Same Old Story
November 22, 2011 6:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting some mixed signals from a girl, and have no idea what to do about it. Help me out?

I'm a 21 year old male in college, she's 19. We have a class together every Tuesday and Thursday.

Three weeks ago I asked her to lunch after class, and we spent a very entertaining hour and a half talking and flirting at a fairly casual restaurant near campus. Afterwards I walked her to her next class building, said goodbye. The next class, I asked if she would be interested in lunch again, or maybe dinner. She said she was exhausted from staying up all night writing a paper, but yes, she would at some later date. The next class, I ask again, and she is again busy, but still interested. Her exact words were "Don't give up on me, I'm just really busy right now." So, I've asked her to lunch roughly every class since then, and every time she has had something else to do. Three days ago, on the verge of giving up, I sent a text saying that since she is so busy, would she let me know when she is available to go out? She hasn't replied to this text, but she is known to be terrible about answering her phone in any way, shape or form.

Now, I'm aware that the time around Thanksgiving break is typically incredibly busy. Our initial date was actually right before a HUGE paper for our mutual class. And I know I've had more than my share of coursework these past few weeks in addition to that. But I'm still able to make time every day for lunch. Is she just not interested? Maybe she has trouble saying no? Maybe she is actually just busy? She hasn't explicitly said she wants to go out since she told me not to give up.

I have my suspicions, but am trying to act in good faith, and I like her enough to trust her. But I am about 100% oblivious when it comes to subtle hints about things like this. I'd love it if someone could help me out.
posted by TheMidnightHobo to Human Relations (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"I've asked her to lunch roughly every class since then"

No no no no. Please, don't do that. If I were you, I'd try again in mid-January. I realize that seems like a long way off, but everything gets hectic during the holidays.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:12 PM on November 22, 2011 [9 favorites]

"Don't give up on me, I'm just really busy right now."

I would usually say back off, but this is about as explicit as it gets and I don't think someone who has trouble saying no would go this far.

If I were you, I would wait until after Thanksgiving break and then ask in person one more time. If she says no again, then tell her, in person, "Okay, but next time you'll have to ask me!" Then leave it in her court.
posted by cairdeas at 6:12 PM on November 22, 2011 [10 favorites]

She said she's really busy right now, so I think you need to back off for a little bit. Asking over and over again is not going to help. See her in class, talk to her, e-mail about class or whatever, just stop bugging her about hanging out one-on-one. She might feel more excited about hanging out with you again if she doesn't feel like you're pushing her to do it. A little breathing room could allow things to grow.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:13 PM on November 22, 2011 [7 favorites]

Stop asking her. She knows you are interested; if she wants to hang out she will let you know. Maybe she is just crazy busy, or maybe she doesn't want to hang out with you, there is no way to know. Either way, the dignified approach is to back off and only proceed if the signals become clearly welcoming.
posted by Forktine at 6:17 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a similar experience with a girl. We went on one date shortly before Thanksgiving and hit it off. She forewarned me that the holidays were crazy for her but asked that I keep trying to make plans. I attempted to do so until right after New Years when I said "hey, I'd still love to hang out, let me know when you're free" and I never heard from her again. Such is life.

Hold off for now - attempting to make lunch dates after every class is overbearing. See if she can hang out during a holiday break or put the ball in her court to make plans with you after things have settled down.
posted by Diskeater at 6:17 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would just give up. Regardless of what she's said, the way she's acting is that she doesn't want to hang out. I don't care how bad someone is with the phone or with texting, if she wants to get together with you, she makes time for it, end of story.

I had a recent similar experience with someone. Went out in August, had a great time, ended the date on a high note, then it kind of just fizzled due to "busy schedules", and now it's done. It's the way things go sometimes.
posted by King Bee at 6:19 PM on November 22, 2011 [7 favorites]

Walk away.

She knows you're interested. You're about to peg yourself as desperate and/or annoying.
posted by pompomtom at 6:33 PM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

It sounds like she enjoys your attention, which is not necessarily a sign that she actually reciprocates your romantic interest. You've done a good job of conveying honestly that you want to date her, but now the ball is hers, and she will make it clear what she wants to do with it. Nthing the advice that it's time to back off... and if at all possible, try to minimize the time spent spinning your mental wheels in an effort to interpret her mixed signals or figure out what else you could maybe do or say. Backing off is really your only option now.
posted by argonauta at 6:37 PM on November 22, 2011

Back off. The ball's in her court.

From the bit of info, I think she is interested but busy. This is the busiest time of year for students right now, after all. I'm in school, and I'm dating a guy who's in a master's program (he is busier than me). Even when there's continuing interest and we've seen each other every weekend for almost 2 months, I frequently question his interest level because he doesn't text me back for hours/days. Last week, I just decided not to text him, and he originated spending time together on Sunday.

My thinking on it is if she really is interested, and you suddenly stop paying any attention to her, she'll notice this and start paying more attention to you. If she's mediocre, or not interested, she probably won't do anything with it.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:43 PM on November 22, 2011

Yeah, definitely back off. This sounds like what I went through last winter with a girl - she initially asked me out and made most of the moves, then I started pressing asking her out every few days and eventually pushed her away.
posted by mannequito at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2011

Yeah, I'd say if you ask too many more times you're just going to look desperate. She has your contsct information too, from what it sounds like. Wait until after the holidays and then say "If you ever want to have lunch, the offer's on the table. Hope you're doing well." THEN if she has "time" or interest, she's sure to hit you up. Good luck!
posted by camylanded at 6:47 PM on November 22, 2011

If she is anything like me, she may be interested but so busy that she just can't commit to hanging out right now. Especially this close to the end of the semester where studying will take up a majority of her time/headspace and the thought of adding a new person to this mix might be a little overwhelming with everything else going on. Like suggested above, wait until the winter break to ask her to hang out again.
posted by littlesq at 7:03 PM on November 22, 2011

It sounds like she enjoys your attention, which is not necessarily a sign that she actually reciprocates your romantic interest.

Yeah, when I was a 19-year-old girl I was just getting over lifelong crippling shyness, so talking to guys was OMG I'M TALKING TO A GUY. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm led one guy to believe I was interested in him, when I wasn't. But I felt guilty about outright rejecting him, so whenever he asked me out I was always "busy". Then my guilt turned to irritation because the guy just wouldn't give up. I eventually moved out of the area and passive-aggressively unfriended him on Facebook.

All of that reflects badly on me, I know. My point is, are you guys chatting at all besides you asking her out to lunch? Texting about anything else? If she's shutting down all avenues of communication, then yeah, you should hang low for a while. Reach out to her next semester when you don't have class together and see what happens.
posted by book 'em dano at 7:10 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is she telling the truth? I don't know her, and really, neither do you. But I have been to college and grad school, and I have worked 70 hour weeks and 240 hour months, and I think that it's possible to find an hour for lunch with someone you want to see.

It doesn't really matter. When you sent her that text, you placed the ball squarely in her court. Maybe you can try again one more time in January, but until then, no. Even if she is interested, persisting now would be a bad idea.

So if you can, hold off and wait but absolutely do nothing for now. If you need closure for your own sanity, give it to yourself and say she's not interested. If she comes back later, that's either a nice surprise or something irrelevant because you won't care anymore. Sorry dude -- this sucks.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:14 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she's a catch, there's only one thing to do. Keep it up. Good things take persistence. If she isn't interested, she'll tell you as much at some point. Or you'll get burnt out pursuing her. If you can do better, then don't waste your time.
posted by tenaciousd at 7:16 PM on November 22, 2011

I think she's saying, "You're really sweet and funny and there's no reason for me to NOT want to hang out with you, but there's no spark and I don't have the time/energy/interest to invest in cultivating one right now."

Lay off, be friendly when you encounter her but make it clear you're giving her her space, and call her in January. Email or text--she's been hedging in her answers, and it would be a kindness to not put her on the spot. If she says she's busy again, let it go. It just means she hasn't learned how to say "no, but I'm flattered" yet. It's a very hard thing for girls to learn.
posted by elizeh at 7:39 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a two invitation rule. If she turns you down twice in a row, even if she seems like she may be interested, I let it go. At this point she knows you're interested.

If she really is interested but just busy right now, she'll say "hey I've got more free time now let's get that dinner" when she's got more free time. Otherwise, you're saving yourself a lot of headache: lots of people that age won't turn you down flat, and "busy" might be her attempt to let you down easy.
posted by auto-correct at 7:42 PM on November 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

This is one of those super-confusing moments when, against everything your friends and movies have ever suggested, a woman is saying exactly what she means.

Follow her advice on how to ask her out. Wait.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:13 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The ball's in her court. I would not ask her again. She knows how to find you if she ever has the time and desire to hang out again.
posted by whitelily at 8:14 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Hi. I know I've asked you out a bunch of times, I know you said you're busy. I'm gonna leave the ball in your court. If you ever want to hang out again, let me know, but otherwise I'm just gonna take it as a no and say it was nice knowing you. Cool?"
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 PM on November 22, 2011

Agree with others that "don't give up on me" is not something that someone just trying to be polite would say.

On the other hand, people sometimes lose interest unfortunately. So while I agree with the person who said try again in mid-January, I'd say so with a caveat: Judge the waters first (metaphor mixing FTW!). When you interact with her in class, see if she remains flirty or at least chatty with you. If so, then, yeah, mid-January. I know that's a long time to wait but it will keep you from seeming desperate, which is a big turn-off and I hope that hasn't happened already.

But if she does seem gregarious to you then, then go for it!
posted by mreleganza at 2:45 AM on November 23, 2011

"Don't give up on me, I'm just really busy right now."

This doesn't sound like a brush-off. Another vote for dropping it for now, then asking her again a few weeks into January (after the holiday season has settled, before any big deadlines loom). If she still isn't able to make time, walk away. After all, do you really want a relationship with someone who is so rarely able to carve out time for you?
posted by metaBugs at 3:04 AM on November 23, 2011

As someone who's been in this situation too many times before (and generally stuffed it up), there are a number of ways to read the situation, all of which conclude with leaving it be for a while, and waiting either for her to get in contact with you, until enough time has passed that you can causally suggest catching up without it seeming like you're pestering her every few days or every week or however often it is you have classes together.

Anyway, in my experience one of several things is going on (some other people have already mentioned above):

1) She is interested, but is also quite busy. That she "Don't give up on me..." is a good sign of this, but pestering her isn't going to make her less busy, but will make you potentially seem pushy and needy. In addition, if your original date was right before a big paper, perhaps she didn't go as well as she thought she would so is doubling down on working hard, and putting social concerns on the back burner.

2) She is interested, but also kind of shy or a little inexperienced with dating. Too much pressure will just push her away.

3) She isn't all that interested, but either a) doesn't want to hurt your feelings or b) doesn't know how to deal with your attention in a confident manner and is hoping it might just go away if she keeps stalling or c) likes you as a person but not romantically and isn't sure how to confidently communicate that. In any case, continuing to press her for a date will be counter-productive.

4) She isn't all that interested, but she likes the attention (who doesn't). It can be hard to tell some times, but again, if this is the case she's unlikely to respond positively to frequent requests for a further date.

There are any number of other possibilities (people have things going on at times that get in the way), but these have all been ones I've come across more than once, and made a fool out of myself over.

In the end, it sounds a bit like you're putting a little too much pressure on her, which will either not work or actually backfire, but will also diminish your own dignity. You've made it clear that your interested, the ball's in her court - stay friendly but play it cool.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:42 AM on November 23, 2011

And FWIW, I'm in a not dissimilar situation atm, so I'll be waiting and seeing as well
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:01 AM on November 23, 2011

Years of experience with rejection and game-playing have taught me, time and again, that it always pays to remember the Ryan Reynolds* Rule.

Any time you get a questionable, excuse-ridden rejection (i.e. anything more complicated than a direct "no"), immediately ask yourself, "If I were Ryan Reynolds*, would the excuse still seem valid?" If yes, the excuse is probably legit. If no, then they're not into you, and you should move on.

Another useful indicator is that when someone *is* into you, but busy when you ask, they will almost always attempt to (definitively) reschedule, ala "Oh, I can't do lunch today, but how about Tuesday?"

So, in your case, she gave vaguely-plausible-but-abstract "I'm busy" answers, and also didn't try to reschedule. Move on, my friend.

*replace Ryan Reynolds with appropriately "hot" and correctly-gendered celebrity of your choice
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:03 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

She's jerking you around. If she were even vaguely interested but busy she would suggest alternatives. She likes the attention, doesn't want you to stop but doesn't intend to take it further, move on.
posted by epo at 4:46 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is what I love about AskMeFi - the directness of the answers is so refreshing. Anyway, I think I've got about the gist of it: leave her alone, and perhaps stop being so damn clueless. Thanks all! :)
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 6:09 AM on November 23, 2011

It doesn't sound like a brush-off, but please don't keep asking her to lunch. I've been in this situation and the more persistent a guy is, the more stressed out I get. Each additional time you asked me to lunch would stress me out a bit more and honestly I would probably start avoiding you because I knew you were going to ask me to lunch after class. Give her some breathing room, otherwise you could go from being her nice friend that she may want to date to that annoying guy who can't take a hint.
posted by fromageball at 7:55 AM on November 23, 2011

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