rejection, 2) fear of making a bigger idiot out of myself if I was actually accepted. I guess (2) would be "fear of intimacy."

So much fear. As if a momentary failure would be such a bad thing! If I could go back and give a piece of advice to my earlier self, it would be "Ask her out! So what if you fail! You may do it better the next time you try!"

I think this advice should not just apply to boys/men.
posted by ferdydurke at 4:49 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Let me add one thing, not because I am more expert than you but rather because it might invite appropriate comments by others.

It's my perception, as one a bit (ahem) removed from this scene, that "ask him out" (or anything in response to his failure to "ask her out") has to confront the fact that the "ask out" and "date" lingo and norms are corrupted nowadays. In my view this adds to already paralyzing uncertainties of relationships among the younger set. Hence my advice to give a peck on the cheek or something even rasher.

Let me suggest something else. If the dudes in question are relaying to you that they have never asked anyone out and don't know how, that's a pretty broad hint to you that they're stalled out. Coax them into saying that again, then pounce.

OP: "What do you mean you don't know how to ask someone out? 'Will you go on a date with me?'"

Boy: "Well, duh."

OP: "No, idiot. *Will* you go on a date with me?"
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 5:31 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've been that guy.

- he likes you but he's as shy as you are
- he's clueless, but will realize that he ought to have liked you all along if asked
- he'll say no, but it probably won't hurt the friendship to ask

3. Being quite shy myself, what can I do to show these guys I’m interested without embarrassing myself or scaring them away?

Do you have an extroverted mutual friend? A close friend, who when asked thinks you and the boy might be mutually compatible? Bring her along as a wingman or send her out as a matchmaker. Whenever women have asked me out, that's how they've done it.

It's always gone well for all concerned, as far as I can tell.
- the friend will you give forewarning if asking the boy would be a mistake
- a wingman is better artificial courage than beer
- if you get a no, you have someone to lean on
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:57 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was often into guys who hadn't dated at all. I would say straight out, "I'm attracted to you!" and sometimes I got rejected and sometimes it led someplace more interesting. Rejection is not death, and embarrassment is not death.

Some additional experiences.
posted by brainwane at 6:09 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well. The one in my story is gay. I don't know where he was at then. When I found out, more than a decade later, there was a small rock lifted off my heart. Hadn't realized it was still there.

Just do it. Just ask. Ask early on. How many years did I spend bogged down in dubious platonic friendships? Destroying my state of mind? Worst case, he says no, it's awkward for a month or less, and then something else awkward happens and life continues somehow.

THAT SAID--and I say it as a connoisseur of nerdy guys, an expert, a master--if you have to ask if he's interested, then it doesn't look good for you. See paragraph 1 above. Among many others not written here. You don't want to be the person whose friends say, "oh, he's just shy," and then he's seen on Sunday morning hung over drinking dining hall coffee with some other nerdy woman not as good-looking as you are.

Don't waste the important developmental years that I did! Don't obsess! Find someone ELSE and go out. In college there is a LOT to be said for just racking up some mileage. I don't mean screwing random people if that's not your thing (although I wish I had, believe me). Go for coffee and get familiar with the idea that men like you.
posted by skbw at 6:13 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ehhh, i'm mostly against liquid courage. Bars are not condusive to the shy, I find. And drunk girls are NOT attractive. Many of my nerd friends just dont drink, too. Not much more awkward than watching a girl knock back a few... then a few more... ick.

Just be you, and gently ask them out. I loved it every time a lady asked me out, and with a notable exception (I KNEW it wouldnt work. 0% chance) even if I hadnt considered asking her out, I went on dates with them.
posted by Jacen at 6:37 PM on August 28, 2011

Abject, existential terror.
posted by goethean at 6:42 PM on August 28, 2011 [9 favorites]

There are uncountable possibilities, and generalizing this as a category of boys/men isn't going to be helpful.

The productive answer is to ask them out yourself. You're not too shy, you only think you are.

Actually using the word date, if you do this, should actually make things easier than trying to hint your way to them asking you out. If you're both as awkward and unsure and shy as you say, if you start dropping some hints, they're going to be unsure what to read into that and continue to decline to act.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:44 PM on August 28, 2011

This was me.

For #1: A combination of factors. Part of it was an absolutely horrible high school experience, your standard nerd bully-and-shun that led to low self-esteem. It got better in college, and I got comfortable socializing with people my own age, but there was still a barrier with romantic interests. Part of it was, I became so busy in other parts of my life that adding a relationship never occurred to me. I was attracted to some women, but they were friends. How could I possibly ask them out? It will be different for everyone.

For #2: My first relationship was a year after college, with someone I met in college. A friend. So yeah, I got over that whole, "How could I ask her out," thing. Eventually.

For #3: Ask the guy out. I did have a few dates in college, which were either doubles (thanks, friends!) or the woman asked me out. See other answers for possible strategies. What you think of as the worst case is generally just irrational fear talking; you'll be fine!
posted by jraenar at 11:40 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some good points above. Since my work brings me in contact with these populations, both college students generally and some likely candidates of either gender in the "don't date" category, let me offer a few factors not yet discussed:

1. What are some reasons a guy (especially one in college) won’t ask someone out, even if he likes her.

a) Individual Health (part #1): It's kind of a paradox that while the broader society typically associates the college years with height of good health, the actual situation for many students is way more complicated. And I'm not speaking here about the severe cases of depression and the like that leave some students bed ridden and obviously non-functioning. Rather, I'm talking about the sort of low-level depression that my colleagues in the student health service tell me are much more widespread. Whether these conditions result from biology/brain chemistry, underlying general health problems, or environmental factors, like poor sleep habits or chronically shitty diet, the results can be powerful but hard to pin down, with the consequence that blunt signals of attraction get filtered through waves of low-level paranoia, making them seem directly threatening or at least significantly uncomfortable. Again, we're not talking here about a large-scale freak-out, just the sort of unpleasant associations that can make a person pull back and withdraw, despite all the overt signs to the contrary. And just because the guy in question can hold his own in conversation for a while and otherwise seem at ease doesn't mean this sort of stuff isn't going on under the surface. Like all folks suffering health-related mental health issues, college students find ways to save face and get through the day, even if lived experience feels frequently off-putting, despite the presence of otherwise hot chicks nearby, etc. ;-) FWIW, the downside about the widely-held assumption of college students' "good health" is that it can prevent students or those who care about them from addressing these sort of underlying issues until after the college years, when the subtle effects of aging in early adulthood make folks more attune to their bodies and physical needs, at which point they start to deal more consciously with a host of health issues ignored during adolescence and the young adult years (witness many of the threads around here).

b) Individual Health (part #2): Building on the above, there are also more narrow aspects of health regarding sexual performance. Again, mainstream wisdom claims that college-aged men are at the height of virility and capacity for sexual performance, and while that's probably true overall, this assumption misses how health conditions can affect sexual performance for some college guys. Regardless of being horny and stimulated, there's still the matter of getting it up. Then, add to that the more limited range of experience which younger men will bring to bedroom activity, and thus the smaller pool of successful experience to overcome the times when the plumbing doesn't work perfectly, and it can be recipe for hesitance that extends beyond simply "getting up" the nerve, so to speak, to accept an invitation for a date. And also in this regard, the relative inexperience of college girls/women around this sort of thing can make them less than supportive, etc., with the result that only a few such incidents can be traumatic enough to put off such guys on the whole relationship thing at a deep level, despite how they might appear on the surface.

c) The "College Scene" (part #1): Youth culture during the college years can be fascinating to observe on a number of levels, not least the process through which relationships, intimate and otherwise, form among students, and equally so, how a more basic sense of community emerges that then allows those sorts of relationships to happen. Again, stereotypes and appearances look one way: there are all these young people around of approximately the same age who seem to share some obvious connections (exposure to a common popular culture, etc.); while lived experience can feel quite different, especially for the kinds of guys you've asked about: that is, feeling enough a part of this overall community such that romantic advances by another individual get construed as somehow plausible, appropriate, or even within the realm of possibility can be a challenge for certain sorts of college students (male or female). To clarify, here I'm not speaking of lack of social skill generally or ability to "pick up on hints," etc., as some have mentioned above. I'm not saying these folks suffer from Tourette's Syndrome or stuff like that (although a few might). Instead, it's a vaguer, more general sense of belonging or affiliation (or lack thereof) through which people decide how to make sense of the behaviors of those around them, particularly things like direct romantic advances. In everyday terms we often distinguish between "strangers" and "friends" without acknowledging the sorts of phases that need to happen in between to get from one category to the other (let alone to "prospective date"or eventually "significant other"). For a lot college students these phases of community affiliation occur without effort or awareness. But for others, like the kind of guys you bring up, this process can get derailed, at least partially. Unfortunately, the result isn't always or typically complete social isolation or alienation. In fact, it's possible, again, to get by quite competently in a range of superficial social encounters without ever bridging this gap and seeing oneself as belonging enough to conceive of the possibility that the pretty girl over there who's been in your calc classes the past three semesters, and is smiling suggestively even, might suddenly ask you out. From the mindset I'm describing here, that scenario can seem about as likely as having the pretty girl over there on the other end of the subway platform, who perhaps you've seen day after day for months or years but don't know at all otherwise, and who also might be smiling a bit at the moment, suddenly come up and ask you out. (Yes, I know, for some people, male or female, with certain personalities/temperaments, the subway example actually happens, but for those folks so does the calc class example as well, and needless to say these ain't the type of guys you asked about anyway.)

d) The "College Scene" (part #2): Finally, going along with the previous item, it's worth noting how precarious the social environment of college can be both overall and specifically for the sort of guys you bring up. That is, on many campuses, the types of options for "hanging out" that might function as activities for a date can be seem pretty limited/unappealing to these guys, especially if you rule out of the basic ingredients, like alcohol and such, that many college students take as a given. What I'm getting at here is not that these guys are too anxious to ask you out, or necessarily lack interest in you, but rather that they can struggle to imagine activities they'd be comfortable doing on a potential date ("I can't stand watching movies," "I *hate* video games," etc.). As you can guess, this one's probably lamest of all the factors I've described, since anyone with experience in the dating game knows that when you're with someone cool, it really doesn't matter what's going on; you're having fun just be around that person. But lack of experience can cause these basic misunderstandings of the process, as other have mentioned.

2. In general, at what point in their lives do these inexperienced guys who don’t date in college actually start a relationship?

Well, as far as the four factors I've mentioned, they can all potentially get resolved further on into post-college adulthood. With the health issues, simply getting a bit older, and less feeling immortal, can prompt folks to pay better attention to their habits and how they feel, thus perhaps leading to awareness of, then diagnosis and treatment of a whole range of conditions (again, see the many health-related threads the askme crowd, who probably skewed toward recent grads/20-somethings, from what I can tell, choose to post in. Additionally, while college can be challenging, sometimes it takes the daily grind of the work week to force better attention to basic health needs. With the social factors, again, the change in environment from campus to workplace can often help. That is, no matter how hard college work gets, the fundamental arrangement of things is such that students don't contribute in the same way that employees do (one group pays for the opportunity to work; the other gets paid to do so), which for some of kinds of geeky, awkward guys can make all the difference with breaking down that invisible barrier I described around forming a basic sense of community. When their work gets more tangibly valued by those around them post college, these guys sometimes get better at seeing themselves as part of a basic community out of which opportunities for more intense relations can be recognized. The last factor's a bit of a wild card, since it probably has something to do with general maturity, although, obviously, getting out of the superficial culture of the campus and into the mainstream adult world, where extreme age segregation breaks down, likely helps.

3. Being quite shy myself, what can I do to show these guys I’m interested without embarrassing myself or scaring them away?

Having said all this, there are a few things you might do. First, simply keep in mind that there may be factors in play affecting your interactions with this type of guy that have nothing to do with you (such as his health). Just knowing this if/when you have a less-than-successful encounter can go a long way to helping you cope with rejection. On a similar note, while some versions of shyness may result from basic matters of temperament/personality, you might consider whether your own version has any connection to some low-level, unacknowledged depression issues on your part. Not saying it does by any means, only that this factor can affect both ends of the interaction (his and yours). When it comes to the community thing, that's probably your best chance of intervening. Here I'd go with a different emphasis than some of the responders above: Instead of concentrating how/when to go about popping the question of an actual date, I'd put my effort and attention into conveying a general sense of belonging toward the guy in question long before you bring up a possible date, something I would agree with the consensus above that you will still need to do yourself, eventually. Well before that, however, comes the more important part: going out of your way distinguish yourself from the role of the pretty stranger on the subway platform in his mind and instead signal, repeatedly, that he's truly a part of your social circle, not by accident or circumstance, but because you really enjoy his presence in your life in the most causal, mundane but significant ways. (Yes, I know, most people don't need help with this kind of reenforcement, etc., but that's not who you asked about.) From there, at some point, your request for a date will seem much less surprising, shocking, and/or overwhelming, and thus more liking to be accepted. Finally, regarding the last factor, before it gets to point of planning the actual event of the date, do your homework about what he enjoys and, more importantly, doesn't so that you suggest potential activities he'll be comfortable with doing initially, at least until it finally strikes him that you're cool enough to enjoy doing anything with. Again, all this might seem like extra effort, but as you realized in raising your question, there can be real benefits with making this effort and hence getting a date with the type of guy who doesn't "ever date." Best of luck.
posted by 5Q7 at 11:52 PM on August 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm in my mid-20s now and I had some relationship experience in college, but this is still basically me. I don't think I actually asked a woman out until I was 24, and I still fret unduly over it.

1. Fear of rejection, embarrassment, humiliation. Fear of being seen as a creep or an a**hole who is only interested in sex. I think this is especially true when you're younger.

2. Well, to be honest, provided they have decent social skills outside dating, I think most guys who fit this description kind of fall into a relationship or two at some time or another. My relationships in high school and college all started out with a girl hanging out with me as a friend, until she eventually made it clear that she wanted something more.

3. Just ask them out! Seriously. Most men - even men who have no qualms about asking out women - are flattered when a woman asks them out, because it's so rare. Someone like this would probably even more flattered. Of course you could get rejected, but your odds of success are pretty high in a situation like this.

Also, 5Q7's description of low-level depression sounds a lot like me through much of college. I think people like this, while they may superficially buy into the "college lifestyle" (I certainly did my fair share of drinking during my college years) are often fundamentally dissatisfied with it and are sort of uncomfortable with the pointless hedonism of it all. My opinion of myself probably reach its' all-time low during my junior year of college. After I graduated, I started doing things and meeting more people and realizing that my relative lack of interest in hooking up with people did not make me some kind social freak. I still have trouble meeting women, but I have a much more positive outlook now than I did as a student. So, there may be a lot of resistance building up in these guys' minds, even if it is not apparent to you or to other people. It goes away, though.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:14 AM on August 29, 2011

1) He doesn't want to stand out as "that guy" who dates, while his other friends do not date.

2) He likes more than one woman and doesn't want to cause strife by choosing one over another.

3) He may be polyamorous, but may not be ready to put the lifestyle into practice

4) He may value group time more than focusing attention on one sole person

5) Someone else likes you, he's stepping aside to allow that someone to muster up the courage to ask you out.
posted by ayc200 at 2:46 PM on August 29, 2011

Oh my god just ask him out. You already know the answer to these questions - they're the answers YOU would give - and fixating on them is just giving you another excuse to avoid asking him out and justify your continued shyness. Seriously, it's not the end of the world to have someone turn you down.

Being one of these types, I confess to just being completely oblivious. I've had girls hit on me, make out with me all night, dance with me all night and I still will not clue in that they want to have sex. And hooking up is supposed to be simple in comparison to dating (which leads to me spending the night in the same bed without having sex because we're friends and that'd be awkward and not cluing in that she wanted to).
posted by buteo at 3:40 PM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

1. What are some reasons a guy (especially one in college) won’t ask someone out, even if he likes her.

For my case, there's the usual reasons: fear of rejection, lack of self-confidence, thinking one is too busy, and general apathy. But there's one reason I don't think anyone has brought up: Uncertainty of one's own feelings.

One of the things I learned about myself is a lot of the times when I start having a feeling about someone else, the feelings are fleeting. They come and go as they please, and are unreliable. Because they are unreliable, I don't act on my first impressions, nor second, or even third. Nowadays, when I start having a feeling of interest in someone I tell myself that it's merely a crush and it would be a waste of time to act on it now, when it might very well be the case that I don't have the same feeling in the future.

2. In general, at what point in their lives do these inexperienced guys who don’t date in college actually start a relationship?

I'll have to get back to you on it. The funny thing about aging is I don't feel things as intensely. It becomes easier to tell myself it's a crush and go on with my day. And it also is easier to dismiss since now there's more than studies going on in my life and I have a long laundry list of things to do both short term and long term.

3. Being quite shy myself, what can I do to show these guys I’m interested without embarrassing myself or scaring them away?

Yeah, that's tough. I guess I would say to spend time with them. All people respond well to attention. You probably will have to eventually ask them out, since they may not get the hint.
posted by FJT at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2011

A very broad question, but usually it's either fear, or knowledge that one of his friends is into you.
posted by hootenatty at 6:26 PM on August 30, 2011

1. What are some reasons a guy (especially one in college) won’t ask someone out, even if he likes her.

He has no money.
posted by oreofuchi at 9:46 AM on September 1, 2011

I'm the kind of guy the OP is talking about.


I'd say mostly "fear of rejection" technically describes it, but it's a mischaracterization. It's more of a rational decision for me than some irrational fear of rejection.

It's a decision process where you observe information about a person, and based on that information decide what you want to do. I could understand if a person had success in the past but for whatever reason fears rejection from a new person, even though that new person has displayed the same signals of interest in them as others had done in the past.

For me, it's like answering the question "why don't you spend your life's savings on lottery tickets?" Now, that's an extreme example, but it's the same mechanism with dating.

I've asked out girls who I thought were interested in me, but actually weren't. This has happened many times. So even if I like a woman I know from past experience that there is a low probability she would like me too, even if she's displaying some signals of attraction. And if the ones who would have the highest probability of liking me don't, what does that say about my chances with women who display fewer or less obvious signals?

Basically, the expected costs out-weight the expected benefits. I could go through life asking out every girl I had the least bit of attraction for, but I know that there is a low probability anything good would come of it.


I'm in my later half of my 20s and I have never been in a relationship, not for lack of trying.


If you've hung out with a guy, just the two of you, and it's more than just a few times I think there's a good chance he has some attraction. It wouldn't be unreasonable for you to bring up being more than friends.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:11 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

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