This may come as a shock, but sometimes I get turned down for dates. I know, I know... how could someone resist the charms of the mayor of Denver? Even his mom thinks he’s a catch! But...sigh...it’s true.
I don’t have an issue (mostly) with the women who give me specific reasons for declining, e.g. I’m a dad, my age, my overpowering masculinity, the fact that she can already tell I’m trouble, or even my religion. But, lately, I’ve been rebuffed (kindly) for reasons that don’t seem to have anything to do with me. “I’m not ready to date,” or “I’m taking a break from dating.” Obviously, these excuses could be a kinder way of saying that the woman just isn’t interested in going out with me. But I try to take them at face value (because, really, why wouldn’t she be interested in me?), respond kindly with “Well...if you change your mind...” and move on.
But, as a guy who tends to over-think, I can’t help but recognize when someone is doing that very same thing. It’s easy to get nervous or assign some tension around going out with someone new.
But, really? It’s just a date. I’m not asking for your hand in marriage, or even for a commitment to anything particularly involved. I’m asking you out because I find you smart/attractive/interesting/crazy/funny/hot/bad for me/convenient, and I’d like to learn more about who you are, beyond your Facebook persona.
So stop thinking so much, or worrying, and go out with me. Once.
I’m a very good first date. I’ll plan out something fun and interactive for us to do. It won’t be interviewing each other over coffee. It’ll generally include great food and drink, opportunities for conversation, and some unexpected bits that make us both laugh. I’ll insist on paying (because I asked you out), I’ll make you feel special and important (because you are, if I’m giving up one of my limited off-duty evenings to spend time with you).
And if you’re really, really lucky, I’ll kiss you at some point before the date ends.
Also, because I’ve made a commitment to myself to just date and not worry about longterm potential, to enjoy the moment and the opportunity of meeting someone new and interesting, our date will be fun, but you’ll never feel like you’re being tested for some larger role in my life. We’ll go out, do some stuff, laugh a bit.
It’s just a date.
And, yes, I’m bringing back the word “date.” Enough of the vague “let’s hang out” crap.
A couple months ago, I was having an IM chat with a very attractive friend of a friend, and I mentioned that I hadn’t seen her in awhile. When she recommended we fix that, I asked her what she had in mind. She said, “Well, I have my kids this week, so I can’t go out on a date until next Monday or Tuesday.”
I was amazed that she used the d-word in such an unabashed way. And then I was amazed that I was amazed. When had “date” taken on such power? By using the word, she set the tone of our rendezvous. I didn’t spend our fun evening together wondering if we were on a date or were just hanging out as friends. It was refreshing, really, to know that she saw me as a dating prospect, and not just another single parent to pal around with. Just because I enjoy going out on dates doesn’t mean I’m not open to the right first date turning into something lasting.
I realized that I may have been sending out vague signals by not using clear language. And I also realized that I could save myself from a fair number of ambiguous evenings out (and more than a few bucks) if I was very clear from the outset that I was interested in taking a woman out for an actual date (or a date-date, which means that I’m planning, I’m driving, I’m paying, and I’m doing all of the much-deserved spoiling and pampering for the evening). When I use clear language, you can decide whether to say yes based on your interest in me. If you say, “Well, I don’t want to go on a date with you, but I’d love to hang out as friends,” we both know what the story is. Neither of us is left wondering what the nature of our time together will be.
And you’re always welcome to change your mind, right? So we’re hanging out as friends, and you realize can’t stop looking at my lips? You’re allowed to say, “I’ve changed my mind. I want this to be a date.” And then I can agree with that change (likely) or disagree (unlikely).
We seem to live in a time when romance is perceived as threatening in some way, and where the word “date” has taken on a power and a meaning that it doesn’t actually possess.
I’m a romantic man — I’m wired that way, and I like it — so if I ask you out on a date, it’s going to be a warm and inviting experience. But that doesn’t mean there’s any pressure for our time together to be anything more than fun.
Let’s take the word “date” back. Let’s use it freely, but also lightly — without high stakes implications. Let’s go out on a date, because we want to spend time together and see what happens next. If we enjoy each other, great...maybe we’ll go on a second date. And if there’s no spark, at least we got to know each other. And now you can set me up with your single friends.
You can start by saying, “I know a devastatingly handsome single dad who’s an amazing first date..."