I am 33 years old. I recently met a very nice single lady who is 27, and subsequently asked her out. We went out on a couple of dates over the next two weeks. However, after the last one, she shared that she “just wanted to be friends”, but that we could “still go out on dates.” I am confused by that terminology and don’t understand what is going on. I mean, if she doesn’t like me enough to make this something more romantic, then why would we go out on “dates?” Have you ever heard of such a thing before? And if I do call her and set up a “date”, am I obligated to pay for it or should we be planning to go Dutch?
Horribly Confused Harry
Dear Confused Harry:
I can see where you might be confused, and hopefully this response will make things a lot clearer for you.
Since the two of you are in your early to mid-30s, I doubt the term “hang out” which is often used by the younger set would be something she’s comfortable with. However, that is most likely what she means. If a single woman says she just wants to be friends it could mean she likes you enough to have you in her life, but isn’t feeling you in the bodice ripping, exploding fireworks, heart pounding way described in romance novels. I’m being a bit sarcastic here, but the truth is that many young women go through their teens and early adulthood honestly believing that falling in love should be experienced exactly like in the movies, or it isn’t really love.
The other thing it could mean is that she is testing you. I’ll go into that more in a bit.
Let me address the monetary aspect of your question. As for who should pay for “dates”, there are generally three schools of thought:
- The “asker” pays, always, for everything;
- The two parties split the entertainment of the evening with one paying one expense, the other paying for something else so they aren’t quibbling over the check to divide it in half; or
- Each gets separate checks and pays for their own expenses throughout the outing.
I suggest that you get clear on this issue with her like two adults should, so that you are both on the same page. The only way for you to get a real answer to your question and let her know where you stand on the financial issue is to talk openly and honestly about it.
Now let’s get back to the testing thing I mentioned above.
Look at this from the female perspective for a minute. This dating thing gets really weird for women. Sometimes it seems a guy is coming on too fast, and saying you just want to be friends slows things down to a speed we ladies are comfortable with. Not EVERY woman wants a whirlwind courtship and high drama as I joked about above — some are more logical and cautious, and need to take their time getting comfortable before becoming romantically or intimately involved.
It’s also a way to see what a man’s true motivation is. If he is just after a sexual fling, he’ll retreat angrily and feel he was “wasting his time” if he invests anymore effort into this woman… he wants an immediate payoff. Many guys feel resentment that they paid for a few dates with a woman and has nothing to show for it.
On the other hand, the guy who makes it clear that he enjoys a woman’s company and her humanness, without pressure or demands, gives her the space to see who and what he is at her speed. And sometimes without that pressure to be more, she realizes what a great guy he is and begins to feel an attraction that even she is surprised to feel. The guy should, however, continue to date other women and remember that this is NOT a relationship, so neither party owes the other commitment or fidelity.
The guys who feel they are owed something from a lady because they paid for a meal or date mess it up for everyone. These are the guys our father’s warn us about as girls, men who honestly believe they are entitled to something sexual in nature if they spend a few dollars on a woman.
What I find so hypocritical is that most guys will spend far more than that on their male buddies “buying a round” all the time, and think nothing of it! These fellas want to present themselves as Big Ballers and Shot Callers by picking up $400 tabs and whatnot when the guys get together, but will balk at spending $25 on a female friend. Huh?
These are the guys who believe if you aren’t “getting something” for the money you spent on a woman, you are a simp, a sucka, a wimp, weak, getting used, etc. What a sick and twisted double standard. Anything you would do for or with a platonic male buddy, you should have no problem doing for or with a platonic female buddy. You would not expect nor feel entitled to sexual favors from a male friend you hang out with…a woman owes you nothing either.
Bottom line for you is to give some serious thought to how much you enjoyed this woman’s company and conversation. Did you find her refreshing? Do you think it would be better to remove her from your life entirely so you can continue your search for Ms Right? Would being around her place you at risk emotionally for liking her even more? Would it be better for you to seek similar traits and companionship in a woman with whom you can also become romantically involved, or can you separate the two? Be very clear on where you are emotionally and mentally, then act in your own best interest.
Assuming that you really liked talking to this woman and are cool with the idea of spending time together with no romantic stuff on the horizon, proceed with asking her to hang out a week or two down the road. My only caveat is that you should avoid going to expensive or romantic places, and instead suggest activity dates that are intellectually stimulating, unique, or just plain fun FRIENDS things.
Need some ideas? How about bowling, with beer and pizza? The summer weather is great, try going on a bike ride in Golden Gate park and a prepare a sandwich picnic lunch (you can always grab them from a deli). You could also drive to some little tourist town like Sausalito or down to Monterey, and poke through the shops, then have lunch at a local restaurant with a view of the water. You could also meet for a drink at a happy hour spot after work, and vent about the crazies at your job while you enjoy snacks.
If you’re both into spectator sports, get together in your jeans and team jerseys to watch a game with a group of other excited fans at a sports bar. You could go see whatever the new exhibit is at the DeYoung Museum, or enjoy one of the many free concerts presented in municipalities all over the Bay Area. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket and dance in the grass. In general, plan to do lightweight activities that won’t break the bank, won’t make her feel guilty about how much you’re spending, and won’t make you feel used. Plan dates that give you both the opportunity to share some laughs and enjoy each other as human beings.