Monday, 2 April 2012

Auntie Seraphic & Ask or Not Ask

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

If I may, I wanted to ask your opinion on a dating-related matter. I've found your blog to be super relevant to my life as a single woman, so thank you.

Here is my situation. I've been seeing a really nice guy from church for [X]. We met at a church event and then, lo and behold, he arranged some group outings, and then called me and asked me out to dinner (which made me very glad that I had waited for him to make the first moves). We've been on [Y] dates, and we've connected at church and social events with other friends regularly.

Anyway, I'm wondering at what point you would consider it ok (for lack of a better word) to initiate a date (so far he's done all the asking), and how a woman should decide what would/wouldn't be considered too forward in terms of reciprocating interest and taking initiative? It seems like we're both pretty interested, though I would like to hear from and see him more often. He's in rigorous [professional] training, and it's hard for me to tell if he's just that busy or not as interested in me, or if this pace is good for this early stage. I am cautious about doing things I might have done in the past, such as being too available and doing favours like baking cookies for him (I haven't). But at the same time, I have found it increasingly hard to be detached and avoid getting too hopeful/ahead of myself with this guy. He is wonderful, and I really like him, yet I don't want to be disappointed.

I feel confused. I've started praying for detachment and perspective. I'm also trying to accept that I might get hurt, and there is only so much I can control. I have kissed him, which maybe was unwise. I guess the reason I'm writing is that I just don't like feeling like I'm sitting by the phone - I don't know if I should keep patiently letting things unfold slowly, or reach out to him more often. After all, we've been out a few times, and I feel like a good friendship/relationship is developing. I don't want to overdo it, or at the other extreme, come across as ambivalent.

Any insight you could offer would be helpful. I want to invite him to get dinner with me this week, but I don't know if that's too forward. I feel like I'm second-guessing everything lately, and I don't like feeling so unsure of myself.

Thank you so much for reading this email! I know you must be very busy, and I appreciate all the work you do to help us singles to be seraphic.


Ask or Not Ask

Dear Ask or Not Ask,

Sit by the phone. I know we've been told since we were born that sitting by the phone is BAD and these are MODERN TIMES and that the MODERN WOMAN is the strong, masterful type who sends flowers and pays for dinner and calls the man on the phone and wrestles lions, etc., etc., but that is just nonsense.

Either he's that into you or he's not. If he's not that into you, calling won't help. If he is into you, calling him will lessen your mystery and quality of precious rarity.

I don't know why people act like dating relationships are all that and a bag of chips because we women spend a lot of our time away from the men in utter anxiety. Between being kissed by B.A. and being asked by B.A. to marry him, I was in a state of insanity. If he hadn't asked me to marry him, I don't know what I would have done! Possibly imploded.

So it is completely normal for you to feel like you want to hear and see him more often, and possibly he would like to hear and see you more often, but he is [in rigorous professional training]. He is under intense pressure--and as a [Z] I am sure you must be under some, too--and the last thing you want to do is ADD pressure. Because that is what "Gee, I sure would like to see you more often" does. Nine out of ten women start to nag for more access after a few dates. Be the one in ten who clenches her teeth and waits.

Let things unfold slowly. I really mean that. There is no reason for you to call him up and ask him out for dinner. If he's the One, he will call you up and ask you out for dinner. He will not sit around wondering why you don't call up and ask him out for dinner. And he must know you like him; if you didn't like him, you wouldn't go out with him. The important thing is that he not know how MUCH you like him until he takes his big, necessary, boy-becomes-man, emotional risk of telling you how much he likes you.

I understand very well your temptation to push things forward faster, to push for more, to do something to relieve the feeling of "waiting by the phone." However, there is just no point. You are just going to have to live in the discomfort, and, yes, that kind of sucks. Alternatively, you could fill up the gap with more of your work, with more of your friends, with more of anything except vices, Ben & Jerry's and temptations to call him and ask him out on a date as if he were a girl and you were a big, strong man.

I assume you see him once a week already, what with church and everything. The famous "Rules" decrees that at the early stages of a relationship, you shouldn't see a man more than once a week, increasing to twice a week as the relationship gets going.

Meanwhile, you are still free to go out for coffee, etc. with any other guy who asks. Keep that in mind, and perhaps he might remember that as well and do something to forestall that. (Of course you should never SAY so.)

I hope this is helpful.

Grace and peace,


amlovesmusic said...

He is initiating things, so that is good! I agree with Seraphic, just let him take his time. He is very busy, and I am sure he will make time for you if the occasion arises. Does he text you often?

I am in somewhat of the opposite boat. I met a man, and he asked me out that very night. I said yes, and we eventually arranged a daytime date. We have hit it off, and we spend a lot of time together, but most of the time it is in groups. He did not know about the young Catholic group that I am heavily involved with, so I told him about it. He's been coming to the events every time, so we see each other often. We are both very busy, so we have only spent a couple hours alone. However, he texts me daily. I enjoy his texts, and if he were just a guy friend I would have no problem with daily text messages...but since he is very interested in me, I am wondering if it is a good thing to text each other once a day. I know that texting can create somewhat of a fantasy relationship, similar to online dating. I am just not sure how to handle it. He always apologizes for not getting back to me until the next day.

Basically, I am much is too much in terms of spending time with him? And do "The Rules" apply to group events? The only reason why we've been seeing each other so often is because of groups, not because we have been going out on dates. He is Catholic and really amazing, so I need some perspective on this....I am afraid I am already losing my head over him.

Seraphic said...

It's funny you should mention texting because a friend of mine and I were talking about the problem the other day. "The Rules" was written years before there was texting, and the wisdom of the elders can't help us out here, as the elders never had text messages.

In short, I have no clue about how much texting is "too much" although my guess is that one text a day is not an overwhelming number. I hope they're short, however.

As for hanging out in groups, that depends on what this means. If it's lunch together or going out "as a group" to play pool every single day, then I think that is too much: not just in terms of keeping the relationship fresh, but in terms of life balance.

You didn't mention if you have ever been on a "just us going out for dinner/to a movie" date, which is something I'd be more concerned about. If you've only spend a couple of hours alone, that sounds friend-zonish to me, frankly. Hmm....

Andrea said...

"Meanwhile, you are still free to go out for coffee, etc. with any other guy who asks. Keep that in mind, and perhaps he might remember that as well and do something to forestall that. (Of course you should never SAY so.)"

I understand this to mean that while you are going out for coffees with other guys you should never tell the one guy you are interested in that you are doing so? But why not?

One friend tells me of her grandmother who used to be dropped off by one fellow who had taken her out on a date only to be picked up by the next fellow...and they might even see the other guy in the driveway.

I suspect that story is somewhat exaggerated, but the idea behind it is that the guys knew they were competing and that the lovely woman of their desires, if not wooed appropriately, might choose the other guy. So why would be it be wrong for said guy to know you were dating others?

Or is is just the kind of thing that is known without saying it?

Thing is, in this era of mass confusion over dating, I'm not sure anyone knows what they used to. We've all grown collectively much sillier.

Seraphic said...

What I meant by that is "But don't say to him, 'I can go out with other guys, you know.'" I don't think games to make a man jealous are at all a good idea. But it is also not a good idea to act engaged when you're not engaged. Of course, if you don't WANT to go out with anyone else, then that is your choice.

Andrea said...

I see, thanks.

Well, for the person who wrote this letter, I think the very best advice is to go out for coffees with other guys. When I have been waiting for someone I really, really liked to contact me, that has always helped. It's a good distraction and since at the end of the day you really don't know whether the guy you really, really like is the one for you--you might as well!

Still doesn't change the fact that it is frustrating and hard though.

MaryJane said...

Re: the original post. I just wanted to add that although I completely agree with the old fashioned wait-for-him advice, some modern men, through no fault of their own, expect a girl to reciprocate, and if she doesn't, then they think she is not interested.

Even so, I don't advocate asking him out. But I think it's important to be clear that you like him. Without throwing yourself at him, you have to find a way to make it clear that you would like him to ask again. I wish I had a practical example, but I don't. I just think there is a fine line between playing the traditional female role (=good) and appearing too cool (=bad). Of course, you don't want to end up chasing him, either.

I suppose that engaging him in conversation, when you are at a group function, and appearing very interested in his work, etc., and mentioning that you'd love to hear more about it sometime might fit the bill.

Re: texting. I'm a fan of avoiding it when possible. I think it takes less effort for a man to text, and therefore can lead to women getting their hopes up when the men are really just a little bored and like the thrill of texting a woman. Also, friends text a lot. I think texting once you are in an exclusive relationship is fine, but texting during the uncertain phase can lead to a lot of heartache. (That said, I'm not a tech-y person. I guess if a man loves his iphone etc. it may just be his thing...)

Another Waiter said...

"Thing is, in this era of mass confusion over dating, I'm not sure anyone knows what they used to. We've all grown collectively much sillier."

This is always what worries me. How can the rules work if no one (else) knows them? Not showing your hand is probably wisest, but seems like it could also just lead to crossed signals.

Seraphic said...

The authors (or compilers, they might say) of "The Rules" don't care if men know them or not. If you ask me, it's better if they don't because I know very few men who know about them who don't froth at the mouth about "mind games" blah blah blah.

The whole point to "The Rules" is that they are attuned to male psychology and various tendencies of male behaviour, like taking advantage of what comes easy, but not valuing it enough to keep it; needing challenges; working for what they really want.

A pal and I argue a lot over whether "The Rules" work in every culture. She says, "Yes, because human nature doesn't change fundamentally from culture to culture" and I say, "No, because I've been to Germany and men are different there."

However, I am willing to gamble that the famous old Rules do indeed 'work' when we're talking about men from old-fashioned, manly-men cultures, or men who are still old-fashioned, manly-men in more egalitarian cultures. But it is important to remember that mostly the Rules work by eliminating guys who are not really interested.

And that is really the point of the Rules: eliminating the guys who aren't really interested ASAP so that you don't waste your time on or break your heart over a succession of Mr Wrongs.

There is no magic formula for making the guy you're crazy about crazy about you. The best you can do is look and be your best self in public, and err on the side of ladylike when men are around, and hope you eventually fall for one of the guys who falls for you because you fit his idea of the Perfect Woman.

Meanwhile, if you say "Yes" when a guy asks you out, and you even kiss him good-night, he's going to know you like him. Men are not that stupid. Beyong that, it's up to him to figure out how much you like him. Don't make it so easy for him. I think I should repeat this once a week: "Don't make it so easy for him." Manly men love challenges, so why rob them of challenges?

Seraphic said...

By egalitarian, I mean where the gender roles are really confused and the boys are kind of like girls and the girls are kind of like boys and the ads on the bus shelters look like pornography and the men use more beauty products then women do. So really, egalitarian is the wrong word.

Sarah said...

Just wondering... in what ways are men in Germany different? In relation to dating?

I have only lived in Bavaria for a little while, and my German social life is limited to the parents and children I live with, their uncles and the uncles' two male roommates, and the grandparents of the children. The men's behavior so far has not seemed too terrible different, but maybe I just don't haven't been here long enough to notice. I'm incredibly curious, now.

Anonymous said...

Auntie Seraphic,

What if I am going through the exact same situation as Ask or Not Ask, but in a city that I will be leaving in three months? In the past I've had no problem waiting, being patient, seeing how things pan out over time, yaddah yaddah yaddah. The man in question knows I will be leaving in three months for a four month internship elsewhere and the possibility of not returning to my current city. This doesn't seem to worry him, but it also doesn't seem to spur on much of a rush on his part. Sorry to be so vague on the details. Basically every time I see him I want to scream "what are your intentions?!?!?" but I resist because I desire his leadership. I'm just curious about your general thoughts on "working under a time crunch" (for lack of a better phrase). Thanks for always speaking truth to us! I so value your words.

Seraphic said...

I have serious jet-lag, so here I am on the blog at 4:52 AM. Sigh.

First of all, I am so not going to comment at length on German men. I wrote a whole novel about Young German Men Today, so you can wait till it comes out. Meanwhile, watch them like an anthropologist and make your own conclusions.

Second, I met B.A. in person in Scotland two weeks before I had to go to Germany to see my ex-boyfriend and then back to Canada, and B.A. certainly got a move on. Of course, we were in our late 30s and quite possibly the teeniest bit insane although actually, all his friends kept nudging us together and looking at us with dopey smiles.

If your guy is the One, he will start to talk about how he is not going to cope when you are away. If he is not the One, he will just let it fizzle and that will suck. However, at least you will be closer to finding the One because it is hard to find the One while you are with the Zero. This might be some comfort, or it might not.

In general, dating really sucks and there's a reason so many women cry when we get engagement rings. It's relief that dating is over and this time all the emotion and time we've invested has not gone down the drain.