Some people find it easy to ask for a date. But for many young people this is a very complicated process. How far in advance should you ask? What shall you say? What if she says “No”? These and many other questions are asked by young men all over the country. Even some fellows who have been dating for quite a while are still unsure of the proper approach in asking for dates. Girls as well as boys are faced with this problem as they take the initiative. There are no clear-cut answers to these questions, but here are some factors to consider when planning to ask for a date.
The amount of advance notice recognized as appropriate in asking for a date depends upon the specific event planned. If you’re asking a girl to a party at school or church, or club, you’ll want to give her more notice than if you’re just taking her to a movie or a ball game. Try to plan your invitation far enough in advance to give the girl Opportunity to prepare for the event. If you’re inviting her to a formal dance, she will need time to plan and buy her outfit. Boys, too, need time to prepare themselves for a special event. In general, it is wise to give notice of two weeks or more for a big affair. For a main prom, you might ask two or three months in advance.
Especially if you’d like to date a certain girl, it’s to your advantage to ask her some time in advance. If she’s a girl who has many dates, the earlier you ask, the more chance you have of finding her free that evening. It sometimes takes a while to get up the courage to ask a girl to a special function. But proper planning will make it a lot easier for both of you. And it will be a wonderful feeling to have your date all lined up when other boys are still wondering whom to ask, and “Will she go with me?” Your date appreciates too the security of an early invitation.
Movie dates, or dates to functions where extensive preparation is not necessary, don’t require as much advance notice. At the same time, it’s good to extend your invitation a week or so ahead of time if you want to be sure of getting your date. A girl appreciates this kindness, for it enables her to schedule her week end to include your date, without having to exclude other activities which may also be important to her.
This doesn’t mean that spur-of-the-moment dates are not acceptable. If you and your friends get together and suddenly decide to go skating or to a show, it’s perfectly all right to call and ask a girl to accompany you. The girl who feels insulted or rejects such an invitation just because it’s at the last moment may find herself left out in the cold eventually, missing a lot of fun. Many a girl enjoys the spontaneity of dropping what she is doing and getting into the swing of a skating party or wienie roast.
Sometimes you have a date for an affair and something unforeseen happens so that your date cannot make it at the last minute. Then you are in the awkward position of calling another girl—especially awkward if she knows you already had a date. If a girl stops to realize, however, how many “second choices” you had to select from, she will not be hurt.
She will be pleased, instead, that you chose her and will accept your invitation. In such a case it helps greatly to let a girl know that you really like her as a person and are not inviting her just because you couldn’t get someone else. Many “second choices,” who have been mature enough not to resent being “second choice/’ have ended up as “first choices” later.
ALTERNATIVES IN ASKING
There are two usual ways of asking for a date. You can phone a girl at her home or you can ask her in person. Each way has its own advantages, and the method you use depends upon your own taste and whom you are asking out. Sometimes you may have to write to ask for a date. If, for instance, you want a girl to come and visit you at college, you will most likely send her an invitation by mail. In most instances, however, invitations are issued either in person or by phone. Which of these two methods is more satisfactory depends upon you and your surroundings.
Sometimes you can have more privacy if you ask the girl in person. If you have a teasing brother at home, or if your girl has a little sister who likes to listen in on the extension phone, you may prefer seeing her alone when you ask for a date. Certainly this would be true if your phone is on a party line, where neighbors might listen in on your conversation. When you’re walking her home after class is a good time to ask. Or perhaps over a Coke after school. It’s not fair to yourself or to your prospective date to ask her while other people are standing around listening. This is a private matter between you and her.
People who feel self-conscious with the other sex often find it easier to ask for a date by phone. Some fellows get tongue-tied when they talk with girls, and it’s not nearly as pronounced or noticeable over the phone. Also asking via telephone gives a boy time to plan his invitation. He can even write out just what he’s going to say, so that if he does falter he’ll have his memo to fall back on.
From the girl’s point of view, if she’s called at her home, she has more opportunity to ask for her parents’ consent without giving a boy the impression that she’s stalling. She’ll also have pad and pencil at hand to jot down the details of the date and avoid misunderstandings later.
JUST START TALKING
In asking for a date, some people prefer to begin by discussing something unrelated until they feel more at ease. If you’re calling someone who is in one of your classes, you might start off with a remark about something that occurred in class that day. It’s not wise, however, to drag this preliminary chitchat on too long. A girl may be in the midst of her homework and not have time to talk at length. Or her parents may object to long phone tie-ups. As soon as you’ve established a little confidence, get to the invitation.
One of the most important things to remember in asking for a date is to be specific. State in full just what your invitation is, where you are going, what day and hour it is, when it will be over, whether you are going with others, and if so, with whom. It’s not fair to call and ask a girl what she’s doing Saturday night; she wants to know what you’re planning on doing Saturday night!
Expect an Answer
As soon as you’ve told her all about the date, expect an answer. In most cases she will be able to tell you right then and there whether or not she can accept. If she’s not sure (perhaps she must ask her parents first), then you can make a definite deadline for her reply. There’s no reason for her to stall. Out of fairness to a boy, a girl should either accept or refuse—or else explain why she cannot answer immediately and state a time when he may expect her reply.
As you ask a girl for a date, you should indicate that your really want to go with her. Courtesy is very important when, asking, for if the girl finds you are not too courteous on the phone, she may assume you’re also discourteous on dates. A typical phone call for a date might be something like this:
Jim: Hi, Mary, this is Jim Jones. Mary: Hi, Jim, how are you?
Jim: Fine, thanks. Say, did you understand that problem in math today? I found it rather confusing.
Mary: I did too, but I eventually figured it out.
Jim: so did I. Say, Mary, Bob and Larry are taking Jean and Jane to the White Kar roller skating rink this Saturday—about seven o’clock. I’d like very much to take you, and we’d be home by ten. Would you like to go? Mary: It sounds like fun! I’d love to go skating with you, Jim. I’ll expect you Saturday about seven.
Jim: Fine, see you then. Good-by, Mary.
This conversation was a great help to Mary. She knows everything she needs to know. Mary knows that Jim really wants to take her skating. She knows that she should dress casually, and that she should be ready by seven. She can tell her parents that she will be home by ten. This is the kind of invitation she likes to receive, because nothing is left up in the air. He told her who he was at once, instead of playing childish “Guess-who-this-is” games. No girl likes to admit that she doesn’t recognize a boy’s voice, yet many voices sound similar over the phone.
Mary’s parents like this approach too. They know just what they can expect without having to quiz Jim when he comes to pick her up for the date. They like to know where their daughter is going and with whom, but they hate to give a boy the third degree before a date—just as much as a boy hates to get it.
Jim also feels happy about this conversation. He knows that Mary will be dressed for skating, and that her parents understand about the arrangements. He can also tell his parents when to expect him home. Dates with arrangements agreed on ahead of time are more fun. You can look forward to your plans, rather than wonder what you’re going to do and whether you’ll be dressed appropriately.
If you have no definite plan in mind when you ask for a date, you both can discuss what you would like to do. Offer several different suggestions (within your budget) for her to choose from. But don’t ask a girl to tell you what she wants to do without giving her some idea of the amount of money you have to spend. You’ll be putting her on the spot—and possibly yourself too. You don’t want to embarrass either yourself or your date by having her select a place that is beyond your financial means. Being honest about the amount of money you can spend avoids misunderstandings later.
In general, it’s better not to wait until you get to a girl’s house to decide what you’re going to do. Advance planning will avoid the embarrassment of inappropriate clothing or budget problems.
If She Says “No”
Sometimes, even if a girl would like to go out with you, she must refuse your invitation. But usually you can tell by her attitude whether it’s just this date she cannot accept, or whether you would be wasting your time calling her again. If she says she’s terribly sorry—she would like to go to the game with you but she has promised to baby-sit that night— you probably ought to ask her again sometime. If she implies that she’d rather not date you, calling again might be useless and only make you unhappy.
It’s no fun to be turned down for a date. It helps if you know the real reason a girl refuses. If she says that she has a previous commitment, you can accept that at face value and ask her for another night. If she replies that she’s going to be busy for the next three weeks or so, it might mean that you had better start looking elsewhere for a more available date.
If a girl refuses a date without giving a reason, don’t press for an answer. It can be embarrassing if a girl has a personal reason for refusing and the boy pesters for an explanation. Perhaps she’s not been well and doesn’t want to do anything strenuous. Maybe she is menstruating and can’t go swimming. It may be that she doesn’t know how to skate, and rather than tell you, she refuses the date. If she says she can’t see you that particular night, but in her attitude tells you that she likes you as a person, you might ask her to some different type of activity the next time or offer alternative suggestions. This way you’ll learn something of her interest and availability.
GETTING HIM TO ASK YOU FOR A DATE
Many young women get discouraged when they see datable young men who never seem to go out. Other young men date, but just fail to notice many very nice girls who’d like to go out with them. Girls all over the country often ask, “How do you get a boy to ask you for a date?”
When interested in a special boy who has not asked you out, the first thing to try to discover is why. There are many different reasons why boys do not date, or do not date specific girls, and if you know what they are it will be helpful. Sometimes it’s not easy to determine a boy’s reason for not dating you, but often you can tell from his attitude, or from listening to others, what is behind his indifference.
Maybe He’s Shy
Many girls are faced with the problem of a boy who is too shy or unsure of himself to ask them for a date. Letting him know that you like him in a discreet, unshowy way may help draw him out of his shell. Without chasing him, you can be friendly and courteous and let him know that you think he is datable. You might take the initiative the first time or so and invite him to a party at your house, or ask him over some Sunday afternoon to help make candy. Find out what his interests are and be a good listener. Most boys relax when they start to talk about things with which they are familiar. As soon as they realize that you’re interested in some of the same things they are, they’ll seek you out for company.
Maybe He Hasn’t Noticed You
What can you do about a fellow who dates girls but just doesn’t notice you? Well, acting in a loud conspicuous manner will make him notice you, but it will work in the wrong direction as far as making you datable in his eyes. What you have to do is be friendly without being a “clinging vine.” You have to look appealing without being considered “flashy.” You can be feminine and yet be versatile enough to fit into a hike, a skating or biking party.
The next time you’re at a party with this boy who doesn’t notice you, make it a point to be friendly. Don’t just hang back in a corner wishing he would ask you for a dance. Talk with him. Let him know you’re there without forcing yourself on him. Get him to talk about himself. Many girls who could never get to first base with a boy suddenly made a hit when he discovered they would listen to his enthusiastic talk about baseball or motorboats. If he still doesn’t ask you to go out with him, you can be sure it’s not because he hasn’t noticed you but because there’s some other reason.
Maybe He Has Other Interests
Some boys become so involved with outside interests that they just can’t spare any time for girls. For instance, maybe
Bob has an old car he’s fixing up. Such a hobby is very time-consuming, and he may consider it more important at this time than dating. Maybe he works after school and comes home too tired to go out. What do you do then? Well, you might try showing an interest in what he likes to do. If he must go home every afternoon to work on his car, maybe you’d like to don a pair of jeans and offer to be an apprentice. He’ll probably appreciate your help and interest, and he may suddenly realize that you’re quite a gal! Of course, even this might not bring him around to the place where he thinks he can spare time for dates. In that case, you invite him to a party—at your house some afternoon. If even this doesn’t work, you may just have to accept his not being ready to date yet. But it was fun trying, wasn’t it? And besides, you may have learned something interesting about cars!
The boy who works after school is an entirely different problem. It’s perfectly understandable that a young man who attends classes and then has to work may very well be too tired to do much of anything in the evening. However, you might try to arrange to do your homework together. Or perhaps he would go to a picnic with you some Sunday afternoon. If he hasn’t dated much, don’t expect him to jump into the swing of dating on week nights—he just can’t. But if you’re nice to him now, he may remember you on his occasional free week ends and surprise you by calling for a date.
Maybe He Has Another Girl
There’s no use pining over a boy who’s going steady with another girl. For the time being they probably have eyes only for each other. And it’s no help to get a reputation as a “man-snatcher.” No one has respect for them. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be nice to such a fellow, but don’t keep after him for a date, because you’ll probably just get hurt in the long run. Should he break up with his girl later on, you can help him get back into circulation by being friendly. But don’t be pushy—he may still be bitter about his previous experience.
Maybe He’s Too Popular
Some boys just naturally seem to be popular, even too popular. There’s no point in aiming for the most popular boy in the class if you haven’t dated much before. You’ll only cause yourself heartaches. At the same time, don’t avoid a boy just because he dates a lot of other girls. One of these days he may realize that you’re a pretty cute girl and that he’d like to see more of you. If you prove your eligibility by dating other boys, he’s more likely to notice you in the future.
GIRL ASKS BOY
More and more occasions come up where a girl has to ask a boy for a date. Many girls’ clubs have dances and parties which are girl-ask-boy affairs. And girls are usually the party-givers—boys the party-goers, after they’ve been asked! The technique of asking a boy for a date is quite similar to the procedure when a boy asks a girl. Mary gives Jim specific information as to what the invitation is, where the affair is to be held, who will be there, the day and hour it will take place, and whether she expects him to call for her at her home.
In addition, it’s good practice to tell a boy just what will be expected of him when he takes you to this affair. If he’s driving and you want him to take another couple with you, it will help him plan his time if he knows this fact beforehand. He’ll also want to tell his parents where he’ll be and approximately when he’ll be home. If there’s anything in the invitation that might cost him money, let him know this too, so that you both will avoid embarrassment later.
When asking for a date, both boys and girls do best if they extend their invitations well in advance. They are specific in their invitations. They act natural. And they indicate that the person they’re asking out is the one they really want to take. Dating becomes even more fun when it’s anticipated with the warm feeling that comes from a sincere invitation.