A question I hear more than any other is whether or not women can ask a guy out. For many of us, the answer is an emphatic: Hell no.
Earlier this year, fellow PT Blogger Michael Mills conducted a study that suggested "most women do not to ask anyone out on a first date."
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann made controversial headlines when she revealed that she didn't allow her daughters to ask boys out: "Our girls are not allowed to do that in our house. They have to wait for the boy to call."
Naturally, heated media backlash ensued. Angry criticism and diatribes directed against Bachmann's outdated sexist ideals flooded the Internet. Evolved commenters on Jezebel.com, a popular female-oriented news site, wrote about how they asked their husbands out on the first date and how they remain perfectly fine, non-whorish people.
How do men feel about being asked out?
Well, dating expert Evan Marc Katz, who on his website pegs himself as a "personal trainer for women who want to fall in love," disagrees with women taking charge in procuring dates.
To the question, "Should women ask men out on dates?" Katz responded no. He warned that women could come across as "aggressive, desperate, and masculine." Rather, he encourages women to use their "feminine wiles to get men to ask them out." For example, at a party, women should stand in their potential suitor's eye line and offer a come hither smile when eye contact is made.
Like Lawrence O'Donnell, does Katz get the last word? Hell no.
Which is why I sought counsel on Em&Lo, one of my go-to relationship advice websites, to see what they thought about female-dominated courtship.
The straight married guy Ben suggests that before a girl asks a guy out, she should gauge whether or not he's really interested in her through the ancient art of flirting. He writes: "If he returns the flirt then start ramping it up. Really, everyone—man or woman— should have a pretty clear idea what the answer is to 'Will you go out with me?' before you even ask it."
The gay committed guy Bradford "bet[s] there are even more [men] who'd be welcome to women making the first move." He contends that not every man wants a quiet "damsel in distress."
And finally, single straight guy Max, has mixed feelings on the issue-explaining that while a girl asking him out is intriguing and could be construed as "awesome or amusing," men "CAN get freaked out and you CAN look desperate if you do this in the wrong manner." This is somewhat related to Katz' analysis.
The wrong manner is whatever strips power from men, such as making the decisions on where to eat or what day to go out.
After reading all these other people's opinions—do you know the answer?
At the end of the day, it comes down to your own personal preference.
If you are the type of person who can handle romantic rejection, then you can and should ask out whomever you want. Not to say that you will be absolutely rejected—but, there is a chance that you will hear a "nope", a "sorry", or a "not interested."
The fear of hearing these vetoes has basically been the burden of men for generations. Lots of guys have learned to brush it off—so it's not like one rejection will leave permanent emotional scarring.
Or will it? My rejection from a certain Ivy League school still plagues me a decade later. Which is why I don't like to put myself in those kinds of scenarios. Again, it's my preference.
Similarly, if you are the type of woman who wants to be traditionally wooed, then don't ask a guy out. This is the type of person I am. I don't want a guy to know that I have feelings for him until he makes it obvious that he has feelings for me. It has less to do with being coy than it has to do with being vulnerable. Chet Baker's song, "I fall in love too easily" is basically written for me—so it is emotionally safer for me to wait to be asked. Then, I don't have to worry whether or not it's a pity date, he doesn't "like me", etc.
However, if you don't care about traditional mating rituals or standard rules of dating (and plenty of people don't), then you can and should ask out whomever you want. After all, waiting is not all that fun, especially for impatient folks who have places to go and people to see.
What you shouldn't let affect your decision-making is what other people deem "right" or "wrong." While I happen to agree with Bachmann's opinion (something I will probably never say again), I don't agree with how she forces her daughters to comply to her preferences. Individuals should be able to make their own decisions, based on what they feel is right for them.
This is your life—you get to make the choices.
If your gut tells you that a guy is interested, but really shy, then follow your intuition. Each potential date is different—so while you may feel comfortable about asking Jim out, you may not feel the same way for Mike.
What does comfortable mean, exactly? Typically, it means you are relatively certain his answer is going to be "yes".
If you're the type of person to jump off a roof after you've been rejected, then don't ask anyone out. Why put yourself in a situation that's likely to hurt you?
Asking a guy out is not so much about the answer that he gives you, but more about how you are going to feel, given that answer. You can and should put your heart and your welfare first.
After all, is there anyone more important than you?