How do I ask my friend on a date?
April 2, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

How do I ask my friend on a date?

Dear Metafilter,
I really like my friend; I'd like her to be my girlfriend. How do I make that happen?

I'm 26yo guy. I've never been on a date or had a girlfriend. I don't think I'm a wierdo, just sort of shy and reserved. So, the point is I've got no experience in this arena.
She's a former college friend who I recently discovered was living in the same area. I had kind of a crush on her in school, and now I do again. She seems to be single.
I invited her to come with me when I walked my dogs this past weekend, and that went well. Yesterday we were going to meet a mutual friend who was having an art exhibition at a restaurant/bar, but the friend never showed up, so we ended up having some drinks at the bar and then walking around the city.
Those are date-like sorts of activities, aren't they? We seemed to get along great, and we laughed a lot. On the other hand, I never expressed my attraction to her by flirting or any other sort of implicit method because I really just don't know how to do it. I'm not sure that she knows how I feel about her.

So, it seems like the best way to clear that up is to say it explicitly, and the best way to do that is to ask her on a date (right?). My questions are:

1. How should I ask her? - I need to know the exact phrase that should come out of my mouth or else I'll stumble over it in the moment. My current plan is to call her up and say, "Would you like to go on a date with me?" but I'm open to suggestions. It'll have to be on the phone because I never run into her in person. Also, I really want to make it clear that its a date and that I like her so that there's no ambiguity.

2. I need a plan for the date: what are dates supposed to be like? It's supposed to be a dinner where I pay for her food right? And then is there supposed to be some other event afterwards?
posted by askmeacct to Human Relations (36 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
As some one who hooked up with and stayed with a friend, I feel sort of qualified to answer this (I'm the girl, not the boy). We had sort started hanging out more and the vibes were there, one day he asked me to dinner. I said yes, it was an excellent dinner. We both like to drink tea so I invited him to my place for tea afterwards, we got to talking, talked about how much we liked each other and decided to give it a go. It's still going 6 months later and I have never been happier.

This is my story, YMMV, but in any case I say just ask her and see what happens! Good luck to you!
posted by LunaticFringe at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2008

"Hi [name], how are you? Great. I'm just calling to ask -- would you like to go on a date with me? How about Friday night? Great! If seven works, we could meet for dinner at [place]. Wonderful. See you there!" -click-

The restaurant doesn't have to be insanely nice. A date is more or less just hanging out + explicit sexual tension. Have the same kind of conversation you always have (if it ain't broke...). After dinner, do something that is conducive to hand-holding, e.g. take a walk in a park or walk to a nearby dessert place/cupcake shop (where are you?). And don't stress it -- just see how things go. If she is initiating a lot of physical contact or seems to really respond to the hand-holding and get close to you, turn to her, look into her eyes for one heartbeat, and lean in and kiss her (no tongue in the first three seconds of the kiss).

And then ask her out again.
posted by prefpara at 9:00 AM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

Well, as my friends can attest, I am by no means an expert in this area. However, I've been on a few dates and have a bit of experience.

1. Use something casual but that can't be mistaken for anything but a date. I.e. "I'd like to take you out for Friday night." You've (in my mind) pretty clearly defined it as a date based on saying "take you out" and making it on a Friday night. Insert the phrase "on a date" between "out" and "for" to really hammer your point home if necessary.

2. Dinner dates suck. Really. They're boring, they're a lot of pressure, etc. It sounds like what you have been doing is what you should be doing: museums, art galleries, etc. If you know how to use a pool cue in a relatively safe and effective manner, pool is a good date activity. Even stupid stuff like bowling works. Something where there's an activity involved outside of watching another person chew.

3. You didn't really ask this but I'll answer anyhow. You say you haven't ever expressed your attraction to her. Has she ever expressed it to you? Usually physical contact is the big sign, and it's something subtle like touching your arm while she's talking to you, or how closely to you she walks when you were walking around the city.

That said, I wish you luck. If I had any advice to give my 16 (and 19, and 26, and 29) year old self, it'd be "just ask her." The worst she can say is she's not interested. And if she's a complete witch about it or seriously wierded out, then consider yourself lucky you found out she reacts that way now as opposed to later after you've invested some serious emotional capital into this.

posted by moitz at 9:05 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Please keep in mind that the date you are about to go on will probably be just like your one-on-one friend hangouts. Smile and laugh! Nothing's changed - you just have an opportunity to become closer, better friends.

It's as simple as it sounds. You sound perfectly capable of working it out. Good luck :]
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:16 AM on April 2, 2008

Couple of things

Date like activities do not=dates. I think you know that. Just know that you are trying to change a dynamic. She may be totally ready for it or it may surprise her, but I've gotten it in my head MANY times that because I'd been on date like activities with someone, I'd sort of started dating them. Women can be wacky, I've even kissed women, on date like activities, and they kissed me back, and then I kissed them back again, and they still wouldn't think it was a date. Sometimes, I pick the wrong kind of girl.

Re: dates, yes, just have fun. Dinner can be really awkward. Can you cook? I find cooking is both much cheaper (I admit, I'm a tightwad) and much more relaxing, than going out to dinner. And kind of sweet too. You don't have to go overboard. Something nice and simple. And having ice cream around has never been a mistake for afterwards. And wine. Wine is good. Not too much. Then take her out for a walk or a movie or something.

If you are in your own home you can play music, you can be comfortable and she may be impressed that you can cook. This is a bad idea for a first date, but it sounds like you know each other pretty well.

I don't know, don't listen to me, I'm single.

But the aformentioned things, like bowling, are pretty fun. except I find bowling awkward because one person is bowling and the other person is sitting. Then the sitting person stand up and the bowling person sits down. It makes it hard to talk.

Talking is the big thing. You need to talk.

I like walks. Do you live near the beach? Beach at sunset for a walk is hard to beat. If it's warm. But lakes and parks are nice too.

Good luck dude! Just jump in with both feet. The worst that happens is you feel stupid for a while, lick your wounds and get up. It's part of life. Best that happens is you have hot sex and get married.
posted by sully75 at 9:27 AM on April 2, 2008

A date is more or less just hanging out + explicit sexual tension.

Please keep in mind that the date you are about to go on will probably be just like your one-on-one friend hangouts. Smile and laugh! Nothing's changed - you just have an opportunity to become closer, better friends.

Considering these, which I think are pretty accurate, I don't think it's totally necessary that you explicitly ask her out on a date. You should consider just keeping up what you're doing as well. Just make sure to try to give out some cues, and watch for them as well. Just try to get as close to her as possible. Go for some casual contact. If she doesn't pull away, or better yet, responds with closer contact, you're golden. Make sure you reciprocate any signs you pick up from her.

On the other hand, I'm not saying that just asking her out is a terrible idea. Not going the straightforward route can be confusing and annoying. People misinterpret each other all the time. You might end up thinking she doesn't like you, when you were just looking for the wrong signals. So you could definitely try just asking her out. Assuming she knows you pretty well, I think that if she is interested at all, she'll likely say yes. She should know that for you it's a Big Deal, and will hopefully be flattered. Sometimes in the whole dating game, people prefer to avoid specifically identifying "dates" because of the explicit tension, and vulnerability in asking out, and answering the request. Hopefully she's not the type to get too hung up on those things though.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:31 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I second Moitz's point #2 that dinner dates in general suck. Movie dates are even worse for first dates, because you don't get to talk during the movie. Activities are good; depending on what you and her like, minigolf can make for an entertaining date. So can going to museums or walking in parks. Just walking around a mall and people-watching can make for a good date. Pick something that you both are comfortable doing and would like to do.

The "other event afterwards" really varies. It is useful to have a place in mind for somewhere else to hang out, in case after the main activity she seems to want to keep hanging out. But don't be too set on going somewhere afterward. And don't think about getting her somewhere to kiss/make out/whatever with her; people can smell ulterior motives from a mile away.

I've found it's easier to ask someone on a date by naming a specific time rather than just saying, "Would you like to go on a date with me?" or "Would you like to hang out sometime?" Better to say, "What are you doing Friday night? Would you like to hang out with me? Let's go to (some place) and do (some fun activity)." Sales people call it closing the deal; the sale isn't over until you have her down for a specific time. It sounds like you're comfortable asking her to go with you to places, so that shouldn't be too bad.

And relax. Dating is much easier when you aren't wound up about the results, and just have patience and have fun with the journey.
posted by zompus at 9:33 AM on April 2, 2008

As crunch buttsteak said, unless you're very formal or conservative, there's no real difference between a "date" and "hanging out". I think the concept of a "date" is, ahem, dated. You're not gonna go from being her friend to showing up at her door with flowers and candy. The real issue here is not how you structure the time you're with her, or what you call it--it's telling her that your feelings for her have changed. It's ridiculous to hint at it by using slightly different phrases or whatever. Just have an adult conversation with her. It doesn't have to be all formal and serious, maybe just "you know, my feelings about you have changed. I kinda like you. Like, like like. Crazy, huh? How about you?"
posted by mpls2 at 9:57 AM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Ice-skating is also a very good activity for a date, particularly if one or both of you can't skate. It's an ideal opportunity to hold hands for the first time without it being awkward; and if you manage to fall over a few times you'll only make yourself look like an adorable oaf.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:01 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Usually physical contact is the big sign, and it's something subtle like touching your arm while she's talking to you, or how closely to you she walks when you were walking around the city

She wasn't really touching me or batting her eyelashes at me or anything like that. The only physical contact was that we kept bumping into each other a little bit while we were walking, but I think that was because we were both a bit drunk. We were leaning really close to talk in the bar because it was so loud. We hugged when I left to go home.

She mentioned sort of negative things about herself at some points, like "I'm a clutz," "I'll be poor for the rest of my life," Which seems more like the sort of things you'd say around a friend rather than a date. If you're attracted to someone, I'd think you'd want to make yourself look as great as possible, and hide your bad side?

At least I'll find how she feels, one way or the other, when I ask her on this date.
posted by askmeacct at 10:08 AM on April 2, 2008

Women can be wacky, I've even kissed women, on date like activities, and they kissed me back, and then I kissed them back again, and they still wouldn't think it was a date.

Probably because men can be wacky, and behave this way, and swear that they weren't asking us on a date and didn't really mean to kiss us, and they justwanttobefriends(or FWB)noreally. It's not a "date" unless it's established as a date in advance, otherwise it's just the friend who kissed you all of a sudden out of nowhere.

Ask her out. Say something about how much you enjoy her company, and you would like to take her out on a date. Do use the word date. Don't use the phrase "hang out". Have a specific time, place, and activity in mind. Perhaps she's mentioned something she might like to do. If it's appropriate, pick her up at her house. Open doors for her. Look in her eyes and tell her she looks beautiful. Unless she's adamant about going dutch, pay for everything on the first date (because friends split the check). If you're low on money, plan a date that doesn't involve many expenses. Flirt with her.
posted by yohko at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2008

I'm LunaticFringe with 17 more years, a marriage, and two kids later. I'm also the woman of the equation. Seriously, it happened more or less the same way as it did with LunaticFringe. We started hanging out more, I rescued him when his car died, he took me out for pizza as a thank you, and it just developed from there. We did have the "feelings have changed" conversation and fortunately we were both on the same level.

I'm with everyone else who said that traditional dates kind of suck. Just keep doing what you're doing, maybe more of it, and eventually the time will be right to start discussing whether things are going to develop or not. It may be that time now. It certainly seems as if she likes to be with you; that's a good sign.

I have to say that having been friends first was a huge plus in the long run. We have so much in common and we still like to be together.
posted by cooker girl at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2008

A vote for explicitly using the word "date" when you ask. I've been to coffee with a friend who much later referred to our "date" and I found it kind of creepy. He had said "do you want to get a cup of coffee?" and since we were just friends and I wasn't interested in him, I assumed it was a totally platonic thing. I felt bad that I misunderstood, but really I had no way to know since he hadn't come out and told me "I like you, wanna go on a date?"

That is, do that if you want to go on a date. If you want to see how things develop, just keep hanging out, but don't be thinking of activities as "dates" or romantic until you know she's on board.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2008

WTH hell, ppl…dinner dates do not suck!

that being said, i did however, have a perfect day of a date and it went like this:
brunch at a great breakfast place
hike out at the falls with the dogs
dyed easter eggs
while having some wine/cheese/meats
which all led to our first make-out session

all of the above (except the making out) were options on the table but were not decided upon until right before doing them, so it was semi-spontaneous. the making out was an awesome surprise but the result of an awesome day/date.
posted by violetk at 10:18 AM on April 2, 2008

Continuing to go on these date-like activities without stating your intentions is the worst thing you can do. If she doesn't think of you "that way", you're building yourself up for a crushing rejection later on. If she does, you're wasting time.

Just be candid with her: You have a crush on her, and you're wondering if she might feel the same way about you? But if not, that's cool, you really like being just-friends with her too.

Also, don't "ask her on a date". She has to infer your intentions from that. State them directly; the "date" is incidental.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:30 AM on April 2, 2008

Personally, I like dinner dates (I am female). When my boyfriend took me out for our first date, we went to a fun Mexican restaurant (so, not super fancy or expensive). But I really liked that he made an effort to take me on a date. It felt proper and in turn, it got me anticipating it. I felt like I was in high school again...I was stressing about what I should wear and genuinely wanting to make a good impression. I think a movie is a bad idea as well (unless movies are one of your things with her). Museums are a nice idea - but make sure you are in an area/exhibit where you can actually talk and not get dirty looks from others. A lot of museums have events on Friday nights with music and drinks while looking at art (I know of specifically LACMA in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim in NY). Mini golf and bowling are great suggestions and I've always had fun at arcades.

Like what zompus said, have some places in mind by don't be set on going somewhere. After my first date at the Mexican restaurant, my bf took me to a fondue bar and we had dessert/wine. Then we just walked and talked for a couple of hours I think. It was great and I really appreciated that he treated it like it was a proper date.

If the idea of dinner dinner sounds daunting, try something like tapas and wine. Or sit at the sushi bar at a restaurant and eat what the chef gives you (omakasi) can be a shared adventure that hopefully will make for a good memory.

You know her...choose something that you think she will generally enjoy. And when you ask her, be sweet and honest: XXXX, I like you and I would like to take you out on a date this Friday (or whenever). Would you be interested?

Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
posted by tealeaf522 at 10:37 AM on April 2, 2008

Using the word "date" is such a good idea; I've done this myself many times (I'm female) and it's always been much less awkward than I worry it will be. It allows the friend to gracefully say, "Oh, I'd love to keep hanging out, but I don't think of you that way." or to say, "That sounds great!" and get excited about the evening. I think prefpara's script is perfect.

And dinner is a fine date -- gives you lots of opportunity to talk. Don't go to someplace fancy; go somewhere where you can enjoy the food and enjoy each other's company. You can offer to pay, but if she wants to split it, don't make a big deal out of it.

There's no need to plan anything for afterwards, but if it's going well, you can always suggest getting ice cream somewhere or going for a walk. Good luck!
posted by cider at 10:40 AM on April 2, 2008

If you're attracted to someone, I'd think you'd want to make yourself look as great as possible, and hide your bad side?

No! As cheesy as it sounds, just be yourself.
posted by Hermes32 at 10:43 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tell her to visit this URL.
posted by jozxyqk at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2008

Yes definitely definitely say the word date. I have beaten around the bush so many times, and had horribly wretched experiences because of not being clear. My latest situation, I had the nuts to say "I'd like to ask you out" and she replied affirmatively. I'm not totally sure where it's heading, but I'm glad that my intentions are known. It makes a huge difference. I'm stressed to shit, but not even 1/8 of my normal level of stress, trying to figure out if they know what I'm wanting.

I know that I've delt with some self esteem issues in the past, and I think by not laying your cards on the table, you (ok I) think that you'll have a chance for the person to get to know you slowly and find out about the good things about you. But it doesn't generally seem to work that way, and you may end up wasting a lot of time and heartache with someone who might not even know you are interested.
posted by sully75 at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2008

I'm also the woman in this equation, and have been dating a guy who was previously "just a friend," for about 10 months now. We'd hung out in groups often enough (we meet playing company softball), but the first time we went out on a "date," just the two of us, I spent most of the time trying to figure out if it was actually a date (we did the activity thing -- batting cages and drinks at a bar one afternoon). The date ended with an awkward hug.

What made things clearer was that for the second date, he 1) Asked me out a week in advance for dinner, and then 2) When he walked up to meet me for the date, gave me a nice, simple kiss on the lips and then took my hand as we walked around a bit. That set the tone.

Maybe when you call, you could say, "I have a lot of fun hanging out with you, and I'd like to take you out for real this Saturday night." She'll get it.
posted by acorn1515 at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2008

My boyfriend and I met at work and were pretty good friends before we started dating. He asked me out a few days after we had become more physically flirty (holding hands, etc). Though we had hung out in groups often and took walks together almost every day, we had rarely spoken on the phone, and he called and told me that he had been thinking about me, and was wondering if I would like to go with him to a movie that I had been wanting to see. I couldn't go the night that he suggested, but didn't want him to think that I wasn't interested, so I immediately suggested an alternate night.

If he hadn't prefaced the question by saying that he had been thinking about me, I wouldn't have been sure he was asking me on a date, because I can be dumb about stuff like that.

The dinner-and-a-movie thing worked well for us because:
1. The movie theater is across the street from my house, and there are a bazillion restaurants within walking distance.
2. I had been wanting to see the movie, which was a horror movie (28 Days Later), so we took that as an opportunity to be more physically flirty.
3. There is also a yummy ice cream shop nearby, so I was planning on suggesting getting ice cream after the movie...
4. But then I mentioned that I had this weird Italian zombie movie (Dellamorte Dellamore), so we went up to my place to watch some of that, which was easy because I live right across the street (see 1.).
posted by amarynth at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2008

As crunch buttsteak said, unless you're very formal or conservative, there's no real difference between a "date" and "hanging out". I think the concept of a "date" is, ahem, dated. ...It doesn't have to be all formal and serious, maybe just "you know, my feelings about you have changed. I kinda like you. Like, like like. Crazy, huh? How about you?"

I feel like this is one of those things that is true for a few years in your twenties, but then it turns out the "old-fashioned" methods were perfectly good. Like talking about "boys" and "girls" instead of men and women, it may not be so much a shift in cultural consciousness as a phase some of us go through in college. The benefit of asking someone on a date rather than confronting them with a blatant statement of your current emotional experience, is that it is less jarring, & allows for the information to be conveyed just as completely but without expecting an immediate response. It basically says, "I've realized I like you like that and I'd like to take you out for an evening so that you can take the time to think of me like that and see if maybe that could work." If she already knows there's no chance, she'll turn down the date. If she's already hot for you she'll accept the date readily, and would have responded positively to your bald emotional revelation as well.

But a big category that has to be taken into account is the "huh, I hadn't really thought about that" possibility. For plenty of women, there are plenty of guys who pass their radar when they're not on the lookout, who would catch their radar if they were on the lookout. It has way too much to do with timing, and with how the guy sets himself up. So if he's not totally obviously gorgeous, but he's a cool guy that you hang out with, and you just don't think of him that way, if he suddenly gets down on one knee or something, you might be kinda thrown off. But if he shifts things by asking you on a date, so that you have time to adjust to the idea that you're going to go out with him, he might start to look interesting.
posted by mdn at 11:43 AM on April 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

If you're attracted to someone, I'd think you'd want to make yourself look as great as possible, and hide your bad side?
You might think that, but self deprecation can be an easy fallback for bringing some humor into a situation, or for getting closer to someone.

I would say one of the following to ask someone out in this situation:
Could I take you to dinner on Friday?
Are you free on Friday? I'd like to take you to dinner.

I'd prefer not to be asked "would you like to go on a date with me?" Though someone did use the following line on me, which was awesome:
I wanted to ask you...should we go out sometime?

I, too, like dinner dates, especially if they're with someone who likes food as much as I do. Don't think of it in the old-fashioned sense of a stuffy, jacket-requiring place with waiters in white aprons, instead go for somewhere fun. Unusual places where you can talk about the food are great ice-breakers: Korean bbq, tapas, Ethiopian are all good examples. Make it casual and fun.

I think movies are great second or third dates--sitting side by side in a dark theater gives you an excuse to hold hands. Make sure to go for ice cream or a drink (or go to an early movie and a later dinner) so that you can discuss the film after.

Good luck!
posted by CiaoMela at 11:54 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Either use the word "date," or keep on doing what you are doing. But don't float around in that wussy middle ground of semi-dates that aren't really dates. Ask her on a date, or keep up with hikes and dog walks and picnics and let that drift naturally into closer contact. That middle ground, where you aren't hanging out just as friends but no one is honest enough to call it dating, really bugs me, but lots of people do it, so I guess it works for them. Be careful, though -- a lot of the relationship AskMe's seem to come out of people stuck in that ambiguous middle area.

Don't just say "do you wanna go on a date?" -- ask her on (an activity) at (a date and time). Sort of like "Hanging out has been a lot of fun, and I was wondering if you would like to get dressed up and go on a real date? I was thinking of dinner Friday at place X because they have a really good jazz band playing..." etc. The key here is asking the question in a way that requires a yes/no answer to a specific activity on a specific day, not a general wanna hangout maybe someday perhaps kind of thing where afterwards you aren't sure if she said yes or no or something else entirely.

If she says "no, I'm busy that night," which is a really likely answer, the trick is to figure out if she is just busy that day but is open to a date with you, or if she is giving you an easy let-down and would rather eat raw bugs than date you. Be ready to say, "oh, would another day be better for you?" or "how about Friday instead?" or something like that -- but if you get a "no" twice in a row, don't keep pushing.

Personally I really like dinner dates partly because there is a nice rhythm and structure to a dinner date -- it has a beginning, middle, and an end, so you know that even the worst date will be over after desert. And seeing if a person is nice to the waitstaff and can eat without spraying you with food is important. Movie dates are actually really nice, as long as you have planned something for after the movie -- drinks, desert, coffee, whatever -- because if all else fails you have the movie itself to talk about. And like the dinner date, there is a nice rhythm to the evening that is familiar and comforting.

But anything can be a great date, as long as you are enjoying each other's company. Even a really terrible experience can be great, if it helps you bond. Museums, meals, outdoor activities, dressing up together for the furry convention, watching sheep dog trials -- all that matters is that somewhere in the date there is some chances for conversation, and that there is an end-point in case one of you isn't feeling it and wants to make a dignified escape.
posted by Forktine at 12:01 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know some people disagree, but I generally frown on the use of "date," or, even worse, "take you out" (which implies uneven power dynamics -- one person is the subject and the other is the object).

But ... explicit "date" language might be useful for you, since there would otherwise be no clear difference from what you've been doing before. So go ahead and use that language if you're comfortable with it. OTOH, you could play it cool. Despite the usual advice to be soberly explicit about everything, there's nothing inherently wrong with a little temporary ambiguity/mystery, and in fact it can be pretty exciting. You could, say, wait till an opportune moment to make your point with a kiss instead.

I've been on dates with a lot of different people, and I can only remember one time when we explicitly called it a "date." The rest of the time, it was just apparent from the situation. You don't need to label everything you do.

The reason I don't like using the word "date" is that I think it's like playing "Here Comes the Bride" at a wedding ceremony. When it's done, it's done because it sends a blatant signal: "Yes, this is really happening." "Yes, these people are really getting married." "Yes, we are really going on a date." But it could also freak people out or make them cringe at the cliche. Go ahead and do it if it's your style, but you're free to go another route if you can get the same point across.
posted by jejune at 12:40 PM on April 2, 2008

Formal dates are lame. (IMO)

See if she wants to meet up for drinks again. Maybe an early dinner. Just the two of you; if she asks, tell her yeah ... like a date. If she doesn't like that idea, then say, no, not a real date, just to hang out.

Hang out. Drink. Insist on paying for everything. If it seems right, ask her if she wants to go see a movie, or play Uno at your pad, or walk your dog in the park, or some other friendly after-dinner activity. At the end of the night, if things go well, ask her - "hey, how about next time we go out on a real date?"

I don't see a need for a "formal date", whatever that means. Dinner and the obligatory following movie seems so contrived and awkward. Easier to say "Hey, want to go see that production of Wicked? We can grab lunch/dinner before/after together."

Again, IMO.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:31 PM on April 2, 2008

If she already knows there's no chance, she'll turn down the date.

And where does that leave the guy? The mind of a guy who has a crush on a girl does not process things the way you would. Add in the fact that he's never had a date, and I'll bet within one week he will have convinced himself that he still has a shot.
posted by mpls2 at 1:49 PM on April 2, 2008

Send her a Declaration of Romantic Intent!

Okay, not really; I'm trying to live vicariously.

I'm going to say that either classic (dinner/movie/concert) dates or "other" dates can be great, but structure is important because there's going to be at least a little bit of sexual tension in the air and knowing the end is in sight will make it easier to bear for both parties. Not that you shouldn't be flexible if things aren't going great and hey, there's an ice cream parlor/nifty bookstore/your apartment! But a plan definitely helps.
posted by bettafish at 3:51 PM on April 2, 2008

I think the real benefit of the word date is that it clues her into your interest without making her uncomfortable. Saying that you have a crush on her or telling her your innermost feelings strikes me as being too much too soon. Asking her out on a date communicates that you're interested, but doesn't leave her blindsided by too much emotional revelation.
posted by MythMaker at 3:53 PM on April 2, 2008

My current plan is to call her up and say, "Would you like to go on a date with me?"

I have done this before and it has worked. However, I think it wasn't a surprise to the person when I did so. Meaning that I had sort of gently flirted with her first and had some indication that she liked me too. Some people might find that sort of directness offputting, but for me, the clarity factor is overwhelming. If she says yes, then it's clear what she has agreed to, so you won't be out with her, wondering if it's a date or not. On the other hand, if she says no, then it's also clear, so you won't keep hoping for something that she's not interested in.

As for the second question, I'd say don't make it a formal dinner date right away. That has a lot of pressure attached to it. You have to make good conversation, look into each other's eyes across a table, etc. For a first date, I think it's best to have some sort of activity. Go to an art gallery, go fly a kite in the park, etc. Pick something that will generate some conversation on its own.

For what it's worth, it sounds like she's interested in you. Good luck!
posted by number9dream at 6:35 PM on April 2, 2008

And where does that leave the guy? The mind of a guy who has a crush on a girl does not process things the way you would. Add in the fact that he's never had a date, and I'll bet within one week he will have convinced himself that he still has a shot.

That just seems like the subject of an altogether separate askme... and I don't see what it has to do with whether he suggests a "date" or not: he may get rejected in any case, whether after spilling his guts, or after using an available social shorthand, or after trying to drop hints casually. I'm only advocating for the use of the social shorthand because I think that fear of the social cliche that a lot of us pick up when we're young is a misunderstanding of our own culture a lot of the time. I guess there is something about there being any formalities associated with love that just seems wrong - it's completely free and crazy and spontaneous, so any established norms just seem like they must be imposed to restrict you or something. But psychology is more complicated than that, and it turns out a lot of social conventions are just commonly useful for lots of people.

We just don't really like the idea that lots of people are in love, I suppose - when your SO tells you you're the sexiest person alive it feels good but when you remember that a million other people are hearing the exact same thing from their SO, you're just another human being again. It's like the Sartrean notion of love as wanting the absolute freedom of another - its being unique is part of what makes it appealing, even though we know it's actually entirely standard to consciousness... It's a prime example of the weird paradox of our most shared characteristic being the desire to be absolutely individual - we're most alike in that we all want to be utterly unique.

This might be why some people lean away from the dinner date too - it's certainly the most cliche of all dates. But it has become so for good reason. It's really the perfect opportunity for conversation, which is usually what a first date is based on. Sure, you can go see a show, but then you have very little interacton; you can go do an activity, like bowling or ice skating, but this depends heavily on what activity you both like that is good for two people, and in the end, you often don't get much conversation time. Dinner is simple, enjoyable, and lets the date be the center - it's not about ice skating, it's about the spark between you.
posted by mdn at 6:45 PM on April 2, 2008

My recommendation is pretty simple and won't be a massive jump from what you are already doing. You said if you try and ask her on a date you could stumble and screw it up? Then don't. What ive had success with is when the time is good reach out and hold her hand and Dont act like its a big deal. You should be able to read her reaction. Ive made 2 friends into girlfriends this way. What's funny is I didnt with my current girlfriend - but the day we got together after our final quasidate I said to her "so many times I just wanted to reach out and hold your hand" and she replied "I wish you had" so I'll mark that down as 3 for 3. Taking her hand in yours is a very clear statement.
posted by Tinen at 7:53 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: She said yes! She said yes! I used the word 'date' and invited her to have sushi with me.

Thanks Metafilter, I knew we could do it!
posted by askmeacct at 5:20 PM on April 3, 2008 [9 favorites]

Hooray! That's great! I love it when AskMes end so well. Good luck!
posted by Locative at 1:34 AM on April 4, 2008

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