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Wise Guys: Can’t Women Ask Men Out?

Tue, Mar 30, 2010

Advice, Wise Guys

photo by rick

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks, “Why do some guys get freaked out if a woman asks them out, and act like she’s desperate? Is it because they feel like they have to say yes? Or does it actually make a woman seem less attractive to some guys, if she’s playing the opposite of hard-to-get? Do guys make assumptions about what a woman is like, based on the fact that she asks him out?

wiseguy_benStraight Married Guy (Ben): I would guess one of two things is happening here. Either you’re dealing with a really immature guy — a guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience with dating or who isn’t all that confident in himself — or you’re dealing with a guy who just doesn’t want to go out with you. Either way, there’s a strategy here for easily figuring out how a guy is going to react before you ask him out. It’s called “flirting.” Start slow, toss an innuendo here, a very casual touch there. If he returns the flirt then start ramping it up. Really, everyone – man or woman – should have a pretty clear idea what the answer is to “Will you go out with me?” before you even ask it. You’ve achieved “expert” flirting status when you can get your mark to ask you out first. Saves you money on the date while you decide whether he’s good enough for you.

Gay Commited Guy (Bradford Shellhammer): Yes, some men like women who are quiet, who play the part of the damsel in distress. They like the power struggle. For those guys I imagine it could be a turn-off. But for every one of those guys, the ones intimidated by strong and direct women, I bet there are even more who’d be welcome to women making the first move, being the pursuer. Yes, guys — hell, everyone — makes assumptions about people based on first impressions. Nothing new there. But women should be more aggressive with dating and asking guys out. I think it would, in the long run, save them a lot of headache.

anonymous_suitStraight Single Guy (Max): I like a girl who is hard to get. Us dudes like the thrill of the hunt and the time during which we don’t know if anything is going to happen. When a girl asks me out it is (most of the time) a thrill, but quite different from working hard for a lady, and eventually getting what you want. Suddenly, you realize that you are the hunted and this can
be either amusing and awesome, or a frightening realization that your game ain’t up to snuff. Personally, I’m quite intrigued by any girl who has the guts to ask me out. A girl who knows what she wants is a good thing. For all ladies considering such moves, however, I will point to this question as a good indication for the risks involved. We CAN get freaked out and you CAN look desperate if you do this in the wrong manner. If you ask a guy out, give him options. Let him feel a bit of power by picking the location, time or whatever. Just don’t walk up to him and tell him to take you out this Saturday and that you love sushi. Even if you’re a total babe, this is a strange move and will spook most men.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is Ben, a writer and artist living in Los Angeles who runs AdultParlorGames.com; our Gay Guy is fellow SUN blogger Bradford Shellhammer, the creative director of fabulis and a New York Times featured decorator; and our Single Straight Guy, Max, is a recent college grad in New England. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

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29 Responses to “Wise Guys: Can’t Women Ask Men Out?”

  1. PK Says:

    Us dudes? Uh, Dude, you don’t speak for me. I’m not intrigued by a girl who has the guts to ask me out. I’m intrigued by the woman who knows who she is and what she wants. If that includes asking me out then great. This dude thinks predation by either gender is repulsive. Confidence on the other hand, is hot.

  2. nick Says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE a girl who is willing to ask a guy out.
    i have a difficult time figuring out if a girl is interested most of the time, so it’s appreciated in that respect too.

  3. Dave W Says:

    I don’t see any downside to a girl asking a guy out. Yeah, it shouldn’t be, “You, me, Saturday, Sushiden, be there!” Flirting? If that’s your thing, OK. I look at it as being like a filter. Chances are, if you’re comfortable asking a guy out(nervous is OK), it is reflective of other parts of your personality. If a guy is put off by it, then he probably isn’t right for you. It’s not as if you’re informing him that at some point, you expect to do him with a strap-on. It’s a simple question, and it might be less painful to be rejected up front than after a few dates.

  4. Johnny Says:

    Question is, why won’t women ask men out?

    I’ve pondered this at length, and asked many women I know, and I’ve concluded that most women just don’t want to ask men out. I hate to get all traditional-gender-roley, but most women really do prefer a take-charge kind of guy. I’ve heard even the most feminist-identified women complain about dudes who, for whatever reason, aren’t busting a move.

    These are the reasons the guy isn’t busting the move himself:

    1. He’s oblivious
    2. He’s intimidated
    3. He’s taken or otherwise unavailable
    4. He’s not interested

    1 and 2 turn women off – those guys rarely get asked out. 3 can go either way depending on the woman – this scenario is the likeliest to attract bold women. And 4 is something that many people (many women and the guys from scenario 2) just don’t have backbone to confront.

    As for the confidence thing… the higher a woman’s confidence, generally, the more selective she is with her partners, and the more likely she is to want a dude with the confidence to boldly ask HER out.

    Like Ben mentioned, flirting is the closest most women will come. Then they want the guy to grab the ball and run with it.

  5. ZC Says:

    Does anyone who’s answered, think guys who are more on the introverted/shy side require a little more of a push say if a woman was interested in him? Which does happen such as in my case.

  6. anathema Says:

    I hate to subscribe to gender-role stuff, but I do think most of my asking guys out has been in the nature of, “So, you wanna do something sometime?” That’s pretty much always gotten the party started (I am an inveterate flirt so, yeah, by the time I say that I’m pretty clear on whether they’re interested or not.) I don’t like to think that I’m being olde skool sexist by not being more direct but, who knows, maybe I am.

  7. Wendell Says:

    Thank you, PK, nick, and Dave W–I feel the same as you.

    PK and I are not into Max speaking for all “us dudes.” I would suspect that some women are not into Johnny speaking for them, though I’d prefer to hear from them, themselves.

    Ben’s mention of flirting could be seen another way: two people building up a rapport in a collaborative manner. When it comes to that point, like he says, it doesn’t matter who asks the other out–the attraction is already established so if the guy bails at this point he’s either a sleaze who is attached and likes to lead people on, or someone who is too mired in traditional gender roles to see what fun he’ll be missing (viz, the rapport that was already established in a collaborative manner).

    The more coy a woman acts, the more quickly I walk away. One can flirt without falling back on tired constructions of hunter/hunted. In fact, I’d argue one would get to know the person better if these roles were avoided. Playfulness and creativity go a long way!

  8. BCofUIMhere Says:

    I had to LOL when I saw this. The last time I asked a guy out was probably before EM & LO were born (1985). I asked him out, picked him up, brought him flowers. The date was a classic dinner and a movie, I paid for both (because I asked him out). We took a walk, in the moonlight, I dropped him off, told him I had a really nice time and hoped he did too. We had a good night kiss (just a kiss, I treated him like a total gentleman) and went home. The next day, he called and screamed (!) at me that I treated him like a p***y, hung up and I never saw him again.

  9. emandlo Says:

    Thanks for the compliment BCofUIMhere, but we’re children of the 70s… stick around here long enough and you’ll soon figure that out by the amount of 80s and 90s pop culture references that litter our writing!

  10. Katie Says:

    I’ve definitely asked guys out, but I’ll be honest…it’s never lead to anything but one date and nothing afterwards. While I like to take charge, it seems most guys still craze some control and can’t handle it when the girl is at the wheel. I also think that some men don’t quite know how they’re supposed to contact or interact with a girl after a date she prompted–now do they follow up? Do they need to play it “proper” and not push anything sexual? While females basically deal with this after every date, I’m not sure guys are used to that yet.

  11. julie Says:

    I have to admit that i haven’t had luck with the guy I asked out, and i personally felt like that because he didn’t have to “chase” me he wasn’t as into the relationship. I think he thought i must be really into him so he didn’t have to work for it.

  12. BCofUIMhere Says:

    LOL, emandlo…I guess the photos of you two are such hotties, it threw me off. ;)

    @katie & @julie, your comments make me wonder about how little has changed in (gasp!) 25 years. Where I used to work, guys would kvetch about how hard it was to ask women out and how awesome (it was the 90s) it would be if women had to ask guys out. And I would just grin to myself, remembering my experience. Yet I wonder now if men need to “man up” (“woman up”?) about being asked out…

  13. SS Says:

    I just finished a book where men wrote in about their feelings re: sex, dating, work, women in general, and the consensus of the dating section was that men wanted to have to do a little chasing, they didn’t like the idea of women being completely available from the first contact. So, while some people have commented that this is a primitive or out-dated way of looking at things, it still may be the most common. I do think we are hard-wired with certain gender expectations/behaviours (women as nurturers, men as hunters); there has certainly been enough written about the subject over the years to justify this claim, although obviously people can choose to behave differently in their own lives. Personally (although I’ve been out of the dating pool for a very long time…), if a guy couldn’t work up the nerve to ask me out, I wouldn’t find that very appealing. If I were being friendly/flirty, and there was still no response from him I’d assume he was either not interested or too shy/scared to take a chance, neither of which bode well in the potential boyfriend department.

  14. figleaf Says:

    I’ve got this theory I call the bogus Two Rules of Desire. One is that it’s simultaneously intolerable and inconceivable for women to have genuine sexual desire, the other is that it’s simultaneously intolerable and inconceivable for men to be desirable. Sure, they’re totally bogus rules but a lot of guys (and a surprising number of women) fall for them.

    The upshot is that, for a lot of guys, it’s somewhere between intolerable and inconceivable for a woman to ask them out without being either “desperate” or else having some sort of other ulterior motive.

    Quick note for Max: “Thrill of the Chase” is popular but it’s only one game you can play in what turns out to be a pretty big arena. And the rules for “Chase” (women mustn’t be strong, men can’t be good looking, everybody pretends they’re above average) are awfully limiting.

    figleaf

  15. PK Says:

    Hi SS, I’m curious about the book and the definition of “a little chasing.” I’d read that to mean that she and I are engaged in a flirting, like Hildy Johnson and Walter Burns or Susan Vance and David Huxley. So the chase is more shared rather than one-sided regardless of who initiated. It’s also more fun for both of you.

  16. PK Says:

    Okay maybe that last one was one-sided. Susan was definitely chasing David….

  17. Lovereaction Says:

    A man that likes and are used to women thinks it is fun that girls dares to ask him out.

  18. Dawn Says:

    It’s understandable how majority of men are interested in “chasing” a woman, and can become intimidated very easily when a woman asks them out. The action of a man pursuing a woman has been the main approach to starting a potential relationship for a long time. However, times are changing and women asking men out is becoming more common. I personally, have asked men out and experienced mixed outcomes. I’m not an aggressive woman, but I do know what I’m looking for in a man. When I’m engaged in a conversation with a guy and I feel confident in how things are going, I sometimes will ask them out, but not always. It really just depends on the situation and what type of guy he is. Some guys appreciate when a woman asks them out, where others become intimidated and perhaps turned off.

  19. SS Says:

    @PK: the book is “Men, Love & Sex” by David Zinczenko
    http://www.amazon.com/Men-Love-Sex-Complete-Users/dp/1594867364/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270683592&sr=8-1
    It is by no means scientific or a text book, it’s simply the result of a lot of survey answers, which are probably somewhat skewed to begin with, as they are readers of Men’s Health magazine (but still informative, none the less!) Yes, by “chasing,” I think they meant mutual flirting/attraction, not stalking/caveman clubbing, but the point was that for the men who wrote in, they preferred having to “work for it” a bit, that there was that period of wondering “does she or doesn’t she like me?”…that the sex/relationship wasn’t just handed to them.

  20. PK Says:

    “…there was that period of wondering “does she or doesn’t she like me?”

    Which begs the question, are alot of men like Groucho Marx, i.e., “I’d never want to join a club that would have me as a member.”

  21. Em Says:

    I broke up with my first boyfriend in December (I’m 17). I basically took the lead in our relationship… asked him out on our first date, admitted my crush on him before he said anything about feelings for me. At the time I thought it was sweet that he was so shy. However, because I always had to initiate things, I felt unsure of how he felt about me: was he dating me because he liked me, or because it was the easy and expected thing to do? I think that girls taking the lead is great, but having either partner constantly take the lead is bad for any relationship: both people should be working for it.

  22. etch Says:

    One guys opinion: I think it would be great if a girl asked me out. (provided I was interested in her). Why should guys do all the asking…..it 2011 hellooooo!!! I’m not into the hunter/hunted “chase” bull**** that many people above seem to be in. My opinion of and attraction towards a woman who asked me out would be higher.

  23. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Johnny and SS are dialed in! and suggest that you read their posts from both a male and female perspective…Most confident men that I know…and are interested in a woman, flirt, and ask them out.Period. If you guys are too afraid, get use to your hand for lovin, and you can rant all you want about being 2011 and equal rights blah, blah, blah, but fact is women rarely ask men, and face it, most of you that get asked out really are not interested or intrigued by that particular woman. You are then wondering if she looking for sex, a slut or desperate, or thinking- I am really not that into her. Friends with Benefits? Well either the lazy way out of “dating” or just convenient till something better comes along.

  24. Jason Tufaga Says:

    Men like it when women ask way more than women like it when men ask. So you might think that men don’t like it, but we like more than women do. A women who asks guys out will get way more dates than a guy who asks women out.

    I think sometimes women get rejected and then say that they were rejected because men don’t like aggressive women, but they are using that as an excuse so that they don’t feel rejected. A man could never use that excuse. Imagine a guy saying that he always gets rejeted because women don’t like it when men make the first move. He would get laughed at because everyone knows he’s just saying that to save his pride.

    I think to increase equality women should (gasp) actually risk rejection more often and if they get rejected they shouldn’t use the excuse that men don’t like it when women ask. I know it hurts but it comes with the territory and I think relationships would be better off if this happened.

    Sorry but I have to say it like I see it ;)

  25. James S Says:

    I was looking up a similar topic to this but I found this thread, which I’ve found interesting. This issue affects me as a guy as well as my sister too so I feel inclined to post a response on here, despite the thread being 2 years old.

    In very simple terms I think that the root of many men responding negatively to women who approach men comes down to two things; sexism and pride. This form of sexism starts at birth in blue being for boys and pink being for girls. As a person of each sex (and ultimately gender) grows older their enviroments already start to signal what are considered appropriate behaviors, and which ones aren’t. I do believe there are some inherent differences in the mentality of how each sex behaves from a biological standpoint, but I still believe that the majority of these stem from gradual gender conditioning while growing up. Note: Let us not forget that gender and sex are two different things.

    I’m going to post the following and this is coming from a very introverted (and sometimes shy) guy. I have an attractive sister (who’s definitely not a loser) who has not had a boyfriend for 8 years now. The few boyfriends that she did have in the past did pursue her, only to have those relationships fall apart very quickly because they ended up either being outright jerks, control freaks or they got bored after the chase ended and went on to bigger and better challenges. There was an exception with one guy who did pursue her, he was very clean cut and came from a well known conservative family. He even asked for my father’s hand in marriage. They were with each other for about 6 months before they got engaged. They stayed together for nearly another year after that but once the engagement took place he started treating her like a jerk. He eventually cheated on her with the girl he is now married to. After this she decided to take matters into her own hands and started attempting to become the one to initiate contact with guys. Unfortunately she usually got blown off and this strategy didn’t work for her either. She tried online dating but the guys that initiated contact with her usually would just disappear, perhaps after their aggressive ‘alphamailing’ landed them a ‘bigger hit’. I don’t know but there was a pattern with that situation occuring over and over again regardless of whether the site was eharmony, match or a nonpaying site. Her attempts at initiating contact online fell flat as well. My sister’s best friend, whom also happens to be very attractive, is in the same boat as my sister and she has been dateless for a long time as well.

    I’ll describe my own situation briefly here as well. I actually have little problem conversing and even initiating it when it comes to both men and women (I’m straight) but I’ve had my own difficulies as well when it comes to dating. Personally I prefer a bit more mutuality when it comes to the initial part of trying to get a date rather than pursuing a woman, or having a woman pursue me. I’m one of those guys who prefers to already be reasonably close to a woman by some other means outside of dating before actually dating her. I’m not into the blind approach or pursuit like some other guys are, and it’s not because of a lack of confidence/self esteem but because of a lack of motivation. It’s not because I find no value or attraction in any particular woman but rather the opposite; I find that my attraction for certain women completely depends on already knowing something about the woman to begin with, along with her making some type of effort herself. Maybe not all guys will agree with me and I’ll be billed as making up excuses to hide my insecurities, but in the end I know myself and my motivations for what I do (and don’t do) better than anybody that would attempt to criticise my above statements and preferences.

    I think that there are two particular things that make dating difficult for both sexes involved like I’d mentioned above: Sexism, due to social gender constructs and Pride. Let’s face it, most of us want to be reasonably accepted and respected by our peers and we do not want to become individual targets. The default mindset that most men have is to be seen as ‘real men’ by others. Men are still held to being men more than women are held to being women, even today. Even though I truly believe that many men would prefer dating and finding one’s mate to be easier (at least the men with better intentions), the power of how we want to be perceived by others is very strong. We see this all of the time in a society full of facades and many people do not always do what they really want to due to the grip of how we want to be perceived by others, at least in our own minds. There is more to this than just sexism along with our egos/pride however and many women to a far extent are responsible for this dating chaos as well.

    In the end the only answer to the chaos involved in dating will be the members of both sexes maturing and mentally evolving over the future years. I do believe that men and women have different ways of apprehending various situations regardless of individual personality traits. Nevertheless I still believe that the dating ritual could be more mutual and lead to more fruitful relationships if more people stopped seeing themselves as guys/girls foremost whom just happen to be John/Jane Does, and instead started seeing themselves as John/Jane Does foremost whom just happen to be guys/girls. We all have our individual preferences regardless of the sex we were born as, and this concept does not change when it comes to dating. Perhaps to some guys it is more important on how they got involved with their woman but some of us guys find that actually being with that certain woman is more important than how we got there. To expect a society full of so many different archetypes and personalities to positively respond to a certain set of rigid dating rules is an untenable thought to me.

  26. Francessca Says:

    I have never asked a guy out before but I have made the first move with a guy. He reciprocated but then quickly backed off and I never heard from him again. I found it interesting that most women commenting here have found that when they have asked guys out it has had negative results and this was obviously my experience too but I always felt it was because I had misread the signs but perhaps he was intimidated by me taking control. Who knows? I have also found that men do indeed tend to pursue you harder when you either are or act uninterested. I am rarely flirty or friendly with men and I tend to keep my barriers up but I have noticed that men pursue me far more ferociously than every other woman I know and so perhaps this is because some men enjoy the challenge of the chase. I do believe though that the bigger problem lies with the reaction of men than the issue of women being able to ask men out, probably because notions of masculinity are so deeply entrenched within society. If a man feels emasculated by a woman asking him out then of course he is going to be less interested in her and that is more difficult for a man to get over than it is for a woman to risk coming across as desperate. Men are just very sensitive about their masculinity because it is less defined today. I personally wouldn’t ask a guy out because I believe he wouldn’t take me seriously as a potential partner, however, if I was friends with a guy and there was a strong indication that he liked me and he was on the shy side I probably would confess my feelings to him but I wouldn’t ask him out. I would leave that up to him.

  27. Christina Says:

    I have asked A guy out and although he said no because he was in a relationship he seemed to be genuinely flattered. I can’t believe how far behind we are in this subject. I thought I would find a lot more positive articles on Internet about women asking men out but I haven’t seen that many. I agree with some of the previous posts that I’m not so into the man chasing woman only nor do I consider myself overtly aggressive. This may sound a little out there but I went to be in a mutual type of relationship where it’s more equal. I don’t want to feel like I’m being chased because usually when someone is being chased, they are running away.

  28. dave Says:

    I guess that the tide IS turning if fewer men are approaching women these days.Naybe men got fed up with this and tried to obtain more vslue snd respect. I hope that this is the case.

  29. Samantha Says:

    I think this day and age women have to take more initiative. Guys are too scared to ask women out for fear of rejection; they don’t want their ego bruised. I have asked a few guys out and they have not had any problems with it. Granted this has only been two guys including The guy I am dating now. I asked him out because he was trying to hint at it, but never made the follow through. We have been dating for 2.5 months now. Ever since then he started asking me out–now it is just implied that we will see each other.

    Girls really have to fight for what they want. This can be done with being feminine. I typically ask a guy where his favorite place is and when he tells me I say “I have never been there, I would like to go sometime” (even if I have been there hehe). This leaves a direct invitation for the guy to ask me out. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and go for it!!


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