html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Alright, since Tony asked.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Alright, since Tony asked.

There are bad reasons why the girl doesn’t ask out the boy. A girl might not ask out the boy because she has an outdated notion of gender roles, because she read The Rules, because she’s afraid that expressing interest will make her look like a slut, because she’s afraid he’ll say no. Those are all bad reasons. Asking people out is hard and scary and work like that should be spread evenly among all interested people. When I want to see a boy again, and think he might be unclear about my intentions, and that we might miss the opportunity, I’ll ask him. (I’ll ask him straight, too: I think you’re really neat and I would like to see you again. Can I take you out for dinner? None of this ‘let’s hang out sometime’ bullshit.)

That said, I think there is one really good reason why the girl shouldn’t ask the boy and it goes double for calling after there has been a date. The reason, and I have learned this repeatedly, is that men won’t turn down someone they aren’t very interested in. Especially if the girl is just persistent and interested enough and comes up with fun things to do. If I have a crush on a boy, I would love to plan fantastic dates. I would totally take the boy out to demolition derby at the State Fair, or an all-city championship high school basketball game followed by burgers at the secret good burger place. I can come up with stuff like that all day long. I would love to arrange a summer’s worth of dates and I have no fear of calling to invite him. It would be far, far easier than waiting to see if the phone will ring.

But here’s the thing. Boys want to go on fantastic dates and they’ll even put out afterward. They can do that indefinitely. But they can do that even when they don’t really mean it. So much later, when you really like him, he’s all “but I’m not in love with you”, or “I guess I just don’t feel as strongly about you.” And you’re all, “Holy fuck, this is how you’ve always felt? Why didn’t you say anything?” And he’s all, “I dunno.” So spending time with the boy and doing things with the boy (even personal things) will never actually tell you how important you are to the boy.

In my experience, and I hate that this has been true, the only thing that tells you whether a boy is interested is if he does the asking and the calling. If he wants to see you, he will ask or pick up the phone and call. If he doesn’t, then no matter how you thought the date went, no matter how obvious it is that you belong together, seeing you is not worth effort to him. Maybe that gut feeling of being into someone changes after much wooing, but I don’t really think so. To find out if he feels that, you have to wait and see if he calls. After about four days, you should know pretty good.

Added later: As I keep thinking about this, I think it tells us much more about the importance of rejection in dating than it does about behavior inherent to either gender.


Anonymous Sean Lynch said...

Wow. That's soooo right. "Why'd you keep going out with me if you didn't really like me?" "Well, you asked me to!" "Why'd you have sex with me if you didn't really like me?" "You seemed like you wanted to!"

You know, I'm sure there are girls who are this way too. Actually, I know there are because I've dated a couple of them. But it's much more likely with boys.

Of course, then there's always the option of talking about your feelings ahead of time so there aren't those kind of surprises, but I don't really know enough about boys to know if that would scare them off.

Also, there have been girls that I liked who I thought could never possibly like me until they did something to make it totally obvious (like ask me out), but most of the time I have been a lot better about knowing when a girl likes me. Some guys are pretty oblivious to anything that could be remotely classified as subtle, though.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct that a boy generally will call if he's interested. However there is a caveat to that: "...if he thinks calling will do any good." There are a large number of boys who, as sean mentioned, are unaware of the disposition of any number of girls in their lives. You may think you aren't being subtle but until the word "date" has actually been vocalized then you are running a very definite risk of being too subtle...and you will only find out if you were too subtle too late.

One of the deadly sins of dating is to wait too long before expressing interest. That is a sure-fire way to get lumped into the "she's an awesome of my favorite people in the world...a very good friend" bucket. Once you've been Friended it takes a lot of alcohol to put things back onto neutral ground.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Thuddmonkey said...

That's an angle I hadn't thought about before. You're definitely correct about men tending to just go along for the ride if given the opportunity. But I think the appropriate response is to ask them out, once, and then make it clear you expect them to call you if they want there to be a sequel.

All of this revolves around the same truth: Men are, by women's standards, incredibly socially clueless. This comes from the fact that men, amongst themselves, tend to just say what they mean, and come to expect that everyone else will too. Never assume that any man understands that you mean anything other than what you say.

The 'going along for the ride' thing comes from assuming she's not that serious either. I'm afraid I once did this to a girl, and didn't realize until afterward (when she finally told me) that she was falling in love and I was behaving like a total asshole. If I'd realized, I'd have left much earlier and saved her a lot of pain.
And, by the same token, if you think you're providing the right hints to let him know you're interested, or making yourself clear without coming right out and asking, odds are pretty good that his impression of what's going on is totally different. And you may both be missing an opportunity, silently assuming the other isn't interested.

So ask. And then, after you've made it clear you're interested and that calling will achieve something, wait and see if he calls.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Another caveat to whether the boy will call, is sometimes it takes him awhile to be sure about how he feels. I know the prevailing urban legend is that a guy knows after two days and if he doesn't make a move by Wednesday of the next week, forget him (as any Rules Girl will tell you - or me). Despite enjoying the fabulous dates, I do know one or two boys who are unwilling to lead a girl on...because he knows exactly what it's like on the receiving end. Or, he may actually believe in some chivarlrous or role-type-cast way that a girl - any girl - every girl - should be treated with a respect that reflects the grace she shares merely through her existence.

Ask. If he lies or evades, you will know - or figure it out sooner rather than later, which is better for you. If it scares him off, was he really worth your time? If you don't ask, and he doesn't detect your subtle expressions of interest (which is all too likely, as others have pointed out), you will both miss the opportunity to find out if there is something worth exploring. If you find yourself waiting and wondering, prompt him. The honest ones will answer, though you might have to be a little patient. If he's worth your time, he's probably thinking about how to express his interest without giving the impression he "does this all the time" or has never been here before. Your directness can cut through a lot of the overthinking.

8:00 PM  
Blogger capella said...

See, this is exactly why I don't ask boys out. Not because I am afraid of rejection. What I am afraid of is *not* being rejected, and then having to go on a date with a boy having no idea if he has any interest in me. Because this has happened to me before, even when I *wasn't* pursuing the boy, when things were totally even or I thought he was the one chasing me, and then five months and dozens of dates later he's all like, "I never wanted to be in this relationship, but you seemed to want it so I went along" and doesn't even understand why I'm angry. So while not chasing boys isn't surefire protection against this sort of thing, it seems to me like asking them out is just inviting it.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Cladeedah said...

Oh yeah, I've thought this for a long time. Ironically, the boys who keep going out with girls and making out with them even though they're not really that into them think they're being nice! For some reason, they don't want to hurt the girl's feeling by flatly rejecting her. Though in reality, they would really be doing them a favor by nto wasting their time & emotional capital.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous tony said...

Yea, this is right. I will still contend that it's alright for the woman to ask the man out first if necessary because men are sometimes completely oblivious (I'm walking proof), but I agree with you, Megan, that it is then up to the man to show some fucking initiative and pursue the second date.

But men can get into trouble too; or at least the clueless ones. About two months ago I met a woman, Amy, through my friend Emily when we all went to happy hour. Amy and I got along, but at the end of the night we went our seperate ways and I figured I'd see her every now and then. A month ago on a Thursday afternoon I receive an email from Amy (got the address from Emily) asking if I'd like to go mountain biking Friday after work and then grab beer and burgers afterwards. Since this is my idea of a dream date, and the fact that I enjoyed Amy's company when I met her, I said yes. Cool.

In my inbox the next morning was an email from Amy, sent that morning, saying she was sorry for all the bother but she couldn't go because she had no bike helmet and she wouldn't have time to purchase one before I was supposed to pick her up at 6 p.m (she lives like 5 minutes from a Target), and maybe we could reschedule. Also, she would still love to get drinks that night and was wondering if I would mind if Emily came along.

Emily, who I work with, was taken aback when she found out because her and Amy spent the previous night getting Amy's bike ready and Amy was apparently very excited, and Emily was under the impression that it was to be a date, therefore Emily wouldn't be joining us for drinks.

My response to Amy was polite and aloof. I said that I understood, not a problem, and if she gets a helmet maybe we could try again.

If only I'd left it there. But I didn't. I pursued -- even though my friends were telling me not to. Mistake.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous hamilton said...


Three things:

1) I think your thesis is correct, but have no idea why it is correct. Any ideas on why it works out this way?

2) Have you noticed that when you tell little funny stories with a point (or ending with a question), you get snarky little replies, but when you tell a little about your life but mostly explain a phenomenon, other people give you the ultra-long replies? This makes for good reading, so thanks.

3) As a perfect stranger reader, your interaction with readers is greatly appreciated.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Macneil said...

I think you're right.

The simple solution, then, is for you to create the opportunity.

You need to be careful pulling it off (as you don't want to seem too obvious) but if you really want to go out with a guy, at least give the poor fellow an opportunity to ask you. The best tactics always depend upon the situation.

If he's interested, he will take your bait. If he isn't interested, he probably won't bother. But if you don't create the situation such that he could naturally ask you, you are putting too much of the burden on him.

(Another rule of dating is that any insight men have about women is the same exact insight women have about men. There's some guy right now posting on his blog about how women always say yes to dates even when they aren't interested. Every single dating insight I've seen that's worthwhile has applied equally to both sides.)

7:20 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Couple ideas why men may be slower to reject women they aren't interested in:

1. It feels awful to turn down someone who isn't conspicuously incompatible. People who are used to being asked (mostly women) have learned through experience that it has to be done or the situation just drags on and gets worse. People who aren't used to being asked (mostly men) haven't learned to bite the bullet and reject someone early.

2. If you believe the stereotype, men enjoy sex with people they aren't psyched for more than women do. If that's true, men would get more out of dating ambivalently than women would, and have less reason to turn it down.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Macneil said...

"If you believe the stereotype, men enjoy sex with people they aren't psyched for more than women do. If that's true, men would get more out of dating ambivalently than women would, and have less reason to turn it down."

Hmm, I think you're right about the sex aspect of that. But in terms of just dating, my own experience has been that it's women who don't mind dating men they don't even know if they like or not. (And I'm just talking about dates in and around first base.)

But I suppose my reaction proves my point: this was an insight I thought peculiar to women (based on my life experience) but it's actually just one of those human things.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous hamilton said...

I had considered #2 but not #1, which is significantly more insightful. Danke.

7:55 PM  
Blogger melbourne.train.girl said...

A friend pointed me to this post. Even though I want very much not to believe it, I know right in the back of my mind that it is true.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Slocum said...

Nah -- if you're interested, ask him out once (or maybe even twice). If he doesn't take the initiative after that, you'll know. But obviously, you don't want to keep asking a guy out over and over without him asking you.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Jason Ligon said...

Context matters. See, guys have evolved dating habits in an environment where they are always expected to ask the girl out and make follow up calls. Because a girl making the follow up call or asking out is rare, it is almost always taken advantage of.

As Megan mentioned, doing the asking is putting yourself on the line. It is a huge relief when it doesn't happen, and a woman will get initial bonus points just for saving us all the stress. Those bonus points may not be persistent, depending on how things go. Where Megan is seeing something like dishonesty, men are seeing a low risk opportunity to try something new.

If it were more normal for women to do the asking, I don't think men would continue to see it as a novel bonus.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Richard Gadsden said...

Also, a lot of men are - at least until they meet someone they actually fall in love with - quite happy to spend time with and have sex with an attractive woman. While they may not be prepared to chase someone that they have no real feelings for, if they're getting sex on a plate, why say no?

Indeed that kind of casual relationship - never having to commit - suits a lot of men. Remember that some men are afraid of commitment, and others just haven't found someone they want to commit to - and still others just recognise that they're not the committing type.

And, anyway, what's wrong with having sex with someone because you like the sex?

2:53 PM  
Anonymous mitch said...

This was an excellent post. Very clear and made me understand something I hadn't before.

10:58 PM  
Blogger step314 said...

I hope I am not posting this because I find you interesting from being incredibly annoying notwithstanding you seem to have a likable and intelligent nature, but I will tell you how it is/give you advice anyway.

What a male should do is always keep a girlfriend or prospective girlfriend informed as to the nature of his feelings toward her. There is a kind of invidious dynamic that can go on. A male can want sex with a female without wanting to care for her or her children. A male knows that if a female has sexual intimacy with him for a good while not wanting children with him, eventually, she will look something like a ho if she never wants to get pregnant. I.e., though it be entirely possible for a woman to turn down a particular man or even a few particular men only after a good while has passed without their promising commitment of resources and not look like a ho notwithstanding her willingness to have sex outside marriage with him makes her look like she is trying to make out as though sex and love are what are important to her, if she does it enough, she will look like a ho, which I define to be a female who acts like sex is what is important to her, while really what she wants in a relationship is commitment and money. Resources at times should be a factor in deciding whether to have a relationship, but if they are always the deciding factor, that really suggests to me in a female immoral greed, which is only worse if it is dissembled.

It is true also that a male can not want to tell a female he just wants to fuck her because he thinks she might turn him down if she expects commitment. This is what typically happens in seedy neither fish-nor-foul relationships. Why? Because it is more profitable for males to engage in such games than it is for a woman to be a ho. There is a certain logic that might suggest that sex properly can be just an exploration or a game. After all, masturbation can be fun and exploratory, and masturbatory feelings are sexual. But I would argue that deep down, it is in the nature of people to desire sex only when reproduction is desired. Fake sex is like a video game that is too real, the thought in the back of the head that this might be real intrudes itself so much it kills the playful part. People have evolved instinctively not to want to explore during sex so much, when errors matter. They have evolved to explore with kissing, poetry, masturbation, etc. OK, then, why do so many people have sex for reasons other than procreation?

The reason is that sodomy is addictive. (I’d post a link to my Anti-sodomy page, but I see you don’t allow links, you’ll have to find it.) A guy by having "sex" with a female can quite possibly change her attitude toward sex. Semen probably contains addicting chemicals, capable of being absorbed by the digestive system, but not by the reproductive system. In short, (some) men are ambiguous about their feelings because they hope that can postpone expressing their desire just to fuck until after they have sufficiently warped their victims sensibilities using oral or rectal sodomy.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey y'all,

While I am excited for a wide diversity of opinion in the comments, I want to make it absolutely clear to everyone that From the Archives is very strongly pro-sodomy.

10:51 PM  
Blogger NL said...

I'm confused about Tony's story. Why did the girl back out if she could have easily gotten a helmet? Why was it bad for him to pursue? In other words, huh?

7:52 PM  

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