Dear Dr. Amorous,
It’s the 21st century, I am an independent and confident woman, yet when I meet a guy that I am attracted to I have not a clue. What do I do? What is the first step? How do I show I like him? As if that’s not enough, I suspect that I’m not only scared of taking the first step, but also of being unable to “get out” if it turns out not to be a good fit.
Clueless in Leipzig
Dear Clueless in Leipzig,
Hm. Um. Well, lemme help you with the second part first, since that’s the easy part. Not sure I’m qualified, as the international champion of Not Getting Laid Even When A Guy is Obviously Into Me and Right There, and as someone who never makes a first move. However, I will give it a shot for the sake of public service.
In general, men go away. There is no need to figure out how to get out because they evaporate independently, so don’t worry about that. But how do you get out of an ambiguous whatever / sort of seeing each other / relationship situation? Easy! You look a mofo dead in the eye, you say “This isn’t working for me,” and you walk away. Or, you just stop answering when they try to contact you, or stop contacting them.
The amount of effort you need to make correlates directly with the level of investment made before you got bored, and inversely with how much fun you were having with the guy.
Option A: some guy you’ve been talking to and messed around with a couple times, but it’s getting weird, you’re not into it, or you’re just bored = just stop doing whatever you’ve been doing.
Option B: someone who was explicitly looking for a relationship and you’ve been seeing each other for two or three months = send a message saying “I’m sorry, I don’t want to move forward with this. I appreciated meeting you and wish you good luck and that you find someone really special.”
Option C: super weird creepy jerk who did weird and creepy things = block, delete, bail. OR tell him he is a weird creepy jerk first and then block, delete, bail.
Option D: person you were dating for several months at least and maybe living together or thinking about living together, socially visible as a couple, met his family, etc. Assuming you’ve tried to work out your problems responsibly and the issue is not abuse or cheating or whatever = “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore. It isn’t working out for me. I want to move in directions which aren’t open to me in this relationship, so I’m going to be on my own now.”
See? There’s always a way out.
Just say what you mean and do what you actually want.
There’s no need to have a big weird talk, you do not have to do it face-to-face and make it more embarrassing for everyone involved. Don’t think you have to catalogue the other person’s shortcomings or prove that they are serious. You do not even need consent for a break-up. That is one of the unilateral parts of a relationship. You get out by just walking away.
In terms of the ethics of break-ups, you are required to be fair and honest and non-exploitative.
It’s not OK to stay with someone when you’ve already disengaged from the relationship. Because you don’t want to face the economic challenge of moving out or because you have exams coming up or whatever. People have a right to their time, and if you are no longer willing to invest, it’s not fair to waste the other person’s time pretending to be moving forward with the relationship.
It’s not OK to be abusive or cruel in breaking up, or to identify some fault in the person as the reason you don’t like them. It’s your decision, you own that decision – so speak accordingly. “I’m not thriving here” is OK. “You’re so lazy and selfish that I can’t stand you anymore” is abusive, whether or not the other person is indeed lazy and selfish. It’s their own business to evaluate their character, not yours.
On to the second part:
My first answer to the question “How do I show a guy I like him?” would be: Don’t waste your time.
If he’s not making a move, it’s because he doesn’t want to make a move or isn’t ready to.
Don’t get yourself stuck with a guy who is not into you or not over his ex or otherwise conflicted. Guys who are into someone are very, very, very obvious. So obvious that I am sometimes embarrassed for them. If you are in the vicinity looking nice and smelling good and spending time, and no very, very, very obvious things are coming at you, it’s better to move on.
The next thing to address is this idea that you being an independent and confident woman in 2019 entails that you should be able to approach men. Sure, you can, and that is a functional option if you are looking for a fling or a hook-up, but not if you are looking for a boyfriend. Why?
Heterosexual men in general do not appreciate the feeling of exposure and vulnerability that being approached produces.
They want to feel bigger than the woman, and in this scenario bigger means being the one to make a move and make you feel exposed and vulnerable. However! They do appreciate free sex for zero effort, so if that’s what you’re into, go for it. Here are some options.
1. Look pretty and drink.
2. Be in the same place as the guy you like after 11 pm
3. Look pretty, drink, smoke, AND hang out after 11 pm = done deal.
4. Set up a cunning ploy in order to leave a place at the same time and have him walk you home or “spontaneously” suggest getting another drink on the way. Sometimes this requires staying til closing time or to the very end of a party, so hydrate, my girl.
5. Men pretty much assume you like them anyway, so don’t bother.
6. Give him compliments (of which I disapprove strongly, but it works).
7. Go ahead and perpetuate the patriarchy by doing moronic girly things like twirl your hair or look up at him from under your lashes or giggle or act like you need help walking or stick things in your mouth (see above for exasperated disapproval vibes).
8. Provide him with the information that you are single and heterosexual.
9. Say an actual sentence containing relevant information like “I’m into you, do you want to hang out?”
10. Say a less direct sentence which allows you to back up with dignity if after spending more time with him, you realize that you are feeling really bored or that he smells nasty, like “We should get coffee sometime.” That is universal code for “I’m up for spending more time together but not for committing to any fornication-based plans at this point.”
Good luck, stay safe and have fun!