Welcome to the Post-Mortem, where Doctor NerdLove will cheerfully perform the autopsy on your epic dating fails. Today, we’ve got another classic case of missed opportunities, where the reader wants to know what he could’ve done and – importantly – should do in the near future. And so, without further ado…
Whats up doc. I need some advice on a situation I’m in, I’ve lost whatever game I’ve had and basically have no idea what to do so I’m praying you can help me…
I work in a retail warehouse chain (a very popular one) and they have “roadies” who basically come and stay at the store to sell specialty items for a week. Well, I met this girl who was there for a week and grew somewhat infatuated with her. It all started when for some reason she started coming over to my kiosk and borrowing pens and highlighters to go over the signs to make them “stand out”(looked brown after she was done). I tried to build rapport with her by “punishing” her for wasting my “precious inks” by making her draw incredibly random pictures for me, which of course she did.
OK let’s start with this.
Someone coming over for demonstrably flimsy reasons is a way of signaling interest. It’s called “proximity” – by bringing herself into your orbit, she’s hoping that you’ll notice and recognize it as an invitation to say something. Borrowing a highlighter isn’t necessarily proximity. Coming by repeatedly, occasionally making small talk or cracking a joke, or having a notably lame excuse for coming back on the other hand is, which is what it sounds like you had here. So already you know she’s at least somewhat attracted to you. Which is good because the next part of this is potentially troublesome.
The “punishing for wasting my time” is a form of adversarial flirting and compliance testing – a way of seeing how emotionally invested she is in you – and it’s a very risky thing to pull this early into the interaction, especially during the day. You have to have pinpoint social calibration and context is important. In a bar or club, say, where approaching and flirting with strangers is part of the social contract, it works. In a Sam’s Club or Costco… not as much. If the person you’re talking to isn’t interested in you, this is going to kill any potential attraction dead; it doesn’t come off as clever or flirty, it comes off as being weird or kind of a jerk.
You were lucky; she was digging you from the get-go and open to some flirting with a stranger.
With her coming back and forth I learned a few things about her, including she live 3 hours away and she uses her boyfriends place as a measurement unit as to how far away she was from home she was. I payed this no attention since I never believe a girl when she tells me she has a boyfriend until I have actual evidence of his existence.
So this is the second thing that makes me think you’ve studied some PUA techniques. Plowing past a Boyfriend Objection is something that PUAs teach and like the compliance test you did above, it’s very context sensitive. At night or in a different social context – again, like a club or a bar, where flirting is expected – a woman who mentions her boyfriend early on in the interaction may or may not actually have one, which isn’t the point. What she’s doing is giving the wave-off, telling you that she’s not interested in being hit on by you. Some people will try to plow through and take their chances, but the odds are against them. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t and you just end up looking like an asshole.
During the day however, the social rules are different. Bringing up a boyfriend that early and in that manner is a sign that yes, she has a boyfriend. Your temporary co-worker may be enjoying the flirting, but she is letting you know that there’s going to be a hard limit to what she is or isn’t up for. This is the first sign you ignored.
My original concept of her drawing pictures was in my mind some clever contraption which would end with her drawing a picture with her number on it.
You hear that sound? That’s you cocking the gun that you’re about to use to shoot yourself in the foot.
Getting cutesy about getting a girl’s number is a bad idea under the best of circumstances. If you don’t do it right – or you don’t have enough rapport and attraction that she’s willing to overlook things – then it looks like you’re trying to avoid asking her for her number directly.
Now, I get that you’re trying to avoid showing too much interest – which honestly I think is one of the dumbest things the PUA movement ever spawned1 but unless she’s already dying to go out with you, it’s going to backfire.
I mean, look at it from her angle. You like her, but you’re trying to play games? You’re too shy to actually ask? Did you miss your opportunity to have Amanda pass her a note after gym class? I get it, it’s a cutesy rom-com pseudo-charming way of doing things, but I think we all already know my feelings about trying to emulate romantic comedies.
Unfortunately she didn’t understand what i was implying.
1) Every time I’ve seen guys do something like this, they’re trying so hard not to be obvious about it that it’s almost impossible to tell what the hell they’re doing. So it’s entirely possible that you weren’t getting your intended message across and she was wondering what the hell you were up to. Unless you were dropping some heavy-handed hints, that’s a pretty arcane way of trying to get her to give you her number.
2) She did know what you were trying to do and just didn’t want to give you her number.
So i finally asked her was she was doing that night to which she responded “i don’t know, what are you doing? (something to that nature) and i invited her out to come hang out with me and my friends. I guess she understood that and she gave me her number.
This is going to be the section where a lot of people in the comments are going to point out that clearly there’s some attraction going on… after all, she seems to be saying “I’m up for doing whatever you’re doing tonight… wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.”
But I disagree. Let’s take a look at where we stand. She’s in a new town for work. She doesn’t really know anybody in town. She’s already staying 45 minutes away from where she’s working. She’s definitely feeling some attraction, or at least enjoying your company; you seem like a cool and fun guy and she’s staring down another evening of Facebook and taking advantage of free HBO. So if there’s a chance of actually going out and doing something that night that doesn’t involve watching The Book of Eli again or having to drive an hour to catch a movie by herself, she’s probably going to be down.
She only gave you her number after you invited to hang out in a group – something that is reasonably interpreted as “hanging out with platonic friends” not “potential date”. This is your second sign.
I hope you see where I’m going with this.
She likes you well enough and she’s appreciating the attention but she wants you to understand that nothing is going to happen.
I called her up that night and we arrange to meet up to a bar close to her (she was staying at a motel 45 minutes away). I called her and told her we would be there till about 11:30,she complained that she was planning to go to bed around 12:30 but she still decided to come.
This is your third sign. You haven’t quite gotten the signals that she’s throwing out – even deliberately ignored one of them – so she’s giving you an even more blunt idea that no, this isn’t going to be getting tipsy enough that maybe letting the cute guy from work go down on her is a good idea. She’s setting herself up with an false time constraint as an escape hatch; if she’s having fun and everyone’s being cool, she’ll stick around, but if someone (i.e. you) starts pushing things… well LOOK at the time, gotta go, see ya at work tomorrow.
(And to ward off the usual cries of “anti-slut defense” – the idea that she’s going to set an artificial limit that she plans to ignore in order to not appear like a slut – that crop up, she has been firmly establishing that no, she is not on the market.)
So I meet up with her at the bar and everything is going good. I buy her and i and drink, i got some draft beer she got something with a “splash of seltzer”, the thing is she is barely even drinking it, playing with the ice and taking a tiny sip every 5-6 minutes.
Because she doesn’t want to get drunk.
We talk for awhile and I learned shes into the same stuff I was in, this was a bit of a surprise but she was still every once in a while mentioning her boyfriend and how he did something relevant to the conversation which i found a bit weird.
This is because you were hitting on her and she was increasingly trying to wave you of without making a big scene about it.
Here’s what’s going on: she appreciated the flirting at work. She was definitely down for a night out, if only for a little bit because hey, being on the road can be pretty tedious, especially when she doesn’t really know anybody in the area. And you’re a fun guy to talk to and she liked hanging out with you. At the same time however, you were missing the fact that while she appreciated the flirty fun, she was not available and was not going to cheat on her boyfriend. So she’s trying to give you an easy wave-off without actually making a thing of it and hurting your feelings.
I had a few beers before hand and about 20 minutes in im pretty buzzed.
I’ll be the first to admit I love me some drinking, but buzzed flirting can lead to some bad decisions.
Trust me, I learned this one the hard way.
I go to the bathroom and when I come back, she’s talking to this tattooed up guy with his wife/girlfriend who took my seat, I think they were swingers but I’m not sure, but he was trying to hit on her and buys her a drink, I was very passive about the whole thing and they continue talking for a minute then I tell the guy “while you’re buying drinks i wouldn’t mind one either”
Under any other circumstances, you’d be in serious damage control right about now. If it were a cold approach, you would likely have been squeezed out of the interaction entirely. In fact, odds are, she would’ve gotten up, made her excuses and left, depending on how pushy or unwanted this guy’s attentions were.
For future reference: if you’re going to try to squeeze a guy out from hitting on the woman you’re busy hitting on, you’re going to have to be a bit more aggressive. Sitting there passively takes you out of the conversation and makes it harder for you to actually do anything. A better move would have been to take a much more active role in the conversation before calling attention to his buying her a drink. Moreover, instead of piping up with “well, if you don’t mind”, you would’ve had a better result with “great, I’ll take another Shiner”; this way you’re not tacitly asking permission to stay in the conversation and not hemorrhaging any emotional momentum you had with her in the first place.
In this case however, you overplayed your hand. Ignoring the fact that she wasn’t going to hook up with anyone, she came there to hang out with you guys and have fun, not to get laid. She wasn’t in danger of going off and leaving you guys. Just keeping the conversation going and waiting him out would’ve been fine.
which he clearly responds with “im not his type”, they finally leave and one my friends im with comes up and tells me im not being aggressive enough or something like that and tells me she would sleep with me that night if i was more aggressive and that everyone else could see it (he specifically pointed out the lady bartender who gave a look like he was telling the truth).
Yeah, no. Generally speaking, women who are down to fuck that night don’t repeatedly bring up their boyfriends unless they are really looking for somebody to take part in their cuckolding role-play.
I guess I didn’t get the memo so my other friend comes up to us at the bar and directly asked her to come to her place and he could be her “snuggle buddy”.
She giggles (sounded fake to me) and goes on to say “man i have to go to work tomorrow and i should set my alarm” and stops looking at him starts going through her phone pretending to set an alarm.
Right, see how she shuts him down cold? This is because she didn’t like him. You, she likes. She’s been trying to spare your feelings. But this guy… yeah, she’s willing to make an example out of him.
While i know he wasn’t being serious i didn’t understand while he did it.
A) He’s fucking with you.
B) He thought that might actually work.
C) All of the above.
He leaves a minute or two after that and we talk some more, some guy come by and gives us 2 free shots but she wouldn’t drink it.
Again: taking care not to get even slightly tipsy. Of course, having one of your friends paddle up in his douche-canoe almost certainly didn’t help her feel like she would be fine getting a slight buzz going either.
I tossed mine back, then I tried my best to close after being pressured and my friend buys her another drink and at this point i feel like a sleazy guy trying to get her drunk.
I ask her if she wanted to get out of there and go back to her hotel or go watch movies at her hotel room which she give me half hand responses like “oh yeah?” without an actual answer and awkward pauses.
Aaaaand we’re done here.
Its about 2 am at this point and they eventual call last call and we leave.
So here we’ve come to the close of the evening. She’s had fun. She’s stayed longer than she intended because fuck it, why end a fun night early? But she’s still not interested in you as something other than a friend.
My friend tells her that she is cool and we should hang out more which she tells him that it was cool and Ive got her number. They give me shit the entire way back about how i blew it, and i looked weak by letting her talk to other guys and they could have slept with her and stuff.(she may have heard some of it since she was sitting in her car in the parking lot when they started yelling at me)
The douche-canoe has now turned into the douche armada.
Here’s the thing about letting other guys talk to her: big fat fuckin’ deal. Getting all het up and possessive because somebody else is musclin’ in on your territory is a bigger sign of weakness than just letting people try their hand and getting shot down. Either you’ve got faith in the attraction you’ve built or you don’t, but her panties weren’t going to magically evaporate if you rolled in there like Big Moose getting pissed because people are talking to his girl.
If this was a cold approach at a bar, then yeah, you might have cause to worry. In a cold approach, you have little to no priority in her life; you’re someone she just met. If someone else is better able to hold her interest and build attraction, she’s more likely to give the lion’s share of attention to him. Similarly, letting yourself get pushed out of a conversation tends to leave you in the position of having to beg or force your way back in, which displays low social and emotional intelligence and tends to kill attraction stone-cold dead. Being able to squeeze the guy out without being an asshole about it is the classier move.
But not only were you in a better position than this guy – being her friend puts you higher on her priority list than some new guy, especially when she’s not looking to hook up – but she was never going to be going home with anyone.
I see her at work the next day and she tells me she how it was nice hanging with me. I tell her we should definitely do it again sometime. Realizing that was her last day there I tried my luck and I asked if she wanted to meet up before she left. She told me after she finished up at working she was heading on the highway cause she had a long drive. I told her to drive safe.That was sunday and I haven’t heard from her since.
I’m not sure if she is actually into me or she was being nice, should i try to pursue this even though she lives 3 hours away? if so what should my next move be?
Help me doctor.
Don’t bother. She liked you, but only in a friendly way. You were cool to talk to, you helped make work fun and you helped her have a good time on what would have otherwise been a long and boring assignment from work. But that’s as far as things went.
People like to flirt. Flirting is fun when done right and it doesn’t stop being fun just because you’re in a relationship. Everybody likes to know that other people are attracted to them; even if you’re not going to go to the party, it’s nice to be invited. But there is flirting for fun and flirting with intent – and she was decidedly not flirting with intent. In fact, she was going out of her way to let you know that nothing was going to happen. The fact that she was going out of her way to spare your feelings and not give you the harsh shut-down that your buddy got is an indicator that she thinks you’re a cool guy, even if you keep missing the part about her boyfriend. But by the time you’re trying to close the deal, you were pushing the line pretty hard – hence the no answers and awkward pauses.
Now for the takeaway: your biggest problem here – besides your friends acting like dicks – is that you bought into the PUA line that you can ignore her when she tells you she has a boyfriend. She was letting you know right from the jump how this was going to work. You let what you hoped for get in the way of what was really happening.
In the end, you really shouldn’t be down on yourself; you didn’t blow anything, there was literally nothing to blow. You were never going to get anywhere with her besides fun at work and cool conversation. In fact, you should take heart in the fact that she dug you and wanted to flirt with you – it’s a sign that yes, you were attractive. In different circumstances, she probably would have been down for some sloppy after-work make-outs. But as it was: not so much.
You’re on the right path, and you’ll do better if you ditch some of the more toxic PUA stuff. There will be other opportunities.
- Not the dumbest – that’d be negging – but it’s pretty high up there. It’s a stupid status game thing, where you’re supposed to pretend you aren’t as interested as you actually are because “whomever cares less wins”… except seriously, you’re trying to get a date and/or laid. You’re clearly into her. At some point you have to drop the pretense, or are you supposed to cum ironically too? [↩]