So, there’s this girl. She’s special, and you’ve finally found the courage to ask her out. What if she says no? Scarier still: What if she says yes?
There is no secret or trick to successful dating. But there are things you can do to make it easier -- for both of you.
All in the Approach
This goes beyond the (hopefully) obvious steps of bathing and using deodorant, which are important. You should also be respectful in how you approach her.
When you ask her out, see what she's up for. Mention an activity, like going to a movie or a basketball game, and then ask her what she thinks about the idea. “That way you’re letting her know how you feel and also considering her,” says Geraldine K. Piorkowski, PhD.
If she doesn’t like your suggestion, throw out a different one. But if she gives you a hard no, take the hint. “Know when to back off,” Piorkowski says. “Most young women do not feel good about being pushed.”
It’s About Her
During the date, focus on her, not yourself. This starts at the front door. “I think we’re past the days when a strong female would be offended if you opened the door for her,” says California State University of Sacramento psychologist Nancy Kalish, PhD. “Use basic manners: If it’s cold out, give her your jacket.”
If you're feeling nervous, don't sweat it. “She’s as scared as you,” Kalish says. So do what you can to put her at ease. Look her in the eye. Smile.
Remember, dating is all about talking. Talk to her. And more importantly, talk about her. If you’re chatty by nature, be sure to give her a chance to speak.
If you’re not a talker, think up a list of possible topics -- TV shows, music, school -- before the date, Piorkowski says. Pick an activity where you won’t have to talk the entire time, like a movie or a sporting event, Kalish says.
Keep the first date short. “The longer you go,” Kalish says, “the more problems you run into.”
Put Away the Phone
It should be a no-brainer to avoid thumbing your smartphone during the date.
Also, think twice before texting or emailing her after the date, tempting as it may be. First, wait a few days. You don’t want to look overly eager. When you do follow up, try to do so in person.
“With texting and email, all you get is words,” Piorkowski says. You miss out on the body language and facial cues that will give you a better idea of how she really feels. Worst case, if you can’t see her face to face, just call. That way you at least get a clue from the tone of her voice.
Once you start dating, it’s easy to start thinking that the world revolves around this girl. But be careful not to put too much pressure on her or the relationship. This isn’t a Hollywood romance. “On these romantic comedies, love is all about infatuation and feelings,” Kalish says. “Real love is a behavior. It’s about caring and growing.”
You need to give her and yourself room to grow as individuals, Piorkowski says. Balance your schedule. Spend time with her, but also spend time with your guy friends. Stay involved with your sports team or your after-school clubs.
“She can’t be the end-all be-all,” Piorkowski says. “She can’t take the place of what’s important for you.”
When you're with her, live in the moment. Try not to worry about commitment or the distant future. She’s a friend, so enjoy your time with her. Dating should be fun.
Take the High Road
Rejection is part of dating. It’s hard. But how you handle the end of a relationship can be just as important as how you handled the beginning.
If she breaks up with you, try not to get mad. “Boys turn sadness into anger,” Kalish says. “They tend to lash out.”
It’s OK to go home and cry. It’s not OK to smear her reputation or stalk her. Respect her space. Remember, the reason she gave you for the breakup may not be the true reason. (Kalish says her research shows that 90% of the time, the parents cause the breakup.) Besides, if you really like her, you don’t want to ruin the chances that you might get back together someday.
On the other hand, if you do the breaking up, do it respectfully. Not by email or text and certainly not over social media. But you might not want to do it in person, either. A phone call may be the way to go, Kalish says. “It’s a bit colder in a way, but it’s safer for her,” Kalish says. “At least on the phone, she won’t be embarrassed.”
Letting her down respectfully makes the breakup easier on you and her, and it makes you look like a good guy. That’s a great reputation to have if you want to date other girls in the same school.