The Princess and the Pre
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
There is a definite dip in my love life.
It’s not that I hate my singleness. After several decades at this, I would say I am pretty good at it and in some ways prefer it, at least for now, given my options. I don’t feel the need to desperately track down just any eligible suitor to say yes to matrimonial bliss – I actually shudder at the thought of getting married at all costs. I know too many cases of miserable marriages to make me that naïve.
I think that whether single or married, I should enjoy my own company and enjoy my life and make a contribution to society. Bloom where you are planted is what I say. And I have.
My Pet Peeve Defined
However, I have gotten my hopes up lately with the prospect of dating again, only to have those hopes dashed with what I like to term the “pre-ask.” It is soon becoming one of my pet peeves.
I don’t know if other single women out there can relate to me on this tendency I see in some single shy and/or insecure guys, so perhaps it is just me. But the pre-ask is what happens before the said shy guy decides to ask you out on a date – which is that specific exclusive event that clearly comes with a specific day, time, and place all lined up. Hope you are still following me on this one.
The fact that I actually have to define the term “date” is a sad testimony to today’s dating and relating world, is it not? I blame it all on that “I kissed dating good-bye” guy, Joshua Harris, who confused my generation by arguing about dating vs. courting. And now today there is the “date” and then there is “hanging out,” which could be anywhere from two friends spending time together to two individuals who are actually dating but afraid to call it that to an actual full-blown date. Why so complicated, I ask you?
But I digress…Back to the pre-ask.
Guys who lack confidence are trying to uncover whether you might say yes to a date later in the future, so the pre-ask is one way to gauge a single woman’s interest before landing the big one. It’s a tactic to test the waters for favorability with an eligible single woman and then decide whether to actually ask her out or not.
If the response is favorable from the lady, then one would logically reason that the relationship train would look something like this: pre-ask; favorable response to pre-ask leads to ask; ask leads to asking again if date goes well; and so on.
But this is where the whole formula breaks down. It is not that simple, ladies, I can assure you. That was my first mistake.
I recall getting a pre-ask for a potential date not too long ago. I was initially excited that this gentleman asked me if I would want to do lunch with him sometime.
I casually but warmly responded something to the effect of, “Sure, I would love to. Call me.”
I sincerely expected to get that call and it took everything in my power not to keep checking my cell phone. The fact was weeks passed…and then weeks became months. Still no lunch date.
Needless to say, I am still waiting and wondering why the ball got dropped. And I have concluded that the gentleman moved on to greener pastures and forgot all about HIS idea to spend time with me.
A couple of times I almost wanted to ask him, “Hey, can we reinstate the lunch date?” But doing so would be me doing the asking and the following up, and that is his responsibility. If he is really interested, then he can follow up. This is certainly not rocket science.
Now, from the guy’s point of view, I am figuring the pre-ask sounds like a smart plan. I mean, rejection for a “pre-ask” isn’t so bad. It’s way better than getting rejected outright when actually asking a girl out on a date. And wouldn’t you want to know if the girl is interested before sticking your neck out? It’s just common sense, right?
But from the single woman’s perspective, it is completely frustrating. Somehow it feels like a promise that doesn’t get kept. It’s potential that doesn’t get realized. And you end up scratching your head because the relationship rules are muddied. Is this a friend thing? Is this a date? Is this just pleasant conversation like you might do when seeing someone in the hallway – “Hi, how are you?”
And when the pre-ask doesn’t lead to an ask, the woman can often wonder either “Did I do something wrong?” or “Is there something wrong with him?” Am I dealing with someone who is so insecure that even after a favorable response, he is unwilling to step up to the plate? Alas, it is the horror of catching the eye of yet another commitment phobe. Groan.
And that gets my mind reeling further. My sister calls it future projecting, and warns me not to do so. But, against her better judgment, when I look down the road, where is the pre idea going to stop if it doesn’t get nipped in the bud now? Am I going to be getting a pre-proposal, too? Am I going to be standing all decked out as a “bride” in a pre-wedding ceremony – complete with my pre-reception and pre-honeymoon? Ick!
I think I now understand why so many folks are joining Internet dating sites – the rules are much easier. You know upfront whether the person is interested in friendship, networking, or a relationship. Sure, Internet dating has its own challenges, too many to really fully consider here. But at least you know where you stand.
So it’s either Internet dating for me, and all my friends are backing that thinking with a responsive nod even as I write this…or I guess I had best just view a pre-ask at face value; it is just an idea, a possible compliment in a sort of backhanded way. If lunch happens, that’s great. If it doesn’t, well it’s really his loss and not mine. Life is just too short.
Ditching the Dialogue
And maybe that’s the point I really need to take away right now. For someone as analytical as me, perhaps the best thing I can do in my stressful season of life right now is to relax and take life as it comes again – pre-ask, date, or nothing.
And any of you who have worried as I have about what all this relationship dance means and if you are doing the right thing or not or if you have completely missed the boat, I say with full confidence that those who really, really want to be with you will take the steps to seal the deal. It won’t be this crazy sea of confusion.
Not too long ago, I was fretting in the car with my married friend and her husband as we were driving to check out local houses for sale. I was wondering if I was just too intimidating to potential prospects because of my established career or desires to buy my own home. Maybe I was preventing the magic because of my success or my supposed appearance that I “don’t need anyone.” Maybe this is why I had been the recipient of the pre-ask/no date more than once; I was just too scary.
They listened all of two seconds to my self-pity before completely dismissing my argument. “Laura,” said my married friend with as much kindness as she could muster while dispensing this direct advice, “if he is going to be like that, you don’t want him anyway.” And at that, my married friend’s husband at the wheel chimed in, “Yeah, Laura, your husband is going to love you for you.”
Right. That’s absolutely right. The guy is going to love me for me.
So, gals, let’s not settle for all this silliness. Let’s not get all wrapped up in the intricacies of this whole dating game – half the time, I know from my own personal life, we get it all wrong anyway. And it’s all wasted breath and tears and (I am so guilty!) ink.
Plus, I do believe that men of true character (notice I did not say boys) will make themselves clear. And they won’t be wishy-washy about lunch, or dinner, or anything else - I didn’t say perfect; just not wishy-washy.
Here’s to living life, enjoying life, and trying not to worry about what it all means.
And, oh yeah… Internet dating, your day is coming.
More articles by Laura
Laura J. Bagby produces the Health and Finance channels. She writes inspirational, humor, singles, and health articles.
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