Two years ago I wrote a post “why guys don’t ask girls out”. This is a different post, it’s what stops me from asking girls out. Not why guys don’t, but why I don’t.
It is simple to slip into the abstract when writing about relationships, find the generalisation, the concept; the easy way out. It is also tempting to use other people’s stories, to aggregate examples and form a trend that is straightforward to talk about and respond to.
If you look at most of what is written about relationships that’s how it works. What is the problem, and what is the solution? It’s the mentality of glossy magazines and trendy bloggers, and we look for solutions because we think that if we have a list of things to do to solve the problem that’s the same as having it sorted.
… we look for solutions because we think that if we …
The other day Emily Maynard tweeted that if she were to write a book it would be called “I Have No Idea How To Fix Your Life And It’s Weird That You’re Looking In Books For That.”
The irony is if a book like that was written, I’m sure it would sell pretty well. Because we realise we are individuals and do not have to accommodate ourselves to group think. The two trends come together, we want to do our own thing but we do not want to be on our own in doing it.
It’s why writing on relationships is hazardous, I cannot tell you how to live your life. I cannot give foolproof advice on what you should do in the situation in front of you, because I do not know every aspect of your circumstance.
When it comes to guys asking girls out, guys get a bad wrap. Christian guys are wimps, they don’t do the job, they need to man up, take a risk and ask a girl out. That’s the conventional picture painted. I want to step back from the generalisations and tell my story. My seven fears, the seven things that hold me back. Not always, and not indefinitely, but they affect me. Maybe some of these have relevance to someone other than me.
1. I don’t ask girls out because I fear change.
I was going to say commitment, but I don’t think that’s quite right, it’s also a lazy stereotype. I am committed to all sorts of things, it’s the idea of changing those commitments I am afraid of. When fear of commitment is talked about sometimes that’s exactly what it is, a fear of committing to a person indefinitely. That might be why people are hesitant about marriage, but that this is an issue around dating suggests our conception of dating might be where we go wrong. To date is not to commit for life.
I worry that my life will change, and that might make me uncomfortable, I worry that instead of being able to do what I choose, I will be living life with someone else, even if it is only the very first baby steps of that adventure. I fear that it will be something I do not like.
2. I don’t ask girls out because I fear being seen as frivolous.
I don’t want a girl I ask out to think that she’s just the next on a list. I fear being seen as frivolous with my affections. If I ask out a girl this week and then another the next, which one am I interested in? This brings up the major difference I’ve noticed between dating in and outside the Christian world, and one of those generalisations I warned against: Christians date people they are interested in, outside the church people date to find out if they are interested.
3. I am afraid of rejection
It’s quite simple, I don’t like the idea that someone might say no. I don’t like the idea that someone, in whom I have invested emotional energy in deciding that I like, might turn me down. I put myself on the line and they say no. So I don’t. The answer isn’t that girls say yes to every date to make guys like me feel better – aka the sympathy date. Rejection is to be expected, if you don’t like a guy, don’t go on a date with him. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
4. I’m afraid of not being a very good date
I don’t really mean this about someone not liking me, I mean that I am afraid that I won’t do the right things, in the right way, with sensitivity and the appropriate amount of forwardness. I am afraid of getting it wrong. I am afraid of being unfun. While amusing and entertaining, the kind of rating from Miss 29 in her 30 blind date quest fills me with trepidation.
If that’s how I approached a date I wouldn’t be myself. I would be someone trying to be and do the things that someone who is good at those sort of things is. Frankly, I think I’d be a bit of a fraud. But this means I’m afraid of doing it at all.
5. I don’t ask girls out because I’m afraid it could get awkward
It’s the perennial issue of dating in a goldfish bowl (or church). The person you ask out will be sat a few rows in front of you on Sunday. In the pub. At this event or that. Your friends are their friends, you’ll be eternally ostracised from all social settings. To which I say, to myself, get over yourself, relationships involve honesty and conflict, and navigating them can be tough. But ignoring them and hoping everything will be rosy is worse.
6. I’m afraid of losing their friendship
There’s a girl I like. Hypothetically speaking of course. Anyway, this girl, imagine she and I are friends. But actually I fancy her – a juvenile and inadequate phrase but it does the job – and I worry that if I say something I’ll lose the friendship we have. So I don’t do anything, I maintain the illusion of a friendship grounded on mutual platonic feelings so as not to upset the apple cart. It avoids me getting rejected and it allows the friendship to continue as it was.
But it’s a complete farce. What kind of friendship am I really building if I’m deceiving the other person about what I want out of it?
7. I fear I might miss out on someone better
It’s the grass is always greener idea. The thought that someone better will come along. You look at the girls you know, those you might consider asking out and you think, ‘she’s great, but she’s not perfect, maybe someone with hair closer to my perfect shade of brown will come along soon’.
I go to a church with a lot of young adults, and with a lot of new people coming in and others moving on. Maybe a turnover of a third of the church each year. That’s a lot of new people, a lot of potential better opportunities. A lot of people who could be closer to my type. Closer to the girl of my dreams.
The idea that the grass is always greener somewhere else is an illusion, in the words of Sean Paul and Justin Bieber, the grass is greener where you water it.
There’s my seven fears. What have I missed? What stops you from doing something, saying something, to the person who’s caught your attention and stopping you from sleeping?