Reader mail: help a sista out!

11 Feb

From a 20something female reader:

I am trying to figure out what to do about a male friend who emailed me today asking me if I’d like to go for hot chocolate with him next week!  (To be clear, I am not interested in him!)

My roommate and I have just had a discussion on whether this is a date, and what I should say in response.  This is especially tricky, because this particular guy is not actually a Christian and set foot in a church for the first time a couple of months ago–where I met him and invited him to our Bible study.  So now I am wondering if I was too friendly…but also don’t want to be rude…

My brother’s advice: This is a date, and since I am not interested, I must clearly reject him.
My roommate’s advice: There’s no way of telling whether it’s a date or if he just wants to be friends, so I should either 1) go for hot chocolate briefly and say I have to go somewhere else soon afterwards
or 2) go, but bring a couple of other people from Bible study along (even though she admitted that another man we both know says girls should never do this!)

I wrote her back, saying that I agreed with her brother and referring to her to some previous posts on the topic.  She responded with more details about the situation:

I actually agree with you and think my brother is right (my roommate–yes, female–would debate both of you, though!)  1) I had a little suspicion he was interested in me and 2) He and I are sort of friends, but more just because I was the first person to get to know him at church. He’s a nerdy engineering type who apparently graduated at the top of his class, but socially he acts younger than he is/doesn’t have very good verbal communication skills.  I do like him as a person, but I don’t think we even communicate well enough to be actual friends!  And he’s not asking me to “hang out” as a friend or do any specific activity–he’s asking me to go for hot chocolate?!  It just sounds too date-like.

So yeah, my problem is not really that a friend is asking me to hang out and then acting like it’s a date.  It’s more that someone I’m friendly with/spend a lot of time with in group settings is asking me to do something that sounds like a date (but especially over email, I can’t be 100% sure.  Or so says my roommate. I’m personally about 95% sure!).  And while I want to keep being his “friend” and definitely want him to keep coming out to group social things, I don’t want to encourage any romantic interest if it’s there.

Anyway, I replied to his email with something to the effect of, sure, maybe he and I and some other people from small group could go for hot chocolate sometime.  And I had references to “friends” and “group” in there about three times.  I’m embarrassed now because I feel like I was almost too obvious.  Gahh, I’m not good at this stuff! :(

Maybe your male commenters will have some sage advice.

Hear that, readers?  Someone thinks you have sage advice!

Anyhow, to recap:  Reader is a 20something Christian female who was nice to a socially unattractive non-Christian engineering nerd.  As fate typically has it, said nerd now has a crush on her and asked her out for “next week” via email.  Reader consulted her brother, who gave good advice, and her female roommate, who gave FREAKINGLY AWFUL advice.  Reader did not want to crush NCEG’s ego, so she tried to give hints that she is not interested by agreeing to see him…WITH A GROUP.  SOMETIME.  (Who wants to take bets that NCEG will not get the message?)

As obvious as the situation is, in practice it’s very difficult to hurt someone’s feelings when you don’t want to (i.e., when the person has put you in a difficult position where the only truthful option is to cause pain).  I probably would have reacted similarly to Reader despite knowing that I needed to shoot down NCEG.  Alas, we are trained by society to kill any impulse of bluntness, and it is a hard habit to shake, especially in a church setting, and even more so when dealing with a non-believer.

So, I’m opening the floor to the readership.  (Men, your egos may now swell.)  One, what should Reader have done, if you think she responded wrongly?  Two, what should Reader do from here on out?  Three, I’m not above taking predictions for NCEG’s next move.  Pride points to the winners.

*******

On a side note:  As hopeless as NCEG’s case is, I must give him props for at least taking a step, as beta-ish (OVER EMAIL?**  NEBULOUS TIME FRAME?) as it was.  Your typical Christian guy would probably have waited another six months, hoping that he could friend his way into her heart.

**+1 for not using Facebook.  Email is a bad way to try to get dates, but Facebook is even worse.

Oh, and P.S. to Reader:  YES, IT’S A DATE.  He wants to spend one-on-one time with you drinking a beverage.  Would you prefer a singing telegram deliver the news?  Or are such outings not typically recognized as dates in your neck of the woods?

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45 Responses to “Reader mail: help a sista out!”

  1. lifeinlonglegs February 12, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    Dear Anonymous 20-something:

    Enough coddling. Would you rather have your arm cut off with a knife, or a spoon? There is no such thing as just friends with this guy. You’ve given him enough hints for him to know you are not interested, but your ambiguity is far worse than his in that you have not let your ‘yes be yes’ and ‘no be no’: …”sometime?” that’s harsh.

    If you do not want to go on a date with him, do not go at all and state why clearly and briefly. Don’t say ‘you’re a nice guy’ or otherwise stab him in the chest with “it’s not you it’s me” platitudes: he may only hear that he is a nice guy and not the part about you not liking him… and this is just hurtful. State that you do not have romantic feelings for him and do not otherwise explain yourself. If he presses, state that you are friends and do not feel a on on one “hot choco” would be appropriate. If he presses on further? …tell him flat out his choco isn’t hot enough for you.

    If you agree to go with him, you better go alone because you are on a date [whether you like it or not]. Then, treat him as you would any other date the next time he asks. Politely decline. There is no good way to cushion this.

    Treat him with respect: you are 20 something and likely know nothing about yourself, let alone men. In a few years, he could be someone you are interested in. Be brief, straightforward – and be kind.

    You can still invite this guy to group activities – better yet? have friends do the inviting, not you. Make sure you don’t ignore him in group settings so he gets that he’s cool as a friend.

    Agreeing to go and then bringing friends would be like sand-trapping him – now, not only does he think this is a date with you, but he socially awkwardly might dress too nice for the venue or bring you flowers or shake excessively or something like that. In this scenario, not only does he hang himself this way in front of you, but all of your new friends, by whom if he is a non-Christian or new to the group he already probably feels a bit judged. NOT NICE. Don’t even consider this option. Do you want your rejections public?

  2. Will S. February 12, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    If he brings it up again, Reader, be blunt this time. We menfolk actually would appreciate it, if you womenfolk would be honest and direct with us, for a change, and spare us the crap about trying not to hurt our feelings. In fact, we prefer that, generally; it’s how we roll.

    Oh, and if he stops coming around to young adults’ activities at the church, his heart wasn’t really in them, in the first place; he was just looking to meet chicks, not serious about spiritual matters. In which case, your church community is better off without a wolf among the sheep, tares amongst the wheat.

  3. y81 February 12, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    I would always accept the first date. You never know: he may not actually be romantically interested, he may lose interest himself after that one date, anything could happen. (The girl could even feel differently after the date, though admittedly that is highly unlikely.) Then, if he calls again, I would explain that I didn’t have the feelings that would lead to a romantic relationship.

    That way, the guy feels like he’s doing something, i.e., going on dates. Also, you might figure out some use for him (e.g., a girlfriend who would be interested, some computer consulting business you could swing his way, whatever).

  4. Toz February 12, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    The situation is much more complicated by the fact that he’s non-Christian. If he were Christian, the group thing would be a simple enough open-ended signal of non-interest. As it is, he’s pretty ripe for being LJBF’ed.

    A very simple “Yes, but this isn’t a date, right?” seems to me the easiest way out of this situation. It’s very direct and it’s quite hard for the guy to say “no, it’s a date” (in a banter-ish way) without having some major game. Screens the guys with alpha potential and makes the betas know it’s not a date. Also leaves the guy open to asking questions about church, etc.

  5. Purple Tortoise February 12, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I think women would greatly benefit from hearing a man’s perspective on dating/courtship. One time my wife and I were counseling a 20-something woman in our church. After hearing some of the situations she had been in, I provided an explanation of what was likely going through the man’s mind at those times. It was real eye-opening for her to see things from a man’s point of view.

  6. ASDF February 12, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Will S:

    I disagree about his intentions if he stops coming to Bible study. It’s entirely possible that he was just into it for the girls, but it’s also possible that getting turned down just makes him feel so awkward that he doesn’t want to come anymore.

    I agree with Toz’s line. “Yes, but this isn’t a date, right?”. It shows she’s happy to hang out, but not in a romantic way. Perhaps she has another girlfriend she can pass his way.

  7. OhioStater February 12, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    I say he’ll treat you better than any man you’d actually be interested in. Tell him you’ll marry him.

  8. Days of Broken Arrows February 12, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I think suggesting bringing other people along is actually worse for the guy’s ego than a simple “no.” And I think the roommate knew this and is purposely trying to drum up one of those female melodramas that’s been written about on this blog.

    A simple “no” means the woman’s interests or prospects lie elsewhere. But suggesting bringing friends along means the woman thinks the guy is too pathetic to even treat like a man and say no to. It makes it seem like he has cooties.

    I wonder if the roommate wasn’t in the picture if the letter writer might actually open herself up to this guy a bit? Seems like she’s trying to gain the approval of her friends more than actually trying to meet a guy.

    Anyway, her brother was right.

  9. lifeinlonglegs February 12, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    I agree with Toz – very nice.

    If he agrees to the group thing bring someone you think [or know] would be/is interested in him; or as others suggested someone with a similar personal interest [computers, math, marrying you].

  10. Ocsne February 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Toz’s reply is elegant in its simplicity. The seven word reply of “Yes, but this isn’t a date, right?” kindly defines for him where you stand without driving him from your church group.

    Kudos Toz.

  11. Jennifer M. February 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    I agree with y81. She should stop over thinking things so much and just go on the outing. It may not even be a “date”, but she’ll never know because she’s putting way too much pressure on the situation. She just needs to ask herself, does she want to hang out with him or not? End of analyzing. If he tries to go in for a kiss during hot cocoa, she can be like, “Whoa there. I’m not into you like that.” If not, she’s made a new friend.

  12. Jennifer M. February 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Whatever she does, she shouldn’t do the group ambush. Thats totally overreacting. The poor guy just wants to hang out with her and she wants to bring her Bible study?? And we wonder why people hate Christians.

  13. Yvette Francino February 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Well, first of all, let me start by saying I’m an engineer and I come from a big family of engineers so I’ve been surrounded by ’em my whole life, so kudos to the socially challenged guy for asking her out.

    Since he didn’t make it totally clear that it was a date, I think it’s premature for her to assume that and reject him. I agree with the people who are suggesting the “Yes, but it’s not a date, right?” line.

    A second alternative might be just be up front, like, “Thanks so much for asking, but I’m going to have to say no thank you. I’d really like you to join our group, but I don’t feel comfortable with socializing one-on-one. Hope you understand.”

  14. rob February 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Saying yes and then bringing friends along screams “I’m too scared to say no, but I’m also too scared to be even semi-alone with you.” It’s anti-preselection and will kill any interest any other woman in her social circle might develop. If she had any interest in keeping in the church/bible study, and he has even a teeny bit of social awareness, he won’t come back. That might be a plus, though.

    “No, thanks” or “No” are perfectly fine responses. Dude is asking for a date over email. He’s heard no before. I remember being absurdly grateful whenever a girl said no without seeming squicked.

  15. Anthony February 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    She’s not *ambushing* him with the group – she’s given him fair warning. That lets him cop out, or to press by saying something along the lines of “oh – I was hoping for something more like an informal date”.

    I’d have suggested the inverse of Toz’s suggestion: respond by asking him (over email, or in person but *privately*) if he’s asking her on a date. It’s better done in person, because then she can make it a bit playful in a way which is *hard* to do over email. But he then would *have to* ‘fess up – if he says it’s not a date, he’s LJBFed himself, and if it is a date, she can shoot him down, hopefully politely.

    Now that she’s made her move, the next move is up to him. If he agrees to the group thing, she’s going to have to deal with him trying to monopolize her attention during the event. If any of her friends are potentially interested in him, she should throw the friend at him. If not, sometime afterwards, she’s going to need to tell him that she’s not interested in dating him.

    y81 is right, though – unless he’s really completely unacceptable, there’s very little harm in accepting a first date.

  16. Will S. February 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    @ ASDF: Fair enough; I see your point, and agree.

  17. Old Guy February 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    The assembled multitude is responding differently to this 20something reader than they did to the guy described in Haley’s hypothetical at
    https://haleyshalo.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/hot-and-cold/.

    The guy in the “Hot and Cold” hypothetical gave clear and repeated indications of interest to a woman (he calls the woman every day and sends dozens of flirtatious texts), took her on an apparently successful date, and then disappeared. Commenters expended much effort conjecturing good and sufficient reasons why he lost interest. The consensus was that the woman was on her own, the victim of an overactive hamster. Haley was in the minority.

    Here, a young woman is considerate enough to want to avoid letting a man get the wrong idea at the first opportunity, and almost everyone is completely onside with that. Only Jennifer M. and y81 are willing to allow her a little room to play with an ostensible ambiguity (Maybe it’s he doesn’t think it’s a date!).

    Why is this different for girls? Why isn’t the guy in the hypothetical slimy in exactly the way the roommate’s advice is slimy?

    The 20something shouldn’t be embarrassed over her “too obvious” response to the invitation. He’s an engineer. He’s inarticulate. Our 20something could pretend she lives on Planet Asbergers and say exactly what she thinks: “I’m uncomfortable making plans to see you, just the two of us, because I don’t want you get the wrong idea. I hope to see you at Bible study.”

    The “Yes, but it’s not a date, right?” line puts him in the position of having to either withdraw the invitation (if he could carry that off she’d be a lot more interested in him than she is) or betacize himself by going on a different outing than he offered.

  18. Augustine DeCarthage February 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    1. Yes, it’s a date.

    2. It’s just a damn date.

    3. Would it kill you to go out on a date with a guy even though the Angel Gabriel hasn’t suggested you go out with him?

    4. I get it. You’re not attracted to him. He’s not your type. He’s too this, he’s not enough that. Never in a million years, you have legitimate reasons, you’ve given it a lot of thought and prayer, you stopped reading Boundless years ago… Never gonna happen…

    5. Give God the opportunity to surprise you. You think you know this guy so well that you can make the call before you even go out with him. Maybe you do. You probably do.

    6. But once you send this guy back out into the wilderness, he ain’t coming back. And I’m sure you’re glad about that. Maybe it’s a huge source of relief that this guy would never come back to bother you again.

    Maybe.

    But why not let the guy try.

    And none of this even discusses the second and third order effects of this guy not asking out some other girls based on his experience with you. As if you care.

  19. Augustine DeCarthage February 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    And I want to make clear that my broadside is directed at Sister Haley’s reader and not at Sister Haley herself.

  20. lifeinlonglegs February 13, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    OLD GUY: Nice post. Wisdom is evident. One correction: I did say

    “Treat him with respect: you are 20 something and likely know nothing about yourself, let alone men. In a few years, he could be someone you are interested in.”

  21. lifeinlonglegs February 13, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Augustine:

    If her future were the only thing on the line, I’d agree [she’s 20ish – see above post]…but there are two involved here.

    I’d say we have to find out if he is truly repulsive to her and has no chance of climbing out of the primordial ooze, or if there’s potential for evolution in their relationship. If one date would get his hopes up then for her to go – only to knowingly crush those hopes afterwards – is nothing more than game playing.

  22. VD February 13, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    First, it’s definitely a request for date. Those whose rationalization hamsters are trying to concoct an argument that it isn’t are underlining the Game maxim to never, ever, take advice about women from a woman. Now, as to the questions:

    1. Reader should have sent back an email saying: “Thank you very much for the offer, but no thanks. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in anything romantic with you.” That’s it. There is no need for cushioning it or justifying yourself. He’ll understand, he’ll be disappointed, but he won’t be offended.

    2. Send a second email apologizing for failing to be direct, followed by “I’m sorry, but I don’t happen to be interested in dating you.”

    3. Profuse apology and overly verbose denial of any romantic interest in Reader.

    Ladies, you’re not going to permanently crush any man’s hopes and dreams by shooting him down. He’s been shot down before. He’ll be shot down again. If you genuinely wish to repay him for the ego boost of a request for date, don’t falsely encourage him to waste time on you that he could spend on another woman with at least some hope of success.

  23. jz February 13, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Dear 20something reader,

    You are a spineless coward. Move beyond your adolescent identity of being “nice”.
    To function as an adult, you will need to use words like, “NO, never”. Say those words unapologetically, and you’ll earn respect, and feel wonderfully liberated.

  24. Jet Tibet February 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Yes it’s a date. She should tell him that she is not interested, but since she likes him as a person he should he should stop being nice and start reading Game blogs.

  25. ASDF February 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Do we have a picture and CV of this chick? Maybe she needs to be told to suck it up and go on the date with him because she’s not all that.

  26. Aunt Haley February 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    ASDF–
    I’ve seen Reader’s photo. NCEG is aiming higher than he probably should.

  27. y81 February 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    “NCEG is aiming higher than he probably should.”

    What if NCEG writes the next killer app and sells out to Apple for $50 million? Or finds a giant oil deposit in New Mexico? Or something similar. (We don’t know what kind of engineering he studied.) And becomes a Christian. He’ll probably be lecturing at the next “Christians in Business” seminar at Haley’s church, and all the girls will be wondering, “Why don’t guys like that ever ask me out?”

  28. Aunt Haley February 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    y81–
    Do you think most women are saying that about Mark Zuckerberg? Riches can only take a man so far if he doesn’t have adequately developed social skills to go along with them.

  29. cleared in hot February 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    VD wins this one.

  30. Brendan February 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    VD said it succinctly and well — 100% agree. Clearly a date request, and clearly what is called for is firmly yet politely turning it down.

  31. Josh February 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    First, yes, it is a date, without question. He might not even think of it as a date, but he has non-platonic intentions. VD has given perfect advice on how to respond.

    Secondly, this guy asks for hot chocolate over email? That is insane. If this guy ever asks what he did wrong, tell him two things:

    1. Don’t email. Face-to-face or phone call, via a phone number you obtained yourself or a phone number you were given with the consent of the owner, are the only acceptable options.

    2. If asking her out for a hot beverage is your preferred approach, please choose a drink that is less sweet, and less favored by five-year-olds. This is not just macho bravado – I don’t know any man of quality that drinks something that sweet socially. If your church has qualms about alcohol, than just choose boring tea and coffee.

  32. Badger February 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    I’m going to be short, because I care. :)

    “This is especially tricky, because this particular guy is not actually a Christian and set foot in a church for the first time a couple of months ago”

    This is irrelevant. You don’t owe any different treatment to newly-minted faithful.

    “My brother’s advice: This is a date, and since I am not interested, I must clearly reject him.”

    This is the best option. We can’t be 100% sure, but the overwhelmingly most likely scenario is that this has date overtones, so a clear “stop” is the best response to the most likely situation.

    “My roommate’s advice: There’s no way of telling whether it’s a date or if he just wants to be friends”

    This is not solipsism or projection, it’s just a really poorly informed read. Maybe she’s trying to invent a reality where you won’t have to reject him?

    “1) go for hot chocolate briefly and say I have to go somewhere else soon afterwards”

    This is a takeaway move, will likely get him MORE interested.

    “2) go, but bring a couple of other people from Bible study along (even though she admitted that another man we both know says girls should never do this!)”

    This is dating terrorism, and is cruel beyond belief – if a man has made the effort to ask a woman out (even if a coffee date via email is a tepid effort) and expects a one-on-one but you show up with friends in tow, you might as well just show up, kick him in the junk with your human-sheild associates watching and post the video on YouTube.

    SOLUTION: I think your best bet is what you did, to counter-propose something that has other people involved, like “some of us from the Bible study were going to go to [Starbucks/Kentucky Fried Chicken/a jazz club/whatever].” I wouldn’t have made it for hot chocolate because that co-opts his invitation, but what the heck. This should be a pretty clear signal that you are re-directing things towards a non-romantic activity. If he can’t read that, you might need to get stronger.

  33. Badger February 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    “I agree with Toz’s line. “Yes, but this isn’t a date, right?”. It shows she’s happy to hang out, but not in a romantic way.”

    I absolutely DISagree with this tactic, and it blows my mind that so many commenters are on board.

    What’s wrong, you say? Well, it’s an LJBF. Straight up, no chaser. It’s worse than your regular LJBF, because instead of nebulous future “friendship,” he’s already locked into a tangible event of “friendship” his date request was specifically designed to avoid.

    It’s a breathtaking act of social jujitsu. It takes his invitation to her, folds it around like origami and hands it back to him in an emasculated form.

    And now he’s forced to spend an hour drinking cocoa with someone he wanted to go on a date with but has ALREADY rejected him. “Shirley he could say no,” you say? Come on. If this guy is as socially base as we’re led to believe, there’s no way he’s going to have the guts to back out of an event that was his idea, even if it’s been turned into his own castration. He’s certainly not going to reply “I’m not interested in being just friends.” Say yes, no, or redirect, but don’t manipulate him.

    Maybe I got a little strong with the words there, but morphing his would-be date into a one-on-one non-date is possibly even worse for him than the friend ambush and certainly worse than saying no.

    There’s something to be said for giving it a try, but if you really don’t want to date him, stick with that and don’t spend time with him. Once you give clear signals of rejection, his beta pain is his responsibility. Everyone, even George McFly, needs to learn to take that kind of a rejection.

  34. Toz February 14, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    “It’s a breathtaking act of social jujitsu. It takes his invitation to her, folds it around like origami and hands it back to him in an emasculated form.

    And now he’s forced to spend an hour drinking cocoa with someone he wanted to go on a date with but has ALREADY rejected him. “Shirley he could say no,” you say? Come on. If this guy is as socially base as we’re led to believe, there’s no way he’s going to have the guts to back out of an event that was his idea, even if it’s been turned into his own castration. ”

    This is all true if he has no game. And that’s fine. What’s wrong with framing the get-together as a non-date? If he’s got no game, it will emasculate him, sure, but that’s not her fault, it’s his.

    To take your analogy further, he’s initiated the social jujitsu with the date request. Say like a punch of some kind. She’s parrying the punch with the line. If he is as Haley claims, shooting way above his level, this is the sort of response he should get. Anything less than her full capabilities in social jujitsu will only make him think he’s better at social jujitsu than he is and render him less effective in the long run. He needs some course correction either by aiming lower or becoming a more desirable man.

    That said, a straight no might work to do the same, but it’s not as elegant. It makes his interaction with her a lot more awkward. It makes his integration into the church community a lot more awkward. In other words, the secondary objectives don’t get fulfilled.

  35. Badger February 14, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    “This is all true if he has no game. And that’s fine. What’s wrong with framing the get-together as a non-date? If he’s got no game, it will emasculate him, sure, but that’s not her fault, it’s his…If he is as Haley claims, shooting way above his level, this is the sort of response he should get. He needs some course correction either by aiming lower or becoming a more desirable man.”

    This is very telling – you’re saying he deserves not just to be rejected, but to have his soul crushed, for the crime of having no game and “shooting above his league” (which we really don’t know both sides of the story about but we do know it’s typical for young women to misoverestimate their market value). It’s amazing how everything that happens to a man in the dating market is the man’s fault. It’s not like he made romantic paeons at her doorstep. He just asked her out for coffee.

    I don’t know if you are a man or a woman, but this is the Roissyite view of the praying-mantis female on display – rationalizing all sorts of mental cruelties on a man because he’s not good enough for her, and saying he should just take it because if he had any game he wouldn’t stand for it.

    I don’t think women reading this have any idea how disappointing it is for a man to suck up the guts to make a date with a woman, and have her pull the “this is just as friends, right?” Not just to be rejected, but to be asked to go through the motions of what you planned to be a romantic experience. She’s taking advantage of him to collect his investment of time and attention while blocking off what he wants. That’s wrong.

    “That said, a straight no might work to do the same, but it’s not as elegant.”

    So expediency is now the rule of the day? This is the sort of thing that makes me think that Christian singleness is not a “special kind of singleness” but just the same singleness cloaked in a layer of hollow Victorian virtue. Way to introduce him to the faith.

    “It makes his interaction with her a lot more awkward.”

    NO. Coercing him into hanging out with her in a non-romantic way when he’s made fairly clear he’s interested in her in incredibly awkward. It’s the definition of LJBF.

  36. Toz February 14, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    “I don’t know if you are a man or a woman, but this is the Roissyite view of the praying-mantis female on display – rationalizing all sorts of mental cruelties on a man because he’s not good enough for her, and saying he should just take it because if he had any game he wouldn’t stand for it.”

    First, I’m a married man with kids. Second, how is reframing the situation a “mental cruelty”? Socially adept people of all stripes do it ALL THE TIME. Now, as a geek/engineering type, he’s liable to be LJBF’ed, that is true. But exactly what wrong has he suffered from her? Like I said, if he’s throwing a punch, he should deal with the consequences. Some of those consequences might include getting LJBF’ed. If I’m challenging Michael Jordan to a game of basketball, he’s completely in the right to destroy me. There’s no moral depravity in him doing so since I challenged him. If you ask a hot girl out on a date and she rejects you or worse, that’s her perogative since YOU asked her.

    Now, if he didn’t ask her on a date and she saw that he was attracted to her and she tried to hang out with him on a LJBF sort of way to massage her ego, that would be a mental cruelty. That’d be like Michael Jordan seeing me play one-on-one with some guy deciding to take my opponent’s place and destroying me just to show off.

    The situation as presented and the response of “Yes, but this is not a date, right?” is perfectly fine morally. No need to make it seem morally wrong because you don’t like the outcome.

  37. Old Guy February 14, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Toz: The 20something is trying to treat a man she’s not interested in well rather than badly. It isn’t responsive to justify a subtle (or “elegant”) cruelty by saying it’s his fault anyway. All he did was ask her out.

    Badger: Your mind shouldn’t be blown. The trick here is to pretend there’s ambiguity in his invitation where none exists, and to thus avoid the discomfort of saying “No, but thank you.” People of good will often don’t see this sort of dishonesty for what it is because it’s difficult to recognise until it’s pointed out, as you did here. Nor can they respond quickly when confronted with it, for the same reason.

  38. Toz February 14, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    “It isn’t responsive to justify a subtle (or “elegant”) cruelty by saying it’s his fault anyway.”

    So having hot chocolate with someone is now cruel?? How is that cruel? She’s stated her intentions (as friends) and she’s being agreeable to what he’s proposed. She’s even opening up the possibility of him being able to flirt back if he has enough game. What is cruel about that? To me, it’s very honest and straightforward.

    What I object to is blaming her for his feelings afterwards. He may feel he’s lost his chance or something. Whatever badness he seemingly suffers, she’s not responsible. If she replies with “yes, but this isn’t a date, right?”, there is nothing cruel about it. He may perceive it to be cruel, but that’s certainly not her fault. All she did was respond to his date request in an elegant, friendly manner.

    This reminds me of what a lot of women do, honestly. They blame the guy for her hurt feelings despite the fact he didn’t do anything wrong.

  39. yvettefrancino February 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Just a quick comment about engineers… Some of us are also articulate. (Though I agree, many of us are socially challenged…)

  40. Aunt Haley February 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Old Guy–
    Why is this different for girls? Why isn’t the guy in the hypothetical slimy in exactly the way the roommate’s advice is slimy?

    Because it’s always the woman’s fault (see: Adam and Eve). If the woman gets her feelings hurt, it’s because her hamster drove her to it. If the man’s feelings get hurt, it’s because her hamster drove her to it. It’s the hamster’s world; the rest of us are just living in it.

  41. JG February 15, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    Back in the way back when, this happened to me. I wish she’d been honest up front with me instead of dragging it out, making excuses that finally forced me to ask her if she really wanted to go out or not. I’d have respected a simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ and it would have been less painful than being told yes and then given excuse after excuse for not getting together.

    I’d have respected her more had she been honest. I might have considered giving it a second go a few months later when her interest level changed and she pursued me. As it was, her behavior had been a disappointment and I lost all interest in her and ignored her pursuit.

  42. lifeinlonglegs February 15, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    JG: Having realized that a coffee is often [always?] more than a friends thing – I had to “finally” tell a male aquaintence/friend who had been pestering me to go for coffee with him for some time that in fact I had no intentions of going for coffee with him, ever, and to please stop asking.

    I had avoided the onslaught of requests from this gentleman [with the very real answer that I was too busy with work, which I was in general too busy to be building new friendships and needed to focus on the ones I had already].

    He did not take the hint [because we all know I would have invested time for dating but not for this aquaintance] – but rather this man persisted in asking me out for coffee. For months!

    When I broke the “news”, he was shocked that this had ‘dragged out for so long’, however – when he made his requests He always did this in front of other people [which I perceived as manipulative/controlling] … so I had no opportunity to shut him down without absolutely gutting him in front of other people.

    Finally, I decided there was no avoiding a gutting or a confrontation and pulled him aside to speak to him privately. I explained that friendship in group settings and chatting about our lives at church were one thing, coffee one on ones were another …and that I would not spend one on one time with male “friends” that I was not interested in dating and that there was no interest there and never would be. I also explained why I had not felt it reasonable to reject his requests outright in front of others.This guy was a “clinger” so I felt I had to be clear [and somewhat harsh].

    While I’m sure these are two very different situations and am not putting you in the same ballpark as this man… my questions for you are:

    1) Did she say yes… or did she bursh it off and say “maybe”? or “sometime”? Maybe does not mean yes. “Sometime” does not mean yes: unless you have a date and time, you do not have plans with someone.

    2) Were your requests made privately, or in front of others? It is hard enough to openly reject someone: to do it in front of a crowd seems unreasonably cruel.

  43. JG February 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    @lifelonglegs

    I asked her out away from others, to do otherwise would be rude and inconsiderate. She said yes but always found excuses not to go. I was too respectful, probably killed her attraction level, the growth of which she made no secret a few months later, going out of her way to try to get my attention at church and in singles group when I didn’t return her interest.

  44. lifeinlonglegs February 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. NCEG follow-up. « Haley's Halo - February 16, 2011

    […] I previously shared a reader’s dilemma with a nerdy engineer who asked her via email for hot chocolate “next week.”  Reader emailed back a “yes” qualified by many mentions of friends and doing things as a group.  Commenters duked it out with competing advice. […]

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