Setting up a not-date

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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:05 pm

This marks my tenth day of more-than-daily chatting verbosely with the same woman on OkCupid, which on its own is a kind of big deal for me. The catch is she says she doesn't feel ready for dating/relationship stuff now. From a cognitive/rational/conscious standpoint I don't think I am either, and I've said as much. But I also said up-front (just once, and I haven't brought it up again since) that

From the start we've been pretty open about stuff, discussing serious life stuff and being honest about emotion-things. We've both kind of expressed feeling like our online text-only messages are more emotionally intimate than the interactions we have with our physically-present friends. Recently she said she feels comfortable with me, but in the same paragraph lamented that most of the people she wants to be friends with [on OKC] want to date. She also pretty heavily implied that she wants us to keep going with this IM-conversation thing on a daily basis, and that she'd feel let down if it slowed down too much. But for my part, I don't think I can keep that kind of momentum going that long with someone I haven't met.

So now I find myself in a position that is kind of equal-but-opposite to what this week's LW3 described. I'd like to at some point physically meet this person and hang out and stuff, but...if I ask her to do a thing where we can spend some one-on-one time and get to know each other in person and evaluate how we feel about each other (or at least, I would be doing this...), and if she actually says yes, then the only difference I can see between that and "dating" is the label.

I want to be respectful of the boundary she's set since her first reply to me: she wants to be Friends, not Dating. How disingenuous would it be if I asked her to join me on a not-date? Or is there a way I can make both the proposal and the event less date-like?
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Post by eselle28 on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:31 pm

This is just one suggestion, and it's one premised on a guess that someone who gets along so well with you might be similarly analytical. If that's not the case, skip to the next paragraph. If you're still reading on, you could always just abbreviate what you've said here and omit the Doctor Nerdlove references. That allows you to acknowledge her boundary, request a meeting in person, and specify that this meeting isn't dating.

If that's not a great idea for whatever reason, I'd say that the least date-like activity would be asking her to do something in the daytime that you'd ordinarily do anyway (but think she might enjoy). A lecture? A new exhibit at the museum? Some sort of daytime festival? And...while I normally don't recommend movies as first dates...a movie that you both had expressed some interest in seeing might fit the bill. I'd suggest avoiding restaurants and their awkward questions of payment or coffee and its overtone of Standard First Internet Date until you guys know each other better.
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Post by Dannyboy on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:32 pm

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is to schedule something thats not one-on-one, inviting her to take part in something you do with your other friends.

Although, really, if you just tell her your asking her out on a not-date (and are genuine about it), she'll probably trust you.

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Post by Werel on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:41 pm

Asking her on a "Not-Date Friend Date" is the way I'd go. Eselle's suggestion to paraphrase what you've said here is a good one; if y'all have been emotionally honest, she ought to have a good enough sense of you to trust what you're asking for. Especially if it's about developing/maintaining enough investment to keep sinking hours into daily IM conversations, which is a thing she apparently wants, then meeting up on a Not Date Friend Date is to her benefit in the long run, right? If her worry is that she enjoys communicating online way more than in-person, you can assure her (if true, obvs) that you don't want to transition completely from online to offline, just that you want to add in the occasional hangout to sustain online momentum.

Daytime activity where there's no bill to split is a good option. Museum? Street fair? Botanical garden?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:52 pm

Dannyboy wrote:Well, the first thing that comes to mind is to schedule something thats not one-on-one, inviting her to take part in something you do with your other friends.

Heh. Yep, that was also the first thing that came to my mind! And then someone pointed out that it's a little too early to assume she'll like my friends / her friends will like me / etc. or to ask her to divide her attention in that way. So... I think for now, I'm aiming for a mano y mano thing, even though that makes it less not-a-date like. (Arguably. I mean, I've also been invited along on someone else's first date before. It was surreal. I declined.)

Sounds like what y'all are pointing out though is I should just cut to the chase and Setting up a not-date Tumblr_mmnkqeocqN1s9hlk5o1_500

Thanks for the suggestions on where to go. To me, offering to pay is just a matter of hospitality (and at this point kind of a reflex), especially when I'm aware of financial asymmetry, but it may send a wrong signal. And given financial asymmetry, asking her to pay seems inconsiderate. So free is definitely ideal. And it needs to be at a place she can get to and leave from on her own. I'll find something. Smile
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Post by eselle28 on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:08 pm

Sounds like a good plan! And, it sounds like this is no longer an issue, but I'm going to add another vote for mano y mano, as someone who's both been on many internet dates and who has met several platonic friends on the internet. Meeting a group can be super intimidating, and so can presenting the knuckleheads you usually find so enjoyable to a new person who doesn't know their quirks. Plus, if there's even a hint the interaction could be perceived as romantic, the person bringing friends needs to make sure absolutely everyone is on the same page about whether it is, isn't, or is in the maybe zone.

So, yeah, one on one and do what your excellent gif suggests. And while free is ideal, I think that can be extended to very cheap as well - the sort of thing that won't be an imposition on her if she insists on paying (some women do) and that won't seem like a grand gesture if you end up picking up the bill.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:20 pm

Side note: I used that phrase incorrectly (and so, apparently, did pretty much everyone who used it around me when I was growin' up). I do not intend to meet her in single combat.


Last edited by nearly_takuan on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Dannyboy on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:22 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Side note, I used that phrase incorrectly (and so, apparently, did pretty much everyone who used it around me when I was growin' up). I do not intend to meet her in single combat.

Good.

I've always said its better to attack your enemies in groups, preferably while armed. Razz

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Post by reboot on Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:57 pm

A fun, free non date date is volunteering somewhere likeva park clean up. Nothing says "not date" like picking up trash. Another option is something athletic like a hike or a bike ride since you get sweaty and do not dress up.
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Post by readertorider on Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:32 am

reboot wrote:A fun, free non date date is volunteering somewhere like a park clean up. Nothing says "not date" like picking up trash. Another option is something athletic like a hike or a bike ride since you get sweaty and do not dress up.

Huh, never thought about things that way. I've had quite a few interesting conversations at various clean-up events, but they all seem to center around the number of balloons acquired or improbable diaper locations, so it may not be the best place to get to know other people, but it definitely doesn't make me think date Smile

Instead of bike riding (or jogging) though --IME for two people trying to stick close together with possibly different fitness levels there's quite a bit of looking out or waiting for the other person and there's no easy way to split up + less obvious subjects for conversation-- I'd recommend something like a museum. The exhibits/patrons give people something to talk about, they typically have a cafe if/when you want to talk, and if you really want to make things not date like you can split up, see the exhibits that interest you as individuals most, and then reconvene at a set time.

Nthing other people (and the genie) that mentioning you want to meet up as friends probably won't ping her radar as a date. Would agree that not inviting friends is a good idea (and if you do introduce her to your friends would suggest you tell your friends what your relationship with this woman is).

It might also be worth putting a little consideration too into what you're hoping for here. The first paragraph of your original post just breaks off into nothingness--did you just forget about it, or do you have no easy way of phrasing what you want to say? My impression is that you like this woman, you'd like to try dating her, but that's not in the cards for her right now, so you're happy to be friends provided it's a mutual friendship. Meeting her helps to sustain the friendship, but it also will help suss out if you do want a romantic relationship with her, and you realize it will make things more complicated if you do, but before you start worrying about that you want to figure out if it's actually a concern? So by meeting her you work to achieving both the friendship and figuring out whether your side of the romance equation is a null goal? IDK, but the "I'm possibly interested in dating you" and "I'm not interested in dating right now" seems like it might be a difficult situation to navigate if you are attracted to that path.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:56 am

readertorider wrote:It might also be worth putting a little consideration too into what you're hoping for here. The first paragraph of your original post just breaks off into nothingness--did you just forget about it, or do you have no easy way of phrasing what you want to say?

Oh, whoops. ...Yeah, I was trying to figure out what to say there, and rereading what I'd actually written in our conversation, and then I guess I forgot to fill in the blank before hitting send. Your other guess is also right: there's no easy way of putting it. What I've said was, I didn't join OKC to look for friends, but I agreed friends is probably what's best for now given our respective general feelings about life. I thought I'd put something else in there about what I actually wanted, but nope. Facepalm

readertorider wrote:My impression is that you like this woman, you'd like to try dating her, but that's not in the cards for her right now, so you're happy to be friends provided it's a mutual friendship. Meeting her helps to sustain the friendship, but it also will help suss out if you do want a romantic relationship with her, and you realize it will make things more complicated if you do, but before you start worrying about that you want to figure out if it's actually a concern? So by meeting her you work to achieving both the friendship and figuring out whether your side of the romance equation is a null goal?

That sounds about right... given the lines of discussion we have already run through in our conversations, a not-date/friend-date type of thing will likely involve at least one Defining The Relationship type talk. One perceived threat is that one or both of us (if it's one, it'd be me) may express interest in something other than what we've rationally decided and agreed would be healthy. Another is just that she's been jerked around and manipulated more than enough already, and I don't want to add to that by maneuvering things too much toward what I happen to want. Yeah, getting to actually meet her could have a helpful effect on my presently-declining eagerness to give her more of the virtual company she's expressing a desire for. But I kind of second-guess and Nth-guess my reasoning on that, too.

And I run into a familiar form of analysis-paralysis: I don't want to be manipulative, so I carefully consider the possible consequences/ramifications of what I'm planning to do, but then planning out all the angles like that feels inherently manipulative... and 'round goes the Ouroboros.

readertorider wrote:IDK, but the "I'm possibly interested in dating you" and "I'm not interested in dating right now" seems like it might be a difficult situation to navigate if you are attracted to that path.

More difficult than that, I think; both of us have already said the opposite of "I'm not interested in dating right now". Razz

From her writing, at least, she doesn't come across as analytical; she doesn't like to take apart a sample of entertainment and examine subtropes piece by piece, and she handles her disgust with the current political climates by opting out of it entirely instead of trying to carefully study which battles are worth picking. But she does come across as sharp, articulate, and introspective. She...pays attention to what she's thinking, and thinks about why she's thinking that, and then is willing to talk about it. She seems to know how to take serious stuff seriously without having to make it bland and humorless. Which is to say, it's possible my One is inflamed, 'cause here is this collection of traits that it seems to me I've seen rarely if ever.

I....fuck, I want to give her the choice, and if she continues to choose Just Friends I think I will be okay with that, but if she doesn't—if she expresses an interest in dating—I would be very hard-pressed to turn down such an offer. But then that's part of why I want to let her choose, isn't it? Because she might make that choice that would make me happy, however fleetingly, and damn any other consequences. So then all this is for the wrong reasons in the first place. Or some of it is. Or all of it partially is.

What do you do when your motivations include some right reasons and some wrong reasons? confused
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Post by reboot on Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:22 pm

As long as you are being honest about being OK as friends mixed motivation is not a problem. After all, at this point you have never met this woman IRL. You may meet her and realize you really do not want to be anything but friends with her or may not want to know her at all and vice versa. You are jumping the gun here.
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Post by Werel on Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:41 pm

It's well and good to dig into your motivations with a critical eye, but it is jumping the gun a little-- you may not be interested in her romantically at all. Whether or not you are, you'll have so much more information about whether you want to be Just Friends after meeting her.

nearly_takuan wrote:And I run into a familiar form of analysis-paralysis: I don't want to be manipulative, so I carefully consider the possible consequences/ramifications of what I'm planning to do, but then planning out all the angles like that feels inherently manipulative... and 'round goes the Ouroboros.

Hah. When it comes down to it, "being careful" is a form of manipulating a situation's likely outcomes; nobody's going to give a stern moral lecture against being careful, though. Planning out the angles is just smart. Or, as James Baldwin put it (happy would-be 91st birthday JB!), "It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less." So map out those angles; interrogate your motivations; understand yourself (and her) better; and trust that you are really working to minimize damage. Then go hang out with her. Smile
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Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:37 am

So... I kind of chickened out, for now.

Found out roundabout that she'd been planning to visit her mom this weekend but couldn't afford the $5 bus ticket. So I now have a much more concrete sense of how cheap a cheap activity would have to be, in addition to how little time and energy she'll have for activities in the near future.

I'm not ruling out volunteer work as an option if the time comes later but I'd have to be careful there too, I think. She already does a lot of manual labor during the day, so she may not be happy about the idea of doing a lot more. (And on the other side of things, "let's go pick up trash along the riverbank at sunset" sounds like a damned fine romantic date if I ever heard one. Heh.)

Anyway, sorry this doesn't have a more exciting conclusion.
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Post by reboot on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:43 am

Well, there is always another weekend. And it sounds like free is required. You should also keep an eye out for free lectures. A daytime lecture about the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (yes this happens, yes I went to it on a non-date) or similar unromantic topic might fit the bill.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:26 pm

Talked things out a bit lot more. (I did say we were being open with each other!) Continuing the pattern of blunt (but not brutal) honesty and avoiding anything resembling game-playing, we have now established that at this time she would prefer to avoid meeting in person because she has a harder time expressing her thoughts and feelings face-to-face and is more comfortable having our talks about Real stuff and goings-on of emotional matters over some form of text communication. Which is to say, it's easier to get more personal in a less personal space. Fair enough—my experience has been that the genie of sharing personal information doesn't go back in the bottle and that's a good thing, but it's (obviously) her boundary to set. She is aware I'll have a harder time feeling as strong a personal connection or stake in her life as what I can extend to people I've met, but she's more comfortable with that and I'm comfortable-enough with that so this is a reasonable compromise.

So naturally, the very next day, I land in the middle of an actual Schrödinger's Date. The short version is still long, but here goes. A woman I've been Platonically acquainted with for a long time has been poking at my OkCupid page, both online (sending me "__ viewed your page!" notifications when we are each already aware the other has A-List Invisible Browsing turned on) and offline (using stuff on my profile / recently-answered questions as conversation pieces). As kind of a gag I was going to send her one of those lame "hey girl how is youre nite" messages we've previously made fun of, but her inbox was full. So I sent her a Social Medias message instead, awkwardly explaining that the joke was lamely not coming in on OkCupid because of the inbox thing. She wrote back that she was going to clear her inbox and I should try again. ...One thing led to another and now we've scheduled an appointment* to go have dinner and a movie in the middle of a week, neither of us having said the word "date". (*Smells like nylon gloves and concentrated isopropyl alcohol, y'know?)

In my defense (because I dislike mind games and so require a "defense" to allow myself to indulge in them), I've gotten a hard "no" to use of the word "date" from this person before, and so the reaction to trying again may range from "where did you get that idea?" to "where the hell did you get that idea?". I also have already gotten comfortable—repeatedly—with the idea of a relationship with this person being strictly Platonic. But having also spent a lot of time on the other side of dropping all sorts of what seemed to me like blatant hints, and just getting looked past like so much chopped liver, I don't wanna be That Guy. Really I just want to know either way, and we can still see the movie and be friends whatever the answer is, but it also seems very much like asking bluntly would be rude/insensitive in this context. Argh.

...Sorry, not sure if there's even a question anywhere in this mess. I wouldn't be unappreciative of comment, but mostly I think I'm just venting at the moment.
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Post by Werel on Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:06 am

nearly_takuan wrote:(using stuff on my profile / recently-answered questions as conversation pieces)

Since you two have already been friends for a while, I can't ascribe that action to just a hard pursuit of your friendship, which makes it smell to me like interest in Something More. If y'all are only loose acquaintances, could in fact be that she just wants to be closer friends, but this reads pretty "I am pursuing you for [SOMETHING]" to me. Most people don't repeatedly, conspicuously reference their knowledge of each other's dating profiles unless they're trying to gain some type of ground with that person, friendly or otherwise. Depending on what your existing relationship with this woman is like, maybe you've got a better idea of what's going on...?

Your compromise with your not-date penpal sounds pretty solid, like y'all both won the Honesty Game by coming to a compromise which actually addresses each party's needs and comfort zones; that's actually a pretty impressive outcome. I hope y'all's text communication remains a nice addition to both your lives. Smile

Although
nearly_takuan wrote:my experience has been that the genie of sharing personal information doesn't go back in the bottle and that's a good thing
is true in my experience, but there are times when the genie of face-to-face interaction can't go back in the bottle, and there are times when that's a bad thing. I've had one instance when a perfectly pleasant online acquaintanceship went down the tubes because dude was just real unpleasant in person. She may have had more of those experiences than the ones where Penpal turns out to be a lovely and enjoyable person IRL-- and maybe some of those experiences involved the other party not finding her enjoyable. What I'm saying is, maybe she knows she doesn't come across well IRL and you can regard your continued comfortable online thing as a gift from her. I dunno, just a potential additional bright side...?
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