So there's this girl...
March 12, 2008 8:30 PM   Subscribe

So there's this girl. She is brilliant and wryly funny and beautiful and we are grad students together in a program that will shortly be ending. Explain to me in the simplest possible terms - as though I were an extraterrestrial anthropologist with an academic interest in, but little direct experience with, human interaction - how I can show her that I'm interested in being more than friends...

(Posted anon because some mutual friends read Metafilter.) So I'm pretty sure she is into me to some extent - she goes out of her way to talk to me, mentions wanting to get to know me better, gets close and casually touches my arm when we're talking, etc. The problem is that I'm an unmitigated, clueless bonehead when it comes to this sort of thing, and I'm years out of practice. Basically, I'm looking for ways to show or tell her that I think she's awesome, and that I want to get to know her better outside of class, without seeming wierd or awkward as I do so. Any suggestions as to what I should do next here?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
She likes you!

Ask her on a date. "Would you like to go see a movie and have dinner?"

Talk, drink, have fun.

Oh, how I love young love.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:36 PM on March 12, 2008

you know, this seems like a situation where she'd be positively delighted for you to ask her out. yes, rejection sucks and it makes for uncomfortable situations when it happens but we all have to deal with it. you are no more or less of a doofus or whatever you fear you might be for saying what's on your mind. so just be nice about it. you're making her a compliment by stating that you do like her quite a bit. just smile and when the moment is opportune ask her if she'd like to see you a bit more or whether she'd like to go out for dinner with you or whatever would make for something beyond you two have done together until now. it's not the words that matter, it's the intonation. it's the sincerity that matters.

good luck and have fun.
posted by krautland at 8:39 PM on March 12, 2008

nth the ask out.

Try to make it something specific like "Would you like to have coffee on Friday after class?" Otherwise you might end up with non-specific plans that float around and never really land anywhere.
posted by ODiV at 8:46 PM on March 12, 2008

Ask her to go/do someplace/something with you. Don't make it a date. Could be anything. The first time I ever did this it was to some poetry festival. Keep doing this until lips touch.
posted by unSane at 8:51 PM on March 12, 2008

Social Issues Research Centre Guide to Flirting.

Then ask her to do something specific at a specific time. At this time, during this activity, watch for further behavior from the guide, and based on this feedback, determine whether and when to get together again.
posted by eritain at 9:03 PM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

She's doing everything I do when I want someone to ask me out. What would be really awkward and weird, dear extraterrestrial anthropolgist, is if you didn't ask her on a date. There's your answer. Quit making it hard. In fact, she'll probably make it pretty easy for you if only you would utter, "So, would you like to ____ with me this weekend?"
posted by smeater44 at 9:04 PM on March 12, 2008

this thread has a lot of good stuff along these lines.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on March 12, 2008

Men tend to over estimate interest levels from females. This can be greatly amplified given any amount of innate cluelessness on the part of the guy. So beware.

That said, there is no reason why you shouldn't approach her and ask her out, but you need to fortify yourself against the fact that she could reject you. (And there is nothing quite as painful as that tensed up, tight lipped smile you get from a woman who realizes that she is being hit on by a guy she is completely uninterested in.... ugh...)

Adding to the pressure is that fact that if you severely botch your attempt you can create a painful rift with someone whom it sounds like you see a lot. This of course can lead to other problems depending up on how gossipy your department is, etc.

So, be very casual in your approach.

Don't say, "Oh my god I love you! Let's grind our sex organs together! Right. Now. URGRHHRE!"

Do say, "Hey, so what are you getting into after class today? Hey, let's grab a drink sometime. There's this little place over on such-and-such I've been wanting to check out."

Sit at the bar, have a drink. Laugh, talk, people watch, whatever... touch knees.

In like Flynn. Go get her tiger.
posted by wfrgms at 9:23 PM on March 12, 2008 [5 favorites]

Next time you see her, near the end of the encounter, (1) look her right in the eye; (2) Ask her to have dinner with you next week.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:24 PM on March 12, 2008

Furthermore, you have all the stuff necessary to make it work yourself. You're not an extraterrestial anthropologist. You are a human being and you were built to engage in this sort of thing. What this means is that the most important thing you can do is trust that you will know what the right thing to do is at the time.

Case in point: you claim that The problem is that I'm an unmitigated, clueless bonehead when it comes to this sort of thing, and I'm years out of practice.

But a few lines later, you say: So I'm pretty sure she is into me to some extent - she goes out of her way to talk to me, mentions wanting to get to know me better, gets close and casually touches my arm when we're talking, etc.

You see, you already are using that built in stuff to pick up on social clues and to think and plan about how you can make things work.

Trust yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 PM on March 12, 2008

without seeming wierd or awkward as I do so

Shyness is sexy. An awkward but genuine request for a date trumps a slick pickup line every time.
posted by desjardins at 10:16 PM on March 12, 2008 [6 favorites]

desjardins speaks the truth, at least for a lot of people (me included). why people bang on about confidence all the time as being necessary for hooking up with somebody is totally beyond me. a confident person is more likely to be a player; a nervous person is more likely to be genuinely interested. definitely sexy.

so, just to keep you nervous enough to remain practically irresistible: some people, and cultures, are more into touch than others. her touches might mean nothing at all. you'll never know until you ask her out...
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:40 PM on March 12, 2008

The right thing to do is to ask her out.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID - be relatively careful about your timing. Don't seek perfection, but look for a reasonably good moment. Socially awkward people (such as myself and possibly you) often have great difficulty understanding or judging this thing other people call timing.

Wait for a pause after an upbeat moment in your next conversation or two. Then "So, here's a question - would you be interested in grabbing a drink sometime this week?"

Smile. Do not scream from nervousness.

You'll do fine.
posted by Ryvar at 12:14 AM on March 13, 2008

posted by LarryC at 12:20 AM on March 13, 2008

Show up to your next scheduled encounter in a suit of armour and serenade her with an 18th Century love song. Failing that, yeah, just ask her out.
posted by bangalla at 1:06 AM on March 13, 2008

Listen to Ironmouth; you're already picking up on the fact that she's interested in you. Act on it! Lots of good advice about the how-to above but for me the phrase that jumped out was the fact that your grad programme is ending soon.

Even if you've got this throughly wrong and you are shot down, it's not like you've got to spend the next x years working in adjacent cubicles and seeing each other every day. The very worst case situation here is a positive learning experience.

She's not a girl. I'm not trying to get all feminist here, but when I read this question, I was baffled. It took me a while to parse it and to realize you weren't talking about some child prodigy. She's a woman.

See, I consider myself a feminist but this kind of shrill, strident bollocks gives all of us a bad name. The poster quite clearly intended no disrespect to women generally nor the subject of the question, indeed going so far as to describe her as brilliant, awesome, etc.

It didn't take you a while to do anything. You decided to take offence for trivial cultural shorthand. You look like a pissy, petty idiot. Why not pick your battles more carefully and go for the ones that really matter?
posted by dmt at 3:54 AM on March 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Awkward is totally ok. But be direct -- "Do you want to go out for drinks on Tuesday?" "Hey, want to grab coffee after class?" -- rather than hedge and qualify and give her and yourself all kinds of escape routes. Don't say, "well, I was thinking, but I guess it's a bad idea, but maybe do you kind of want to, nah, anyway, maybe like hang out someday, but it's totally ok if you are not interested, and just let me know if, you know, someday, anyway I have to go, but maybe you could, well..."

Ask her a question that names an activity, a date, and possibly a time of day, and that needs a yes or no answer. That way, if she gives a total non-answer, you can understand it as a nice way to say "no," rather than walking away unsure what the story is. Too often, nervous guys are trying so hard to let the woman have a way out that they forget to actually ask her out. If she says "no, I'm busy on Tuesday," ask her if another time would work for her -- if she says no again, or is ambivalent, you have your answer. But maybe she is busy on Tuesday but would love to go out on Friday.

It sounds like she likes you, but who knows -- maybe she is just friendly and flirts with all her guy friends and her boyfriend is ok with that. But regardless, it is not an insult to her to ask her out. It is definitely not ok to be persistent and creepy and stalk her, but unless you are her boss asking her on a date is totally ok behavior. Worst case, she says no, or you go on a date and halfway through she tells you about her boyfriend, or she stands you up. None of those are devastating, honestly, and all them are far, far better than wondering years later "if only I had....", which has to be the saddest thought in the world.
posted by Forktine at 6:53 AM on March 13, 2008

In case you're looking for an actual plan of attack (theories and concepts are great for learning, but nobody can blame you for needing some help to execute as well), I would go with something like Ironmouth and Forktine said.

When there's a lull in the conversation, look over at her, make eye contact, smile, and.. "hey.. do you want to go get [food] [after class/later/tonight]?"

Women like when men smile. Men like when women smile. People who smile are better received and happier socializing than people who don't. Loosen up and have fun.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great answer by Forktine.

In parallel with that, here's another approach with an "easy-out" for all concerned:

"hey, i came across some free tickets for [concert, movie, exhibition, whatever] - would you like to come along?"

"sounds great! i've been really wanting to see that! when is it?" or "idunno, i'm not really into that [band, director, artist]"

if somebody really likes you, they'll even fake an interest in the event just to accept, and it'll be something you can laugh about later. otherwise, they'll express disinterest just to say no nicely.

there's a chance that they just wanna see the show here, but that'll become evident on the night.

"I'm busy" plays out as described by Forktine - positive or negative, depending. Good luck!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:22 PM on March 13, 2008

(oh, and make sure it's not something that's One Night Only - that way, you can buy the tickets for the appropriate night after you've agreed on the date. your free tickets are, naturally, for any performance you like...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:30 PM on March 13, 2008

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