Meek and potatoes
My co-worker was really hung up on a guy. She was convinced he liked her, and she did all the flirty things you advise, but he never made a move. This went on for months since she, like you, thought women should never, ever ask a man on a date. I finally persuaded her to offer to make him a home-cooked meal. He thanked her but said he had a girlfriend. So, now she can put this behind her. She's actually relieved she finally made a move. — Wise Friend
When a woman flirts and flirts with a guy and he still doesn't ask her out, she knows there must be a reasonable explanation: 1. Hairball stuck in his throat. 2. He sprained his tongue. 3. He's temping as a monk.
The woman can either wait months and months for him to cough up that hairball or accept that there's probably a more reasonable explanation: He's not interested, not available, or not man enough to tape hair on his chest and squeak out, "You doin' anything Friday night?"
A guy who's not that interested might still go out with a woman if she asked. Great — if she wants a man who's not that into her but who'll hang around for a while (longer when his favorite TV show is in reruns). In the case of "not man enough," some women tell themselves, "No problem! I'm man enough to ask him!" They end up with a "not man enough" instead of a man. A little water and sunlight will grow carrot greens out of carrot tops in a jar lid, but there's yet to be a relationship that's produced spontaneous growth of testicles.
Enabling "not man enough" can have some unpleasant repercussions. What the man-worm lacks in assertiveness he usually makes up for in passive-aggressiveness. And, say, he and the woman are stopped by muggers. Do you think a guy who practically wets himself at the mere thought of asking a woman out will try to protect her ... or push her toward the bad guys and shout, "Here, take my girlfriend!"
Being an adult involves accepting that you can't always have all the answers, all spelled out. Sometimes, you have to take no answer for a "no," like when your eyelashes are about to fall out from all the batting and a guy still isn't doing any asking. Yeah, I know — somebody's fourth cousin's second-best girlfriend asked her husband out and now they're living blissfully ever after. But, in general, a guy who could be really into a woman will be less into her if all he has to do to get her is sit there and look pretty.
Romantic pursuit is a two-person dance, not a one-woman show. It's the woman's job to put out the "Yoohoo, I like you" vibes. She then needs to wait for a response. If none comes, she needs to move on — tempting as it is to try to go from zero to nesty before they've even had a first date: "Home-cooked supper, Pa? Or would you prefer a get-to-know-you barn-raising?"
Boy meats girl
In the wake of the penis photo tweet that started "Weinergate," I'm wondering whether women are actually turned on when they get a photo of some dude's package. — Curious Guy Who's Never Done Such A Thing
Note that there's a restaurant called Hooters but none called Testicles. While men get aroused by visuals alone, women typically need touch and emotion.
Dr. Meredith Chivers' sexual arousal studies show that women do get turned on by video of strangers having sex (including, weirdly, strangers who are bonobo chimps), but strange men's disembodied bits really don't do it for most. (What, you were expecting "Wow, you stuck a cameraphone in your crotch just for me?")
Once a woman's involved with a guy, she might be into the occasional peen-mail. But, e-mailing a woman you don't know a shot of your naked trousersaurus is like hitting on her at a party by unzipping your fly and letting it all hang out: "Will ya look at this! Impressive, huh?" At least on the Internet, you won't hear her run away screaming, "Eeeuw! Gross! Creepy!" (or howling with laughter as she hits "forward").
Sure, e-mailing your meat takes less effort than buying a trench coat and heading down to the corner, but it's about as bad an idea. Generally speaking, the only package a woman wants coming to her from some stranger via the Internet is one from Sephora or zappos.com. (Think new shoes, not new schnitzel.)
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.