I used to be one of those girls that never made a move, which I justified by telling myself that I wanted to be wooed. But the truth was: I was terrified of asking guys out, but when I did, it changed the whole game.
I struggled with low self-esteem. I can’t give a good reason for why I felt this way—I was objectively intelligent, successful, and not terrible-looking. But around guys, I still felt like an awkward, gangly, bespectacled middle schooler—any poise or confidence I’d developed in the meantime went out the window. I couldn’t even imagine being asked out, let alone doing the asking.
I subscribed to traditional gender roles. From Disney movies to Jane Austen, I always loved the idea of a tall, handsome stranger waltzing in and sweeping me off my feet. Nobody ever romanticized short, spunky women doing the wooing—and I had a hard time letting go of that fantasy.
Doing nothing meant that nothing happened. It would’ve been one thing if I was great at flirting, but my preferred method of showing a guy I liked him was by treating him exactly the same way I treated everybody else—or even better, completely ignoring him! The thought of hair-flipping, eyelash-batting, and fake-laughing made me want to vomit, but I also realized that my non-signals meant that no guy ever knew I liked him. Maybe it was time for me to take the wheel.
I started small. Even though part of me wanted to run over and be like, “I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO ON A ROMANTIC PICNIC!”, I reeled myself in. I started by inviting guys to group hangouts with mutual friends, or people I thought they’d get along with. It took off the pressure of it being a “date date” and let me get to know them in a more casual, friendly setting.
I paid attention. My idea of a fun time is staying in bed, binge-watching Netflix and stuffing my face with pizza, but it’s not exactly an appealing date option. To get some ideas, I started listening to things guys mentioned they liked like movies, bands, and food. That way, I could ask them to do things they actually enjoyed, whether it was trying out a niche restaurant or seeing a specific movie screening. Going in with a plan made me a lot more confident and increased the chance that they would say yes.
I assumed the worst. Everyone hates rejection, and I was definitely scared of feeling humiliated. To quell my fears, I’d imagine the worst that could happen. I’d make up these ridiculous scenarios in my head: “Maybe he’ll scream ‘NEVER!’ and throw a plate of pasta in my face!” or “Maybe he’ll be so repulsed that he’ll jump out of a window!” Obviously, none of these things ever happened, but “surviving” the worst possible outcome in my head helped me ask guys out with less fear of rejection.
I kept it casual. Don’t get me wrong—I love big, romantic gestures, but it definitely wasn’t the right move for a girl scared to death of asking guys out. I always kept the dates to an hour, two hours max, and always low-pressure activities: coffee, seeing a show, or grabbing a quick bite. Not only did this make for a more enjoyable time, but it also meant I didn’t have to suffer through a long date if it turned out that we were not very compatible.
I didn’t let myself dwell on rejection. I definitely struck out a few times, and even though they were all super nice about it, it never felt good. My first instinct was to bury myself in my bed and never talk to a guy again, but of course, that would’ve been counterproductive. Instead, I decided I wouldn’t take the no’s personally—it just wasn’t meant to work out.
The yeses did wonders for my confidence. Successfully asking a guy out was a high you wouldn’t believe! I felt powerful, in control, and desirable, even though I had initially thought that doing the “chasing” would mean I was desperate. I ended up getting to know some pretty awesome guys, and even though we didn’t all end up dating, I made some cool new friends and gained confidence—it was a double win!
I realized I had the power to steer my own love life. No more waiting around like a damsel in distress for some guy to come to his senses and ask me out! I had just as much agency to make a move, and it felt great. I’ve continued to ask guys out ever since, and I’ve never looked back.
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