I asked him
May 14, 2006 10:15 PM   Subscribe

I got bold and asked a man out. Now, how do I mitigate my boldness?

He said yes. Now, I don't want to be more forward than I already have been - my asking him out is already a different order of things. I'm comfortable with that, but he may not be. Fellas, have you been in this situation?
posted by goofyfoot to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, the question - should I just take him out to dinner, or should he take the lead? I figure since I started this, I should make reservations and pay. Or is that emasculating?
posted by goofyfoot at 10:19 PM on May 14, 2006

If you've asked him out, you should make the reservations and pay. If he asks you out, he should make the reservations and pay. If he said yes, he's obviously comfortable with the order of things at least up to this point. Have fun and don't over think things too much! Let us know how it goes.
posted by Jubey at 10:29 PM on May 14, 2006

You shouldn't pay, but you shouldn't expect him to pay for you since you asked. Go dutch style.
posted by delmoi at 10:30 PM on May 14, 2006

Been in this situation, ended up marrying the girl. ;)

It seems simplest if you just go dutch and each pay your own way; I wouldn't feel emasculated, but I would feel a bit...um...passive.

Now, you could also totally big time it: pull out your wallet at the end of the meal, and say coyly, "No, no, I've got this, you can get the next one." Grin flirtatiously at your own discretion, but this should clinch a second date.
posted by Loser at 10:38 PM on May 14, 2006

You will probably get a lot of different perspectives on this. Mine is that in the context of a date, whoever initiates the date should make an effort to pay for both. It doesn't need to be an aggressive effort -- if you reach for the check and he says "no, let me get it" or "let's just split it," you've done your duty.

On preview, I like Loser's "big time" approach, assuming of course the date goes well.
posted by brain_drain at 10:42 PM on May 14, 2006

I'm not sure why everyone has jumped to the conclusion that you're asking who should pay. Is that your question?

If it is your question, I also concur with the "s/he who asks the other out pays", but being the guy that I am I generally offer to pay even if the girl asked me out.

If your question is more about "I took the initiative this time to ask him out, but that was bold and I don't want to keep being bold all the time and bother the guy" -- which I think is more what you're asking:

There's nothing wrong with a girl who takes some initiative. I've been asked out before, and I think it's great. It may tell you something about the guy, though, if things end up working out:

Possibility 1: He's shy about making the first move, and it's best that you asked him out, because he may have never asked you.

Possibility 2: He's passive in general, not just about making the first move. This doesn't make him a terrible person, maybe he's just inexperienced, etc. However, you should know that you may need to be the bold one more often than not with a guy like this.

Possibility 3: If it's a guy you have known for a while, perhaps he didn't really ever look at you "in that way", but now that you've taken initiative he is giving it a shot.

There's limitless other ones, and only you can decide what is really the case... but the idea is that there's some reason you had to make the first move here, and some are just fine, some may prove to be bothersome for you. Guys, however, encounter the same exact host of questions and the same dilemma you're in now.

Frankly, I think more girls should ask guys out. The whole "game" is just silly to me. If you're interested in a guy, let him know.
posted by twiggy at 10:51 PM on May 14, 2006

The money thing is one aspect; but not the largest one - I figured since I asked hm out, I'll be paying. My concern is more that I took the first step, which women don't generally do. So how do I back off and not do everything? I took the first step; so how do I not take every step?

Twiggy: yes.

Surely you fellas have been asked out before. What made you the most comfortable about it?
posted by goofyfoot at 11:07 PM on May 14, 2006

I think you should look at the book He's Just Not That into You. I found it hugely helpful in getting myselfi into the right mindset for dating.
posted by zia at 11:17 PM on May 14, 2006

zia: while I've not read the book myself (I'm not its intended audience), I've heard that the book is funny and enjoyable and good, but shouldn't be taken as the gospel. From what I hear, while the book's generalizations are reasonably accurate as generalizations of men, they're exactly that: generalizations.

A shy guy may fit a lot of those on the surface, but not really be "not that into you", as the book suggests.

This guy that goofyfoot has approached could be exactly that.

I'd say to goofyfoot: Go on the date and see how it goes. If you're not interested in dating someone who is shy all-around, you're about to find out if he is or not, and your question here will be moot. Just because you've asked him out once doesn't set a relationship-long precedent that you must always do so.

After the date, if you want to see him again, give him your number if he doesn't have it already and say "I should be free on Thursday, give me a call if you'd like to get together"... By doing this, you've expressed interest without initiating plans, and put the ball in his court.
posted by twiggy at 11:37 PM on May 14, 2006

Not sure what relevance that has to my question, Zia, so please e-mail your comments to my e-mail account.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:37 PM on May 14, 2006

I would say that nothing needs mitigating. It's not forward to ask a man out (unless perhaps he is a generation older than me, or living somewhere very traditional).

If he does feel emasculated by it (unlikely), then there are plenty of things he can do about that (insisting on taking the bill, for example), but chances are good that there is nothing here to be worrying about.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:53 PM on May 14, 2006

in think you should go out in the afternoon for coffee or lunch so that he doesn't get the idea he's going home with you after. Go somewhere where you won't drink.

This will tell the guy 'I'm interested in you but I'm a cautious person who is not an easy lay'.
posted by dydecker at 12:01 AM on May 15, 2006

First of all, kudos. Life would be much, much simpler with more ladies like you.

Secondly, give him a chance to take the reins. Call him and ask "So, any ideas for our date?" If he says "I was hoping to take you to...", then he's taking you on a date (and pays, and so on). If not, go dutch - he'll probably offer to pay anyway.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:12 AM on May 15, 2006

Jeez, why all this concern about not paying?
posted by A189Nut at 12:20 AM on May 15, 2006

You make the arrangements/reservations.
When the bill comes, assume you're going dutch, if he offers to pay the whole, determine if it's a good idea and go/not go for it.
Don't 'mitigate' your boldness. Be yourself, and don't bother trying to fit into some stereotypical 'female' mold. Follow your own vibe and if he digs it, then great. If not, hey it was an interesting dinner out.
posted by Radio7 at 12:47 AM on May 15, 2006

I'm a guy who has done a lot of asking out, and been asked out a bunch, too. Generally, in my experience, it's pretty flattering to the askee, but who asks first doesn't foreshadow every aspect of the future for any subsequent relationship. After all, people over time can't help but act within their essential nature. Even actors put down a role, sooner or later. But if and to the extent this date does later develop into a relationship, you've got the start of a good first date story.

Some of the specific advice I might give would depend upon what, if anything, you already know about the guy. Personally, I'm not the type to ask a woman I've never met socially out on a date, so I generally know at least something about my date ahead of time; conversely, I've only been asked out by a total stranger once, and she was a woman I met in a hotel bar where we both stayed frequently on traveling jobs, so I'd at least seen her around, so to speak. That said, let's presume you know very little about the guy, and are looking to learn more, which is one view of why you'd want to go on a date with the guy, in the first place.

I'd say that since you've taken the initiative, keep it, and use the opportunity to show your date something about yourself, and learn something about him in return, on ground of your own choosing. If there's a restaurant you've been meaning to try, try it, and talk about what it was that brought it to your attention. If there's a movie or art exhibit you've been meaning to catch, go. If you've been thinking about a day trip to some nearby state park, and the weather forecast for Saturday is promising, make that your agenda. But do have an agenda, and be ready to carry through on it in terms of arrangements, and let your date know what you're planning so they can dress appropriately, and cover any other obligations/schedule/transportation issues they may need to make. Having a plan, and sticking to it helps give the date some structure, and avoids falling into the awkward constant negotiation of "I'll do whatever you like" X 2...

Ideally, whatever you plan should have a "bail" option, if things wind up way off the rails, but frankly, I've never bailed on a first date, or been bailed on. In my circles and generation, it's generally incumbent on both parties on an elective first date to try to make it a pleasant time, and if you're on your good behavior, and haven't picked a cretin, I doubt this needs to be a big part of any plans you make. If you've never met the guy socially, and have no idea how you'd get on, then the coffee or lunch thing has some merit. But if you do think you know at least something about the guy, and since you've already taken a bold step, if I were you, I'd go with something a little less generic and tentative than a cup of coffee at a bookstore.

Mainly, relax, smile, & listen. Nothing is nicer than having a pleasant person be interested in you for a few hours, and be willing to share their own stories.
posted by paulsc at 12:51 AM on May 15, 2006

Your concerns about forwardness make no sense to me (a 36 year old male FWIW). If Mr X is already freaked out, or would freak out at your supposed "forwardness", he doesn't sound like a keeper to me. How nice to be asked out! How delightful to know a woman who asks for what she wants! How flattering to be the object of that want! What kind of weak-egoed jerk is going to reject you on grounds of forwardness?

(Not a big fan of the "treat 'em mean keep 'em keen" school here.)

Specifically, you asked him out, and now you're out, and you act like you would if he had asked you. And if you invited him to something that costs money, you can offer to pay - "since I asked you" - and let him contradict you. But if the whole money thing is too hard to deal with, and you haven't committed to an actual event, you can do something free or cheap. Get some stale bread and go feed the ducks or something.

I got asked out just last week. I had to turn her down, owing to my happy domestic situation. But if I were single I would have accepted that offer for a drink, and returned her round, and never given the fact that it was her approach a second thought. I'll leave worrying about emasculation till when you're detaching my genitals, thanks.

If you asked him out to dinner, ask him what he likes to eat and when he's free, pick somewhere nice but not too expensive, and make a reservation. And then have a nice dinner and enjoy yourselves.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:26 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

PS: is this an American thing? If so, apologies. Local mores differ.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:30 AM on May 15, 2006

PS: my partner opines that if you are a bespectacled librarian, there is a man out there for whom you can do no wrong. I think she's right.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:07 AM on May 15, 2006

My concern is more that I took the first step, which women don't generally do. So how do I back off and not do everything?
Just have a good time and enjoy the company. I suspect if you can relax and do that then everything else will take care of itself. You asked him out? Terrific. It doesn't mean that's you will or have to take the lead in everything. How do you not do it? Well, by not doing it. If you want a second date, be sure to tell him what a good time you had and that you'd like to spend time with him in the future. Ball's in his court.
posted by plinth at 5:21 AM on May 15, 2006

Attagirl! It feels great, doesn't it?

Oh, the question - should I just take him out to dinner, or should he take the lead? I figure since I started this, I should make reservations and pay. Or is that emasculating?

When I ask a man out, I also usually plan (unless he specifies something he'd like to do) and pay. Don't ostentatiously grab the check; take it discreetly, as you would if taking a client to dinner. If he leaves the table for the men's room, I take that time to ask the server to deliver the bill to me at the end of the meal; this means I don't have to grab for it. Even if he insists on paying, in my experience, most men will be comfortable with splitting the bill, one way or another. If he grabs the dinner check but we're heading to the theatre after, I make sure I'm the first to the ticket counter, with my card or cash at the ready.

I make no special effort on the first date to mitigate the impression that I'm assertive and challenging, because, well, I'm assertive and challenging; if he doesn't cotton to that, he and I don't belong together.

If I'm interested in a second date, I make that clear. For example, if he protests when I pay the bill, I smile and tell him "You can get it next time." Before the date ends, I make sure he has my number or email, which I give him while saying "I'd love to do this again!" If I suspected he was less than ardent, I suppose I'd leave it at that: be enthusiastic about getting together again, but leave any invitation up to him.

For the just not that into you naysayers, I present exhibit A: my sweet and shy partner, who adores me and whom I adore, who is the loveliest man I've ever dated, and who would simply not have asked me out the first time because, in his words, "I always thought you were [redacted due to poster modesty] --- it just never occurred to me that you were interested in me," even after weeks of escalating flirtation.
posted by Elsa at 5:46 AM on May 15, 2006

i_am_joe's_spleen:I'll leave worrying about emasculation till when you're detaching my genitals, thanks.

Smooch. Of you, sir, I am very fond.
posted by Elsa at 5:51 AM on May 15, 2006

My wife asked me out on our first date; I can't remember who paid, and I don't think it mattered at all. Emasculation? More like... um, awesomeness.
posted by sluggo at 6:05 AM on May 15, 2006

So how do I back off and not do everything? I took the first step; so how do I not take every step?

My partner asked me out on the first date. We don't know who asked for the second date because the emails crossed in the ether. Of course, I'd be one of the last people to care about emasculation.

The first date is always the hardest. Once you've broken the ice, he'll call if he's interested. And you can signal your openness by giving him contact info and say something like, "Hey, call me when you get some free time this week."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:58 AM on May 15, 2006

It's not "bold" and "forward" to ask a man out, this isn't 1950. It's human and honest and kind to act politely on your interest in someone instead of playing jackass games to snare a "good catch". Proceed by continuing to be human and honest and kind and not trying to manipulate him or force him into some kind of gender-role box.

Courtesy dictates that if you invite, you pay. Be prepared to pay, and prepared to split. Play that part by ear when the check comes.

A relationship based on mutual respect and honesty is wonderfully rewarding and enjoyable. It's a whole lot easier to start out that way than to play Rules Girl first and then somehow make the transition to real, grownup partner later if the relationship makes it that far. I know that dating is scary and hard and it's a hell of a lot easier to roll over and let The Man do the work, but I think you will find that most men would really rather just, you know, be themselves. They didn't get issued a manual or anything, so the only advantage they have here is in your mind.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:18 AM on May 15, 2006 [3 favorites]

Ih, and I didn't answer the jist of the question, which is how to stop being bold (or, not be a control freak). Just be, it'll shake out in the end. Maybe he just flops over and expects you to handle everything, in which case you don't need that crap any more than he does, but if you give off a collaborative vibe, that's probably what you'll get back.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:37 AM on May 15, 2006

I've been in this situation and, in my experience, it's about 50/50 that the woman expects to pay. And by 50/50 I mean 50% of the time she expects to go dutch and the other 50 she expects me to pay. I don't like the latter situation, personally, but I suppose there are males who feel they have to express their manhood by paying. I'm not one of them.

Here's what happens when the bill comes: you pull out your wallet.

a. if he pulls his out and doesn't say anything, it'll be dutch.
b. if he sees you pull out your wallet and says he's got it, well, he's got it. It's then up to you to trump him or not. Personally, I would if I were you, or offer it to go dutch.

However, for your own sake, expect to be footing the bill and book the restaurant accordingly.

Were you my ideal date and asked me out:

1. I'd be delighted if you paid.
2. I'd be fine if we went dutch.
3. You'd have to be pretty awesome to get me on a second date if I paid for full dinner at your asking me out.

Generally, if a woman asks me to dinner and the bill comes and she makes no move for her wallet, pretty much a guarantee she won't be seeing me again.

My concern is more that I took the first step, which women don't generally do.

This probably depends on where you are and your age group but in my experience, you're 10 years out of date on this. I get asked out as much as I do the asking.
posted by dobbs at 8:11 AM on May 15, 2006

I've found that "You can get the next one" (assuming you do want a second date) is the best line ever invented. It lets you pay the full bill rather than going dutch, which must be the least romantic thing ever for a first date. It lets the guy know that you're expecting to contribute financially to the dating without having weird hang-ups about it (and that you're expecting him to contribute financially/emotionally/planning-wise as well). It lets him feel treated without feeling like he's suddenly supposed to treat you like a sugar mama. It takes away the fear that you'll have this awkward "who pays?" moment on the next date, because you've just figured it out.

And most importantly, it lets the guy know that you're interested in a second date, and so takes that pressure off, too.
posted by occhiblu at 9:05 AM on May 15, 2006

I've found that "You can get the next one" (assuming you do want a second date) is the best line ever invented. It lets you pay the full bill rather than going dutch, which must be the least romantic thing ever for a first date.

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:07 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Lyn Never's answer RULES.

It's not "bold" and "forward" to ask a man out, this isn't 1950. It's human and honest and kind to act politely on your interest in someone instead of playing jackass games to snare a "good catch". Proceed by continuing to be human and honest and kind and not trying to manipulate him or force him into some kind of gender-role box.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:19 AM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

So how do I back off and not do everything? I took the first step; so how do I not take every step?

Am I really the only person here who read this question to be about sex? Or at least to acknowledge the massive ambiguity of what is meant by 'every step'? She already said that she plans to pay!
posted by bingo at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2006

PS: is this an American thing?

Either that, or it's a time travel thing.

When or wherever the questioner is living, I say stop worrying - if the bloke was the kind of neanderthal to take offence at a woman acting 'above her station' by asking him out, he wouldn't be going on a date with you. And if you spend the entire date fretting about who's going to pay, you'll have a horrid time. So take it easy and split the cost of the date, like, everyone does in my country and century ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 5:54 PM on May 15, 2006

Thank you all. It's an interesting topic aside from my immediate concern (which is a big spark with a fella I don't know well).

In fact I'm at least ten years older than the man, which may have something to do with this.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:13 PM on May 15, 2006

this=my asking the question.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:21 PM on May 15, 2006

Goofyfoot, I think I have asked out almost every guy I ever dated. I never worried about it being emasculating, and I don't think they did either, don't fret! Personally, I would expect to go dutch on any date, but offering to pay is also lovely.

You say you are older than him, and I am wondering if this is playing into your worries, are you concerned that he will view the relationship as some kind of older-woman-in-charge situation, rather than a date between equals? If this is the case, then I think going dutch on the meal would be a clear and simple signal that there is no power play going on here.

Overall, I guess I would say, don't overthink it in advance, see how it goes during the meal. He's probably been asked out by a woman before and isn't phased by it.
posted by Joh at 10:56 PM on May 17, 2006

The date happened. The negotiations, if they were such, happened simply: he volunteered to take a bus trip to me rather than me traveling to him, and I took the check (as I expected to, having done the asking).

Yeah, part of my concern was that he's younger than I, which could have included in the initial post. [The evening went really well.] [Also, turns out he's a member here.]
posted by goofyfoot at 11:52 PM on May 17, 2006

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