I suppose we should go on a... date?
April 5, 2014 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Boy meets Girl. Then Boy does, what exactly?

I hate that I need to post an Anon AskMefi question about this, but, I'm stuck.

Met an amazing girl that I would love to get to know better – with romantic overtones. But... I don't know HOW to date...

For background: Recent college grad. Spent my first 2.5 years of college in a pretty serious relationship, and to be fair my first 'real' relationship. In this situation the girl asked me out!

We broke up and for a lot of reasons I wanted to stay away from dating for a bit. Ended up putting my effort into hooking up with girls. Preferred length of courtship: one night. I haven't been on a real date in a while and the closest thing to a date in the last two years has been grabbing coffee or a beer with the intent solely on getting that girl into bed later that night or later in the week.

I'll avoid getting all armchair therapist here, but I have a fear of rejection from women and it is easier for me to process being rejected for a hookup type deal than something grander...

My situation today: I met an amazing girl at a friends dinner party. We talked all night and I walked her home. Nothing physical happened at all, although I certainly could have tried. We exchanged some contact details.

To be perfectly clear; I think I would very much like to start dating this girl. My problem is twofold...
1) I don't really understand how to start this? Dinner would clearly ring 'This Is A Date!' but is very problematic as a first move since we both work fairly long hours thus much harder to schedule. Coffee would make sense time wise but... is it too casual? I don't want to be a potential new friend.

2) How do I gauge her interest her? When you are at a party, or a bar, or a club and you are trying to figure out if some random girl will be down with heading back to your place... there are certain signs and behaviors that just make it clear one way or another for the most part. I certainly know that actual dating and relationships are a different game. Lusting after someone is different than liking them as a person.

How do I proceed? My fallback is “Hey, let's grab a coffee together!” but I really really want to avoid screwing this up.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Dinner would clearly ring 'This Is A Date!' but is very problematic as a first move since we both work fairly long hours thus much harder to schedule.

But surely not impossible? You have to eat sometime. I would go straight for the dinner date ("I'd like to take you out for dinner- how's next Saturday night at 8?"). Coffee dates are for people who "meet" online and need to check each other out. You're past that point.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:01 PM on April 5, 2014 [15 favorites]

It sounds like you want to ask her out to dinner. So do that, don't worry about it, and see how it goes. I'm sure you two can find the time to have dinner.
posted by John Cohen at 5:08 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dinner is better, you both need to eat right? There must be some overlapping time unless you two work opposite shifts or something.

A good test for question 2 is if she either makes time for dinner with you or suggests some alternative. If she says she's too busy and provides no alternatives then odds are she's not interested. People who like you make time for you, it's a pretty safe rule to go by.
posted by ElliotH at 5:09 PM on April 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

(I also found it kind of weird to determine exactly what "dating" was like after college because in my head, dating was a very formal and formulaic process, and that just doesn't match many folks' college hookup/whatever experiences. I have had many (half-drunken) conversations with friends navigating the particular weirdness of post-collegiate dating, so don't feel like you're alone in it!)

Because you already had a nice good talk with her, I'm going to suggest trying to jump straight into "fun thing we should do together!" dating. Based on your conversation, what did you both have in common? Movies, art, music, poetry reading, improv shows, kayaking? Look for an event that you think she'd be into and invite her along to it. Alternatively, yeah grab food together, but frame it as "ahh i'm really excited to check out this neighborhood, want to see it with me and eat mexican at this place?"

When in doubt, I just try to do things I think will be fun and find mutual areas of overlap. Chemistry and attraction and stuff will tumble out naturally from there -- at least that's the hope. Also one thing that's made post-collegiate dating more bearable for me is the sense that, if things don't work out, at least I got to do xyz thing, which I probably wouldn't have even thought of doing/had the opportunity to do as a pair. Takes some of the edge off of rejections and things not working out, too. Good luck/enjoy!
posted by elephantsvanish at 5:13 PM on April 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would second the common interest suggestion! It sounds like you guys talked for a long time - What do you have in common that you both like to do? For me, dinner would be slightly high pressure, because it is pretty date-y. There's ways you can get romantically involved without going through the formal courtship process which can be a little awkward. Ask to do something together and if you are interested in her, she will probably get the vibe you are interested. Or, if she's not getting the vibe then ask her to dinner and be very specific that it's dating.
posted by mermily at 5:43 PM on April 5, 2014

Also, I don't know how much of this is just personal preference, but as a female in my 20s I would like to beg you to be clear about whether this is a date or just hanging out. I can't even count the number of guys I met who asked me to hang out or have coffee or whatever, and I had no idea whether it was a date or just a budding friendship, and it was unclear and awkward for many weeks/months/ever. I'd go for dinner rather than coffee (as ThePinkSuperhero says, coffee is better for online daters who want a sort of pre-date date to scope each other out in a setting that doesn't entail as much of a time commitment). Propose a specific day and time, and either use the word "date" or say something like "I was hoping to take you out to dinner". ThePinkSuperhero's wording is perfect: "I'd like to take you out for dinner- how's next Saturday night at 8?". Something like "I'd like to take you out on a date - how's next Saturday night at 8?" would work just as well. This can be a common interest as well (kayaking, concert, whatever) - it doesn't just have to be dinner. But whatever you do, don't ask to "hang out" and make your romantic (rather than simply friendly) intent clear.
posted by ClaireBear at 5:45 PM on April 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ask her out for a drink.

I like initiating these things as a weeknight drinks thing, because it gives everyone an easy out. If you don't hit it off, one of you can yawn or look at your phone and say, "Oh, wow, I have an early morning tomorrow..." and get out of there with no awkwardness. Likewise, if one drink turns into three, it's pretty clear that everyone is having a good time, and it makes it much easier to move in for a kiss at the end of the night.

You should at least make the motions toward paying for her drink.

If she refuses to let you pay for the token first drink: she probably doesn't think this is a date.

If she needs to leave after just one drink: she's probably not into you.

If she sticks around for a second or third round: she either likes you or has a drinking problem.

If you make it to another round of drinks, text her the next day* to say you had a nice time.

If that goes well, THEN weekend drinks, THEN dinner. Going straight from zero to dinner hugely increases the likelihood of awkward silences and way too much pressure.

*Later that night could work, but you want to make it excruciatingly clear that it's not a booty call and you're just thanking her for a lovely evening.
posted by Sara C. at 7:24 PM on April 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

One thing I forgot to mention -- if you want to swiftly progress from weeknight drinks to weekend drinks, schedule the first hangout for a Wednesday or Thursday, then follow up within a day or so for a second date.
posted by Sara C. at 7:26 PM on April 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

To be perfectly clear; I think I would very much like to start dating this girl. My problem is twofold...

Call her and ask her to dinner. Assume you'll have no idea how much interest she has in you and will have only your interest in her to guide you. This is the current male risk to be run.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 PM on April 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you talked all night- what did you have in common? This is what some people above were saying too- did you talk about vampire film festivals? Your love of Texas BBQ? Etc...this extensive conversation makes suggesting the next activity easier- "Hey, the vampire filmfest is next weekend! Do you want to see it together?". But if nothing springs to mind, of course make the dinner suggestion. The bottom line is, if she likes you, she will find time for you and vice versa. But make a suggestion for sure, let her know you are interested.
posted by bquarters at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2014

If you walked home together and exchanged contact info, that's already encouraging. She may already have a sense that you were interested, but may be shy herself, or just waiting to see what you do next. I agree with everyone else that you just have to make a suggestion. You can make it clear that it's a romantic overture by elaborating slightly on your usual invitation - so instead of "Want to grab a drink?", you might say "I had a great time talking to you and would really like to see you again. Could I buy you a drink on Wednesday?"

I'll also stick my neck out and I say that you don't have to make a phone call - I think it's perfectly OK to ask someone on a first date via text message or email.

As to this last part - Lusting after someone is different than liking them as a person.

Kinda! Depends on the person. You can certainly do one without the other, but it sounds like you might both like and lust after this girl, which is fine. Once you're on the date, Sara C has really solid advice on how to gauge her initial interest, but I wouldn't worry too much about drawing a really bright line between "hookup behavior" and "dating behavior" in terms of how she responds to you. Which is to say, the only way to know whether she's interested in dating or not is to ask her on a date and then see if she agrees to subsequent dates.
posted by superfluousm at 6:01 AM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just want to reiterate the request to make it clear that it's a date! The phrasing "I'd like to take you to dinner/coffee/the aquarium/common interest concert/whatever" is more clear than "Would you like to have [same] with me?"

And even knowing your busy schedules, you can ASK her to dinner if you think she will also make the connection that dinner=date and let the conversation about busyness lead one of you to suggest coffee, common interest, or something else that works.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:13 AM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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