DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been reading the advice you’ve been giving many nerds like myself and I must say it is truly great. I come to you today with a problem that I feel is so simple to resolve but I just can’t see the solution (or maybe I don’t want to). Anyways I just turned 33 and moved from Kentucky to Los Angeles to begin film school in September. In my first class (classes are 1 month long) I had a group project to do. In my group was this girl who I thought was attractive but other than that I didn’t give her much thought. Then we got to talking and things started to change.
The first thing was that I felt as though we had a lot in common. Now of course both being in film school this was probably to be expected. However it wasn’t just that we both loved movies or anything that simple. We basically had extremely similar viewpoints when it came to film. Name a movie we had both seen and our opinions would totally agree with each other. In the beginning I just chalked this up to happenstance. Like I said earlier, people in the same fields generally have the same interests.
Anyways we are working on our projects and sometimes we would give each other a look when other people were dragging things along. She then proceeds to make the comment about how we can communicate with each other through nothing but our looks. (For the record she understood what I was saying way more than I understood what she was).
At this point I started to wonder if she liked me but wasn’t sure. None the less I began to playfully tease her and what not. Well that class ends and we have the weekend off before starting a new class together on the following Monday. Before we go any further I feel that I should mention that she is 22 and lives about 3 hours away, two things I took into consideration as to whether or not she wants a relationship with me.
So class begins Monday and she texts me about where the classroom is. This wasn’t the entirety of our text conversation though as we made a few jokes back and forth. Between classes on Monday, we went with some other people to get lunch but we sat together, with one other person. On Tuesday I took a seat next to her in class. She sent me a funny text about the class, I replied and then I asked her what she was doing for lunch that day. When lunch time came she decided to go hang out in her car and I went to get food.
These last few days we have said simple hellos and what not. I’m trying to not crowd her or come off as a creeper. I’ve sort of felt as though she is trying to distance herself but she isn’t acting differently so that might just be my own insecurities. I also get a little jealous when she talks to other people but I know that’s stupid.
I honestly just don’t know what’s going on. One moment I think that perhaps she does “like” me and the next I begin to wonder if it’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m also torn because we are going to be in the same classes together for the next 16 months and I don’t want to alienate her or anything because we tend to work well together on projects and such. There’s also the fact that we could very well be work colleagues on day. On the other hand though if she is interested I’d definitely like to give it a shot.
Do you think it’s worth it? Is it possible that she likes me or am I just reading too much into nothing? If I asked her out and she said no would things become weird between us?
Thanks for reading,
DEAR MR. CONFUSED: Time to get out of your head, Mr. Confused. You’re overthinking things.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when it comes to gauging people’s interest is that they spend far too much time trying to read the tea leaves and not enough time actually doing something. It’s totally understandable; you – like many other men – are wanting to avoid an awkward scene where you ask someone out, they say no and suddenly you can’t look them in the eye and everybody’s uncomfortable and you’re wondering whether you need to go to another school.
The problem is that while watching for signs of interest is good, analyzing their behavior like it’s the Zapruder film and you’re trying to prove there was a second gunman isn’t. In fact, most of the time, that’s a procrastination tactic. You’re fooling yourself into thinking you’re actually making progress by doing research when in reality, all you’re doing is spinning your wheels. The problem is that, in dating as in life, fortune favors the bold and the active. The longer you hesitate in asking somebody out on a date, the more lessen the chances that they’re going to say “yes”. Let us start from an optimistic place and assume that she digs you. The longer you wait to ask her out on a date, the message you’re sending is that you aren’t interested in them. Meanwhile, while you’re hemming and hawwing, other people who don’t hesitate are asking her out. Even if she does like you, you haven’t sent any signals or made any moves. So whether she likes you or not, the fact is that you’re not doing anything and other folks are and the odds are that she’ll take the bird in the hand vs. the one in the bush (as it were.)
Then there’s the fact that delaying and procrastinating means that you end up bleeding off the attraction you do have. Hesitation and hoping for others to do the heavy lifting for you isn’t a great look on most people and that initial “ooh, this could be fun” can vanish if you’re not careful.
(Yes, it’d be great if more women made the first move. Unfortunately, gender roles are a bastard and society tends to punish women for being forward. So while we all should work towards a more socially equitable society where everyone feels equally empowered to approach, we also have to deal with the situation as it stands on the ground.)
The other issue is, honestly, most of the time when guys are reading the tea leaves, they already know what the answer is, they just don’t want to hear it. So they spend a lot of time looking for reasons why they’re wrong instead of just accepting that it’s not going to happen.
So what’s going on in your case? Well, it could be that she liked having a classroom buddy to make jokes with and dialed things back when she sensed you were interested in taking things to a more personal level. Or it could just be you’re in an intense program and she’s got her own things going on that have absolutely nothing to do with you.
But the easiest way to resolve this conundrum? Ask her out on a date. Say “hey, I have a lot of fun hanging out with you in class, and I’d love to take you out on a proper date. Would you be interested in doing $COOL_THING this weekend?” Either way, it solves your dilemma. If she says yes, then you’ve got a date. If she says no, then you’ll have your answer and be free to pursue someone who is interested in you. Either way, it actually moves you forward instead of leaving you stuck in this limbo where nothing is happening and you’re just building up more anxiety for no good reason.
You know how you keep it from being awkward if she says no? Don’t make it awkward. Getting turned down for a date isn’t anything to be embarrassed over or to treat as something shameful; it only becomes awkward if someone behaves awkwardly. If she says “no”, then you say “OK, not a problem. See you in class tomorrow” and just behave the same as you have been before. It only gets awkward if you treat her refusal like something shameful or a personal insult; if you suddenly can’t meet her eyes or refuse to talk to her afterwards, then, yeah, it’s gonna be awkward. On the other hand, if you treat her the same as you did before you asked her out? She’ll see that you’re a cool, well-adjusted guy and there’s no reason to feel uncomfortable around you. Most people are going to follow your lead when it comes to potential awkwardness; if you don’t treat it like a big deal, then they won’t treat it like a big deal.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a big fan of your blog, and as I find myself trading fairly new romantic ground, I wanted to ask you for advice.
I consider myself something of a loner, partly by choice and partly because I’m somewhat eccentric. I’m friendly to the people around me, but I infrequently reach out to them. Recently, however, a cute girl in one of my longer classes actually asked me out. I said yes out of curiosity, and to my surprise, when we went out for beers the next day we totally hit it off.
We’ve been dating for a week now (I know, barely any time at all), with things intensifying quickly emotionally (but no sex yet). She’s recently out of a 3 year relationship, and I’ve been off the dating circuit for… almost as long. But I’m having a great time. The thing is, she’s the kind of person who’s super intense and stays busy practically all the time. I, on the other hand, am a laid back geeky slacker type of person, who dislikes planning things in advance and spends plenty of time loafing around.
Therein lies the problem. When I try to make plans with her, I find invariably that she’s made tons of previous commitments while I’m almost always wide open. I’ve ruined previous relationships by being overly clingy, so I’m very conscious of the image I’m projecting here: that I’m always available, that I don’t value my own time, etcetera. What’s the best way to setup a date without seeming like somebody who doesn’t do anything with his life (which I… kind of am)?
Probably Needs to Do More Stuff
DEAR PROBABLY NEEDS TO DO MORE STUFF:
This is simple, PNDMS: you use your words. Instead of worrying about the image you’re projecting, just ask her what her schedule is like. Say “Hey, I’d like to do this thing with you; when will you be free?” and find a time when she’s available to go on a date with you. You knew what her schedule was like when you started seeing her. You may not like making plans in advance, but that’s going to be part of the price of entry when it comes to dating her. So you’re going to have to learn to roll with it if you want this to work.
And while I get the fear of being clingy, there’s a difference between being a needy ball of slop and having more free time than the other person you’re seeing. One is about constantly trying to occupy her time because you’re afraid she’ll not like you if she has a few minutes to think about it and the other is simply lifestyle differences. Having a more flexible schedule doesn’t make you needy; constantly badgering her for dates or saying “how about tomorrow? Ok, the day after that? OK, the day after that?” on the other hand, is. It’s VERY early days yet and you can’t reasonably expect her to always move heaven and earth to see you when you want. So for now: you propose the date, she proposes the time.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)