Seinfeld fans may recall an episode where a guy makes ridiculous bets with Elaine ("Dustin Hoffman was in Star Wars"). His intention: To purposefully lose and have to buy Elaine dinner. This artful scheme of asking someone out without them knowing it sounds like the stuff of fiction, but it happens more than you think.
Emily Neimanis, an associate producer in Rochester, NY was once tricked into having a date when she was a junior in high school. "I thought it would be a normal Saturday night hangout with many people. But when we got there it was a total set-up," she says.
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There was only one other couple there. "I was of course confused, but it turned even more 'datey' when we all went into the basement (lights off) and watched a movie." Classic.
The best part: The other couple left Emily alone with the guy. It worked, though-Emily ended up dating him for two years.
Sneaky dates happen well past high school. YouBeauty reader Margot shares, "I reconnected with my old high school chem lab partner after 10 years at our reunion this summer, and he invited me out to a hockey game," Margot says. "I thought we were going with friends... but he ended up asking if I wanted to get dinner with him after. It was like an ambush date!" At first, it seemed like his approach didn't work. But Margot and he began growing a relationship, and are still together today.
Ambush-dating someone doesn't have to be awkward. Admit it: At some point, you've wanted to ask a guy out but couldn't muster up the nerve because either you were afraid you'd come off sounding like a spaz, or you were scared of rejection (or both).
First off, you may be met with shrieks of horror when you confide in your friends and family that you're going to ask a guy out. And it's not just your old-fashioned mom who insists you assume the conventional role of "the pursued." It's also your forward-thinking friend who lives by the "He's Just Not That Into You" logic: A guy will chase you if he really wants to see you. But in reality, this isn't always the case, according to YouBeauty Relationship Expert David Sbarra, Ph.D. A man may not initiate, even if he really wants to get to know you.
"Men don't ask women out for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with interest level-they're shy, scared, self-conscious, et cetera," Sbarra says.
Before swearing off a man who doesn't step up right away, consider this: He might not want to be forward and "overstep his boundaries."
Fortunately, there's a simple way to make the first move without getting aggressive or into a game-playing tailspin. "If you like someone, ask him or her to coffee. Keep it simple and light at first, and this will make it easier to ask," Dr. Sbarra says. "Don't think of it as a date. It's just coffee."
What exactly is "simple and light?" No matter how much you know you shouldn't think you're asking someone on a date, that date word will be seared in the back of your head. "It's all about how you say it, and how you say it can change how you think about what is and what is not an actual date," Sbarra says.
Here's Dr. Sbarra's super-chill guide to asking someone out on a non-date:
1) Make it about you, not you two. "For subtlety, focus on yourself," Sbarra says.
Example: I was going to grab some Starbucks later today, would you like to join me?
"In this sentence, I am doing something, and you are joining me," Sbarra explains.
2) Avoid date-y language. Talking about the two of you sounds the date alarm.
Example: Hey, we should go check out that new Japanese restaurant.
"The 'we' in this sentence instantly makes it a date," Sbarra says. We're mincing words here, but that's what makes it the delicate art of asking someone out without them knowing it. Think this sounds too much like game playing? Waiting around and playing hard to get when you want to get to know someone is far more cunning and exhausting.
3) Invite him to do something you'll already be doing. Simple and light, remember? You're not going out of the way to plan anything elaborate.
If you cook at the soup kitchen every Sunday, tell him you could use an extra hand. With an afternoon chopping onions, you'll laugh (and cry!) more than you would on a strained dinner date. By the day's end, you'll also know if you even want him to take you on a one-on-one next time.
- by Angelica Catalano
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