How do I get over myself and ask someone if they are interested?
March 13, 2012 10:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm a great, funny guy. I'm decent looking. I end up friends with everyone I want to date because I don't want to be "that guy" and make them feel uncomfortable by making some stupid, awkward "move". Thoughts?

I like being someone that she can talk to, but I _also_ want to be someone she wants in, uhh, other ways. I feel, in retrospect, that I've disappointed more than one person by NOT making a move (in fact, I've been told that specifically). But how do I know the right time? I don't want to lose a friend, and I don't want to make them feel like they don't want to hang out with me, or that they can no longer be honest and open with me.

I fall back on "well, they could make the first move, too" quite often. I was raised by and around strong, smart, amazing women. I don't hold to cultural preconceptions that the man's role is to have conquests or anything stupid like that. But by abdicating that role completely, which I do, I'm putting ALL of the responsibility to start something with her, which is also unfair. And, it turns out, largely unproductive. Surely there's some middle ground, right?

Gah!
posted by peripatetic007 to Human Relations (63 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
When your into one of your friends, dont try to hide it from them. Ask them out once explicitly, and then either you guys laugh it off, or you hit it off.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 10:18 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It happens every time I meet someone new, too. I can't bring myself to "hit on" anyone. Am I afraid it's disrespectful? I don't know.
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:25 PM on March 13, 2012


What do you mean by "making a move"? Are we talking the cheesy 50's "yawn and stretch and put your arm around her shoulders hoping you'll touch a boob" move? Or the "we're both laughing and smiling, lean in and kiss her" move?

Do you feel you're bad at reading body language or picking up on subtle hints a girl might be dropping, so you can't quite tell if your feelings are reciprocated?

Have you ever tried telling the object of your affections you're kinda maybe into them or asking them out on a date or anything?

I guess it'd be helpful to know what you're thinking of as "making a move" or "hitting on" someone.
posted by erst at 10:28 PM on March 13, 2012


Well, no, I never thought about using the old movie yawn-and-stretch move. The most honest approach would be to simply say that I was interested in being more than friends. Or for a new acquaintence, just saying that I find her attractive. But I always hesitate. A lot. Then some more. Then we're friends. Which is great! Except for, you know.

Am I just being really effing old-fashioned?
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:32 PM on March 13, 2012


I like being someone that she can talk to, but I _also_ want to be someone she wants in, uhh, other ways.

Talk about sex!

Honesty and openness are just one of several important factors in concocting hot, ravishing sex.

More seriously, it's ok to respect and admire a person's physical qualities just like it's great when you respect and admire their less tangible qualities. If you find yourself praising your friend for their kindness or sensibility, use the opportunity to praise other parts of them too. Something more... within reach.
posted by carsonb at 10:33 PM on March 13, 2012


acquaintance. spellcheck fail.
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:33 PM on March 13, 2012


You make it not uncomfortable with a friend by allowing an out.

"Hey, friend, I've been feeling lately like we could really be good together, so I was wondering if you felt the same way and wanted to go out on a date sometime soon? But no worries if it's just me - if you're not into it, let me know now and I'll put you firmly back into the friend column."

And then you hear what they have to say, and if it's anything other than setting up a date, you move on.

As for with new people - what do you have to lose? I'm a woman and I often wait for men to make the first move because I've found that I'm attracted to that type of assertiveness in a partner. I've also asked men out, and while I've had less successful results, I'd do it again if it felt right. And new people have loads of built-in outs, so you just have to summon the courage to put it out there.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:33 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"summon the courage."

Indeed. That's the heart of the issue. I'm very confident in many ways. Not this one.
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:37 PM on March 13, 2012


Thoughts?

Fear of rejection. The only solution is to put yourself out there.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:38 PM on March 13, 2012


If rejection means losing a friend, then yes, that's what I fear.
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:42 PM on March 13, 2012


If you like yourself, this would not be a problem. I used to have this problem.

You are cool and deserve someone to date. Therefore, if you ask someone out, at the worst they'll just say no and their loss. The other result is a date.

Seriously, this is a self esteem issue not anything else. LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE.

If you need more self esteem help, sorry bud, consider therapy.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:48 PM on March 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


And this has nothing to do with being old fashioned. You need to learn that rejection is not a thing to fear. The thoughts in your mind where you'll never know about a lot of people is far, far worse than someone saying honestly "No, sorry." after you ask them or if the scene is appropriate move to kiss them.

Hint when the scene is appropriate: you are alone, having a good time and she is within 1.5-2 feet while you're talking. I don't get that close to people unless I want to kiss them.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


@OnTheLastCastle: I understand why you say that. But it really doesn't feel that simple. I can live with being rejected. What I can't live with is making someone uncomfortable so that they don't want to be friends anymore. Maybe I'm just fooling myself.
posted by peripatetic007 at 10:53 PM on March 13, 2012


What worked for me was OKCupid. With online dating, you at least know that you're on a date and that it's going to be OK for you to be into someone. I needed that unambiguous context to be able to relax about the situation and speak my mind. Didn't fix it totally but close enough that I actually found my life partner that way. She was able to tolerate my awkwardness. :-)
posted by Scientist at 10:55 PM on March 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


If rejection means losing a friend, then yes, that's what I fear.

Think of it this way -- if your interest level in a person would decrease if they start dating someone else, and I can't imagine this not happening if you are secretly harboring romantic feelings for them, then you are not being a good friend to them.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:57 PM on March 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


It is that simple, dude. Trust. Me.

Anyway, you shouldn't want to fuck your friends. Sorry to be crude but in the middle of the venn diagram of Fun People / Similar Interests / People I Want to Bone is PEOPLE I WANT TO DATE. Or as I like to think of it: my partner is who I have emotional/mental AND physical connection with and my friends are those who I have emotional and mental connections with. I should not give it any thought if my friends have relationships or consider what I would do in a relationship in regards to my friends.

Think of it this way -- if your interest level in a person would decrease if they start dating someone else, and I can't imagine this not happening if you are secretly harboring romantic feelings for them, then you are not being a good friend to them.

Also this. And keep in mind that IF YOU ARE COOL (and I'm sure you are, dogg) then someone not wanting to date you is not your fault. IT IS THEIR LOSS.

Again, I am positive and I seldom am, that this is a self esteem issue. "Not wanting to lose the friendship" is just a cover. I'm sorry to be so blunt.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regarding what "vegartanipla" said: IMHO, that won't work. I'm certain that for 99% of people (of either sex), if someone for whom they have no romantic feelings tells them "I'm into you", they will not be able to carry on as platonic friends as if the event never happened. As humans, we all know that romantic feelings can't be turned on and off like checkboxes in a spreadsheet.

To the OP: I was you 20 years ago. In my humble opinion, here's the single most important lesson I can relate: when you feel that fear, remind yourself that there are more fish in the sea than the one before you. If you feel sufficiently strongly about someone to think about asking for a date, and the attempt fails, it's okay. Unless you're living on a very small island, there will be other opportunities in the future. Treat opportunities as experiments, and keep experimenting and learning. It will make you a better partner in the future, when you eventually find someone you want to stay with. (Note: not "the one", that damaging fantasy perpetuated by Hollywood and book authors everywhere, but someone.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


@Scientist -- good tip. That may be the best way to put myself out there.

@eddydamascene -- I'm not sure why I'm not being a good friend to them. I can't be a good friend to someone that I am also attracted to? In most cases, throughout my life, I am happy if my friends find someone that makes them happy. Maybe there's a twinge of disappointment that it wasn't me, but that goes away when I remember that I never asked. Not sure that's me being a bad friend.

@OnTheLastCastle: I appreciate your input. But just to clarify -- it isn't that I want to "fuck my friends" -- it's that EVERYONE I meet becomes my friend. I'm very friendly. Too friendly. And then we're friends.
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:07 PM on March 13, 2012


@StrawberryPie: "they will not be able to carry on as platonic friends as if the event never happened" -- that' my concern EXACTLY.
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:08 PM on March 13, 2012


Oh, there is one other thing. Having a crush on every person of the sex you're attracted to is immaturity and/or loneliness. Probably loneliness. It's not healthy or an accurate reading. So if that's happening, you'll in all likelihood deal with that best by getting a relationship. (no idea if this is happening to you, just an FYI)

You might think that you're a unique snowflake, but I'm pretty sure we're giving you this advice because we have been that person in the past. I'm certainly not trying to insult or belittle you, I just understand the question very well. I hope you don't think I'm trying to condescend to you.

Life is so wonderful! So many opportunities! I regret a little each time I was afraid. I'm only 28, but it has been quite the long road from shy, shy, shy, shy, horribly anxious kid to who I am today.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:08 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can't have an open and honest friendship with someone if that honesty only goes one way. It's great you want women to be open and honest with you, but that means as well that you ought to be open and honest in return...and that includes honesty about your true feelings toward her.
posted by psycheslamp at 11:08 PM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, try using a dating site. Then you'll both know what's what. Developing serial secret crushes is not working out for you.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:10 PM on March 13, 2012


You said:
If rejection means losing a friend, then yes, that's what I fear.
and
I can't bring myself to "hit on" anyone. Am I afraid it's disrespectful?

Look at it this way. Is it respectful and friendly to hide your feelings from someone you're attracted to, thus not allowing them to make their own decision about whether or not they want to continue a relationship with you?

If we were living in a Victorian novel, maybe that could be seen as respectful, but in the modern world, secretly pining for your female "friend" while pretending you're not attracted to her in order to keep hanging out with her feels kind of dishonest.
posted by erst at 11:12 PM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


@OnTheLastCastle: No insult or condescension felt. No worries. It's not that I'm attracted to everyone, of course. It's just that even if I am, I don't ever act on it. Also, "serial secret crushes" is a great band name. =)

@psycheslamp: That's an excellent point. I pride myself on being honest, and yet in this context I hide my feelings.
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:13 PM on March 13, 2012


If you are a good person, then hitting on / asking someone out is the opposite of disrespectful. It is showing your regard for them. So, self esteem.

And yeah, good band name. :)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:15 PM on March 13, 2012


@erst: similar point to psycheslamp, and just as accurate.
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:15 PM on March 13, 2012


If you're hot for someone, let them know you think they're cute. Get close, pick personal topics; but also take clues and read body language. Ask explicitly if you are unsure. Don't be fake-friends.

If you're hot for everyone, it's not about them.
posted by ead at 11:18 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, from experience as a woman, it's weird and awkward to discover that your good friend's been harboring a secret crush on you for months. Secrets are awkward. Secrets end friendships.

It's not weird and awkward for a guy you've hung out with a few times to ask you on a date...and then continue on as before when you say no. Because at that point, they're not so much romantic feelings as just potential romantic feelings, and contra StrawberryPie, they do tend to turn themselves off when they don't get encouragement.
posted by psycheslamp at 11:20 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


tl;dr Make the move.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:23 PM on March 13, 2012


Responding to a few now (you people are great!), it's not that I'm hot for everyone, or that I want to sleep with all of my friends. It's not that I harbor secret crushes. Like psycheslamp points out, it turns out that for me those kinds of feelings "tend to turn themselves off when they don't get encouragement." So, I hang out with new people, and even if I am attracted to them I don't move on it. Then, after a little while, I get over the initial attraction and we really DO become friends. Almost all of my close friendships have started this way (I have way more female friends than male). In only two cases that I can think of has the sexual attraction not gone away, but that might be partly because I moved away from those two people before we had a chance to spend a lot of time together as friends.

So, I truly value the friendships I have with women to whom I was once attracted. To be clear, it's not that they are no longer attractive, objectively -- it's that I really can be honest friends with women once the initial attraction is over. By this point, the ones I've been friends with for years know that I had an early crush on them -- and some have admitted that it was reciprocated way back when. And then we laugh about it, and there's no awkwardness at all, because we are such good friends now. Also, they're all married, because they are AWESOME and someone else was smarter than me.

The problem is that I follow this pattern with EVERYONE. I don't know if it's "not working for me" -- I gain great friends this way. I don't want to lose what could potentially be a good long-term friend by doing something that would turn them off. And let me respond for you: "if being honest with them about your feelings turns them off and they no longer want to be your friend, then they are unworthy and wouldn't have become one of these long-term awesome friendships anyway." And you are right to say that -- but, unfortunately, as much as I understand this intellectually, I still just. can't. bring myself to broach the topic.

I don't know. Therapy?
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:39 PM on March 13, 2012


Clarification: "Almost all of my close friendships have started this way" is probably an overstatement. Perhaps "a few of my close friendships and many more not-as-close-but-still-lasting friendships" is more accurate.
posted by peripatetic007 at 11:49 PM on March 13, 2012


I think it's awesome that you've abdicated the male role. I can also see how that could make you see all females as your comrades, and it's hard to give the sexy eyes to your comrades.
A few ideas of what you could do:

1) try to meet females outside of your friends group, so that you only interact with them one-on-one. This gives you the chance to ASK THEM OUT ON A DATE. If they go on a date with you, they know that you want to be more than friends.

2) There are certain ways to convey that you are attracted to someone without coming out and saying it. Eye contact, touching, compliments, ... alcohol can help :)

3) Is it possible that you haven't met someone yet for whom the attraction was strong enough that you couldn't ignore it until you became friends? Real sexual tension is hard to ignore. Even though you don't base your identity largely on gender (is it safe to say that?), you still probably have specific personal preferences when it comes to women (hair colour? height? size? body type?) what kind of women do you find physically irresistible? It seems like you do not know how to choose who you like. Maybe try to figure that out first?

on preview, what ead said.
posted by costanza at 12:08 AM on March 14, 2012


Do you end up hanging out with these girls one on one? You don't have to be a creep to think of things in terms of a testing the waters-- hanging out alone, sitting close together, seeing how she responds to casual, friendly touch. If she's into you the intensity has a way of ratcheting up, and if she's not she'll probably give you the benefit of the doubt? I think what separates a good friend from a disrespectful guy is the guy who just keeps trying & harboring secret hopes despite no reciprocation (ending in bitterness, nice guy-ism, &c.)

I was just talking about this with a friend of mine who said that feminism in particular was making her lose her game. Basically, she realized that she was saying things like "you have great fashion sense" instead of "you look really great/cute/pretty!" I think that saying things like the latter 1) lets them know you're interested and 2) is just a nice self-esteem boost, even if they aren't interested.

You sound like a genuinely cool guy, so maybe just taking the initiative to hang out alone on "date-ish" activities is a good first step. If you're already doing that, try giving flirtatious compliments (like above) or, yeah, being physically close. Baby steps. If I'm new friends with a guy and he tells me I look pretty when we meet up, I'm almost always sure that he's interested in more than friendship. (But if I'm not, it's easy to say "thanks!" and not respond flirtatiously.)

Some people take a talk-ier route than others (clarifying if a hang out is a date, for instance), and others just let the physical interaction & flirting speak for itself. Either way is fine, depending on what you find works. If I think about this in retrospect, if I hang out with a guy and we have tons in common that might just be friendship. But if he seems to really take it to heart and make me feel special, things tend to go further. Showing a special interest is really key (inviting her to things, talking to her a lot in groups and at parties, laughing at her jokes and watching to see if she laughs at yours and makes eye contact, and soooo many other signals.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:11 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Building on what costanza said, if you meet a girl and you really think "wow! this chick is cool!" embrace that. Let it be kind of obvious from the get-go. I find it really flattering and attractive when a guy is clearly... honed in on me? Like, responds to what I say, remembers things about me, listens a little more closely and is a little more probing than one would be with any old acquaintance. (Okay, using the words "honed in" and "probing" are probably going to bite me in the butt here.)

Also, it seems silly, but if you're younger a little playful teasing is always a good sign (tons of people think I flirt with everybody, men and women, because I'm naturally tease-y, despite being a heterosexual woman). It's kind of funny, but letting yourself get willfully wrapped up in another person (despite knowing there are plenty of fish in the sea) is a great part of the initial romance. And as always, if you lack courage, fake it 'til you make it! Believe that you're a respectful, cool, attractive guy (which I bet you are, if you're good at making female friends & they often crush on you.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:21 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You remind me of me back in high school and college.

1. Agree with psycheslamp and erst that you should be feeling some guilt over keeping this a secret, because you're not actually keeping it a secret for "noble" reasons (aka: fearing to make someone uncomfortable, protecting the damsel from your disrespectful desires) but for selfish reasons. (Oh no, what if she goes away and stops talking to me and being my friend). Getting that straight with yourself should help.

2. If you have as many friends as you claim, and make friends as easily as you claim, the loss of one shouldn't be a problem for you. And don't twist this and say "but I'm depriving them of my friendship" because if someone pulls away from you, they've already done the calculation and decided they don't need it. This is about your fear of loss for yourself, only.

3. What I did back when I was in your position was joke around and flirt before making any bold declarations. That's sort of the purpose of flirting. It's not dishonorable or anything like that- it's an acceptable way to suss out people's intentions. Do you know how to flirt and joke in a somewhat plausibly deniable manner? Are you using eye contact and touch and lighthearted banter? For example, once I said something like, "We'd make a good couple" with a smile and she said "Nah," and we laughed and that was that. There are ways to do this.
posted by quincunx at 12:24 AM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


@eddydamascene -- I'm not sure why I'm not being a good friend to them.

If your interest level in a person would decrease if they started dating someone else, and I can't imagine this not happening if you are secretly harboring romantic feelings for them, then you are not being a good friend to them.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:00 AM on March 14, 2012


I don't want to lose what could potentially be a good long-term friend by doing something that would turn them off

It might help you to think that your goal isn't to get her to say yes to your "move". It's to discover if a mutual interest exists, because if there's no mutual interest, nothing will happen. So long as you don't act in ways that make her feel pressured or manipulated into saying yes when she doesn't want to, it's unlikely that the mere asking will be an active turn-off.
posted by psycheslamp at 1:01 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You also remind me of me back in high school and college.

Making friends is a positive outcome, but it's also a way to justify not making a move. Asking someone out makes you vulnerable; if they say no, it stings. At least in my case and I suspect in yours, I would invent all kinds of excuses why I couldn't ask someone out in order to protect myself from the possible pain. (They're probably not interested; they probably have a boyfriend; they are going to laugh at me; they must get asked out all the time and it would be rude of me; I'll say it next time; ... and then oops, it's now too late, and we're friends, oh well.) I got teased a lot as a kid, this was probably part of it.

You have to face this and do the hard work, but you may not have to make yourself as vulnerable as you fear. Flirting, when done right, is a set of slowly escalating states of shared understanding, each one ambiguous enough so that both parties can plausibly deny if ever happened. Because people don't LIKE rejecting other people; it's awkward and it makes them vulnerable too. Instead if you tease one another and are laughing and maybe briefly touching one another on the arm and lingering with the eye contact, you won't even need to ask someone out; it will be tacitly understood and both of you will find ways to spend time with the other.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:10 AM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I agree that this is likely a self-esteem issue. You sound tense and unsure of yourself.

But I also think there's another missing piece here; you're making it about asking someone out or "hitting on them" and that's not all it is. You need to create an environment within which asking someone out makes sense. When you have that tension and electricity between two people that is allowed to buzz, it almost doesn't matter who asks who out, or if anyone does. Things will progress in that direction. I am guessing that you're becoming platonic friends with girls because they don't feel the buzzing of your sexual energy (sorry, can't think of a less corny way to express this at 2 AM), not simply because you wait for them to ask you out. So, even if you can't bring yourself to do the asking, at least try to relax and be your full self around girls you like, including having sexual thoughts, doing some (appropriate) touching, and letting yourself buzz.
posted by parrot_person at 1:57 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who has always had a tendency to let myself get wrapped up in conversations with others, sort of naturally seeking out more mental/emotional connection (and so utterly missing more subtle kinds of flirting/pick-ups), I tend to snap to the moment the other person initiates touch (particularly early on in the acquaintance and before I have initiated it).
Regardless of how intellectually interested I am in their thoughts on city-wide recycling (or whatever), if they are delivered while deliberately reaching out to touch me (like sliding a hand over to gently tick off their points on my forearm), then my brain is either suddenly perfused with all kinds of nice 'wow, mother-may-I?' hormones and I lean in and invite more, or I carefully extricate myself from the situation by closing off my body language or redirecting. When you're new with people, touching for no real reason is a big statement.
posted by rumposinc at 2:32 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Hey, peripatetic007, moderator here. Ask Metafilter isn't really meant to be a discussion space where the poster responds to every comment. Just relax and read the advice and choose what makes sense to you. You can answer direct questions or clear up misunderstandings, but you are over-responding at this point – and chatting in the thread is definitely discouraged here. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:28 AM on March 14, 2012


But how do I know the right time?

The right time is early, when you feel a spark, but rejection won't burn like a mofo, and you wouldn't give your heart to a girl who's not interested in you and a knife to cut it with.

Early, when you can just say, "Hey, Doris, I have a good time hanging out with you, and I think you're awesome, do you wanna go on a date?" And Doris can then reply "Yeah sure", or "Nah, I'm good, thanks." And you're pretty cool either way cause you were just testing the water.

The wrong time is when you've already dived in and you're drowning. I feel that your equivocations about losing friends and respecting girls and whatnot are a facade masking your fear of rejection and public or semi-public social shame. Once you get knocked back a few times, and nothing much happens, those fear will pass.

Addendum: Are you crushing on the right girls? When I was a much younger boy, I used to get crushes on girls that were just not the right girls. They may have been hot or smart as shit, but either a) we had nothing in common, really b) We had things in common but I was SO not the type of guy they would ever be attracted to in a million years, or c) they were girls that just like to have a small collection (sometimes just one!) of guys trailing after them like they were an oasis mirage in the desert.

A real revelation to me as I got older was that - for me at any rate - girls I'm friends with and friendly with, are a great place - the best place - to start thinking of a serious relationship. Smoke the Younger, used to split his many female acquaintances into two categories; girls he was friends with, and girls he wanted to date. A grievous error. The "date" girls would have been the most unsuitable girlfriends for me, and were largely uninterested besides. Instead of gauging interest, and pulling back, I would hang about like a bad smell in the vain hope that my gallimaufry of characteristics and talents would reveal itself one day, and lo! They would see what they had been missing.

The girls were smarter than me. They saw what they had been missing and didn't miss it. Being friends or having me as a pet monkey was satisfying enough for them. I should have kept my powder dry, moved on to girls who showed some sign of being romantically - if not interested at least - open to me. And I should have done it before I cared too much and it became a huge deal to ask someone out.

Certainly, it's in my nature to make it somewhat of a huge deal - emotionally - it's just the way I am. But as I got older and my confidence grew, and I started getting a better lock on what was romantic interest and what was just interest, I became better at protecting myself, before I even got to asking someone out.

Finally, if they are a good person, and a true friend, they will let you down gently. Had it done to me, and done it myself; it's not so hard and you won't smart that much, I promise. You may find the closure more satisfying. Good luck.

PS I can only assume you're going after available girls. If not, you need to seriously check yourself, and they are under no obligation to be letting down gently, good friend or no.
posted by smoke at 3:31 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


>>What I can't live with is making someone uncomfortable so that they don't want to be friends anymore.

Yeah, this is what internet dating was made for. Get on Match. Try to date people you're not friends with first. The concern about trying to change the nature of your relationship (and potentially lose a friendship) goes away.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:43 AM on March 14, 2012


Alll excellent answers above. I just wanted to reemphasize this point:

You say that making a move is "most honest approach would be to simply say that I was interested in being more than friends".

That is not the best approach! Gauge her interest first (flirt, make her feel special) THEN say you're interested in being more than friends. See:

That's sort of the purpose of flirting. It's not dishonorable or anything like that- it's an acceptable way to suss out people's intentions. Do you know how to flirt and joke in a somewhat plausibly deniable manner?

AND

Flirting, when done right, is a set of slowly escalating states of shared understanding, each one ambiguous enough so that both parties can plausibly deny if ever happened. Because people don't LIKE rejecting other people; it's awkward and it makes them vulnerable too. Instead if you tease one another and are laughing and maybe briefly touching one another on the arm and lingering with the eye contact, you won't even need to ask someone out; it will be tacitly understood and both of you will find ways to spend time with the other.

AND

You need to create an environment within which asking someone out makes sense. When you have that tension and electricity between two people that is allowed to buzz, it almost doesn't matter who asks who out, or if anyone does.


AND

Regardless of how intellectually interested I am in their thoughts on city-wide recycling (or whatever), if they are delivered while deliberately reaching out to touch me (like sliding a hand over to gently tick off their points on my forearm), then my brain is either suddenly perfused with all kinds of nice 'wow, mother-may-I?' hormones and I lean in and invite more, or I carefully extricate myself from the situation by closing off my body language or redirecting. When you're new with people, touching for no real reason is a big statement.
posted by moiraine at 4:23 AM on March 14, 2012


It's time for action. I have two words for you: Eye Contact. Next girl, hold it for ten seconds longer than you would with a friend ... or be bold and go for twenty seconds if you want to get busy sooner. Seriously. Just do it. It will take you out of the friend zone instantly, and may have the side benefit of revealing her interest in you right away OR tipping things in your favor. It's easy, it works, women understand it. If you can not bring yourself to do the Eye Contact thing with someone you are attracted to, maybe yes, therapy.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:38 AM on March 14, 2012


Also, online dating and therapy? Excellent suggestions in theory, but I'm guessing that the real crux of your problem is not that you have a lack of attractive women in your life (sounds like you have too many, be more picky!!), but rather, is that you don't know the practical nature of getting from attractive women you don't date ---> attractive women whom you are dating.

You could be all super-formal and serious about this, by
1) Laying out your deep and earnest feelings on the ground in front of her
2) Wait for her to reciprocate, or not

or you could be like 90% of the world, and gauge her interest first before you do steps (1) and (2).
posted by moiraine at 4:58 AM on March 14, 2012


How do I get over myself...


Therapy.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:05 AM on March 14, 2012


How do I get over myself...


Therapy.


Therapy is especially useful especially for people who have fairly-heavy emotional problems and need to be taught the theory of the human condition. You sound fine to me, except for the propensity to overanalyze and overthink situations. Therapy won't help with this, because all therapy doesn't provide you a well-lit action plan, it only helps you analyze and think through situations. Which you appear to do well enough of, anyway. Just go out there, practice. Flounder a bit, risk getting hurt -- it'll get better and it's the only way to learn, I promise.
posted by moiraine at 5:15 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If rejection means losing a friend, then yes, that's what I fear.

Then "make a move" before you become "friends" with this person.

Contra people of the sort mentioned in this thread, someone you just met at a party or through someone else you know is not a "friend."

To be blunt, you sound kind of socially insecure (I don't mean this in a bad way)-- like possibly you're really introverted, don't know when you'll have a chance to interact with someone socially again, so you cling to any social interaction/attention you can "get" with someone, even if it's being friends. What you have to do is cultivate a secure social circle you feel comfortable with that has nothing to do with dating. At the same time, cultivate social interactions that are more about people you're attracted to and pursue them in that context.

You meet someone, you have a flirtatious interaction, you follow up with a few outings/dates. If it seems like it's going well, then kiss the person good night. If she's not interested, then move on. As far whether this will cause you to "lose" the budding friendship, you have plenty of friends already. If someone from a few dates that didn't work out becomes a friend later on, then great. If not, whatever.
posted by deanc at 5:33 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think I know what you mean. You have a great group of friends, and you don't want to ruin the rapport you've built with them by introducing awkwardness from clumsy or failed attempts at courtship.

The best way to start is by giving this awesome girl your well-deserved attention. Not in a "Like every Facebook post" kind of way, or a "Gaze at her longingly from across the room" sort of way, but in a "It makes my week getting to catch up with you" sort of way. If your awesome girl feels the same way, flirting and dating will surely follow! If not, it's cool, because hey, you're just chatting and hanging out.

The bottom line though, is that you're going to have to put yourself on the line eventually. Look at it this way, you say you don't want to make your move if it means you're going to lose a friend, right? Well how strong are these friendships? Strong enough to last after she finds an equally awesome guy of her own? The truth is, most of your friendships with these awesome girls probably won't remain this close forever, so if you're truly interested, you really do need to let them know, clumsiness and awkwardness be damned. There's nothing wrong with feeling a little urgency. Remember, if you can't tell the object of your affection how you feel, then your love will always be unrequited.
posted by sambosambo at 6:07 AM on March 14, 2012


I prefer confident men (I tend to date a lot of jerks) because you know where you stand with them. I've dated nice guys before, made the first move and freaked them out a bit. I have finally found a nice guy who is also confident and things are going well for the first time in my life. My point is, you are not going to be a perfect match with everyone you find interesting. Perhaps you are Prince Charming, the mythical man, who can only love one woman. And perhaps she is waiting for you. Be ready.

Keep doing what you are doing (being a good friend) while working on yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions- Do you want to be in a relationship? Are you physically attracted to women? Do you feel worthy of love?
If at some point you meet a woman that you are so drawn to that you absolutely can't be her friend anymore, then that is the one. Tell her that you don't usually make the first move. Tell her that she is special. And then pounce.
posted by myselfasme at 6:07 AM on March 14, 2012


I think the problem is, you don't know how to flirt. There is a process from going from friend to more than friend is not on/off, it's a little bit of something at a time.

I had a female friend slash acquaintance for a few years who was nothing more than platonic. One day, she saw me on something that could have been construed as "a date" with another girl who clearly liked me. This must have triggered something in her lizard brain like "Oh, this guy dates -- he is a dater. Could he date... ME?" because the next time I saw her, she kept touching my knee when she spoke to me. She had never done that before. At some point during the evening with friends, she grabbed my hand to drag me across the room to show me something.

While I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, I thought to myself "This, I say, this female is flirting with me" (my inner dialogue sounds like Foghorn Leghorn)

But, that wasn't "a move", that was flirting. Flirting is basically a hint that is sort of plausibly deniable, to others, and maybe even yourself. It doesn't have to mean anything... unless it does. It is ambiguous, but it's a start. It says "Hey, my door might be open." If it keeps happening all the time between you two, there's no way "a move" as you describe it could have ever come out of left field, you'd both know what was up.

To put in as nerdy a way as humanly possible, it's like The connection establishment portion of TCP. Most people need to do it before they can start communicating on deeper channels.

So, go figure out how to flirt.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I pass along to you the greatest advice I ever got:

...take a judo or jujitsu class. Gently demonstrate a few of the moves you've learned and challenge her to resist. It breaks the physical barrier in manner that leaves you panting and giggling.

(a soft bed is the safest place to demonstrate a hip toss)
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:04 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


To put in as nerdy a way as humanly possible, it's like The connection establishment portion of TCP.

For a second there I thought you were going to link to the SIRC Guide to Flirting, which could also accurately be described as "putting it in as nerdy a way as humanly possible!
posted by quincunx at 7:13 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like alphanerd's comment in another thread, specifically this:
Your greatest chance of success is to act like this is something he wants until proven otherwise.

[...]

You are offering him something very, very, very, very, very, very, very good. So good, that you're pretty sure he wants you to do this.
posted by desjardins at 7:24 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think @Scientist happened. After I was divorced and (by choice) hadn't dated in years (mid-thirties) I wondered how the hell to get back into the game.

OKCupid was fantastic and I had two lengthy relationships after many first dates.

" . . . you at least know that you're on a date and that it's going to be OK for you to be into someone. I needed that unambiguous context to be able to relax about the situation and speak my mind.""

This.

But you've gotta be proactive . . . I'm extroverted anyway but you can't just sit back and hope they come to you. Go forth and prosper.
posted by eggman at 8:43 AM on March 14, 2012


Everybody's right - learn how to flirt.

I define flirting as the art of interacting with someone with the purpose of making them feel good about themselves (and you). So I pretty much low-level flirt with anyone/everyone as much as possible. At the core is learning to really pay attention and tune in to someone. Does so-and-so seem nervous about her outfit? Compliment the color or fit to offer reassurance. Notice someone's shoes or jewelry. Get closer for a better look. Touch them lightly. If they smell good, say so. Think of something cheeky. Confide it in that person and no one else. Leave plenty of opportunity for the person to get away from your attention if they want (don't cling), but if they respond with their own energy, keep this stream of low-level attention going.

Act like you've got a party going on in your head and wouldn't they love to join you. Laugh, or be willing to laugh, easily. Work on your innuendo. Talk dirty to your home appliances. Share inappropriate thoughts with your close friends, instead of squashing them in your head like they don't exist. Get used to expressing yourself as a sexual creature in safe company. Then you can branch out to sharing with acquaintances.

I enjoy doing my fair share of the move-making, but it is important to me that the guy gets the ball going. I'm just not interested in passivity. I may see the fellow shifting uneasily and hopefully at the scary edge between "friend" and "suitor", but I will not reach out and do the work for him. If he can't handle approaching me straightforwardly and asking for what he wants in the beginning, he most likely won't be able to approach me straightforwardly and ask about the more important, delicate things, later. Like, for instance, bedroom activities. I'm not looking for super macho confident alpha man - just someone who doesn't censor himself so heavily that he can't talk about or ask for what he wants, or what I want.

The best place to start is to learn to be comfortable with yourself. How's your wardrobe? Are you currently dressing how Ideal You would dress? Why not? Ask a fashionable friend for advice. Get better shoes. Get to a barber/stylist regularly. Eliminate whatever problem areas make you bodily self-conscious (unkempt fingernails, whatever). Get some exercise. Do posture checks frequently throughout the day and don't let yourself slouch. Once you feel better about yourself and get used to thinking of yourself as a catch (seriously, you could probably make someone out there very happy), it makes it easier to actively seek a partner. Take care of yourself, first.
posted by griselda at 11:12 AM on March 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


Why not try online dating for a bit? That removes the "are they looking for a date, or a friend, and will I ruin a friendship by asking them on a date" issue from the equation entirely. When you get together with someone from an online dating site, the presumption is that both of you are looking for a date. That question's already been answered. Now you see whether you guys have any chemistry as dates.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:17 AM on March 14, 2012


Am I just being really effing old-fashioned?

No. In some books, you are pretty darn attractive.

Some of these may help-

1. Stop falling for women who cannot ask for what they want and just expect you to somehow read their minds.

2. If 1 is unavoidable, bring up the topic over the phone (assuming you are good friends and do talk on phone occasionally/often).

3. Please read some awesome responses in a recent post (yesterday or day before?) regarding making a move/kissing.

If that doesn't feel right, I don't see why "May I kiss you" would not work. (Either way, you have your answer.)
posted by xm at 4:02 PM on March 14, 2012


I could have written this word for word a few years ago. I was so dedicated to not being ‘that guy’ who made a move that wasn’t welcome that I never made a move at all. What I realised (after a few patient women asked why I’d waited for so long) is that treating women as asexual beings who will be uniformly offended if you show any interest in them is just as offensive and derogatory as presuming they’re all sexual objects there for your pleasure. Well, maybe not just as offensive, but certainly not a healthy way of thinking about women. You’re avoiding the risk of offending people, but you’re also demeaning these women by presuming they can’t handle an unwanted but well-meaning approach.

Look – if you’re the kind of guy who is even thinking about this, you’re not going to be the kind of ignorant arse who genuinely offends someone by tastelessly hitting on them. Next time you’re with someone you’re keen on, make it obvious. Flirt, hold eye contact, be closer and more physical than you normally would be, and if they respond in kind then either ask them out on an unambiguous date, or just kiss them then and there.

It gets easier. After the first couple of times that someone responds positively, it will make it much simpler the next time it happens.
posted by twirlypen at 7:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


You certainly have a wide range of replies, and many excellent suggestions. I would add only that there are a great variety of ways to "make a move." When you're with a girl you find attractive, look at her tenderly. And often. Lean closer to her, speak softly---it doesn't matter what you say, whether it's playful banter or a bland statement about the weather. When there's time for a meaningful conversation, over coffee or drinks, tell her some personal things about yourself--your hopes, your fears, your dreams. Pay close attention to what she says, and remember, so you can make little references to it in another conversation the next week or so. Take her hand into yours sometimes, in a light manner, but hold on. When you are on different sides of the room at a party, look at her. Look at her. Look at her.
Women easily read these as signs of romantic interest, and they are much more successful than "hitting" on a woman.
posted by ragtimepiano at 10:18 PM on March 14, 2012


Have you ever even been rejected? Like, have you ever actually asked someone out and they said no, or do you wish that you could ask them out and always hesitate? I have a friend who had literally never been turned down until recently and he took it as a huge blow to his ego (which, in truth, he did need to be taken down a peg or two). It seems to me that you've never actually let go enough to ask, be said no to, and then be cool with it. It's ok. Some people will say no for whatever reason. Just move on. Once you've gotten a few under your belt, the fear of rejection will be non-existent.

I have faith that you will get it soon. My husband was this kind of guy when he met me. At some point before he met me, he basically said, "fuck it, what have I got to lose?" and ended up making a move that he says would have gotten him rejected by others in the past, but he went into our first date with an "I don't give a shit attitude; it'll either happen or it won't". I think that's the mindset you should start using when asking people out. If they say yes, then it's awesome. If they so no, then cool. It's not the end of the world. Move onto the next one. You seem to have enough class to not be a douche about things, so I think you'll be fine. You'll get there eventually; you just have to get over your fear of rejection and yourself first.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:54 AM on March 15, 2012


You sound like you have many, many friends already. So why are you so worried about losing some potential future friend? Why aren't you MORE worried about losing some potential fantastic lover? You don't need more friends, you need more romance.

Also, in 95% of cases, women know that you feel that way already, so what do you have to lose by telling them? (Except losing face, which is what it seems like you're really afraid of). If they didn't want you and your sexual tension around, they wouldn't be hanging out with you in the first place. The other 5% of women are just fooling themselves (i.e. "this guy just likes to hang out with me all the time, talks with me on the phone late at night, brings me nice gifts, and gives me longing looks.... but surely he just wants to be platonic friends.")

Ever seen the Chris Rock routine about 'the friend zone'? Watch and laugh.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:18 AM on March 16, 2012


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