Should we really though? Really? *Squints like Larry David*
July 4, 2013 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Is "We should get a drink sometime" actually a very polite rejection?

Me: late 20s, female, mostly straight, fairly outgoing

When I meet a man I have enough initial chemistry with to exchange contact details, I will generally (but not always) contact him to at least say hi.

Often, this leads to him suggesting that we get a drink sometime - which leads me to respond with something like, "Sounds good, when works for you?"

This is puzzlingly met with silence.

What am I missing here? Am I taking the "invitation" to have a drink too literally?
It's not at all like me to detect false positives when it comes to personal chemistry, so what's up?

Should I proceed differently in the future?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This has happened with multiple men? That is very strange. Are you sure there isn't something wrong with your phone?
posted by grouse at 6:11 PM on July 4, 2013

I would think they intend it to mean 'we should get a drink sometime', as in, we should talk about it again later. It's not rejection, it's just not being prepared to or anticipating scheduling something right now. I wouldn't think too hard about it, try again a few days later.
posted by wrok at 6:11 PM on July 4, 2013 [15 favorites]

If that's exactly what you are saying then how about you switch it up to, "yeah, that sounds good - I'm free next Tuesday if that works for you." That narrows it down and makes them have to do less work to pick a day. (If they can't do Tuesday and don't suggest another day then they might not be that into you)
posted by dawkins_7 at 6:29 PM on July 4, 2013 [12 favorites]

Just out of curiosity, are you texting? There's no quicker way to lose contact with someone new than texting. Sure, texting is great for instant back and forth, such as "Hey, I' headed for the store. Need anything?" But man oh man does texting suck for anything that involves actual human connection. And human connection is what you're looking for.

My advice: Switch the mode of communication and see if it affects your results. Try calling instead of texting.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:38 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Try "Sounds good, how about [specific day/time]?"

You could also add, "[Place convenient/interesting for you] might work, but I'm down to try something else if you have somewhere in mind."
posted by juliplease at 6:46 PM on July 4, 2013

"We should get a drink sometime" is a trial balloon. He wants to determine how available you are both in general, and to him. (Okay, mostly to him.) Possible responses include "No," "Hell no!" "Yes, let's get some people together" (you're open to friendship, but not a date), "Yes" (you're open to a trial date), "Let me talk to my boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife/SO/partner/HR" (you're taken or maybe the request is out of bounds), or, on the very outside, "How about breakfast instead?" (Hiyoooo!)

He's really interested in your social availability, not what nights you're available, yet. To be fair, this guy could've been stunned by any affirmative response, for all we know, but he also could've just been stunned at the idea of having to plan something, rather than just knowing that you're amenable to something he hasn't spent any thought on.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:51 PM on July 4, 2013 [16 favorites]

How about having an interesting default place in mind?

'Definitely! I know this great little [wine bar, craft beer bar, jazz club, artisinal cocktail place, etc], how about we get a drink on Wednesday?'
posted by charlemangy at 7:03 PM on July 4, 2013

If your current reply is being met with universal silence, I'd ramp it down a notch: "Sounds good!"
posted by DarlingBri at 7:13 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Let's get drinks sometime" is emphatically not an request for a date-- they call them dates for a reason, and 'sometime' has no dated information. Sometime who says that doesn't know whether or not he can ask you on a date. Assuming a positive response, he may not be ready to ask you on a date. Now's the time to talk him into it, or do what you did, which is ask him on a date. Chances are being asked on a date is a new thing to him, so if he looks cornered, do as DarlingBri says.

You can still be enthusiastic, and drop some suggestions (concrete suggestions are preferable to hints, here) to nudge him towards the next Ask. Hopefully one of you can escalate this, but "drinks sometime" is an opening; someone has to plunge through, and somehow convince the other to come through the opening as well.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:54 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

What am I missing here? Am I taking the "invitation" to have a drink too literally?

I believe the ettiquite is to exchage numbers at some time in the evening. The plans are made later.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

My original comment I think was deleted but this happened (happens?) to me as well.

As usual, I think part of it has to do with living in NYC where plan making is also a competition in 'who's busier'. Also, maybe there's some sexism in frightening a person by being 'too aggressive'. (I know, seriously).

And I do think another part of it is possibly what you think- the old "yeah, when you are in Florida you should DEFINITELY stay with us" which is to be translated as "please don't ever do that!".

So basically like everyone is saying above, there is just no way to tell what is happening.

I personally think dialing it down like the above person mentioned to 'sounds good!' is probably the way to go but then you are getting into the 'fighting vague with vague' territory. I guess just keep being you and eventually someone is going to get excited and yell "Wednesday at 7". That's what I'm hoping for, anyway!
posted by bquarters at 8:38 PM on July 4, 2013

I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with your current approach. You could try dialing it up or down as suggested on this thread to see if you get better results but really, what you're doing now is totally fine.

As to why your replies are met with silence, I don't have an explanation. It could be anything from "not that into you" to "too nervous to set an actual date/time," but don't feel like you need to tie yourself in knots figuring out the right way to word a text message. You did your part; you kinda just have to let it go after that if they don't want to do theirs.
posted by Asparagus at 8:49 PM on July 4, 2013

If they aren't taking you up on an easy date setup, I can only presume they aren't all that interested. Optimally, shouldn't a dude be excited to go?

I suspect any "we should do x SOMETIME" remarks should be regarded as a token sort of, "you're a nice person but I am not super into actually doing anything about it" remark, though. It's probably up there with saying "I'm fine" or "I will call you." Nobody actually means it. If they get specific, though....
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:08 PM on July 4, 2013

Sounds like a great idea. Let me know what works for you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:41 PM on July 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

In my experience, if a guy is interested he will move heaven and earth to make the date happen. Even if he's shy. I don't know what "let's get a drink sometimes" actually means in this context, not having been privy to the rest of the conversation, but it's really how he acts afterwards that matters. I'm totally guilty of wrestling with the semantics of a parting sentence (like "We'll call you" at the end of a job interview), but the healthiest thing is just to let it rest, play it as it lays.
posted by mirepoix at 9:58 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I meet a man I have enough initial chemistry with to exchange contact details, I will generally (but not always) contact him to at least say hi.

Whose idea is it to exchange contact info? if it almost always seems to be you, that's a red flag. It's fine to take the initiative; since this keeps happening to you, though, you may be misreading the situation. Maybe the chemistry isn't as mutual as you think it is.

Also, do you do contact a new guy right away, like first thing the next morning? I think rules like "wait 3 days" are stupid, personally, but I do wonder if maybe somehow you are coming across as too eager to these guys and that's what's making them backpedal. If they are used to moving at a slower pace they might even be mistaking your eagerness for desperation. Seeming too desperate is like the kiss of death for singles.

You also may be reaching them at a bad time. Do you call or text? With someone whose schedule you don't know well, it's always best (at least with a phone call) to ask, "Hey, is this a good time? or "Did I catch you in the middle of something?" No one wants to be unexpectedly put on the spot in the middle of a work meeting, for instance, when being flirtatious might get you in trouble.

Whatever's going on, I agree your best move is to just dial it back a bit. "Want to get drinks sometime?" Is vague enough that you can simply answer, "Sure, sounds good!" and stop there. Let the guy know you are open to the idea. If he wants to meet up, believe me, he will follow up with you! If he changes the subject, though, mot likely he's just not into you.
posted by misha at 10:38 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

In your position I doubt I'd want to see someone whose presence of mind was so slight they could be reduced to complete silence by a conversation that went in a foreseeable direction but not exactly the way they expected.

That said, it's a good tactic to offer specific proposals (I could do such annd such a place on Thursday night) because it gives people an easy out - they can just say they're busy. If they say theyr'e busy and nothing more, drop it; if they really are busy but want to meet it's up to them to come back with an alternative proposition.
posted by Segundus at 1:07 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

A story about miscommunication.

Once upon a time a young woman went out for a date with a young man, and had a pleasant time. At the end of the date, he got out of her car and said "Perhaps I'll see you again some time". Interpreting this as the brush off, she replied "Perhaps!", dropped the car into gear and roared away. Luckily for me, they clarified this misunderstanding, as they were my parents, and have been married for 42 years.

The moral is simple, always clarify what's going on; it's not worth missing out on things for the sake of pride or embarrassment.
posted by howfar at 2:16 AM on July 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

In the context you describe: you met him somewhere, took home his phone number and sent him a text a couple of days later... he then has to decide what to text you back, and "we should get a drink sometime" is basically neutral-positive. Totally positive would be "oh, it's so nice to hear from you, that other night was great, don't you think, remember we talked about X, let's go do that." Totally negative (falsely polite but still totally negative) would be more of a "nice to meet you, hope I'll see you around [place where we met]." Realize that there's no way other than not responding to you text that he can say "I really shouldn't have given you my phone number but I couldn't figure out a graceful way out of it, and I was kind of drunk and hoping for some easy necking, but now here you are texting me and I don't really know what to do." That's why dating language looks like code, everyone's afraid of hurting the other person's feelings, or coming off as rude or mean or whatever, and the requirement to say polite things means that everything is very interpretable.

The statement "we should get a drink sometime" is one of those incredibly vague statements of the dating language. It can mean anything from "ha, right, sometime when it's a cold day in hell" to "holy crap, I want to go on a date with you ASAP but I should try not to look obsessively delighted by this idea", including middle ground like "That was an okay conversation, maybe I'd like to go on a date, let me think about it" and "she's got a cute friend, I can't afford to be mean to her" and "well, I'd like a date, but I'm pretty sure she hates me" - so it's hard to know how to respond.
I'd default to assuming it's a positive sign, but a stalling tactic. He's saying yes, a date, but now's not the moment for deciding when. Your best response is to indicate to him that you are or aren't enthusiastic about this idea, then back off and give him some space. "Yes, I hope so, I'd really like that!" is a good response. "oh, yes, that'd be nice," falls into the same neutral-polite territory that "we should get a drink sometime" set up, and would be perceived by the pessimistic as "no way, buddy."
Replying with "Sounds good, when?" is a high-pressure move; you've seen his bet and raised him. If he's 100% interested, he'll say "Friday, at [Bar]" - jackpot! Otherwise, he might kind of panic. He just gotten a text from a girl he had no idea if he'd ever actually hear from again. He fumbled around and said something polite, and all of a sudden he has to evaluate how well he can remember the conversation leading up to the exchange of phone numbers, and whether he's honestly interested, and whether it's worth the price of two martinis to have a chat with you again... and you want to know now. Crap. Umm... Was it really that awesome of a converation that she wants to get together ASAP? What's going on? ugh, I can't handle this, I'll tell my buddy about this tonight and maybe I'll get back to her tomorrow or on the weekend. Fold.

So, I'd say your best response would be more of 'wow, a drink sometime, how great! I'd like that!' and then let it rest a couple of days. Then if you don't hear from him, you've got another contact point (you haven't already spent your "hey, when are you free?" card) to ask if he's got plans for the weekend, or you're going to [bar] for trivia, is he interested in meeting up there?
posted by aimedwander at 7:03 AM on July 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
Thanks for everything -- you guys are wizards!
To answer a few questions:

- I am corresponding sometimes by text and sometimes by email (I am not used to calling and prefer not to go for it until someone else suggests/does first)

- It's usually *his* idea to exchange contacts (a bit of a leap for him I guess, but I tend to be friendly and receptive in demeanor which may make it easier)

- I usually contact him 2 to 3 days later

I seem to get enough approaches from folks to be able to test out both of the most popular bits of advice in the future - dial it up (eg. be more specific and suggest a time/place) or dial it back ("Sounds good!" or "I'd like that." and leave it up to him). Either of these will produce a clearer result.

For the guys I'm dealing with now, I will maybe touch base once again and then let it lie. The most important thing I've learned from this thread is definitely NOT to take it personally.
And oh yeah, presence of mind is sexy. :-)
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 AM on July 5, 2013

I have learned from years of painful experience (and continue to learn, I don't know why it's so hard) that DarlingBri has the right answer. You don't want to get more specific, you want to get less so.

What he means by "we should have a drink sometime" is hard to know. I would only say that if I meant it, and I either wasn't prepared to make plans at the moment or didn't want to seem too eager. Plenty of people will say it as a brush off/because they're cowards/ because they think it's polite/because they are flakes and they don't "do" real plans.

Btw initial chemistry that ends in a quasi-rejection happens with all genders and all relationships, including friendships. I've seen exactly this thing with the drinks date that never materializes when women ask men for dates, but I've also seen similar things happen a lot with women in early stages of friendship. So when I say I wouldn't suggest a specific time to have drinks, it's not because I think girls can't ask boys out. I just believe that since you (presumably) asked for his # and you contacted him first, you can then leave it to him to do the next stage of asking. To "we should get a drink sometime?" I'd say "Sure, I'd like that!" and then drop it. Because barring some special circumstances, it feels sucky to be the one always doing all the asking.

That said I'm going to contradict myself now. If you asked for his # and contacted him, your intention was to ask him out, no? If you're going to ask him out why not do it straightforwardly from the start? When you call or text these guys now, what are you saying? If it's "Hey, it's Anon from the party last night, what's up?" try "Hey, it's Anon, I liked talking to you at the party last night, would you like to go to [thing] with me next weekend?" That seems a little more clear and more likely to result in a yes or no.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 7:32 AM on July 5, 2013

When they ask, just respond,"Sounds fun" or " definitely!" and don't pinpoint a date. It's a loose offer really. They'll usually text back suggesting a time/date.
posted by discopolo at 9:05 AM on July 5, 2013

When a guy says We should get a drink sometime, use it as an occasion to flirt a little I'd like that. But are you just being polite, or are you ever going to buy me that drink?. I suck at flirting, but I think there has to be an answer that lets him know you're available and interested, at least a little, and involves flirtation.
posted by theora55 at 9:29 AM on July 5, 2013

"We should get a drink sometime" puts the ball in neutral territory. Responding with "when works for you?" puts the ball in his court without you taking any real initiative. I find it frustrating when this happens. Now I have to look at my schedule and take the initiative or risk looking like an asshole. Some will choose that moment to just let the whole thing drop.

I think you need to either take the ball and do something with it "(Yeah! How about Friday or a drink after work nex week?") or just affirm the ball's existence in neutral territory ("Sounds great!").
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:25 PM on July 5, 2013

"I am corresponding sometimes by text and sometimes by email (I am not used to calling and prefer not to go for it until someone else suggests/does first)"

Text and to a lesser extent email are problematic when trying to navigate these tenuous connections, it's true, but the language of dating is I think not necessary to meeting people. Personally, I am not good at the guessing game and stilted protocol of the language of dating, and at the age of 43 I'm no longer interested in trying to play these games, even if they're sometimes fun when in the initial stages of dating. I'd rather spend time with someone who prefers straightforward communication over trying to guess as to how we're feeling about each other. That doesn't mean you put all your cards on the table, but that you act like a reasonable human being when you're doing something as ordinary as going out with someone new for the first time, especially when it comes to the asking, responding and planning.

What that means for me as far as the question you asked- If I were in your shoes, if someone indicated an interest and I came back with a mutual interest and suggest a time, and if I'm met with silence on the other end after my suggestion, well, that's the end of that. The most basic protocol I do follow, which is, the ball is in your court, and if you don't send it back I'm not chasing after it, especially if I barely know you. I know many people don't feel the same way I do about it, but I'm much happier making connections with people who don't make me guess as to what they're feeling or saying, and who actually communicate instead of putting up a wall when we're trying to make plans together.

Frankly, I don't have time for people who think silence is an appropriate answer to a suggestion of a time/place to meet, if there's already an interest expressed. For me, it's an early red flag. Silence says to me, 'I don't care to respond,' so I let them be, and if they want to get in touch again the ball is in their court. But at that point I'm not likely to be interested in a date, unless there is some explanation for the lack of response, and even then I'd have to think about it. I know from experience that I can find plenty of people to spent my time with whose communication doesn't leave me guessing, and I'm much happier doing that than the alternative. YMMV.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:37 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are two approaches here: play it cool, or be direct. Being direct will in fact "scare away" many men. But eff 'em.

For myself personally, since I am a person who knows what she wants, there is no point in pretending otherwise just to make someone comfortable at the beginning. Might as well lay all my cards out. The men I want to be with are the ones who can handle that and bring a little of their own enthusiasm too.

So anyway regardless of what you decide to do to woo these men, keep in mind that the ones worth wooing are the ones who want to be wooed by you.
posted by mai at 9:04 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

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