Proposing a First Date
Practically everyone can imagine, or has experienced, the trepidation of asking someone out. The range of nervousness associated with making this first dating move runs from barely noticeable on the radar screen to near-paralyzing fear. We hope, for your sake, that it's not too traumatic to pick up the phone or simply ask someone in person. Those of you who are shy or a little insecure usually have the hardest time. Either way, with some practice and a few successes, the process gets easier. Still, rejection hurts, even though it's to be expected. Here are some ideas for how to get through a dating proposal.
Do Your Homework
The first step is to make sure the person is willing to go. There are a few basic rules to follow. The entire process will go more smoothly when you can answer the following questions.
Is she available?
Has he shown any interest in me or dropped any hints?
Do I know what kinds of things she likes to do?
Am I positive about his sexual orientation?
The availability question is often an interesting one. A person rebounding from a broken relationship or divorce may have a hard time deciding to get back in the game. Someone who is swamped by work or troubled with family issues may seem available but may not be ready to date. And then there is the person who is already dating someone, but seems as if he or she might be open to dating others. The best approach is honesty. Just ask. An evasive answer will tell you all you need to know.
Expressions of interest are sometimes hard to read. Some men seem to think that when a woman smiles or is nice, she's ready to jump into the sack. Therefore, it's probably a good idea to step back and read the signals carefully. For instance, the man of your dreams says to you, “I would really like to see that movie.” Was he looking at you with raised eyebrows when he said it, or was he just thinking about the movie?
Finding out what a person likes to do is also a great help. If a fellow finds out that his romantic interest loves Chinese food, for example, and she turns down an invitation to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant, he knows the rejection may be more about him and less about the activity. (Of course, the reason could also be she's just not free that night—in which case, she would probably ask about going another night.) It may smart a little, but it's still better than being told no and not knowing the reason. To get some date “data,” ask her friends. Listen to conversations. Or, of course, ask her directly.
The trickiest of these questions, obviously, is sexual orientation. If the person in question is very secretive about his or her personal life, you may not know If you ask and that's the answer, you can still keep your friendship. Remember that a good friendship is as valuable as a casual dating relationship.
If you're constantly talking about yourself, you'll never know what a potential dating partner might like to do on a night out. Show that you're interested in others and ask what they like to do.
Ladies, a piece of advice: There are lots of nice fellows out there who may be a little shy about making the first move. If you can summon the nerve to ask one of them out, you might be surprised at the pleasant reaction you get. After all, men don't always have to be the ones to do the asking.
If you want to go out with the “inviter,” the response is a no-brainer. Simply say, “Yes, I'd love to!” and then work out the details. If you don't want to accept, try to be sensitive when turning someone down. There's no need to hurt feelings.
Graceful Ways to Say No to a First Date
“I'm sorry, but this just isn't a good time for me to be dating.”
“I'm sorry, but I'm seeing someone.”
“I can't really handle any new complications in my life.”
“It is very nice of you to ask, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline.”
Not-So-Graceful Ways to Say No to a First Date
“You have got to be kidding!”
“Go out, with you?”
“Wait till I tell my friends. This'll kill ‘em.” Just laugh.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Another great idea for starting a dating relationship is to find something unique to do on the date. Everyone is all too familiar with the dinner-and-a-movie scenario, so do something out of the ordinary, as long as it's not too crazy. Should things develop into something stronger, the first date becomes a great memory to share.
For ideas, pick up hints by watching old movies. For example, stargazing might entice some people. If you live near an observatory, that would be different. A walk through the park stopping for a burger or hot dog is another fun way to get to know someone. Or, turn a first date into a theme that matches the time of year. Watching fireworks goes with the Fourth of July. A canoe ride near sunset is a unique summertime event. A trip to the skating rink can be fun in the wintertime, if you live in a colder region.
If you don't feel you have that kind of inspiration, you can take one of two approaches. You can ask your friends about their favorite dates. Or ask your potential date, “If we were going to do something really fun and unusual on our first date, what would you want it to be?”
Try to think of something your new friend might find fun and interesting. He or she is just as tired of the routine dating game as you are, so it's a great time to call on your creativity.
One dilemma some people run into when they ask someone out is to tie the date to a specific evening. For example, a woman says, “I have tickets to the Rangers game for Saturday night. Would you like to go?” When the guy says, “I'm sorry, I can't,” she may find herself stuck with an extra ticket.
There is an easy way to avoid this problem. Start with a more general question, such as, “I'd like to do something with you sometime,” or “Would you like to go out with me at some point?” Then, when the person says, yes, tell him about your tickets. The idea is to be flexible enough to give the other a range of choices without appearing so desperate that you'll take whatever leftover crumbs he or she is willing to let spill your way.
Enjoy Success; Get over Failure
Getting over a foiled attempt to date someone is often hard. No one likes to find out they don't measure up, even though that's not really what's going on. We believe honesty is the best policy. That is, if you're truly not interested, don't lead someone on.
After asking someone out who refuses, stay positive. If the individual has made it clear she doesn't want to date, she is saving time and emotional energy. That tactic is much more thoughtful than leading you to believe it's a personal flaw or that someday she might change her mind.
The worst-case scenario on an early date is being stood up. This form of rejection is tough to take. As a matter of common courtesy, always be perfectly honest and clear about why you have to break a date. If the problem is truly unavoidable, send a peace offering to let the wounded party know you are very sorry and want to try some other time. If you're stood up, and no apology follows, just move on. And remember this: After being stood up, don't think, “What is wrong with me?” Instead, think, “It's his (or her) loss!”