Thursday, 21 February 2013

Nervous Guy Elucidates

Hello Seraphic,

Thank for posting my letter and giving me advice! Of course, I would like to exchange some help :-).

It was not really fear of rejection anymore, because at one point earlier in time I already had said to myself: it’s a very manly thing, to take the risk of being rejected. Even if you get a rejection, you can be pride of have been exposing yourself.

However, as I said, I was oversteering in the other way.

Just to get the picture correct: I was truly amazed by her, but didn’t yet fell (unilaterally) in love for her. But I know, that she would fit perfect in my preferences and I would definitely want to pursue her.

But why didn’t I just ask her out for coffee?

  • I had no real clue about how Christian women typically expect the interaction to develop:
Can I ask her out with no clear signals from her side (her just being very nice to me and talkative)?
  • I had no real experience with romantic real-life initiation of interest and/or rejection (just in online dating)
  • I have no male Christian friends with girlfriends who are examples to follow (5 are single, one met his girlfriend online)
  • I wanted to develop a friendship first (to play safe and at least becoming her non-romantic friend) and wanted to give her a chance to know me better, so that feelings on her side may develop slowly
  • I felt the need to offer her something really great by entertaining her, since she is such a great girl and surely would be demanding (and we have some very entertaining alpha-males in our group, to whom I felt some competition)

It sums up to: I am unexperienced, the culture is not really helpful and I wanted to be very clever. What do you and the girls think about it?

Nice greetings,

Nervous Guy

I think I should pull another Father Z and put out a line of "It's Just Coffee" T-shirts. Better yet, I may entitle the sequel to Seraphic Singles, "It's Just Coffee."

If a Single, unattached girl is friendly and talks to him, I think any Single, unattached guy may ask her out for a coffee without worrying that she will take this as an outrageous insult. Hopefully, if she wants to have a coffee with you, she will say "Yes" or "No" without her brain having snapped straight to a vision of either a potentially embarrassing or a dreamy marriage proposal.

Incidentally, this letter only strengthens my antipathy to dating websites. If dating websites are training men to respond to women only on the internet and making them afraid to talk to women in real life then...then...then.... I don't know what to say. Then again, I'm jet-lagged.

The problem with waiting and putting off asking a girl out so that she will become your friend and know you better is that the longer you wait, the more likely she will put you into the Friend Zone. When a guy is new and interesting, he will have instant cache as "the New Guy" and even, if you're lucky, "the New Cute Guy."

I am not sure "great girl" and "demanding" go together. The prettiest Single "great girl" I know demands only respect and being asked out on proper dates, e.g. for dinner. She doesn't like nagging or provocative, witty banter or flirtatious argument.

I think you can be successful with a "great girl" if you are willing to listen to what she actually says and become genuinely interested in her interests.  Sometimes the "entertaining" guys are too interested in "entertaining" that they forget about being quiet and listening.


c'est la vie said...

If a guy liked me, I would expect him to either a) ask me out for coffee after one or two pleasant conversations/group activities/social interactions or b) flirt with me a bit to see if it was reciprocated, and then ask me out (so after three or four pleasant conversations/activities/interactions). After that I would probably friendzone him, even if I had originally had a bit of a crush on him.

Thanks, Nervous Guy, for giving us some insight into the male psyche! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Nervous Guy! Thanks for the update. As for how Christian women expect the interaction to develop: it's like c'est la vie said-after a few pleasant group interactions/activities/conversations, the guy approaches me apart from the herd and says something like "That was some interesting/thoughtful/wonderful point/thing you did, ___" (I like it when they use my name and single me out positively. I personally feel very flattered.) "May I treat you to coffee sometime?" or some such (I feel like saying "would you like to get coffee?" is confusing. The thoughts running through my head are: Well, yes, because I love coffee. But do you just want to pick my brain about Wojtyla some more? Am I paying? Are you just making the rounds in the group?)

For online dating, it can be useful in terms of helping the shy connect with other good, but shy or busy people, usually of the same persuasion. But again, you have to bring it into the real world sooner rather than later. I found it really helpful to deliberately take a break from online dating and get more involved in groups to have face-to-face interactions.

The thing about developing a friendship first, while wonderful and smart and heavily advocated in this courtship revival culture, there are a good number of women who feel like they have enough friends and not enough dates. If you are interacting in the group setting, you already are non-romantic friends, I feel. By all means take a relationship (or pre-relationship with safe coffee dates and afternoon activities one on one) slowly. But if you tell a woman of a certain age you want to be friends first, you may run the risk of being permanently a friend and nothing more.

Your last bullet point to me seems to be more of a perception. You won't know if she is demanding unless you take her to coffee! Also, if the alpha-males are entertaining, but still dateless, you have no real competition. You will stand out because you are action, and they are just talk. Hope this helps! But's just one American twenty-something girl's opinion.

MaryJane said...

I second proverbialgirlfriend's point about the "alpha-males" in the group - if they are not asking, and you are, there's no competition for the coffee date!

I think NGCs are attracted to men who are reasonable, but are not very attracted to men who always want to "play it safe." The friendzone is safe. The date (or pre-date or whatever,) is exciting.

This is a piece of male advice I heard from one guy that I will pass along, because I think it shows a confident mentality: the worst she can say is no, and someone else might say yes. So if she says no, ask someone else!

In other words, if you are interested, don't wait forever to ask. Just ask her out for coffee. And if she says no, find someone else to ask soon - otherwise you'll end up wallowing in the 'no' when you could be hearing yes.

(Obviously, I've never been on the asking end, but I think confidence is very attractive and men who are more concerned with rejection and playing it safe tend not to project confidence.)

(Also, obviously, I'm not advocating asking out every girl you see... but clearly, there are a lot of girls out there waiting for a coffee invite!)

Seraphic, do it - I'd buy an "it's just coffee" t-shirt. (You know there's a [professional, expensive] dating service called, "It's Just Lunch"? :))

Beth said...

Hear, hear! I agree with everyone's points. :)

c'est la vie said...

Good point on the friendship thing, proverbial girlfriend. I second that.

I've heard the friendship thing recommended to teenagers still in high school who can't reasonably begin a serious relationship yet. But among adults I'd say scrap that if you're hoping for a date eventually!

okiegrl said...

Dear Nervous Guy,please pay attention to the line,"May I treat you to coffee sometime?" It tells the lady that you are interested without coming on too strong.It's also helpful to have it memorized if you're (understandably!) nervous.

I also second asking women out sooner rather than later.Things can develop naturally if you have 1-3 casual dates. You will know in that time if the relationship should stay friends, or if there is more there. Sometimes people who seem perfect for you from afar,but aren't really.You will never know if you don't ask!Also,even if it doesn't turn into a relationship, you can become friends later.

american (not) in deutschland said...

Isn't Nervous Guy German or from a German-speaking country? This could change everything! The wording of the invite really matters. And a dating culture might not really exist at all where he lives. But maybe German Christians have a different thing going? I don't know...

I think that, basically, if you are a guy and you like a girl and want to get to know her better, you should ask her to a casual event that you be just the two of you, or make a point of walking her to her bus/train stop, or find something you have in common, talk about it with her a few times, and try and pursue some sort of ongoing conversation that leads to an activity... just anything that shows her that you want to spend time with her and that you aren't afraid to show it. It's the not-wanting-to-show-"like" that is annoying, because then it puts the burden of showing-like on the girl's shoulders, and girls have MUCH MORE to lose when they are put in the position of pursuing. You think it's hard as a guy to put yourself out there, and I'm sure it really is. But you lose much less face (or perhaps, you don't lose any face at all) by trying. Girls can lose a lot of face by pursuing a guy and being rejected, because of all this cultural baggage and stuff. So yes, it's embarrassing, but it's still easier for you. And girls will probably like you for showing interest. :)

healthily sanguine said...

Sort of to play devil's advocate (because I agree with all the points that have been made, and no one is more irritated than I am at not being asked out by a guy I perceive as having POTENTIAL...), do we girls really have to have a "friendzone"? I have never thought of it in such terms. I have friends, plain and simple. And yes, I have often felt like "I have enough friends--will someone just ask me out??" BUT...really, it's always good to have a new friend. Also, if we're interested in and like someone as a friend, it's easier to get to know them as a human being rather than as **potential love interest!! <3 !** Don't you think?

Jam said...

Healthily sanguine -- yeah, but that's not what "friend zone" means. Friend zone means, when you think of someone so exclusively as a friend that you can't think of them romantically anymore. Maybe if he'd asked you out when you first met it might have gone differently, but after a while you've started to think of him as a pal or a brother and now it would just be weird. That dude's been friendzoned, he lost the chance for a romantic relationship because the girl is no longer thinking of him "that way."

TBH I'm not sold that "friend zoning" 100% exists. I mean, there's friend zone and friend zone; in some cases you can be friends with someone for years and never rule them out as a romantic interest, or years of friendship could open you up to romance with someone you would not have considered initially. And then, yeah, there are guy friends I have who I really just have seen too much of and know too much about their ambitions and so on after years of friendship that I couldn't date now. So I don't buy the friend zone bros like to complain about on the Internet, ie some kind of permanent irreversible state with no particular rhyme or reason (a lot of this complaining comes from secular guys and has an icky sexual overtone). Sometimes you sort out that a guy isn't for you when you're dating, and sometimes you can do it through friendship. But of course you don't know in the first instance; if you linger, she has a life to live, she might start going out with someone else or take a job elsewhere; and golly!! If you like her just ask her out! :)

Jam said...

Ugh, apologies for my scattershot pronouns in comment above...

Anonymous said...

I for one wouldn't mind a nice guy who I didn't appare to be interested in asking me out. Give me a chance to be interested! That is what dating is isn't it? It just may be I never noticed the fellow as a potential interest. Not asking the girl out because she doesn't seem interested it a little like shooting yourself in the foot.

And frankly, I think the whole friend thing is overrated. If you want to get friendzoned, go ahead. But if you want to be more than friends I wouldn't suggest tyring to be non-romantic. There is enough non-romantic going around.


healthily sanguine said...

"Sometimes you sort out that a guy isn't for you when you're dating, and sometimes you can do it through friendship."

True enough, Jam! I just wonder whether there are less hurt feelings all round if it's friendship rather than dating.

"I for one wouldn't mind a nice guy who I didn't appare to be interested in asking me out."

Frankly, I would. I want to be able to show SOME interest, a few smiles, laughing at something funny or admiring something witty he said, before committing to eat or drink something on the guy's dollar. Not that I go around refusing coffee dates a lot, but it makes sense to gauge whether there's at least a BIT of mutual interest before (potentially) wasting someone's time. If I frown, don't maintain eye contact, or send other body language cues that I am really not interested, I expect for those to be perceived and acted on; otherwise, there's a problem.

Seraphic said...

The problem is that men are much less talented than women at seeing micro-gestures and decoding body language cues. Thus the Hobson's Choice of doing too little (e.g. absolutely nothing) and too much (e.g. saying, "Listen, why don't we just go to Sandra's room and, like, make out?"). This is WHY I am all about the SMILING and the TOUCHING HIS ARM.

Seraphic said...

Note to Young Men: If a married woman of 39++ smiles at you and touches your arm, it does not mean she is a husband-crushing cougar who wants you to ask her out. All it means, at very most, is that she might leave you a silver spoon or two in her will.

Jessica said...

I don't know if the friend zone exists for real, but it's just been put into the dictionary!

According to Oxford, friend zone is defined as:
(noun, informal) a situation in which a platonic relationship exists between two people, one of whom has an undeclared romantic or sexual interest in the other.

Also, personally I wouldn't mind if a guy asked me out for coffee even if I hadn't shown signs of interest in him. It's not a waste of time unless for some reason I say yes even tho I don't want to go! The more annoying situations, IMO, are when guys think they have the right to your "yes" or when you've said "no" and they don't understand that they should move on.

MaryJane said...

Oh the poor young men reading these comments! I had to laugh because Seraphic, you are so right that they are not clued into all these kinds of subtle hints... and we as females are divided about what we want!

I wonder if we can make a distinction between a guy who we feel neutral about (no signs of interest) asking us out, and someone that we are NOT interested in (shown by frowns, no eye contact, etc.) asking us out. Yes to the first, no to the second, in my book.

But again, I am a fan of men asking. If a man is unclear whether or not a woman is interested, just ask!

(And for goodness' sake, if she says no, just let it be.)

Anonymous said...

Healthy Sanguine, I can think of tons of people who are now married, where the woman in the relationship really didn't want to go out with the guy, or didn't even notice the guy existed until he asked for her number. And because of the one chance that she gave him, he was able to make an impression and sweep her off her feet.

And I don't think it is fair to men to be annoyed with them for asking us out, even if we don't appear to be interested. That is what they are supposed to do. Kudos to the guy who can say, "she doesn't seem to be interested in me, but I like her, I like her company, I think I could make her happy, I am going to ask for her number.) It would take a man with confidence to do that. If you are the type that is annoyed with this kind of mindset from men, well, you don't have to go out with him. But I am tired of watching men who are obviously interested in a girl, namby pamby around because they aren't "sure" if the girl likes him. Like I said, that is the whole point of dating. After a date or two you'll know.


Alisha said...

Nervous Guy,
My first thoughts were "Why doesn't a man who doesn't know what he is doing ask for directions?" :) I suppose that is what you are doing now, but to me, if I had something in front of me with huge stakes - a love interest, an audition, a job interview, whatever - and I had absolutely no experience or knowledge of how to handle it, I would ASK for advice rather than plunging wildly ahead.
I think it's a bit sad to think of going for coffee as wasting your time unless you know the person is interested. We are human beings first, created in the image and likeness of God, brothers and sisters in Christ if we are fellow Christians and after that we become friends, etc.
I am more and more convinced that people need to learn to dance. Seriously, it's a whole other way to communicate, you are focused on an interactive, shared activity, you can talk or not talk, it's fun, it's exercise and I think it would make people way less weird about these things. The only danger is that you will fall in love with dance so much that you won't want to date anyone who doesn't dance...but I don't think that is such a bad thing :) If a guy wanted to go out dancing with me, really to dance, not just an excuse to be romantic, and was able to let me do my thing and I didn't have to babysit him, that would be very impressive.