Question: Friend first or date first?

Since I managed to fall ill on Thursday, just before that Himachal trip I’ve been dying for, I shall use this time to FINALLY get around to clearing some post backlog. Also I feel really guilty I’m not writing!

Quite a while ago I got an email from a guy who, after reassuring me that he had no interest in dating me and was emphatically not asking me out, asked me this.

The whole scenario of dating in India perplexes me. More often than not, meeting someone in the spur of the moment and asking them for a beverage or a meal results in deeply condescending stare in my general direction. Followed by a sharp disapproval.

In the beginning of it all, I was quite convinced that there are no single women in Delhi. 9 times out of 10, the women I talked to had a boyfriend. I know that people have the right to judge but come on, you just said ‘You’re an interesting guy’, followed by a No when I asked if you would like to continue the conversation elsewhere.

I have literally asked women as to what a guy must do before taking them out on a date and I’ve been quite bluntly told that one must first become friends and then go on dates. And here I was thinking that, dates are meant to get to know someone better. Also if you do choose to take the route of friendship and one fine day you ask her out(Which I actually think is saying “Will you be my girlfriend?), she’s taken aback by your stream of thought and tells you that she never thought of you that way. This is like a round robin sport tournament.

I am not a misogynist, I must state that. I’m not bashing women. I’m just simply perplexed.

Why does this happen? Is it an age thing? Am I generation ahead? Am I too much of a free thinking radical liberal being?

Okay, the very first thing I need to tell you, fair quester, is that just because someone tells you you’re interesting doesn’t mean that, one, they mean it, or, two, they owe you anything, whether it’s a drink, more conversation, time, friendship, sex, love… you get my drift. I find I have to repeat this often. So let’s try it again. Yes, you like him/her, and many props to you for screwing up the courage to express it. And augh its awful when the answer is no. But that’s just how it goes. Dear lord if I had a dollar for all the guys who was run screaming, burst out laughing, ignored me or stopped talking to me because I expressed interest, I might be able to buy some dedicated server space. And it hurt. Every single time. But you know what? I survived. And so will you.

Second, there’s a little contradiction here. You say when you ask a girl out you mean you want them to be your girlfriend. And you think a complete stranger in a bar is going to say yes? Obviously not.

Right now on to the main event. It’s never pleasant to be rejected. It just isn’t. There is nothing you can do about it. We tend to rationalise rejection away and soothe ourselves by saying ‘God! Women suck!’ or ‘ARGH WHY ARE ALL MEN ASSHOLES!’ or something like that. We say, ‘Their loss!’ and stomp off to lick our wounds. We mutter about society and its unrealistic standards for income, fitness, beauty. We tell ourselves that well, if only s/he knew me, if only they gave me a chance. And so we hurt even more when someone who already knows us also rejects us. What is the soothing story to tell then? You’re my friend, so if you’re an asshole why am I your friend? You know me, so then if you reject me there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, right? Because it’s the not knowing that’s the problem, right?

Well, unfortunately, no. It’s the not being interested that’s the problem. And there is nothing you, or anyone, can do about it. Rejection is awful. But the best thing anyone can do about it is just freaking accept it. Just take a deep breath and learn this mantra: Sometimes, people don’t like me that way. It sucks. Ah well.

As for friends first or date first? I honestly don’t know. Two of my dear friends have married old friends who they woke up one day and saw with different eyes. My own ex was a friend first. But then I personally do believe in fizz, in that ineffable feeling of excitement and attraction you get while talking to some people and not while talking to others. I’ve met strangers who finish my sentences, but only once did I feel the fizz for one of them and boy was that an unmitigated disaster. But somehow when there’s no fizz I can’t bring myself to see someone as dating potential. Maybe fizz can develop in later life–I know I used to get very gooey at the thought of my ex when we were together. Maybe I’m just a teenager deep inside =)

I think that in India anyway we’re all scared to give people the wrong idea. I mean, if you go out with a guy you’re genuinely scared he might read too much into it, he might think he’s entitled to sex or makeouts or a blow job, and you will have no recourse but to give in because that’s just how our society works. No, this does not mean I think men are animals etc etc, but just that if you are unfortunate enough to end up on a date with a guy who does think like that, you have no recourse. And who wants to be in that situation? If someone is a friend, you at least have the power of social-circle-shaming on your side–not that many women report date rape to their friends.

It doesn’t help that you’re not allowed to talk about sex. I mean most people say things in dating situations that have very little connection to how they really feel–you say it because it’s expected of the situation. ‘I’m not looking for anything serious.’ ‘I won’t ask you for sex.’ ‘I don’t care about sex on the first date.’ ‘I can’t have sex before marriage.’ Some people might believe some of these things, but mostly, we try and say what fits the role we’re playing.

If you’re interested in a friend, you should probably take some time to read cues. Drop a few hints so when you sit down and say hey, I’m kind of interested in you, it’s not a bolt from the blue. Believe me this will prepare you too, and at the very least the other person will be able to let you down gently, or if they pick up on it maybe they can steer you away from the subject and then you’ll know without having to have a confrontation about it.

I do think though, in life generally, it is a healthy attitude to people to consider them for friendship. By this I mean, if you want to date someone, I imagine you should at least like them enough to want to be friends? Or want to like them enough? And it’s really very insulting to be seen as just a source of sex. So always keep the friendability in mind. At the very least you’ll end up friends with people you’ve been on a few dates with–like I have–and I promise you, that’s a rather nice thing.

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One thought on “Question: Friend first or date first?

  1. I can empathize the the guy who sent you this question….in my experience of 5-6 women i have been on dates with, each of the lady took some time to warm up to the idea of spending time with me, unlike me, who wanted to take them out as soon as i saw them! I have even tried cold approaching cpl of women I saw at some random place, and got their numbers, but the interest was simply not there to convert that thing into a date. It just gave me a high to be able to get a number like that…beyond that it had little use!! I would s encourage this gentleman to be upfront about his feelings, by flirting a bit with the lady first…and then later based on her response, ask her out without wasting precious time!

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