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5 Ways to Indirectly Ask for a Date

Why being indirect and covert with your requests can help.

Key points

  • Asking for a date can be awkward and difficult.
  • Some people, especially those who have some social anxiety, prefer to take an "indirect" approach to asking a person out.
  • Strategies for covertly asking for a date include suggesting an enticing alternative to the person's current plans.

Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor

Although asking for a date directly can have a good chance of success (see posts Part I here, and Part II here), it can also be awkward and difficult. Therefore, some people prefer to take a more "indirect" approach to ask out a love interest (especially those who are shy or have some social anxiety). A less direct approach takes some of the risk and uncertainty out of the request. It can also make the process easier.

Fortunately, there are strategies and social skills to covertly ask for what you want. In fact, there are a number of compliance-gaining strategies (ways to get others to do what you want)—some that don't require directly asking at all (Kellermann & Cole, 1994). Below, I will highlight some of these strategies and apply them to getting a date (with examples of "weaker" and "stronger" technique interpretations).

Indirect Strategies for Getting a Date

1) Suggest - This involves getting a date by making indirect suggestions. You get them to do what you want by proposing it subtly as an alternative.

Example:

  • You: What do you have going on this weekend?
  • Them: I was thinking about going bowling.
  • You: That sounds fun. I'm going to the movies to see (movie title). Maybe you'd like to go too?

Or (stronger)...

  • You: What do you have going on this weekend?
  • Them: I was thinking about going bowling.
  • You: That sounds fun. Or, we could go to the movies. The new one coming out looks cool...

2) Their Idea - This strategy makes someone think the request was their idea in the first place.

Example:

  • You: Do you know any good places to get Italian food? I'd really like some.
  • Them: Yea, I love the food at Mario's. Go there.
  • You: That is a great suggestion. Since you like it, maybe we could go together?

Or (stronger)...

  • You: Do you know any good places to get Italian food? I'd really like some.
  • Them: Yea, I love the food at Mario's. Go there.
  • You: That's a great suggestion. We should definitely go. When are you free?

3) Why Not? - This approach turns the tables and has the other person try to come up with reasons why they shouldn't do what you suggest (which is difficult). Essentially, you're asking them, "Why not?"

Example:

  • You: This weekend is supposed to be nice and that new restaurant opened up downtown. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't go check it out.

Or (stronger)...

  • You: You're single. I'm single. Why don't we go out sometime?

4) Benefit - This technique gains compliance by explaining a benefit for the person you are trying to convince. It is telling them "what is in it for them."

Example:

  • You: They have a great cappuccino at the coffee shop. You might want to try it sometime.
  • Them: That sounds good. I think I will.
  • You: Great. I would love another cup myself. Maybe we could go together? I'm free on Tuesday after class.

Or (stronger)...

  • You: You should really check out that new coffee shop, they have a great cappuccino.
  • Them: That sounds good. I think I will.
  • You: Great. I would love another cup myself. We can go on Tuesday after class.

5) Challenge - This strategy works by challenging others to do what you want them to do. Think of it as a fun dare, bet, or competition.

Example:

  • You: I bet you can't come up with a better first date than I can. I would (explain your date). What would you do?
  • Them: I would (explains date).
  • You: That sounds cool. OK, you win. Actually, I'd really like to do that. Maybe we should really go? What do you think?

Or (stronger)...

  • You: I bet you can't come up with a better first date than I can. I would (explain your date). What would you do?
  • Them: I would (explains date).
  • You: That sounds cool. OK, you win. We'll go on your date. What time should I meet you?

Conclusion

These techniques are both indirect and effective. But, I offer a caution before you use them. While they avoid the awkwardness of asking directly, they can be construed as a bit manipulative (especially the "stronger" versions). So, remember to use them with a smile, in a flirty, lighthearted way (like you're trying to be cute, not trying to con them). Even so, you may still "turn off" some possible romantic partners who prefer a more direct and "authentic" approach. Others, however, find the same strategies clever, flirty, and attractive. Ultimately, it is your call (and your tradeoff) between the direct and indirect approaches. Good luck either way!

© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.

References

Kellermann, K. & Cole, T. (1994). Classifying compliance gaining messages: Taxonomic disorder and strategic confusion. Communication Theory, 1, pp. 3-60.

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