The Fear Factor

Dear Dategirl, I love it when a woman asks me out—it shows she's secure, independent, and not stuck in boring gender roles. But most women seem like they'd rather die alone with their cats than ever take any initiative. They may dress like hipsters, but they could just as well be sitting home in a drawing room, awaiting gentlemen callers. Why do they always need me to make the first move, not to mention the second, third, and fourth?Waiting

Women don't ask men out for the same reason men don't ask women out: Fear. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being laughed at. Fear of being told we're too fat, too old, too ugly, too blonde, too hairy, too [insert deficiency here]. Besides the fear of being shot down, some of us are afraid of falling in love. Or, more to the point, we're afraid of falling in love and subsequently being cast aside, because once you open your heart and body to someone and they show you the door, that's where the pain really begins. There's also the fact that we ladies have the added bonus of being told our entire lives (and yes, this still holds true) that we're not supposed to ask men out. You're the hunter, we're the prey—didn't you read The Rules? Of course you didn't read that heinous book, but it's encouraged a whole generation of women to be passive and make the man work for their love. Yeah, yeah, I know, feminism, blah blah blah. I'm not saying I feel that way—hell, I've asked plenty of guys out, including my current boyfriend. But I can understand the feminine inaction, to a point. Even if you are an enlightened lady unafraid to go after what she wants, I'm here to tell you that plenty of men get all hinky if a lady busts the first move. I remember one dude declaring that he knew I was madly, deeply in love with him after I took it upon myself to lean over and kiss him. Er, no: He just seemed like he'd be fun to kiss. I'd just met him—love was the furthest thing from my mind. Maybe a little boobie action and a dry hump, but love? No thanks. He wasn't the only one either. Men—I should say boys, because a grown-up wouldn't behave so stupidly—have thought I was easy because I did the asking. (OK, sometimes they were right about that.) Like the guy I just mentioned, some have assumed that me suggesting we enjoy a sophisticated adult beverage together meant that I was sizing them up as sperm-donor material. I know how nutty this sounds, but these are your brethren. And I can't even tell you how many letters I get from frustrated Seattle-based women bitching about men. They say men in other parts of the country (and world) will ask a lady out. But here, it seems the dudes just sit and stare into their microbrew, seemingly too paralyzed to make a move. Funny that each gender is pissing and moaning about the other's inaction; is anyone out here getting laid? How many times have I told you people that dating is not for the lily-livered or weak of spirit? And please, what's the worst that can happen if you ask someone out and they say no? I think my worst experience involved trying to skulk away from my rejector gracefully, but instead tripping over my own feet and landing on my face as he watched. Aside from the skinned knee, that wasn't so bad. It would be really nice if people behaved the way we'd like them to, but when does that ever happen? So while it'd be ideal if the ladies you liked would ask you on a fancy date, as irritating as it is, they don't seem so inclined. You could become bitter and angry, but bitterness gives you wrinkles and anger wreaks havoc on your intestines. My suggestion: Quit bitching, start asking. If they don't reciprocate after the first or second date, ask them about it—pleasantly. Tell them you need them to throw you a bone or you'll be taking yours elsewhere. Judy McGuire is the author of How Not to Date.

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