Two years ago, "Beth," this attractive woman I see around, gave me her number and mentioned three times that she hadn't been asked out in a long time. I called to ask her out and ... silence. She then said, "I can't ... as I think I may have something else to do." That was that, as I rarely ask a second time when a lady "may have something else to do." I saw her around occasionally, and we were polite. Last week I saw her and about 10 girlfriends swilling pitchers of beer and doing shots. I said hello, nodded to her friends, then rejoined my group. One by one, Beth's friends wandered over and gushed, "I hear you asked Beth out!" I said yes, I had — two years ago. And once! Do you think Beth painted me as a stalker or some stain that wouldn't go away, or was I a victim of some rare chick moment? — Mystified
People say things for a reason. Sometimes, the reason is that they are nervous and socially awkward and burp out the first thing they can that's made of words. "I think I may have something else to do" could've meant "anything but go out with you," or maybe she just couldn't think of a good excuse for the real deal: "The lady at the clinic told me to avoid all sexual contact until the burning and itching goes away."
It's unlikely Beth gave you her number just so she could prank you two years later. Chances are, she liked you and then felt insulted that you never called again despite the strong signals she gave you: stony silence, followed two years later by a gauntlet of her drunk friends. You didn't help matters with your little policy of never asking for a date more than once. This can be a workable strategy — if you're Jake Gyllenhaal and you have women tossing their panties with their phone number over the booth divider whenever you go out to eat.
When a woman you've asked out turns you down in some nebulous way, asking her out again will either get you a date or confirm that she's a lost cause. It helps if you can divorce rejection from how you feel about yourself. Remember, it's called "self-worth," not "what girls think of me-worth." Try to see asking someone out as a procedural thing you have to go through — ask once, then repeat — kind of like "rinse, lather, repeat" directions on the back of a shampoo bottle. (Surely, you don't see "repeat" as a message from your shampoo manufacturer that you're a worthless human being who can't be trusted to clean his disgusting greasehead the first time around.)
Why not just walk away? Because, well, sometimes the guy who looks like a giant Martian baby gets the girl. I'm talking about a guy who writes at the coffeehouse I do — a guy the color of fresh Wite-Out, with no eyebrows, eyelashes, or hair, who has a stunningly beautiful wife. Loads of men always ogled her, he told me — and then just stood there with their mouths open, never getting to the point where their lips moved and "Wanna go out with me?" came out.
Maybe some of those guys now realize that good things come to those who wait — good things like a fleeting glance at the hot wife of the weird-looking guy who gets that far better things come to those who ask.
My girlfriend and I promised that if we ever broke up, we'd remain friends. We broke up a year ago, and she doesn't want me in her life at all. She won't answer my calls, e-mail, nothing. I finally e-mailed her, saying I'd wait patiently but I need her in my life. She sent back a curt "Please be kind enough to respect my wishes." — Ouch
Of course, in the heat of love, you say, "We'll always be friends," and not, "If we ever break up, I'll go around my house and cut your head out of all the pictures, burn the sheets, and put everything you ever gave me in a plastic shopping bag and drop it off at Goodwill." After the relationship ends, however, the silliest things get in the way of a beautiful friendship, like the unbearable pain one person feels at the sight of the other. So, try to excuse your girlfriend if she isn't up for regular get-togethers to learn how great your life is without her, how easy it was for you to move on, and how you spend hours every day not giving her a moment's thought. What's to say but, "That was emotionally draining! Can't wait till next week!"
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.