The Year of No Asking (Out)

Hello lovelies.

As a way of making up for my delinquency with updating this week (cut me some slack, I had a surprise vacation), I’m going to be honest about an area of my life about which I rarely speak (write, whatever) on the Internet, and tell you about my early New Year’s Resolution.

Okay. So if you don’t know or haven’t gathered by now, I was recently seeing someone. In fact, I was someone’s girlfriend, which I have not been in three-plus years. I am no longer seeing that person. It was not my idea to stop seeing that person. It was sad, and it was a shame, but we are both okay and okay with each other.

I may or may not have read all of He’s Just Not That Into You in one day. Well, first and foremost, it is not a long or difficult book, and my pleasure-reading right now is Joyce’s Ulysses accompanied by two separate books of notes, if you need an idea of my reading level or speed. Anyway. Funny story, when I was  looking for said title (recommended by a dear friend) in the library, the library database said that it was there, and I couldn’t find it on the shelf, so I asked a 40-year-old male reference librarian if there were some cart or something where books that said they were in but weren’t on the shelf might be, and he asked me for the title and I was embarrassed but told him and he said, “Oh yes, that’s a popular one,” and then couldn’t find it on the shelf either so he went to look in the basement at the recent returns and while he was there a super cute guy came to the Reference desk to ask for some old city documents and we basically ended up chatting for 10 minutes while I sort of prayed my librarian would not return with said book because at that point it would have been really mortifying and luckily he couldn’t find it and I was all, “OKAY THANKS BYE,” and left but later did check it out and, as I mentioned, read it all in one day because really one train ride was all it took to get ‘er done.

Good story. Anyway. I read that book and I knew what it was going to say because I have totally seen the “really into someone” versus “not that into someone” play out in the relationships of friends (and uh maybe myself but mostly friends) and I’ve seen what has lasted versus what has not. Namely: people willing to work a little bit for their relationship (through obstacles like long distance, etc.) tend to have that relationship last while those who are not (ex. unable to send one text message a day) do not. Anyway, it got me thinking.

I assume you have aaaaaallllllll read He’s Just Not That Into You, but if you haven’t, I will tell  you that one of the things the book says is that “he’s (and let me interject here that I will use the male pronoun but want you to understand that this is a stand-in for the much clunkier s/he’s) not that into you if he doesn’t ask you out.”

Immediately the Strong Feminist Woman in me is all, “Oh no you didn’t.” But then I told her to chill for a moment and think.

Here’s the thing. I was always, as my parents like to say, [x tender age] going on 35. I have always been responsible. While I have a sense of humor, I’ve always been able to be serious. And I am lucky enough to know what I want, to be concretely on my way to getting there, to be unafraid to work hard and dream big while being pragmatic and blah blah blah. What I am saying is, I realized halfway through college that, while occasionally casual dating might be fun, what I am ultimately looking for is a serious relationship, and if I’m not happy with what I have, I’m perfectly happy being single. In fact, some of my best years have been single years. I hardly even looked at romantic prospects during the Summer of the Midwest Fringe Tour. I had some great college years where my ultimate Saturday night was a party with my a cappella group. Bottom line: I want something real and uncomplicated and truly communicative, or I don’t want to bother.

My issue is that I get really excited when I get a new crush. I think it’s the nerd in me. You know, that part that is unapologetically bananas about something. When I meet someone cool and compatible whom I can see myself dating, I sort of turn into a twelve-year-old at her first concert. I want to make sure that I get noticed, and I want to have a real connection with the band (er, person) and I’m not afraid to say that I want to see the band (person!) again, maybe for coffee.

Let’s do a quick tally: First boyfriend: Asked him out because he was taking too long. Second boyfriend: Ultimately was the one who formally asked him out. First person I dated after college: Sort of mutual but definitely put in more effort toward getting together with him/her, several times more than should have happened. Second person I dated after college: Added on Facebook; s/he GChatted me; we went to a bookstore, and then I texted him/her way more than vice versa. Third: Met at a party, I added on FB, did reciprocate messages, dated for a few months but I nearly always got in touch first, when I asked if we could be exclusive, s/he said no and that s/he had been dating other people while we were seeing each other. Fourth: I asked out for coffee. Enthusiastic response, great few dates, a month in I asked if we could be official while out at a piano bar, s/he said yes, a couple more months of that and then breakup.

I have either asked out the other person or been the primary pursuant for every relationship and even dating situation I have ever had.

And let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with that. But here’s the thing. I know that I want a serious relationship. I know that I am good at communicating. I know that I do not yell at people and very rarely lose people from my life. As my friend Sara says, I will probably get together with someone and, if it works, be with that person forever. I am also 25 (read: YOUNG) and have been dating people who are younger than me.

There are certainly 24-year-old men and women who are ready for what I’m looking for, but they are far and away the exception rather than the rule.

So here’s where I can start to see the logic in what Greg Behrendt is saying. It’s not that I shouldn’t have any say or ever have control in a romantic situation. It’s that the people who like me enough to stick around for what I’m looking for will be willing to take the risk of asking me to go to coffee with them. Lord knows I have met plenty of people who were interested who I didn’t want to date who kept asking, or at least putting in some effort.

Thus, my New Year’s Resolution is this: Expect and allow for more effort on behalf of other people. You know you can work hard for things. You know you care about people. Let them care about you, and show it. And as the strictest rule in this book: For one calendar year, do not ask a human soul out on a date.

If that means I don’t go out with anyone for a year, so be it. Honestly? I’m a really happy single person. My single life is full of friendship and family and love and opportunities and excitement and nerdiness and craziness. I am demonstrably happier as a single person than as a person in a relationship wondering, “Does s/he miss me? Is it too much if I call/text/Facebook message him/her? When do I next see him/her?” So I’m not going to get into a relationship that doesn’t make me happier (on average, at least) than I am as a single person. And I’m not going to get into one in which I do the lion’s share of the work.

Internet, I’m trusting you to keep me honest. Internet, I’m trusting you to be kind. Internet, I’m trusting you to offer me support and friendship and not try to take advantage of any perceived vulnerability, because, Internet, I can kick your butt.

If you would like help or support with your own New Year’s Resolution, holler at me. I’m good at being supportive yet firm. If you wouldn’t like help or support, screw you. Nobody likes a perfect person.

Except, well, I do. I’ll probably ask you out on January 1st, 2014. Wait for me?

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4 Comments

Filed under Musings, Story Time

4 responses to “The Year of No Asking (Out)

  1. Warning – big data dump.

    Hey Laura (I assume it is kosher to call you that here, since it is the name of the blog and all). Keith here. (I don’t give out my last name on the internet if I can help it, because I’m the only Keith with it in the whole world). You were at my wedding a couple weeks ago, just in case you know of more than one Keith who you and your roommate have helped set up with someone.

    Speaking as someone that you / your roommate kinda sorta did the asking out for by proxy – this book’s conclusions are not necessarily true, at least as you have described them here. More accurately, they aren’t necessarily generalizable. It might be more aptly titled “he might not be that into you.” No, I haven’t read the book. I actually thought it was just a movie before tonight, so maybe we don’t travel in the same circles.

    Anyway, from my personal experience, the opposite of the causal story told by the book has been true. Every relationship I was in that failed, I was the one asked out. All four. Well, sorta three and a half, but the one that preceded the one with my wife was just… all sorts of dysfunctional and weird. All of which ended with them leaving me, after cheating on me, because they just weren’t that into me. The one that worked was the one where a bunch of mischievous kids spilled the beans well before I screwed up the courage to make a move. I’ve never been 100% sure I would have reached the point of actually doing so due to my shyness. I have always wondered, with one exception, if the reason the others asked me out was because they were only mildly into me, and thus faced a smaller emotional fallout if I turned them down. So while I’m totally grateful to you for hooking me up with my wife and all, my life is something of the antithesis of that book and my subjective experience is that not asking out is frequently not due to a lack of interest, but often due to simple fear. You definitely won’t be writing the confident, dashing types off by waiting to be asked out, but if you are looking for someone nerdy, sensitive, or both, you might be confusing “he is so into you that it scares him” with “he is not that into you.”

    Even for the dashing, confident types, it isn’t so easy anymore. The days of the no-harm no-foul turn-down have been gone for some time now – many of us guys have had a request for a date turn into a public humiliation, a dressing down, a sexual harassment complaint, had it be used to publicly label us as a creeper to whole cohorts of our peers, or seen the same thing happen to a friend. I personally know two men who have been lectured by the person they tried to ask out about how they were sexually objectifying them by asking them out to dinner, accused of being exploitative chauvinists, and were told point by point why they were not fit to have a relationship with a woman, including looks, manners, money, temperament, etc. One of those was in public. The other one was someone I’m related to, someone who was at the wedding with us. The woman who did the turning down to that one actually didn’t wait to be asked out – she got wind that he was planning it, drew up a list of what she considered his character flaws, and privately confronted him with “why I and my friends would never date you”. Point by point. For ten minutes. Not character flaws like “you are a sociopath” but character flaws like “your laugh is stupid and annoying and women hate it.”

    It doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that many guys I know see asking anyone on a date who isn’t either a sure bet as playing a game of Russian roulette with their social reputation and standing, sometimes even with their job if there is potential for a public blowout to get back to their employer. Unfortunately, the only way to get to know them well enough to guarantee this won’t happen is non-romantic interaction, which often leads to the friend zone which, when not made explicit, can look a lot like receptiveness right up to the point where it gets you publicly labeled as a creeper. That has happened to almost all of my male friends at one point or another. I’m the only guy I’ve ever met who has never been friend zoned by a friend I was interested in, and I have no idea why I was such an outlier. The point being, it might not be that he isn’t that into the person – it might not even be that he is like I was with my wife, and really scared of getting turned down because he is so very much into them – it might be that he is terrified of what could happen if he makes himself vulnerable like that and the feeling is exploited rather than reciprocated.

    Anyway, from the sound of it, the book tells a plausible causal story for why someone isn’t asking another person out, but it isn’t the only causal story, and in my limited anecdotal experience it isn’t the most common one. Just wanted to share that before New Years, in case the Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t occur and you get the chance to consider additional input before fully committing to a New Year’s resolution. And of course, you know I’ll support you and hold you to whatever you ask me to, as much as a Virginian can hold an Illinois(ian?) to anything over the internet. Just not without adding in my two pages first. 😛

    • Hi Keith! Some very good points. First off: Whomever those women were who said those things to people you know: They are horrible. That’s completely uncalled-for, classless, and really just a mean thing to do.

      I do want to point out that anyone with eyes knew that you and your wife were crazy about each other before you started dating, and that any pushes we gave were just hastening the truly inevitable 😛 But thank you for giving your perspective! Good stuff to think about.

  2. Jennennifer

    I remember about 4 years ago when I went on a date with Adonis and then went to the movies with you immediately after and had such a good time I was thinking “To hell with dating! Hanging out with my friends is so much more fun!” It’s the best mind-set to be in. …and then I met Chris and asked him out because he was too hesitant because of my age but there was clear interest shown and equal effort put in by both parties in communicating! I think being completely content with your life makes you only pursue a relationship that you know will enhance it, not just fit a perceived “missing piece” of your life. I’ve never dated someone just for the sake of temporary companionship and if you’re looking for a serious relationship you should not have to settle for that. While crushes can be fun and exciting I admire your commitment to your resolution because you deserve nothing less then complete and utter adoration 🙂 Seeing as the last book I read was 50 Shades of Grey this is probably at my reading level and I should check it out!
    Miss you, Lady.

  3. It sounds like you know what you’re looking for, and I think this might be one way of helping you find it. However, I don’t want you to limit yourself if there’s a very shy person you really like during the next year! Use common sense and be well!

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