Boy Meets Girl. Boy is Awkward.
October 9, 2012 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Met a girl who could be perfect for me. I'm not generally 'good' with women or relationships. How can I best attempt to make something work with this one? (Special snowflake details inside)

Lets start with the bad. Early 20s college student. Naturally an introvert and I do not consider myself to be skilled at finding girls who like me. Had one real long term relationship, and have never been the kind of guy who has enough confidence to go out and pickup girls to hook up with. Haven't asked a girl on a date in 4 years. Consider myself a normal looking guy, nobody is throwing themselves at me, and I have one or two minor hang ups about my appearance like anyone else might. I frequently misread social cues(example, I have a hard time telling if girls are into me, I normally just think they are being nice no matter what).

Noticed a cute girl in class but of course I was too nervous to introduce myself or otherwise approach her initially. Still was sticking to my plan of not bothering to try and talk to this girl when, in some weirdly cosmic way, we started a conversation. Nothing significant but we spoke for about 15 minutes as we walked somewhere else on campus. Essentially I do not know her very well yet, we aren't friends, we are just classmates right now. Wanted to talk to her more during or after our next class meeting but my nerves got the best of me and I rushed out of the building without saying a word to her.

I want to get to know her, ask her on a date. Realistically, what is my next step here? I know I'm supposed to ask for her phone number but the actual motions of setting that situation up and asking her is really hard for me. Would it be too forward to invite her to an event happening the same day I will see her next? I don't want any of this to come off as me coming on too strong or being creepy. The potential to be embarrassed since she is a classmate in a small class isn't helping my social anxiety!

Had a feeling I would like her from the start but after talking to her I now think she has something special. Truly do not want to mess this up.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ask her for coffee after class sometime. Something where it's just the two of you, but low-stakes. Get to know her better. Take deep breaths, drink decaf if that will help.

Asking for her number would be to set up the next meeting, and since you're in class together seeing her again is pretty much a given. Getting the number doesn't alleviate these concerns at all; you're on the right path.
posted by RainyJay at 10:03 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you run out of class again, she'll think you're not interested in talking to her. She can't read your mind, you have to outwardly demonstrate to her that you're interested in getting to know her better. Overall, your actions have to run in parallel with your feelings.

Next class, screw up your courage and do the same thing again: talk to her as you walk out of class. Repeat for a handful of times, then ask her if she wants to get some coffee. If that goes well, ask her out on a date (e.g. dinner, movies, etc.)

She might turn you down. Prepare yourself for that now, so you're not totally crushed (although you still might be, and I get that.) But, SHE MIGHT NOT. You don't know until you try! :)

Good luck.
posted by absquatulate at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Met a girl who could be perfect for me. ... after talking to her I now think she has something special. Truly do not want to mess this up.

You can't possibly know this from one short conversation. You just can't. Your nervousness is tied to the perfect image you have of this super-special girl. She's not perfect, she's probably not perfect for you, there was nothing cosmic about how the conversation happened. Note that you don't actually say anything about the content of your discussion, or what she revealed to you about herself that was interesting. She's gone from cute to perfect ... and she's not.

Essentially I do not know her very well yet, we aren't friends, we are just classmates right now.

Exactly. You're classmates and you are interested in getting to know her better. That's all. Talk to her/get to know her like you would anyone else. I promise you, she's really not enjoying being up on that pedestal anyway.
posted by headnsouth at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2012 [34 favorites]

Keep it casual. You have the class in common and a nice previous conversation as a basis for speaking to her again.

As class starts to dismiss, just say, "Hey, I liked speaking with you the other day, want to grab some coffee some time and talk about the mid-term essay?" Then you haul out your phone for her number, and you give her yours.

Done and done.

Now, don't go all weird and start thinking that fate has chosen this girl for you. You had one nice exchange. When you have coffee, you might find out that she's not perfect, either for you or in general. No biggie.

You will scare the bejezus out of the girl if you start acting like she's the future Mrs. Anon.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The biggest thing you should address is your attitude. No one is "perfect" for you. It's hard to "mess this up" (whether she fancies you or not is probably out of your control). If things don't work out, it is not the end of the world. Not having things work out is the part of the process of dating, which is fundamentally about getting to know people, not about finding your One! Perfect! Soulmate! (Despite what romantic films would have you believe.) RELAX>

I'd ask for her email instead of her phone number. It's lower stakes and you don't have to worry about the possibility of negotiating the texting minefield.
posted by grouse at 10:11 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

The words "Do you want to get a cup of coffee some time?" are easy to say and will be a perfectly fine launching place for this journey.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:18 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Met a girl who could be perfect for me.

Echoing others: you have no idea if this is true, and there is nothing "cosmic" about her having a conversation with you (though it is a lovely thing!). I say this not to be a downer, but to stress that casting her as potentially "perfect" and your first conversation as being sort of cosmically ordained is actually one of the worst things you can do, for three primary reasons: 1) you put her on a pedestal right away, rather than relating to her from the start as merely a fellow imperfect human being, which 2) is guaranteed to increase your nervousness and anxiety, and 3) will make it much more difficult for you read her signals and/or assess realistically how compatible you may be if you do get to know each other better.

So first, I would suggest you work on trying to counteract the unrealistic narrative you have already been telling yourself. She's not perfect. Seriously, she's not. No one is. That's fine. Continue to chat with her in class as you would anyone else to get to know each other, and if you find you seem to be clicking after that, then ask her for coffee.
posted by scody at 10:21 AM on October 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

I don't believe in dating, per se, but I actually think my perspective here might help you here for exactly that reason. Not seeing everything as a potential date really takes the pressure off, and also avoids freaking out the person with whom you're meeting by casting them as your One True Soulmate. I work on the assumption that everyone I meet, of my sex and the opposite one, is a potential friend. If anything more happens to develop after we form a lovely acquaintance, well then that's another question for another time.

I make friends fairly aggressively, since, as my name suggests, I'm semi-nomadic. After chatting with someone casually, as you did with her, I'd say something like "Hey, it was fascinating to chat with you. Let's continue this conversation! Here, write down your number." Then, when the person does, I say something like "How about meeting on Thursday for coffee at 6 pm?" This may sound forward, and I suppose it is, but I've had excellent success with it: almost everyone responds positively, and I've met some of my closest friends of both sexes that way. That said, I'm also female (in my mid- to late-20s), so YMMV. But I think that taking the pressure off of yourself and her, and framing it in a much more low-key way, will really help you out. Plus, meeting interesting new people is fun, even if it doesn't turn into romance!
posted by UniversityNomad at 10:45 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Met a girl who could be perfect for me.

This will be your problem.

This potentially indicates a mindset of someone who sees a girl as an object rather than a person. This is a unilateral judgment you are making about the both of you, except she has no say in it thus far. This will affect negatively any relationship you try to start.

Better to introduce, show her who you are, let her decide if you're the one for her, and continue to get to know her through this, more healthy process.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:49 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Step one: Chill. You are making a mountain out of this molehill.

Step two: Dial it back on every front. This is a girl you met who seems pretty cool and maybe you'd like to get to know her better. That's it. That's all. This is being emphasized by myself and a lot of other people because it is critical - if you keep having the attitude you've got now, it will shine through and you do not want that. I realize that saying this is likely to do very little to lower the pressure here, but trust me: Try.

Step three: Seriously, chill. The more relaxed and low-stress you are about this, the higher your chances of success.

Step four: Read cues. If you've never been able to before, now is a great time to learn. Now that you've wound up talking to her, does she say hi to you when you walk in the classroom? Wave? Look up? Smile? Reading cues is going to be important for step five, in which we will ask her out in the most low-stress way possible. But for now, I'd say that if she isn't even acknowledging your presence when either of you enter the same space, you probably shouldn't bother.

Step five: The next time you wind up talking to her (ask a question about today's lesson or a quiz or whatever thing - striking up a conversation really isn't that hard), when you're nearing the parting of ways, say, "Oh hey - I was going to go to [thing] tonight - you should come too, if you're not busy, it'll be fun!" Here is where you read cues: If she says sure, then hooray, and meet her there or exchange phone numbers or whatever. If she says she can't because she's got something else she has to do but suggests an alternative activity at a later date, then hooray, you're off to a start. If she declines but makes no other statement of interest, this means that she is not attracted to you in that way, so then you say (with a genuine, fun, unforced smile): "Oh, yeah, no worries! Anyway, I gotta dash - catch you later!"

This outcome is not ideal, of course, but it has its merits: In grasping the hint and not needing to have it spelled out more plainly, you are ensuring that it does not become weird. In making it a simple "Hey, I'm going to this, you should come to if you want," you are ensuring it does not become one of those things where you screw up your courage and blurt out the asking-out, which runs the risk of being weird. In accepting rejection with the same light, relaxed attitude with which you made the offer, you are showing that you might just be a pretty cool guy. So if this happens, okay, but losing this battle will teach you the skills necessary to eventually win the war - maybe not with this lady, but with someone cool down the line.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

That tone you have in this post? That levelheadedness? Keep it, and you'll be fine. OP seems to be fairly level headed with this post if you reread it. I don't think he is overboard with wanting to ask out someone who he likes, and who he shared a conversation with. He says he just views most attention as a woman being nice, not "when women look my direction, I ask them if they want a nightcap".

Contrary to what the movies might tell you, this situation will happen again and again throughout your life. This is one woman, and there are lots more, and lots more like her. If you are truly meant to be, that should help you relax, because you've already done the hard part, actually coming into contact with her amongst the billions of people on earth.

Trust me I know how hard it is to want to seize the moment and be perfect, but just be you. Be relaxed and confident, and be you. Don't force the issue.

Bottom line is, there are thousands of components to a real, long term relationship. You can't know more than about 20 of them right now. Be relaxed. And if you get rejected, so what. Women have to put up with men approaching them, and have to figure out ways to reject them for their entire lives. Guys have to accept rejection without taking it personal and being weird. Welcome to being a man. Be relaxed, talk to her when the opportunity arises (like the conversation you already had), and just breathe and try to stay relaxed.
posted by cashman at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2012

Truly do not want to mess this up

Well, for one, don't rush out of places while inexplicably not saying a word to her.

That said, the fear of 'messing up' such things is probably based on your misconception of how "this" works.

If she isn't into you, no measure of 'not willing to mess this up' will help you.
If she is not into commitment right now, you have little to lose: time is your friend - or enemy.
If she has a partner, you already lost.
If she likes you, this happens pretty much no matter what; you'll need to mess up a darn lot to do any damage.


Just try to be yourself. It's the only way. You will not be able to match - in equal terms - the image of perfection you're creating of her; imagine her as a natural human being instead and live up to your call as another natural human being. Over to FAMOUS MONSTER.
posted by Namlit at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Dude. Breathe. :)

I may be able to offer some perspective, as a few months ago I was pretty much that girl, and someone a lot like you was interested in me. At first I was very open to giving him a chance, but he quickly got creepy and chased me off. Here's how not to do that.

-As others have suggested, invite her out for something casual, like coffee. And yeah, consider asking for her email instead of her phone number. If she gives you one or the other, don't blow up her email/phone with messages piled one on top of the other.

-Stop putting her on a pedestal. She's not perfect for you, nor is she perfect in general. You don't know her at all, so stop building fairy tales in your head about her being "something special." Treat her with kindness and respect, but don't worship her or harp on her awesomeness. That gets weird fast.

-Be a little confident. Not arrogant, obviously! But I guarantee there are things about you that are super-cool, and if she's a cool girl, she'll want to know more about you. Don't boast, but don't downplay your interests or talents, either. In fact, be positive in general. Too much negativity or complaining or being down on yourself is off-putting, especially to someone who doesn't yet know you well.

-Have something to talk about. This is pretty easy, since you have a class together -- that gives you plenty of potential conversations. If she's a naturally chatty person, she may do this part for you -- still, though, it's good to be prepared.

Good luck. I understand social anxiety, believe me. It's all too easy to blow these things up in your head, but you'll be in a much better position if you avoid doing that.
posted by QuickedWeen at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Everybody's advice here is great and you should read it carefully.

But as you try to chill, also remember this:

In the top ten "advice I'd give to my younger self", one entry could be that "Boy Meets Girl/Boy/Desired Partner + Boy is Awkward" can pretty often lead to success as long as Awkward Boy doesn't get in his own way.

There's a reason why Awkward Meet Cute is a romantic comedy trope and it's because it can work. And here in the real world, let me tell you if it didn't, I'd have had fewer dates, partners, and neither of my significant long term relationships. (Amusingly, when I learned this lesson, I got a lot less awkward, which coincided with the time that I needed to know it less -- which is one of life's cruel little jokes.)

Good luck!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:17 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Getting from "total stranger" to "date prospect" in somebody else's eyes is hard, so I empathize with you. When I was in college, I was no good at this at all and consequently spent quite a lot of time single.

One approach I recommend is to have one or two fun things happening in your life each month. For example, a trip to an amusement park, a sand-sculpting festival, Shakespeare in the Park, etc. These activities should all be something where there will be lots of people around, so a woman would not feel unsafe meeting somebody she barely knows there. From there, it's a simple matter when you're in conversation with an interesting prospect to casually mention the upcoming fun thing you're doing which you're really excited about. At least 90% of the time, she will say something like "Really? That sounds like so much fun!" and then you just say "Would you like to come? You seem like good company, and it sounds like the kind of thing you'd really enjoy."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:46 AM on October 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Also, be prepared for the possibility that she is not single.
posted by halogen at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd ask for her email instead of her phone number. It's lower stakes and you don't have to worry about the possibility of negotiating the texting minefield.

For this age bracket, asking for an e-mail signals work or career, not romantic interest. Absolutely text first before moving up to gchat. E-mail is too formal, and is risky for people like OP because there's no length limit. People who are good at lengthy analysis of a situation like this are prone to composing epic treatises when writing e-mails or letters that will scare the poor girl into the next time zone and are best helped by the constraints of texting.

You are in college, so the barriers are much lower. (My dating prospects completely imploded after graduation, in part because it's much easier in college.)

You should ask for a coffee meeting. You need not use the word "date" at this stage because it is fraught with commitment, which is the last thing you want. If that goes well, she will respond well to attempts to spend more time with her.

Set a hard time limit on the coffee event so it doesn't run out of steam on its own (for example, in a gap in classes so you have to get up at 4PM). You want to leave on a high note. After this, subsequent meetings can have more open-ended schedules which will allow for, ahem, touchy fun times, which are the most reliable indicator that she won't just want to be friends.

Good luck. :)
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

She is not perfect for you. She is just a cool chick that you met and want to see again. As an introvert, believe me, I understand what it is like to find someone you can have a conversation with. It is uncommon, but they are not unique. There are lots and lots of girls you could talk to if you actually went out of your way to talk to them. But you don't, because you are shy and awkward and the whole thing is stressful and draining, and that's cool.

So you have this one girl that you found. That's awesome. But you have to understand that unless she is also painfully shy and awkward, you are not special to her. You are just one guy of many that she talks to. Talking to people for 15 minutes is not a big deal to her. She probably has conversations like that with the guy at Starbucks who makes her coffee.

Okay, so just relax. If you want to go out with her, ask her out. Don't drag this on for weeks, being creepy and making eye contact but not talking to her or whatever. After class, say, hey my friends are doing this thing this weekend, do you want to come? She'll probably say no. She might say yes. Whatever happens is not the end of the world. You will meet another girl, I swear to god.

Also, you know, ask other people in class to hang out with you and your friends, too, because the more people you know and talk to, the more girls you have the opportunity to meet.

I have been there. I know how much it sucks to be the one guy that isn't getting laid or doesn't have a gf. Just calm down, relax, stay busy and hang out with as many people as you can and try to develop a sense of humor about it. It'll happen for you, eventually, but probably not with this girl. Hopefully being a bit fatalistic about it will take the stress off you and make it easier for her to say yes. It's no big deal to ask someone out or for them to say no.
posted by empath at 1:47 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, do not ask her out for a one on one date more formal than like a quick coffee unless she knows you really well. You are shy and awkward. She knows you are. If she has to picture sitting in a restaurant making conversation with you, she is probably going to freak out and say no. Parties and things like concerts or fairs are better, especially if you have friends with you that can pick up the conversation for you if it ebbs. Especially if you have mutual friends.
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on October 9, 2012

One of my biggest turn offs is a guy who decides I'm perfect for him before he knows me. The question borders on creepy, but I'll chalk it up to your young age/inexperience.

Why not ask her out to an activity? I find those types of dates usually work best. Maybe pool or bowling instead of a cafe or bar.
posted by parakeetdog at 2:07 PM on October 9, 2012

There was a guy who thought I was perfect for him early on, who I was on the fence about for awhile. He saw me across a crowded room and thought wow and then proceeded to sit next to me and talk incessantly, eventually getting my phone number when we discovered a mutual interest. He was interesting, his friends were nice, I figured he might be worth hanging out with. It took awhile but the closer I got to him, the more I figured out he might just be perfect for me.

We're now married.

I love him like crazy, and I'm glad his instincts picked me out because mine would not have picked him out. Strong enough attraction that you're writing a mefi question is the stuff great love stories are made of. It's worth the risk! You would be surprised how many people I know that have been married thirty or fifty years have stories that start out like yours. So cast the wet blankets aside and get down to it.

You really just need to talk to her more, I really do recommend finding a shared interest that leads to a shared activity, even if it's just a concert or a type of movie or food. It's an easy way to see if she wants to hang out with just you and to have more conversation. "Hey I know you're into x too, I was going to this interesting thing and was wondering if you wanted to come with?"

I also have to add: I lived overseas in various countries for a couple of years and I was struck by the charm of having men express that they liked me directly as compared to the plague of over-thinking and not acting (or acting while drunk). Embarrassment stemming from expressing interest is optional. She doesn't like you? Oh well. You've paid her a compliment by expressing your interest, you haven't violated her personal space. As a final anecdote, I once took a class where this guy sat right beside me every day and casually asked me out every day. He did it with such conviction, sure that he wanted to date me, that I found it hilarious. Eventually, it worked, and even though we didn't have much in common I respected his brashness and still think of him fondly.
posted by skermunkil at 10:06 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Health Insurance on my own in NH   |   Engineering design mistake Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.