“You’re a confident modern woman! Go be a bad bitch and chat,” my best friend encourages. Except I’m not. Not in this situation at least. I’ll be the first to admit I’m terribly archaic when it comes to dating. I want men to ask me out on dates politely and in public places. But this is an old-fashioned mentality — aren’t women asking men out all the time? As my best friend pointed out, I’m a modern woman. I’m vocal about gender equality and I don’t believe people should conform to gender norms. However modern I am, though, there are still traces of societal rules lingering in me and one of them is my aversion to asking men out. Actually, it isn’t so much an aversion as it is that I’m a chickenshit and can’t muster up the courage to do so.
Every now and then, the universe will grace me with a man who intrigues me. He’ll be witty, engaged, ambitious and quite obviously cooler than I am. The most recent one I’ve met is in class. I don’t usually talk to the boys in my classes whom I find attractive; it’s distracting and I don’t need that when I’m trying to focus, but I’ve decided to make more of an effort with this one. So naturally I told all of my friends I was going to try something new and ask him out for coffee. What’s the harm in wanting to get to know someone you find interesting, right? Except what if he doesn’t find me as interesting as I find him? What if he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend? What if he doesn’t drink coffee — there is such an array of obstacles I may have to overcome if I were to ask him.
Is this what men deal with when contemplating asking women out? Both parties act as though asking people out is easy. When we lament not getting asked out in person, what if we’re failing to realize that all of us have the same anxieties when it comes to talking to people of the opposite sex? I resolved that we’ll never get anywhere in life if we live in constant fear of rejection.
So I hatched this elaborate plan to sit by him in class. I’d be the clever, witty human being I am and hope he’d fall in love with me in the course of an hour, which would mean I wouldn’t have to ask him to coffee myself. Then my alarm didn’t go off and I was late to class and subsequently had to sit at the complete opposite side of the room as him. So then I resolved to just go up to him after class anyway and ask him to coffee. But that’s creepy right? Doing that would make me a creepy person, especially after spending an entire class giggling way too hard at everything he said. Needless to say, I talked myself out of that crazy idea and went to Starbucks … alone.
We live in a world of Tinder and Bumble, apps that allow us to casually “date” without ever meeting someone face-to-face if we don’t want to. Introductions and subsequent conversations are based off the mutual, unspoken agreement that you find the person you’re talking to attractive based simply on a swipe right. You don’t get that sense of security in real life. There’s no way for me to know if the boy in my class finds me interesting or attractive without “It’s a match!” popping up on my phone screen. How did our parents do it? All of this new technology definitely makes us the underdogs when it comes to dating and relationships. We struggle to navigate the real world but dominate in impersonal texting. One of my roommates recently read me a post from Twitter that said, “Girls can do anything boys can do, except text first.”
We rant and rave about being treated the same as men — at least I do — and yet, from what I’ve gathered from talking to friends, we keep playing the same primitive dating game of putting the pressure on the man to pursue us. Now I’m not trying to generalize women here; if you’re unafraid to ask a man out, by all means, I’m not talking about you. From brief conversations I’ve had with my friends about this, though, it’s astounding to me just how many have the same qualms I do.
So I get it. Asking people out on dates is not as easy as it would seem. I applaud the people who have the gumption to do so. One of those people just doesn’t happen to be me. But it doesn’t mean I’m not trying.
Then again, who knows.
Maybe he’ll read this and find me interesting, too. Then maybe we can go get that coffee together sometime?
Olivia Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.