Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

I Asked Her Out on a Date. Now She’s About to Ghost Me. What Should I Do?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a college senior at a large midwestern university. A while back, I was invited to a party on a Saturday by a friend of mine. I got there and drank a little bit and hung out when this guy came over and said “my friend thinks you’re cute. I wanna introduce you to her.” Next thing I know he’s calling over this girl and we start talking. We talked for close to 2 hours and we seemed to hit it off pretty well, we exchanged numbers and I offered to take her for an airplane ride (I have my pilot’s license) to which she enthusiastically agreed.

After I left the party she started texting me gushing about how she thought I was so nice and cute and that she couldn’t wait to see me again. We texted back and forth a little bit and she suggested we grab lunch that upcoming week. We set up a date and then didn’t text each other until the day of the date confirming that it was still on. Anyway, we had lunch and talked, only she seemed a little less outgoing, which I totally expected, since I have a good suspicion that a lot her bubbly personality that night was the alcohol talking. She wasn’t “Pam Beesley at the Dundies” drunk, just more outgoing, touching my arm and standing really close to me and such. I also definitely felt much more awkward talking to her at lunch than I did at the party. I felt like I missed a lot of opportunities to find out more about her. She also seemed to not remember a few things about the party, which was awkward for me since I assumed she would have known what I was talking about at certain points in the conversation.

After lunch we walked together to class, since my class was in the building next to hers (she’s a really fast walker). As we said goodbye I suggested we find out when we could fly later to which she kind of had a blank look on her face and then responded “okay” before heading inside.

I texted her later that evening asking when she’d be available to fly if she still wanted to, to which she responded a while later saying that she couldn’t at all next week since she had this big organic chemistry exam she had to study for all week (she’s a sophomore neuroscience major). I responded that that was fine and said we could set it up some other time. I did tell her I wanted to hang out with her again sometime though. She said she’d like that, but it’d have to be after that week of her exam.

So finally I get to my question. We haven’t texted in 2 days (my fault I know), and I’m getting a little nervous. I don’t want her to forget about me and lose momentum, but I also don’t want to be a distraction for her. How do I keep things rolling until I can see her again in 7 days? Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Thank you.

-Nervous Ned

DEAR NERVOUS NED: So there’re a couple of things to focus on here.

The first is the change in her attitude between the party and afterwards. One of the things people tend to get wrong about booze is that it’s not the Jekyll and Hyde formula, it’s truth serum. When you’re drunk, you’re disinhibited and more likely to act in ways you might refrain from later. It’s quite possible that your friend is a little shy and reserved normally and the booze turned down the volume on her shyness and so she was a little more outgoing and flirty than she might have been otherwise. That doesn’t mean that she wasn’t genuinely interested in flirting with you… it just means that she might not have done so in as open or blatant a manner. It might also mean that she wouldn’t normally because she had reasons for not doing so, reasons that may have seemed less important after a couple beers.

In the cold light of sobriety, she could be feeling more than a little awkward and embarrassed. God knows I’ve had plenty of times the morning after a party where I felt the chill of anxiety slithering up my spine and whispering “So… how big of an a

hole were you last night?” Even when you didn’t actually act the fool, there’s always that vague feeling that maybe you did something stupid and just don’t remember it clearly. If her memory was a little fuzzy afterwards, that could very easily contribute to her feeling a little stiff and awkward afterwards; she’s uncomfortable because she can’t be 100% sure what she said, did or agreed to.

However, there’s another possibility: that she’s changed her mind about wanting to go flying with you. What may have seemed like a great idea at the time may have soured after she had a little time to think about it. I mean, while flying could be an amazing experience, it can also be kind of intense for a first date, especially with someone you only just met. It could very well be that she’s having second thoughts but doesn’t necessarily want to have the awkwardness of telling you so directly. It’s often easier to have an insurmountable obstacle that makes it impossible to go on that date than it is to say “yeaaaah, about that…”

And honestly that throwaway line about her being a fast walker makes me think that maybe she’s not entirely comfortable with the entire situation.

As a guess, I’d say that this is an interaction that’s not going to go anywhere and you should chalk it up to a learning experience. But if you want to try to see if this can be salvaged, here’s your plan:

In general, if someone is interested in you, it shouldn’t feel difficult to make plans with them; they’ll generally go out of their way to try to make things work. If their schedule is jammed — especially, say, towards the end of the semester and they’re taking a heavy course load — then they’ll usually try to find the time in their schedule when they can see you… even if it’s weeks down the line. They’ll also usually go for actual days, not just “some time after X”.

Now none of this means that she’s not interested or that she’s going to flake on you. These are just things to be aware of, so that you don’t spend a lot of effort watering a dead plant with your time and attention.

With all that being said, here’s my suggestion. One of the ways I recommend people keep the emotional momentum going via text is through humor. A sending a meme, for example, with a quick “hey, know you’re busy, saw this and thought of you” can help keep the lines of communication open and get her thinking about you. I would recommend doing that once and seeing how she responds. If she engages with you — as opposed to giving the bare minimum of a response, you can follow that up with “I know you’re busy with your exams, so how about we do something low-key afterwards?” Then invite her to ice cream or board games at a local coffee shop. It’s a lower-investment for a date and it’ll give you a chance to talk more at a time when she’s less stressed. Then, if things go well, you can see whether she’d be interested in going flying with you as a second date.

Good luck.

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