Question 142: Did I offend my date when I accepted his offer to get me drinks? (Drinks 101)

Beer in the Arbor, by Anders Andemark on Flickr
"Beer in the Arbor" by Anders Andemark on Flickr

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve really no idea how to sensibly start this story. I’m in my early twenties and I’ve never had a boyfriend before. In fact no one has ever been interested in me. And then I met this guy. We met on a drunken night out and while nothing but holding hands and hugging happened, he was obviously attracted to me. I didn’t really know what to think about this and it really only hit me when he asked me out a couple of days later.

Despite initially agreeing to go out, I backed out for various reasons a couple of times (some legitimate reasons, some lame excuses) because I was nervous and scared. We saw each other informally a couple of times as we’re in the same group of friends and we initially had a very high level of other communication, text, email, Facebook, all of it. I wasn’t sure what to do, how to handle the situation or how to reply to his advances. It took me a while but I am starting to really like him. 

 Recently we went for our first proper date (as opposed to just casually hanging out). We went for drinks and as we were ordering, he asked what I wanted, I told him, he got it for me. It didn’t seem like a big deal. However, later, through the grapevine and completely unrelated to our date, I found out he was opposed to treating women differently, for example offering women a seat etc. Our conversation level has recently dropped and I feel like he’s not giving me much back when I initiate a conversation (electronically). However, I have before gotten the impression that he had given up on this when we couldn’t see each other for a while for reasons beyond our control. This time however, I’m worried I may have offended by not insisting I get my own drinks etc. I really like him and would like to see him again but I also am really shy about this whole thing and inexperienced, which is why I took things so slow to begin with. 

I couldn’t bring myself to directly say these things but I need to convey to him two things. That I am interested and that I am not one of these girls who expect their date to pay for everything. I went by the logic that if he offered, he must’ve meant it, it wasn’t anything big, like a whole meal or a theatre ticket, it was a first date and I was really nervous so it seemed easiest to just go with it!

Do you think I offended him and what do you think I should do?

I don’t think you offended him. Because if you did offend him by letting him buy you a drink after he offered to buy you a drink, that would be a giant reason to not go out with him again.

Let’s review Drinks 101 :

  1. If I go out for drinks with another person, and they offer to grab me a drink, I say “Thanks” and I drink my drink. Then I get the next round (if there is a next round), or I pay for the movie we go to later (if there is a later), or I offer to pay the next time (if there is a next time).
  2. If I go out for drinks with someone and I offer to get the drinks (which I will certainly do, especially if I did the asking out), I assume I’m buying the drinks for that round.  If there is never a next round or a next time, I write it off to “expenses of having a night out with a possibly cool person, also, beer is delicious” and forget about it.
  3. There are exceptions to this, of course – bosses should always buy the drinks for their subordinates, you’re not expected to pay for all the drinks in a large group of people or where there is table service with a check (vs. getting drinks from the bar), and each small friend microculture might have their own rules about money and how things work that they’ve worked out over time. Good will, fairness, and reciprocity rule. Keeping score drools.

If it’s you and one other person you like and who likes you in a bar, you should be able to trust that the question “What can I get for you?” will not be a heavily loaded test. And if you can’t get through one lousy round of drinks with this guy without it being An Issue What Involves Backchannel Gossip Among Friends, Assigning Disproportionate Cultural Baggage, and Majorly Keeping Score, that would be a red flag.  Three red flags, in fact.

The other red flag for me is that your letter contains nothing about why you like this guy.  You mention your own shyness and inexperience and the novelty of having someone attracted to you, which is a perfectly fine reason to go out on a couple of dates with someone and figure out how you feel (and you should also feel okay taking your time to figure that out!), but you never say whether you are attracted to him. I trust you that you’ve liked him the more you’ve gotten to know him, but your letter isn’t making the case that he or your connection are super-fantastic, and I think you might be talking yourself into liking him more than you actually do (which is also totally okay and normal, especially as you start figuring out dating).

Congratulations! I suspect you’ve unlocked the “First Date that Fizzles” achievement.  I will have Intern Paul get to work designing the badge. You will go on many of these perfectly benign, pleasant, fine dates with perfectly acceptable people who like you okay and who hold no obvious screaming dealbreakers but still aren’t going to be your boyfriend. In the process you will learn about yourself and what you are looking for in a partner. It may help you to study the questions my friend B. asks herself about guys she dates:

a) Am I describing my date with words I would also use to describe a Toyota Camry

b)Am I actually making pro and con lists? And am I cheating on the pro column, by adding things like, “he didn’t do xx annoying thing”?

I love that she recognizes that once you are making pro/con lists, you are not destined for true love.

If we put the drinks thing aside for now, there are two paths you can go by:

  1. Chalk it up to a lackluster first date, stop looking for things you did wrong, go back to the friendly acquaintance level with the guy. No harm done.
  2. Use one of the myriad e-communication methods available to you, send this guy a direct request for a second date. “I really enjoyed going out the other night. Can we do that again soon?  Howabout (place) on (day/time)?”  And maybe the next time you hang out you offer to get the drinks, and maybe you convey that you really like him even though you are shy and inexperienced and not so good at showing it.  In the meantime, stop all attempts at casual chitchat. If he says no to a direct request, you know that it’s not going anywhere.  If he says yes, you get another shot at figuring out whether you really want to date him.

Path #2 might seem as pleasant as having a giant squid attached to your face, but it has the advantage of clearing the air, earning you some dating experience points, and scoring one for the forces of gender equality by not expecting men to do all the work of pursuit. But Path #1 is pretty good, too, and one you’ll tread regularly in this mixed-up world we live in.

63 thoughts on “Question 142: Did I offend my date when I accepted his offer to get me drinks? (Drinks 101)

  1. I so agree with this answer. Trying to suss out secret headgames is a losing game–most of the time there is no headgame, and if there is, you don’t want to be involved with someone who plays headgames anyway. There are enough people out there who don’t subject their partners to secret gotcha tests.

    It doesn’t sound like that in this case, though; it just sounds like a case of a pretty lukewarm attraction not really going anywhere, and not really either party’s fault for it.

    1. I feel like it’s a short trip from fake-offering to buy a girl a drink as a weird “gotcha!” test to Going Your Own Way, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

      1. I do get this vibe from MGTOWers who venture out into the dating world – whenever they describe a date, I get the vibe that the MGTOWer is spending the entire date just waiting for an excuse to snap, “Ha! I knew you were just another gold-digging harpy!”

        Their inexplicable failure to ever elicit a positive response from this seems to wear them down and make them give up dating eventually, which I suppose is better for all of us.

          1. A bunch of guys who are protesting the Evil Rule of Women by going Galt on dating them. They have banded together to….say hilariously toxic misogynistic things on the internet.

            I DO NOT think that the letter writer’s date is one of them for the record, and I’m a little nervous that by mentioning them so much here they will start appearing (like Candyman), but the idea of a “drinks gotcha test!” and then posting a long screed about how “I sure showed her!” is right up their alley.

  2. If there’s one thing I have no patience for, it’s people who ask seemingly benign questions where there’s a SECRET WRONG ANSWER. That’s probably not what happened anyway, but like the Cap’n said, if so, you don’t want that kind of passive-aggressive guy as your boyfriend. Imagine a whole relationship full of festering resentment for something you didn’t know you did wrong three months ago. No, not fun.

    So my policy is that if someone asks a question like that, I take them at their word. And I respond honestly rather than trying to divine what they want me to say. And if it turns out they didn’t like that so much, but weren’t adult enough to use their words, I’m certainly not going to feel bad about it.

    1. “That nice thing I did just then? That was a TRICK. Also, you owe me $4 for the beer and $2.25 for my subway ride here” is not a foundation for a happy relationship. I shudder to think of how that would translate to sex. Some kind of chess clock near the bed? “The 8.2 minutes of foreplay you owe me begins….now.”

      1. OK that’s one of the funniest paragraphs I have read in a long time!

        Great advice – also seconding the whole “do you actually like the guy beyond the fact that he likes you?”. I have been there (late bloomer) and while it was occasionally fun to explore those kinds of connections, if it is not happening beyond that, then it is better to move on and avoid entangling yourself further in something you have no real desire to explore.

      2. We’re playing touch move, not clock move.

        I think it sort of breaks down there, because they see sex as basically transactional, but miscalculate the emotional and physical costs and benefits of performing sexual acts on their bodies. Not to mention the corresponding value of sex on offer by them.

        I have a bad reaction to this because I tend to feel very self-conscious about seeming or being inconsiderate. And that’s been manipulated in the past, by people who’ve made me feel like a bitch in order to get things out of me. So…yeah, not nice. Not nice at all.

        1. Oh yeah. “If you didn’t want to buy me a cup of coffee, why did you buy me a cup of coffee? You can’t offer to buy me a cup of coffee, and then make it MY FAULT that you did.”

          1. Also, in a relationship, even one casual enough to fall under the “dating” heading, it’s normal to have some back-and-forth. If I bought my friend a cup of coffee, I would assume that she would buy me a cup of coffee later, right? I would at least give her the opportunity. Unless I were a creepy misogynist.

          2. Oh man, that coffee thing is my mother. People can play the “I’m hurt because you didn’t psychically intuit that you were supposed to stop me from hurting myself” game in all sorts of relationships. And it’s bullshit every time.

          3. I have a friend who used to be like that about lending money or giving away objects that other people had expressed liking for…and then being mad when the other person took her up on the offer, especially if they did not express sufficient gratitude, according to a rubric only she knew. She’s still my friend because she’s gotten much better about it and because I don’t take her up on offers that aren’t small. Occasionally I have had to ignore her miff when I have said thank you but not enough for her. She has other excellent qualities.

            But really, I think I learned this somewhere around second grade: if you offer someone your Halloween candy, then they will take some and you may not cry. You may take the tootsie rolls out before you offer, and it’s okay to decide you aren’t offering again if your little playmate takes 3/4 of the candy, But seriously, IF YOU OFFER, THEN YOU HAVE OFFERED, and you don’t get to un-offer unless you do not mind being That Jerk. And eventually if you are That Jerk, there’s not enough candy in the world to make the other kids like you.

  3. Yep. This is not about how you “screwed up,” LW, because you didn’t. You were just you on a date, and then overthought it, and freaked out a little, which is something the Awkward Army knows ALL ABOUT.

    You’re okay. Listen to the words that pass between you and this guy, not from the grapevine, well-intentioned though those words are! Don’t dissect. Just keep Occam’s Razor of Dating in mind:

    There are no hidden meanings.

    Either he wants to date you again or he doesn’t. Either you want to date him again, or you don’t. You’re both fine people now, and will still be fine if you’re dating other people. There are no hidden meanings. Searching for them will just fluster you and get in your way.

    1. Yep, it’s actually pretty unlikely that LW failed some kind of Secret Drinks Test, if you ask me. As darkly entertaining as that scenario is, this guy is probably not the worst jerk ever in the history of going on first dates. Occam’s Razor is a good rule here, for sure.

      1. Glad someone said this explicitly. The “failed test” almost certainly did not happen.

        This is a good general lesson of dating – when things don’t add up to a love match, we always want to do the dating math on WHY, WHY?!?!?!

        But attraction is like the Force. There is no why.

        In fact, you’ll find if there’s attraction you’re willing to overlook an embarrassing number of your principles to consummate that attraction. In high school I knew a girl who was an ultraconservative Baptist southern belle who believed that if a man didn’t carry an umbrella with him at all times in case he saw a woman caught in the rain, he was probably a communist. I was (still am) an arch-Democrat with anarchist tendencies.

        She wasn’t interested in me, but if she had invited me to a gun show I sure as hell would have gone. She was hot. I wanted her. The rest is commentary.

        1. “In fact, you’ll find if there’s attraction you’re willing to overlook an embarrassing number of your principles to consummate that attraction.”

          You speak the truth.

  4. Especially since he’s already done the go-to-ground thing. I’m wondering what the rest of the date was like. Maybe he’s gone-to-ground because he feels there wasn’t enough there, or that she wasn’t interested, or a myriad of other possible scenarios that won’t be cleared up until regularly scheduled communication happens again.

    Like on date two?

  5. Thanks for the link, Captain!

    Solid thoughts here. The only thing I have to add to the table is love is not a subtraction problem. Relationships tend to work best when they are based on generosity and the understanding that when something is given, it is given freely. It sounds like your date gave you something (drinks) and then in conversation indicated it was not given freely. So, you are now in the hole. Subtraction problem.

    It might also be helpful to remember everyone’s responsible for their own feelings. Did you follow your own dating Code of Honor and Politeness? If so, you rule.

  6. I really like the suggestion to shortcut the grapevine and talk to the person in question directly! The Captain is entirely correct about the well-meaning- well, my partner and I call it “halping.” You know, like when your three year old is “halping” you make dinner and it just means that you have to do twice as much work and then give hir a bath? Like that. Only less cute.

    Here is my own defeating-the-grapevine scenario: when I broke up with someone who was in the same friendgroup (and we were definitely culpable in the “everyone must be invited at all times” Geek Social Fallacy!), I made an effort to stay in touch. Not in a “let’s talk every night about our failed relationship!” because, you know, boundaries, but more like, “let’s have lunch once a week or so because we are friends and want to stay friends” kind of way. Anyway, because of that I already knew what was up with him and could easily shut down the “I saw your ex looking pretty cozy with this other person last week” kinds of gossip by smiling, saying, “Yes, he told me.” And then changing the subject while that person tried to figure out what to say in response.

  7. Great advice as always, Captain Awkward.

    Off-topic, but I just set up a casual beer date with a nice guy I met on-line. And I was totally angsting about “rules of drinks” today! And then I saw this post!! And it was magical! XD

  8. @ Captain Awkward

    I have a few perhaps unrelated comments about your story.

    First, the behavior where you initially agree to go out, then back out for a trivial reason is called flaking. It’s both terribly rude and signals to a man that you are of lower character. As a first dating impression, it’s terrible.

    Second, the fact that you’re in your early 20’s and have never had a true boyfriend could mean 1 of 2 things. The first possibility is you ignore, deliberately or not, many of the men around you who really do think you’re worth pursuing, and give off more subtle signals. The second possibility is you present an unattractive air. Based on the context of what you wrote, either is possible.

    Third, in response to your previous repeated lower value behavior (the flaking), some sort of test from a man would be reasonable. This looks to have chosen a sort of hidden test. (Whether or not he meant to do it is not obvious. Hidden tests are common behavior from women towards men.) As anyone who goes on a date, you really do have to be self-conscious and present yourself in the best possible light. If you go out on dates and have nothing but fun, chances are you’re doing it wrong.

    @ JenniferP

    You are hung up on “true love”, which is a layman’s way of saying that the man she’s with doesn’t push her particular attraction buttons. This ignores the fact that women have different motivations in dating. Also, some women take longer to warm up to a man.

    1. Hello!

      First of all, Captain Awkward and Jennifer P. are the same person, aka, me. Neither of us wrote the letter about being 20 and never having a boyfriend. Someone wrote the letter to me, and I gave advice, because this is an advice column.

      Second, being in your early 20s and never having had a relationship might mean a lot of things. I kind of like what you say about “ignoring men….” – basically it translates as “Ignoring people you’re not interested in.”

      Third, when you talk about “lower value behavior” I have no idea what you are talking about.

      Fourth, when you say I am “hung up on true love,” and only encourage people to go out with people “who push their particular attraction buttons,” that is entirely fair and true. People should go out with people they are attracted to! They should ignore (or politely decline) people they are not interested in or attracted to.

      When you say “This ignores the fact that women have different motivations in dating,” you used the word “fact” when you meant “opinion” or “perception” or “my personal opinion” or “the opinion shared by the fans of HUS, where I came across your blog.” Please correct that in the future. We can disagree, argue about, and test opinions, but we can’t really have a conversation if you think that your opinions are facts.

      When you talk about some women “taking longer to warm up to a man,” you completely validate the Letter Writer’s original statement that she hesitated to go out with the guy at first because she felt shy and wasn’t sure that she really liked him. Does that mean she is of “lower character” or if she’s not sure she’s interested and is taking her time? Yet she thought about it and more and they managed to go on a date. Seems like everything worked out as it meant to, and then on the date or after the date there was no real spark between them, which is sometimes what happens when people go on a date. Dates do not equal ironclad attraction contracts.

      1. On second reading, apparently I mixed up that the reader was addressing Captain Awkward. That one’s my mistake. I did get that this is an advice column, though.

        The part about “ignoring men…” is that it’s possible she’s ignoring all but a certain type of manly man. Whether or not this is the case for her is not clear from the context of the letter. What’s also not clear is whether or not she wants this for herself.

        The term “lower value behavior” is a catch all term for some sort of behavior that hints at a lesser desirability or character. Examples include showing rudeness, anger, and nagging. You can think of it as dating kryptonite.

        I’ll give you the cliffs notes version of this theory to get you up to speed. The two types of attraction women experience are centered around two independent factors in men: manly men and good fathers. Manly man attraction tends to be built nearly instantly as it’s pretty obvious. You can think of it as overt male sexuality. Good father traits take longer to see because demonstration of this trait tends to be more of a context thing, and it’s not reasonable for a man to go up to a woman he just met and say “hey, I’m a good father” and have the woman believe him…which means he has to resort to more implicit means to get that information across.

        Women are a diverse group. Their specific motivations determine what they’re interested in. It seems to me that you’re saying that a woman must be pigeon holed into feeling a deep emotional connection with someone she chooses to be with. I’m saying that our current dating rules dictate that a woman may choose a man for any reason she chooses…be that emotional, intellectual, or something else. What I claimed as fact is that different women have different motivations in dating. You can try to claim that all women are after emotional fulfillment. Possibly most of them are. My point is that there are two different primary motivations: finding a manly man and finding a good father. Some women want a manly man. Some women want a good father. Some women want both. I think it’s quite a reasonable statement to say that

        Taking longer to warm up to a man does not excuse rudeness. Despite what you may have been told, it is typically considered rude to make plans and then cancel without a good reason. She’s perfectly free to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’ll leave a good impression. A woman needing to take her time to get a feel for a particular man isn’t any sort of problem. How she goes about deciding will tend to show some of her character, though.

        You seem hung up on the fact that men think a date is some sort of ironclad contract. We don’t. A date is simply two people trying to get a feel for one another.

        1. Ceer, thanks for explaining further.

          I think you are going to enjoy yourself around here if you stick to your own personal experiences (not theories or assumptions). Susan Walsh (that’s where you hail from, yes? I can tell) has been very kind and generous in linking to my blog and extremely positive in her comments about this site, but she and I have wildly divergent views on gender essentialism and dating.

          I don’t want to misrepresent Ms. Walsh’s views, but from reading her site now and then I get that she thinks we lost something during the sexual revolution and the emergence of feminism, and that helping men and women find love and companionship with each other involves embracing traditional gender roles because they give everyone a defined set of rules to follow that accepts inherent differences between the sexes and that has “worked” for a long time. A lot of posts that I’ve read on her site emphasize the competitive nature of dating- assigning number values to men and women based on their attractiveness, economic status, etc. – and treating dating as a marketplace where women compete with other women for the “best” men and vice versa. Her advice is framed around trying to help people navigate that competitive marketplace and win by its rules. Is that a correct reading? Are those your views as well? I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

          I think that the destruction of the old rules and assumptions means that we have gained more than we lost, and that what seemed to work in the Mad Men years did not actually work all that well upon closer inspection. I want to see romantic partnerships based on equality, reciprocity, and conscious decisions made by the people in them about how they want their relationships to work, where both partners can exercise a line-item veto and completely renegotiate everything from who makes the first move to who earns the money to who cleans the toilet. I am optimistic that people will find their “tribe,” including romantic partners, if they cultivate confidence and honesty rather than trying to fit a template of what they think the opposite sex is looking for. I accept the possibility that some people will never pair off who may have paired off in the past when there was more social pressure to be married, and that some of those people may want to pair off but find themselves permanently unpartnered. I think it is worth it (even if I myself end up in that number) for the opportunity to make it up as we go along.

          Any dating advice you read on this site is built around the ideas that:

          1) Humans are humans and while we have inherited certain ideas about what (heterosexual) men and women are like when we date, it’s better not to get too hung up on these differences or assume that a person will react a certain way or want a certain thing because of gender.

          2) We sometimes examine how those inherited narratives affect our dating interactions, for instance, here I explain how I got over my habit of “flaking” instead of being up front in saying no to guys I wasn’t interested in from a specifically feminist perspective (women = humans).

          3) Don’t get too hung up or invested in outcomes at the start – proceed slowly and look for reciprocity. It looks like we agree there.

          4) There is no “game” you can run (or amount of “pretty”, “manly,” etc. you can be) to convince someone else to like you, so relax and be yourself and trust that you’ll find the people who like you.

          5) I actively want to subvert the dominant paradigm where men are the pursuers (who do the asking out) and women are the pursued (who indicate their interest by “being approachable”). I think it leaves shyer men and bolder women out in the cold. I don’t care what research says. I don’t care what the past looked like. I don’t care what evolutionary biology argues. I think that stuff is descriptive rather than prescriptive, and our human free will and the gift of being alive during this time in history when everything is changing gives us an opportunity to choose only what works for us.

          6) The advice for any question will usually boil down to “stop obsessing and playing head games (little tests, gotcha questions, making assumptions based on gender) and use words to ask the person directly and tell them what you want.”

          I think there’s a lot of common ground there for us to have interesting discussions about manners, boundaries, being considerate, communications, etc. You are welcome to stick around here, and I want to know how any and all of the threads relate to your own personal experiences of the world, but I am not interested in arguing your (or Ms. Walsh’s) theories or treating them as givens of how the world works when I am so actively involved in subverting them.

          1. You do indeed misrepresent HUS. From what I gather, it’s more like this… She herself peruses a strategy of monogamy within marriage. She started doing research on hookup culture when her teenage daughter got close to college age. The blog is part of that research. She wanted an open female-led forum where hooking up could be explained in context. Sometimes, she writes on issues of concerns to other blogs I read, such as those by Dalrock and Athol Kay. That’s how I found HUS.

            Some of her articles might seem to set women against men or visa versa, but the very goal of long term relationships is for mutual benefit, and the point of the blog is to foster relationships. One recent article in particular mentions a certain apparent conflict of interest between men and women in dating. The purpose here was to bring out the problem so that the posters could work through the issue together, though a cursory reading might indicate otherwise. If you have any questions about specific articles, I’m sure Susan would be glad to listen.

            Based on your rundown of your beliefs, we have at least some places where we agree including: 1 (sort of), 3, 5 (mostly), and 6.

        2. “I’ll give you the cliffs notes version of this theory to get you up to speed. The two types of attraction women experience are centered around two independent factors in men: manly men and good fathers.”

          Thank you for getting me up to speed on what I, as a woman, experience during a bout of attraction. This will make my search for maternal fulfilment infinitely easier and certainly explains those tingles.

          “The term “lower value behavior” is a catch all term for some sort of behavior that hints at a lesser desirability or character. Examples include showing rudeness, anger, and nagging. You can think of it as dating kryptonite.”

          Indeed, there is little worse in this world than a nagging, angry woman. But please understand, it is the hysteria inherent in our wombs. Do these examples of lesser desirability apply also to the male of the species? Is sarcasm included in that list?

          1. Personally, I would include sarcasm on that list. Many of the people I know would also include it, but it may not be so universal. Don’t misunderstand me. The Demonstration of Lower Value concept was created as a tool to help men organize and improve their own behavior, so yes, it applies to them. The specific examples I listed are part of the men’s list that I feel also apply to women.

            Based on the hysteria in your womb, I can see why you might consider this issue such a big deal, but I see this issue in terms of the evil that has been committed in the last century alone is not remotely of the same scale. Rest assured that no matter how much you demonstrate your poor value (for example), you cannot equal such evil.

          2. I see this issue in terms of the evil that has been committed in the last century alone is not remotely of the same scale

            Did… did you just say that the idea of making dating decisions based upon “demonstrations of lower value” is totally not as bad as Hitler, so we should really just calm down about it?

          3. His sarcasm is not like our sarcasm.

            I don’t think my value can get any lower after reading…a bunch of Ceer posts.

          4. “I’ll give you the cliffs notes version of this theory to get you up to speed. The two types of attraction women experience are centered around two independent factors in men: manly men and good fathers.”

            Yeah. As the person who doesn’t want to date people who sound like Toyota Camrys, I must have some odd idea of maternal fulfillment, too. Because Toyota Camry qualities would make pretty reliable, dependable fathers.

        3. I know this an old comment, but it got me curious: why are they called “manly man” and “good father”? As you put it, it seems only as physical attraction (“built nearly instantly”) and personality based attraction (“more of a context thing”), but then the names don’t make any sense, since many women like feminine men or even dislike “manly” men, and many women don’t seek someone to be their child’s father, or even like men with traits that would make them awful parents (for example, “bad boys”).
          I thought I obviously had gotten it wrong (specially because you say “[w]omen are a diverse group”), so I googled it, but I didn’t get any page that would give a better explanation of the concept.

          1. Hi Barbara, that dude is banned for being a tedious MRA spouting platitudes as if they are true, so you’re not going to get the answer you seek.

    2. Ceer, we seriously disagree about a LOT of what you just said there, but mostly about these two things:

      “If you go out on dates and have nothing but fun, chances are you’re doing it wrong.”

      “could mean 1 of 2 things. The first possibility is you ignore, deliberately or not, many of the men around you who really do think you’re worth pursuing, and give off more subtle signals. The second possibility is you present an unattractive air.”

      If a date is not fun, it is not a good date. Fun date = doin’ it rite.

      The “1 of 2 things” is very, VERY narrow and insulting to the LetterWriter, implying that she is EITHER pleasing yet unobservant OR ugly in either character or appearance. Way to neg! I would say there are at least hundreds if not thousands of other possibilities, but chief among them: she hasn’t met a guy she likes who likes her back equally.

      LetterWriter, keep being awesome, keep going on fun dates, and avoid guys who run “reasonable” tests.

      1. @Amanda & Commander Logic

        My eyes totally missed the “fun is bad” part of the comment. Good catch. And very true.

      2. “Fun is bad”…really? Dating is about looking for someone to form a relationship. Having fun is fine…but there’s an element of selection involved. Only judgmental people have fun with that. In my opinion, bringing a judgmental attitude to dating is counterproductive, but you go right ahead and tell me how that works out for you.

        The “1 of 2 things” comment is a concise theory of what could be going on in her situation. It’s quite possible that she’s unobservant because she is busy fretting about work or some other situation. It’s also possible she has some sort of habit that is off-putting to the men she is interested in. My point is to highlight this as a problem to be overcome IF that is her goal.

        1. I think what Commander Logic and Amanda are saying is that having “fun” on a date is a requirement for them, in addition to whatever potential husbandly qualities a date brings to the table. Even if no lasting connection is made, you can walk away from the date saying “That was a fun time out with a nice cool person. The world is a better place for having such a person in it, even if they are not for me.”

          I know them personally to be picky and judgmental as hell, a quality I approve of.

          Any of your theories are certainly possible, but there are more theories on heaven and earth than are contained in your philosophy, Horatio. Since the ones you offer are pretty narrow and unflattering, maybe we can agree that it’s something else entirely along the lines of “never met someone that she likes enough who also likes her enough, who knows why?”

          1. Who even says that being a bit of a late bloomer is a problem of any kind? Why would everyone have to follow some kind of standard path to love and fulfillment? Jeez.

    3. The first possibility is you ignore, deliberately or not, many of the men around you who really do think you’re worth pursuing, and give off more subtle signals.

      How subtle are we talking here? Eye contact? Regular conversation where they can tell it’s flirting because of their intent but it is otherwise invisible? More seriously though, I feel like being able to see subtle flirting is an acquired skill (one I definitely don’t have). I assume that you learn to recognize flirting by seeing where different interactions lead, in a retrospective way.

      Anyway, not a kind or helpful opinion, and one that I personally take umbridge to.

      1. Thank you for taking issue with me and trying to soften it with a joke. I appreciate the tact. I’m sorry you don’t think this opinion is kind. It was meant in the spirit that it would offer her a possible explanation for her situation. It probably isn’t helpful because of the lack of information regarding the letter writer’s situation.

        Also, I agree that one could acquire skill in observing subtle flirting by seeing where different interactions lead, then looking back.

    4. “The first possibility is you ignore, deliberately or not, many of the men around you who really do think you’re worth pursuing, and give off more subtle signals”

      This sentence from Ceer seems to have garnered some attention, and I want to unpick it in another way: “worth pursuing”. Alarm bells are ringing ((!))

      This assumes patriarchal structures on what attraction and dating are is somehow static and exist as some ever-present monolith in the aether. I’ve always thought that the whole point of dating itself is to see if your interaction is “worth” longer term emotional investment – getting to that initial date in the first place has nothing to do with YOUR worth, it has to do with exploring an attraction – whether emotional, physical or intellectual – then gauging if your MUTUAL chemistry is worth pursuing on a romantic level. The LW seems to have some anxiety about dating, and the last thing I think she should take from this page is ‘am I worth it? and do I notice when a guy thinks I’m worth it?’

      And ‘pursuing’ a woman, oh golly gosh. Dating is not where a dude sees a girl and thinks “My heavenly stars! she’s worthy of my dudely interest, i shall pursue her, she shall sayeth no because she is chaste – which is why she is worthy – but she is subtly signalling so I shall persist until against her better judgement and chastity she says yes!!!” I know this is not what Ceer explicity said, but the language used really seems to imply it (IMHO based upon numerous fairy tale readings and internalised disney-ness that seems to inform dating mores to this day).

      How about: person A likes person X. Person A and X decide to explore liking each other over drinks? No pursuit, no projections of other persons worthiness of your affections and definitely no attempts at the waft signalling of your pheromones to do the talking for you.

      So, LW. You did not do anything wrong with the drink situation. He offered to buy you a drink, you politely accepted = social interaction success!! If it was a test (and i’m going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and say it probably wasn’t) then he is a douche and you need have no further dealings with him. As for what you need to convey to him, there is only 1 way to ensure your message is clear: be direct.

      Unlike Ceer I don’t think people are really capable of purposefully ‘conveying’ anything through their “air”. If you like him, message/call/speak to him and ask him if he’d like to go on another date, if he says yes, great!! You have the opportunity to buy the drink this time. If he says no, then maybe that spark just wasn’t there for him, but I guarantee it has nothing to do with any form of drink buying faux pas or how he perceives your worth.

      Re: “unattractive air” and “lower character”, I feel like I’m reading dating advice from Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice!!

      ps. I’m sorry CA. You have always striven to make this blog as inclusive as possible and non-derisive towards commenters with differing views, but this was just too much for me. Obviously, I understand if you decide to delete it.

      1. I agree pretty much 100% with this comment, and as long as people are disagreeing with Ceer’s arguments or the worldview he’s put forth and not personally insulting his character, it’s within bounds.

      2. I think you read a bit to much into my single word “pursuing”. In this context, I’m trying to use a term without technical baggage, but it loosely applies to any action that anyone might take to further a relationship. You could apply differing degrees such as strong pursuit (ex: actively trying to find something to talk about) or passive pursuit (ex: batting eyelashes excitedly) if you wish.

        My personal view on this is a healthy dating environment is one that both men and women can get to a point where they feel comfortable pursuing someone they are interested in.

        Have you ever heard of the saying: “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” ? I was saying something similar to this. Communication isn’t just verbal…ie the words spoken. It’s also the tone and body language. I’m also saying that this sub-communication helps the receiver understand the full context of the words. Without this, you can get mistakes in tonality. The evidence for this is in the other comments where some commenters seem to assume I haven’t thought much about this issue before or I’m writing with high emotional fervor.

        1. I’m positive that you’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m pretty positive that this is not high emotional fervor – you’re either trolling the Feminists for fun or you’re trying to patiently explain to us how the world “really” is out of sincere kindness as if we’ve never heard it before.

          I’m also positive that the more we communicate the less we agree, and I’m positive that I’m bored at trying to figure out which, so thanks? for stopping by? Sorry you can’t stay.

        1. I will sadly inform Mr Machine that we must break up, as he is neither particularly manly nor interested in being a father. Now that I am enlightened, I will begin measuring the biceps and sperm count of every human I’m interested in dating.

          1. I’m in the same boat with my sweetie. Seven and a half years of happy togetherness down the toilet I guess… Plus, we have fun together all the damn time, so we must not be compatible.

  9. Ceer makes one point I find valid — agreeing to go out with someone and backing out repeatedly doesn’t make a good first impression. I would have to REALLY be attracted to someone to go out with them if they backed out or cancelled on me more than once.

    But this date does not sound fun. There’s the aftermath of chatter in the background, an obvious awkwardness leftover from the date, and a lack of communication from the date. It leads to one of two scenarios — the LW lets it blow over, basically socially pretending the date never happened and social interactions go back to superficial contact in groups OR the LW asks what happened. Wait, no, a third scenario is up there, too — the LW asks this date out again and sees what happens.

    Either way, the overthinking is painful and has overtaken whatever sense of fun or interest the LW had in this person. Besides the flat statement “I am really interested in him,” I get no sense that this first date was worth trying out a second.

  10. Just don’t know what to do with thoughtful people taking the time to inform me about all these rules and facts and objectively proven biological truths!

    How come I’m always an exception?
    How come my boyfriend is always an exception?
    How come every person I know is an exception?

    Are we just flouting in the face of SCIENCE!?

  11. Thanks for everyone’s replies! It’s encouraging to have people confirm that I’m probably just over thinking!

    Some people mentioned that I wasn’t clear about whether I was attracted to him. Well … I don’t really know what that would exactly mean. I do really like him. I want to spend time with him. I want to tell him about my day and I want to know how his was. I am disappointed if I get a message and it’s not from him.

    The first option that was mentioned, the let’s just be friends and ignore everything else option, seems appealing because it’s easy. However, I’ve been thinking about letting him know directly that I like him. Well, through electronic means anyway and then seeing what he does with that information. Maybe asking him for coffee would be a little less awkward (only issue is, I’m likely busy with work before Christmas). We’ve been exchanging dvds (at mutual friend type events) so maybe that could serve as a little pretext … “Hey I finished that dvd you lend me. Wanna meet for coffee and bring me the next one in the series?” That could work, right?

    (I’m only now reading this as I was unexpectedly without internet for a couple of days, pity I couldn’t fully participate in the conversation.)

    1. I do really like him. I want to spend time with him. I want to tell him about my day and I want to know how his was. I am disappointed if I get a message and it’s not from him.

      Oh girl, are you me? Every time I’ve really fallen for a guy it started out this way – all about wanting to be near him, hear from him and talk to him. The “wanna jump his bones” part of it comes later for some of us. So don’t assume that this is a just-friends kind of affection just because your body and sexual imagination aren’t fully in play yet.

  12. Oh and about not having a boyfriend before. He’s the first guy to actually directly ask me out. I’ve been extensively bullied for being different (various reasons) at school and probably have self esteem issues. I would have never therefore believed that anyone could like me without them actually saying so. In fact, a couple of years back, if someone had merely said so, I would have thought they were trying to prank me into showing vulnerability. I realise that these issues don’t make me particularly attractive personality-vice but I’ve been working on it, gotten better and face it, if someone wants to date me, they’ll have to live with it.

    1. Cool – don’t pay any attention to Ceer, ok? I shouldn’t have let his comments through in the first place, but did on the off-chance he was sincere and wanted to add something. There is no right time.

  13. Howdy, sorry if this was already covered, I skipped to the bottom 🙂
    Did you offend your date by the drinking the drink that he offered to get you and then got you? Nope. Absolutely not. The captain had solid advice. As a male I can say that that would not even show up on my radar! Please don’t worry about that. At all.

    Repeat after me “The world is NOT an episode of “Punked”.” People do not ask you out if they do not have a desire to smooch you 🙂

    Yes it is possible that you two just “fizzled”. It happens to everybody. But it is also possible that he confused your shyness for disinterest? He thinks you’re hot and doesn’t understand that you’re shy. You declined to go out a few times, and maybe were nervous on the date? etc. etc.

    But that’s ok! It’s easy to fix! If you do really like him (for smooching and not just telling him about your day) its simply a case of miscommunication. Definitely go with that DVD question! And find an hour to do it sometime before xmas. Then on the date if you feel like it, you can just say “Sorry, I’m shy.” No elaboration necessary. Give him an affectionate hand pat. Then he’ll be like ooooohhhhhh I get it now. And plus he’ll be super charmed and want to snuggle you.

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