There is now a matching post to this, “How to turn someone down”
Well here I am, supposed to be working away. My brain is completely overloaded with information and processing and at the moment I need to take a mental break. Which is why I thought that now would be a good time to write a couple of posts on “Finding Mr Huggie-Wuggie”!
I was just thinking on these thoughts just a couple of hours ago as I was walking along, and I think that they present quite a light-hearted and easy topic to talk about now, considering how dense my mind feels!
So these are the thoughts then: how to ask someone out. Conversely, and hopefully coming right after this post – how to turn someone down. You see I’ve been on both sides of this dynamic!
Why is this important?
I would have thought that some of these things were obvious. However, in dealing with people it has become clear that no, apparently these things are not obvious after all! And then there have been the times when I have made my own mistakes too… And yet, as I think on it, perhaps it makes perfect sense that these aspects of interacting with people would of course be fraught and delicate, considering that people’s feelings are so tightly bound up in these issues…
Sensible relationships…and how biology does not help!
The more I get to know people, the more I interact with people and consider the topic of relationships, the more convinced I am that there is only one single context in which to build a relationship. Actually, this generalisation might come across as being a little harsh, so let me rephrase it: in my opinion, there is one context which is overwhelmingly and far and away best for building a successful romantic relationship. And that is the context where both parties already know one another very well and deeply care for one another before romantic aspects are introduced to their interaction. This is what I mean when I talk of “friendship”, as I have many times on this blog. Unfortunately the term “friendship” is perhaps not particularly useful in itself because it can also mean a much more casual interaction between people or even just seeing them regularly. It is like how you would automatically term people that you meet every week in church as your “friends” even though you might not necessarily know a lot about them or even know them well enough to know that you do care about them, or you do find deep value in who they are.
This is why experience has taught me that deeply knowing and caring for one another is the right context for a relationship: perhaps above all, because in your pre-romantic interaction, trust has already had a chance to build up between you: you know one another really well, you can vouch for one another; each party trusts that the other person ultimately has their own best interests at heart.
This is true not only of the actual relationship itself, but even of the asking one another out.
Asking someone out involves such vulnerability. It also involves fears of rejection and insecurities etc. This is why I believe it is so important to make sure that you can truly trust the person you’re asking out. If you know that they do truly care about you, then you know that they are not going to wilfully or carelessly hurt your feelings.
Where no true trust or mutual care exists, then you start getting these fun things like playing games, insincerity, etc, where the main object appears to be for each party to make the other confess feelings, without having to make themselves vulnerable. Seriously. Has anyone else ever played the “Did you receive my email?” game? Not fun. I believe that for most people this is actually the “Did you receive my text?” game. However, being me, and being quite wordy at all times, my version of this game involves emails instead! Also, because it is potentially a relationship, and your vulnerability might be at stake, then you are hyper cautious around this person, and you carefully proceed, waiting from them to visibly sprout horns at any time. If you happen to be freely offering trust to this person, and they conversely persist in treating you as if you are potentially the Anti-Christ, after a while this gets tedious. You think to yourself “Surely by now you should know the standards I subscribe to?!” Also, “Do you not appreciate that offering trust is a two-way thing? I have decided to trust that you are who you say you are, but apparently it is impossible for you to extend that same trust to me.” What this often suggests to me is that someone takes it for granted that just on the basis of who they are, they are of course implicitly trustworthy, whereas just on the basis of who I am, I am implicitly untrustworthy. Guess what – it works both ways. After a while I think to myself: “I have done more than enough to satisfy any reasonable doubt in my character. If doubt still persists then the problem is not with me but rather with you. I am not going to make any further effort to persuade you. See ya!”
Where you do not know one another very well, when asking someone out, you often unknowingly rely on assumptions about the other party and how they will behave, how they will respond to your request. It is only when they respond so differently that you realise that you were actually working on an assumption. Speaking from my own experience, sometimes I have been so disappointed in the way these men have responded. Here is the thing: For me it is not even actually being turned down that is difficult. It is rather in the way that they do it. I guess that is a matter for our next post!
I guess this is where some of my further “silly” assumptions come up. I tend to assume that if you are in a relationship or if you want to be in a relationship with someone, then that indicates that you genuinely like them! You genuinely care about them and you genuinely want to serve them in life. You generally cultivate positive feelings towards them. But no! Apparently it is very possible for people to want to be in a relationship with you (or to “romantically interact with you” – ahem!) even though they do not particularly like you, much less care about you. Sometimes they don’t trust you and they don’t even regard that as a requirement. This is why, I imagine, they can then act crazy when you turn them down; because they never truly cared about you in the first place, they were only in it for what they thought they could get; you were just a mere vehicle to that. However, if they did care about you to start with, then they would still care about you even through their disappointment. Should we sit and think about which gender might be particularly guilty of this kind of behaviour?! Because one answer seems to jump out at me! Actually I am being unfair: both men AND women are guilty of this behaviour.
All of this has been the context for asking someone out. This then is actually how to ask them out. You have got to make it clear to the person that no matter what they say, even if they do turn you down, that is not going to lessen your respect or your care for them. And you have to be sincere about it! You’ve got to make the environment safe for them no matter what, and make it clear to them that your friendship is not at risk even if they do turn you down. Obviously, if someone does turn you down and you end up marrying someone else then you cannot apply the same level of interest or consideration to the first person as if you had married them. But you still have to make it clear that you are not going to stop caring about them or their life just because they cannot be yours in that way. You know what, of the three men I have asked out in my life, eventually it came to seem most prudent to end the interaction between me and each one of them, although I continue to wish each of these men the very best in life.
It was because of those experiences that I sat down and thought of the two year rule; that is, that it is only after you have known someone for two full years that you can truly think of yourself as knowing them. I have absolutely no plans to ask anyone else out in my life. However, if I do break my promise to myself, man, I am going to make sure that he and I are such close friends – which kinda begs the question – in that case why would he not ask me out first?! Well exactly???!!! That is exactly why I should not need to do it!
So this is why it sometimes does not work for you to say “no matter how you respond, I will still respect you.” Because sometimes someone is so rude in turning you down that it does break your respect for them. And then you realise that they were never the person that you assumed they were… It all goes back to the need to truly know someone and to be truly grounded in mutual care for one another before indicating interest.
How biology does not help:
I believe that our human biology, and specifically the possibility of being intensely attracted to people on first sight, does not help! In that naturally, or instinctively human beings can want to immediately strike up romantic relationships with one another just from instant attraction before getting to know one another very well. So then that creates the possibility and the temptation of asking someone out before there is any care, before there is any trust. Actually, I do not believe that either care or trust are automatically going to arise just because you have known someone for two years. Part of the two year thing is to find out whether you can indeed trust them, whether you truly do recognise any deep value in who they are. So then the challenge is if you are instantly, irresistibly attracted to someone, how to work through that, put the attraction on hold, and instead truly get to know one another and develop genuine care for one another if it truly does exist..
This is not the kind of example I would like to use on this blog but I believe it is so funny! (but also on reflection I guess so sad.) A short while ago I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a screenshot lifted from where a “baby daddy” was apparently “snitching” publicly on his “baby-momma” naming her, giving her address, telling the world about all the illegal things she was up to. And he started his “snitch” in words like these: “While it is true that I don’t like my baby-momma…” And I thought to myself: “If you don’t like her, why did you create a baby with her?!” But that is obviously a very naive way of thinking, because a baby can quite clearly be conceived so quickly and easily with someone you have literally only just met, on the basis of mere physical attraction, and it is only after the baby has been conceived or even born that you come to realise that you do not actually like this person very much. So in a way, that was quite humorous, but also quite sad, not only in terms of the broken relationship between “daddy and momma” but also for the child who has to grow up in that venomous context. (Anyway he continued “I aint no snitch, so I’m not going to tell about how she”…..and then he of course proceeded to spell out all the things he would not be snitching about!)
This is also why I believe that it is counter-productive for people to advise single women to dress very attractively in trying to attract a man. (I am constantly blowing hot and cold about this idea. Just a few days on Facebook I posted a quote about how important it is to dress well specifically for the sake of maintaining a man’s interest…and now I am changing my mind…yet again!) You see, the danger for me is not that it does not work…but rather that it works too well! I have had situations where because of my “dressed to the nines” appearance, men have instantly noticed me and apparently fallen for me! Which is obviously highly flattering! To be honest, a few of these times, even I reacted to the way I was dressed, knowing that I looked extremely attractive and giving out totally inappropriate vibes! I daresay that this did not help! The difficulty then comes in trying to steer that intense initial attraction in the direction of “let’s be friends and let us try to get to know one another first!” From this, now I prefer to dress in a little more down to earth way when meeting guys for the first time, getting to know them, so that immense attraction does not cloud straight forward issues of getting to know one another. Then once you do know one another, and once you are sure that he truly is the one you want, and once you have secured that interest in marriage then you can pull out all the stops and dress as attractively as you wish! Or at least that is my dream! (Tosin dances around a little in thinking of how she’s hoping to pull out all the stops to utterly captivate the eventual Mr Huggie-Wuggie!) Yeah baby!