Friday, April 2, 2010

Survey the District: Is It a Date?

Dear Date the District,

A friend and of a friend and I have recently become chatty after a chance meeting at a party. When I say chatty, I mean that we are mutually snarky and give one another a hefty helping of shit talk on what has become a somewhat nightly basis. In one of our "serious" lulls he mentioned his internship in DC this summer and I had mentioned that I would be there in July tagging along on a business trip of my aunts to do some sightseeing and he suggested that 'if I get tired of hanging out with my aunt that we should meet up." I more or less said okay, and since then I have wondered what this potential meeting is--is this a date? I'd still call him an acquaintance since we've only met the once, but it does seem peculiar for an acquaintance to go out of his way to chat with you and to invite you out if there weren't some sort of interest? [I maintain that men NEVER knowingly pursue platonic relationships.] He's a total catch so if he is interested I'm delighted but my recent run ins with the opposite sex have left me unenthusiastically suspicious at best.

The problem with cop-out invites that leave the ball in your court is: you rarely find out if it’s a date until after it’s over. If he goes out of his way to meet up with you that week (i.e., calls you, makes plans, takes you out to dinner) and then kisses you at the end of the night, it was probably a date. If he suggests meeting up at the Smithsonian and then tells you he’s meeting up with friends for dinner, it might not have been.

It’s probably not worth spending too much time trying to decipher his intentions. Chances are, he’s still trying to test the waters, and if you ask him out-right, it might do more harm than good.

When you start trying to put labels on things and name every interaction (e.g., his asking me to coffee = date, his asking to borrow my notes = flirting), it drives you crazy, and if the guy finds out, it makes you look neurotic—not exactly a turn-on.

We've said it a million times: the best guy to win a guy over is to make him work for your affection and to treat him like a friend until he asks you out.

Plenty of guys pursue platonic relationships with members of the opposite sex. Sure: some guys put bros before hos and see girls as walking vaginas, but the vast majority don’t. In fact, we would argue that guys are sometimes better at pursing platonic friendships with girls because they’re not socially conditioned to see every member of the opposite sex as a potential soul mate.

Girls watch chick flicks and Gossip Girl and see girl and guy friends fall in love with each other at the wrong times and spend the entire movie/hour working towards the climactic finish: a marriage, a make-out, etc.

But guys are sometimes better at separating sex from friendship. If they have a girl (space) friend, they’ll still pursue sex—and they often pursue it in other venues.

Girls sometimes see guy friends as potential romantic partners that they already have an in with—not necessarily our fault if we grew up on Julia Roberts movies.

If a guy wants to date a specific girl, her pursue her romantically from day one. If a girl wants to date a specific guy, she’ll often pursue friendship first—not a bad option, given the difficulties of expressing interest without coming on too strong. But that means that girls, not guys, are more likely to have ulterior motives in platonic relationships.

Girls might see guys as unable to pursue strictly platonic relationship because these girls are unable to do just that and they assume that it works the same way on the other side.

This isn’t to say that guys don’t fall for their girl (space) friends. But the best way to win them over is, as always, showing them how cool you are and sprinkling in a dash of unavailability. In other words, treat him like a platonic friend.

So if summer rolls around and he doesn’t make any concrete plans with you, by all means, send him a text and ask him if he wants to hang out. But make plans like you would with a girl (space) friend: no romantic walks around the monuments at sunset, etc. Try to do something during the day. Avoid physical contact. And limit your interaction to only a few hours. If you’re meeting up at 2, tell him you have somewhere to be at 4. That leaves him no time to get sick of you and plenty of time for him to miss you.

Be patient, but until he specifically asks you out on an unambiguous date, it’s best to assume that it’s not.


  1. Why let the girl make the first move at all in this instance? If he's the one that brought up meeting up then I would disagree that the ball is in her court. She should respond by telling him when she's gonna be in town but that's it. If he can't remember that time period then he's not that into her.

  2. Just thought you guys would appreciate an update--it was in fact a date.